All Saints Remembrance
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On All Saints Sunday, we remember the saints who have gone before us and are part of the great cloud of witnesses. This year we would like to create a visual representation of the friends and loved ones who gather with us at the Lord’s Table, not just on All Saints Sunday, but every weekend we worship. You are invited to bring in a picture of your friends and/or loved ones who have died. It can be in a frame or not in a frame, any size or shape you wish. Please put your name on it so we can be sure to get it back to you. Pictures can be dropped off in the church office anytime before November 3, or you can bring them to worship with you the weekend of November 3-4 and put them directly on the altar. If you would rather not bring a picture, you can fill out a name card with your loved one’s name or email the name for us to fill it out. These name cards will be displayed along with the pictures. Pictures and name cards will help all of us experience the power of being surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses.

We will also be reading the names of anyone who has died since last All Saints Sunday. If you have a loved one who has died this past year, please email the name along with their date of death (or approximate date of death). We will read these names aloud in worship. Please email all names by Wednesday, October 31.

Trunk-or-Treat
 Photo by  David Menidrey  on  Unsplash

Photo by David Menidrey on Unsplash

Wednesday, October 24 from 6:45-7:30 p.m.
Looking for a safe, family-friendly way to trick or treat? Children ages 6th grade and under are invited to dress in costume and come trunk or treat in the church parking lot! "Trunk or Treat" cars will be parked in half the parking lot and roped off to incoming cars. Children then walk from trunk to trunk to collect candy.  Trunk or treating will be from 6:45 - 7:30 p.m. All are welcome!

Feeling creative? We are also in need of families and individuals who will decorate the trunk of their vehicles for this event! Please let Sara Dyson, Children and Family Minister, know if you can provide a trunk and approximately 300 pieces of candy. Trunks will need to be parked by 6:30 p.m. and will be asked to stay in the lot until 7:45 p.m.

A Timeline through Our History
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Exciting things are happening at Abiding Presence! Earlier this fall we shared with you the news that Abiding Presence was chosen as one of twelve congregations across the country (and the only Lutheran congregation) to participate in a "Community of Practice" with the Log College Project through Princeton Seminary. We're now getting to work discerning, learning, praying and listening to how God is calling us to innovate our ministry with and to the senior high youth. We're thinking about both the youth who are already at Abiding Presence and the youth in our area who might be searching or longing for a faith community. 

Each quarter during the 2018-2019 school year we will be given an activity to help us reimagine our youth ministry. Our first activity has been to research the history of Abiding Presence and to share it with the whole congregation so we can discern, learn, pray and listen to God together. Specifically, we have been looking at the footprint of our church's innovation. The more we have researched, the more we have discovered just how much innovation we have in our history! Whether it was transforming a movie theater into a worship space when we first began, changing the seating direction in the sanctuary, launching three distinct worship experiences, dreaming of playground or launching weekday ministries to children and families such as MOPS and Mainly Music - Abiding Presence has been a church listening to God's bold vision and reimagining what the church might look like.  

As you come to church over the course of the next few weeks, please take a look at the timeline running on the walls that tells some of our story. It's not inclusive of every single thing we've done in the past 40 years as it would take a renovation project to give us enough wall space for that! It does, however, offer some highlights of where we've been and how we've responded to God's call. 

We need you to please do more than just look at the papers on the wall, though. Please take a moment to prayerfully walk the timeline with one of the "Guide through History” papers. Jot down what surprises you, excites you or where you experience God nudging us into the future. When you're done, place your "Guide through History" in the box in the church office. We'll have a drawing for a special prize "historical prize" from the guides collected. 

More than anything else, please join us in praying for our hearts and minds to be open to how God is calling us to be church in the future.

Fall Festival This Saturday!
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Saturday, October 13 from 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Abiding Presence offers a free community fall festival. Lots of volunteers are needed to make this event possible! Please consider volunteering for an hour shift (or more) before or after enjoying the festival by signing up here. The festival is completely FREE and offers food, games, live music, haunted houses, bouncy house, pumpkin paining, balloon artist, face painting and much more.

