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WPC Staff Blog

Members of Westminster’s staff team share their thoughts and musings on the life of discipleship, current events, and things that bring us insight, inspiration, and peace while quarantine.

  1. WPC Staff Blog : In Praise of Pink

    by Cherrie Barton Henry, Associate Pastor of Congregational Care & Mission

    Did you notice that Malia lit a pink candle on Sunday?

    That’s because this Sunday is known as Laetare (pronounced lay-tar-aa) Sunday. Laetare means “rejoice,” and this is the week of Lent when we are reminded of the joy of being a Christian. And, if you are thinking that this is a sister Sunday to the third Sunday of Advent when we light the pink joy candle, then you are on the right track!  This is the week to rest and enjoy God’s goodness. It’s a week when we all are invited to ease off on our more harsh Lenten practices in order to remind ourselves where our desire to shoulder the hard work of discipleship comes in the first place:  as a response to Jesus love for us; a love we do not earn but receive in joy.

    Do you ever wonder why God wants us to rejoice and praise and love God? Well, it’s not because God has a big head or is needy of our feeble adoration. The answer is that we as humans are so naturally inclined to become like that which we admire and look up to. You’ve noticed this, right? Lent is all about letting our heads and hearts fall in love with what is truly good. We praise and admire God because God as we have come to know God in Jesus Christ and with the help of the Holy Spirit as the only one truly worthy and up to the task of receiving our admiration, praise, and love; and allowing that love to shape our souls for our own and the world’s good.  In other words, when we fall in love with Jesus, we quite naturally desire to be like him. That’s good for us. That’s good for all creation.

    Enjoy this Laetare week of Lent. But the dark and heavy purple aside for a just bit to embrace the bright rosy color of pink! Find ways to rejoice and celebrate, by remembering how much Jesus loves you and how much you love Jesus! Everything is easier to bear in the light of such love.

  2. WPC Staff Blog : Encountering God in the Parking Lot

    By Alex Stayer-Brewington, Associate Pastor of Youth & Their Families

    Our Christian faith is a simple religion concerned with ordinary objects. Animals, tables, and books. Bread, wine, and water. Wood and nails. The items that inhabit our holiest stories are also the stuff of everyday life. Communion bread comes from the grocery store or somebody’s kitchen, and the water in our baptismal fount comes from the same sink where I rinse out my coffee mug. Through and despite their humble origins, these elements become vehicles for the miraculous to occur.

    drive-throughI was reminded of this on Rally Day last Sunday when about 200 of you (not including dogs and a cat) drove through our church driveway to wave and say a quick hello. In our brief interactions there were no profound theological debates and the skies didn’t open up to reveal any heavenly choruses. There was only the simple pleasure of looking one another in the eyes and smiling – connecting face-to-face with the most elemental and profound of human gestures.

    Simple though it may be, our faith is built on nothing less than the promise of God’s presence when two or three of us are gathered together. It took several long months of pandemic isolation and then seeing you again in person last Sunday to remind me of the fact that being with other people is fundamental to who we are as Christians and as human beings. Thank you to everyone who came out. Your presence was a sacred gift.

  3. WPC Staff Blog : Invitation, Welcome, Promise

    By Marietta Wynands, Director of Christian Education

    marietta's plaqueFor many years, a small plaque created by one of my sons during a long-ago VBS graced the wall next to the entrance to our home. It reads, “…as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

    Much like a mezuzah that some Jews place on their doorposts, this plaque served as a reminder coming in and going out that God was to be at the very center of our lives. These words, spoken by Joshua to God’s wayward people the Israelites, were a call to the community. They served as both warning and invitation to a people that Joshua knew to be easily led astray by the lure of other gods or the challenges that confronted them. Joshua’s vow to remain faithful to God encompassed his own household and he challenged the community to do the same.

    As we launch a new year of Christian Education, we too are in a time of testing. Yet the invitation remains for me and for you and your household. Will we serve the Lord in these challenging times? Will we turn to and rely on the Spirit of God and the community of faith? Despite our weariness with Zoom and our exhaustion with all-things-online, will we seek to connect with our God and to our church family, staying true to our covenantal promises to serve the Lord as we seek to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God?

    welcome friendsHere’s another plaque that presently welcomes friends and neighbors to our house. It reads simply, “Welcome, Friends.” Welcome is a core Christian practice. Many of our classes, but especially our new CommUNITY Groups, are a wonderful way to make and deepen friendship. I invite you this fall to make a promise to God and to yourself to connect and nurture faith in CommUNITY, together/apart.

