“I’ve Been Meaning to Ask”

Dear Friends,

From A Sanctified Art – sanctifiedart.org

This Sunday, August 29th, we begin a new four-week preaching series, “I’ve Been Meaning to Ask.” Join us on Zoom at 10am. The worship series explores curiosity, courage, and connection, and is crafted around four guiding questions: “I’ve been meaning to ask… Where are you from? . . . Where does it hurt? . . . What do you need? . . . Where do we go from here?”

Through vulnerability and authenticity, we hope these courageous conversations lead us to glimpse hope, joy, and beauty. A preaching series alone will not resolve divisions and differences in the world. However, it will invite us to behold each other as images of the divine, strengthen our capacity for compassion, show us the simple power of asking unassuming questions, and remind us that courage is rooted in the heart.

Join us on Zoom at 10:00am
Dial: 1-929-436-2866 with Meeting ID: 150 620 34

Just a reminder that our Office Manager, Maila Cardoso, is on vacation next week. Catch her before the end of today if you need anything. Otherwise, our Administrative Assistant, Tammi McCoy, will be fielding all office requests during Maila’s time away.

And a prayer by Ted Loder to nourish and challenge you this week,

I Want So to Belong

O God, I want so to belong;
teach me to accept.
I want to be close;
teach me to reach out.
I want a place where I am welcome;
teach me to open my arms.
I want mercy;
teach me to forgive.
I want beauty;
teach me honesty.
I want peace;
show me the eye of the storm.
I want truth;
show me the way to question
my unquestionable convictions.
I want joy;
show me the way of deeper commitment.
I want life;
show me how to die.

Peace and Courage,

Heather

From Rev. Heather Shorlidge

Dear Friends,

Join us this Sunday August 8 at 10am for Zoom worship. I’m curating and leading the service, which will include guest preacher, Daniel Williams, the Minister for Spiritual Formation at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas.

Join us on Zoom at 10:00am
Dial: 1-929-436-2866 with Meeting ID: 150 620 34

As the Session communicated in a special email yesterday, a decision has been made to continue online worship until we can return to the sanctuary. A six-week construction delay has our new target for worship inside the sanctuary as Sunday October 24th. We recognize there is a wide range of emotions surrounding this decision—some are frustrated, longing to be together inside the building, while others are feeling relieved, trying to advocate for and keep unvaccinated children safe. Elders will be available after worship this Sunday for a conversation about this decision and to answer any questions you may have. Please know that this is not a decision that anyone wanted to have to make. As we navigate these challenging times together, we ask for your continued patience and flexibility.

Now for the really good news—your Session has called a Congregational Meeting for Sunday September 26 at 3:00pm, so that the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) can introduce their nominee for the next Senior Pastor. After more than a year of faithful work, they’ve discerned who God is calling to New York Avenue, and both the candidate and the Presbytery affirm this call. Come meet and vote to affirm God’s call on your next Senior Pastor on Sunday September 26th.

Due to our building challenges, this worship service and congregational meeting will be held at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, VA. The candidate will be onsite to preach and be introduced. For those who choose not to attend in person, we’re working on ways for you to worship and vote online. Do note that there will not be a morning worship service on Sunday September 26th. Instead, we’ll gather for one worship service at 3:00pm.

In order to ensure a smooth transition of leadership, the Session has extended the Transitional Pastor contract. I will continue in your midst through Sunday November 21st. Rachel Pacheco will serve as Acting Head of Staff for the week of Thanksgiving. And your new pastor will arrive on Sunday November 28th, the first Sunday of Advent. There’s still much to be accomplished this fall (completing the HVAC project, returning to the building, a joint Stewardship/Capital Campaign, the start of Hybrid worship), and both Pastor Rachel and I are committed to working alongside you to ensure a successful fall season of ministry.

