Week 2. 40 for the Neighborhood

40 for the Neighborhood             Day 11     March 18

Proverbs 21:15       When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.         .            

What is an injustice that grips your heart today? Talk to God about how you can be involved in“doing justice.”Pray for eyes to see justice that you can celebrate in the neighborhood.

Prayer Reflection:  Lord, who do you want us to be in our neighborhood?

How could this land best be a part of who we are to be in the neighborhood?

Know Your Neighborhood: Google will soon have nearly a million square feet of office space in SLU –about a block away from 415 Westlake

 

40 for the Neighborhood             Day 12    March 19

 Luke 10:29        But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”                          

Talk to God about how you can live into being the neighbor you are invited to be. Pray for a neighbor that comes to mind.

Prayer Reflection:  Lord, who do you want us to be in our neighborhood?

How could this land best be a part of who we are to be in the neighborhood?

Know Your Neighborhood: SLU has roughly the same residential population as West Seattle (27,000) but a higher density (9,000 people per square mile) compared to 6,000.

 

40 for the Neighborhood             Day 13     March 20

Deuteronomy 5:21   “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”           

Pray for our role in supporting  Christ’s agents in the tech industry.

Prayer Reflection:  Lord, who do you want us to be in our neighborhood?

How could this land best be a part of who we are to be in the neighborhood?

Know Your Neighborhood: Brothers and sisters from Amazon, Tableau, Google, Facebook and other tech companies are meeting again at 6:00 pm today to Pray for Tech. Feel free to join in

 

40 for the Neighborhood             Day 14     March 21

Jeremiah 29:4-7 4          Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.             

Pray that tonight’s Commons Dinner builds trust and relationships among those we have met through Kakao Cafe.

Prayer Reflection:  Lord, who do you want us to be in our neighborhood?

How could this land best be a part of who we are to be in the neighborhood?

Know Your Neighborhood: The Collective nearby at 400 Dexter  is a  diverse community of  “by-invitation-members who thrive on adventure, shared ideas and purpose…The space acts as both a basecamp and a launchpad to foster interaction and meet the dynamic needs of The Collective’s members and their endeavors.”

40 for the Neighborhood             Day 15     March 22

 Matthew 5:43-45       You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But
I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Pray for those who are your enemies or you have a difficult time loving in your neighborhood.

Prayer Reflection:  Lord, who do you want us to be in our neighborhood?

How could this land best be a part of who we are to be in the neighborhood?

Know Your Neighborhood: There are 1,546 households with children in SLU. Lowell Elementary is the closest public school.

 

40 for the Neighborhood             Day 16     March 23

Isaiah 1:17          Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.             

Pray for the hospitality workers and retail folks in SLU and your local neighborhood. Who do you know by name?

Prayer Reflection:  Lord, who do you want us to be in our neighborhood?

How could this land best be a part of who we are to be in the neighborhood?

Know Your Neighborhood: The non-citizen population of South Lake Union (16.9) is almost twice that of the rest of Seattle (8.9%)   

 

Week 1. 40 For the Neighborhood. March 11-16

Forty days of Lent: A time to receive the new life poured out for us through the cross and resurrection of Jesus. 
It’s a time of reflection that some people find aided by giving up something for forty days but this year we want to suggest something else: Praying for the neighborhood for 40 days. It may be counter-intuitive but we have a hunch that as we pray for the neighborhood, looking at it with the eyes of Jesus, we will draw closer to Christ just as we find life when we give ourselves away.
You may want to find a time to pause in your day to pray, journal, walk, listen. These can be done daily or in clusters. Each week we will post scripture, questions and facts. Thank you for journeying with us!

Day 5    40 for the Neighborhood         March 11

 “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 23:22

What does it mean, in a city setting, to not reap to the edges of the field or pick up every stock  of grain that falls?

Prayer Reflection:  Lord, who do you want us to be in our neighborhood?

How could this land best be a part of who we are to be in the neighborhood?

Know Your Neighborhood: The neighborhood had its industrial start with cabinet and furniture manufacturing followed by ship building, a steam plant where Zymogenetics is now and the location of Boeing’s first plant.

 Day 6   40 for the Neighborhood         March 12      

"This, then, is how you should pray: " 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Matthew 6:10

 Where do you need to forgive a debtor this week?

Prayer Reflection:  Lord, who do you want us to be in our neighborhood?

How could this land best be a part of who we are to be in the neighborhood?

Know Your Neighborhood: SCCA, the first comprehensive cancer center in the NW, enrolls 1000 patients in a clinical trial each year.

Day 7   40 for the Neighborhood             March 13

Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. Matthew 19:13

How can Union express Christ’s love to Children in South Lake Union?

Prayer Reflection:  Lord, who do you want us to be in our neighborhood?

How could this land best be a part of who we are to be in the neighborhood?

