This Sunday: Reimagining and the Widow’s Mite

Dear Friends,

Join us for worship this Sunday October 11th at 10:00am via Zoom. This week I’m preaching the third of four sermons in the series Our Money Story, with Sunday’s focus on reimagining. We’ll revisit the story of the widow’s mite (Mark 12:38-44), a scripture that begs for reimagination and reinterpretation from the harmful ways it has been used. Instead of commending the widow’s giving practices, perhaps Jesus is condemning the economic system that created her poverty.

Join us for 10:00am Sunday Worship here
Dial-in: 1-929-436-2866 Meeting ID: 150 620 342

Stan Engebretson, Director of Music, is off this Sunday, so hymns and service music has been recorded in advance, including an eloquent Renaissance anthem, “If Ye Love Me,” first published in 1565 by the English composer Thomas Tallis.

Please extend a warm welcome to Maila Cardoso, our new temporary Office Manager, who will be filling in for the next ten weeks while Nicole Johnson is on Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) leave. Maila can be reached at maila.cardoso@nyapc.org or by calling (202) 393-3700.

Finally, more poetry by Rev. Sarah Are, “Love, By Another Way” to nourish you this week:

I used to think that love was simple.
You would know when you know,
What was meant, would be.
But I fell in love
And it’s not that easy.
It’s compromise and identity,
Mountains and valleys,
Apologies and memories,
Imbalance, recentering.
It turns out,
Love took reimagining.

I used to think that Church
was simple.
Church was community, not
the walls,
Faith and hope mixed with call.
But then the world grew
violently sick
And the way to be Church
Was to keep distance.
So doors were closed,
And people sent home.
It was all love, by another way.
And yet it was not how we
imagined Sunday.

I used to think that justice
was simple,
That I could make a difference,
all by myself.
There was a clear right and
wrong, a way I could help.
But then I learned of privilege
and bias,
Of white savior complex and our
Church’s silence.
And all at once, it wasn’t so easy.
I needed to learn. I needed to listen.
I needed to reframe my
original vision.

I guess what I’m trying to say is
Life will throw first drafts
our way.

The chance to dream,
To lead, to sing,
To love, and give,
To pray, and be.
But in order to grow,
To follow God’s lead,
We have to do the work—
Reimagining.

And despite our best efforts,
Love will fail.
Churches will close.
Justice will leave the
vulnerable exposed.
And when that happens,
We must own our part,
Say we’re sorry
And try to restart.

So write it all down.
And write it again.
A first draft,
A second,
An epilogue, and then
Share it with me
And we will pray.

And the spirit will move,
And maybe one day,
We can write this world
inside heaven’s gate.

For I am
Starting to believe
That what matters in life
Will never be easy.
So we must imagine and
imagine again.
We must dream and try, die and rise.
And in our rising, may we see
The next right reimagined thing
Until step by step we are home.

Love, by another way.

Peace and Courage,
Heather

From Rev. Heather Shortlidge

Dear Friends,

Join us this Sunday, September 13th, for online worship at 10:00am. I’m preaching the wonderful story of the Daughters of Zelophehad from Numbers 26:63-27:1-11.

This week our music features Taisha Estrada in a fun and joyous spiritual, “I Got Shoes,” also known as “I’m Gonna Shout All Over God’s Heaven.”

Other special music includes the blues favorite “Come Sunday,” by DC composer Duke Ellington. This beautiful ballad opened one of Ellington’s longest and most ambitious compositions, entitled Black, Brown, & Beige in his first Carnegie Hall concert in 1943. Originally billed by the Duke as “a parallel to the history of the Negro in America,” Mahalia Jackson later recorded and popularized it in a jazz album in 195

Join us for 10:00am Sunday Worship here
Dial-in: 1-929-436-2866 Meeting ID: 150 620 342

Sunday School begins for children and youth this Sunday with a large group gathering at 9:15am.

Adult Education kicks off on Saturday at 4:00pm with Jonathan Lacock-Nisly of Interfaith Power and Light presenting “Genesis in Reverse: Addressing Climate Grief and Our Role as Co-Creators with God.” There is a wide array of educational opportunities being offered this fall. Click here for the full list.

Your Pastoral Nominating Committee (PNC) has been hard at work, meeting every Sunday evening. Over the next several weeks, they are asking all members and staff to participate in an online congregational assessment, which will help them in their work of seeking your next pastor. Click here for an important update from the PNC.

Just a head’s up that I’ll be on vacation next Tuesday 9/15, Wednesday 9/16, and Thursday 9/17. Please reach out to Rachel Pacheco (rachel.pacheco@nyapc.org or 267.981.1373) with any pastoral care needs.

