Sunday's Solo

On Sunday, Katherine Riddle will sing a solo version of a beautiful text by English poet Christina Rossetti. First published in 1872, it’s been set to a number of tunes but is well worth reading on its own: In the bleak mid-winter Frosty wind made moan, Earth stood hard as iron, Water like a stone; Snow had fallen, snow on snow, Snow on snow, In the bleak mid-winter Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him Nor earth sustain; Heaven and earth shall flee away When He comes to reign: In the bleak mid-winter A stable-place sufficed The Lord God Almighty Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim Worship night and day, A breastful of milk And a mangerful of hay; Enough for Him, whom angels Fall down before, The ox and ass and camel Which adore.

What can I give Him, Poor as I am? If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb, If I were a Wise Man I would do my part, – Yet what I can I give Him, Give my heart.

Peace, Mark

An Awesome Christmas

Christmas! Yes! The angels were so excited they tore open the heavens and shouted to the night-shift temp-worker shepherds. The shepherds were so excited, they left their sheep to head to a stranger's barn. The magi were so excited, they planned a month's long inter-continental journey. The message spread throughout the region and through time and it has come to us today. So spread it! Give gifts, reach out to folks, wave to strangers, high five your cranky uncle, give your depressed dad a hug.

God is here! Have an awesome Christmas.

Love, Pastor Rachel

Serving Refugees

Many of the "refugees" still coming to the Washington region are commonly referred to as "SIV's" - people with Special Immigrant Visas. These are visas for people and their families who served as translators for the U.S. military in Afghanistan and Iraq. Their journeys to get here have been long and difficult, and yet getting to the U.S. doesn't mean the journey is over. Adapting to life in the U.S. has its own incredible sets of challenges, especially for the women who have come to the U.S., many without any formal education at all. For some, being in a country where they don't speak the language, or have marketable skills, feels like a trap.
Lutheran Social Services has started a program called Threads to Success, and GPC is a big part of it. Beginning in January, thirty-five Afghan women are signed up to take sewing classes in order to gain a skill and connect to community (sewing is typically a man's job in Afghanistan). GPC has already provided all 35 sewing machines needed, and will be providing help with critical transportation needs. Thank you for your generosity, and stay on the lookout for an invitation early next year to help put this program into practice! Let us pray that this program truely becomes a sign of hospitality to others who continue to struggle. Peace, Chris

28 Minutes

28 minutes. When was the last time you took 28 minutes to sit and ponder the holy mysteries of our faith? At this time of year it is almost an absurd question. Sunday's service is going to force the issue as the GPC choir and a baroque orchestra present Gloria in D Major by Antonio Vivaldi. In our hour of worship, you will have 28 minutes of music to lift your sights towards the heavens, offer prayers to the Almighty, and have your faith inspired by this sacred music. Our special music tradition in Advent is an annual gift to the church. It is your chance to be still in the presence of God and be enfolded in the glory of collective praise and worship. We pray it will bless your journey towards Christmas and cultivate within you a holy sense of wonder and awe. See you in church!

CCM

Patiently Waiting

On Sunday, we begin the first of four weeks of Advent, a season when we essentially celebrate the act of waiting. This is made easier for us now when we know the timeline: four weeks of Advent, then Christmas. It’s literally clockwork, but what are we supposed to do if when we don’t know the timeline? Even as I write this, on Thursday, deadline looming near, I’m fulfilling the adage, coined by Cyril Parkinson, a 20th century British scholar, who said, “work expands so as to fill the time available for completion.” It’s known as “Parkinson’s Law,” and I’m guessing you’ve felt it's pull in your own life. The last few weeks I’ve been listening to and studying Bach’s Cantata, BWV 140, “Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme.” Here’s a link to my favorite recording of it if you care to listen. It’s one of the best of Bach’s cantatas, if they can even be ranked. The first, fourth and final movements incorporate the hymn text and tune written by Philipp Nicolai (No. 349 in the Glory to God hymnal). This hymn references the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, a cautionary tale told by Jesus to prepare his listeners for the coming of the kingdom of heaven. Though the hymn only mentions the wise virgins, we all know the story of the other five (and I’d probably be one of them) who push Parkinson’s law to the edge and come up wanting, desperately searching for oil and missing the arrival of the bridegroom. I love what Bach does with this cantata in the inner movements. Unusually, for the cantatas, there are two duets for the soprano and bass, who sing a dialog between the Soul and Jesus, characters in a kind of sacred opera. The words they sing are based on the love poetry of the Song of Songs: Soul: “My friend is mine…” Jesus: “and I am yours,” S: “love will never part us.” It’s the love story that is the truth at the heart of the gospel. I don’t know that it’s an antidote to Parkinson’s law, which I still feel working in my life, but it’s a better perspective to have when working and waiting.
Peace,
Mark

Mission Market & Fair

For many years, GPC has hosted a market every November/December to kick off the holiday season and provide an opportunity to purchase with a purpose. In the last few years, we've updated the name to reflect the fact that mission has expanded significantly, and that there are increasingly ways that GPC serves year round. Our hope is that you'll come by not only to purchase olive oil from Palestine or nativity sets from Niger, but that you'll take a few moments to be proud of all the ways GPC gives, and even sign up to try something new. Thank you for continuing to serve as we grow together in love and faith!

