Dear friends in Christ,
Attend is a word with renewed meaning for me lately. Many of you know that I’ve been part of the Ecumenical Center for Clergy Spiritual Renewal through Holy Wisdom Monastery in Madison, Wisconsin for the past eight months. As part of that renewal, we are encouraged to write a “rule” for our lives, just as Benedict wrote a rule to order the lives of the brothers and sisters who lived in his communities. That original rule was a list of principles that still forms the foundation for Benedictine monasteries everywhere, but we were given freedom to make our rule whatever we felt it needed to be.
After a lot of reflection, I settled on ATTEND as my rule. Just the one word. “Attend” reminds me to show up for my life, to be fully in attendance and to do the work necessary to be fully present in mind and heart as well as body. “Attend” also reminds me to stop and pay holy attention to what is happening inside me as well as what God might be doing in me, through me and around me. And “attend” also reminds me to serve and care for others, as a doctor or nurse might attend a patient.
This Lent I invite you to “attend” with me. Not only in terms of attending worship (as worthy a discipline as that is!) but also to attend to your own soul and what God might be doing deep within you, and to be attentive to ways you might attend to others.
A Personal Prayer Concern
I don’t ask for your prayers very often as there are so many needs out there, but I need to do so now. My family is in need of prayer as my father Mike has recently been re-diagnosed with cancer after being in remission from prostate cancer for nearly ten years.
It is a bit of a mystery now as the doctors are still doing tests to find out where this new cancer originated. Spots on his liver and lung have been biopsied, but genetically they do not look like prostate, liver, or lung cancer. They know it is not in his brain or his bones (thanks be to God!) but have not yet discovered the source. Please pray for them to find out soon so he can begin treatment. And please pray for my mom Sue as she is having a much more difficult time with this than my dad is!
What does this mean for St. Peter’s? For now, we are still waiting and seeing what tests reveal. I may be taking more trips to Seattle to see Mom and Dad and may need to reschedule appointments or meetings here depending on surgery dates and treatment. Our Commissioned Lay Ministers are aware of the situation and ready to jump in and help wherever needed. Thank you for your understanding in this challenging time.
Notes for Worship during Lent
Let me share some context with you about our Lenten worship this year. We will be focusing on the Psalms each Sunday. This is a piece of our worship tradition that often gets overlooked, but they are the original hymnal of the Bible. These are the words that were sung by the Israelites and the Jews as they engaged in worship. The Psalms also include poems written to express the joy or anguish of a particular individual, with a sometimes shocking honesty.
Lent is a time when we set aside the many masks that we wear and seek greater honesty with God and with ourselves. Maybe the Psalms can be a helpful guide for this soul-searching. In them we find every human emotion and every type of relationship with God. It is a refreshingly REAL collection of poetry!
The Psalms assigned for Lent this year focus on what it means to trust God, so you will see that theme woven in our Sunday services. Usually we speak the Psalm responsively at the 9:00 service and omit it entirely from the 11:15. For Lent at both services we will be speaking it responsively AND using a contemporary sung refrain to recapture some of the original context of singing these texts. If you would like to read ahead, the psalms for the rest of Lent are: Psalm 121, Psalm 95, Psalm 46, Psalm 130, and for April 5 there are two: Psalm 118 and Psalm 31.
For our Wednesday noon Lenten worship services, we will be hearing the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), a German theologian and pastor who is best known for his works Discipleship and Life Together, written in the context of Nazi Germany. Bonhoeffer was executed 75 years ago this spring for being part of a plot to assassinate Hitler (which failed). These worship services are a brief (under an hour) Communion service held in the fellowship hall around the tables. Everyone is welcome. (Please let Sandy Spies know if you plan to come for lunch with the Seniors at 11:30 am to ensure there is enough food.)
Finally, a letter went out recently to members and friends of St. Peter’s inviting you to join in our mission giving for Lent. It includes an offering envelope for those who like to make an “all at once” gift for Lent. We also have coin boxes available at church with Bible verses and prayers for Lent (turn the box inside out and they also work for Easter!). Please feel free to pick one up.
What Does God Have in Mind for Us?
St. Peter’s is beginning the process of developing a strategic mission plan (including some attention to stewardship) for the future. We are looking for a small team of people to guide this process who are thoughtful, prayerful, reflective, and might have some of the skills needed to help frame and share the story of St. Peter’s with the world. This is something that needs to be done every 5-10 years to help a congregation stay healthy and on track with God’s mission. It would not be an ongoing commitment year after year.
If you want to know more or know someone who might be a good fit, please contact me ASAP and we can chat more. I already have one person who is interested in serving, but we need a few more. Please pray and think about whether this might be something to which God is calling you.
A Housekeeping Issue:
Finally, as we go to press this month, the news headlines are all about the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). We do our best to remain calm, pray for those who are affected and wash our hands frequently. My plan is to have us continue to pass the peace in worship, but remember there are ways to do that with minimal contact (fist bumps, elbow bumps, flashing the “peace sign” or other gracious gestures). If you are ill or compromised, we all understand if you choose not to attend worship just in case. Please let us know so that we can hold you in prayer.
Together in Christ,
Pastor Katie Yahns