Finally, a poem by Toni Morrison to help us reflect upon this tragic day nineteen years ago:

The Dead of September 11

Some have God’s words; others have songs of comfort
for the bereaved. If I can pluck courage here, I would
like to speak directly to the dead–the September dead.
Those children of ancestors born in every continent
on the planet: Asia, Europe, Africa, the Americas…;
born of ancestors who wore kilts, obis, saris, geles,
wide straw hats, yarmulkes, goatskin, wooden shoes,
feathers and cloths to cover their hair. But I would not say
a word until I could set aside all I know or believe about
nations, wars, leaders, the governed and ungovernable;
all I suspect about armor and entrails. First I would freshen
my tongue, abandon sentences crafted to know evil—wanton
or studied; explosive or quietly sinister; whether born of
a sated appetite or hunger; of vengeance or the simple
compulsion to stand up before falling down. I would purge
my language of hyperbole; of its eagerness to analyze
the levels of wickedness; ranking them; calculating their
higher or lower status among others of its kind.

Speaking to the broken and the dead is too difficult for
a mouth full of blood. Too holy an act for impure thoughts.
Because the dead are free, absolute; they cannot be
seduced by blitz.

To speak to you, the dead of September 11, I must not claim
false intimacy or summon an overheated heart glazed
just in time for a camera. I must be steady and I must be clear,
knowing all the time that I have nothing to say–no words
stronger than the steel that pressed you into itself; no scripture
older or more elegant than the ancient atoms you
have become.

And I have nothing to give either–except this gesture,
this thread thrown between your humanity and mine:
I want to hold you in my arms and as your soul got shot of its box of flesh to understand,
as you have done, the wit
of eternity: its gift of unhinged release tearing through
the darkness of its knell.

Peace and Courage,
Heather

From Rev. Heather Shortlidge

Dear Friends,

Join us this Sunday for Zoom worship at 10:00am. I’m preaching from Luke 23:44-56, the story of Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Jewish establishment who had the guts to go to Pilate and ask for the dead body of Jesus so he could give it a decent burial.

Join us for 10:00am Sunday Worship here
Dial-in: 1-929-436-2866 Meeting ID: 150 620 342

The music for this coming Sunday celebrates communion while remembering Labor Day. It is also officially our first Sunday of fall! Normally this would be a time of celebrating together in the sanctuary but this year of course, we celebrate together but from afar online! The up-side is that wherever you are around the world (and we have several members abroad), you can dial in and always be an important part of NYAPC which is a delightful “benefit” of Covid, (if we can say such a thing!).

Taisha Estrada is our featured soloist this week in the hymns and in a moving rendition of Let Us Break Bread Together arranged by the great spiritual arranger Moses Hogan. She is an amazing artist building her career in jazz and popular music in the DC area and will be a major future force in this field, I predict! We are blessed to have her with us.

This Sunday, there will be a special time during worship to pray for students, teachers, parents, and school staff who are starting a new school year. Have some of your virtual school materials and devices with you for worship.

Additionally, the sacrament of communion will be served. Remember to gather your elements in advance. Any bread and drink are acceptable in the midst of a pandemic. Set your table and be prepared to welcome the Spirit of God into your space.

And a tiny prayer this week for anyone who is finding it difficult to be optimistic:

May you welcome the non-binary knowledge
that optimism and pessimism are not your only choices,
and may you commit to a truth in between,
a truth that exists even when you don’t remember it,
that you have resources, community,
and your own gifts to offer,
that there is meaning,
even when the path ahead is unclear,
and may you stop trying to force assured steps
and instead wander with the rest of us for a while.
Amen.

– From Tiny Prayers for Protests

Peace and Courage,

From Rev. Heather Shortlidge

Dear Friends,

Join us this Sunday for Zoom worship at 10:00am. I’m preaching from Acts 20:7-20, the peculiar and fun story of a teenager named Eutychus.

Join us for 10:00am Sunday Worship here
Dial-in#: 1-929-436-2866 Meeting ID 150 620 342

As always, we hope that Sunday’s music will continue to inspire and nourish you. This week, we are pleased to introduce Jacob Gagosian again as one of our featured young artists, now playing advanced repertoire while studying in this summer’s Interlochen Academy of the Arts. New York Avenue Presbyterian has always had a wealth of young talents in voice and instruments, so we are happy to hear him in Bach’s Concerto in A Minor for the prelude.

