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A Clearing Season

Dear Friends,

Sarah Parsons, whose book A Clearing Season will provide the focus for our observance of Lent this year, describes these six weeks as “our annual invitation to come closer to God.” In order to do this, we must ask ourselves what it is that keeps us from accepting that invitation, or which obstructions and obstacles stand in our way. This time of preparation for the joy of Easter offers the opportunity to clear our lives of clutter and make room for the gift of God’s grace.

Frederick Buechner offers these words of introduction to this sacred time: “In many cultures there is an ancient custom of giving a tenth of each year’s income to some holy use. For Christians, to observe the forty days of Lent is to do the same thing with roughly a tenth of each year’s days. After being baptized by John in the river Jordan, Jesus went off alone into the wilderness, where he spent forty days asking himself the question what it meant to be Jesus. During Lent, Christians are supposed to ask one way or another what it means to be themselves.”

In the weeks ahead, as we worship and serve together, as we engage in spiritual disciplines that deepen our faith, I pray that we will have the courage to ask what it means to be the people God has created us to be.

Lent at Second begins on February 26 with a solemn Ash Wednesday worship service and culminates with joyful worship services on Easter Sunday, April 12. I look forward to sharing this journey with you as we draw closer to God and prepare to welcome the stunning news of new life on Easter morning.

With peace and hope,
 
Chris
Rev. Chris Henry

Lenten Worship Schedule
See all the worship details in one spot!

Lenten Worship Schedule
See all the worship details in one spot!

Lent 2020 - Week Six Devotion
Encountering the Sacred, By: Rev. David Berry
 

Lent 2020 - Week Six Devotion
Encountering the Sacred, By: Rev. David Berry
 

Drawing Closer to God: 
Transformation Through Spiritual Practices
Wednesdays, March 4 - April 1, 6:30 - 8 p.m., Room 356

Drawing Closer to God: 
Transformation Through Spiritual Practices
Wednesdays, March 4 - April 1, 6:30 - 8 p.m., Room 356

Lilies and the Memorial Flower Fund
Donate in your loved one's name.

Lilies and the Memorial Flower Fund
Donate in your loved one's name.

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    Mission Madness
    March 2020

    Children find out where their Sunday School Mission Offering goes and participate in "Mission Madness" throughout March to live into Jesus' call to care for each other.

    Wednesday Nights in March 6:30 - 8 PM

    Wednesday night Kids' Club is "Mad for Mission!" Each week, the children, their family, friends, and acquaintances are invited to Make a Difference and see how they can guide the way through hunger, homelessness, sadness, and loneliness. Join the children's ministry staff for Mission Moments to last a lifetime! Drop off and pick up in the library.
     

     

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    Drawing Closer to God: 
    Transformation Through Spiritual Practices
    Wednesdays, March 4 - April 1, 6:30 - 8 p.m., Room 356

    Drawing Closer to God: Transformation Through Spiritual Practices 
    Wednesdays (March 4-April 1) 6:30-8 pm, Room 356

    The season of Lent is an invitation to draw closer to God through a renewed appreciation of God’s presence in our lives. God is always present with us. However, we often fail to perceive this due to thoughts, feelings, and actions that hinder our awareness of this reality. One of the ways in which we make space in our lives to communicate with God and appreciate God’s presence is through spiritual practices.

    This class, taught by John Franke and David Bell, will examine specific spiritual formation practices that offer a pathway of life transformation through a greater awareness of God’s constant presence in our lives. In addition to exploring spiritual practices that are essential for all of us, we will also consider those that particularly correspond with particular Enneagram types.

    The Enneagram is wisdom about nine styles of human character and core motivation that shape how we see, interpret, and experience the world. For followers of Jesus Christ this wisdom becomes truly transformational in relation to spiritual practices that sharpen are awareness of God’s presence in ourselves and others. The class will introduce the Enneagram and the various motivational types and provide particular attention to spiritual practices that accentuate the virtue of each type.

