First Presbyterian Church Blog

Lenten Season Dates to Note!

LENTEN SEASON DATES TO NOTE

Wednesday, March 1st Ash Wednesday Service at 7:00pm (Soup Dinner at 6:00pm)
 
Sunday, April 9th Palm Sunday Service at 10:30am
 
Friday, April 14th Good Friday Service at 7:00pm
 
Sunday, April 16th Easter Brunch at 9:00am & Easter Service at 10:30am

 



Ladies Fellowship

LADIES  FELLOWSHIP – All Women Welcome

Tuesday March 7th 11:00am in Middleton Parlor.

Our speaker will be McKenzie Iverson, the Interim Youth Director. She will share her story with us and talk about our youth program. Please stay for lunch. The cost is $6.00. If you are not on the calling list, please call the church office, 272-3286, for a reservation. All ladies welcome!

 

 



Kids’ Communion Class

KIDS’ COMMUNION CLASS

Sunday, March 5th 12:30-1:30pm In Nelson

Ages 8 and older recommended.  RSVP and more information available

Julie Brownlee at jbrownlee@fpctacoma.org

 

 



Ash Wednesday Soup Dinner & Service

ASH WEDNESDAY SERVICE

Wednesday, March 1st – Soup Dinner at 6:00pm in Fellowship Hall and Service at 7:00pm in the Sanctuary.

Please join with us as we begin our Lenten journey with a worship service of contemplation and reflection. Dinner is $3.00 per person or $10.00 per family



Choral Evensong “Seeking the One who found us”

CHORAL EVENSONG “Seeking the One who found us”

THIS SUNDAY at 6:00pm  Sanctuary

Please join us for this contemplative service of spirituality & worship.



VBS SNEAK PEEK

VBS SNEAK PEEK
SUNDAY IN FELLOWSHIP HALL AFTER THE SERVICE

Be the first to get a sneak peak of this summers’ VBS!!!

Games and activities for the kids and a gift card drawing for volunteers.

 



Thursday, February 23—Give us this day our daily bread

“If we were not so familiar with the ‘Lord’s Prayer,’ we would be astonished at the petition for daily bread. If it had come from the lips of any other than Jesus Himself, we would consider it an intrusion of materialism upon the refined realm of prayer. But here it is smack in the middle of the greatest of prayers…,” wrote Richard Foster.

There are generally two ways of understanding this part of the prayer. One way is to spiritualize the words daily bread and say they are an anticipation of the feast we will all share in heaven. In heaven, we will be in the daily presence of Jesus, the bread of life. So this prayer could be asking for the kingdom of God to come in all its completeness now.

The other way is to say that daily bread actually refers to our need for food to survive. This shows that we are to pray for our daily needs—food, shelter, finances, relationships, etc. Nothing is too small for us to bring before the father. He wants us to be in complete, daily dependence on Him. He will satisfy our needs.

Both ways of reading the prayer can be helpful. The mention of bread in the prayer clearly does look forward to a time when there will be no more hunger, when the kingdom of God is brought to earth completely through the work of Jesus. During Jesus’ life there were definite hints in this direction. Jesus miraculously fed the 5000 with bread and fish, which pointed to the fact that He was the Messiah. Jesus held banquets where all were invited—especially the wrong sort of people—just as the kingdom will be open to all who will come. During the last supper, Jesus said that His very body was the bread that would feed His disciples. So our prayer for daily bread is in fact a prayer for God to bring about that time when all will be sustained by the presence of Jesus.

The prayer is also about our day-to-day needs in this world. Jesus obviously was interested in these things during His life. He provided wine at a wedding feast, food when people were hungry, and rest when people were weary. He took care of the poor, the widows, and the sick. His actions prove that it is not unspiritual to pray for the material things of life. After all, it was Jesus who pointed out that our “heavenly Father knows that you need…” food and clothes and shelter, and that if you “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness…all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:32-33

Besides, it would be impossible not to pray for the “little things of life.” Richard Foster illustrates this well; “Try to imagine what our prayer experience would be like if He had forbidden us to ask for little things. What if the only matters we were allowed to talk about were the weighty matters, the important things, the profound issues? We would be orphaned in the cosmos, cold, and terribly alone. But the opposite is true; He welcomes us with our 1,001 trifles for they are each important to Him.”

