Peak of the Week

With shouts of great joy and songs of gratitude we closed out our series on the Lord’s Prayer with the doxology, “for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, amen.” Our service, which consisted of more songs than usual, was split into the three doxological (hey, that’s actually a word!) themes. We moved through the doxology appeal to 1). remember what God has done and 2). Go! Doxology is both an invitation to remember and a commission for action. We looked at God’s kingdom and were reminded that Jesus came to set up an earthly kingdom with real, physical actions. We then looked at God’s power, which, unlike our cell phones and power tools, never runs out of power! And then we looked at the glory of God most clearly seen in God’s giving of self on the cross. It was a full service!

Next week we will join Jesus as he walks into Jerusalem and join him in the garden as he prays sincerely before his Father in heaven again…it’s the “other” Lord’s prayer, once could say! We will also probe the powerful words of Psalm 31:9-16 which get close to the heart of lamenting trust we see Jesus display in the garden. We will also watch some of our youth present the meaning of Palm Sunday to us and introduce Jesus’ entrance into the final days of his life before his death.

Jasper presented a thoughtful adult class on prayer. We will continue next Sunday with Aaron teaching the class, “Prayer as Theological Transformation.” As always come ready to engage in thoughtful dialogue with the class and walk away with a better understanding of prayer’s mysterious and wonderful power. 

Peak of the Week

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

Last Sunday we dove into these powerful words from Jesus as we began to wind down our series on the Lord’s Prayer. We honed in on the power of the word “deliver” and noticed how often in scripture God delivers his people from evil. He doesn’t stop evil from occurring, but does deliver his people through it. Jesus models what this looks like through his whole ministry, encountering the work of the devil in the devil’s various forms. Going up against demons, an evil political system, and evil done in the name of God, Jesus delivers people through evil in an epic battle that builds until the cross. We remembered the scene just before the cross when Jesus is praying in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus instructs his disciples, “do not fall into temptation;” but we watch as they fall asleep... to the reality of evil. When we pray, “Lead us not into temptation,” part of our prayer is that we might not ignore the presence and reality of evil among us. The evil one is still at work and Christians are called to continue the battle, seeking deliverance for ourselves and others from Satan’s snares.

Next Sunday we will enter into the final phrase, “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever.” This bit is a doxology added by the early Christians. This Sunday will feel a bit different as we intentionally praise louder and longer than most Sundays! This can be our only response to recognizing the work of God in our lives, his power and glory and eternal kingdom. Come ready to sing to the heavens and be lifted by upbeat words of thanks and praise. After our worship service, we’ll share in a potluck (last name A-O, main dish; P-Z, side dish) and following that, the 6th-12th grade students will gather in the teen room to watch The Hobbit.

Jasper and Aaron continue to co-teach the adult auditorium class on prayer. Remember to try a new way of praying this week (breath prayer, meditation, etc.), and come ready to share your experience. This has been a fruitful time together with lots of creativity and inspiring ideas about the great mystery and power of prayer. 
 

Peak of the Week

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 

In this challenging passage, Jesus invites us to forgive others as we have been forgiven. We typically like the first half of this clause a lot more than the second half! We are good at being forgiven, but not always great at taking the step to forgive others. And yet this is a central Christian call. The message of forgiveness is something Jesus teaches, preaches, and lives out until his dying breath. The command to forgive others is strong in Jesus’ sermons. In fact, right after the Lord’s prayer, Jesus says, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15). It’s almost as if Jesus is saying, “can you hear me now?!!!” 

Forgiveness is important to God and vital for our salvation, but it’s tricky and we often miss the mark. We replace true biblical forgiveness with tolerance, leading to long-term grudges and a lack of trust within the Christian community. Since trust is essential for flourishing relationships and ministry, churches especially suffer due to a lack of forgiveness in the family. 

