+On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, three of our PoP members who are leaders of our Rotating Safe Car Park (RSCP) attended the monthly Saratoga City Council meeting. We were there to speak on behalf of and in full support of a change in a line of the Saratoga city ordinance. The RSCP leadership team has been working behind the scenes to advocate for cars to be able to park for 90 consecutive days instead of the previous 32 days. This change will allow us to operate Safe Car Park for longer periods of time and officially make Safe Car Park a city-sanctioned event instead of just a pilot program. The City Council was overwhelmingly supportive and applauded the work of the leadership of Karen, Norman, Jim, and Yvonne as well as the collaborative efforts of our local partners. When the three of us exited city hall into the quiet night of a pre-holiday stillness, we felt a sense of jubilation at the culmination of months of hard work. It was a milestone on a long road of labor.
+Every Sunday, bread, wine, and clean altar cloths appear. Two worship services are held, and if you look carefully you will see evidence of participation of many hands and voices: greeters, lectors, ushers, communion assistants, singers, conductor, and musicians who have practiced weekly to perfect their craft. If there was a closed circuit camera pointed at the inside of the sanctuary, you would also see some of the work that gets accomplished that we may not notice unless it doesn’t happen: carpets scrubbed, baptismal towels hand-stitched, pencils sharpened and visitor cards restocked, bulletins proofed, offering counted, banners hung, eternal flames relit, and cobwebs swept away. Every Sunday worship is a milestone of many hands’ and voices labor, but it takes a careful observation to see just how many people make worshiping in our sanctuary the Holy and meaningful experience that it is.
+December 2 celebrated a milestone in the life of Carol Gobby, our office administrator of 23 years. For over two decades, she has been the voice on the phone, the kind welcome to visitors in the office, and the strong arm that deals with the sometimes not-so efficient vendors and business partners. She understands, better than anyone, the entire web of what makes Prince of Peace function and operate. She has had a long career in the Valley, and at the end of December, she will be released into the sweet freedom of retirement. She’ll still be in the pews and involved with PoP in whatever ways that she chooses, but this month we take the time to thank her for her dedication, heart, and partnership. We celebrated this milestone with her and promise that she will now get to see only the finished copies of the bulletin on a Sunday morning.
+In this issue of the DoveTales you will see an article from one of the members of our Mission Endowment Fund Board. That group has been working diligently over the past several months to establish a system and process of fund distribution and communication of said recipients. It is the hard, behind the scenes work of organization and policy making. And as a result, the stories of how that Fund (established years ago for the sake of care for our wider world and community) has touched lives from here to Chicago have been invigorating. Check out Ken’s article and keep an ear out for more information from our Mission Endowment Fund Board. Their behind the scenes work has culminated in an allocation of funds that is a milestone for this congregation, the funds’ donors over the years, and the passion that the people of PoP have to care for our wider world.
+On December 24th, we will gather as a community of faith to celebrate a major milestone in the life of God. The incarnation, literally the God becoming flesh and dwelling amongst us, changed how we as Christians relate to God and to one another. And it happened in a small town, to a couple of small town kids of little consequence. The birth of the child happened on a quiet, cold evening in a political situation that soon after the birth, forced Mary and Joseph to flee for their lives. I wonder if they knew the magnitude of what they were involved in during those first months. I wonder if the countless people who helped along the way (shepherds, strangers on the road, neighbors, and family of Mary and Joseph) could fathom the milestone and power of the little boy named Jesus.
Oftentimes, in our day to day happenings, we can lose sight of the bigger picture that we are working towards. We don’t often get to (or take time to!) relish in the simple joy of milestones along the way. This Advent and Christmas season, I heartily encourage you to make time to notice the milestones around you, the markers on your path that point back to the ways that you have been held up and supported by God’s love, whether by gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit or the clear care of another person.
May your Advent and Christmas Seasons be filled with small quiet milestone moments that enliven your hearts and boost your faith.
