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Life in God
2017 Lenten Sermon Series

During the Season of Lent, we will be exploring what it means to live a life in God. On the six Sundays during Lent, Dr. Galloway will be preaching a sermon series titled Life in God: A Life Grounded in Scripture. He will focus on the dramatic life of the prophet Jeremiah, who struggled with his call and with the word God gave him to speak. Jeremiah spoke words of judgment and hope to the people he loved. We will be challenged to reflect on our call and the struggles we face as we seek to be faithful to God.
 
Each Sunday the call to worship is a word from the Lamentations of Jeremiah. During the prelude, we invite you to meditate upon these words, allowing the Spirit to ground our lives in the Word of God.
 

Life in God is a life rooted and grounded in Scripture. Through reading, studying and meditating upon the Bible as the written word of God, we come to encounter the living word of God, Christ Jesus. Through Scripture, we grow in our experience of being united with Christ and united with one another through Christ.

 

The Season of Lent
Letter from Lewis

The Season of Lent

A Life Grounded in Scripture

It is no longer I who live but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  - Galatians 2.20
 
Dear Friends:
 
During the Season of Lent we will be exploring what it means to live a life in God. In the Gospel of John, Jesus prays that his followers will be one with God just as he is one with God. Paul expresses our unity with God as a reality accomplished by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” We have died with Christ and have been raised to new life with him.
 
Life in God is a life rooted and grounded in Scripture. Through reading, studying and meditating upon the Bible as the written word of God, we come to encounter the living word of God, Christ Jesus. Through Scripture, we grow in our experience of being united with Christ and united with one another through Christ.
 
There are many opportunities this Lenten Season to grow in wisdom and understanding through the study of Scripture. In Sunday morning worship, we will be examining the life of Jeremiah a
nd his struggles with his call, the prophetic word, and his own mortality. On Wednesday evenings, Dr. John Franke will teach a class for all adults entitled Bible 101 that will give a sweeping overview of the entire message of Scripture. I hear people say that they c

an’t attend a Bible study or Sunday School Class because they don’t know anything about the Bible. The only way to learn and grow is to take the plunge and participate with others in Bible study.
 
Families@Five will take a journey through Jerusalem as they follow the events of the last week in the life of Jesus. Second@Six will begin at the beginning with a sermon series 
based on the book of Genesis. On Sunday mornings there will be other classes for all ages, including a class led by Rev. Chelsea Benham on what it means as baptized children of God to be mortal. Our Music and Fine Arts Team will lead us in Wednesday night meditative Lenten Services, a study of the Psalms and special Sunday concerts on Job and Jeremiah. In addition, our Children and Family Ministries will present a series for children on the covenants that God makes with us.
 
This Lent we will discover the challenges and joys of living a life in God that is rooted and
grounded in Scripture.
 
Yours in Christ,
Lewis F. Galloway, Senior Pastor
 
 
 

 

 


Wednesdays in Lent

Wednesdays in Lent

through April 12
6 - 6:20 p.m., Milner Chapel
led by the Spiritual Growth Team
music offered by cellist Adriana Contino
 
through March 29
6:30 p.m., Rm. 356
led by Dr. John Franke, Theologian-in-Residence
 
through April 5
6:30 - 7:40 p.m., Sanctuary
 
Youth Suite
6:30 - 8 p.m.
 
6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

First Week in Lent
Jeremiah's Call and Commission

First Week in Lent 

MARCH 5-11

 

Jeremiah's Call and Commission

The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, 2to whom the word of the LORD came in the days of King Josiah son of Amon of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. 3It came also in the days of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah, and until the end of the eleventh year of King Zedekiah son of Josiah of Judah, until the captivity of Jerusalem in the fifth month.
 
4 Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” 6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” 7 But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you.
 
8Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.” 9Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the LORD said to me, “Now I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”  Jeremiah 1:1-10
 
 
by Michael Lang

In this remarkable passage, the first thing that strikes me is that, before Jeremiah has to do anything, before he has even called on God—God calls on him, revealing to him that he has gone before him. “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” Before he existed, before Jeremiah was someone to be known, he was known by God. He was loved by God. He was consecrated by God, made pure through the Holy Spirit. Jeremiah, who did not yet exist, was somehow consecrated by God.
 
Not only that—Jeremiah was appointed to a lofty task by God: to address the nations! The lives of prophets in those days were often extremely dangerous: they were to proclaim the Word of God to Kings, who often weren’t interested in having their authority challenged. Frequently, this meant persecution or even execution.
 
It’s not surprising, then, that many of us probably feel sympathy for Jeremiah, and we can relate to his reluctance to obey God! Indeed, as Presbyterians, we believe that all of us have a calling from God. But few of us are called to life-threatening vocations like Jeremiah’s, and so we might be tempted to think that our call is not comparable to Jeremiah’s call. And yet, despite the fact that most of us have more “ordinary” callings, it is often a terrifying thing to listen to God’s call and to trust Him—regardless of where we are.
 
In my own life thus far, I have always felt that I could best serve God as a teacher. Since high school, I’ve been drawn to getting a doctorate and teaching at a college. But I’ve also had a desire to study our Faith, which is why I am in seminary. God has not asked me to be a “prophet to the nations,” but He has asked that I be a leader in a difficult time for the Church.
 
A challenging aspect of my own struggle to discern God’s call is the changing state of our culture. As large parts of our society become more secular, the academy, too, is becoming more hostile to the Church. As somebody who wishes to serve in the Church in the academy, I feel an overwhelming burden of bridging the gap between two spheres that are increasingly alien to each other. I worry that what I learn in the academy will seem irrelevant to the church, and, conversely, that our faith will be unwelcome in the academy. Because of this, I often resist God’s call: “Surely I am incapable of doing anything worthwhile—so God, don’t waste your time with me”—this is my default attitude.
 
But our God is good and gracious, so we have every reason to trust in Him. I encourage each of you to pray, then, and ask: To what does God call you? In what ways might you (like me) tend to underestimate God’s power? For although it is often difficult to follow God, Christ has promised us that his “yoke is easy and his burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). Let us all pray for the assurance of the Holy Spirit that this is so. Amen.

Michael Lang is an MDiv. student at Princeton Theological Seminary, an inquirer in the PC(USA), and a member of Second Presbyterian Church.

 


Second Week in Lent
Harsh Words of Judgement

Second Week in Lent

March 12-18

Jeremiah Proclaims God's Judgement on the Nation

7 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2 Stand in the gate of the LORD’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah, you that enter these gates to worship the LORD. 3 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your doings, and let me dwell with you[a] in this place. 4 Do not trust in these deceptive words: “This is[b] the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.”
 
5 For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly act justly one with another, 6 if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt, 7 then I will dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your ancestors forever and ever.
 
8 Here you are, trusting in deceptive words to no avail. 9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, 10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, “We are safe!”—only to go on doing all these abominations? 11 Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your sight? You know, I too am watching, says the LORD. 12 Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. 13 And now, because you have done all these things, says the LORD, and when I spoke to you persistently, you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer, 14 therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your ancestors, just what I did to Shiloh. 15 And I will cast you out of my sight, just as I cast out all your kinsfolk, all the offspring of Ephraim.  Jeremiah 7:1-15
 
 
by Karl Duchmann

There are times in our lives when we witness something happening that we know is not right. A new kid on the playground is being bullied and not welcomed. A coworker is taking credit for another coworker’s work instead of celebrating and calling attention to it. A politician is passing some piece of legislation that makes the most vulnerable more vulnerable, not less. We see this injustice with our own eyes, and we feel it deep in our hearts; we can name it and quietly disapprove of it... but do we have the courage to speak up?
 
“My mom always said if you can’t say anything nice...,” I think to myself when I need an excuse to stay quiet. “And didn’t Jesus say something about a speck, a plank, and a few eyeballs,” I think. “Who am I to judge?”
 
