Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Seeking a Time of Peace in this Hectic Season




Longest Night Service
Sunday, December 21, 7pm -8pm, Wesley*


Get Me Through December
 Often in the frenzy of activity and expectations of the Christmas season,
we cannot find space to simply be. 
Nor are we able to find the time to cry ourselves to sleep--
 missing the friend who has just died,
or giving ourselves in to the brokenness of a separation.


We understand the Christmas season isn’t joyful for everyone. Whether you are grieving the loss of a loved one or the loss of a job, or you just want to find a time of peace in the midst of the hectic season, there is a place where you can seek comfort and prayer. The Longest Night service will be a quiet service of prayer, reflection, and Holy Communion. *5312 Connecticut Ave. NW.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Waiting Patiently in Expectation

This Advent season at Metropolitan, we are exploring what it means to wait “patiently in expectation.” Through the words and experiences of the Christian mystics we are living mindfully into an Advent that is filled with quiet moments of joy, deliberate periods of silence and reflection, and forceful participation in seeking God’s justice. “Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20) are the final words in the Bible.  According to Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest and ecumenical teacher, “this makes our entire lives, and the life of the church, one huge ‘advent.’” He says, “Remember, Advent is always – until the end of days.” 

On December 14, in worship at 9 am, our Dayspring Choir will present “Waiting Patiently in Expectation,” a story told through word and song of what it means to live out of a kind of deliberate emptiness, a kind of chosen non-fulfillment. Perfect fullness is always to come. As Christians, we are keeping our lives open to grace and to a future created by God rather than ourselves. This is exactly what it means to be “awake” as the Gospel urges us. Advent is above all else a call to full consciousness and a forewarning about the high price of consciousness.

The Christian mystics have much to teach us if we are open to hearing their words. At the 9am worship on December 14 we are led on this journey by the words of Henri Nouwen, one of the most popular spiritual writers of the last century. He understands our sense of incompleteness and yearnings so well and his words offer insights that add depth and self-discovery to our spiritual journey as we await the birth of the Christ child.  We listen to the voices of Julian of Norwich, Hildegard of Bingen, St. Augustine, Meister Eckhart, and others as we are guided to patiently await the coming of Jesus.

The word “listening” in Latin is obedire and audire means “listening with great attention.”  The mystics knew the difference between hearing and listening with great attention.  Take time this Advent to experience listening as prayer…“Listening starts precisely when you move from the mind to the heart and let the truth of your being center you down.” Henri J.M. Nouwen.
I invite you to join us in worship on December 14 at 9am and sit patiently, in expectation, as the ancient and present words lead us on a journey. Under the direction of Casey Elliott, the Dayspring and Youth Choirs will offer music to pull us deeper into the experience until we all join our voices in a closing hymn of expectation.

Blessings,
Patrisha S.  House, Director of Worship

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Black Lives Matter by AhnnaLise Stevens-Jennings

To all the people who are tired of talking about race:
I want you to know that I am tired too.
I am tired of white people touching my hair like I am a sheep in a petting zoo.
I am tired of being followed around stores by employees
I am tired of never being able to find foundation or pantyhose
I am tired of the looks I get from people when I walk down the street with
my husband
I am tired of the spikes of fear that go through my body when a cop looks at me too long
I am tired of being talked down to and having to guess if it is because I'm Black, I'm a woman, I'm young or all three
I am tired of the anxiety caused by people wearing confederate flags and not knowing if they want to lynch me or if they “Just support the heritage, not the hate”
I am tired of having to explain the word 'privilege'
I am tired of being asked if I like basketball, rap music, watermelons, fried chicken, kool aid, Tyler Perry and Oprah
I am tired of being told that I only got my job, my admission letter, my scholarship, and my grades because I am black
I am tired of being pushed aside by people who just think I'm an “angry black woman”
I am tired of being stereotyped, and then being called an oreo, or being told by incredulous people that I am so articulate, or being asked why I don't act Black because I do not fit the stereotype
I am tired of never seeing women like me being called beautiful.
I am tired of never seeing women like me being called powerful
I am tired of never seeing women like me at all
I am tired of people saying this isn't about race
If you think you are tired, try living my life. You don't know what tired is yet. So sit down, close your mouth, and listen for once because we have a lot of work to do if you want to stop talking about race.
‪#‎blacklivesmatter‬

- AhnnaLise Stevens-Jennings
 

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Where are the acolytes?



My college junior was home for her recent fall break. As we sat in the sanctuary at the start of the 11:15 worship service, she turned to me and asked, "Where are the acolytes?" 

Where indeed. Like many children growing up at Metropolitan, my daughter, as well as my other two children, served as an acolyte under the watchful tutelage of Mary Golladay. One may ask, what is an acolyte? Acolytes at Metropolitan are our young people who set the stage for the formal worship service. They bring in the banners, light the candles, assist with communion. They collect the offering and lead the processionals and recessionals. 

Or at least they did. But, at the beginning of September, the acolyte corps has been temporarily disbanded as Mrs. Golladay, after many years of quietly and elegantly shepherding this important ministry while connecting with young people in a way that few people can, has decided to retire to assist her own four children who have grown up and had kids of their own. 

It is impossible to fill these big shoes.  As a volunteer, Mary tended to a myriad of tasks related to the acolyte corps, not the least of which was making sure teenagers were robed and prepped at the beginning of every 11:15 worship service. Her ministry was an act of love and dedication and we are all grateful. We never really know what we had until it is gone.

