The Great Three Days
A military chaplain washes the feet of members of the U.S. military. On Maundy Thursday, we remember Jesus’ commandment to love one another. As Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, we are called to follow his example as we humbly care for one another.  Photo Credit: ELCA Facebook Page

A military chaplain washes the feet of members of the U.S. military. On Maundy Thursday, we remember Jesus’ commandment to love one another. As Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, we are called to follow his example as we humbly care for one another. Photo Credit: ELCA Facebook Page

Tonight we enter into the Great Three Days as we take our final steps with Jesus to the cross and the grave. We know that Easter is coming, but first we enter into this most holy time of preparation. These are the holiest days of the year for those of us who follow Jesus.

I’m looking forward to journeying with you through these Great Three Days again this year. There are lots of opportunities for worship, so please take advantage of them! There are three services on Good Friday - 12:00 noon, 6:45 p.m. (Children’s Service) and 7:45 p.m. On Easter Sunday we will again worship at three services - 8:30, 10:00 and 11:15 a.m. (note that none of them are at our regular service times!). If you are able, please take advantage of the overflow parking at the Burke School and shuttle bus on Easter Sunday. If you cannot do the overflow parking, don’t worry. Come anyway! We’ll have spot waiting for you in the church parking lot.

When we say, “All are Welcome” at Abiding Presence, we really do mean all. So, bring your friends, your neighbors, the people you love and the people who may drive you a little crazy, too. Come! It’s going to be a great celebration on Easter Sunday as we proclaim with joy, “Christ is Risen!” Christ’s resurrection is good news for everyone!

But first…first come these next three days. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing in these coming days, I encourage you to pause. Sit. Breath. Pray. Read the story of Christ’s Passion (John 18:1-19:42). Be still and experience the holiness in the midst of all the ordinary around us. I promise, the joy of Easter will be much greater if you first take time to first journey to the cross and to the grave.

Easter Off-Site Parking
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GUESTS: Please feel free to park in our parking lot, located just off of Britford Drive. Tap here for maps and directions.

MEMBERS & REGULAR ATTENDERS: If you are able, please utilize our special Easter offsite parking at the Burke School parking lot to help welcome our guests!
Set your GPS to

9645 Burke Lake Rd, Burke, VA 22015 (tap for Google Maps)

From there, either take our shuttle bus (runs from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.) to/from the church building, or just walk on the sidewalk and cross Lee Chapel Road at the 7-Eleven (see dotted line on this map). We have hired an off-duty police officer to ensure everyone can safely cross Lee Chapel Road.

Easter is Coming!

For a reason I have long since forgotten, I mentioned the word “Alleluia” at one of our recent family meals. “Mom,” my daughter immediately scolded me, “You cannot say that. That’s a sin.” I tried to make the theological point of why it probably wasn’t nearly as much of a sin as she thought, but I quickly realized this was not a battle I was going to win. She had been taught that Lent meant giving up the word “Alleluia” everywhere, all the time, from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday without exception. My violation equated to a sin, without exception.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve missed “alleluia.” I’ve missed the joy it brings. By this point in the season of Lent, I’m ready to be done. Especially with Easter falling so late in April this month, I’m just ready to move on. Can’t we hurry this Lenten journey up already? Yet, the church year will keep us in Lent for two more weeks. Two more weeks of trudging along to get to the cross. We’re close, but we’re not there yet.

For many of us, this is probably a good thing for there is still Lenten work around the disciplines of Lent to be done. How have you been engaging the disciplines of repentance, fasting, prayer and works of love? What have you done fully? What do you still need time to be able to do? What aspects of the disciplines do you need to engage in order to be ready for the joy of alleluia on Easter morning? Think about it. Pray about it. Act on it. There’s still time! You don’t have to be ready for Easter yet.

Here in the church, we’re far from ready! We still need many of you to sign up to help make Easter morning possible. So, if you will be here Easter Sunday, please plan to lend a hand to enable the celebration.

Easter Sunday
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Sunday, April 21

8:30 a.m. - Contemporary Service
10:00 a.m. - Traditional Service
11:15 a.m. - Traditional Service
(with sign language interpretation)
9:30-11:30 a.m. - Petting Zoo on the Lawn

All are welcome! More information is available here.

Vacation Bible School
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July 8-12

Children ages 3 (and potty trained) through rising 5th grade are invited to join us for a week of fun and faith at Vacation Bible School. New this year! There are two sessions - morning or afternoon - from which you can choose. Registration is open!

Journey to Easter
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Sunday, April 7 from 3:30-5:00 p.m.