In our passage of scripture today, Jeremiah is visited by the word of God. The word comes to him and orders him to go to the gate of God’s temple in the kingdom’s capital city to offer harsh words of judgment upon society at large and the leaders of that society specifically. Jeremiah doesn’t hem or haw. Jeremiah obeys.
 
“Hear the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah, you that enter these gates to worship the LORD,” Jeremiah proclaims in an act of public protest. “Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD’” (Jer. 7:3-4). Jeremiah then stands up for the most vulnerable (the immigrant, the orphan, the widow), calls out his own nation’s hypocrisy, sin, and hollow utterances of piety, and asks them to leave behind the false senses of security that they cling to and embrace God’s justice instead.
 
These words are harsh and judgmental, but they aren’t Jeremiah’s alone. Look closely at the text and you will see that the words are in fact the words of the LORD. I think this is significant. When we name the injustice we see and use what power we have to stand up for the vulnerable in our midst, when we reject the false limits of hollow piety to embrace the social import of our faith, then do not do any of these things with our words or our power alone. God is with us. God is filling in the gaps between what we can offer and what the world needs to change for the better.
 
Let us pray:
 
God of all people. God of all places. God of all days.
 
We know you care for us as a parent cares for a first and only child. We know your heart breaks for us in our times of adversity. We know your righteous anger burns for any of us when we are abused or mistreated.
 
Help us to love others as you have shown us through Christ to love. Encourage us to speak up and speak out when your Word is upon our tongues. Let us seek and live into your mission which knows not the bounds of Sunday worship. Amen.

Karl Duchmann is a graduate of Allegheny College and Louisville Seminary. He has served Faith Presbyterian Church as pastoral resident and is a candidate for ministry. Karl loves basketball, board games, and reading children’s books with his family.

 


Third Week in Lent
Oh, My Anguish, My Anguish!

Third Week in Lent

March 9-25

Sorrow for a Doomed Nation

19 My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain! Oh, the walls of my heart!
 
My heart is beating wildly; I cannot keep silent; for I[a] hear the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.
 
20 Disaster overtakes disaster, the whole land is laid waste. Suddenly my tents are destroyed, my curtains in a moment.
 
21 How long must I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet?
 
22 “For my people are foolish, they do not know me; they are stupid children, they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil, but do not know how to do good.”
 
23 I looked on the earth, and lo, it was waste and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light. 24 I looked on the mountains, and lo, they were quaking, and all the hills moved to and fro.
 
25 I looked, and lo, there was no one at all, and all the birds of the air had fled.
 
26 I looked, and lo, the fruitful land was a desert, and all its cities were laid in ruins before the LORD, before his fierce anger.
 
27 For thus says the LORD: The whole land shall be a desolation; yet I will not make a full end.  Jeremiah 4:19-27
 
 
by Erik Sandstrom

At the start of 2015. I had no idea what was in store for me later in the year. I was working a blue-collar job not paying attention to the world around me. I would go to work, come home, and go out with my friends. This was repeated day after day; it was my life, in which I was content. Later in 2015, I would sign up for a program that would open my eyes to the pain of this nation and how it affected the people whom I would work with.
 
This is the best thing that has ever happened in my life. No longer would I blatantly not pay attention to the world around me, now my life had a new meaning. As I continued to follow the path God had called me for, the anguish of society would invade my heart.
 
As I would share stories with those who were experiencing the end of their life, I would hear story after story about lives that were lived during the years of the civil rights movements -- particularly, the Little Rock nine, because I was in Little Rock, Arkansas. To hear firsthand accounts about the atrocities that were present during that period of life made my heart bleed.
 
As the year progressed, I would be spending more time and sharing life with my friends on the streets. In doing so, once again I heard more stories about the hardships of life. It struck me that the disaster both people and groups were experiencing were human made. I had heard the battle cry, the trumpet that has called me to action. No more could I go about my life apathetically ignoring the pain of life around me. It was time to act.
 