And there’s more good news—the Personnel Committee is bringing back our Reception Staff, Robin Williams and Mary Newman, who have been furloughed due to the pandemic. Mary and Robin will start back on Sundays beginning August 15th, with the hopes that hours will increase once construction is complete and the congregation returns to the building. Please join me in warmly welcoming Robin and Mary back to our staff team.

Finally, to nourish your spirit this week, a prayer by Ted Loder, “Sometimes It Just Seems to be Too Much”

Sometimes Lord,
it just seems to be too much:
too much violence, too much fear;
too much of demands and problems;
too much of broken dreams and broken lives;
too much of war and slums and dying;
too much of greed and squishy fatness
and the sounds of people
devouring each other
and the earth;
too much of stale routines and quarrels,
unpaid bills and dead ends;
too much of words lobbed in to explode
and leaving shredded hearts and lacerated souls;
too much of turned-away backs and yellow silence,
red rage and the bitter taste of ashes in my mouth.
Sometimes the very air seems scorched
by threats of rejection and decay
until there is nothing
but to inhale pain
and exhale confusion.
Too much of darkness, Lord,
too much of cruelty
and selfishness
and indifference…
Too much, Lord,
too much,
too bloody,
bruising,
brain-washing much.

Or is it too little,
too little of compassion,
too little of courage,
of daring,
of persistence,
of sacrifice;
too little of music
and laughter
and celebration?

O God,
make of me some nourishment
for these starved times,
some food
for my brothers and sisters
who are hungry for gladness and hope,
that, being bread for them,
I may also be fed
and be full.

Peace and Courage,

Heather

From Rev. Heather Shortlidge

Dear Friends,

It has been a heavy week. With 112 DC homicides this year, the city has been grappling with gun violence. However, on Sunday afternoon, this violence hit particularly close to home, when 22-year-old Jovan Hill was fatally shot. A former Community Club student, Jovan and his family were well known to many in the NYAPC community. Our prayers continue for our city, our disenfranchised neighbors, and leaders who are seeking solutions.

Join us this Sunday, August 1st, for Zoom worship at 10:00am. I’ll be preaching and we’ll celebrate the sacrament of communion. Immediately after worship, we’ll be gathering in small groups to hear feedback from last week’s Virtual Visit Sunday. We hope you’ll stay and share your experience with members of the Worship & Music Committee

Join us on Zoom at 10:00am
Dial: 1-929-436-2866 with Meeting ID: 150 620 34

Our building continues to be under construction. This week the HVAC project continues. And inside the sanctuary, the pews are being sanded and polished, so that when we return, those little white specks will no longer slough off and appear on your clothing.

Many of you have inquired about a plan for the fall, seeing that our construction completion date has been delayed until October 21st. Your Session is meeting next Tuesday to discuss and decide upon options. We appreciate your continued patience as we work to develop a clear plan for September and October, knowing that people are hungry for continued connection and community.

Finally, a prayer by Ted Loder, to help center and nourish you this week:

Now,
O Lord,
calm me into a quietness
that heals
and listens,
and molds my longings
and passions,
my wounds
and wonderings
into a more holy
and human
shape.
Amen.

Peace and Courage,

Heather

From Rev. Heather Shortlidge

This Sunday July 25th is our second Virtual Visit Sunday. Rather than worshipping at NYAPC, you are invited to visit a congregation of your choice and return next week, Sunday August 1, to share your experience. As the Worship Team continues to think through hybrid worship, a service that accommodates people onsite as well as online, we welcome your insights and learnings about what other congregations are doing. Feel free to worship at a congregation you’ve always wanted to visit or have heard good things about. If you need suggestions, here’s a list of churches with good preachers in a variety of time zones.

If you’re craving community and connection with your church family, please join us at the All Church Picnic on Sunday afternoon beginning at 3:30pm in Rock Creek Park. Bring your own food. The Nurture Committee will provide charcoal for grilling, dessert, water, and icebreakers and games for all ages. We hope to see you in person on Sunday afternoon.