Merry Christmas, Pastor Sara
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. Jesus
What does it mean to you to be “a person of faith?” How does what you believe about God/Jesus/Church impact your day to day living? Is your faith something that comes out only on Sundays when you come to church? Do you feel a sense of God’s presence on a regular basis? Do the teachings of Jesus effect your daily choices?
If your answer to most of these questions was no, please don’t feel guilty! We don’t work in guilt equations around here. I ask these questions as a sort of assessment for how you understand your faith and its impact on your daily living. As a rostered leader in the ELCA, I have access to our church’s Health and Benefits program. A few years ago, they created this colorful little model for us called the Wholeness Wheel. As you can see, it is a way of understanding our faith life as something deeply intertwined with all aspects of our being.
Throughout the 4 gospels, Jesus speaks widely on what it means to have faith in God. From how we spend our money to our interpersonal relationships, Jesus has much to say about the all-encompassing (and somewhat all-consuming) changes that occur when people are swept up in following him. As people who live in a culture and society that values busy-ness and full schedules as proof of how important we are, it can seem exhausting to imagine that our faith and its manifestation are more than just an hour on Sundays. But what Jesus offers in the gospels and in his conversations with others is exactly what you see in the center of the Wholeness Wheel...the freedom to be a New Creation! What this means is that We may live in an over-scheduled, high-achieving kind of valley, but also, we need not count our worth in those ways. Jesus and God call us to balanced lives that understand the gift of health and wholeness not just in our vocations and finances, but also in our interpersonal relationships, our intellectual well-being, our physical bodies, and our emotional health. When any one of these areas of our lives are not nurtured, it can leave us feeling out of sorts, imbalanced, stressed, and/or lost.
Over the next year of our time together during Sunday FED time, we will be focusing our Sundays together on one of the aspects of the Wholeness Wheel. We hope that this will serve to give shape to your faith growth and help you key in on certain Sunday FED times that will be most helpful for you and your faith. In addition, if you have any requests for FED topics for the year, send them my way! I look forward to the ways that we will grow in our faith together that we each may have life more abundantly!
For our family vacation this summer, Nate and I rode RAGBRAI, an acronym for Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. It is an annual event for cyclists, attracting between 10,000 and 20,000 bike riders for a week of riding west to east across the state of Iowa. Each day consists of pedaling a pre-determined route through Iowa's friendly and hospitable towns. The overnight towns that host the thousands and thousands of campers open up their local schools, gyms, and public spaces for tents and RV’s. It is quite a transformation for some of these small towns (population 2000 of Sigourney, Iowa this year) to suddenly be inundated with a mass of people, sort of akin to a plague of locusts.
Growing up in Omaha, I had uncles and cousins who rode RAGBRAI, and Nate has ridden a few times as well. This was our first attempt as adults, sans children and with adult friends. I was expecting a week of kid-free entertainment, and long miles on my bicycle to ponder and unwind from the stresses of life. I most certainly experienced this, but I was also deeply touched by the wonder of being in motion with that many people. RAGBRAI is advertised as a ride, not a race, and in that spirit, there are clear rules and ways of communicating and riding. For example, “ride right” is a catchphrase meant to remind slower rider to keep right and for faster riders to pass on the left…always communicating with a gentle ding of a bike bell or friendly word signal. When traffic of any kind is in the opposite lane (most of the ride has one lane closed for bike traffic) the whole groups hollers, in a sort of echoing communication, “car up!” or “bike up!” so that those who are utilizing the left lane for passing know to squeeze back into the group and look ahead before passing. Also, if there are items in the road that may entangle a bike tire, hand signals are utilized, and each person points at it along the road. This kind of clear communication and simple expectation of how to move made for a clear sense of belonging and community. And it is vitally necessary for the mass movement of so many people! This way of interacting, paired with our common goal of making it across the state altogether made for a temporary community experience that inspired my pastor’s heart. Being united behind a common cause and with a common language is part of what makes Prince of Peace such a special church. Our mission statement calls us forth to love, serve, and strengthen. And the language we use is the language of faith…with grace, open communion, and radical hospitality.