How do we go about this then? How is it even possible to forgive others as Christ has forgiven us? Two strategies are: (1) learning to see others as a mixture of both good and bad tendencies; and (2) striving to avoid judging others based on the worst thing they’ve done.We explored the following quote from Richard Rohr to help us out:

…two thirds of Jesus’ teaching is directly or indirectly about forgiveness! To forgive, you have to be able to see the other person – at least momentarily – as a whole person, as an image of the Divine, containing holiness and horror at the same time. In other words, you can’t eliminate the negative. You know they’ve hurt you. You know they did something wrong. You have to learn to live well with paradox, or you can’t forgive. The trouble with so much conventional religion is the cultural attitude of, ‘well, I’ll forgive them when they’ve earned it, when they’ve proven themselves.’ That’s not forgiveness, that’s a deal! God loves you precisely in your obstinate unworthiness, when you’re still a mixture of good and bad, when you’re gloriously in flux. (Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance: Trinity and Your Transformation, 134).

Can we learn to love one another in our common “obstinate unworthiness?” Can we learn to accept the human experience of paradox, and not judge one another on the worst of what we’ve done? Forgiveness (our own and others) depends on it. May God bless us as we seek to forgive as we have been forgiven. 

Sixteen backpacks full of non-perishable items will be picked up by students at Fir Grove, and half of those families have also asked to receive fresh foods (milk, eggs, butter, bread, meat). Thank you, Westside, for your generosity in supporting these students and families through what may otherwise be long, hungry breaks!

This week, the Human Resources, Neighbor Connections, and Community Leaders teams all met. Thank you to everyone for your faithful service and commitment to being the hands and feet of Jesus, and seeing Jesus in the face of those you meet. If you haven’t yet joined a team, please consider joining one!

Next week we will look at the powerful phrase, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” We will explore what it means to be delivered from evil and how we can experience true redemption from the evil that exists in our world through the work of the devil. 

Those who met in the adult auditorium class were blessed to engage in a great class led by Jasper Bawcom. Jasper helped us think through prayer and invited us to reflect on the differences between public and private prayer. What does it mean to pray without ceasing? Given our common definition and understanding of prayer, is that even possible? Jasper helped us think through a new definition of prayer and offered this intriguing question, “What if prayer is noticing God and recognizing holy moments?” Thanks to Jasper and please join us next week as we talk about how to pray when God seems silent, and consider questions of why we pray in the first place. 

Peak of the Week

“Give us this day our daily bread” is the shortest phrase in the Lord’s prayer and yet among the most powerful. This phrase is not...an invitation to be entitled brats, a statement that some get bread while others don’t, or a statement that makes God into a cosmic vending machine. This phrase does assure us that giving is in God’s nature, and God gives daily. God wants us to see him involved in our daily lives because he is! God cares about your “daily.” Have you seen God this week in the bread that you eat? Have you seen God in the friendships that sustain you, in the small comforts that can remind you of God’s everlasting care?

This week we have been in prayer for each other. We are holding up Kim and Mark Wingfield, Paige, Jonathan, Adelaide, and Monroe Diaz, as Kim’s mom Oralee was placed on hospice. We continue to grieve with Nader and Martha Khoury and their children as they just lost Nader’s mother, Samira, on the heels of his father also passing away.

Next Sunday we will continue to explore Jesus’ prayer by looking at the challenging phrase, “Forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors.” Often, in our culture, forgiveness is confused with tolerance (which is a very soft form of forgiveness). The biblical view of forgiveness is more robust, life changing, and transformative. Come expecting to be challenged by Jesus’ powerful invitation and example of what it means to forgive even the most egregious debts.

We will also pack backpacks for spring break, and bring in items for the Beaverton High School student bags. Items needed for BHS are 31 small jars of jam. Backpack items are in the Thursday email from Bonnie. We will also provide fresh foods to Fir Grove students on Thursday--see Jen if you’d like to help!

Teens--keep bringing in your Compassion International donations! So far in March we have collected just $7, so we all need to bring in $31 over the next two Sundays to meet our commitment. 