The Fairfax County Sheriff's Office will be on hand to provide FREE Child Identification and Fingerprinting. Information on Internet safety for children and parents will also be provided.

This completely FREE event is a great way to come celebrate fall with friends and neighbors. There will be several free raffles to enter, and gift cards given out throughout the day.

Adult Social at Paradise Springs Winery

Sunday, October 14, 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Join us at Paradise Springs Winery in Clifton for an afternoon of socializing with other adults in the congregation. Meet new people, reconnect with those you haven’t seen in awhile and enjoy tasty food and beverages. We’ve reserved ½ of the picnic grove, which is to the right past the small vineyard as you come into the winery. Please bring an appetizer or dessert to share. Non-alcoholic beverages are welcome as well. You’ll be able to purchase whatever wine you would like from the main tasting room and bring it down to the picnic grove. Feel free to invite a friend or neighbor to come along. RSVPs are helpful, but not necessary.

**While Paradise Springs is a family friendly winery, this particular event is for adults 21+ only.**

ENewsMeredith KeseleyAdults
Remembering the Saints
 Image of a church altar on All Saints Sunday

Image of a church altar on All Saints Sunday

We will celebrate the festival of All Saints in worship the weekend of November 3-4. It is a time for us to give thanks for all the saints - the loved ones and friends who have died - and draw strength, courage and faith from them. It is one of the most meaningful weekends of worship of the whole year for me personally. In fact, I wait all year to sing with gusto the hymn “For All the Saints” as I remember the saints in my life.

One of the most powerful things about All Saints Sunday is that it offers us the opportunity to know and trust that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who have died and gone before us. When we gather around the altar for Holy Communion, the air between heaven and earth is as thin as it gets. Holy Communion is a foretaste of the heavenly feast to come. It is an opportunity for us to connect with our friends and loved ones in the great cloud of witnesses in the most powerful of ways. We believe that when we share in Holy Communion that we do so with the body of Christ on earth and the saints in heaven.

We’re going to try something a bit different this year as we remember the saints who have gone before us and are part of the great cloud of witnesses. We want to create a visual representation of the friends and loved ones who gather with us at the Lord’s Table not just on All Saints Sunday, but every weekend we worship.

In order to do this, I’d like to invite you to bring in a picture of your friends and/or loved ones who have died. It can be in a frame or not in a frame, any size or shape you wish. Please put your name on it so we can be sure to get it back to you. Pictures can be dropped off in the church office anytime before November 3 or you can bring them to worship with you the weekend of November 3-4 and put them directly on the altar. If you would rather not bring a picture, you can fill out a name card with your loved one’s name or email the name for us to fill it out. These name cards will be displayed along with the pictures. I hope it will be a beautiful representation of pictures and name cards to help all of us experience power of being surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses.

We will also be reading the names of anyone who has died since last All Saints Sunday. If you have a loved one who has died this past year, please email the name along with their date of death (or approximate date of death). We will read these names aloud in worship.

If you have any questions or would like to be involved in helping to put together our display of saints, please let me know. I look forward to celebrating all the saints with you next month.

Congregation-Wide Study of Holy Communion
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This weekend we will continue our four week congregation wide study of Holy Communion. We are exploring what Holy Communion is, what it means for our lives as disciples of Christ and how it sends us out into the world to share God’s love with others. All of us - from our youngest worshipers to our oldest - can grow in our understanding of the sacrament of Holy Communion.

Adult small group gatherings are underway. Contact Pastor Heidi if you would like to jump into one.

Children are studying about Holy Communion in age appropriate ways in their Sunday School classes. At Abiding Presence we believe children of any age can begin receiving Holy Communion at any time. We recognize, however, that some parents would like their children to learn about Holy Communion and go through the Rite of First Communion before receiving the sacrament.

