Finding Hope in the New Normal
Finding Hope in the New Normal

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Greetings!
Dear Friend
of the Holy City:
 
Happy Easter!

Greetings to you for this Easter Sunday when we celebrate the risen Lord in our own lives.


JOIN
SUNDAY WORSHIP

This past week Annabel Park agreed to serve as our new Vice President of the church. She has also been helping me coordinate these Sunday services. I apologize if anyone had problems last week. This week Annabel will manage the online process and here's her instructions:

Message from Annabel:
To register for the church service conference call, go to

If you have already registered, you don't need to register again. You will use the same number that you used last week. Please save the numbers for handy reference since you will be using them every week.

MaestroConference will send you a reminder email every week with your phone number and pin. Every participant is assigned a unique number and pin, so please don't share your numbers with others who want to join the call. Ask people to register.

During the call, participants are muted by default. To raise your hand to speak, press "1" on your phone dial-pad.

If you have any questions or have trouble calling in for the service,
please email, text, or call Annabel:  annabelspark@gmail.com  / 240-883-8647.
 
How are you Doing?
I hope you all doing okay during this crisis. Let me know if you’d like to set up a call to talk. I know people are wrestling with anxiety in the midst of the uncertainty. Sometimes just holding a call can remind us that we are connected. I’ve been praying for everyone on our list. If you need a specific prayer, please let me know.
 
Social Hour
Please feel free to check in on how you are doing during the social hour. Bring you own goodies.
 
Last Week's Sermon
I’m posting last week’s sermon below and will continue posting previous week sermons in the newsletter. I’ll try adding recordings if you request them. We are also working behind the scenes to update the website so all of this information will be available, and we can post sermons there soon.

You can also listen to services you missed by clicking the links below the Service Order on the right.


Service Order
Please save this newsletter and use the service order on the right-hand side . If you’d like to do a reading you can request in advance or I’ll ask for volunteers live.

Please take a minute and send in an offering.

You can mail a check to 1611 16 th St NW WDC 20009 or use PayPal

Please send me a photo of where you worship at home and I’ll include it in the newsletter as we each create our sanctuary.
 
This Sunday’s Sermon
This Sunday is Easter Sunday. You can see the service order on the right side. My sermon title is Finding Hope in the New Normal

Hang in there. I know these are challenging times. I’m glad we have each other and the Lord.

Remember

Physical Distancing


Social Outreach


Spiritual Connection


Your Pastor
Rev. Richard L. Tafel

richtafel@gmail.com


LAST WEEK'S SERMON


How to Avoid Being Judas
 
Happy Palm Sunday and welcome to Holy Week.
 
You know that this week marks Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem on a donkey as people wave palm leaves yelling, “Hosanna! This is the highest public moment of recognition for Jesus in his ministry.
 
Yet, something else is happening even amidst the joy.
Jesus' new rock star status has been reaching a boiling point with the religious authorities. They are jealous and fearful of his message of love. They decide now is the time to reach out to the Roman political leaders to make the case that Jesus is a threat and needs to be stopped.

Holy Week takes us from an emotional rollercoaster from the high of Palm Sunday to the depths of despair on the cross.
A week that starts in praise will end in execution.
 
It is amazing how fast things can shift in our own lives.
 
 
Living in this time of pandemic is also the time we are on an emotional roller coaster- at any moment things shift dramatically.
 
Was it only a month ago that a group of our rising leaders met on a Saturday to discuss the future of the church? And now we’re on our fourth Sunday online. We couldn’t see the change coming.
 
This week, I’m reading the stories of people and speaking with family members about loved ones suffering now with the virus. In each case, they are men whose wives tell me they were jogging or healthy a week ago and now are crushed. I’m struck by how fast things can change.
 
I ask myself what will things be like in a year?
 
A virus changed our world, but it was Judas who changed holy week.
 

We don’t know how the religious authorities did it, but they find Judas or Judas finds them and agrees for payment of money to betray Jesus his community and himself.
 