The following year I moved out to the borderlands of Tucson, Arizona, where I would come face to face once again with friends on the margins, whether they were migrants struggling to gain asylum or people facing difficulty when trying to acquire sustenance to nourish their bodies. Once again I have come face to face with the complacency I had once lived in. I would talk with people and ask why things were not changing, the sad and scary answer I would receive is this, “It’s just how it is.”
 
We as people have grown complacent with how life has been, and we are afraid to change the “norm.”
 
Please pray with me:
 
Heavenly protector, we see the disasters of what we have created. We see our complacency in a world and the destruction that it brings. Help us to listen to the trumpet, the battle cry. Help us to not just be fools in this land that has lost your heavenly light. Amen.

Erik Sandstrom is a second year Young Adult Volunteer. While in Little Rock, Arkansas, he served with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, Arkansas Hospice, Mercy Church Little Rock, and as a Stephen Minister with Second Presbyterian Church Little Rock. In August of 2016 Erik moved to the Borderlands of Tucson Arizona, where he serves with St. Marks Presbyterian Church in the sectors of community outreach and pastoral care. Erik also works with the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, where he co-manages a harvest cooperative that strives to bridge the gap of farmers to consumers who are on government assistance. 

 


Fourth Week in Lent
Yelling, Screaming and Shouting

Fourth Week in Lent

March 26 - April 1

Jeremiah Persecuted by Pashhur

1 Now the priest Pashhur son of Immer, who was chief officer in the house of the
LORD, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things. 2 Then Pashhur struck the prophet
Jeremiah, and put him in the stocks that were in the upper Benjamin Gate of the
house of the LORD. 3 The next morning when Pashhur released Jeremiah from the
stocks, Jeremiah said to him, The LORD has named you not Pashhur but “Terrorall-
around.” 4 For thus says the LORD: I am making you a terror to yourself and to
all your friends; and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies while you look on.
And I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon; he shall carry them
captive to Babylon, and shall kill them with the sword. 5 I will give all the wealth of
this city, all its gains, all its prized belongings, and all the treasures of the kings of
Judah into the hand of their enemies, who shall plunder them, and seize them, and
carry them to Babylon. 6 And you, Pashhur, and all who live in your house, shall go
into captivity, and to Babylon you shall go; there you shall die, and there you shall
be buried, you and all your friends, to whom you have prophesied falsely.

Jeremiah Denounces His Persecutors
 
7 O LORD, you have enticed me, and I was enticed; you have overpowered me, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; everyone mocks me. 8 For whenever I speak, I must cry out, I must shout, “Violence and destruction!” For the word of the LORD has become for me a reproach and derision all day long.
 
9 If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot. 10 For I hear many whispering:
 
“Terror is all around! Denounce him! Let us denounce him!” All my close friends are watching for me to stumble. “Perhaps he can be enticed, and we can prevail against him, and take our revenge on him.” 11 But the LORD is with me like a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble, and they will not prevail. They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonor will never be forgotten.
 
12 O LORD of hosts, you test the righteous, you see the heart and the mind; let me see your retribution upon them, for to you I have committed my cause.
 
13 Sing to the LORD; praise the LORD! For he has delivered the life of the needy from the hands of evildoers. 14 Cursed be the day on which I was born!
 
The day when my mother bore me, let it not be blessed! 15 Cursed be the man who brought the news to my father, saying, “A child is born to you, a son,” making him very glad. 16 Let that man be like the cities that the LORD overthrew without pity; let him hear a cry in the morning and an alarm at noon, 17 because he did not kill me in the womb; so my mother would have been my grave, and her womb forever great. 18 Why did I come forth from the womb to see toil and sorrow, and spend my days in shame?  Jeremiah 20:1-18
 
 
by Tom Markey

The conditions to which Jeremiah was called were devastatingly debilitating. Jeremiah was called to serve as the prophetic voice of reason in a world with seemingly little reason. It would have been far easier for Jeremiah to remain in the comfort of his own home. Yet, having been “enticed” and “overpowered” by God, God “prevailed” over Jeremiah, leading him to a life of prophetic witness.
 
