Meeting Jesus
Meeting Jesus

Zoom Video Call in at 5pm EST
Corona Lisa

Dear Friend
of the Holy City:

First Video Service


Many of you have commented to me that you miss seeing other attendees on Sunday and could I try using a video program.

This week we will try using Zoom video. Here's the deal. Just click the link below or cut and paste it into your browser.

Once you are on the site you can choose if you want to turn on your video or not. It's no problem either way.

If you don't have a smart phone or a computer you can simply call in using the phone numbers below the link.

If you want to practice, contact me and I'll set you up.

This week I'm fortunate to have the support of our member Kateryna Pyatybratova who is a leader at George Washington University's Leadership and Excellence program. She has run numerous Zoom classes and will help me facilitate.

How to Join Sunday

Rich Tafel is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Church of the Holy City Sunday Service
Time: Apr 26, 2020 05:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting (click this link)

Meeting ID: 827 9328 5048
Password: 307341
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Social Hour
Social Hour has become a great venue for sharing and asking long questions.

This week I'd like to check-in and here how you are managing during this crisis.

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. .

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

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


Physical Distancing

Social Outreach

Spiritual Connection

Your Pastor
Rev. Richard L. Tafel


Listen to the Recording of
Last Week's Service

Sunday April 19, 2020

The Power of Doubt
The topic of doubting couldn’t come at a better time.
We live in great doubt. We just aren’t sure about much of anything. How did this start? When will it end? Who can we believe? What will our lives be like after this? Will I lose my job? Will I get sick? Will those I love get sick? Where will I live? Who will I be?
This gospel story helps us understand the power of doubt.
The risen Jesus enters into their locked room of the disciples and teaches.
I imagine Thomas was on the grocery run for his fellow disciples in quarantine stayed hidden inside and he misses everything.

Imagine the disciples saying to Thomas when he gets back,

“Thomas you are not going to believe what just happened. Jesus was just here. No, I’m not kidding. He was literally standing right there. And he told us we’d have the power to forgive and we were called to out in the world and tell everyone about the new teachings of Jesus. I swear, he was right here.”
Thomas says, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
And, be honest, wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you say the same thing? I’m sure I would.
Imagine their conversation continued. “Thomas, we’ve been living together for three years and we’ve been following Jesus. Would we make this up?”
Thomas responds, “Sorry guys, I’m just not buying it. I need to see the holes in his side before I believe. There’s been a lot of strange stuff going on lately. I love you all, but we’ve all been through a lot. With Judas and Jesus and the reports. Maybe you just imagined it”
“But Thomas,” they might say, “You’ve got to trust us. You need to believe what we’re telling you.”
A week later, Jesus breaks quarantine and appears to all of them.
Who does he go to first?
He doesn’t say what we might expect,
“Thomas, oh ye of little faith. I’ve been with you for three years and you never knew me. It’s shameful that you need to see to believe. You all ran and hid when I needed you.”
No that’s not what he says. Jesus says, “Thomas come over here and touch my wounds—Experience me. Experience me.”
For most Christians, the lesson in the story is that it’s okay to believe through an experience like Thomas, but better believe without seeing. Thomas is weak because of the questions. So we give him the lousy nickname “Doubting Thomas.”
I think we got it all wrong.
Thomas is teaching us something profound.
True faith only comes through experience.
God knows we all need to experience to truly believe.
Swedenborg makes that point that adults who just carry forward on the faith of their parents because that’s what they’ve been taught have no real belief at all. When a crisis comes those well thought out arguments, theologies, and paradigms fall away like a house built on sand.
The disciples launched the message of the love of God based not on what they thought. They carried forth the message because they believed. And they believed because they had an experience.
I can share this from my own life.
I was fortunate to grow up in a church. But at some point, I had to doubt what I’d been taught. I needed to question things. Those question for me came during various crisis’. Only when I questioned could I experience. And only through experience did I gain faith.
At this time of crisis, new doubts emerge within all of us. This is human. It also a moment to experience the risen Lord.
It’s not just okay to ask for a sign. It’s not just okay to have doubts. It’s how we grow spiritually.
Swedenborg says that “ The wounds in the Lord's hands and side suggest His sympathy with our natural trials.”