  4. WPC Staff Blog : Watching for God’s Big Circles

    By Cherrie Barton Henry, Associate Pastor for Congregational Care & Mission

    cherrie's journal

    He drew a circle that shut me out –
    Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
    But love and I had the wit to win:
    We drew a circle and took him in!
    ― Edwin Markham

    I taped this pithy little poem into the blank blue flowered “quote journal” that was given to me by a member of my congregation when I graduated from high school in 1979.

    All these years later I still think on that little poem from time to time.

    Watching God draw big circles never gets old for me. The poem, like the stories in Genesis – and all throughout the Bible really – reminds me that given the freedom to do so, we humans are prone to drawing small circles. Tight-hearted, cramped circles; circles that cut off not only others, but even whole parts of our own selves. After all, there’s a bit of a heretic, rebel, and things to ‘flout” in each of us. But heretics and rebels and flouting things also have much to teach us. When we shut them out, we miss out on their lessons.

    When I read a story like Joseph’s and his brothers, I for one am glad that it is God’s wit – God’s intellect, compassion, wisdom, and strong abiding love – that wins out. I’m glad God draws BIG circles. Circles that again and again draw all of me and all of you and creation with us, in. Spacious circles where love, joy, and freedom come to us anew.

    Here’s to looking for God’s big circles, friends!

  5. WPC Staff Blog : “Baul listo?”

    By Cherrie Barton Henry, Associate Pastor for Congregational Care & Mission

    It was hot one recent Wednesday at Iglesia Presbiteriana Emanuel. We were all working hard. The line of cars seemed endless, the sun relentless. The humidity made it feel as if we were living inside a very sweaty terrarium!

    I slipped in to cover for Christina to watch the parking lot entrance while she took a brief break for water and shade. This day was a slough; we had to take turns or we wouldn’t make it!

    At the parking lot entrance every car is asked, “Baul listo?” “Is your trunk ready?”

    A ready trunk means that it can be popped open to receive groceries that has taken many months of effort to grow, harvest, gather, sort, and bag so this team of youth, college students, and some not-so-youthful adults can place them in it at the end of the parking lot.

    I was just doing my job when I noticed the woman in the white truck was crying. I was not very in touch with my own or anyone else’s feelings at that point. We were in the “will-this-ever-end” arc of our weekly shift pushing cars through – a large, sweaty, tired bucket brigade of grocery delivery that makes one feel a bit like a robot. But the woman’s crest-fallen, tearing face yanked me back to our original purpose.

    “Are you okay?” I asked motioning her to roll down her window.

    Initially she waved me away.

    “I’m a pastor,” I persisted. “Roll down your window.”

    She relented then and rolled her window down.

    “What’s wrong?” I pried. “Did you get some bad news?”

    I couldn’t see the obvious. That’s when she crumbled.

    “No,” she said, shaking her head and tearing up even more.

    “It’s not that. . .it’s that . . . I just . . .I never thought I’d be in a line like this.”

    I was hot and tired. We all were. I knew that for her part, she had gotten into that line for groceries well over two hours before she ever got to the point where I would ask her “Baul listo?” Creeping along in that snaking 300+ car line she’d had a lot of time to think about it all, time to let everything sink in.

    The grace in it was that her letting it sink in allowed me to see the glory of her side of the line in a way I hadn’t before. For she needed something and – despite its clear difficulty for her – she had gathered the courage, the strength, the light, the trusting faith to get in line for it. She had gotten in line for God’s grace in the form of groceries, and it would not be denied her. And she wasn’t the only one; there were more than 300 others like her that day.

    COVID-19 has put us all in lines we never thought we’d be in. On one side and the other we are all called into work that honors our common humanity — sacred work where everyone must be ready to open their trunks, to find the grace to take or to give as we are in need and as we are able. It’s true always, but every Wednesday now, I am reminded anew.

    Baul listo?