I know it’s June, but I’m thinking of Christmas already. I have to think of Christmas all year. Once you’ve invested tens of thousands of dollars in a nativity collection, you think of Christmas nearly every day of the year.
I got a new nativity last week! June is a great time to buy nativities, because NOBODY is looking for them now. There are great bargains waiting to be discovered.
The latest is a garage sale find that cost $1. It’s tiny, but it’s amazingly detailed. It’s probably 15-20 years old (my guess) and I love it!
Nativity collecting is optimistic, uplifting fun. In a world of bombings, violence, investigations, espionage and war, it brings hope into an otherwise dark world.
If you want to see some of my collection and links to other collections you can find me on Facebook under “Nativity Collections”.
Keep watching. I’ll be posting an event for the Queen Anne Christian Church in December (probably the first weekend). I should have about 300 sets up in the Fellowship Hall and hope for a great turnout. Our big –BIG show, will be on December 18-21st in Springfield, Oregon. We are anticipating displaying over 600 sets and hoping to reach 3,000+ visitors. There may be a few smaller, one day, events, but for now we’re anticipating two larger shows.
Perhaps now you can see why I’m constantly thinking about Christmas!
Happy Bargain hunting, garage sale finding, and hopeful summer!
Pastor Neil Allen
Fun times are happening. I’m talking about my driving experience to get here each week. Oh, so much fun….NOT!
So, I bought one of those new Garmin GPS devices to help me get around the city. It’s been wonderful in so many ways. It tells me where to go on a regular basis. NO, NOT THAT WAY.
It also has a forward-facing camera and alerts me to traffic hazards and other things happening on the road such as accidents, delays, and even those pesky traffic cameras! It’s very helpful even to suggest alternative routes, which I usually ignore because I want to experience the full meal deal.
As a bonus, it also tells me when I am straying over the lines in the road – which can certainly be VERY annoying when you are deliberately changing lanes and trying to focus. The “twiddle-dee-dee” sound can be startling if you’re praying you don’t bash into some speeder changing lanes from the right in your blind-spot. And while I’m complaining, I must say that I find the “Forward collision warning” frustrating when someone zips in front of me and steals my safe driving distance. I know I’m at risk, THAT’S WHY I LEFT THE SPACE!
But the WORST “Twiddle-dee-dee” sound comes blasting into my ear when the stopped traffic (which is frequent) begins to move. It flashes a blue headline and that annoying “twiddle-dee-dee” to alert me that the traffic is moving. I can see the traffic is moving! I’m moving, for heaven sake!
I suppose this feature is required in the annoying sound list because many people are busy playing with their phones. And yes, if you’re wondering, I do know I can turn all this off! However, It’s like driving with a backseat driver that can occasionally be helpful….but mostly it is terribly irritating, infuriating, bothersome, exasperating, aggravating, frustrating, trying, grating and generally A PAIN! (THANK YOU THESAURUS! I would have come up with those words if I wasn’t so distracted with “Twiddle-dee-dee” every five seconds!
This got me to thinking that I am grateful God didn’t implant a device in us to keep us on the “Straight and Narrow” path of faith. It might not shut off….ESPECIALLY WHEN I’M TRYING TO DRIVE.
Rant over. Perhaps you might be wondering if your new pastor has some spiritual insight in how to drive less stressed.
On my morning walks I like to slip down from the church to Kerry Park to see what’s happening in the world. My vision casts from the resources in our hilltop community to the Sound, and the construction happening downtown. I watch, hoping to see the Victoria Clipper cruising gracefully toward Victoria (BTW, I feel a road trip should be coming to a church near you soon!). I listen to the tourists as they walk up to the railing and take picture after picture of the historic view, made all the better when Mt. Washington is boasting that it is the older child in this neck of the woods.
I also look for connections to fellowship, worship, and meditation points, and am surprised to see my focus shifts, not to the majestic view, or the bustling cityscape, but to the graceful, and oft overlooked swallows, who dive and swoop and chatter as they collect bug after tasty bug plucked out of the air with such masterful ease.
“Barn Swallows” love Kerry Park. The freshly mowed slope is a great place to witness their Spirit-like acrobatics. They aren’t as impressive as the Violent Green Swallows whose feathers change chameleon-like as the light varies though the shadows, but they are impressive in their skill in the air.