"Journey to Easter" is an event for ages preschool through 6th grade. Participants grouped together with like-ages will walk through the events leading up to Jesus' death and resurrection through crafts, snacks, and games. There will be a preschool group, kindergarten group, 1st-3rd grade group, and 4th-6th grade group all running independently, but at the same time. A parent must accompany preschoolers and kindergartners. Please sign up here. Contact Sara Dyson, Children and Family Minister, with any questions.

Get Involved on Easter Sunday
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As Abiding Presence continues our Lenten journey, we’re also in full planning mode for Easter Sunday…and…we need your help! In order to make Easter Sunday the festive, joyful and smooth-running morning of worship we want it to be, we need lots and lots and lots of members of our faith volunteer to get involved. Here are a few of the options of what you can do:

·       Sing with the adult choir. Even if you don’t usually sing with the choir, you can join them for Holy Week and Easter. More information, including the practice schedule, is available here or by talking with David Chavez, Music and Worship Minister.

·       Be a worship assistant. We need greeters, ushers, readers, assisting ministers, communion assistants, acolytes and crucifers for all three services. In fact, we need 63 worship assistants across our three services! Children are welcomed and encouraged to serve with a parent. Email Alissa Salamone, Volunteer Worship Coordinator, if you can help and what service you plan to attend.

·       Host the petting zoo. There are two shifts 9:30-10:30 and 10:30-11:30 for which we need hosts out on the lawn to welcome people to the petting zoo and hand out hand sanitizer. Sign up here.

·       Serve on the parking team. We need people in the parking lot at Abiding Presence to create a safe environment as they direct traffic, maximize parking and welcome people to the church. Sign up here.

·       Host the offsite parking. We have secured offsite parking at the Burke School, but we need people there throughout the morning to welcome people and direct them to the church. Sign up here.

·       Host the crosswalk. An off duty police officer will be at the intersection of Lee Chapel Rd and Britford Drive to facilitate safe crossing of the street and turning. We need volunteers to take shifts helping to host the crosswalk to support the work of the officer by asking people to wait to cross until the designated time. Sign up here.

Join the Adult Choir for Holy Week

Even if you don't normally participate in our adult choir, you are invited to be part of it for Holy Week and Easter. The choir will be singing on Palm/Passion Sunday (April 14) at the 11:00 AM service, Maundy Thursday (April 18) at the 7:45 PM service, Good Friday (April 19) at the 7:45 PM service, and Easter Sunday (April 21) at the 10:00 AM and 11:15 AM services!

All adults and high school youth are welcome to sing. Middle school youth can sing, too, with the Music and Worship Minister’s permission. Rehearsals (with snacks afterward!) to participate in choir for Holy Week are on:

Tuesday, April 9, 7:30-9:00 PM

Tuesday, April 16, 7:30-9:00 PM

Saturday, April 20, 10:00-11:30 AM

Sheet music and part-by-part practice tracks (for learning the individual voice parts even if you don't read music!) are available at AbidingPresence.net/music starting April 1. Questions? Talk to David Chavez, Music and Worship Minister, after church or email him.

Abiding in Burke through Lent (and Beyond)
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Cans of Fruit (14.5 oz. - 20 oz.)

Thank you so much for the generous support of our service ministries thus far!

During this season of Lent, we are “Abiding in Burke” as we continue to support and learn about our local service ministry partners. Each week we will collect a different item as a “work of love,” one of the disciplines of Lent. This weekend we will be collecting cans of fruit (14.5 - 20 oz. size) in the narthex to support the Abiding Presence Food Pantry & Neighborhood Food Pantry. One of our church members who is active with our food pantry ministries will be with us at the Abiding Table on Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. to share a bit about their ministry, how we are currently engaged in supporting it and how you can get involved.

Meredith KeseleyServe
Looking at our Core Values
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Connecting People to Christ through Community is the mission we share at Abiding Presence. It is our way of life as the people of God in this place. This mission is how we follow Jesus’ Great Commission to make disciples. (You can read Jesus’ Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20.) We live it out every day as we open our doors to enable connections to form among our neighbors with one another, the Abiding Presence community and Christ.

Last weekend the Church Council and I invited you to help us think about our core values as a congregation. As part of our year of “Making Firm the Foundation,” we want to intentionally think about what the core values are that will shape our discernment around ministry, staffing and facility planning. We distributed in worship as survey of 16 possible core values and asked the congregation to mark what they see as the top three core values for Abiding Presence. Three core values rose clearly to the top:

·       All Are Welcome

·       Family Centered (both “We are a Family” and “Bring Your Family”)

·       We are God’s Hands and Feet in the World

Coming out far above any others, All Are Welcome was lifted up by nearly 70% of those who responded as one of their top core values. When we say “all are welcome” at Abiding Presence, we really do mean all. No matter who you are, what your background or what your current situation might be, you are welcome in this community of faith. We invite you to get connected with the church, build relationships with other followers of Jesus and grow in your faith. We want you to invite others, knowing that they will be welcomed, too.  