Sunday’s anthem is drawn from Dr. Engebretson’s gospel and spiritual book, “Hallelujah!” published in Germany. “I Stood on the Banks of Jordan” is set in a triplet, swinging style reminiscent of the water, while exploring jazz and expanded harmonies. It is set by John Høybe from Denmark, one of Europe’s leading popular music arrangers, and is very uplifting.

Pastor Rachel is in her second week of ministry with us, serving as our Associate Stated Supply Pastor. Rachel’s position is 30 hours per week and she will be working virtually on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday. Reach out to her through rachel.pacheco@nyapc.org.

And a prayer of blessing from John Philip Newell…

Peace where there is war
healing where there is hurt
memory where we have forgotten the other.
Vision where there is violence
light where there is madness
sight where we have blinded each other.
Comfort where there is sorrow
tears where there is hardness
laughter where we have missed life’s joy
laughter where we remember the joy.

Peace and Courage,
Heather

From Rev. Heather Shortlidge

Dear Friends,

Join us for online worship this Sunday, August 23rd, at 10:00 am. I’m preaching from Acts 16:11-15, 40 the story of Lydia, a business woman who helped provide hospitality to Paul and Silas.

Join us for 10:00am Sunday Worship here
Dial-in#: 1-929-436-2866
Meeting ID 150 620 342

Sunday’s worship music features…

A contemporary hymn favorite, “You are Mine,” written by David Haas in 1991, and performed in a duet by Molly Johnson with her daughter Penny. Mr. Haas is an active church musician living in Minneapolis, who is part of the “Minnesota School” of liturgical musicians, named for three outstanding composers who all graduated from the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN.

The piano talents of Samantha Scheff, our former organ scholar, are on display in the prelude. She is currently the associate organist at St. John’s Lafayette Square, so it’s great to welcome her back to the neighborhood after receiving her Master’s in Organ at Rutgers University!

Our new ¾ time Associate Stated Supply Pastor, Rev. Rachel Pacheco, started on Tuesday. Rachel will be focused primarily on children, youth, and family ministry as well as communications and worship leadership. She’s working remotely from her home in Alexandria on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. She can be reached at rachel.pacheco@nyapc.org or (267) 981-1373. There will be a Meet & Greet with Rachel after worship on Sunday. In order to attend, please register in advance by emailing nicole.johnson@nyapc.org no later than Saturday at noon.

Volunteers will be providing Protestor Hospitality next Friday, August 28th for the March on Washington. If you would like to contribute to this important ministry, donations of individually wrapped snacks, sports drinks, and water are needed. Volunteers will be accepting donation drop off’s next Wednesday, August 26th from 6:00-8:00pm. Please email aryn_m@yahoo.com with any questions.

Finally, we have decided to close the building again. As many of you know, we softly reopened the church building in early July to prepare to accommodate our tenants. We had front desk and custodial staff working inside the building Monday-Friday, 8am-2pm, and Sunday, 10am-2pm. For the next three weeks, we are closing the building and all staff will be working remotely. We make this decision with the following information:

  1. Our tenants are not yet ready to return to the building. The Downtown Day Services Center is providing limited, appointment-based services, and is self-sufficient in locking and unlocking their designated entrance.
  2. Two of our staff members have contracted COVID-19 since returning to work inside the building, and the remaining staff, many who are considered high risk, are scared to return to in-person work.
  3. Except for Radcliffe Room Ministries and Protest Hospitality (which can continue with volunteers), worship and programs remain online until at least the beginning of Lent, which begins February 17, 2021.
    We will reevaluate this decision every three weeks, beginning Wednesday September 9, 2020. If you have any questions or concerns, please direct them my way.

Some nourishment for your soul this week—a poem, “Wait” by Galway Kinnell:

Wait, for now.
Distrust everything if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become interesting.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again;
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. The desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.
Wait.
Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a little and listen:
music of hair,
music of pain,
music of looms weaving our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.

Grace and Courage, Heather

This Sunday: The Story of the Ethiopian Eunuch

Dear Friends,

Join us for online worship this Sunday August 16th at 10:00am. Our summer sermon series, Faces of Faith: Bold and Untold Stories of the Bible, continues with the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch, a black queer bureaucrat who crosses paths with Philip, resulting in a joint bible study and a baptism. It’s quite a story—found in Acts 8:26-40, in case you want to read ahead.

Join us for 10:00am Sunday Worship here
Dial-in#: 1-929-436-2866 Meeting ID 150 620 342

The Online Worship Team is looking for families and individuals to pre-record a joyful Call to Worship, that we’ll begin showcasing this fall. We hope this will help the congregation stay better connected to one another and give even more members and friends a chance to actively participate in worship. We’re specifically looking for people who have not already served as liturgists. Email me if you’d like to help and I’ll get you all the details on what we need for these brief one-minute videos.