RAGBRAI was a deeply moving experience for me (pun intended!) filled with beautiful conversations with people from all over our country. In a time where we so often highlight our differences instead of our common hearts and hopes, RAGBRAI reminded me, again, why communities with a common purpose are so life-giving and world-changing. As your pastor, I am so grateful to be with you in this endeavor, and thank you all for the wonderful respite that it was to be away on vacation!
“Well done, good and faithful servant. Now enter into the joy of your Lord.”
When does summer begin for you? After Memorial Day? At the vernal equinox? When school ends? Or perhaps after a major vacation? Maybe when you have to turn on the air conditioner? Summer at Prince of Peace is marked by the start of our one service worship schedule (9:45am). Summer also includes a break in our FED (Fellowship-Education-Discipleship) Hour as well as our Tuesday evening confirmation classes.
Beyond these shifts in patterns, summer at PoP is a time for the sweet combination of Sabbath Joy. The verse up above from the gospel of Matthew comes from the parable of the talents in which Jesus tells a story about a wealthy landowner who entrusts money to three servants. Two of the three servants work and push and reinvest the money in order to double it. It is to these two hard-workers that the landowner says, “well done…enter into the joy of your Lord.” In a simplistic sense, this verse can be used to remind all of us who have endured a long season of labor, grief, or trial to take a break and enter into joy. It is our hope that your Sundays are times of Sabbath and joy…and throughout the summer, we hope to highlight that Joy in a few special ways:
+every Sunday there will be “toys” on the lawn in the middle of the courtyard. After worship, all ages are invited to engage with one another outside and enjoy one another’s company (or just drink coffee and revel in the joy of others playing)
+monthly patio parties are relaxing times to gather with people in our community to share a meal and a conversation. The meals will include space for games and thoughtful conversation, with hopes that you might make a new connection to one of our newer members and friends.
+Vacation Bible School is one of our annual outreach ministries. Kids from PoP as well as surrounding neighborhoods and churches will descend on our campus the week of July 8-13th for an amazing week of learning, faith growth, and relationship building. We would love a few extra hands on campus to help with a variety of tasks, so please consider volunteering for this joyful week!
+beach worship is also in the plans, with a Sunday in August as a goal date. Keep an eye on the bulletin and Peace Notes for a firm date
+Family Day at Raging Waters on August 7th: join us for a day at Raging Waters! All kids over the age of 13 can go without a parent. Look for details in the Peace Notes!
Where ever it is that you are roaming this summer, may you be refreshed by the joy of new places and the joy of new patterns of life; and may your summer at Prince of Peace bring joyful Sabbath to your life!
He is risen!
He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!
Welcome to the season of Easter. For the next 7 Sundays we will be basking in the glow of the resurrection of Jesus as we await his Ascension 1 and the arrival of the Holy Spirit with tongues of fire on Pentecost. When I was a church boy our Pastor did the same trick every Easter Sunday for the children’s sermon. He’d have us look all over the sanctuary for this dot-matrix print of the word
“Alleluia,” until we found it in the baptismal font. He did this for five years in a row. It got to a point where most of us kids knew exactly where to look for the “Alleluia” even before the children’s sermon time started.
And so one year, a few of those kids (perhaps some adults too) conspired to move the “Alleluia” somewhere else instead.
It this impetus for the new which is going to help theme our celebrations this Easter season. Our focus for this season will be about moving from the known to the unknown with hope. And hope is a tricky thing. You can’t just tell someone to be hopeful anymore than you can just tell someone to be happy. But when we together remember our shared history, and note how God has been faithful, this should give us the hope we need to embrace the unknown – because no matter how different it might be, we know God is going there with us.
I don’t know if Pastor knew, all those years ago, someone changed his plans, but that Sunday he looked just as confused and surprised as everyone else when the “Alleluia” appeared under the brass communion trays instead of in the font. The world changes, but God is still faithful.
Thanks be to God.
He is risen!
Reverend Nathan Winterhof and Reverend Sara Pearson have been Co-Pastors at Prince of Peace Saratoga since April 2015. In addition to shepherding the congregation, they have two children and a dog to keep them on their toes and provide sermon material.