Station 1: CLEANSED
Scripture: “And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.” ~ Matthew 3:16
Reflective Prayer: What does water do? How is it important to you personally? One of the ways we use water is for washing. In Christian faith, it is a symbol of washing away the things that keep us from being who God created us to be. What do you want cleansed from your life, to allow you to thrive in God’s love?
Active Prayer: Dip your hands into the bowl of water as a sign of God’s cleansing, tender as a parent washing an infant. Dry your hands on the towels. Take a clear stone as a reminder of the Living Water that makes us clean and embraces us in baptism.
Station 2: EMBRACED
Scripture: “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” ~ Matthew 3:17
Reflective Prayer: Who are you? What gifts do you bring to this congregation, to the wider community, to the world? At Jesus’ baptism, God called him “Beloved.” What names does God call you?
Active Prayer: Listen for who God says you are. Using the paper and pens provided, write down one or more of these names, and tuck it into the bundle of branches, so that all of our identities and gifts may be woven together.
Station 3: INTEGRATED
Scripture: “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon them to bring forth justice to the nations.” ~ Isaiah 42:1
Reflective Prayer: How is your faith balanced as part of your whole being – intellectual, emotional, physical – all moving together? How would you describe your faith? Is it fresh or well-worn? Resilient? Think of three words that describe your faith today as it emerges and renews.
Active Prayer: Choose one of your three words and use the letter tiles to add it to the words of faith matrix. None of our journeys are the same, but they intersect and cooperate for the common good.
Station 4: INVITED
Scripture: “I am the Holy One, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations.” ~ Isaiah 42:6
Reflective Prayer: Who are you becoming? How are you growing, or where do you anticipate growth? Where are you led? Where is God calling you to serve? Listen for God’s invitation into what is next for you.
Active Prayer: On one of the paper leaves provided, fill in this blank: “In my church, relationships, community, and/or world, God is inviting me to ______________.” Use a ribbon to attach your leaf to the tree branch. We are all growing together into the future God has for us!
Station 5: CONNECTED
As we are cleansed from all that keeps us from
our God-created, thriving selves,
As we are embraced for all we are
and all we will become,
As we are integrated into a faith that impacts
all of who we are and all of what we do,
As we are invited to imagine God’s future for us,
We hold each other in prayer as partners,
siblings, members of one body.
If you have someone’s prayer rock at home,
Spend a moment holding them in your prayers.
If you have brought in a rock, exchange it for another.
If you never had a rock, take one now!
Consider the name on the rock you’ve chosen.
Ask God to help this person feel the Spirit’s presence,
Cleansing, embracing, integrating,
inviting, and connecting them,
To God, to the community of faith, and to the world.
Earth Care Update
On June 26, Session approved proceeding immediately with the IJF Earth Care Projects, namely, replacing the windows in the office wing and replacing the heating and cooling systems in the office and education wings. In addition, Session also approved borrowing the funds for a solar installation that will provide about 60% of the church’s annual electrical usage. This loan will be serviced by the savings in utility bills. Loan will be from the Presbyterian Investment Loan Program.
Pastoral Residency Update
Session appointed a group consisting of the Personnel Committee, the Clerk of Session, and two other members of Session to research similar programs and create a job description for the Pastoral Residency. That group has been meeting and will present a proposed job description to Session for preliminary approval soon. The proposal also will need approval from the Presbytery’s Committee on Ministry (COM), because we will be seeking to make this an ordainable position. Following the approvals of Session and the COM, we will begin advertising the position and a search committee will review applicants in a process similar to a Pastoral Nominating Committee – but somewhat shorter because this is a designated time position rather than a permanent call. The process may take a while, especially for our first Resident, but we are trying to do this right, which means it will not necessarily be fast!
Cincinnati Scholar House Update
A meeting is scheduled for July 15 to begin working on the financial terms of our relationship with Cincinnati Union Bethel, the nonprofit organization that manages Cincinnati Scholar House. Construction of CSH is well underway on McMillan Street between Gilbert and Park.