Children who would like to receive their first Holy Communion should plan to attend Sunday School on Sundays October 7, 14, and 21. Children will receive their first Holy Communion and participate in the Rite of First Communion on Sunday, October 28 at either the 8:45 or 11:00 a.m. service. Pastor Keseley and Sara Dyson, Children & Family Minister, will meet with first communion children on Saturday, October 27 from 4:15-5:30 p.m. for communion bread breaking and conversation. RSVP to Sara Dyson for the October 27 event.

If you have questions about having your child receive Holy Communion, Pastor Keseley would be happy to talk with you. 

Pet & Stuffed Animal Blessing Service
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Sunday, September 30 from 4:00-4:30 p.m.
All people and pets are invited to attend our Pet and Stuffed Animal Blessing service. Animals of all shapes and sizes (including stuffed animals!) can participate in this brief, pet and child-friendly service held outside in the fenced area. We will give thanks to God for our pets and enjoy a snack, both for the humans and the pets.

Meredith KeseleyWorship
Free Community Fall Festival
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Saturday, October 13 from 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Join us for a fun filled afternoon of FREE food, games, live music, haunted houses, bouncy house, pumpkin paining, balloon artist, face painting and much more.

The Fairfax County Sheriff's Office will be on hand to provide FREE Child Identification and Fingerprinting. Information on Internet safety for children and parents will also be provided.

This completely FREE event is a great way to come celebrate fall with friends and neighbors. There will be several free raffles to enter, and gift cards given out throughout the day. There will also be a collection of non-perishable foods to support the food pantry at Abiding Presence. Bring a few food items with you to the Fall Festival, or drop them off later in the week.

Meredith KeseleyFamilies
All Are Welcome
 Photo by  James Coleman  on  Unsplash

Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash

Week after week, Pastor Heidi and stand behind the altar and offer the invitation, "This is the Lord's Table and all are welcome here." Every one in a while someone stops us after the service and asks, "Do you really mean all?" We do! We really do mean that all are welcome to gather around the Lord's Table. You will be welcome regardless of who you are or where you are on your faith journey.

This weekend we're launching a four week sermon series and congregation-wide study of Holy Communion. We will be dwelling in God's word and digging in to what it means to be fed and forgiven at the Lord's Table. Together, I hope we will all grow in our understanding of God's love for us that is manifest in the tangible form of bread and wine. Our preschool and elementary school Sunday School classes will be learning more about what Holy Communion means in age appropriate ways. Our senior high and adults will be gathering in small groups to expand their understanding of the sacrament beyond what they might have learned as children in holy communion classes. I'm excited for us to be on this journey together as we take a step on our discipleship journeys. 

Having what is called an "open table" for communion is an important part of not only the faith community of Abiding Presence, but of the whole Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). We are quite clear as a denomination that the altar isn't our table. It's the Lord's Table. We aren't gate keepers of it, but invited guests to it. When we gather around the Lord's Table, we are fed, forgiven and sent out to invite others to come and to be fed and forgiven, too. 

Wednesday Night Gathering is Back - September 26
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Wednesday Night Gathering is back this fall! Plan to join us each Wednesday for dinner and activities. We even have a few exciting new additions to the schedule this year. Dinner is served "cafeteria style" each week from 6:00-6:45 p.m. A full schedule of activities is below. Childcare for children under the age of 3 is provided in our professionally staffed nursery. 

Dinner Menu for September 26
Build your own Tacos with Ground Turkey, Rice, Beans, Veggies with Lettuce, Chips Salsa & Cheese
Carrots
Applesauce

Schedule of Activities
5:00 - 6:00 p.m. - Youth Band (6th-12th) and Puppet Team (4th-12th)
6:00 - 6:45 p.m. - Family Dinner
6:45 - 7:45 p.m. - Iron Men Bible Study, Women's Bible Study, 2nd Year Confirmation and Handbell Choir
6:45 - 7:15 p.m. - Preschool Choir and Elementary School Youth Groups (K-6th)
7:00 - 8:30 p.m. - ESL Class
7:15 - 7:45 p.m. - Preschool Youth Group, Elementary School Choir (K-5th) and Pre-Confirmation (6th)
7:45 - 8:30 p.m. - Youth Choir