Their focus is much different than the tourists that tend only to see themselves and the city in their “selfies.” The graceful swallows dressed in brown and jet black focus on the fleeting insects so intently you’d think they might crash into the trees, rocks and tourists, but somehow, they never lose their spatial- awareness/spatial-perception/spatial-intelligence, and have much to teach us about the ability to shift from the macro to the micro.
This is, of course, what makes Interim Ministry such a challenge and joy. I get to shift from the local congregational functions to the wider church activities. I get to look with fresh eyes as things where congregants, like tourist lock their vision on what they expect to see, hear, touch and taste. It falls to us, as Interim Pastors to help people see, hear, and otherwise experience the holy in the ordinary.
Your prayers for our ministry are needed.
Peace in Christ,
Interim Pastor Neil W. Allen
I’m the “NEW” kid on the block…lol… We’ll, I’m not THAT new. I’ve been around for a few days. This year is my 35th year of serving the church! I am new to Queen Anne Christian Church, however, and I’m glad to be here.
Pastor Laurie left it in good shape and lots of good folks come to church here, so I’m honored to share my time between my Portland home (Beaverton actually), and QACC. Nora (my spouse) and I send greets to all of the friends and supporters of this congregation. If there are ways we can connect, or help you connect, please feel free to give us a call or message us.
We’re just getting our feet wet with all the activities of the church, so not too many big things to announce just now, other than our booth at Pride Fest, our new directory coming out, a new drama group forming and listening groups to help us determine our future mission goals for QACC, and we’re getting to know each other too!
More to come. Stay tuned!
Interim Pastor Neil W. Allen
This month it is particularly difficult to know where to begin.
I could talk about my experience in the Seattle Women’s March on Saturday, January 22 in which thirteen of us from QACC marched either in Seattle or in Washington, D.C.
I could describe how over 100,000 of us in the streets of downtown Seattle moved together much like a swarm of some kind, not as graceful as a flock of birds but maybe somewhat like a school of fish, like salmon pushing our way upstream against the national current, moving forward because we had to, moving together because we felt compelled to put our bodies in a particular place and time, to be counted among those who understand that love and kindness and humility are virtues to be sought after, not scorned as signs of weakness.
I could notice the timely nature of Gloria Kawabori’s talk on Sunday morning, January 29 as she recounted the experience of her family in a Japanese-American Internment camp during World War II only days after an Executive Order, promulgated by our President, cut-off the immigration of refugees who have worked for years to come to “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Maybe not so much these days.
I could lift up the fine leaders of this congregation—members of the Search Committee, The AdMinistry Team, and the Elders—who, step by step, have faithfully walked through the process of calling the new Interim Pastor.
I could encourage you to come to worship on Sunday, February 5 when we will honor Barb Scamman, our volunteer Choir Director for the past seven years. With grace and a fine musicality she has guided our strong group of singers in the creation of so many moments of worship and praise. Now it is our turn to praise her gifts and express our gratitude.
And I could tell you that my final service with you before retirement will be held on Sunday, February 26 at 10am. Our Regional Minister, Sandy Messick, will lead us through this service of transition. The Rev. Rebecca Hale, Vice-President of the National Benevolent Association for Mission and Ministry (the social service arm of our denomination), will be our guest preacher. The choir will sing that morning and a reception will follow the service.
But what I really want to tell you is this: I love you. I love the community we have created together. Much like a marriage we persisted when it would have been easy to quit. Through our persistence we found our hearts and minds changed as we rubbed up against each other and formed a more genuine and honest community.
Together—within and through each other—we have glimpsed the face of God, sensed the leading of the Holy Spirit, and felt the presence of Christ binding us close to his heart in love. At the end of this month I will take my leave as your pastor and in that leaving I know and trust in this truth, that the love we have shared will never leave us.
Blessings + peace,
I learned the other day that New York City had hosted a “Good Riddance Day” on December 28.
“Good Riddance Day” was a chance to formally let the bad stuff go and move on. To mark this occasion a giant shredder was installed in Times Square in New York City. The process went like this: “write down your unpleasant memory from the past year on a piece of paper, destroy it in the communal shredder and make room for warmer, fuzzier thoughts in 2017.”
There is something compelling about this kind of an activity that makes room for private thoughts to be processed in a public space. And who among us would not like a few more warmer and fuzzier thoughts for 2017?
If I am honest, the memory from the past year I find most troubling would be that moment when I woke up at 3:30am on the night of the election and checked my smart phone to learn the results; there would be no celebration of the election of the first woman as president of the United States.