Considering these realities, it is no wonder that Jeremiah’s initial feelings of uneasiness and uncertainty eventually evolved into feelings of intense anguish. As one might imagine, serving as God’s prophetic messenger was not a great way to go about making friends. Jeremiah had become a “laughingstock all day long,” a figure to be “mocked” as everyone watched and waited for him to “stumble.”
 
There is an undeniably deep anguish stirring in the soul of Jeremiah. He’s lonely. He’s hurt. He’s frustrated. He’s angry. Consumed by the torment of these painful emotions, Jeremiah cries out, “Cursed be the day on which I was born! The day when my mother bore me, let it not be blessed!... Why did I come forth from the womb to see toil and sorrow, and spend my days in shame?”
 
At one time or another, we have all felt like Jeremiah, overwhelmed by the deep anguish of our souls, paralyzed by feelings of hurt, loneliness, frustration and anger. Consumed by the painful realities of our own lives, we, just as Jeremiah, cry out to the world. Yet, to whom and to where are our cries being directed? Who is listening? Is anyone listening at all?
 
This is where Jeremiah offers us a valuable lesson in a life lived in faith. To live a life before God does not mean to be an apathetic, unaffected and unemotional believer. Living a life before God means to be profoundly and powerfully impacted by the ways in which God is operating in our lives. At times, just as Jeremiah shows us, this may manifest itself in the language of lament as we painfully cry out to God – yelling, screaming and shouting!
 
God has placed a prophetic calling on all our lives. Jeremiah describes this call as “something like a burning fire.” There is a prophetic fire burning deep within each of us. While fire can be a necessity to sustain life, providing us with warmth and comfort, it can also be a dangerous and uncontrollable force, engulfing us in painful ways.
 
In this season of Lent, a season in which we often challenge ourselves to forgo caffeine and sugar, what if we were to challenge ourselves to feel and to listen for the ways in which God is starting a fire deep inside our bones? Better yet, as we discern how God is enticing us, how might we, just as Jeremiah did, faithfully lament to the Lord? May we have the faithful courage to cry out to God – yelling, screaming and shouting!

Tom Markey is currently a Candidate in ordination process, seeking to become a Teaching Elder in the PC(USA). He is completing his Master of Divinity degree at Christian Theological Seminary.

 


Fifth Week in Lent
How to Hope When Everything is a Total Disaster

Fifth Week in Lent

April 2-8

Jeremiah Buys a Field During the Siege

32 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the tenth year of
King Zedekiah of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar.
2 At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and
the prophet Jeremiah was confined in the court of the guard that was in the
palace of the king of Judah, 3 where King Zedekiah of Judah had confined
him. Zedekiah had said, “Why do you prophesy and say: Thus says the
LORD: I am going to give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and
he shall take it; 4 King Zedekiah of Judah shall not escape out of the hands
of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be given into the hands of the king of
Babylon, and shall speak with him face to face and see him eye to eye; 5 and
he shall take Zedekiah to Babylon, and there he shall remain until I attend
to him, says the LORD; though you fight against the Chaldeans, you shall
not succeed?”
 
6 Jeremiah said, The word of the LORD came to me: 7 Hanamel son of
your uncle Shallum is going to come to you and say, “Buy my field that is at
Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.” 8 Then my cousin
Hanamel came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word
of the LORD, and said to me, “Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land
of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for
yourself.” Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.
 