Abiding Presence Adult Oktoberfest - September 29
 Photo by  Roman Kraft  on  Unsplash

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

Adults of the congregation are invited to gather on Saturday, September 29 at 6:00 p.m. in celebrating the fall season with a nod to the German tradition of Oktoberfest! Dig out your lederhosen, dirndls and steins and join us in this once in a while AP tradition. We will be meeting at the home of Steve and Cheryl Lucky. If you are a Saturday church attendee please feel to come after service. Brats and beverages will be provided; please bring a side dish, dessert or home brew to share at this adults only gathering. Please RSVP on the sheet in the narthex or by e-mail.

ENewsMeredith KeseleyAdults
Sunday School
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We have launched another year of Sunday School! If you are looking for a Christian Education opportunity for your child or youth, we would love to have you join us. Please register or simply show up on a Sunday morning at 9:50 a.m.

We have Sunday School classes for ages 3 through 6th grade, Confirmation classes for middle school youth and a senior high class. Children ages 4th grade and younger are invited to Bailey Hall at 9:50 for Sunday School Liftoff before being dismissed to their classrooms at 10:00. Children ages 5th grade and older kids are welcome to go straight to their classrooms to meet their teachers. 

Adults gather in Bailey Hall from 10:00 - 10:45 a.m. for the Abiding Table, our adult breakfast and conversation group. Breakfast and coffee will be served, so plan to come hungry! 

2018-2019 Sunday School Classes and Room Assignments
Preschool            Room 1
Kindergarten       Room 4
1st Grade             Room 5
2nd Grade           Room 6
3rd Grade            Room 7
4th Grade            Room 8
5th/6th Grade     Room 9
Confirmation, 1st Yr.       Rooms 2 & 3
Confirmation, 2nd Yr.     Library
Senior High                     Rooms 10 & 11
Adults                   Bailey Hall

 

 

ENewsMeredith KeseleyChildren
Small Groups Launching this Fall
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This fall we are kicking off another congregation-wide small group experience! We welcome any adult to participate who would like to spend five weeks learning and growing in a small group environment.

The theme for our fall small groups will be “Gathered Around the Table: Fed & Forgiven.” We will be looking at Holy Communion and growing in our understanding of what happens each week when we gather around the Lord’s Table. In addition to our adult small groups that we will be studying this theme, we will be preaching on it in worship from September 29/30 through October 20/21. During that time our preschool, elementary and senior high Sunday School classes will be following a curriculum learning about Holy Communion, too.

There’s no preparation needed for our small groups. You just need to show up! Small groups will meet at leaders’ homes or at the church for five weeks, starting the week of September 23rd and running through the week of October 21st.  There are several opportunities to join a small group and we hope you will take a look and pick one to join by signing up here.

Sign up to join a small group, try it out and experience how God shows up when we gather around the table, at church and in the world!

Heidi EickstadtAdults
Join a Small Group this Fall!
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What an amazing weekend of worship we had last weekend as we kicked off another year of ministry together! We had 120 kids in Sunday School, nearly 100 adults at the Abiding Table and 376 people in worship. We continue to love watching the Spirit work in and through all of you. 

At the end of the month we will be kicking off another congregation-wide small group experience. For those of you who have been around a bit, you will remember that we lifted up launching a congregation-wide small group ministry as an important part of the job description for our Pastor of Discipleship when we called Pastor Eickstadt last year. One of our 2018 goals as a congregation was to launch two sets of congregation-wide small groups. Last spring our first small group experience launched during Lent with great success with 45 people in 6 groups. Small groups help us live out our mission of Connecting People to Christ through Community by creating spaces for forming and deepening relationships with each other and which Christ.

