Let it burn...
It's Ash Wednesday. The threshold of the season of Lent.
There are a lot of things we think about when we think of Christians and Lent. We think about giving up things.... like chocolate, or beer, or Facebook. As though spending 40 days in the vice-free wilderness is going to be a reset button for our souls. That God gave us Lent to teach us self-control.
When in actuality, Lent is just the church calendar's embodiment of a cycle that our bodies are already living. It is the ancient church's reflection of a pattern we all know God set spinning in us. In our very bones. A cycle of dying and rising. Of burning and squelching. Of shedding old and taking on new. Before the dawn, comes the nighttime, where we look ourselves in the mirror and take account of our days. Our souls revealed to us. Our beauty and our betrayal. We take a good look, no matter how uncomfortable.
And we look and we look.
Because we know without the looking we will never see God.
In the liturgical church, the palms from Palm Sunday are often saved away in some back corner of the sanctuary. They sit drying for the year, waiting and watching life happen. Joy, celebration and sorrow. They silently- almost secretly- bear witness to a whole cycle of life before them. Then, nearly a year after they are used for celebration, they are burned. They become dust. Someone carefully adds oil and mixes them in a bowl. And on Ash Wednesday, our foreheads are marked; marked with a reminder of celebrations past, of life gone by, of triumphs and failures. All turned to the thing from which we come.... the thing to which we all return. We are marked with our own life and death. With our community's life and death. With the life and death of God's created order.
This Ash Wednesday, you're invited to enter that circle. At Storyline, we didn't gather with Palms last year (we didn't gather at all... it's been almost a year since COVID descended upon us...)so instead of burning palms, let's burn with something else....with purpose. What do you have that's been proverbially or literally drying up in the corner of your house or life? What has borne witness to your triumphs and your tears? What can you use to symbolize that literal life cycle? A piece of fridge art that has hung in the kitchen all year? The journal page with your 2020 New Year's Resolutions? A chunk of wood scribbled on with Sharpee pen? Pick something. And on Ash Wednesday.... (with all the necessary safety precautions...)
LET. IT. BURN.
Let it have served its purpose. Let God's divine cycle of dying take hold. As it burns, breathe. Meditate on this threshold space of mirrors and reflection. Meditate on those triumphs and tears. As a family, share what feelings are rising in this moment.
Then, when the fire has cooled, using just the ash (NOT WATER!) with maybe some oil from your kitchen, mark one another with the sign of the cross. Tell one another that you are dust. You are earth. You are made of divine mystery and you are an intricate part of this cycle of creation and to that very creation... to that very earth.... to that very dust... you shall return. In the absence of ash or safe fire and ash collection practices, a candle and some dirt work just fine.
Welcome to Lent, beloveds. Let's look into the mirror together.
On Sabbath and Sanctuaries
Last month, during Storyline’s community-wide Sabbath day, my family and I were able to spend the weekend camping in the RV spots at Camp Lutherwood down outside of Eugene on Highway 36. This last summer during COVID was one of the rare summers of the past 15 years that I didn’t spend time at camp. No one did. The cabins, the fields, the trails…. They’ve all kept vigil for months now, empty of retreat groups and outdoor schools and campers and counselors and families. Like so much of our world in COVID, camp came to a sort of stop. An unintended, unanticipated, extended time of Sabbath rest. Lying fallow and waiting for the horizon of whatever comes after this.
I walked the familiar curve of the forest trails, showing my son the place that has been a sort of sacred home for me for so many years. I stopped. I breathed. I remembered what my body felt like walking these trails before. Before COVID. Before wildfires. And then I began to re-member, my body feeling free to breathe the forest air and rejoice in the dappled sunlight dancing on the trail before me. I put parts of myself back together that haven’t felt together in quite some time. As my muscles started to re-member what it feels like to drop the weight of the world as I trod those trails, I noticed a couple of things. First, I noticed how the quiet of camp (and the lack of cell phone coverage, if I’m honest) was once again creating a space for that work. Even when camp isn’t literally quiet and is full of cabin calls and the ringing of the meal bell, it has created that space. Second, I noticed how much I had denied myself sacred space since the pandemic began. Which is embarrassing a little because, well, I’m a pastor.
