February Pastor’s Corner

Beloved community.

There is a paraphrase of a Mary Oliver maxim that captures something of communal worship:

Show up. Be amazed. Tell about it.

There are many ways we worship! Each of us may do so anywhere, anytime, alone or in bundles, and indeed we do. We worship separately in songs and prayers and actions and choices and gifts, every day. And, then, once a week, we gather to worship all at the same time.

Of course these days, the clocks near our various worship spaces do not always agree. Some mornings we bridge multiple time zones. Still, we worship simultaneously and together. We all show up. We then interrupt the ordinary of our days with an hour filled with connection and other kinds of awe (be amazed) – remembering with song and prayer and ancient literature that we are larger than our own time, and woven together as part of a lineage begun “in the beginning” and continuing to the “ever shall be.” And all together, we tell about it. In our songs and prayers we speak our hopes and fears, enlighten and encourage one another, and depart with stories to tell and much to share. This requires us to gather, and we have learned that, although we will breathe together, it won’t necessarily mean we are in the same physical place. We are perceiving space in a new way – and our worship space expands and holds us all, wherever we are. It sounds like an idea directly out of a parable by Jesus, like the “already, not yet” of the kin-dom; there is also a “gathered though distanced” reality.

During January and February, while I work part time as I recuperate and literally get back on my feet, it is particularly awesome that we can show up in a variety of ways to worship together. We can invite a variety of preachers to tell about it – each with their own voice and point of view.

We can share liturgy, too, with different voices reading from various locations. We love to hear the sound of familiar voices – and we are eager for new cadences.

The first Sunday in February is the last Sunday in the season of Epiphany. Cassie Davies-Juhnke will bring a
sermon preached by Rev. Elton Brown in 1986, a reflection written in and on the PPUMC sanctuary, which is amazingly no less true today that decades ago! Kathy Webb and Alan Husby will lead both music and liturgy as we share Communion together.

February 14, we celebrate Transfiguration Sunday, the Sunday that marks the passage from Epiphany into Lent. Our preacher will be Hannah Choi, who is in the process of being commissioned as a pastor in the United Methodist Church. Hannah has recently completed an internship at Path of Grace UMC in Maplewood and will be with us for three Sundays in February. This is a rare opportunity to hear from Hannah for a series of Sundays.

February 17 is Ash Wednesday. A group of Twin Cities pastors is creating a service that we will share on that day, adding our own prayers as we gather. 7:00 pm is the tentative meeting time. Details of how and when to join the Zoom session will follow.

On February 21 we begin our Sunday-by-Sunday journey which we follow through March and toward Easter, April 4!

As we walk with Jesus on the Lenten journey we may once again give ourselves to the Way he lived: showing up in the flesh among us and staying present to the moment, whether talking to people hurt and hopeful, or to priests, or to Pilate. His life, his Way, is rooted in the amazing truth of God’s grace. And he tells us to go and tell the Good News. In the month to come, let’s worship well – separately and together.

See you Sundays!
Pastor Chris