Know Your Neighborhood: Russians, Swedes, Norwegians, and Greeks made up a large part of the neighborhood population centered around Cascade Elementary School that is now Cascade Park up by REI (the school was destroyed in a 1949 earthquake).

Day 8 40 for the Neighborhood                   March 14

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. Exodus 20:16

 What un-grounded criticisms do we have of our neighbors?

Prayer Reflection:  Lord, who do you want us to be in our neighborhood?

How could this land best be a part of who we are to be in the neighborhood?

 Know Your Neighborhood: Amazon’s 8 million plus square feet of office space is enough room to house over 70,000 employees

Day 9 40 for the Neighborhood                 March 15

And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Col. 4:3

 Spend time praying for new open doors for God’s Spirit to bring healing and hope.

Prayer Reflection:  Lord, who do you want us to be in our neighborhood?

How could this land best be a part of who we are to be in the neighborhood?

 Know Your Neighborhood:  The city largest sawmill was kitty corner from us on Mercer and Westlake.

Day 10 40 for the Neighborhood                  March 16

To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Mark 12:33  

What trappings of religion turn off our neighbors?

Prayer Reflection:  Lord, who do you want us to be in our neighborhood?

How could this land best be a part of who we are to be in the neighborhood?

 Know Your Neighborhood: Denny Park is Seattle’s oldest park. Once a cemetery, in 1883, the land was converted into a park. The Friends of Denny Park has played a key role in restoring the park to an accessible park for the community.

Ash Wednesday Week. 40 for the Neighborhood. March 6-9

You may want to find a time to pause in your day to pray, journal, walk, listen. These can be done daily or in clusters. Each week we will post scripture, questions and facts. Thank you for journeying with us!

40 for the Neighborhood      Day 1         March 6

"Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:  Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.  But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”

Looking at this text, what is it to seek the welfare of a neighborhood?

Prayer Reflection:  Lord, who do you want us to be in our neighborhood?

How could this land best be a part of who we are to be in the neighborhood?

Know Your Neighborhood: Duwamish or Salish people had a settlement in this area until about 1875 when a longhouse was destroyed in a windstorm by a toppled tree. Deer and elk were also neighbors.

40 for the Neighborhood      Day 2         March 7

“But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” Amos 5:24 24

What is preventing life from flourishing in the neighborhood?

Prayer Reflection:  Lord, who do You want us to be in our neighborhood?

How could this land best be a part of who we are to be in the neighborhood?

Know your South Lake Union: The area that is now 415 was between two south running streams where 8th Avenue and Boren are now.      

Lord, grant me eyes to see the neighborhood with your eyes of love and justice.          

40 for the Neighborhood             Day 3       March 8

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”  Romans 8:26

Breathe and know the Spirit is praying in, through, with and for you.        

Prayer Reflection:  Lord, who do You want us to be in our neighborhood?

How could this land best be a part of who we are to be in the neighborhood?

Know your South Lake Union: SLU has three parks: Denny Park, Cascade Playground and Lake Union Park.

40 for the Neighborhood             Day  4      March 9

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”John 13:34-35

How would you describe how Jesus loves you? How might you know someone in the Union community better?

Prayer Reflection:  Lord, who do You want us to be in our neighborhood?

How could this land best be a part of who we are to be in the neighborhood?

Know your South Lake Union: South Lake Union is becoming a hub for life science organizations including: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the Allen Institute for Brain Science, the Allen Institute for Cell Science, Zymogenetics, Battelle, Seattle Biomedical Research Institute/Seattle Children's Hospital, PATH, Juno Therapeutics, Rosetta (now part of Merck & Co.), Bio-Rad, and University of Washington Medicine.

40 For the Neighborhood. An invitation to journey in prayer through Lent

Forty days of Lent: A time to receive the new life poured out for us through the cross and resurrection of Jesus. 

It’s a time of reflection that some people find aided by giving up something for forty days but this year we want to suggest something else: Praying for the neighborhood for 40 days. It may be counter-intuitive but we have a hunch that as we pray for the neighborhood, looking at it with the eyes of Jesus, we will draw closer to Christ just as we find life when we give ourselves away.

So today we are launching 40 for the Neighborhood by asking God two questions:

1. Who does God wants us to be in our neighborhood? (Both the neighborhood we dwell in and the one we live in together here in South Lake Union.)

2.  How could our land be best be a part of who we are to be in the neighborhood?

On the website and the Union mobile app (if you need to download search for Union Church Seattle at your device's app store) we will have daily scripture, facts about the neighborhood and prompts for prayer or you can refer to this letter and the one we will send each week.