The disciples had a unique encounter with the glorified Lord. Something that will never happen again.
For the disciples, they’d heard Jesus teach, but that wasn’t enough. Head knowledge isn’t enough. The miracles they experienced and the risen Christ empowered them to carry the message to the world even at the penalty of death.
This story today ends with a reminder of experiences, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.”
The reason we have faith is to lead us to action. Our experience of the Lord gives us the courage to move out of our comfort zone risking all we know to live the life we’ve been called to.
If you seek great faith, then ask for great spiritual experiences.
I love our tradition and those of other mystics is they get faith out of your heads and into our hearts and our fingers. We can feel the breath of Christ on us. Swedenborg’s description of heaven and hell experiences. While others are told everything is a mystery and doubts are forbidden, we are invited to a faith of experience that leads to action.

We believe because we have experienced.
There will be days in all of our faith walk that leads us to despair and questioning our purpose and even our reason for living. On those days, the experience of Christ, not our knowledge, will save us.
Times of doubt and questions can create anxiety, but they can be tremendous times of spiritual growth. My great teacher Father Henri Nouwen spoke of this duality in our lives when said:
“The many contradictions in our lives – such as being home while feeling homeless, being busy while feeling bored, being popular while feeling lonely, being believers while feeling many doubts – can frustrate, irritate, and even discourage us. They make us feel that we are never fully present. Every door that opens for us makes us see how many more doors are closed.
But there is another response. These same contradictions can bring us into touch with a deeper longing, for the fulfillment of a desire that lives beneath all desires and that only God can satisfy. Contradictions, thus understood, create the friction that can help us move toward God.”
I couldn’t agree more.
The tension between doubt and faith is a powerful one.
Doubts are not meant to be suppressed, but to be wrestled with.
Through our doubts, we will have new spiritual experiences that are unique and special to each of us. These experiences will build your faith and give us the courage to love more, forgive more, and live out the purpose God has set for our life.
Are you having doubts?
Go ahead touch Christ.
Use that experience to grow your soul.

If Someone You Know Needs Help ...

T ext HOME to 741741 to connect with a  crisis text line counsellor

Call the  national suicide prevention lifeline on  1-800-273-8255

Call 1-800-985-5990 for the  national disaster distress helpline
Reverend Tafel will be presenting to George Washington University's Leaders Program on how Faith can guide us during the pandemic on Wednesday at 1pm EST.

You are invited to join by signing up to below:
Leadership Medicine: Recovering Faith and Hope (4.29):

Order of Worship

Light your own candle.

Set up your Bible or holy book at home.

Opening the Word
Open your Bible at home.

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

Welcome from Rev. Tafel

Rev. Tafel will greet everyone and ask for readers of the texts.

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;


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


Acts 2:14a,36-41
Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd, “Let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.

Psalm 116:1-3, 10-17
Dilexi, quoniam
1 I love the Lord, because he has heard the voice of my supplication, *
because he has inclined his ear to me whenever I called upon him.
2 The cords of death entangled me;
the grip of the grave took hold of me; *
I came to grief and sorrow.
3 Then I called upon the Name of the Lord: *
"O Lord, I pray you, save my life."
10 How shall I repay the Lord *
for all the good things he has done for me?
11 I will lift up the cup of salvation *
and call upon the Name of the Lord.
12 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord *
in the presence of all his people.
13 Precious in the sight of the Lord *
is the death of his servants.
14 O Lord, I am your servant; *
I am your servant and the child of your handmaid;
you have freed me from my bonds.
15 I will offer you the sacrifice of thanksgiving *
and call upon the Name of the Lord.
16 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord *
in the presence of all his people,
17 In the courts of the Lord'S house, *
in the midst of you, O Jerusalem.