During these past weeks I have struggled to find the words. I have compared the process of coming to terms with this result as to that of a snake attempting to digest an elephant; something that will take time. What I can say now is that I have no desire to add the to acrimony that surrounds this presidential transition. That being said here are my rather hodgepodge resolutions for the coming year which I hope will result in warmer, but maybe not fuzzier, thoughts in the new year. I resolve:
Life is short and we have not too much
time for gladdening the hearts
of those who are traveling
the dark way with us.
O be swift to love!
Make haste to be kind.
What are your resolutions? How might you gladden the hearts of those around you? How might you spread God’s light in this weary world?
Blessings + peace, Laurie
Dear Northwest Family,
“We are Disciples of Christ, a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.” These words from our denominational mission statement keep running through my mind today, in these days following an incredibly divisive Presidential election. The fragmentation in our country is undeniable. It was clearly present before the election, during the campaign, and remains after the votes are counted. As I look at the map of our region and see the counties painted red or blue, it confirms what I already knew. We are a diverse people. Within our congregations are Trump supporters and Hillary supporters and “none of the above” supporters. Some rejoice at the results of the election while others grieve. I have long known that we have differences of opinion, philosophy and theology. My own family is divided and I confess I wonder what Thanksgiving will be like this year.
To those who are grieving, I encourage you to find space to do so.
To those who rejoice, I encourage you to do so with sensitivity and grace, recognizing that when one part of the Body hurts, we all hurt.
Before I claimed a political party affiliation, God claimed me. Before we were Republicans or Democrats, we were and are beloved children of God; more specifically we are followers of Christ. As such, we are called to be Christ’s witness in the world, Christ’s hands and hearts and voice. That has not changed. We are called to “preach good news to the poor,” (Luke 4) and to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and care for the least of these. (Matthew 25). We are called to be a people of welcome and grace for all of God’s children regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, ability or politics. We are called to stand with those who are afraid and uncertain about what the future may hold and stand against language and actions that injure and divide. We are called to love one another as Christ has loved us. As the story of the Good Samaritan reminds us, we are called to be the neighbors who cross the road to bind up the wounds of the outsider, to protect the injured, and to walk alongside the dispossessed. (Luke 10)
Before we knew the outcome of the election I posted a prayer on my Facebook page, and I continue to pray that prayer today: For wisdom, humility, compassion and vision for our next President, for a spirit of collaboration and a commitment to work together for the common good for our elected officials, and for healing and hope for our nation. May we as people of faith be God’s instruments of that healing and that hope.
Your sister in Christ,
Sandy Messick, Regional Minister
The Northwest Regional Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
from General Minister and President Sharon E. Watkins
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. Ps 3:5 (NRSV)
As we awake to this day after the election, some things have not changed. Whether we are rejoicing or we are feeling stunned and disappointed, the Gospel still calls us to love God first of all with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. It calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves. In the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), where the hero is the racial, religious minority, Jesus reminds us that our neighbor is the one, next door or around the world, who shows mercy. Jesus calls us to show mercy and to receive mercy. Jesus calls us to "love one another." (John 13:34)
The Gospel does not change with an election; what the Gospel requires of us does not change. Jesus' first inaugural address began with these words, "the Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor..." (Luke 4:18) God, now and always, is on the side of the poor, and we who follow Jesus must be also. No matter who is in charge of our governments, we are charged with loving God and loving neighbor, even in costly, self-sacrificial ways. We are called to be loyal to the reign of God.
American Disciples, as part of a movement for wholeness, will no doubt struggle to regain our footing with each other in these immediate days. This was a bitter, divisive campaign. The echoes will continue to reverberate for a while. To those who are rejoicing, we recall "... but (if I) have not love, I gain nothing." (I Cor. 13:3.) To those who are fearful this day: "Perfect love drives out fear." (I John 4:18)
On this day, our job as disciples of Christ, is still the same as it was yesterday, as it will be tomorrow - to proclaim by what we say and what we do that God is a God of love, and we are people of love - for all God's children. Our call is to work together for the common good, to welcome all to the table, people of all races, ages, gender identities, abilities, religions, and yes, politics, and to find ways to work together to extend to each other - across the whole human family - the abundance of a generous God.