The big unanswered question is: Why did he do it?
 
Was it just the money? Could be.
 
Was it simply evil coming into to him? That certainly played a role.
 
But why?
No one knows for sure, but I’d like to share my own theory.
 
I believe Judas felt betrayed.
 
Early writings refer to Judas as “Judas the Zealot.” Zealots were a nationalistic sect at the time that sought to overthrow the Roman occupiers. They used terrorism and violence and even punished Jews who sought peace with the Romans.
 
We can imagine him first being inspired by Jesus his abilities and his followers, but then turned against him. When a woman anoints Jesus' feet, Judas criticizes her saying the sale of the perfume could be used for the poor. Jesus tells him to leave her alone that the poor will always be with you and she’s preparing him for his burial.
 
She saw something spiritual. Judas saw something material.
 
Worse, in Judas eyes, in this crisis of Roman occupation, Jesus betrayed the cause.
 
Judas was looking for the revolution and all he got was turn the cheek.
 
In a crisis, Jesus wasn’t what Judas thought he should be.

In a crisis, Jesus wasn’t what Judas thought he should be.
 
And so he betrayed him. And he betrayed his community and betrayed himself.
 
The temptation of Judas is our temptation too.
 
Many of us will be tempted in a crisis to feel God has betrayed us.
 
He didn’t protect us from disease or death or losing our job or losing our loved ones or losing our way of life. He let the economy fall apart. He didn’t do his job.
 
God is not doing what I expect, no demand him to do.
 
None of the disciples knew things would go from Palm Sunday to Death Friday.
 
But the other disciples did their best, making mistakes but holding onto the community and doing their best to hold on to faith. The women were the bravest and the only ones to stay with Jesus at his death with John. They didn’t know and they trusted the Lord.
 
We must remind ourselves that though, we like the other disciples, don’t know what’s going to happen next, but we keep showing up for each other. We work harder to be kinder. We text, call and post messages of love.
 
Viktor Frankl, the famous Austrian psychiatrist who endured four years in Nazi concentration camps, observed that those who survived the camps best were those who continued to express their humanity by taking care of or reaching out to others.
 
This is a time to stand firm in our faith. This is not a time to betray our faith and our community or ourselves.
 
And here’s the good news.
 
In the midst of this time of fear and death of Holy Week, we know Jesus lives. He rises and so will we.
 
Whatever happened to Judas? We know in the gospel that he took his life when he realized what he’d done.
 
But even for Judas, there is good news.
 
One of the completely unique things about the Swedenborgian faith is the mystical angle. We believe that Emmanuel Swedenborg was a mystic who actually engaged with angels and traveled to heaven and hell. This is likely the only Christian religion where we can gain insight by asking what Swedenborg learned about Judas after he died.
 
And, sure enough, he has something to share and it is very good news for all of us we become more aware of God’s love. Swedenborg made the case that some people really do reform and change for the better at the time of their death through grace. Who does it point to as the most dramatic example of this? Judas. He reports:
 
"To this, it must be added that some are indeed reformed more quickly, and even at the moment of death; but then they are of such a nature that they had been prepared previously in a marvelous manner of which they themselves are ignorant; otherwise, if saved by the mere mercy of God Messiah, they would undergo infernal torments, as was told me concerning Judas the betrayer, of whom however, there is said to be hope because he was one of the elects who was given to God Messiah by Jehovah the Father, as declared by God Messiah himself."
 
Through God’s unending love there’s even hope for Judas. How much more God loves each of you.
 
Let’s live out our purpose, love our neighbor, trust in the Lord and together we can build a new world after this crisis knowing that
our God who is love and will never betray us.
 
Amen
Home Church Altars
Shared By Members

Please send in your photo

Easter Sunday
Order of Worship

Prepare
Light your own candle.

Set up your Bible or holy book at home.

You will be on mute when you arrive and we will "greet" you as you come in the door.

Opening the Word
Open your Bible at home.