9 And I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel, and
weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver. 10 I signed the
deed, sealed it, got witnesses, and weighed the money on scales. 11 Then I
took the sealed deed of purchase, containing the terms and conditions, and
the open copy; 12 and I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah
son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel, in the presence
of the witnesses who signed the deed of purchase, and in the presence of all
the Judeans who were sitting in the court of the guard. 13 In their presence I
charged Baruch, saying, 14 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel:
Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and
put them in an earthenware jar, in order that they may last for a long time.
15 For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and
vineyards shall again be bought in this land.
Jeremiah 32:1-15
 
 
by Maureen Wilson

There are times when I feel under attack by life, all of it, and all of life is out to get me. Times when I’m taking on water from all sides with no sign of respite from the overbearing forces that be. Flashes when my personal future, and the future of the world that I exist as a part of, seem unthinkable and undeniably desperate. It is in these times that, as a person of faith, hope seems both dangerous and imperative.
 
In Jeremiah 32:1-15 the prophet Jeremiah is being held by the Court of the Guard (his own people) and Jerusalem is under siege, on the precipice of destruction. While I can’t say I’ve ever been in that exact situation, Babylonian siege and all, I can resonate with the experience of facing inconceivable imminent devastation in my life. And because someone has foolishly asked me for my theological reflection on this, I will give my opinion on navigating such a situation (in the spirit of guides for surviving a bear attack or Zombie apocalypse, only with more Bible and less bear spray).
 
In my experience, there are two choices of how to respond. Choice one is the acceptance and despair in the passive belief that my misfortunes are a sign that life is without meaning. God has abandoned me and all of creation (because if I’m going down, you’re all going down with me); thus, devastation is evidence of and equates to hopelessness. I think it can be easy to dismiss the rationale of such a mindset. It’s an undesired vulnerability and anguish that the mind forces us to forget or deny if when we are not in that exact moment, which is why empathy can be so difficult to achieve with true sincerity.
 
Platitudes of all things happening for a reason or God opening and closing windows and doors can be easy, well-meaning advice, but they can sound like nails on a chalkboard to someone in the throes of overwhelming catastrophe. Yet in the Scripture, Jeremiah, whom I usually refer to as “the downer prophet”, provides the faithful expression of hope in perilous times also known as option two. In verses (9-15) Jeremiah is called by God to plant a flag of hope amid destruction. By purchasing the family field and upholding the tradition of right to redeem, Jeremiah provides the prophetic sign of future restoration. God has not given up on the future of the people.
 
When I am under siege, it is the heavy words of truth that are redeeming words of hope, an affirmation of reality that brings me out of despair and calls me into action. To bear words of hope is not a rejection of painful experience or a meaningless gesture of good will. It is the affirmation that God is invested in us, and our value cannot be destroyed. Hope is the recognition of God’s presence with us in chaos and the existence of a meaningful future.
 

Maureen (Mo) Wilson is a member of Second and serves at Irvington Presbyterian Church as Temporary Supply Associate Pastor (pending approval). She graduated from Xavier University in Cincinnati and received her Master’s in Divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.

 


Palm Sunday
Finding Grace in Brokenness

Palm Sunday

April 9

A New Covenant

31 The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband,[a] says the LORD. 33 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. 34 No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the LORD,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.  Jeremiah 31:31-34
 
 
by Ben Heimach-Snipes

For several years I have felt God calling me to ministry in an urban context, where I might serve and learn from backgrounds beautiful and different from my own. I thought seeking out an urban context would allow me to live out Jesus’ call to seek justice in brokenness. I thought seeking an urban context would allow me to build bridges between my majority white PC(U.S.A.) denomination and people of color who now occupy the neighborhoods that white members fled decades ago. I wanted to seek this call in my life out of gratitude for God’s acceptance of me that has been a foundation for my life. What I didn’t expect was for my journey of embodying God’s call to force me to seek God’s grace in new ways.
 
Two summers ago, while interning as a chaplain at a small urban hospital in Chicago, I completed an anti-racism training with Crossroads Anti-racism Organizing and Training that reinforced my understanding that racism is a socially constructed system of power that influences our individual and institutional behavior. I could immediately identify how racism was infused in the systems of the hospital where I served – a hospital that sixty years ago would not let an African American pastor bring his pregnant wife in the doors while she was in labor. What I realized during this training was that even with all the loving intentions I brought with me as an individual, my relationships with people of color were influenced by white supremacist values subtly implanted in my being.
 