Over the past week, Ward 2 Clergy have been organizing around the DC Council budget vote, inviting elected leaders to make historic investments in homelessness prevention funding. You can read more about that here.

I’ve also been in conversation and prayer with other faith leaders about the continued gun violence in our city, including the shooting that happened Thursday evening in Logan Circle, just a few blocks from the church. Please join me in praying for residents who are forced into dead end systems and cycles, for grieving families, for MPD and their role in trying to make our communities safer, and the church as we maintain a downtown presence, proclaiming love and justice.

Finally, a prayer from Jesuit Priest, James Martin, S.J., “Sad, Tired, and Angry: A Prayer in the Face of Gun Violence” to nudge you closer to God’s Spirit and call:

Almighty God,
I come before you,
once again,
after another shooting.

I am sad, God.

So I ask you
to receive into your loving care the souls of those who were killed,
to care for those who were wounded or hurt in any way,
to console the family members and friends of those who died or were wounded,
to strengthen the hands of the rescue workers, medical professionals and caregivers
I pray too for the shooter, as I must as a Christian.

All this makes me inexpressibly sad, God.
But I know that the sadness I feel is your sadness.
It is the same sadness your son expressed
when he wept over the death of
his friend Lazarus.

I know that the sadness I feel is your sadness.

I am tired, God.
I’m tired of the unwillingness to see this as an important issue.
I’m tired of those in power who work to prevent any real change.
I’m tired of those who say that gun violence can’t be reduced.

All this makes me tired.
But I know that the tiredness I feel is your tiredness.
It’s the same tiredness that Jesus felt after his own struggles against injustice
that led him to fall asleep on the boat with his disciples.

I am angry, God.
I’m angry at the seeming powerlessness of our community to prevent this.
I’m angry at the selfish financial interests who block change.
I’m angry that these shootings happen at all.

But I know that this anger is your anger
It’s the same anger Jesus felt when he overturned the tables in the Temple,
angry that anyone would be taken advantage of in any way.

Help me see in these feelings as the way that you move me to act.

Help me see in these emotions your own desire for change.
Help me see in these feelings your moving me to act.
Help me see in these reactions your pushing me to do something.

Because I know this is the way you move people to action.
And I know that you desire action.
For Jesus did not stand by while people were being hurt.
He plunged into their lives.

So help me to answer these questions:
How can I help?
How can I fight against gun violence?
How can I urge my political leaders to enact change?
How can I help people understand that this is
an issue about life?
I am sad over the loss of life,
tired of excuses for the loss of life,
and angry that we are paralyzed by the loss of life.

Turn my sadness into compassion. Turn my tiredness into advocacy.

So
Turn my sadness into compassion.
Turn my tiredness into advocacy.
Turn my paralysis into the freedom to act.

Help me
to be compassionate,
to advocate
and to act,
as your son did,
Almighty God. Amen.

May it be so,

Heather

From Rev. Heather Shortlidge

Dear Friends,

Join us for Zoom worship this Sunday, July 18th at 10:00am. I’ll be back in our virtual pulpit and preaching. Our liturgy will include a celebration of all those who have served as NYAPC deacons as well as many of the mission and ministry projects of this influential board, now gracefully retired as part of the new church governance structure.

Join us on Zoom at 10:00am
Dial: 1-929-436-2866 with Meeting ID: 150 620 342

Our Board of Trustees received news this week that our HVAC construction project has unfortunately been delayed by another six weeks. Our new goal for substantial completion is October 20th. Although not the news anyone was hoping for, it’s not surprising for a project of this scope and size to have delays. Be assured that church staff and leaders are working through a pivot for the months of September and October. We will keep you updated as plans come together. A special thank you to Karl Hoffman, Jim Spearman, and Elias Bazezew for their dedication to making sure this construction project is completed well.

