Reflections for Lent, from the Desk of Rev. Jeffrey L. Barker

by: Jessica Quiroz posted: February 29th, 2016

Easter SunriseDear Brothers and Sisters,

As we go to press with the March newsletter, Ash Wednesday and the liturgical season of Lent has begun.  As most of you know, Lent is a forty day spiritual journey of self reflection and self examination.  During this forty day walk with Jesus, through our scripture readings and worship services, we are daily reminded “who” we are, and “whose” we are!

The season of Lent confronts our spiritual shortcomings and calls us to repent of our failure to be the disciples christ and God call us to be.  While Lent is a time of intense reflection and inward repentance, it is also a time of hope, as we pray, work and serve others in Christ’s name.  In that vein, the season of Lent culminates on Maundy Thursday. 

For we Brethren, Maundy Thursday is the night we hold “Love Feast”.  Love Feast remains on of the most profound and powerful signs and symbols of our church’s worship live.  When Brethren come together for this annual meal and worship service during Holy Week, we are reminded of our relationship with God, Christ and all disciples around the world!

This year, Maundy Thursday falls on March 24th.  As we gather in the fellowship hall that night, we will share a simple meal.  We will pray and read scriptures from the Gospels.  We will ponder the mystery and power of Christ’s act of washing his disciples feet, a sign and symbol of God cleansing and forgiving all who have faith and seek to follow Jesus.

I pray all who can will attend Love Feast this year.  If anyone would like to attend but needs a ride, please call Jessica in the office and we will work on getting you to and from church.

I look forward to seeing a faithful turnout this year for Love Feast on March 24th.  More information can be found on the following pages of this newsletter.

Peace be with you all,

Pastor Jeff

Arise and Shine!

by: Jessica Quiroz posted: January 4th, 2016

The light has come…

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by Rev. Jeffrey L. Barker

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

A new year has dawned and we just completed the past year with a flurry of ministry and worship events in our parish. 

In late November we completed our annual Thanksgiving Food Basket Drive.  Over 70 baskets were given out to community members and the families of Broadview Women’s Shelter.  Once again the kids from Olympic View Elementary School donated $300 to help buy turkeys from their “Quarters for Turkeys” outreach.

In December we hosted a well attended Holiday Bazaar, and approximately $500 was raised from food and craft sales for the benefit of the church.  As we moved closer to Christmas, we focused on our Salvation Army “Toy n’ Joy” giving tree outreach.  On December 15, a volunteer came to pick up the toys and gifts we gathered.

During Advent, we also took part in the Church of the Brethren special Advent Offering.  On Christmas Eve we hosted a well attended candlelight service with 50-60 gathered.  We concluded the service by forming a circle of people in the sanctuary.  We then doused the lights, lit individual little candles, and sang Silent Night. 

As the song and service concluded, I asked folks to remain in place for a few moments.  I wanted us all to simply savor the moment and flavor of the light and love present in the sanctuary.  O, the peace, love and joy evident in the church that blessed night!

In our current world, it is so easy to give in to the feeling of hopelessness, fear, darkness and cynicism so prevalent and posted on TV and social media.  In times like these, believers are called and challenged to awake, arise and let our Christian lights shine!  We are ever called to remember that the light and love of Christ came down on Christmas Eve to bring God’s light and love into the world and the hearts of believers all over the world.

As we go forth into a new year, let us remember the love and light of Christ.  A light and force of love that cuts through the darkness of our world, and the problems and divisions which keep us from experiencing Christ’s loving presence.

Please consider reading and meditating on the first Gospel lectionary reading of 2016.  It is from St. John’s Gospel, Chapter 1, verses 1-5.  In particular, in times of fear and doubt, remember verse 5: “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it!”

People of God, in this newly dawning year 2016, awake, arise, the light has come, Christ is born!