In the adult auditorium class we ended our brief series on listening by looking at all the times God “hears” the voices of his people calling out. From Exodus to Psalms we find God listening to the cries of his children. Take a moment and just peruse the Psalms for ALL of the times God is praised for listening! Take two moments and read the powerful words from Psalm 116 in which, it seems, God’s hearing saved the writer from certain death (likely severe depression). What a statement about God’s power and the power of listening (which we can all do by the way)! Join us next Sunday as we continue the discussion by looking closely at the power of prayer. Jasper Bawcom will be teaching our auditorium class in collaborate with Aaron. 
 

Peak of the Week

“Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We are exploring the power of these words and Jesus’ vision for bringing heaven to earth through healing actions, truthful words, faithful boundary breaking, and transformational relationships. Because we, too, are invited and equipped by the Spirit for these good works, in what ways and in what places might Jesus be calling us to bring heaven to earth this week? Homes? Work? Neighborhood? Social media? World?

The adult auditorium class was blessed by the words and work of Sarah Williams who helped us think through the power and healing that comes through listening empathetically. Her work as a therapist has led her deeper into understanding the power of simply listening to others without judgment and with great hope. Thank you Sarah! 

Last weekend, 16 Fir Grove students and their families had plenty to eat thanks to the cross-shaped generosity of the Classical Conversations homeschool group and Westside, who together brought in more than enough food to fill backpacks. You may have brought in food, wrote a check, or prayed over this ministry--you were a vital part! 

The Education team met this past Sunday, and the Member Connections team will meet next Sunday. If you’re not part of a community leadership team yet, consider joining one!
Family Groups are meeting this week to share a meal and life together: 

  • Wednesdays, 6:30-8:00 p.m. Westside building (Martus)
  • Wednesdays, 6:30-8:30 p.m. (Greenlee home, see directory)
  • Wednesdays, 6:30-8:15 p.m. (Schneider home, see directory)
  • Fridays, 6:00-8:00 p.m. (Christy home, see directory)

Coming up: The adult auditorium class will continue to explore the power of listening by looking closely at five listening rules employed by Randy Harris (Bible professor at ACU) in spiritual conversations. The adult conference room class continues a textual study of Mark, led by Bob Greenlee. The teens are brainstorming about a summer mission trip, hiking over spring break, and will soon begin a series of movie and conversation nights on Sundays--ask your teen and stay tuned for more details!

Give us this day our daily bread.

What does it mean to trust in the providence and goodness of God? Do we lean more towards practices of thanksgiving or entitlement in our faith? When is enough, enough? Come ready to be challenged by this important passage and reflect on God’s providence. 
 

On Earth As It Is In Heaven

Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  

May your will be done in our homes as it is in heaven. May our homes be places of peace and wholeness. 
May those who enter our homes – family, friends, or strangers – sense your Spirit at work, always bringing heaven’s peace into our lives. 
God grant us heavenly homes now in which all feel welcomed and embraced. 
Be in our relationships with spouses, parents, children, siblings, aunts, and uncles and on and on.
May we love one another as you love us, and bring heaven’s wholeness into our homes – on earth as it is in heaven. 

May your will be done in our neighborhoods as it is in heaven. May our streets and stores practice the justice and equality of heaven. 
May racism and hate be uprooted and tossed out, replaced by love and acceptance. May we, your followers, bring the light of heaven into the darkest homes around us. 
Lead us to the places you want us to go, the people you want us to love, and the heaven you want us to form. 
May we love our neighbors and neighborhoods as you love us, and bring heaven’s wholeness into our neighborhoods – on earth as it is in heaven. 

May your will be done in our church as it is in heaven. May these walls offer a place of safety and security for those who need heaven’s love. 
May the songs that we sing and the service we perform be pleasing to heaven’s reality and may heaven come close. 
May this congregation practice the radical grace and love of heaven’s glory and may we all feel the love of your son flowing through us. 
May we love our brothers and sisters in Christ as you love us, and bring heaven’s wholeness into our church – on earth as it is in heaven. 