And a poem, “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver to nourish your spirit this week:

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Peace and Courage,
Heather

From Rev. Heather Shortlidge

Dear Friends,

Much has shifted following last week’s CDC updated guidance on masking and distancing. As we begin to re-emerge from fifteen months of restrictions, I look forward to a more relaxed summer. Worship will still continue online, however, there will be several opportunities to physically gather together throughout the summer months. Stay tuned for updated events and a summary of the recent congregational survey.

For the time being, masks will still be required inside the church. While it is true that many people are getting vaccinated, it is also true that many are not – including children and those at risk, all of whom are important parts of our community. Continuing to wear a mask indoors is a way we can honor and respect the community as a whole.

Currently, our Facilities Staff is working inside the building, managing the HVAC construction project and readying the 5th floor for our tenant, the McClendon Center, to return in a couple of weeks. The rest of the NYAPC church staff, including your pastors, continue to work remotely with occasional trips to the building.

In worship this Sunday May 23rd, we’ll celebrate Pentecost, the day the church celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit, which came with wind and flame, empowering the disciples to proclaim the good news of the risen Lord to all people. Worshippers are encouraged to wear red as part of Sunday’s celebration. Guest preacher, Rev. Larissa Kwong Abazia, currently serves as the pastor at Hillsborough Presbyterian Church in New Jersey and works as a consultant with Vandersall Collective. Previously she served as the Vice Moderator of the 221st General Assembly. This Sunday’s worship is one of our simplified summer services, still live on Zoom, but with a more streamlined liturgy, recorded guest preacher, and a few less bells and whistles.

Join us on Zoom at 10:00am
Dial: 1-929-436-2866 with Meeting ID: 150 620 342

Finally, a Pentecost blessing from Jan Richardson to nourish your spirit this week:

This Grace That Scorches Us
A Blessing for Pentecost Day

Here’s one thing
you must understand
about this blessing:
it is not
for you alone.

It is stubborn
about this.
Do not even try
to lay hold of it
if you are by yourself,
thinking you can carry it
on your own.

To bear this blessing,
you must first take yourself
to a place where everyone
does not look like you
or think like you,
a place where they do not
believe precisely as you believe,
where their thoughts
and ideas and gestures
are not exact echoes
of your own.

Bring your sorrow.
Bring your grief.
Bring your fear.
Bring your weariness,
your pain,
your disgust at how broken
the world is,
how fractured,
how fragmented
by its fighting,
its wars,
its hungers,
its penchant for power,
its ceaseless repetition
of the history it refuses
to rise above.

I will not tell you
this blessing will fix all that.

But in the place
where you have gathered,
wait.
Watch.
Listen.
Lay aside your inability
to be surprised,
your resistance to what you
do not understand.
See then whether this blessing
turns to flame on your tongue,
sets you to speaking
what you cannot fathom

or opens your ear
to a language
beyond your imagining
that comes as a knowing
in your bones,
a clarity
in your heart
that tells you

this is the reason
we were made:
for this ache
that finally opens us,

for this struggle,
this grace
that scorches us
toward one another
and into
the blazing day.

—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons

Peace and Courage,

Heather

From Rev. Heather Shortlidge

Dear Friends,

Join us for Zoom Worship this Sunday, May 2nd at 10:00am. I’m preaching from John 15:1-8, and we will celebrate the sacrament of communion. Immediately following worship, there will be an introduction and training for our new church database, Breeze, conducted by Elder Meg House.

Join us on Zoom at 10:00am
Dial: 1-929-436-2866 with Meeting ID: 150 620 342

Yesterday, in a separate email, you should have received a brief survey about worship and programs for this summer and early fall. Your session and staff are working together to help create meaningful in person gatherings this summer and in person worship this fall. In order to plan, we want to hear from you. Please take a few minutes to provide your feedback before Sunday May 9th. You can access the survey here.