Happy New Year, and peace be with you all,

Pastor Jeff

Pastor Jeff’s Christmas Message 2015

by: Jessica Quiroz posted: December 17th, 2015

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Christmas is just around the corner.  As we move ever closer to the day of our Lord’s birth, let us strive to keep Holy our focus and remembrance of what Christmas Day is all about.  Christmas is more than a day of giving and receiving gifts from family and friends.

Christmas is certainly not all about Santa Claus and Christmas trees, parties and making good cheer.  Let us, being people of faith, remember that Christmas Day in the church is the feast of the incarnation, the night and day when the word became flesh and bone.  The day God came down and joined our common lot.

In the Gospel of Luke, Luke begins Jesus’ birth narrative not with accounts of God using rich, powerful people in places of power and influence to usher in the coming of messiah.  Rather, God begins the birth story of Jesus by using old people at a temple, Zechariah and Elizabeth.  God chose a peasant couple named Joseph and Mary to be the earth bound vessels through which Messiah would come into the world.  God even used poor shepherds out in the fields to announce and witness Emmanuel being born!

God used the opposite of worldly models of power to show the world and humanity a power and grace almost beyond our comprehension!  On that special night, long ago in ancient Judea, the literal King of Kings, God’s own son, came to earth as a poor peasant.  He was born homeless, in filthy conditions.  Truly he was born in the most vulnerable and insecure of circumstances.

By any earthly standard, God’s son should have been born in or near King Herod’s palace on the Temple Mount.  Yet God did just the opposite.  God in this singular act of supreme love, sends Emmanuel into the world to truly model God’s love and mercy, shown to common people.

Christ was born into a sin darkened world of war, violence, injustice and spiritual denial.  Conversely in our postmodern world wracked with war, economic and political dysfunction and corruption, Emmanuel, Jesus, is still offering us hope, light and truth!  I for one need to believe in the beacon of light and hope that Jesus offers humanity.  In these critical times, we can forget that by the power and grace of the Holy Spirit, Emmanuel is ever near.  All we need do to feel his love is to reach out to him through prayer and the study of God’s word, the Bible.

In this season of light, love and truth, I encourage you all to leave your home Bible open to St. Luke, Chapter 2:1-20.  In the days leading up to Christmas, on occasion stop and read the birth narrative of Jesus.  In this reading you will discover a peace, love and gentle power emanating from the Bible.  A love fully revealed to the world, in the birth of the baby Jesus.

Brothers and Sisters, Emmanuel is near.  Soon Christmas will be here.  Keep the light of faith burning in your hearts and lives.  In the name of Jesus, Emmanuel, peace be with you all, and Merry Christmas!

Amen, amen, amen…

Pastor Jeff

A message from Interim Pastor, Jeff Barker…

by: Jessica Quiroz posted: October 21st, 2015

Pastor’s Notes…Jeff Barker at OV desk

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

As we send out this October / November Newsletter, I have been with you as your Interim Pastor almost a month.  The welcome and support I have received has been awesome!  Thankfulness filled my heart as I began to think about this article, and the themes of Thanksgiving and gratitude seem only natural as I looked at the calendar of events and church meetings scheduled for November.

In November we will host the OV Holiday Craft Bazaar (more details in the coming pages!) and we will also have our annual Fall General Assembly and Potluck on November 15.  At this meeting, the church’s major business, financial and ministry issues for the concluding and upcoming year will be discussed and faithfully discerned.

Then, we will conclude November by preparing and distributing Thanksgiving Baskets to community members in need.  Many hands and hearts will be needed to purchase, prepare and deliver these baskets to our neighbors in the community.  Please see Jessica’s article on Page 3 which outlines how you can help support this major end of the year mission-outreach!

November and the season of Thanksgiving are just around the corner.  Let us, as a community and family of faith, all pledge to roll up our sleeves and help out where needed to serve Christ and our Parish in the month and days that lie ahead.  God calls us to put our Thanksgiving faith into action.  The season of Thanksgiving is here.  We thank God for the gifts he has given us in the year now concluding.  In faith, let us in return work to serve God and the church in November as sign and symbol of our gratitude and thankfulness to God.

Peace be with you all,

Pastor Jeff