May your will be done in our world as it is in heaven. In a world torn apart by war, hate, racism, and walls may heaven break through. 
God, send agents of heaven into the hell of gangs, terror, and darkness. May we serve as your agents of heaven. 
Point us in the right direction and teach us to play the songs of heaven so that the world can know your justice, love, and peace. 
Heal this broken place, Father, and bring your kingdom into the messes we have created in our kingdoms. 
May we love our world as you love us, and bring heaven’s wholeness into our world – on earth as it is in heaven. 

-- Aaron Metcalf

Peak of the Week

"Our Father in heaven, holy is your name." There is a holy boldness in reaching out to God as "Father," and this evokes memories of Israel's father God delivering his children from captivity. Too many people in our world don't know that they can approach God with this familiar, yet powerful language. In some cases, shame or a lack of understanding may prevent us from experiencing the nearness of God. May we all know and live into this truth, making prayer a part of our daily life as individuals, families, and friends. 

The adult bible class on "holy listening" has been exploring how to listen with the expectation that God will speak to us through the other. Listening seems a lost discipline in our world and recovering this practice has been healing for many of us. Folks have reported changes in how they listen and have noticed HUGE differences in their lives. Keep it up! We will continue this conversation for at least a few more weeks, perhaps even with some "professional listeners" to help us explore this holy, healing practice.

The youth group is continuing to support Nevile through Compassion International with letters, prayers, and by each student bringing $1-2 per week (please help them remember!). Coming soon: a Sunday evening movie & conversation series (4-8 p.m.). 

Over 70 folks from Westside and the neighborhood volunteered together to Rock the Block! Countless other neighbors drove in to dispose of items. Despite lots of scrap metal being diverted for recycling (thanks, Michael Lorian!), we filled two large dumpsters. That’s TWO large dumpsters of couches, lawn chairs, broken clay pots, and other items that are NO LONGER cluttering porches, sidewalks, garages, and closets. Hooray! We are SO thankful to more than 100 folks who made this possible, from the supportive city staff to the generosity of Metro, Nothing Bundt Cakes, and Big O’s Pizza, to YOU and all of our neighbors who showed up and served! It was truly a fantastic day of connection, meeting a need, and serving in the name of Jesus. And thanks be to God for holding back the rain and even shining some sun on us!

"Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." As we look forward to our time together on Sunday exploring how heaven might come near, may we continue to boldly call out to God, our father, and be willing to sit down with Jesus on the steps of our soul. 

Peak of the Week

    King Nebuchadnezzar seemed to be doing so well! Just recently we watched him bow before God and Daniel, thankful that the weight of the whole world doesn’t rest on his shoulders, relieved to learn there is an eternal kingdom coming which won’t be thrown off or thrown around. And then, well, power is seductive. Addicting. Not long after this we find Nebuchadnezzar lording and using power poorly again, and causing great threat to some of God’s most faithful followers. 
    He builds this ridiculous idol; an image of some sort that towers on a hill for all to see. It’s 90 feet by 9 feet of gold and ostentatious, frivolous, idolatry. The thing represents all idols, frankly: it’s unsteady, unstable, silly looking, and demanding of worship when the right music plays. 
    And the music plays. And people bow. Everyone, that is, except for a few good people from Jerusalem; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. After they are outed by jealous Babylonians they are brought before the king and commanded to bow before this ridiculous idol. But they won’t. And they boldly proclaim that God can and will save them…but even if he doesn’t they will still not bow to such a thing. 
    The king’s crown blows off his hot head and he orders a fire lit 7 times hotter than usual to throw these knuckleheads into! Get rid of them and teach the world a lesson! But then, after they are in the fire, he looks in to see them hanging out unburned and obviously fine. And more, they have company; something or someone who looks angelic or otherworldly is hanging out with the friends. He releases the captives and, again, praises the God who continues to put up with his ridiculous pomp. 
    This story stirred our imaginations on Sunday and invited us to reflect on some very difficult but very important questions. To what are we bowing down (perhaps unintentionally)? What music or anthem, when played, causes us to bow to something other than God? Could we, if given the chance, stand up to tyranny and show faith even if this means death? Are we actually being given that chance now but we don’t see it because idolatry, these days, is less obvious than a 90-foot-golden image? 
What would you have done? 
What are you doing? 
What will you do? 