The theme for our fall small groups will be “Gathered Around the Table: Fed & Forgiven.” We will be looking at Holy Communion and growing in our understanding of what happens each week when we gather around the Lord’s Table. In addition to our adult small groups that we will be studying this theme, we will be preaching on it in worship from September 29/30 through October 20/21. During that time our preschool, elementary and senior high Sunday School classes will be following a curriculum learning about Holy Communion, too. This really will be a congregation-wide time of learning and growing in our relationship with Christ and each other.

Unlike our Lent study, our fall small groups will not require you to read a book or prepare in any way. You just need to show up! Small groups will meet at leaders’ homes or at the church for five weeks, starting the week of September 23rd and running through the week of October 21st.  There are several opportunities to join a small group and we hope you will take a look and pick one to join by signing up here. If you don’t see a group at a time that works for you, please contact Pastor Eickstadt to talk about hosting one.

Sign up to join a small group, try it out and experience how God shows up when we gather around the table, at church and in the world! We cannot wait for our congregation to learn and grow together in our understanding of the sacrament of Holy Communion.

Blessings,

Pastor Keseley and Pastor Eickstadt

P.S. – If you have a child who would be interested in receiving their first Holy Communion this fall, please contact our Children and Family Minister, Sara Dyson. We welcome children to begin receiving Holy Communion at any age and at any time. For those families who would like the more formal “Rite of First Holy Communion” for their child, that will be available this fall as part of our “Gathered Around the Table: Fed & Forgiven” series.  

🚀Fall Music Ministry Rehearsals Launch! 🚀 Who, What, When?

Our Fall rehearsal schedules kick off starting RIGHT NOW in early September!

From the AP Mission Team 2018 trip to La Romana, Dominican Republic – This little guy was definitely eager to join the music ministry. May we all have the same boldness to make a joyful noise to the Lord!

We've expanded our Youth Choir rehearsals this year to weekly on Wednesdays. We'll also be expanding our outreach beyond our walls in most of our adult and youth ensembles! Why? We've got a really special music ministry at Abiding Presence, a blessing worth sharing. I invite you to join me in sharing your love of God, neighbor, and music in whatever way you feel most comfortable.

  • Do none of the groups listed below quite fit you? We're always looking for special soloists (vocal & instrumental), small ensembles (duets, trios, etc.), cantors (for Saturday 6:00 PM and Sunday 11:00 AM worship), audio-visual tech team, and office/library/logistical support volunteers.
  • Not sure where to start? Got a friend/family member (or yourself) who wants to get involved but isn't sure whether you/they have anything worth offering? Come talk to me (David Chávez, Music & Worship Minister) after church or email me. I'll buy you a coffee/tea/frapp and we can chat in a no-obligation way about ways to serve our faith family and community through music, worship, and the arts. All you need is willingness to serve, and there is a place for you at Abiding Presence.
  • Visit AbidingPresence.net/music for more detailed information.
  • If you are interested in participating in any of these groups, email dave@abidingpresence.net to be added to the email list, or just show up for rehearsal!

Alphabetical List of Ensembles

Abiding Presence Brass

  • Plays for various Sunday services and special services
  • Open to all adults, high school students, and (with director permission) middle schoolers
  • Scheduled as needed, according to individual availability
  • New for 2018-2019 — easy and fun “continuing ed” opportunities for adults who want to get back into playing brass (after not having played in some years!)

Abiding Presence Choir

  • Assists in leading worship at weekly 11:00 AM traditional service, plus select special services
  • Open to all adults, high school students, and (with director permission) middle schoolers
  • Rehearses Tuesdays 7:30-9:00 PM, starting Sept. 4
  • New for 2018-2019 — new specialized repertoire for “men’s choir” (tenors/basses), “women’s choir” (sopranos/altos), and lower-voice women (altos)

Abiding Presence Orchestra

  • Assists in leading worship in special services and major holidays throughout the year, and in select regular Sunday services.
  • Scheduled as needed, according to individual availability
  • New for 2018-2019 — premiere major new work for the final weekend of Advent (Saturday, December 22, 6:00 PM worship)