As I kept walking, the re-membering continued. Further on down the trail as I entered the stand of forest that used to be called the “lower clear cut” and is now anything but, I re-membered how much change that this land has borne witness to; its own change…and the change and transformation of so many lives; campers, staff, volunteers…. Me. This trail, this land, these trees… they are sacred and holy ground. They are sanctuary. They are cathedral. And in that moment, I could think of no better space to pass a Sabbath rest than there at that accidental creekside altar of stones and ferns. One thing that COVID has asked of us as society is to consider what is essential. I’m beginning to realize that at the heart of our church sanctuaries is a call to deep Sabbath. And that it may not be our sanctuaries that are essential…. But Sabbath most certainly is. If Sabbath and sanctuary are meant to be a container for our transformation as beloved children of the Holy One…. Then these trees have always been my container.
As I stood there on the part of the trail that overlooks the creek that itself has changed shape before my eyes over all the years I have known it, I remembered suddenly our summer camp theme from 2011. “Adventure is Everywhere! HERE is good!” began with the story of Jacob who awakens from a dream wrestling God to declare exuberantly: “surely the Lord was in this place, and I was unaware of it!” (Gen 28:16) And he gathers stones and builds an altar and calls it Beth-el, which means house of God. You see… GOD IS HERE. That is the lesson that Jacob learned. That is the lesson that I found myself re-membering out in the woods by the creek. So I gathered some stones, and my toddler gathered some too, and we made a pile there in the fall leaves on the hill by the creek. And we called it sanctuary. And we breathed the air. And we said thanks be to God.
What we need is HERE. God is HERE. HERE is good. Whatever HERE is for you. HERE is the container for your transformation. In the unseeable yet very real space of Sabbath rest. In the sacred pause where you let the weight of the world be shaken from your shoulders for a moment. In the breathing room created when we take time to stop our work and let a change of rhythm take hold. So friends, Sabbath. Rest. Re-member.
Social Zoom Meetings
1. Virtual Sip-N-Chat: Join us for a chill night of projecting, crafting, snacking, and chatting from the comfort of your own home. This is just a low-key space to decompress, chat and take some time for you!
While we find ourselves distanced from our faith communities, there are so many ways for us to stay healthily connected to our faith and spirituality. Here you will find favorite books, podcasts, blogs, audio and video, and other resources to help you stay connected to something bigger than yourself.
1. Switching Kings, Pandemics, and Psalms of Comfort- a conversational sermon offered by Rev. Sara Gross Samuelson and Rev. Jesse Christopherson (Pastor of Milwaukie Lutheran Church).
2. Hermitaging at Home: Using Self-Isolation as a way to experience hermitage in your own walls.
3. Can These Bones Live?- a conversational sermon offered by Rev. Jesse Christopherson (Milwaukie Lutheran Church) and Stori Long
4. Palm Sunday- a conversational sermon offered by Rev. Sara Gross Samuelson and Rev. Jesse Christopherson (Pastor of Milwaukie Lutheran Church).
Talking your Kids Through A Pandemic
With so much information, it can be hard to keep up with what's going on in the world, and it can be even harder to navigate if you are trying to explain to a child what is going on. For those who are old enough to ask questions and be curious, we want to give them the resources they need to understand and not be afraid. So Below you'll find resources, videos, and tips for talking through some of the harder parts of a pandemic with your kids!
We hope you'll find it useful in helping your kids process any fears or confusions they may have.
Covid-19 Coloring Book
Free Covid-19 Ebook
What is a Stay-At-Home Order
Having trouble explaining what a stay-at-home order is and why it's so important? Check out this video below
Right now, it can feel overwhelming, as the news seems to be changing every 5 minutes! We will do our best to stay up-to-date on the most relevant news and recommendations that could impact your day-to-day.