Peace, Aaron

Backpack Buddies - join!

It's that time of year! This year we are committed to providing food-filled backpacks to about 15 Fir Grove students every time there's a day off school. We are looking for three kinds of people. Please see the list below and let Jen know what you are ready to take on!

  1. Backpack Buddies Coordinator: If you have about 2-4 hours of time to give each month of the school year, this could be the job for you! This involves communicating with the counselor at Fir Grove, scheduling and executing pick-ups & drop-offs, keeping an eye on the inventory and notifying Westside about the needs, occasionally shopping (Westside-funded) to fill in the inventory, and providing occasional updates. 
  2. Cheerful Food Provider: If you have a few dollars in the budget and extra room in your shopping cart, please grab a few needed items to stock the backpack buddies shelves. 
  3. Cheerful Funds Provider: If you have a few dollars in the budget but no time to shop, please mark your donations for "Backpack Buddies" and the coordinator will take care of it.

Peak of the Week

    Last Sunday we joined a rich story, beginning with a tormented king during the first few years of his reign. Nebuchadnezzar is plagued by dreams and they are causing him to lose sleep, they are troubling him deeply. He calls in all those on his payroll who deal with this sort of thing (magicians, enchanters, astrologers, etc.). The first words out of their mouths are, “May the king live forever!” It seems obvious to Nebuchadnezzar that they are going to only tell him what he wants to hear – a constant reality for those who find themselves in places of power and privilege. He asks them to do something impossible (unless your God!) – tell him his dream first and then interpret it! When they are unable to do this the command goes out, “off with their heads!”
    Enter Daniel. Daniel persuades the powers that be to give him a night to work on it and he can tell the king his dream in the morning. Through prayer (note the prayer includes his three friends) Daniel receives a vision from God and knows the dream. Miracle number 1. We are impressed! 
    But then we get to miracle number 2 and are impressed and left wondering. The dream Daniel tells and interprets is less than flattering to a king, even though he begins with a lot of flattery! The message is the exact opposite of, “May the king live forever!” The message is, “You’re not going to live forever and your kingdom is going to go away…all the kingdoms are going to go away, actually, except for the one that’s eternal.” The miracle is in Nebuchadnezzar’s reaction; he falls prostrate before Daniel and praises the God of Daniel. Why didn’t he kill Daniel for this message? This is not the sort of thing you tell a king. This is not what he as the king is at all used to hearing. 
    As we walked through this story and wondered what is going on with Nebuchadnezzar we realized this truth: the king actually wants to be told the truth. Nebuchadnezzar is sick and tired of being sold a constant commercial for his own kingdom. He’s tired of being lied to, duped, by those around him who do little more than nod their heads at whatever he says. He yearns for truth and is grateful for it. 
    And the truth he receives is that God is much, much bigger than him and the kingdom he now oversees will come to an end. He’s not eternal; he’s temporal. And this is profoundly good news for a king who constantly feels the weight of the world on his shoulders. The news that he will fade away might even bring some relief. 
    Remember when Jesus said, “The truth shall set you free” (John 8:32)? I think that’s what we’re looking at here with Nebuchadnezzar. A king set free from his own power trap. It’s good news that God is forever. It’s good news the king is not. 
    And yet, power is a powerful addiction. This next week we will watch Nebuchadnezzar fall in love with his own power once again as he attempts to kill three faithful Jews in a fiery furnace. Power, it turns out, isn’t as easy to give up as we might think; it has a firm grip on a scared king. I wonder what hope we will find as we walk next to the flames in this story?
    So…how about you? Are you sick of being sold a commercial by our society that claims you can live forever? Or, if not forever, better than ever by buying this or that product? Are you hungry and thirsty for the truth that will set you free? Are you ready for a new kingdom that won’t go away, one that begins like a small rock and grows to a mountain? Ready to put the power down and fall before God? 
Peace, Aaron

 

The Glamour of Babylon

On Sunday, Aaron painted a vivid backstory to Daniel's arrival at the gates of Nebuchadnezzar's palace. We imagine how as a young boy, he must have been overwhelmed by the grandness of the towering walls and gates, the shining gold boasting the kingdom's wealth, and huge mosaics of powerful animals daring anyone to stand up to such a mighty nation. In spite of the onslaught of voices and offerings attempting to woo and sway Daniel to become a Babylonian, he resisted because he knew at whose table he was already a guest--he knew he already feasted with the rightful king. Below the image of the gates are a few questions for reflection--comments are open so let us know what you're hearing and thinking!