Study and Prayer Suggestions

  • Write down the things in your life that you consider to be luxuries. Then add the things in your life that you would consider to be unrighteous or not pleasing to God. On another sheet, write down the essentials in your life and the things in your life that you think please God. Pray that God would deal with the stuff on the first list; then crumple it up and throw it away. Then pray for the stuff on the good list—that God would take care of the essentials and would increase righteousness in you; keep that list as a reminder that God provides for our true needs.
  • Share some food with a group to represent the feasts we will share in the kingdom. Invite people beyond your close circle of friends and family to share in this feast and reach out to all that share in the meal, building a larger fellowship group of believers.
  • Intercede on behalf of those you know who have material needs. Lift them in prayer, asking God to provide for them. Also, do what you can and enlist the help of other Christians to reach out to them with aid.


Wednesday, February 22—Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42
 
Many scholars are of the opinion that this third portion of the” Lord’s Prayer” is the central phrase of the prayer. Tom Wright holds that the kingdom announcement is the focal point of Jesus’ entire ministry. This prayer then, can be understood only in the light of how Jesus “lived” while He was here on earth. Bringing the kingdom of God to earth was Jesus’ great task, and being radically obedient to the will of the father is what He demonstrated in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross. As Henri Nouwen has said, “Christ became king by obedience and humility. His crown is a crown of thorns; His throne are a cross…Jesus allowed the will of His father to be done through Pilate, Herod, mocking soldiers, and a gaping crowd that did not understand.”
 
This means that when we pray this prayer we must again recognize that we are saying we want to model our lives on the life of Jesus—His humility, His servanthood, His love, His suffering, and His uncompromising obedience to the will of the father. Because Christ is king, the criterion for our actions must be His will—not ours—especially when that makes us uncomfortable. C.S. Lewis explains our responsibility this way, “Thy will be done. But a great deal of it is to be done by God’s creatures; including me. The petition, then, is not merely that I may patiently suffer God’s will but also that I may vigorously do it.”
 
So how do we vigorously do the will of the father? A good starting point is to look at how Jesus lived His life, to get involved in the things that He thought were important, and to understand what Jesus meant by the term kingdom of God. We will be looking at how all the rest of the phrases in the “Lord’s Prayer” illustrate the kingdom of God in the next couple of days, but it might be good today just to relate what Jesus believed was His own personal mission statement:
 
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year for the Lord’s favour.” Luke 4:18-19
 
Preaching the gospel, reaching out to the poor and the captive, bringing healing and freedom, proclaiming the truth about God: these were the things that the father wanted Jesus to do, and if we want to be obedient and see the kingdom of God brought to earth, these are the things we must devote our lives to do as well.
 

Study and Prayer Suggestions

  • Begin living the kingdom. Christ demonstrated His role as a servant of God by washing the disciples’ feet. Demonstrate that you are accepting the role of a servant by washing the hands or feet of others in your family or group.
  • List the things that Jesus thought were important in this world and the things He spent His time doing. An example is feeding the hungry. These activities were ways that Jesus was bringing the kingdom to earth. Determine which of these activities you can do to imitate the ways Christ brought the kingdom to earth.
  • Pray for the extension of God’s church on earth and for the return of those who have left the kingdom. Pray also that the church would be more perfectly obedient to the will of God. Although the kingdom of God won’t be here on earth completely until the end of time, it is in one sense realized here and now on earth. Christians who live for God and who accept His will in their lives are living the Kingdom of God here on earth.


Tuesday, February 21—Hallowed be thy name

“Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11
 
This second section of the “Lord’s Prayer” is concerned with hallowing, which means revering or glorifying the name of God. Names are very important today, but they were even more so in ancient times. In Jesus’ time, a person’s name represented his/her entire character—everything that was known about that person. When we are talking about the name of God, we are referring to everything that God has revealed about Himself; therefore, when we pray “hallowed be thy name,” we are saying that we want all of creation to worship the name and the entire revealed character of God.
 
This is a name that should be praised because of its majesty; after all, God is in heaven. As M.A.H. Melinsky once said, “God shall be God…man shall not whittle God down to a manageable size and shape.”
 
We humans need to have a proper humility and reverence when confronted by the awesome power and beauty of our God, but the name of God also should be hallowed because of the fact that we are encouraged to call Him our father. When understood in the context of God’s majesty, this should reveal to us what an unbelievable and undeserved gift it is to be called children of the living God.
 