Please mark your calendars for April 13 and 14 when we will have 40 hours of Prayer for the Neighborhood at 415 Westlake. Choose a time to pray with others or by yourself at different stations created to provide a variety of prayer expressions. You may also want to set a time with your Community Dinner Groups, small group or any other grouping you wish. For those who would like to take on praying late night or early morning but do not  want to drive at those hours we will have a sleep over at 415.

Then, after Easter, as an expression of living into the New Creation that Jesus’ resurrection kicked off, we will have a day to hear from one another what we felt we discerned during 40 for the Neighborhood.

Ash Wednesday Meditation. Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean.

Psalm 51 is traditionally read during Ash Wednesday services.  Here is a revised homily from Heather Juul on how Psalm 51 speaks about penance through the metaphor of laundry.

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“Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean.”  

The psalmist, knowing that laundry was not a delicate process, still prayed for the removal of sins in this way.  In the ancient world laundry likely took all day. Without modern soaps or machines, the dirt in clothing was beaten out, slapped on flat rocks or hit with sticks and then rinsed in whatever body of water was convenient.   The psalmist, however, does not pray to be slapped on rocks or hit with sticks (I can't say that I have ever prayed for this either). Instead, the psalmist asks for soaking, which is perhaps the gentlest cycle in God’s cosmic washing machine. When I pray for healing, cleansing, purification, or sanctification, I too want it to be easy.  But these things rarely are. Soaking helps ease the difficulty of getting clean, but this is only the first step in the cycle.

“Scrub away my guilt, soak out my sins in your laundry. I know how bad I’ve been; my sins are staring me down.”

Psalm 51 is attributed to David and was likely written after Nathan the prophet confronted the king about his affair with Bathsheba and murder of her husband.  While the cleaning that Psalm 51 is praying for is a from a position that many would see as unforgivable, God is, as the psalmist notes, generous in love and huge in mercy.  This cleansing soak and scrubbing are both available to all of us regardless of how deep in sin and dirt we are.

“Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean. Scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life”

The beauty I see with this laundry imagery is how intimate it is.  I don't see God dumping us in a machine, no matter how fancy, to get us clean.  Rather God is the one patiently helping us to scrub out our stains, again and again.  God is ankle deep in a very cold river waiting to gently, or not so gently, wash the stains out of us.   

As we go into lent I pray these next 40 days will be our time to go from soiled laundry to clean (or more accurately from soiled to clean, soiled to clean, again and again.)  I pray too that this cleansing agitates us, riles us up, and makes us uncomfortable. After all, isn't this what Lent is about? Isn't Lent about changing our routine to get closer to God?  Closer to this God who chooses to enter our dirty, earthy, human world to become close to us. Isn’t Lent about taking on something good and soapy so there is no extra room for dirt?

Ash Wednesday is a day that begins the Lenten season and where we recognize that we are mortal.  We will each die. In the recognition of our mortality, we see that we cannot each be our own little gods. God is the one who created us. God is the one who has defeated death and conquered sin.  God is the one who will resurrect us and make us new. God is the one waiting ankle deep in a river to soak us and scrub away our sins.

Like the psalmist, I pray for graciousness and mercy.  I pray that God would give us each a fresh start. As garments none of us are brand new, we have holes, pulls, discoloration.  But this doesn’t mean that we have to also live with stains. God takes us, as we are, stained garments full of holes, and breathes holiness into us, soaking and scrubbing us into a new life.  Lent is an opportunity to remember that God doesn’t throw us out because of our stains. Because we are not trash. We are God’s imperfect people who constantly strive to move from stained to clean and none of us are beyond this transformation.

“Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean”


Union Snow, February 10th

Dear Union family,

Hopefully you are warm, safe and enjoying the interruption that this snowfall has brought. Though it has stopped snowing for the time being Studio 3, Union’s servant leadership, has decided to cancel our gathering as a community tomorrow at 415 Westlake. We will miss our time together but do not want to put anyone in harms way attempting to meet up.

That is not to say worship is being cancelled—that can happen wherever you are, be it playing in the snow, taking a walk, enjoying a cup of tea, resting around your home—worship is our recognition o,f and living in response to God’s character so blessings on your delighting in Christ wherever you are!

If you want to stay on track with our walk-through Romans here is a bit of a guide to use on your own or with others…

Scrunch your shoulders up tight for a few seconds and then relax them exhaling well at the same time.

Stay silent and breathe in deeply and exhale slowly a few times.

Turn your cupped palms upward and let whatever off the mark thoughts, actions or omissions that are weighing you down move into them.

Turn your palms over and let all that is in them fall into Jesus’ hands noting how they disappear as they touch the marks on his crucified hands.

Offer a prayer of thanks and praise.

 

Read Romans 13:1-10

 3For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; 4for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer.5Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. 6For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing.