Welcome from Rev. Tafel

Rev. Tafel will ask for readers of the Old Testament, Psalm and Swedenborg.
He will read the gospel.


Confession
Everyone will be unmuted.

All: Eternal God, in whom we live and move and have our being,
whose face is hidden from us by our sins,

and whose mercy we forget in the blindness of our hearts:
cleanse us from all our offenses,

and deliver us from proud thoughts and vain desires,

that with reverent and humble hearts we may draw near to you,

confessing our faults, confiding in your grace, and finding in you our refuge and strength;

Amen


Minister:
If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Amen


Readings

Jeremiah 31:1-6
At that time, says the Lord, I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.
Thus says the Lord:
The people who survived the sword
found grace in the wilderness;
when Israel sought for rest,
the Lord appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
Again I will build you, and you shall be built,
O virgin Israel!
Again you shall take your tambourines,
and go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.
Again you shall plant vineyards
on the mountains of Samaria;
the planters shall plant,
and shall enjoy the fruit.
For there shall be a day when sentinels will call
in the hill country of Ephraim:
“Come, let us go up to Zion,
to the Lord our God.”


Psalm 31:9-16
In te, Domine, speravi
9 Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble; *
my eye is consumed with sorrow,
and also my throat and my belly.
10 For my life is wasted with grief,
and my years with sighing; *
my strength fails me because of affliction,
and my bones are consumed.
11 I have become a reproach to all my enemies and even to my neighbors,
a dismay to those of my acquaintance; *
when they see me in the street they avoid me.
12 I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind; *
I am as useless as a broken pot.
13 For I have heard the whispering of the crowd;
fear is all around; *
they put their heads together against me;
they plot to take my life.
14 But as for me, I have trusted in you, O Lord. *
I have said, "You are my God.
15 My times are in your hand; *
rescue me from the hand of my enemies,
and from those who persecute me.
16 Make your face to shine upon your servant, *
and in your loving-kindness save me."


Swedenborg Insight

Still, though, this does not mean that people are part of the church by merely being born where the Word exists and the Lord is known; people are part of the church only if they are being regenerated by the Lord by means of truths from the Word—that is, they are living caring lives. . . . The Lord’s church includes all people in the world who are living a good life according to their own religion. . . . All the people who live good lives and acknowledge one God, no matter where they are, are accepted by the Lord and come into heaven. This is because everyone who is devoted to doing good recognizes the Lord, since goodness comes from the Lord and the Lord is present in it. ( New Jerusalem  §246:1, 2)



Gospel
The empty tomb
Luke 24 
Very early in the morning on the first day of the week, the women went to the tomb, bringing the fragrant spices they had prepared.  They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,  but when they went in, they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus.  They didn’t know what to make of this. Suddenly, two men were standing beside them in gleaming bright clothing.  The women were frightened and bowed their faces toward the ground, but the men said to them,

Why do you look for the living among the dead?  6

  He isn’t here, but has been raised. Remember what he told you while he was still in Galilee,  that the Human One [ a ]  must be handed over to sinners, be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”  Then they remembered his words.  When they returned from the tomb, they reported all these things to the eleven and all the others.  10  It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles.  11  Their words struck the apostles as nonsense, and they didn’t believe the women.  12  But Peter ran to the tomb. When he bent over to look inside, he saw only the linen cloth. Then he returned home, wondering what had happened.

Sermon



Discussion
Press one on your phone to raise your hand to ask a question.

Please keep your questions or comments concise so others can join in as well.


Offering


Community Prayers
Pastor Prayer
Lord's Prayer (in unison)
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11  Give us this day our daily bread.
12  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.


Benediction

Social Time
Please stay as long as you like to update each other on how you are doing. Rev. Tafel will stay until the last person has shared.
Buns from last week's social hour.
Annabel Park was appointed to fill the vacant Vice President position as a church officer. Here she is picture with Rev. Tafel at the Swedenborgian Convention last summer.
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