Rev. Rachel Pacheco, our Associate Stated Supply Pastor, begins next Tuesday, August 18th. Rev. Pacheco will be focused on Children, Youth, and Family Ministry, specifically working on online spiritual formation opportunities for young ones. We look forward to welcoming Rachel next week.

And a poem from poet laureate, Joy Harjo, from her book Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings to nourish you this week:

This Morning I Pray for My Enemies

And whom do I call my enemy?
An enemy must be worthy of engagement.
I turn in the direction of the sun and keep walking.
It’s the heart that asks the question, not my furious mind.
The heart is the smaller cousin of the sun.
It sees and knows everything.
It hears the gnashing even as it hears the blessing.
The doors to the mind should only open from the heart.
An enemy who gets in, risks the danger of becoming a friend.

Peace and Courage,
Heather

From Rev. Heather Shortlidge

Dear Friends,

160,000 Covid-19 deaths. Isaias pummeling the East Coast. An administration making blatant noises about undermining the upcoming election. Black mothers with children terrorized at gunpoint. Double digit unemployment and an economic recession. Schools in limbo. The news keeps getting harder and harder to stomach. And many of you, rightfully so, are tired and ready for some good news.

So tune into online worship this Sunday, August 9th at 10:00am for prayer, beautiful music, community, and the Word of God for the people of God. I’m preaching on Judas and his infamous betrayal of Jesus from Mark 14:41-50 and we have a wonderful anthem, “Ella’s Song,” from Bernice Johnson Reagon of Sweet Honey in the Rock.

Join us for 10:00am Sunday Worship here
Dial-in#: 1-929-436-2866 Meeting ID 150 620 342

Tomorrow (Saturday August 8th), I’m hosting the fourth Summer Justice Film Series at 4:00pm. We’ll be discussing the film Dark Waters, the 2019 legal thriller that dramatizes Robert Bilott’s case against the chemical corporation, DuPont, after they contaminated a town with unregulated chemicals. The film is excellent. If you haven’t yet joined us for one of these discussions, I highly encourage you to watch the film and join us tomorrow. Here’s the study guide including more details about where to find the film.

And a blessing from Jan Richardson to nourish you this week:

To all that is chaotic in you
let there come silence.

Let there be
a calming
of the clamoring,
a stilling
of the voices that
have laid their claim
on you,
that have made their
home in you,

that go with you
even to the
holy places
but will not
let you rest,
will not let you
hear your life
with wholeness
or feel the grace
that fashioned you.

Let what distracts you
cease.
Let what divides you
cease.
Let there come to an end
to what diminishes
and demeans,
and let depart
all that keeps you
in its cage.

Let there be
an opening
into the quiet
that lies beneath
the chaos,
where you find
the peace
you did not think
possible
and see what shimmers
within the storm.

“Blessing in the Chaos” from The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief by Jan Richardson

Peace and Courage, Heather

Sunday Service: Communion & the Thief on the Cross

Join us for online worship this Sunday August 2nd at 10:00am. I’m continuing our summer sermon series, Faces of Faith: Bold and Untold Stories of the Bible, and will be preaching this week from Luke 23:32-43, the story of the thief on the cross.

Together, we will celebrate the sacrament of communion, so please remember to gather your elements.

And we will also be honoring the many Radcliffe Room volunteers who have stepped up over the past eighteen weeks to serve a daily hot lunch to hungry guests in Triangle Park. We hope to see you on Sunday morning.

Join us for 10:00am Sunday Worship here
Dial-in#: 1-929-436-2866 Meeting ID 150 620 342

And a prayer from the Iona Abbey Worship Book to nourish you this week:

God, in whose heart is love and justice,
show us this day whom we must love
and what we should challenge or change
in order that your will for the earth might be done.
Increase our hope,
dispel our apathy;
inspire our imagination,
and deepen our commitment
until we become the signs of your kindom.
Amen.

Peace and Courage,
Heather

‘Courage out of Crisis’ – Dr. Judy Fentress-Williams

Dear Friends,

Join us for online worship this Sunday July 26th at 10:00am. Our guest preacher, Dr. Judy Fentress-Williams, will be preaching “Courage Out of Crisis” from II Kings 4:1-7. Dr. Fentress-Williams is Professor of Old Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary and Senior Assistant to the Pastor at Alfred Street Baptist Church.