And some words about prayer to nourish you this week:

Every day I want to speak with you.
And every day something more important
calls for my attention—
the drugstore, the beauty products, the luggage
I need to buy for the trip.
Even now I can hardly sit here
among the falling piles of paper and clothing,
the garbage trucks outside
already screeching and banging.
The mystics say you are as close as my own breath.
Why do I flee from you?
My days and nights pour through me like complaints
and become a story I forgot to tell.
Help me. Even as I write these words I am planning
to rise from the chair as soon as I finish this sentence.

-“Prayer” by Marie Howe

Peace and Courage,

Heather

Peace and Courage on This Good Friday

Dear Friends,

It’s been a holy week for the record books—with suffering, rejection, and violence all around us:

Watching an Asian American elder, 65-year-old Vilma Kari, shoved to the ground and beaten while on her way to church, as security guards do nothing to intervene

The trial of Officer Derek Chauvin who kneeled upon the neck of George Floyd, refusing to move even as Mr. Floyd repeatedly begged for breath and for his life.

The release of Lil Nas X’s explicit music video, narrating a journey from the Garden of Eden to the pits of Hell, a wrenching commentary on how the church has rejected him because he is gay.

Two shootings in the Woodland neighborhood of Southeast D.C., where Black residents continually tell us they are being starved out and priced out of their neighborhoods.

I believe these acts of violence, rejection, and exclusion cause God to weep. And that they should cause us to weep. We will get to Easter morning, the empty tomb, and all the joyful music and enthusiastic alleluias. But on this Good Friday, I invite you to reflect upon all the ways we continue to exclude, reject, and violate our siblings made in the image of God. For we cannot get to resurrection without bearing witness to suffering and crucifixion.

A poem, “Can You Drink the Cup?” by Brother Scott Surrency, O.F.M., that both stings and soothes:

Can you drink the cup?
Drink, not survey or analyze,
ponder or scrutinize –
from a distance.
But drink – imbibe, ingest,
take into you so that it becomes a piece of your inmost self.
And not with cautious sips
that barely moisten your lips,
but with audacious drafts
that spill down your chin and onto your chest.
(Forget decorum – reserve would give offense.)

Can you drink the cup?
The cup of rejection and opposition,
betrayal and regret.
Like vinegar and gall,
pungent and tart,
making you wince and recoil.
But not only that – for the cup is deceptively deep –
there are hopes and joys in there, too,
like thrilling champagne with bubbles
that tickle your nose on New Year’s Eve,
and fleeting moments of almost – almost – sheer ecstasy
that last as long as an eye-blink, or a champagne bubble,
but mysteriously satisfy and sustain.

Can you drink the cup?
Yes, you — with your insecurities,
visible and invisible.
You with the doubts that nibble around the edges
and the ones that devour in one great big gulp.
You with your impetuous starts and youth-like bursts of love and devotion.
You with your giving up too soon – or too late –

and being tyrannically hard on yourself.
You with your Yes, but’s and I’m sorry’s – again.
Yes, you – but with my grace.

Can you drink the cup?

Can I drink the cup?

Yes.

Peace and Courage on this Good Friday,

Heather

&&&&&&&&&&&&

Good Friday Service
April 2, 12:30 pm

Please join us for a reflective, quiet service of scripture and Taizé chanting.

Go to Zoom Meeting ID: 854 6792 8674


Easter Sunday Gathering and Worship Service
April 4

9:00 am – Intergenerational Gathering
We’ll gather on Zoom before worship to sing, hear an Easter story, and have a virtual scavenger hunt. People of all ages are welcome! If you are not on the family distribution list and would like to participate, email Pastor Rachel, rachel.pacheco@nyapc.org.

10:00 am – Worship Service
We’ll celebrate Easter with music and joyful Alleluias! We will also celebrate virtual communion, so bring your communion elements to your screen. In a pandemic, God blesses whatever communion elements you have on hand.