Children’s Choirs, directed by Lori Rossett

  • Assists in leading worship about once a month during the program year, plus special services and holidays. Participates in Christmas drama and Spring musical annually.
  • Open to all children from preschool through 6th grade; email lori@abidingpresence.net to be added to the email list, or just show up!
  • Rehearse during Wednesday Night Gathering (half hour rehearsals grouped by age/grade level, starting Sept. 26. Please watch the weekly announcements and e-news for updates.
  • From Lori: We are looking forward to a great year. The children will be invited to participate in several church services during the year, a short Christmas production in December, and a musical in May. Please plan to join us on Wednesday nights. If you are not able to come every week, come as you are able. Check the full schedule of Wednesday night activities, as that will include other activities in which the children can be involved.

Hallelujah Ringers (handbell choir)

  • Assists in leading worship at various services about once a month during the program year
  • Open to all adults, high school students, and middle schoolers
  • Rehearses Wednesdays, 6:45-7:45 PM, starting Sept. 12
  • New for 2018-2019 — offsite mini-concert at a local retirement community to serve our neighbors through the ministry of music and friendship!

Praise Band

  • Assists in leading worship weekly at 8:45 AM praise service, as well as select special services
  • Open to all adults, high school students, and (with director permission) middle schoolers
  • Scheduled as needed (according to instrument/voice part, etc.), according to individual availability; rehearsals normally on Saturdays at 4:00 PM and on Sundays before worship
  • New for 2018-2019 — extend our ministry offsite by sharing (online) our experience via recordings, sheet music, and instructional resources! We intend to help resource similar congregations who wish to start a praise band ministry.

Youth Band

  • Assists in leading worship about once a month during the program year, and also with select special services and events
  • Open to all youth in 6th-12th grade
  • Rehearses Wednesdays, 5:00-6:00 PM, starting Sept. 12
  • Social events monthly — dinner outings, sporting events, mini-golf, etc.!

Youth Choir

  • Assists in leading worship on Sundays or special services about once per quarter
  • Open to all youth in 6th-12th grade
  • After a successful start last year, rehearsals this year will level-up to weekly on Wednedays, 7:45-8:30 PM, starting Sept. 26
  • Social events monthly — dinner outings, sporting events, mini-golf, etc.!
  From the AP Mission Team 2018 trip to La Romana, Dominican Republic - Craig and Dave with musicians at Iglesia Bautista Luz Divina, our mission partner congregation

From the AP Mission Team 2018 trip to La Romana, Dominican Republic - Craig and Dave with musicians at Iglesia Bautista Luz Divina, our mission partner congregation

David ChavezMusic
"Church Popcorn"

Our annual beach vacation always includes a visit to what our family refers to as "Beach Church." "Beach Church" isn't actually church on the beach. In fact, it's a regular ELCA congregation much like ours with a sanctuary, Sunday School classrooms, playground and parking lot. It's located a few blocks from the beach on the main highway. The service, which takes place in their sanctuary, is much like ours. The only thing that is actually "beachy" about it is that we go when we are at the beach!  

As we walked into the main doors, we were warmly welcomed by the greeter, much like I hope guests at Abiding Presence are welcomed. Once inside the sanctuary, we received several more smiles, hellos and welcomes as it was clear that we were not part of the normal crowd who gathered for their Saturday evening service. After the children's sermon, which the pastor added to the beginning of the service just for my two girls as they were the only kids there, we received a bag of microwaveable popcorn. "Thanks for popping by for worship," the kind woman who gave it to us whispered as we made our way back to our seats.  

This popcorn made a HUGE impression on my four year old. In fact, she spent the rest of the service informing me she was hungry and not understanding why we wouldn't eat the not yet microwaved bag of popcorn during the sermon. We've been home a couple of weeks and Nadia still is talking about her "church popcorn," which we finally let her eat this week. 

"Beach Church" made us feel welcome and part of their community in a way that has stuck with us. While we don't have popcorn at Abiding Presence, we do have candy bags. If you haven't seen them, check them out in the back of the sanctuary. They are a fun way for people to learn more about Abiding Presence. 

