The Radical Inclusion of Jesus and How Christianity Missed It
The Radical Inclusion
of Jesus
and
How Christianity Missed It
A photo of art by Kirkpatrick DL , ‘Archangel Gabriel 3:40AM New York’, 2020, pastel graphite and charcoal on Chateau Marmont letterhead, 11 1/2 inches x 7 inches. The artist is our own Sydney Frymire's daughter.

Zoom Video Call in at 5pm EST
Greetings!

Dear Friend
of the Holy City:

I hope you are each hanging in there. I know this pandemic is taking a toll on everyone. I'm hoping our Sunday service will give you a chance to reflect and rejuvenate your spirit.

ZOOM CALL SUNDAY

We'll use Zoom again on Sunday.

This week we've simplified it so you can just use this link. Simply click this link a few minutes before 5pm EST.


You DO NOT need to register this time . We've simplified things to allow people to access the room right away. 

CALL
Our you can also just call in like a regular conference call in one of these numbers:
One tap mobile
+13017158592,,82088457222# US (Germantown)
+13126266799,,82088457222# US (Chicago)

I would also encourage folks to download Zoom applications on their computer or phone, if possible.

I will be online starting at 4:30 PM if want to work out any challenges getting on.

If you can turn on your video, please do. It is great for me to see your expressions as we speak. I also want to see those crazy corona haircuts and pajamas.

Thanks to our member Kateryna Pyatybratova who is a leader at George Washington University's Leadership and Excellence program who will help me again. Also, thanks to Annabel Park our Vice President for helping get people online. This week we will also try to broadcast this on Facebook live.

Social Hour is Discussion Hour
Social Hour has become a great venue for sharing and asking long questions.

Going forward we will move our question and answer time from during the service to the Discussion Hour where you can ask questions.

Last Week's Sermon
I’m posting last week’s sermon below and will continue posting previous week sermons in the newsletter.

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

richtafel@gmail.com


LAST WEEK'S SERMON
 

How to Live an Abundant Life

During the last weeks of this pandemic I’ve spoken with many people far and wide about their concerns. I guess I expected to hear fear of death, getting sick or loved one’s getting sick. Certainly, that topic has come up. But the topic that came up the most were economic fears.

I’ve heard these comments, “I’ve lost my job. I’ve been furloughed. I’m not paying my rent. I’m not paying my mortgage. I’m stocking up on canned goods. I’m worried about my kid’s financial future. I’ve got to downsize.”

This focus on economic fear over health fear, reminded me of a focus group I did in Mexico years with people living with AIDS. All had been fired from their jobs for being HIV positive. To a person their biggest concern wasn’t dying from the disease, but the fact they lost their jobs and couldn’t support their family.

Think about that, the only thing worse than death is not having an income.

In today’s gospel, Jesus tells us his purpose, saying, “I came that you may have life, and have it abundantly.”

What does that mean when live in a time of scarcity with fears of empty shelves at the store and decreasing funds in our bank account?

What does it mean now when the income inequality we came into this crisis with is greatly exacerbated as the very rich get richer and the middle and upper middle class get poorer?

Even in a decent economy our politics was moving to a battle between the classes. This increased scarcity is going put that politics on steroids.

What does Jesus promise of abundance mean now?

I believe the text from Old Testament lesson offers us some guidance.

This past week, I had the pleasure of being on a call with one of the world’s leading Old Testament scholars named Walter Brueggemann. Something he said hit me with such clarity that I’d like to share it with you today.

He was wrestling with the tension of Pharaoh’s slavery and the Israelites escaping into the wildness. He described Pharaoh as a metaphor for the slavery of the current economic system. We don’t like our system, but it promises us meals and a roof over our head. We no longer think of ourselves as slaves. We’ve become accustomed to it. We are warned of the danger of leaving Egypt for the wilderness where nothing is promised--no roof and no sure meals and the dangers from animals.

Swedenborg describes Pharaoh as times in our life when we live in servitude to false systems. We get restless under the yoke of slavery and seek to be freed to the wilderness.

He describes the wilderness is the place where we trust God to develop deeper understandings of what is right and what is wrong. To break this cycle of oppression, each of us and as are required to go into the wildness and trust the Lord as part of our life-long spiritual growth.

How interesting that both the slaves of Israel and Jesus enter in the wilderness for 40 years and 40 days both seeking to understand what is true in their life. Forty in our tradition represents a time of instruction. I was struck by this metaphor that during this pandemic as many of our states have just passed 40 days of isolation many are rethinking the world and their purpose in it. Our tradition teaches that the reason the Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness was to allow a new generation without the slave mindset to create the promised land.

Our economy is a Pharaoh economy that isn’t working for all of us and has become a form of slavery, but it is better than the past and other alternatives we see, and we can’t imagine anything else.

In the lesson from Exodus we read today, the Jewish people who have been freed from Pharaoh’s slavery are asking the question. “Wasn’t it better as a slave when you had certainty, food and a roof over your head?”

The wilderness makes them question things. Fortunately, they are guided by a leader in Moses who works with God to delivers mana, a bread like substance on the grass, doves to eat and clean water. Notice they get specific instructions not to horde, but to take enough for each day.

Moses is leading them into a new economy of freedom where the Lord provides even when we can’t imagine how.

Moving from Pharaoh to the wilderness requires trust in the Lord. We say we trust God. But do we really trust God to lead us through this coming historic economic crisis? Or do we convince ourselves that we can go back to Egypt. The slavery there wasn’t all that the old system was working.