State Wide News
Governor Kate Brown's latest Executive Order can be read here! Follow the link for all the details, and see highlights below:
Online Worship Services
Oak Grove UMC Facebook Live Stream
Join Pastor Heather Riggs on Sunday Mornings for worship, and if you happen to sleep in you can always watch the playback later!
Storyline Virtual Sunday Gathering
Topic: Storyline Virtual Gathering
Time: Mar 22, 2020 10:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 670 388 159
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Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/acR74HDGTU
Shelter and Utilities Help
Time Sensitive Housing Resource:
The Housing Authority of Clackamas County will open its Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher Section 8 Waiting Lists on April 13, 2020 at 8 a.m. PT.
The deadline to apply is 6 p.m. PT on April 16, 2020.
CLICK HERE link for more info!
Portland General Electric
Has suspended non-payment disconnection. If you need help with your bill, please call us. We’ll work with you to find a solution that fits your needs. Here are a few ways to get started if you need help paying your bill:
Clackamas County Warming Shelters
Shelters will remain open with extra precautions during this time, including the one at Oak Grove United Methodist.
Check this site after noon to confirm if they are open on any particular day.
If you are in a high-risk category for coronavirus or are in quarantine because you are sick, here are some local options to get your groceries and stay healthy and safe! This is not exhaustive. But it is a start.
Let us know if there is anything we're missing, or if anything here is inaccurate! (CONTACT US).
Also, if you online options are feeling foreign and confusing, one of our tech savvy community members would be happy to help you figure it out! (CONTACT US)
Shipt Grocery Delivery-
Free trial - 4 weeks: The easiest way I found to get this free trial was to sign up through Target's app or website. (I was also able to call and extend this trial longer for free). See bottom of email for instructions on how to sign up for the free trial on Target app.
Unlimited same day delivery
Cost: $14 a month (or $99 a year) (+invitation to tip)
Orders over $35 are delivered for free. (Under $35 has a $7 charge).
Delivers in your area from:
(97086 and 97267) Target, Fred Meyer, Office Depot, Safeway, QFC, Petco, Smart Foodservice
(97222): Target, Fred Meyer, Office Depot, Safeway, QFC, CVS pharmacy, Smart Foodservice
Customer Service: In my experience, customer service has been excellent. They text if something is out (unless I just tell them to use their judgment) and will even tell me if, for example, there are carrots like I wanted, but they aren't looking so hot.
Instacart Express Grocery Delivery-
Unlimited same day delivery
Free trial- 14 days
Cost: $9.99 a month or $99 a year. (+invitation to tip)
You can also do deliveries without a subscription for a fee. Typically $3.99-$7.99. There is also often a service fee (typically 5%). And busy pricing fees during peak delivery hours.
$0 delivery fees on orders of $35 or more. Reduced service fees. No busy pricing fees during peak delivery hours.
Item Pricing: Retailers set the prices of items available for delivery on the Instacart platform. While many retailers offer the same in-store prices on Instacart, others set different prices on the Instacart platform than in-store prices. In some cases, a flat percentage is added to cover the cost of the Instacart service.
Delivers in your area from: https://www.instacart.com/grocery-delivery
Customer Service: Don't know personally. I think there is the opportunity to text the shopper like with Shipt, but may depend on the shopper. Here is how to track status of order:
(97086, 97222, 97267)
Fred Meyer Grocery Pick-up
Free trial- Service fees waived for first 3 orders.
Cost: About $5 per order, but may vary by store. No tipping.
Stores with shopping times for vulnerable groups
Instructions to sign up with Shipt through Target
1) Go to www.target.com
2) Click on "same-day delivery" in the menu in the upper left corner.
3) Click on start shopping.
4) When you click on an item for purchase, scroll down to delivery options.
5) Click on "learn more" under same day delivery.
6) You'll see this
Socializing from a Distance
Netflix Party: This extension allows you to sync your Netflix videos and even adds a group chat feature so you can talk while you watch!
We have rotating blog posts by leaders and members of our community!