    Join us for this Lenten journey of transformation for the purposes of God in our lives.
    Rev. Kelley Jepsen, Rev. Chris Palmer, and Rev. Gracie Payne. Sponsored by Young Adults, Children & Family Ministry, and CenterPoint Counseling.

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    World Day of Prayer
    March 6, 10 a.m., Milner Chapel

    Join with Presbyterians around the world for an hour prayer service hosted by our Presbyterian Women. This year the prayer materials are provided by the women of Zimbabwe.

    We would love to see you Friday and invite you to stay for refreshments following this wonderful morning of global prayer.

     

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    Lent 2020 - Week One Devotion
    Driven to the Wilderness, By Rev. Kelley Jepsen

    Week one (March 1-7) 
    Driven into the Wilderness

    By: Rev. Kelley Jepsen

    “And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.” – Mark 1:12-13

    When I recall the story of Jesus’ baptism, I always imagine Jesus making a decision to go off into the wilderness to be by himself. To me it seemed like his choice, something he felt that he needed to do to start his ministry. However, upon a more careful reading of the text, that is not what happened at all! The Spirit, we are told, drove him there.
    You see, the wilderness is not necessarily a place we want to be. It’s wild there. We don’t know what we’ll encounter, we can’t prepare for what might happen, and if we’re being honest, it is not where we expected (or wanted!) to end up at all. We find ourselves alone, lost, trying to find our way through these unknown spaces. We can all look back and see places and times in our lives where we have wandered through the wilderness. The wilderness can be a place of transformation, a place where we emerge a different person with a different mission or outlook for life. That is not to say that transition and transformation are not painful – they are. But, they are critical for our spiritual journey and growth.

    Perhaps you have recently emerged from the wilderness or feel yourself there now. My friends, know this: although the wilderness can be scary, we have one promise during this time. That promise is that we will have angels caring for us there, just like Jesus did. They might not be the form we expect, but God puts people into our lives to care for us, to guide us, and to love us unconditionally even during our hardest journeys.

    Worship Highlights
    March  1 – First Sunday of Lent 
    Sermon Series:  A Clearing Season – Entering the Wilderness 
    Jeremiah 2:1-6 & Mark 1:9-15
    “And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.”
    Mark 1:12

    Instrumental Music by Second Winds Ensemble
    Candi & Rick Granlund, directors
     

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    Lent 2020 - Week Two Devotion
    Making Space, By Rev. Chris Palmer

    Week Two (March 8-14) 

    Making Space

    By: Rev. Chris Palmer

    “Does it bring you joy?” According to Marie Kondo, author and host of Netflix’s Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, this question is the key to a tidy home. After collecting and sorting everything one owns, Kondo encourages a messy materialist to ruminate on the piles of stuff. How much do we need? Does that extra pair of black shoes -- you know, the one now covered in dust -- really bring you that much joy? 

    When we aren’t paying attention, things pile up. 

    But, mess management is what Lent is all about. After all, junk isn’t just material, but spiritual. The growing pains, grudges, and bad habits that we accumulate over the course of a year pile up just like a stack of hole-ridden T-shirts. Lent is the time where we bring all that junk that we’ve acquired and, like Kondo suggests, ask the prayerful questions, “Does it bring me joy? Does it bring God joy?” 

    In fact, Christians have been heeding Kondo’s advice since the very beginning. Saint Augustine, preaching in the late 4th century, encourages his monks: “With good you are to be filled: pour out the bad. Suppose that God would fill you with honey: if you are full of vinegar, where will you put the honey?”

    Christians are receptacles of grace, but if there’s no room within us, how we will we be filled? How will we fill others? This Lent, identify those dusty corners within yourself that you’re afraid to tackle. Bring those piles of “stuff” before God in prayer. Talk about them with those that you trust. Do they bring you joy, or are they holding you back from relationship with God and your neighbor?   

