Pastoral Letter – January 8, 2021

Dear Friends,

One Nation Under God – Stained Glass Window at The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. Photo by Richard Snyder.

Our faith follows a God who was born into this messy world and walked with us in it, not holding back, but digging right into the messiness. We follow Jesus Christ, who knows what a mob is capable of doing and died from political violence.

The violence we saw this week at the Capitol was white supremacy in action. Jesus showed a radical way of celebrating all people, pointing out oppressive practices and naming all equal as children of God.

We have seen the president sow false mistrust and anger in our democratic systems, leading to sedition. Jesus spoke truth and exhibited righteous anger over real corruption. We are suffering the growing consequences of a pandemic not taken seriously by many of our neighbors. Jesus healed people and inspired them to share what they have with one another.

What we saw this week was people following the way of the world, the way of the empire. Our faith shows us the way of Jesus: the way of love, peace, community, and justice.

As people of faith, we gather for worship each week to remember these things. We gather to learn and remind one another who God is. We gather to be strengthened, to pray, and to proclaim our faith. We speak God’s truth and discern how we are called to live and act. We will gather again this Sunday to do just this. Let us join our voices together in lament and confession, in hope and courage, in love and grace. Let us proclaim that hate will not stand, for the love of God and the power of the Spirit has and will overcome it.

This Sunday, we remember the baptism of Jesus and our own baptismal call. Rev. Alex McNeill, one of our Presbyterian leaders and prophets, is preaching. Alex lived in the DC area for many years and laments the violence at the Capitol with us.

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

Friends, keep those in our congregation in prayer. Many of our members work in Congress or are closely connected with it. To our knowledge, all are safe and saddened by this week’s events.

Your pastors are available to reflect and pray with you. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me or to Heather. As a community, we will bind one another up in care and support as we continue joining God’s work in the world.

May you be filled with the peace of Christ and the righteous anger of Christ, which are bound together in the kingdom and kin-dom of God.

In faith,

Rachel

(Image: “One Nation Under God” Stained Glass Window at The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church.)

Epiphany Sunday – From Rev. Rachel Pacheco

Dear Friends,

I hope you have had the opportunity to rest and enjoy this holiday season. This Sunday is Epiphany Sunday and I will be preaching. One of our Parish Associates, Rev. Matthew Schlageter, will join the worship team this week. Heather is on vacation next week and will return on Tuesday, January 12.

The music this week celebrates this holiday of the joyous journey to celebrate the birth in Bethlehem. Carols within the service include “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” sung by the sanctuary choir with brass and organ, plus the familiar “We Three Kings” and others.

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

May this transition to a new calendar year offer you moments for reflection and renewal. See you Sunday.

Peace
Rachel

Christmas Pageant This Sunday – A Sunday of Joy

Dear Friends,

I hope you are finding ways to lavishly take care of yourself, as someone told me this week. The virus confronts us with realities that are impossible to escape, which takes a toll on our energy and well-being. Actively practicing grace and care with ourselves now will have a lasting impact.

This Sunday, we’ll celebrate the third Sunday of Advent. Joy will abound in worship! We will light the Advent candle of joy, the children and youth will offer a live virtual Christmas pageant, and Heather will preach on the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), Mary’s song of joy and praise. If you have been needing help in experiencing and noticing joy lately, come and enjoy worship this week.

Join us on Zoom at 10:00am
Dial-in: 1-929-436-2866 Meeting ID: 150620342.

There will be special music offered, beginning with a string duet of the hymn “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks” by Mika and Akira Inoue. Taisha Estrada led a collaborative children’s choir in preparing “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” and Jenete St. Clair led the youth choir in preparing “All Good Gifts” from Godspell Jr. Immediately following worship, there will be a10 minute coffee fellowship in the breakout room and then the Trustees will host the second Q&A session about the church building improvements. Just stay on zoom!
May the first and fourth verses of this familiar hymn of joy, encourage you throughout your week.

Joyful, joyful, we adore You,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow’rs before You,
Op’ning to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!

Mortals, join the mighty chorus,
Which the morning stars began;
God’s own love is reigning o’er us,
Joining people hand in hand.
Ever singing, march we onward,
Victors in the midst of strife;
Joyful music leads us sunward
In the triumph song of life.

Peace and Joy,
Rachel