7Pay to all what is due them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due. 8Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

1.    What catches your interest?




Paul’s words about government are the ideal. Knowing Jesus was crucified by the Romans, having come up against less than just tribunals himself and currently aware of Nero’s rise, Paul knows that governments are often far from what they are intended to be by God. Nonetheless, this is a statement of God’s sovereignty over all things. Not God’s manipulation of all things but affirmation that governments are ordained by God to promote and reward good and punish and deal with lawlessness.

 

2.     
All governments are human and therefore broken so at what point is civil disobedience appropriate?

 




This teaching comes in the middle of calls to love and it will be helpful to let those verses inform our government interaction and political discourse. Paul’s words here remind us that though in the US there is, by the constitution, separation of church and state, for the follower of Christ this does not give us permission to leave our faith behind as we discern our response to the government nor our treatment of people with different views.

 

3.     
As followers of Christ knowing that Christ is above all governments and philosophies (that Jesus is neither a Republican, Democrat, Independent, Socialist…) how are we to approach these divisive times as people of faith? (E.G. How does this affect how we talk, think and act about issues, interact with others, treat government officials and leaders?)

 

4.     How do these words of Paul affect the way you perceive government? “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. 2Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”  How does this inform your prayer this week?

Take some time to pray to the God who is above all institutions and sources of power.

Stories of Hope: Union Women's Shelter

Reflection by Toni Voorhies, a founding host of Union’s Shelter. Learn more about the shelter on our website or by emailing unionvc@gmail.com.

I have always thought of God as a creative Spirit, but I had not used the word 'imaginative' before.  So when Kierstin asked me how I see God's imaginative Spirit present at the Union Women's Shelter I was stumped. After some contemplation, I thought that if imagination is the capacity to visualize a reality that contradicts our experience, then obviously the Spirit is imaginative.  When I applied this idea to the Shelter, I decided that God has a massive imagination.
I joined up with a group at Union who wanted to invite homeless women into our building a couple times a month to spend the night - to create a volunteer shelter for homeless women.  We believed that God was calling us to share our space, and I thought it was a chance for me to do more than just despair about the issue of homelessness in our city.  As we discussed the questions of how and when, I looked around at our space and the equipment we had been given.  I saw a hard concrete floor, an imposing cavernous room, 14 small, hard mattresses, very worn linens, plastic bins, an industrial kitchen and a clean but basic bathroom.  It didn't feel welcoming or homey.  I thought the best we could hope to provide was a dry space, a bed (kinda) and some food.  But, it was what it was and it was all we had to offer.  Our partner from Noel House assured us it would be enough, more than enough.  I convinced myself that offering a dry space and a mattress was enough for women who would otherwise be on the street.  So I joined in enthusiastically with the team, and we began to host women overnight.  We were trepidatious, to say the least, but I could actually hear God whispering, "come along. You got this. Just go with it."

That was over five years ago.  As a team of volunteers, we have leaned into the space and the evenings together with the homeless women.  I try to serve at least once a month by spending the night, and I often volunteer to serve a meal.  

Our guests arrive in the evening after having spent the day looking for a safe place to hang out, keeping track of their stuff, trying to work out necessities like food, hygiene and medical concerns, looking for helpful resources, sometimes working, all the while knowing they are not welcome in public spaces.  They are ignored, looked down on, or worse by people who encounter them. Repeat guests enter our space and visibly relax.  They tell me they are happy to be at Union because they feel safe and welcome.  They say we treat them like 'real people' and that the space is so quiet and peaceful.  They love our meals which are home cooked and full of flavor and vegetables.  They LOVE our ice cream for dessert.  They like being greeted and welcomed, instead of ostracized and ignored.  They like sitting around a table eating with a community that cares about them, or resting quietly on their mattresses, or sorting safely through their things. When a woman comes to us for the first time, it usually only takes an hour before she asks me hopefully, "are you guys open tomorrow night, too?", because she senses something different about coming in from the cold world to our warm welcoming space. 

The thing that is strange, and wonderful, is that when I walk into Union on Shelter nights, I no longer see a hard, cavernous space.  I know that I am going to experience warmth, conversation, laughter, peace, companionship, and good food.   Something I could not imagine has been created, not just for the homeless women, but for me, too.  God could imagine the community and warmth of our space from the beginning.  He knew that the reality of our shelter would be formed not from the concrete and the mattresses, but from the relationships that would be forged.  It might sound crazy, but our building feels the most like a sanctuary to me on the Monday nights when I stay there with the homeless women.  God's imaginative Spirit could see a warm, safe refuge and he called me to come and be part of creating something that I could not visualize on my own.  Imagine that.  He wanted me to experience the joy of creating sanctuary for others, and to have an experience of being in a sanctuary space.  

I still often feel despair over homelessness in our city.  I have learned a lot about homeless women, but God hasn't given me the answers to homelessness.  God has taught me the power of sanctuary and given me a longing to experience more of his imagination.