    Worship Highlights
    March  8 – Second Sunday of Lent                                                      

    Sermon Series:  A Clearing Season – Making Space
    Mark 10:17-22 & Joel 2:1-2, 12-17
    “Rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.”
    Joel 2:13

    Baptisms

    Anthem: O Lord, My God to Thee – Jacques Arcadelt
        O Lord, my God, to thee do I lift up my soul.
        O Lord, in thee, in thee have I trusted.
        Let me not be ashamed,
        Let not my foes triumph over me.
        O lead me in a plain path;
        cast me not off, neither forsake me.
        Teach me thy way, Lord, Lead me, lead me in a plain path.
        O hide not thy face, Hide not thy face far from me.
        Lord God, Lord God, Hide not thy face far from me.
        Amen.
     

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    Lent 2020 - Week Three Devotion
    Developing Rhythms, By Rev. Karen Lang

    Week Three (March 15-21)

    Developing Rhythms
    By Rev. Karen Lang

    “Come to me all you who are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28
    Why is it so difficult for us to lean into these words of promise offered by Jesus? It is as if we are afraid of slowing down and allowing God to renew us. As we begin the season of Lent this year, let us lay down our own efforts of ‘trying harder’; own efforts of ‘getting it right’ and instead trust that God will meet us right where we are.
    There are natural rhythms that God offers to each one of us. Rhythms of renewal, relationship, and rest. Rhythms that feed us instead of drain us. God in the Ten Commandments directs us to rest and to lay aside the burdens of the week, and yet we resist. The beauty of sabbath—of taking a break—offers us space to breathe and truly live.

    This Lent I invite you to first, consider what would the rhythms of renewal, rest, and relationship look like for you?

    Ask yourself: “Where do I find renewal?” Do you even know? Notice the things in your day and life that leave you drained, discouraged, and spent. Now, ask yourself: “Where do I find that I am energized?  “What gives me hope?” God promises that His mercies are new every morning. We are not created to live exhausted, frantic lives.  Crowded schedules are a reality of life today, yes. Exhaustion is not. Do you find that you long to be outside? Do you crave quiet, or reading, or a walk through an art gallery? Notice and then during this season of Lent, allow yourself to do the things that allow you to be renewed. 

    Next, consider what people give you life? Set aside some time to just be with your family and your friends. Take a walk with your favorite nephew, or enjoy a cup of coffee with a neighbor. Notice what the rhythm of relationship brings to you. God gives each one of us people that ‘feed us’; people that make us laugh; people that encourage our spirits, and people that challenge us. Give your self the gift of relationship. Develop relationships. Live as if they matter.

    Last, how do you rest? Jesus regularly took time to be alone to rest, to pray  and to be renewed. Does a nap give you energy? Does moving your body offer your mind rest? Give your self the gift of rest in whatever form you find most helpful. 

    This Lenten season may we bold enough to trust ourselves enough to lean into the rhythms of sabbath. May we approach each day knowing we are enough just as we are in the eyes of our Creator. May we allow ourselves to rest, to renew, and to enjoy relationships for which we were created. Amen.


    Worship Highlights


    March  15 – Third Sunday of Lent                                                   
    Sermon Series:  A Clearing Season – Developing Rhythms

    Genesis 1:31-2:3 & Matthew 11:28-30
    “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest”
    Matthew 11:28

    Anthem: Be at Rest Once More, O My Soul – Jim Stanton
    Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.
    For He has delivered my heart from death; 
    for He has delivered my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.
    for He has o’erflowed my fountains with holiness, 
    for He has o’erflowed my rivers with blessing, my cup with compassion.
    Cords of death entangle me in the anguish of the grave,
    But the radiant light of the Lord, the magnificence of His cathedral of life broke the darkness. 
    Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.
    How can I repay the Lord for drinking the cup meant for me? 
    I will dwell in the garden of loveliness, I will raise up the banner of life; 
    I will praise the Lord for His overwhelming mercy.
    Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord for His overwhelming mercy. 
    Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.
    —adapted from Psalm 116
     

