Immanuel Presbyterian Church • 9252 E. 22nd Street • Tucson, AZ 85710 • 520-296-2253
We’re on our second installment of the series Catching Up with the Radical Rabbi. On Sunday we’ll be looking at “The Radical Rabbi who Broke the Rules.” Even though Jesus was the Son of God, he had some habits that were considered “bad” in the time he lived in. And if we take a close enough look ourselves, Jesus has some bad habits that can rub us the wrong way today. Jesus was at times offensive in his day, and he still offends today—with a purpose. Jesus came to trouble us with the truth. He offers a troubling hope for a troubled time. Jesus not only comforts the afflicted, he afflicts the comfortable. Jesus toughens us up—so we can be not only tough and tender, but have spiritual stamina for tough times. As Leonard Sweet asks, “Would Jesus offend you today? If not, you are missing the scandalous nature of Jesus the rabble-rousing rabbi as told in the stories of the Gospels.” If done faithfully and prayerfully, following Jesus will lead us to being “bad” in the eyes of the world and even at times “bad” in the eyes of the church. To me, the uncomfort and criticism from the church and world is worth it, if it is seen as “good” in the eyes of God. Immanuel, the time that we find ourselves in is a time to cultivate the good habits of making Jesus’ bad habits our own. Most especially his bad habits. Let us see where this radical rabbi leads us, while showing kindness and reverence always and to all.
“The Radical Rabbi Who Broke the Rules
Sermon by Rev. John C. Tittle
Arizona Department of Health Services
Greetings to you! Above is the recording of our Zoom Congregational Meeting on Sunday, June 28th at noon. It was great to see everyone that could make it and we apologize to those who couldn’t get into the meeting. We certainly appreciate the congregation’s flexibility and feedback in a difficult time as we prepare to eventually re-open sanctuary worship again. Thanks for a great meeting and our prayers remain with you in this historic time we find ourselves in.
Pastor John on behalf of the Session
The 5th and final VBS episode has arrived at the Immanuel Station!
Kris Goorsky, Director of Christian Formation, email@example.com
Thanks for joining us for all 5 weeks of fun and faith!
May 28, 2020 — COVID-19 UPDATE from Pastor John!
Dear Friends and Family,
In Sue Monk Kidd’s excellent book on spiritual direction “When the Heart Waits” she mentions the fascinating Chinese phrase “wu wei.” I love unique phrases from other languages and this is a new favorite on my list (i.e., wabi sabi, sisu, ikigai, ob portu, etc). Wu wei can be described as “active non-doing” or “actionless acting.” We are in a season of wu-wei-ting. Waiting. Wu wei is the opposite of striving, and so it is an expression of spiritual liberty, where we trust God and let life unfold. We focus upon and dwell in the moment we find ourselves in, rather than prematurely lunging into the future or that next thing before the time is right. According to wu wei, if we act too quickly without enough information, we can rip our roots out from the present that we’re grounded in. And so we don’t force things, yet we’re poised to grow and emerge from the dark soil to sprout in the right season when the time is ripe. What are you wu-wei-ting for?
Session prayerfully and actively remains in the wu wei posture. The leadership has not yet set a firm date for when services will begin phasing in. We will get there, we just need to keep wu-wei-ing in on the matter. What we have been learning along the way is that churches have some of the most complex dynamics to navigate through regarding COVID-19 and re-opening, particularly churches with older demographics.
I have some sobering information to share. The latest guidance from the majority of musicologists and medical professionals is that at this time there is no safe way for choirs to rehearse or sing publicly until there is a vaccine and 95% effective treatment for COVID-19, which is likely 18-24 months away or more. In addition, there is the possibility that presbytery (this is yet to be determined) will require there be no congregational singing in re-opened sanctuary services until further notice.
Take a moment to reflect on what was just shared. The ramifications and repercussions for the church are profound.
Let us remember in our grieving and processing of this unprecedented news, that this safety precaution is temporary and redemptive. The purpose is to bring health to our community and world. The reason we are likely not publicly singing (for a season) is for God’s glory and for the public good. God is with us. People in past generations have weathered pandemics, and so will we. There were church closings during the Spanish Influenza of 1918-1919. That pandemic was much worse than this, and the church made it through. By the grace of God, we too will come out of this more resilient, creative, and dependent upon God.
It won’t be easy, but we’re going to do it! God is going to lead us through this challenging season we find ourselves in. We are the kind of people who rise to the occasion—because we are a resurrection people. We are united, empowered, and led by our crucified, risen, and reigning Lord who brought about the death of death by his death. Life came out of death. Our trust is in the eternal God, not in the transient forms we use to express our worship to God. We can still worship God in spirit and in truth, no matter where we are (sanctuary or internet or home) and with what we have (singing or no singing). God is still with us and filling us with praise and worship, even when we feel stripped down to almost nothing. Our online worship services will continue for a long time to come, even when we begin our services again in the sanctuary. We will continue to have music with singing and virtual holy communion in our online service. You are encouraged to sing in your homes and sing in your hearts to God. When we eventually re-start sanctuary services, we will find creative ways to worship together through prayer, Scripture, sermon, liturgy, non-wind musical instruments, with possibly a solo or duet (either recorded or live, dependent upon what session decides). I have included below the resources the session and staff have used to help navigate these COVID-19 waters.
Christus Victor! That’s Latin for “Christ is the Conqueror.” Christ has the victory, even over the coronavirus. In the meantime, Christus Victor helps us wu wei.
Grace and Peace,
COVID-19: April 1, 2020 LETTER FROM OUR SESSION
Our prayers for protection, provision, and perseverance remain with you and our world in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Read more…
People come to church for lots of different reasons. Some come for the preaching, some come for the music. Some seek quiet time for personal reflection, and others appreciate a community of friends who have become family. Many are fed by book and Bible studies, and some long to reach out and help others.
We invite you to come visit us on a Sunday morning soon. Get in touch with your spiritual side — worship with us and attend a Christian Education class or a study group. We think Immanuel has what you and your family are looking for, and we would love to welcome you!
The path of worship – honoring God.
The path of discipleship – learning and apprenticing the faith.
The path of hospitality – building relationships and bridges.
The path of mercy – caring for the spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of the faith community and community at large.
The path of mission – sharing the good news locally and globally in word and deed.
8:30 a.m. — temporarily suspended due to COVID-19
Music led by Immanuel’s Worship Band
9:45 a.m. — temporarily suspended due to COVID-19
Click here for class schedules.
11:00 a.m. — temporarily suspended due to COVID-19
Music led by choir, piano, and organ
We at Immanuel proclaim and strive to live by the teachings of Jesus, the Scriptures, and the church that instructs us to love our neighbor who is created in God’s image, whether they be friend or foe, similar or distinct, or a different skin tone. God has given us and entrusted us with the ministry of reconciliation to transcend today’s heightened polarization in church and society. Brothers and sisters, let us continue to love one another with Christ’s love!
Grace and Peace,
Rev. Dr. John C. Tittle
Annual Alternative Gift Market (supporting many worthy vendors)