‘I’ve Been Meaning to Ask … Where Does it Hurt?’

Dear Friends,

Our worship series “I’ve Been Meaning to Ask…” brings us this week to the question “Where does it hurt?” These days, this week, this question seems to have an overwhelming number of answers. This question acknowledges that everyone experiences pain. Worship this week will be sacred space to name places of pain in the world, to wonder about the pain of others, and to notice our own places of pain. 

From A Sanctified Art – sanctifiedart.org

Our biblical stories are about Hannah struggling with infertility and a woman with hemorrhaging seeking healing – people who were misjudged and isolated in their suffering. These and contemporary stories will invite us to lament with God, ask others about how they really are, and remember that God draws close to us in our suffering. As we share communion this week, we will share our prayers with one another and remember that Jesus knows suffering and shares those wounds with us.

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

Again, we find ourselves beginning a new season that is more difficult than we hoped it would be. The evolving Delta variant and global crises are layering our days with stress and anxiety, especially as some start a new school year with new parameters and others are pivoting once again at work or with family. If you need support, you do not need to suffer alone. Please reach out to someone, such as Rev. Heather Shortlidge or me. We are here to talk with you or help you find counseling.

We continue to pray for those who are suffering from political and environmental crises around the world. If you are looking for ways to support Afghan refugees or those affected by Hurricane Ida, below is information on two trusted organizations doing this work: Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.

There are many opportunities in the next couple of weeks to be connected with one another as congregational life picks up with the program year. See upcoming events about the Youth Hike and Church Picnic this Sunday, Back-to-School Bags for all children (infants-12th grade), Sunday School for children and youth on September 12, a Young Adult Gathering on September 12, the All-Church Retreat, and other opportunities for all ages to learn and reflect. If you’re ever not sure how to get plugged in, I would be happy to think through this with you.

As you move through this week, be kind to yourself, be gentle with those around you. May you be inspired and comforted by this poem from our worship series from A Sanctified Art:

When It Hurts
By Rev. Sarah Are

I can tell that you’re hurting.
It’s the way your eyes cast down,
the way you shuffle through the house,
distractedly bumping into things.
It’s the restless sleep and
the quiet space between us which
turns us into icebergs.
We float by, silent in the night,
most everything existing
under the surface.
I can tell that you’re hurting.
It’s the way your prayers were quick
at first, and then—none at all;
your silence challenging God,
daring God to say something to the void.
I can tell that you’re hurting,
but I don’t know what that feels like.
Tell me—
where does it hurt?
I’m not offering to fix the pain,
I’m not that powerful.
However, I am offering to see it.
Show me your scars,
and I’ll show you that
you’re not alone.

Peace,
Rachel

From Rev. Rachel Pacheco

Dear Friends,

It is officially summer! As we move through these longest days, I encourage you to be aware of the changing earth around you and look for God’s presence throughout the world, remembering that we are one part of this fascinating creation.

This Sunday, join us on zoom for worship to end Pride Month with More Light Sunday. More Light Presbyterians works for the inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people in the church and has produced some special liturgy for worship this week. The Rev. Annanda Barclay is preaching through a pre-recorded sermon. We will pass the peace, share prayers together, and hear a special anthem from the choir. It will be a special worship service.

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

After worship, we will debrief your experiences visiting other churches this past Sunday in facilitated breakout rooms. We want to hear what you noticed and what ideas you have for NYAPC as we continue to develop hybrid worship for the fall.

I look forward to gathering with you on Sunday. May you be filled with the love of God and the peace of Christ this week.

Peace,
Rachel

From Rev. Rachel Pacheco

Dear Friends,

Earlier this week, in anticipation of a verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, downtown churches were in conversation and preparing for protests. Pastor Heather heard a request for a landing place for clergy, community leaders, and care providers if protests broke out. Leaders in our congregation were in conversation and were prepared to say yes; however, the verdict came a little sooner than anticipated.

In order to get into the city before it was potentially shut down, Heather immediately headed to the church and remained there throughout Tuesday night, meeting and praying with local leaders, providing our first floor bathrooms and outlets for cell phone charging, and making space for people to process the verdict and the work that remains.

NYAPC has practiced and learned from experience over the past year (and is still learning), which enables us to say yes when these unexpected ministry opportunities arise. This is messy and faithful work.

There is a bit of relief and gratitude in the accountability that the guilty verdict provides. While this has a real impact, we know that police violence against black, indigenous, and people of color continues, even on the day of the verdict. And so, we continue to cry out, to work for justice, and to pray for peace. We follow the way of Jesus to embrace and listen to those on the margins. And we hope that this will save lives.

This Sunday, we will gather on Zoom for live worship to sing, pray, and hear God’s story. This week, we will hear a recorded sermon from Rev. Ashley McFaul-Erwin on 1 John 3:16-24, a passage about loving through both word and deed. A few organizations are creating and curating worship resources to lighten the load for worship leaders as we keep navigating the challenges of the pandemic. Rev. McFaul-Erwin’s sermon is one such resource prepared for churches this Sunday. You can read a bit about her below.