Thank You to everyone for making payments on your Investing in a Just Future pledges. Please use the IJF envelopes in the pews and write a separate check. Do not use the IJF envelopes for your Estimate of Giving payments; use regular pew envelopes. IJF and EOG payments go into different accounts, so please make it easier for your staff and Treasurer by writing two checks.
From prayer rocks to prayer flags, the creative duo of Judy Lindblad and Valerie Bernardino (pictured below) were the impetus behind Investing in a Just Future’s playful and spiritual focus to support our ambitious undertaking. Prayer is both personal and purposeful. To personalize and focus our prayers tactically, names were written on small flat rocks, exchanged with others… helping us remember to pray for each other on the journey toward a Just Future. Displaying our written and drawn prayers on over 100 flags visualized our deepest hopes, dreams, and concerns as we venture forward for the Church, the Community and the Earth.
Investing in a Just Future is Mt. Auburn’s three-year initiative to transform our earth, our community and our church, including our denomination. We celebrate that our fundraising goal of $750,000 is 91% fulfilled. Additional gifts and pledges to be paid over the next three years are welcome. Planning is underway for the Pastoral Residency and Carbon Footprint Reduction projects. Later this year, volunteer opportunities will be available to interact with our community project – Cincinnati Scholar House in Walnut Hills. Check out the bulletin board in the social hall for more information or talk with Pastor Stacey about how you can get involved.
Prayer was an important part of the journey of discernment as we planned our Investing in a Just Future initiative. Please continue to pray creatively for Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church, the three projects, our staff and volunteers, and individual members and friends of our community. Prayer rocks are available in a basket in the narthex. You can continue to exchange rocks weekly or periodically or add your name to a rock if you don’t have one.
Thank you, Valerie and Judy, for inspiring us to pray with imagination and love. To learn more about prayer and how it can rock your world, check out these resources:
Guest post by John Tallmadge
In our time, human activity has subjected the social and ecological systems of planet Earth to unprecedented stress. Global climate change, habitat loss, extinctions, overpopulation, and pollution degrade the biosphere while epidemics, poverty, resource depletion, inequality, war, and violence degrade the human world. Present habits and trends cannot be sustained without serious and perhaps fatal damage to the Earth and its community of life.
In a sustainable world humanity and nature would flourish in mutually enhancing ways. Human communities would care for one another, using resources modestly and equitably, without impairing the ability of future generations or other life communities to meet their own needs.
How can the world’s churches help us pursue such a worthy, and indeed such a vital goal?
It may help to realize that sustainability is not something we achieve and then we’re done; it’s something that has to go on forever, requiring a deliberate transformation of our way of living. It’s not a simple problem, like baking a cake, or a complicated problem, like putting a man on the moon; rather it’s a complex problem, like raising a child or making peace in the Middle East. Complex problems have many possible solutions, none given or foreseen; they can arise only through learning and change from within, on the part of all components within the system. If you are part of the problem, you have to be part of the solution.
Gazing down this strenuous, uncertain path, we can take some light and comfort from our religious life. Faith can provide direction and purpose in the midst of uncertainty. Hope can help us cleave to more promising visions of the good life and human flourishing. Sacrifice can help us embrace the challenge to do more with less for the sake of the greater good and a deeper sense of fulfillment. And community can encourage and support us as we disentangle ourselves from the webs of privilege, entitlement, and wasteful consumption spun by industrial capitalism.
Because social change happens one person at a time, we believe that congregations can become seedbeds of transformation. A deliberate program of green faith, green learning, green living, and green outreach can foster right thinking and right action in our individual lives as well as our lives in church, neighborhood, city, and bioregion. With each other’s help and encouragement, we can become the change we wish to see in the world.
February 24 is our Commitment Sunday! We invite all of you to bring your commitment cards if you haven’t already mailed them in, as we join together in Investing in a Just Future. As of last Sunday, we already have 24 early pledges turned in for a total of $412,160 – that’s over halfway to our full goal of $750,000! Our church leadership has really gotten excited about a future in which we expand our justice seeking capacity in church, community, and creation. How will you support this important initiative?
Read more about how we’re Investing in a Just Future in our second newsletter: IJF Newsletter 2