--Jen

Ishtar Gate (entry into Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar's Palace), on display in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin

Ishtar Gate (entry into Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar's Palace), on display in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin

  1. Imagine what it would have felt like to be Daniel walking through these walls after being in a detainment camp outside of the city? What do you think would have been going through his mind? What sorts of emotions do you think he felt?
     
  2. Daniel takes a stand against the food he's offered from, "the king's table." Likely, this had less to do with the food being "unclean" and more to do with it being a symbol of Babylonian acceptance. Daniel is willing to live in the city, be renamed, and even serve in the king's court, but he is unwilling to eat Babylon into his system (you are what you eat!). How do you think the world today strives to draw us in as Christians, inviting us to become fully like the world? How can we stand against this pressure?
     
  3. When you read Daniel one what do you think is at stake? How can we stand against the kingdom in which we find ourselves without completely retreating?

Peak of the Week

Daniel is an amazing example of holding these things together, trusting God through the most difficult times and holding fast to what he knows to be true and of ultimate importance.

Greetings Westside!

We hope September is off to a great start for you! For those who were traveling over the weekend, we pray you arrived back home safely. During our time together on Sunday, we imagined what life was like in exile, as foreigners in a strange land where the locals don't eat like us, talk like us, or worship like us. We explored the importance of following God during difficult times, and how to hold faith and joy and difficulty and tragedy all together at the same time. Rather than an either-or situation, we are called to embrace a "third way" that holds these things together. 

This coming Sunday is Promotion Sunday: all ages will meet together at 9:30 in the auditorium for a brief time of blessing, and then we'll be sent off to our classrooms. During the sermon, we'll dive into the book of Daniel (read chapter 1 in advance for extra credit!). We begin with the difficult problem of remaining faithful to God when the world around us is lost in a different vision of what faithfulness, and God, look like. Daniel serves as an example as he stands up for what is right, upsetting the tyrannical powers that be without losing his life.

How are the missional habits going for you? (see below for more info) Are you choosing a different habit each week or focusing on just one the whole time? We're just over a month away from Family Camp (Oct 14-16), so be noticing and journaling about your experiences. We are excited to hear and learn from each other!

Peace,
Aaron and Jen

Missional Habits (from The Five Habits of Highly Missional People)
Choose one or more of these habits to incorporate into your weekly rhythm. Reflect on your experiences in a journal by writing, sketching, jotting down words or phrases, creating brainstorm maps, thought bubbles, photographs, etc. Then bring your reflections to Family Camp (Oct 14-16) and be prepared to share stories--successes and failures!

  1. Bless: I will bless three people this week, at least one of whom is not a member of our church (e.g., words of affirmation, acts of kindness, gift-giving).
  2. Eat: I will eat with three people this week, at least one of whom is not a member of our church. 
  3. Listen: I will spend at least one period of the week listening for the Spirit’s voice (silence, solitude, at least 20 minutes).
  4. Learn: I will spend at least one period of the week learning Christ (marinating in the story of Jesus: read the Gospels, read about Jesus, watch movies about Jesus).
  5. Sent: I will journal throughout the week about all of the ways I alerted others to the universal reign of God through Christ (reconciliation, justice, beauty, wholeness) through announcing and demonstrating (e.g., mediating a conflict, promoting fair-trade products, hiking with a friend, helping to heal a broken relationship). This helps us to process events, make sense of God’s work, keep a record of insights, ask important questions,and identify ourselves as sent ones.

 

 

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