In the new year, there will be a celebration of Mary Golladay's work with the acolytes. Acolytes will make occasional appearances on the high holy days of the church such as Christmas and Easter.

Blessings, 

Anita Seline


Monday, December 01, 2014

Christmas Carols in Advent? Yes!



November 30 is the first Sunday of Advent this year.  It will also be the first Sunday you will hear Christmas carols in worship at Metropolitan this year.  

In the past, we’ve saved Christmas carols for the church’s Christmas season:  December 25 through January 6 (Epiphany).   Our United Methodist hymnal has many wonderful Advent hymns, such as “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” that help us prepare for the coming of Christ.  Why jump ahead to Christmas carols during Advent?

The short answer is … because of the children.  There was a time in our society when children would learn the traditional Christmas carols in school, on the radio, in the shopping mall.  When they heard these carols in church, the tunes were already familiar.  That time is past.  Most public schools do not teach religious Christmas carols at all, or limit them to a high school choral program.  The radio plays “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” and “I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas,” while the shopping malls play “Santa, Baby” and “Let it Snow” in an endless loop.  Our children know the secular Christmas carols – the ones that tell the stories of Santa, Rudolph, Frosty, and jingle bells – but unless we teach them directly, they will not know the great carols of our faith.

Most of this teaching will happen at home (or in the car) as families play Christmas music and sing together.  Many families enjoy family Advent devotions where they light the Advent candles and sing.  I learned “Away in a Manger” as a small child because that was the song we always sang when we lit the red glass votive candles in front of my father’s childhood crèche.  

Children will also have a chance to learn these carols at church events such as our Evening in Advent on December 7.  Along with making Christmas crafts, sharing dinner, and letting children select gifts for a special adult, we will be singing the traditional religious Christmas carols together.  

And we will be singing them in church.  As we light the Advent candles that symbolize Hope, Peace, Joy and Love, we will sing carols that speak of the hope, peace, joy and love Christ brings.  

It will still be Advent.  But what better way to prepare for Christmas than to learn the songs that express what Christmas really means?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ferguson



Peaceful Protests in Ferguson, MO

I know that you all have been inundated with images and information from Ferguson.  And I have been in a multitude of conversations about the shooting of Michael Brown and the decision of the grand jury this week.   I have no intention of commenting on the justice or injustice of the jury’s verdict; they saw the information and I did not, so any speculations of mine are worse than meaningless (and I would encourage you all to do the same).  I won’t ever have all the data (to what degree anyone does), and I have to trust the process of our justice system.

But that, of course, is exactly the issue: I can trust the justice system, because historically it has done a very good job of protecting people of my ethnicity, class, gender, and sexual orientation.  In my world, the police are always the “good guys,” representing the protection of the state.  That is not the case for people of color in our country (or women, or LGBTQ folks, or poor people).  Historically, the state has not done a good job of protecting their rights or their lives.  And all of the highly publicized shootings of young African American men over that past couple of years have highlighted that fact.

The protests in Ferguson are not, in reality, simply about Michael Brown’s death, and the decision that there was not adequate proof that Officer Darren Wilson acted inappropriately.  It is about the seemingly endless string of shootings in which young African American men are killed, sometimes -- like Trayvon Martin -- for simply walking in the wrong neighborhood.  

We need to recognize that racism is alive and well in our country, and we need to keep that fact before us.  Our call as Christians is to empathize with those who have suffered the loss of a child, and with those who feel that the justice system is just not working on their behalf.  Our call also, is to continue to create a system that does indeed care for all people equally, and which people of all colors, genders, nationalities, and sexual orientations can trust.  
That is why the peaceful protests in Ferguson are right and important.  The system never changes unless it is exposed to the light.  The Ferguson protests are doing exactly that.  They are not about Michael Brown and Darren Wilson, and what might -- or might not -- have happened on that tragic day in August: they are about a system that is not working for all people.  And we need to support that effort.    

As a church, we need to continue to keep this issue in front of us.  The church should be the place where we can engage the tough issues, learn empathy, and work to bring about justice in God’s world.  Since our merger with Wesley, we have the incredibly rich (and sometimes challenging) opportunity to learn how to be a genuinely multi-cultural community.  Through our partnership with Brighter Day, we learn what life is like on the other side of the river and how to build bridges across that.  All of that is hard work; but it’s also important work.  It’s work that changes us, and changes the world.

Lastly, an invitation: On December 7th, our friends from Brighter Day will be joining us here for our annual Evening in Advent.  We’re going to do some Christmas caroling in the neighborhood around Metropolitan, and I want our neighborhood to see faces of a wondrous variety of hues singing together as one family as we welcome anew the Prince of Peace.

Blessings, 

Rev. Charlie Parker





November 26th, 7PM at Asbury UMC
Hope and Healing for Ferguson 
Worship, Pray, & Work for Change
Tomorrow night, Nov. 26th, 7PM at Asbury UMC (926 11th St. NW, corner of 11th and K St. NW) we will gather with Asbury UMC, Mount Vernon Place UMC, and neighbors from our community in prayer and worship. We will gather being especially mindful of the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown hearing and the continued violence and discrimination upheld in our current systems of law and governance.

You are invited to come and pray for hope and healing in St. Louis and here in Washington, DC. More than gathering in loose community, we want to come together as the Church and begin discerning and putting into action policies and behaviors that help us create cities and systems that are safer and more just for all people.

Contact Rev. Adam Briddell at adam@inspireDC.org or 202.255.8369 for more information. See the flier announcement here.