Peace, Chris

The Silver Lining in Politics

On Tuesday night, like many Americans, I watched some of the coverage of the election returns, with a combination of despair at how divisive the dialog around our differences is, and hope that we might find a path to conversation and greater unity. I’ve always believed that all humans, even coming from drastically different cultural, political, religious and economic places, have much more in common than not. But sadly, we prove easily distracted from that fact by leaders who choose the shortcut to power found in dividing us from each other. Searching for my rose colored glasses, perhaps you’re not surprised that I keep coming back to music. I admire the composers of the past who continued to practice their art through the wars, political and theological divisions that fractured people and countries. There was beauty to be made, the mystery of God to express. Music, with its many independent yet harmonious voices, models for how we too could get along, work together, collaborate to form a cohesive whole. At GPC every week, we have the unique privilege to do just that, to cut through the chaotic noise of division with the even more powerful music of unity.
Peace,
Mark

A History of Stewardship

We have been working our way through the book of Acts and reading lately about Paul's adventures. One of the things Paul does on his travels is to take up offerings and collections of money to support the growing church and the ministry to the poor. Some things never change! It is stewardship season and like Paul — we are looking for pledges of support for 2019. One of the reasons Paul raised money was to get the new converts to be a part of Christ's ongoing ministry in the world. With our collections and pledges, together we are able to support a growing and vibrant ministry at Georgetown Presbyterian Church. We rely on our generous and committed members who make our work possible. Thank you for supporting our church, believing in its mission, and keeping the faith from one generation to the next. To God be the Glory! With sincere gratitude for your gifts to GPC,

CCM

A Pastoral Note around the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting

Grace and Peace, This past Saturday, during Shabbat services at the Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh, eleven people were murdered by a man fueled by anti-Semitic hatred, the kind that has terrorized our Jewish sisters and brothers for millennia. Our first response is to grieve, and so we mourn with the Jewish community the loss of precious lives cut short as they grapple with this act of hate.

As we have been reading through the books of Acts, you perhaps have noticed that the theme of conflict between the Jewish and Gentile communities figures prominently in the story of the early church. These and other New Testament Scriptures have been used by Christians to fuel anti-Semitism through false interpretations, seeking to divide Jews from Christians using the person of Jesus, the Jewish rabbi who we call the Messiah.

Although we ourselves may not have promoted anti-Jewish theologies, we nonetheless confess, before God and our Jewish sisters and brothers, the ways in which the Christian church has promoted hate through fear, false narratives, and poor interpretation. Although it may not be our fault, it is our responsibility to set the record straight in proclaiming that the God of Jesus Christ, who we worship, is also the God of Israel, and that our hope is in the reconciliation, not the division, of all peoples.

Simply put, this vision of reconciliation is woven into the fabric of scripture. It begins with the “tree of life in the middle of the garden,” (Gen 2:9) and culminates in the “the tree of life with… the leaves of the tree [that are] for the healing of the nations.” (Rev 22)

Don’t be afraid to reach out to a Jewish friend, co-worker, or neighbor, and let them know that you care, and that you reject the hateful ideology that has led to this past week’s tragedy. As we continue our journey through Acts we must interpret scripture through the greatest commandment: To love God and love neighbor. There can be no valid Christian interpretation outside of this. This congregation seeks to provide these interpretive tools through worship, education, and in conversation with pastors and one another.

Peace, Pastors Camille, Rachel, and Chris

Daily Bible Readings

[avtextblock size='' fontcolor='' color='' av-medium-font-size='' av-small-font-size='' av-mini-font-size='' avuid='av-jnq8qylw' adminpreview_bg='']We are just over the half-way mark for our first "Born. United. Sent." series. Over one hundred people are signed up to get daily readings in their inbox (Thursday's reading was nuts)! Even though we've just started into the year-long program, I already see the year is taking shape. It's great to see what we can do as a church when we're all on the same "page."

Happy Reading!

RLV

(PS, if you want to sign up for the readings still, click here.) [/av_textblock]