This realization dug deep into my soul because I could recognize that my white male identity was not only impacting my current relationships, but would continue to influence my behavior for my entire life. I was going to continue messing up in my relationships no matter how much I practiced or learned about race.
 
This is when I found grace all over again. I discovered people who accepted me for me, especially when I messed up and especially when I was critical of myself. I discovered that I needed God’s grace that was already written on my heart if I was going to continue to confront racism in my life and community. I learned to love and accept myself with my new lens into my own brokenness. I was empowered by grace to seek boldly the call that God has placed in my heart.
 

Ben Heimach-Snipes lives in Chicago with his wife Abbi and works as a chaplain at Holy Cross Hospital.


Easter Sunday
The Resurrection of Jesus

Easter Sunday

April 16

The Resurrection of Jesus

28 After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he[a] lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead,[b] and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” 8 So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”  Matthew 28:1-10
 
 
by Nancy Frick

I was a college student in the 1970s, a time of turmoil and change. Campus marches and protests were common. There was great concern about equality and recognition, for persons of color and for women. Much has changed since then, but being of that era has made me articularly sensitive to the role of women in our society and in the Bible. I believe this passage from Matthew stands out as one that is particularly relevant and meaningful in many ways.
 
First, Matthew describes the incredible moment in time when the world was turned upside down. Jesus, who had been crucified and buried, is alive! The angel and the earthquake signal that this event has eschatological significance. The two Marys at the scene had been with Jesus for a long time, provided for him, and learned from him. They watched the crucifixion with emotions we can only imagine. Now they are witness to an amazing series of events and are the first humans to see and speak to the risen Christ. Their Lord Jesus is alive—what joy!
 
The second is that two women were chosen to witness this astounding event, then charged with telling the Disciples what they had seen. In a culture where only Jewish men could legally bear witness, this seems truly dumbfounding. Perhaps what the women were afraid of is that they wouldn’t be believed. But Jesus affirms and encourages them. They have been lifted up and selected for the job by Jesus himself. “Do not be afraid; go and tell.”
 
In January, women from across the nation gathered for the Women’s March, joined together to bring voice to their hope for equality and justice. Having lived through the 70s, I understood their need to express their voices. Despite progress, there is still much to be done.
 
But I also felt the peace that comes from knowing what the two Marys discovered at the tomb—that before God, we are already equals. Jesus affirms this truth throughout Scripture, and in this passage when He chose two women, despite the customs of the day, to bear witness to the most earth-shattering news of all time and to preach it to the world.
 
We are all loved equally by God, and we are all given the grace of the cross—men, women and children—humans from every nationality, race and culture. That gives me a sense of optimism that love will continue to change the world for the better. But we cannot ignore the sense of urgency in Jesus’ message to the women—they went “quickly” and so should we. Go and tell. We, like the Marys, are chosen to witness to God’s saving grace and amazing love by sharing the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Every day, through our actions and words, we witness to the world that grace, change and resurrection are not only possible, but here at hand.
 
Go and tell. Don’t be afraid. We’ve got some astonishingly good news to share.
 

Nancy Frick and her husband Charlie are longtime members of Second Presbyterian Church. Nancy graduated from DePauw University and received an MSEd from Butler University. Following a teaching career, she has worked in the nonprofit/fundraising community for 25 years and is currently a Director overseeing fundraising initiatives at the St. Vincent Foundation. She is an active volunteer with the Indianapolis Great Banquet, Interfaith Hospitality Network and serves on the CenterPoint Counseling Board. Nancy and Charlie have two children, Libby Pollak (RJ) and Evan Frick, and two granddaughters, Ellie and Quinn. Nancy received her MDiv from Christian Theological Seminary in May 2016 and is currently discerning her next steps.

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The Spire is published seasonally by Second Presbyterian Church.
Editors: Jamison Coler, Director of Communications and Audio Visual, and Celia Booher, Communications Coordinator
 
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