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    Lent 2020 - Week Four Devotion
    Watching for Growth, By Rev. Gracie Payne

    Week Four (March 22-28) 

    Watching for Growth 
    By Rev. Gracie Payne

    I like to imagine that one of God’s favorite words to speak over us is “already”… 
        In baptism, you are “already” a child of the covenant… 
        In childhood, you are “already” a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ… 
        Each week when we confess, you are “already” forgiven and beloved… 

    Jesus Christ always stands ready to offer us what we are seeking but, at times, the searching can distract us from recognizing. I search so passionately after perfection, I miss the ways God is using my good enough. I search wholeheartedly for a peaceful resolution, I miss the ways God is forging a new path and a transformed relationship amongst the conflict. The clattering noise I make as I forge through the wilderness seems to scare away the tender and sensitive signs of life around me. But, alas, if I slow down just enough; if I can “be still and know,” I can glimpse the life I’m longing for is already arriving. 

    I’ve taken up gardening with a growing enthusiasm over the last few years, and this year I decided to take the leap and begin starting things from seed. I cleared a shelf in a sunny spot, set up my warming pads and grow lights, and rested various vegetable seeds in their rightful spots in the grow trays. I walk down the stairs each morning eager to check on my experiment. Report: some are beginning to take root, and some aren’t. Some will grow into viable seedlings, and others won’t. But, here’s what they’re teaching me: even in the waiting, before any vine has borne fruit or any vegetable has taken root, a miracle is happening in the dirt of all of our lives. Those scary and shadowed spaces – where we’re taking risks or being let down, where we’re trying something new or fumbling through it, where we’re grasping for stability in unstable seasons – there is something miraculous taking shape. 

    Perhaps this Lent is the moment where we can walk slowly enough to see the signs of growth through eyes of hope and anticipation, where we can draw closely enough to Christ to hear him saying, “I’m already doing a new thing … do you not perceive it?” 

    God of new beginnings, give me a posture of watchful waiting-ness that looks for your Kingdom with the confidence that it is already breaking through. In moments of longing, may your Spirit’s voice join with mine in prayer. In moments of doubt, may your Word, who walks alongside me, uphold my faith. In moments of despair, may the steadfast love of Christ clear room within me for your hope to grow wild and free. Amen. 
     


    Worship Highlights


    March 22 – Fourth Sunday of Lent                                                           
    Sermon Series:  A Clearing Season – Watching for Growth

    1 Corinthians 3:5-10 & Isaiah 43:16-21
    “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.  I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
    Isaiah 43:18-19
     
    Anthem: The Rivers of the Water of Life – Malcom Archer (b. 1952)
        I saw the river of the water of life, bright as a crystal,
        Flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb
        Through the middle of the street of the city, alleluia.

        Let everyone who is thirsty come.
        Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.
        Alleluia.

        Let anyone who is thirsty come to me,
        And let the one who believes in me drink.
        Out of the believer’s heart shall flow
        Rivers of living water.

        I saw the river of the water of life, bright as a crystal,
        Flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb
        Through the middle of the street of the city, alleluia.
     

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    Lent 2020 - Week Five Devotion
    Weathering the Storm, By: Rev. Jasiel Hernandez
     


    Week Five (March 29-April 4)


    Weathering the Storm
    By: Rev. Jasiel Hernandez

    “In fact, we gain something by losing our way: 
    the drive to find our way back.”  

    The season of Lent seems to provide us with a second chance to fulfill all those new-year resolutions that we made eight weeks ago. Perhaps we wanted to read more or exercise more frequently or create more quality time with loved ones. But somehow, we lost track along the way due to many reasons and excuses. So, now many of us are back to square one, giving it another try, feeling empowered to overcome this setback and hopefully become better than before. Lent gives us our drive back. 