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

After worship this Sunday, we will remain on Zoom for a virtual reception for former Associate Pastor Alice Tewell. Since Alice’s last Sunday was the first Sunday of virtual worship, there wasn’t an opportunity to have the traditional celebration. A year later, we will gather to express gratitude, share a few memories, and hear an update from Alice. There will be a collaborative video, time with the children, a gift to open, and time for open conversation, lasting 45 minutes or so. If you could use a few moments of joy, I encourage you to join this celebration.

As of this week, the Trustees learned that our contractor has prepared a detailed schedule of the HVAC project. As it now stands, we expect the build out to be completed by mid-August, and commissioning and full staff training completed by September 1st. This date is later than anticipated. The schedule is primarily being driven by equipment manufacturing and delivery and thus there is little opportunity for our contractors to speed up completion. This impacts our plans for returning to worship in person, and more detailed information about this will be shared over the next few weeks.

May this poem strengthen you as you keep facing the world this week.

They Have Threatened Us With Resurrection
-Julia Esquivel

There is something here within us
which doesn’t let us sleep, which doesn’t let us rest,
which doesn’t stop pounding deep inside,
it is the silent, warm weeping
of Indian women without their husbands,

it is the sad gaze of the children
fixed beyond memory,
in the very pupil of our eyes
which during sleep, though closed, keep watch
with each contraction of the heart
in every awakening…

What keeps us from sleeping
is that they have threatened us with resurrection!
Because at each nightfall,
though exhausted from the endless inventory
of killings since 1954,
yet we continue to love life,
and do not accept their death!

…Because in this marathon of Hope,
there are always others to relieve us
in bearing the courage necessary
to arrive at the goal which lies beyond death…

Accompany us then on this vigil
and you will know what it is to dream!
You will then know how marvelous it is
to live threatened with resurrection!
To dream awake,
to keep watch asleep
to live while dying
and to already know oneself resurrected.

Peace,

Rachel

From Rev. Rachel Pacheco

Dear Friends,

Christ is risen! May you experience moments of new life, even if they are wrought from suffering – just like Christ’s resurrection.

This Sunday, we will worship through a fully recorded service provided by National Capital Presbytery. Leaders from around the DC metro area have contributed, and many churches will be using this as their worship this Sunday. Although we will not be connected through zoom, we will be connected to Presbyterian siblings throughout the presbytery in joint worship. The video will be shared on our website at www.nyapc.org/livestream.

There will be Sunday School for children and youth this Sunday at the normal times. Email Pastor Rachel if you need more information.

Pastor Heather is taking a few days off this week and will return to email next week.

May this song from the Taizé community encourage you throughout Eastertide.

Be not afraid,
sing out for joy!
Christ is risen, alleluia!
Be not afraid, sing out for joy!
Christ is risen, alleluia!

Peace, Rachel

From Rev. Rachel Pacheco

Dear Friends,

We hope to see you in worship this Sunday, February 14 at 10:00 am.

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

On Sunday, I will be preaching on the Transfiguration recounted in Mark 9:2-9. The music this week features NYA’s Whitney McColley in a beautiful new solo arrangement of “Make Me A Channel of Your Peace” newly arranged by gospel/jazz artist Mark Hayes. Whitney also leads the contrasting hymns this Sunday, that includes long time favorite, “Immortal Invisible, God Only Wise,” contrasted with a newer hymn,” Jesus, Take Us To the Mountain,” sung to “Unser Herrscher,” an ancient German tune. Everyone is invited to sing along during the hymns!

If you missed the Annual Meeting this past Sunday, or would like to read more and see photos of the extensive congregational life in 2020, you can view the Annual Report here with a few small corrections from last week.

The season of Lent begins this Wednesday. We will gather on Zoom for a special worship service on Ash Wednesday, February 17 at 7:00 pm. Because we cannot gather in person for the imposition of ashes, please have on hand oil or soil, to make the sign of the cross on your forehead, marking the beginning of the Lenten journey.

Join us on Zoom at 7:00 pm
Dial-In: 1-301-715-8592; Meeting ID 864 6832 5374

Keep an eye out for Tuesday’s Inspiring Moments email for a Lent calendar and spiritual formation options.

I will be on vacation and study leave for two weeks, starting Monday, February 22, and returning Tuesday, March 9. Please email me by this Wednesday, February 17, if you need anything before I leave.

I’m hearing lately that many of us are hitting another collective “pandemic wall” right now. Here is a verse to hum as we make our way through each day.

Be still, my soul! for God is on your side;
bear patiently the cross of grief or pain:
leave to your God to order and provide,
who through all changes faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul! your best, your heav’nly Friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Peace,
Rachel

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