Swedenborg Insight
To be spiritually nourished is to be instructed and imbued, consequently it is to know, to understand, and to be wise; unless a person enjoys this nourishment together with the nourishment of the body, he is not a human, but a beast.

This is the reason why those who find all their pleasure in self indulgence and banquetings, and daily indulge their palates, are unaware as to things spiritual, however well they may be able to reason concerning the things of the world and the body; therefore, after their departure from this world, they live rather a bestial than a human life, for instead of intelligence and wisdom they have insanity and folly.

Luke 24:13-35
Now on that same day two of Jesus' disciples were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.


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

This is an opportunity to ask questions. Please keep your questions brief so everyone can ask their question.


Mail to: 1611 16th St NW WDC 20009

Community Prayers
Here you can simply say your intention with a word or phrase. There's no need to explain details. The Lord knows what's on your heart. All of us will respond together after a prayer is made by saying,
"Lord Hear Our Prayer."

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.


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.

With the loss of rental fees your donations mean even more than ever. Thanks to our recent donors. If you donated but your name isn't on the list, please let us know. We are currently using PayPal for online gifts and their may be a lag in them sending it through.

Nikiar Ahmadi
James Barile
John Guidry III
Elfa Halloway
Connie Helm
Annabel Park
Diane and Matthew Plack
Joseph Rawson
Rich Tafel
Louis Tafel

Welcoming New Members

We are excited to welcome three new members into our church community. You can read more about them below.

A critical part of Church of the Holy City's mission is to reimagine church as we know it to provide greater service to humanity. To accomplish this goal we need you. We welcome members from a variety of beliefs and perspectives who are guided by a good heart and a desire to serve the Lord. Membership is open to people around the world, so please consider joining our community and helping us serve the Lord by being of our greatest use.

Please consider joining and supporting our unique mission in the world. Contact Rev. Tafel at We need you!

Scott Brickman is the managing director of Long Grove Capital an investment firm which invests in a broad array of businesses. Mr. Brickman is the retired Chairman and CEO of the Brickman Group, the nation’s largest landscape services company which under his leadership grew from a handful of regional branches to 170 branches throughout the country employing over 12,000 associates. Mr. Brickman also serves as a senior advisor to Kohlberg and Co. and the Conscious Leader Group. He sits on the boards of LandCare, Monumental Sports and Entertainment, Aegis and Product Lab.
Active in philanthropy with a focus on poverty, homelessness and education. Mr. Brickman sits on the board of Catholic Charities, The Don Bosco Cristo Rey School, Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, and is a member of Venture Philanthropy Partners.
Johnny Guidry is o riginally from New Orleans, Johnny attended Louisiana State University where he majored in French and Spanish Language and Literature. Seeking a future in international business led him to a 13 year career in hotels, most recently as the Director of HR at the Sofitel Washington DC Lafayette Square and then Bloomingdale’s in Tysons Corner.

A series of personal difficulties led him to seek spiritual development, a path that ultimately freed him to change his life trajectory. In 2019 he became a personal coach with an emphasis on his clients’ spiritual and career growth. Johnny has lived in Washington DC since 2015. His joys include tennis, solo trips overseas, and wandering through the DC to find touches of beauty. He first attended Church of the Holy City on Christmas Eve 2018.
Tony Raffa is a young entrepreneur focused on creating social impact and redefining the social sector

Tony Raffa works at Marcum-Raffa Social capital advisors which is a strategy company that helps social impact companies around the world grow and scale their impact. Tony established Zombie Coffee & Donuts 6 years ago as a social enterprise to be a catalyst for positive change. Through its unique business model, Zombie provides a way for non-profits in its communities to fundraise through its giving back program and has raised thousands of dollars for over 100 non-profits to-date. 
Tony graduated from the University of Georgia and returns there often to lecture at classes and assist with the Society of Entrepreneurs at the university. He has been featured in many articles about social entrepreneurship and the power of giving back. 
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