Join us for 10:00am Sunday Worship here

Dial-in#: 1-929-436-2866 Meeting ID 150 620 342

The Personnel Committee is pleased to announce that the Rev. Rachel Pacheco will be joining the staff as our new Associate Stated Supply Pastor. Rachel will begin this ¾ time position (30 hours per week) on August 18th and will be with us for at least twelve months. She comes from Church of the Pilgrims in Dupont Circle where she’s been serving as the Director of The Pilgrimage, a service-learning hostel that connects faith formation to social awareness and action. 

A huge thank you to the 30+ volunteers who have helped with the daily hot lunch program in Triangle Park. For the past four months, our Radcliffe Room volunteers, under the steady leadership of Phil Telfeyan, have been distributing 175 daily lunches that have been graciously provided by World Central Kitchen. Thank you to all who picked up food at Nats Stadium or area restaurants, who braved law enforcement blockades to deliver it, who helped reheat the meals and serve them to our hungry guests. By our calculations, that’s 130 back to back days of lunch service, over 22,000 World Central Kitchen meals, and 1,300 volunteer hours. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of so many people. Even in the midst of a pandemic, the church has continued to be the church.

At the end of next week, our Radcliffe Room volunteers will be scaling back to their original schedule of Sunday only. World Central Kitchen is scaling down and no longer able to provide us with meals, hence the change. Our partners at the Downtown Day Services Center (DDSC) will continue to provide their meals, but without the donated food from World Central Kitchen, there isn’t a need for week day Radcliffe Room volunteers. You can still support those experiencing homelessness, by volunteering on Sundays. Sign up here.

And a prayer from Sister Joan Chittister to leave you nourished this week:

Loving God,
lead us beyond ourselves
to care and protect,
to nourish and shape,
to challenge and energize
both the life and the world
You have given us.

God of light and God of darkness,
God of conscience and God of courage
lead us through this time
of spiritual confusion and public uncertainty.

Lead us beyond fear, apathy and defensiveness
to new hope in You and to hearts full of faith.

Give us the conscience it takes
to comprehend what we’re facing,
to see what we’re looking at
and to say what we see
o that others, hearing us,
may also brave the pressure that comes
with being out of public step.

Give us courage we need
o confront those things
that comprise our consciences
or threaten our integrity.

Give us, most of all,
the courage to follow those before us
who challenge wrong and changed it,
whatever the cost to themselves.
Prayer for Conscience and Courage by Joan Chittister

Peace and Courage,

Heather

From Rev. Heather Shortlidge – Anna’s Story

Dear Members and Friends,

Join us for worship this Sunday July 19th at 10:00am via Zoom. Our summer sermon series, Faces of Faith: Bold and Untold Stories continues, focusing this week on the widowed prophet Anna, who meets the newborn Christ. You can find Anna’s story in Luke 2:21-38.

Join us for 10:00am Sunday Worship here

The Personnel Committee has been hard at work, ensuring that the church is properly staffed. Last week, we said goodbye to Rev. Billy Kluttz, who has moved on to serve as the Associate Pastor at Govans Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, the city in which his husband is now doing a residency. The Personnel Committee is currently negotiating with someone to serve as a ¾-time Associate Stated Supply Pastor. This person will begin mid-August—more details coming soon. We’ve also brought on board Will Timmons to serve as a paid Worship Coordinator, an 8-10 hour a week contract position. Will began in this new role on Tuesday and will now direct the production of online worship, ensuring that we continue to have a high-quality Zoom experience. Will has been volunteering on the worship tech team since March and has been essential to NYAPC’s successful transition to online worship.

Your Pastoral Nominating Committee (PNC) is now meeting regularly on Sunday evenings from 7:00-9:00pm. Please continue to keep this group in your prayers as they begin the faithful process of discerning NYAPC’s next Lead Pastor.

Finally, a prayer for the life of the world by John Philip Newell. Since returning from vacation, I’ve been hearing from many of you about the fear that is welling up inside you—how long will we need to keep up this virtual reality, the rising Covid-19 death count, the trampling of truth by elected leaders, and deep concern for those who are stuck in homes that are not safe and essential workers who take risks in order to help the many. We gather these very real fears and take them to God in prayer:

To the home of peace
to the field of love
to the land where forgiveness and right relationship meet
we look, O God,
with longing on earth’s children
with compassion for the creatures
with hearts breaking for the nations and people we love.
Open us to visions we have never known
strengthen us for self-givings we have never made
delight us with a oneness we could never have imagined
that we may truly be born of you
makers of peace.

Peace and Courage,

Heather