Above all, smile at people. Say, "Hello!" Tell people you are glad that they are there, especially families with children. Trust me, as a mom I will tell you that getting out the door to church is rarely easy or fun! It take effort. It also takes an equal amount of effort to show up by yourself to church. So, if you see someone sitting alone, make a special point to go over and say hello and welcome to them, too. 

You never know, it could be your smile or welcome that sticks with someone for weeks to come!

Gather with a Small Group this Fall!
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Every week, we come forward and receive a bit of bread and a sip of wine or grape juice.  We call it Communion, the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist…but what do all these names mean?  Why does it matter that we have it?  Is it just because it’s tradition, the way we’ve always done it?  And why do we have it every week?   

Maybe you’ve wondered about these same questions.  Maybe you grew up in a tradition that celebrated Communion differently and you wonder why we at Abiding Presence do it this way.  Maybe you grew up Lutheran but don’t quite recall those long-ago confirmation days and what Luther said about Communion in the Small Catechism.  Maybe you don’t even really know all that much about Luther and have never heard of a Small Catechism!  Don’t feel too bad if that’s the case because prior to joining the Lutheran church, I would have said yes to both of the previous questions!  (Even after attending Luther College!)

These are some of the questions many of us have had and which we’ll be exploring together in small groups this fall. The small groups will meet at various times at leaders’ homes or at the church for five weeks to listen, share and reflect.  We’ll explore the what, why and how but also the bigger question:  What difference does Holy Communion make for our everyday lives?

Specific small group times and places will be announced in September and sign-up sheets will be available in the narthex and on our website.  This will be our 2nd small group experience at Abiding Presence; our 1st was during Lent this past year and we had over 50 people participate in 6 small groups!  Unlike Lent, this experience will not require reading a book…all you will need to do is show up! 

So sign up and try it out for 5 weeks and experience how God shows up when we gather around the table!

Peace,

Pastor Heidi

Extending Jesus' Table Into a Hungry World
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According to Fairfax County Schools, approximately 28 percent of students qualify for free and reduced-price meals.  That’s more than 1 in 4 students in our area whose families struggle to buy enough nutritious food to feed everyone.  Members of food insecure families worry about running out of food in their cupboards before their next paycheck and some even resort to eating less so that everyone in the family can be fed. 

How are we called to respond?  Well, Jesus commands us to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” so if I don’t have to worry about where my next meal is going to come from, shouldn’t I help my neighbor to do the same?  Jesus repeatedly responds to the hunger of the crowds with abundance, multiplying the loaves and fishes so that all are filled with food left over.  And every Sunday, we gather at the Lord’s Table, where all are fed, no matter their income or status. 

So at Abiding Presence, we follow Christ in serving our neighbor through many food ministries, including the Children’s Weekend Meal Program, in which we deliver packages of food and snacks to a local elementary school. There they are distributed to children who receive free and reduced meals at school during the week, so that they do not go hungry over the weekend. 

However, during the summer, these children are receiving neither school meals nor these bags of food.  So, in partnership with the PTA and school, we started a monthly “pop-up” food pantry this summer at the school. Although we have a food pantry at the church, we realize that some may not have the time or transportation to make it to Abiding Presence so instead of asking them to come to us, we are going out to meet them at a location that is within walking distance and in their neighborhood.  Jesus didn’t wait in the synagogue for people to come to him but instead, he traveled and went out to meet people wherever they were: in their homes, at the village well, around their dinner tables.  As His disciples, we are called to do the same.

So I invite you to be part of making a difference and serving our neighbor through our food ministries.  Help make our pop-up food pantry possible this month!  We’ll meet at 8:30 am at Abiding Presence to load food and tables and then we'll head to the local elementary school, where we'll setup shop from 10-11:30 am. Let Pastor Heidi know if you can make it for all or part of the morning, donuts and coffee will be provided! Together, we can serve and love our neighbors, being the church in the world and extending Jesus’ table to all.