Pastor Connection
February 18, 2021
A Note from Pastor Amy
This Sunday, we begin our worship theme for Lent: Again and Again - a Lenten Refrain. We begin the journey by looking once again at Jesus' baptism and time in the wilderness. It feels like we have come close to this story several times so far during the new Christian year. We danced around it with John the Baptizer during Advent. We read it on Jesus' Baptism Sunday. We recalled it with Jesus' calling of the disciples. Here it is again. You'd think that we would have gotten the message by now, right? Let's move on to another chapter in Mark! And yet, I've wondered if this repetition of Jesus' baptism is something we need to hear over and over again. I wonder if we need to keep dancing around it.

Mark's gospel describes Jesus' baptism as the heavens being "torn apart." You can imagine the ripping of the firmament and God's kingdom coming down to earth. God's vision for the world falls on the shoulders of Jesus and he hears the divine blessing, "You are my son, the beloved." Beautiful words that claim Jesus and promise he is loved. God meets Jesus where he is. What wonderful news!

But to be clear, this meeting is not merely comforting news for a difficult day or two. It is strength for a difficult path. As soon as Jesus hears these words, he is driven into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. That's right Jesus is driven into the wilderness by God! This can be jarring and confusing to us. Why did God drive Jesus into such difficult terrain, such barren desert?

The truth is I don't know, but maybe that doesn't matter. What I do know is that the wilderness could have been a description of Jesus' entire ministry. Think about it. Jesus' path toward resurrection was not easy. He was lonely, he made enemies, he spoke hard truths, he gave until he was exhausted, his friends abandoned him, he put himself in danger, he championed lost causes, he questioned God, and ultimately was put to death. Wilderness might sum it up.

And the hardest thing about his journey, is that he called us to follow him on the same path.

The heavens are still torn apart. God's vision for the world falls on our shoulders, and walking the path to make that vision a reality is not easy. If it is, then maybe we are doing it wrong. We, too, are driven into wilderness places where hard lessons are learned and difficult actions are required. We are called to speak hard truths even it means loss of power or relationships, to give fully of what we have and who we are, to risk our comfort and very lives for the sake of the gospel. Christians don't advertise this very much when we try to invite people to the church. But, friends, there is just no escaping it. If you follow Jesus, he will eventually lead you to a cross.

But time and time again, God meets us on the path!

Just as God's vision lands on our shoulders, God's blessing lands on us too. "You are my child, my beloved." God doesn't stay in the heavens. God meets us, time and time again, in the wilderness places. What better way to begin Lent than to claim this truth! What better encouragement for the difficult path of discipleship than this blessing!

I'll leave you with a poem by Sarah Are as a way of remembering God promise to meet us. May it strengthen you for the journey.

Pastor Amy

Remember When?
God never begins letters with the words,
“I hope this finds you well,”
For those words imply distance.

Instead, God begins God’s letters to you with the words,
“Remember when?”
Beloved child,
Remember when we dipped our toes into the water?
Remember when we dove right in?
Remember when the ice cream dripped down our hands
And the cicadas sang their song,
And the seasons changed,
And the days were long?
Remember when we fell in love and the world was new?
Remember when our heart was broken?
Remember the tears?
Remember the long nights?
Remember when we laughed again and the sound surprised us?
Remember when we marched in the street?
Remember when we cast our vote?
Remember when we believed in hope?
Remember when? I do.

That’s what God’s letters say.
So on this day, and every day to come,
Remember: God is meeting you.
If you look back, you might remember when. 

*Art work: "I Delight in You" by Rev. Lisle Gwynn Garrity
A Sanctified Art LLC 
Lenten Care Drives

During the Season of Lent, our church will be collecting care items to benefit the Hospitality House and the Presbyterian Pantry located at Westminster. Starting February 21 through Palm Sunday, church members are invited to bring the following items for donation:

For Hospitality House:
heavy duty paper plates
plastic silverware
disposable razors
men's body wash
garbage bags (large kitchen size)

For the Presbyterian Pantry:
Toilet paper
Paper Towels
Feminine Products

You may bring items to the office. Boxes will also be available each Sunday for people to donate their items. Thanks for your generosity!

Lenten Devotions

Lenten Devotions are available in the church office. This year, the devotions reflect on this year's theme, Again and Again: A Lenten Refrain. Reflections on Scripture, artwork and poetry, will help you prepare for each Sunday's worship service while strengthening your own discipleship. Stop by the church to pick one up or contact the office to have one mailed to you.