The exciting, and somewhat frightening, facet of this is that God has chosen to reveal aspects of His character through His children. He did this through Israel, He did it through Jesus, and now He is doing it through the Holy Spirit working in His church. When we pray the “Lord’s Prayer,” we are saying that we want the world to see who God really is by seeing what we, His children, are doing in this world. This highlights both the glory and the failure of the church.
 
It is our responsibility to bring all of creation before the father so that it can be healed and released from sin, pain, and death. This requires standing in the pain of the world and kneeling in the presence of God. By doing this, we show to the world why the name of God—the name above all names—should be hallowed.
 
It is because many Christians don’t do this, however, that Mother Teresa was prompted to say, “Often we Christians constitute the worst obstacle for those who try to become closer to Christ; we often preach a gospel we do not live. This is the principle reason why people of the world don’t believe.”
 

Study and Prayer Suggestions

  • Have everyone in your small group write down some prayer requests. Write each request on a separate sheet of paper and tape them to the wall. Then have everyone write down on colored sheets of paper some of the characteristics of God (i.e., healer, provider, savior—once again listing one characteristic per sheet). Group members should read the prayer requests, and align them with God’s associated characteristics.
  • Find some newspaper or website articles that describe incidents in the world that require prayer. These should include a mix of local and international situations. Pray that God’s name would be glorified in those situations.


Monday, February 20—Our Father

Mother Teresa commented, “I think that every time we say the ‘Our Father,’ God looks at His hands, where we are etched. ‘See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands…’ Isaiah 49:16 What a beautiful description which also expresses the personal love God feels for each one of us!”
 
These two words that form this opening phrase are essential in order to understand the “Lord’s Prayer.” The word “our” determines the nature of the whole prayer. It can be prayed in private, by individuals, but in essence it is a corporate prayer. All of the pronouns in the prayer, starting with this first one, are plural. It is a prayer that is designed to be experienced by the whole Christian community, not just by one isolated member of that community.
 
The word “father” obviously tells us to whom the prayer is addressed. Many people do not have a positive image of their fathers, so this term may cause some difficulty. After all, if the word father brings up memories of abuse, shame, or absence, it would be hard to carry on with this prayer. So what kind of father is God? To whom are we praying?
 
There are many instances in the Old and New Testaments where God is revealed as a father to His people, but the most striking example may be in the story of the prodigal son. Luke 15:11-32 The son rejects his father, demands his inheritance (saying in effect that he wished his father were dead), and squanders that wealth. When the son finally returns home, his father—in total contradiction to what would have been expected or even respectable in those times—runs out to meet his son and pours out his love for him. Some have suggested that this story should really be called the prodigal father because the father is so free and wasteful with his love, expecting nothing in return. This is the father that we address when we begin the “Lord’s Prayer.”
 
Although it costs us nothing to be the recipients of the father’s great love, the opening words of the “Lord’s Prayer” should not be uttered lightly. For these words represent our desire to be imitators of Jesus in our relationship with his father. In Israel at the time of Jesus, children would watch their fathers carry out their work and would learn their trades. Jesus became a carpenter by watching Joseph and helping him in his work. So when Jesus addresses God as father, He is not just using a term of intimacy; He is claiming to be working alongside the father in His great work of building the kingdom. Jesus’ great task in this work was His suffering and death on the cross; therefore, when we imitate Jesus in calling God our father, we are stating very boldly where we want to be in relation to God. We are saying that we want not only to share the intimacy that Jesus had with the father, but also that we want to be considered apprentices in the work of His kingdom. To be apprentices in that work, we need to take the road that Jesus took—that of ultimate humility and servanthood.
 
Although we already have been made children of the father, we are not yet the people God wants us to be. So in calling God our father, we also are asking that He would prepare us to be more and more like our older brother, Jesus.
 

Study and Prayer Suggestions

  • Spend time in communal prayer. Represent this by holding hands or linking arms as a group. Pray in particular for the return of those who have left your fellowship (friends, family) and who have rejected their father’s love.
  • Write down the characteristics of God that make Him a father. Then, write down what it means for you to be God’s child.
  • Write a modern Psalm. Work either by yourself or in a group, praising God for His prodigal love for you.



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