If you are poor Pharaoh’s economy wasn’t working. Increasingly our middle class has slipped into being the working poor. Egypt wasn’t working for them either

At least the old economy worked for the very rich, right?

My experience is that it wasn’t working for the elite either.

Through my social impact work, I’ve had a chance to spend time with the wealthy elite. Many cannot sleep. They worry their kids will be spoiled. Money creates incredible family divisions. They wonder who likes them for who they are and who likes them for their money. They work often seven days a week and don’t have time to spend the money they make. They have to protect themselves with armed security.

I remember one elite worker telling me about his workday, “I don’t have time to pee.” This sounded much the same as a worker for Amazon.

Our fall back is to believe the choice is between our current economic system and socialist system. This false choice doesn’t allow us to imagine what’s next, but keeps us in old polarized camps.

Do we have the faith to imagine a new economy beyond the old left right categories where everyone lives an abundant life? Can we imagine an economy where people can say that beyond just their economic needs, they have an abundant life they truly enjoy?

This is hard to imagine because the unknown of the wilderness is scary.

In the wilderness we will have to build our own shelters and find food and make a new life as we travel toward the new holy land. It will be natural to want to turn back to Pharaoh.

Do you remember why Pharaoh relented to let the Israelites go?

It was a pandemic. Only that broke the hardened heart of Pharaoh’s economy.

Our pandemic is a moment for all of us to go deep within ourselves and break open our hearts. We need to imagine an abundant life where we know our work has meaning, where we were loved and loved others. An economy that gives us all a sense of peace.

What about that thief Jesus warns us about in the gospel? Might that be the great deceiver who convinces that we are nothing more than what we produce. That in our economy I get mine and you get yours?

At Church of the Holy City we’ve been leading a concept called spiritual entrepreneurship which marries up the inner path of our spiritual growth to concrete, systemic plans to have impact in the world. Life in the wilderness will require an entrepreneurial spirit.

Our own member ,Kateryna, has found a special way to be useful in this crisis through her role at GWU through their Leadership and Excellence program. She and her team have offered an incredible ministry to people during this crisis hosting 32 online classes to the public on topics of resilience. She noticed in her sessions a real hunger for spirituality and asked me to be the speaker for a class this past week.

I shared a vision of a spiritual entrepreneur path that creates new models of impact and income. I expected the questions to be along the lines of developing a spiritual life. But all the participants asked questions of how to I build an income or business that is spirit-based and purposeful asking ow can I live with meaning and abundance?


I gave my answers as best I could, but I believe the greatest challenge of our time and our churches is to pioneer what models we’ll create to survive the wilderness. Too often spiritual leaders pretend that abundance does not involve meeting physical needs. What new structures provide both for the body and soul? What new income streams pay the bills and grow the heart? What’s a new abundant economy?

I don’t have all the answers, but I do know it begins with trust.

Swedenborg reminds of us saying, “Peace holds within itself trust in the Lord, the trust that he governs all things and provides all things, and that he leads toward an end that is good. When we believe these things about him we are at peace, since we fear nothing and no anxiety about things to come disturbs us. How far we attain this state depends on how far we come to love the Lord. Everything bad, especially trust in ourselves, robs us of the state of peace.”

The miracle of mana from Exodus and the promise of Jesus the Good Shepherd in gospel guides us to know that if we trust the Lord, God will provide us the mana and the leaders we need. We can move out of bondage of our limited thinking through the wilderness of new ideas as we seek to find and create the Holy City the New Jerusalem.

Amen




 
Thanks to Elfa Halloway and Malcolm Peck for sending in their altars. Don't forget to get a candle at home and send me the photo of your altar.

Order of Worship

Prepare
Light your own candle.

Set up your Bible or holy book at home.

Opening the Word
Open your Bible at home.


Welcome from Rev. Tafel

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

Confession
Read at home.

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:
May almighty God have mercy on us,  forgive us our sins,  and bring us to everlasting life,  through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen


Readings

Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16
In te, Domine, speravi
1 In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame; *
deliver me in your righteousness.
2 Incline your ear to me; *
make haste to deliver me.
3 Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe,
for you are my crag and my stronghold; *
for the sake of your Name, lead me and guide me.
4 Take me out of the net that they have secretly set for me, *
for you are my tower of strength.
5 Into your hands I commend my spirit, *
for you have redeemed me,
O Lord, O God of truth.
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
Some people cherish the notion that God turns his face away from people, spurns them, and casts them into hell, and is angry against them because of their evil.

Some people even go so far as to think that god punishes people and does them harm. They support this notion from the literal meaning of the word where things like this are said, not realizing that the spiritual meaning of the Word, which makes sense of the letter, is wholly different.

So the real doctrine of the church, which is from the spiritual meaning of the Word, teaches something else. It teaches that the Lord never turns his face away from anyone or spurns anyone, never casts anyone into hell or is angry.— Heaven and Hell   §545


Gospel
John 14:1-14
Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”



Sermon

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

Save your questions for the discussion time after church when you can ask the minister anything.


Offering


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.


Benediction


Discussion 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. You can ask the minister anything!
This photos of the church taken this week by Elfa Halloway.

This quote from Thomas Merton sent in by Maria de los Angeles speaks what our culture values
Members shared this quote from Brene Brown that resonates with my Easter Sermon.
Journalist Will Reeves, son of Christopher, tries to do an interview from the waist up on GMA. But the camera pans down to find he has no pants.
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