Lenten, (Lunch), and Learn

Every year, we hold a Lenten, Lunch, and Learn. This year, we will not be sharing lunch in the Fellowship Hall, BUT we are still offering a special Lenten Study

We will be following Lent in Plain Sight by Jill J. Duffield. God is often at work through the ordinary: ordinary people, ordinary objects, ordinary grace. Through the ordinary, God communicates epiphanies, salvation, revelation, and reconciliation. It is through the mundane that we hear God’s quiet voice. In this devotional for the season of Lent, Duffield draws readers’ attention to ten ordinary objects that Jesus would have encountered on his way to Jerusalem: dust, bread, the cross, coins, shoes, oil, coats, towels, thorns, and stones. In each object, readers will find meaning in the biblical account of Jesus’ final days. Each week, readers encounter a new object to consider through Scripture, prayer, and reflection. From Ash Wednesday to Easter, Lent in Plain Sight reminds Christians to open ourselves to the kingdom of God.

The group will meet via Zoom each Wednesday at noon starting next Wednesday, February 17, through March 31. While the deadline to purchase a book through the church has passed, you may purchase the book on your own and join the group at any time. There might be opportunities to meet in person as well depending on number of participants and other community circumstances. We will keep people posted. We will gather for discussion questions and a time of fellowship and sharing.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 826 6940 7566

Phone IN:

Tuesday Morning Bible Study

We will continue to meet for Tuesday morning Bible study at 9:00 a.m. each week. The group will discuss the sermon text for Sunday. During Lent we will be using artwork to help guide the conversations. We hope to see you there!

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 871 2245 0563
Phone In:
Study on Movies about Jesus with Cedar Heights

For the 2021 Lenten season, Cedar Heights invites our church to join them as they discuss four different films about the life of Jesus and how they relate to Scripture. These conversations will take place via Zoom on Sundays at 4:00 PM starting February 21 and ending March 14.

Participants are encouraged to watch the films at their leisure before that movie’s particular discussion each Sunday. You may access these movies for free by the YouTube links provided. You might also choose to watch them on your streaming services/subscriptions. Click HERE for a schedule and movie links.

Here is the recurring Zoom link you’ll need to click on each Sunday at 4:00 PM to participate in these conversations:

Join Zoom Meeting:

Don't Forget About Per Capita

It's a new year and a reminder of the annual per capita giving from each member of the congregation.
Per capita giving is asked of all congregations to be used to support the larger mission of the Presbytery.
The per capital makes it possible for:
  • Presbyterians to discern and live out God’s call in their lives
  • Churches to connect with individuals seeking a call to ministry
  • OGA (Office of the General Assembly) to staff and support General Assembly committees and commissions
  • OGA to manage and coordinate General Assembly gatherings
  • Presbytery and synod leaders to gather for training and discernment
  • OGA to provide counsel and support for churches in crisis (misconduct, legal matters)
  • Presbyteries to address matters of inclusion, participation and representation at all levels of church leadership and decision making
  • The denomination to build connections with ecumenical partners around the world
  • Presbyteries and pastors to receive support on immigration issues
  • Presbyterian history to be saved and utilized by future generations
This year the per capita rate is $39 per person.
Church Snow Policy

With the snowy weather, we would like to remind you of our church snow policy. If Waterloo Schools cancel, then our church office is closed for the day. If Waterloo Schools delay opening, please call the church before coming to the office. It might take staff a little longer to get on the road. Thanks for your understanding.

Church Prayer List
New to the Prayer List:
Pat Stanhope fell and sprained her arm/shoulder
Diane Ernster is dealing with back pain/sciatic nerve problems
Karen Hahn fell and injured her arm. She is having a procedure to correct it.

Ongoing/Continuing Prayers:
Bob Cusforth dealing with cancer; Kason (Connie Leeper's daughter-in-law's nephew) who is recovering from brain surgery, Florence Ramsell at Northcrest, Steve Miller recovering from surgery at home, prayers of safety for Barbara Benskin's son who is a trucker; Neva Kerr, New Aldaya (Hospice); Paul Holtz, Hospice Care

Add to the Prayer List
Click HERE to submit a prayer request online. Our pastors will be praying for you and sharing concerns with the congregation as requested.

Happy Birthday!

20 Emma Schellhorn
21 Marvin Carroll
22 Krystal Matthias
25 Jan Bellinger
26 Aubrey Robinson
27 Mary K. Williams
28 Dean Bellinger, Nicholas Ellsworth
29 Michelle Schellhorn

First Presbyterian Church | Waterloo, IA | 319-233-6145 |