    But we gain more than just our drive. Author Sara Parsons writes in this her fifth chapter that setbacks also provide us with two other wonderful opportunities. First, during setbacks we realize we need others. It is during these times of uneasiness and doubt that we get to express our love to our neighbor. We have the chance to extend our hand with compassion to those who are struggling to get back on their feet, and we also get to see other people’s kindness and benevolence towards us. And secondly, setbacks allow us to be true to ourselves. We have the opportunity to discover the raw material within ourselves that has caused us to fail. Doing that requires a certain boldness and forgiveness though. Therefore, setbacks help us to be better at forgiving ourselves—we learn how to be gracious and kind with the self that lies within us. 

    Friend, do not be afraid of setbacks. They are part of every great journey. Remember, while we may lose something, we gain even more wonderful opportunities for loving ourselves and neighbor. Amen. 
     


    Worship Highlights


    March 29 – Fifth Sunday of Lent
    Sermon Series:  A Clearing Season – Weathering Storms 

    Romans 8:31-39 & Jeremiah 31:31-36
    “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: 
    I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
    Jeremiah 31:33

    Anthem: God Be in My Head – Walford Davies (1869-1941)
        God be in my head, and in my understanding;
        God be in mine eyes, and in my looking;
        God be in my mouth, and in my speaking;
        God be in my heart, and in my thinking;
        God be at mine end, and at my departing.
     

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    Lent 2020 - Week Six Devotion
    Encountering the Sacred, By: Rev. David Berry
     

    Week Six (April 5-11)


    Encountering the Sacred
    By: Rev. David Berry

    Our Lenten journey has arrived at Holy Week, a time of sacred encounter. This is a week we gather in Holy space on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. A week filled with sacred trembling. Whenever I have asked members about a time when they have encountered the sacred and experienced a holy trembling, I hear of the time they were brought to tears when they saw the donkey enter the sanctuary. When the last candle was snuffed out and we sat in total darkness, I experienced a profound deep and complete silence. When we sat together and sang

    “Were You There?” and we were no longer in the pews but at the foot of the cross.
    In this week of sacred encounter we belong together. Why? Because in the dangerous act of worship as Mark Labberton reminds us there is a life-altering recognition that Someone has shown up and changed the rules that our society tells us govern human existence. Worship, he says, is to be the new way of seeing and feeling that redraws boundaries, rewires connections and redistricts how we govern ourselves.     

    “While Jesus, emphasized the inward, individual aspects of faith, he did not leave it there, as though persons could ever be like jugs in the rain, separate receptacles that share neither their emptiness nor their abundance, Jesus bound his disciples into a fellowship. He joined their channels until, like interflowing streams, one contributed to all and the spirit of all was expressed in each. Jesus braided them into friendship with himself and with each other, so close that the community did what no isolated believer ever could have done—it survived the shock of crucifixion, the agony of sustained persecution, the frailties of its members.”

     “The Meaning of Faith”, Harry Emerson Fosdick, p. 329


    Worship Highlights


    April 5 – Palm Sunday
    Sermon Series:  A Clearing Season – Encountering the Sacred 

    Psalm 24 & Matthew 21:1-11
    “When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ 
    The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’”
    Matthew 21:10-11

    Join the children of the church in a festive parade of palms at the end of the 9:30 and the beginning of the 11 a.m. services. A live donkey leads the children through the sanctuary as they wave their palms and proclaim, “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna,” along with the singing congregation. 
    The 8:15 a.m. traditional service, the 10:35 a.m. Wholeness and Holy Communion service, and the 5 p.m. Together@5 service meet at their normal times.  

    Anthem: Lift Up Your Heads, O Ye Gates (from Messiah) – G.F. Handel
    Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors!         that the King of glory may come in.
    Who is the King of glory? 
    The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle.
    Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! 
    that the King of glory may come in.
    Who is this King of glory? 
    The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.