Go to Zoom Meeting ID: 150 620 342

From Rev. Heather Shortlidge

Dear Friends,

Through the Palms by Lisle Gwynn Garrity | A Sanctified Art | sanctifedart.org

Join us for worship this Sunday, March 28th, to celebrate Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week. I’m preaching from John 12:1-19. As we continue to worship virtually, we do not have our usual palm branches or bulletins to wave, however, I do invite you to get creative and have something to wave as part of our service on Sunday—a branch, a piece of fabric, a soft book or magazine.

Sunday’s music includes the beautiful “Festival Hymn on Ellacombe,” that includes brass, organ, the NYAPC choir and youth, and guests from Bethesda Presbyterian Church.

Join us on Zoom at 10:00 am
Dial: 1-929-436-2866 with Meeting ID: 150 620 342

Immediately following worship, there will be a second conversation with the Session to hear more about our nimbler governing structure, a new staff position, and our developing partnership with the BID.

A poem, “Peaceful Protest,” to nourish you as we approach Palm Sunday:

I wonder if Jesus could feel his heartbeat
In his throat, the way I do when I’m afraid.
I wonder if he had to take deep breaths,
In through his nose, out through his mouth,
Tricking his body into a state of calm.
I wonder if he was nauseous, like I am
When I’m headed into a hard conversation.
I wonder if he had to summon his courage,
Tucking fear away so that he could hold onto
What mattered most with both hands.
I wonder, because time has taught us
That it is not uncommon
For a peaceful protest
To start or end
With an unjust death.
So I wonder,
Did he know?
Was he afraid?
Did anyone see it?
I want to hold what matters most with both hands.

Peace and Courage,

Heather

From Rev. Heather Shortlidge

Dear Friends,

Image inspired by John 12:20-33 by Hannah Garrity | Sanctified Art | sanctifiedart.org

It has been another violent week in America, as we watched in horror the news of a gunman opening fire on Tuesday, killing eight people, six of Asian descent. Violent people exist in every country in the world, but what’s unique about America is that we allow them access to guns.

To those reeling, especially our Asian American siblings, we pray for an end to white supremacy and hate-filled rhetoric, and commit to doing the work to stand against any form of diminishment of our Asian American and Pacific Islander siblings. We stand with you and beside you, and even more importantly, God stands with you and beside you.

One way we begin to learn and grow and reform our ways is through worship. Join us this Sunday, March 21st for the fifth Sunday of Lent. The service has been crafted around Scripture readings from Jeremiah 31: 31-34 and John 12:20-33, and will continue our Again & Again theme, this week focusing on “we are reformed.” Our time together will include prayers of lament for the discriminatory laws, violence, and hatred that have plagued Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, Koreans, Vietnamese, and all Asian immigrants.

Join us on Zoom at 10:00am
Dial: 1-929-436-2866 with Meeting ID: 150 620 342

Immediately following worship, you are invited into a conversation with the Session about recent actions they have taken to create a nimbler governing structure and to continue refining the church’s staff structure. Click here for a written update from the Session and then join us after worship to talk further. If you are unable to make it this Sunday, a duplicate conversation will also be held next Sunday, March 28th.

Finally, a poem, “Keep Digging” by Rev. Sarah Are, to nourish your spirit this week:

I can feel change inside of me.
It’s a slow burn.
Change usually starts out hot—
Defensive and angry,
A self-righteous blanket
Of, “I am right and here’s why . . .”
I wrap it around my shoulders
Like a barricade.
I fight the temptation to lean forward,
To play the challenger,
To argue with confidence.
But in time,
Almost always,
The heat fades.
The air leaves the balloon.
The audacity of it all
Starts to wear off.
And eventually,
What I am left with
Is myself
And a big, open sky.
It’s colder here.
It’s quieter.
I can hear my thoughts.
And in this big, wide openness
I am able to say out loud,
“Maybe I wasn’t right.
Maybe I need to learn.
Maybe it’s time for change.
Maybe that’s okay.”
And if I’m quiet, and if I’m paying attention,
I can usually hear God whisper inside of me,
“Good work, my child. Now keep digging.”

Peace and Courage,

Heather