No matter who won the election, today we Disciples were still going to be, and still are, a pro-reconciling/anti-racist church. We are still a church that works tirelessly, led by Disciples women (clergy and lay), to end human trafficking. We are still a church that welcomes more refugees and immigrants than almost any other compared to our size. We are still a church seeking to offer grace and welcome to LGBTQ brothers and sisters. We are still a church that learns from and shares with Christian and interfaith partners around the globe. We are still a church that seeks to walk lightly on this earth, knowing that "all of creation waits for revealing of the children of God." (Rom. 8:19). Today we are still a movement for wholeness, seeking a community where nothing is broken and no one is missing, seeking to receive God's gift of oneness already given to us in the life, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. We are still a church seeking to be diverse but not divided in Christ, striving to be one in our love of God and our visible love for each other.
We are still a church that will gather together at the Lord's Table this Sunday celebrating our unity in Christ. And we are still a church, no matter what political affiliations we have, that will pray together each week, "Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven." And we will join our hands and hearts to make it so.
This also appears on Sharon's Blog if you would like to share the link: http://disciples.org/sharon_blog/word-u-s-elections/
Let us be a people at prayer in these days of waiting:
We pray for our president elect, that they will lead our country with strength and compassion; that they may represent the very best of the United States around the globe; that they may be committed to justice and peace, and bringing our nation together to address our challenges.
Lord, hear our prayer.
We pray for our governors and legislators, that they will be responsive to their whole constituency and enact laws that ensure the wellbeing of all the people they represent.
Lord, hear our prayer.
We pray for all others elected to public office, that their service to their people would be just and beyond reproach; that where ever they serve in local government, schools, or law enforcement, they would treat all people with dignity and serve the common good.
Lord, hear our prayer.
We pray for our nation, our cities, and our neighborhoods, that together we can create a place where all people are respected and safe, where difference of opinion does not lead to violence, and where our combined creativity heals brokenness of all kinds.
Lord, hear our prayer.
We pray also that regardless of the outcome of this Election Day, we would remember that we are called by Christ to care for our neighbor, pursue peace and work for justice in our communities. Inspire us to work together, across divisions and difference, to create beloved community where ever we can.
Lord, hear our prayer.
From the Council on Christian Unity
written by The Rev. Kara Markell, Pastor
Lake Washington Christian Church
We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.
—Thich Nhat Hanh
Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.
September. Children are headed back to school, meetings suspended for July and August pick up again . . . so soon?!
In myself at least I can detect a bit of reluctant purposefulness. I love summer. I love sitting on the deck and watching the butterflies. I love the soft breezes. The intense heat? Well, not so much.
When I dig a little deeper however I find that in the midst of that reluctant purposefulness there rests a sense of growing delight that, with most vacations now ended, we will see one another on a more regular basis. That is the great thing about September!
Truth to tell, even in the summer both the AdMinistry Team and the Elders have been meeting to plan our fall activities. Let me highlight just a few.
On Sunday, September 11 we will bless all our children, youth and their backpacks as they begin a new year of learning. After worship that day we’ll take a congregational trip to the Seattle Center for the Live Aloha Hawaiian Cultural Festival; a sort of a church picnic with food trucks and beautiful hula dancing.
After worship on Sunday, September 25 I’ll meet with anyone interested in baptism and/or church membership. This will be an informational meeting after which we’ll set up some class sessions for those who would like to engage in further conversation or learning. However the event I particularly want to draw to your attention to takes place Sunday morning, September 18 at 10:30am. That morning we will NOT worship at QACC but instead will head over to Beacon Hill to worship with our sister congregation, Welcome Table Christian Church.
Very rarely do we not hold worship on a Sunday morning at QACC but this occasion is especially important. Over the course of sixteen years, Findlay Street Christian Church (now Welcome Table Christian Church) engaged the question: What does it mean to be church in the 21st century? Their answers to that question led them to sell their building in the Rainier Valley and purchase land on Beacon Hill to build a new sanctuary. You might imagine this was a simple process; you purchase land, you build a building but it was not simple in any way, shape or form.
For ten years Welcome Table nested with Mount Baker Park Presbyterian Church. They worshiped in the afternoon. In the wake of the financial housing collapse they struggled to finance the new construction.
Over the course of those ten years Welcome Table gathered with us for worship on so many occasions. They gave us opportunities to learn and practice the fine art of hospitality. And guess what, over those years we grew such that the practice of hospitality has become second nature to this congregation. Now the tables have turned and it is our turn to practice being gracious guests.
Who knows, just maybe, as the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews suggests, there are already angels among us at QACC just waiting to be entertained! May we be so blessed.
Blessings + peace,
Pastor Neil Allen
I am blessed to serve as the pastor of Queen Anne Christian Church, an amazing community of wise and thoughtful people.