Family Centered is who we are at Abiding Presence, both in the way we operate as a faith family and in the way we create a community where families of all different shapes and sizes are welcome. We are an intergenerational church where people of all ages are valued, engaged in ministry and seen as integral to the life of our community. Ministry with children, youth and families are one of our congregation’s strengths. Our worship seeks to provide an environment where families experience grace as they teach their children how to worship. (As a side note, I think “Family Centered” needs a bit of wordsmithing to wrap everything it means into a catchy phrase, so I would love to hear your ideas of better phrases to capture what this core value means.)

Our faith community understands our calling to be that We are God’s Hands and Feet in the World. This is a common phrase we use around Abiding Presence as we seek to serve God and God’s people. As the body of Christ in the world today, we are often the only hands God has to minister to a person or situation. Our feet might be the ones God is nudging to go to provide care. This year we are focusing on “every member serves” as a way to live out this core value across our congregation.

While these three core values hit the top of our quick survey in worship last weekend, I think there is another core value out there in our community that the survey didn’t quite capture. One of the things I will be working on in the coming weeks is how to best articulate it. So, stay tuned!

For those of you who participated in the survey last weekend, thank you! For those of you who didn’t have the chance, don’t worry! There will be more opportunities in the coming weeks to be part of the discernment as we together look to the future and go about the work of “Making Firm the Foundation” of Abiding Presence. I’m excited to see how the Holy Spirit will stir within us as the people of  God in this place.

Bridge-building through Music
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Last year, one of my (Dave’s) proudest moments as your Music & Worship Minister was helping lead Vacation Bible School crew of 4th-6th graders as they put on a sing-along-puppetry show for residents in the memory care unit of our local Sunrise senior living community. I was inspired, not just because this group of young people did a great job and comported themselves admirably (which they did!) but also because they did so out in the community, beyond our walls. I saw Christ in how they made music with and for folks outside their usual church family, and in the joy written on the faces of the residents.

One of my big-picture music/arts/worship ministry goals is to share more with those outside the four walls of our sanctuary. By this time next year, each of our primary music ensembles will have a new established tradition: at least once every year, we will either play/sing outside the walls of our building, or we will host a music event designed to welcome the community.

This Sunday evening at 7:00 p.m., a quintet of instrumentalists (Craig Fraedrich, Mike Dyson, Natalie Franke, Breanna Gromicko, and myself) will represent Abiding Presence at an interfaith concert in Annandale, and you're all invited! (Tap here for address and directions.) The theme of the concert is "Love Thy Neighbor," and will also include performances by Jewish, Buddhist, Baptist, Presbyterian, and Latter-day Saints ensembles. While we may not share the same beliefs and theology with everyone in attendance, we can certainly affirm a common commitment to loving one another.

My hope and prayer is that the music we make at Abiding Presence grows more and more into a bridge-building, Jesus-like-welcoming, connection-forming ministry. I see music-making as a vital way for us to break through the barriers that keep us from fully loving our neighbors. If you have ideas for ways you would like to help extend our music & arts ministries out into the community, please come and talk to me! You can find me after church, or email me (dave@abidingpresence.net). And even if you can't make it Sunday evening, please pray for our musicians and our community; may all grow to love more like the God who loved us first.

CoverDavid ChavezMusic
Midweek Lenten Worship
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Mondays from 12:00-12:30 p.m.
Wednesdays from 7:00-7:45 p.m.

There are two opportunities to take a pause out of your week this Lenten season for worship, prayer and reflection. Both services include Holy Communion. Come to one or both as part of your Lenten discipline.

Final Words
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We all know crucifixion is painful. It’s hard to even think about it without cringing in pain. Yet it wasn’t until I got to reading Adam Hamilton’s Last Words that I realized the implications of crucifixion on speaking. Hamilton explains that in order to speak from the cross, Jesus would have had “to pull himself up by the nails in order to expand the diaphragm to speak.” The pain he must have gone through to speak gives his final words great impact. They are words for us to take to heart as we think about what it means to be followers of Christ today.

If you haven’t already signed up, I invite you to join one of our small groups this Lent that will look at Jesus’ final words together. The small groups will run for five weeks beginning this coming week. If you’ve never participated in a small group or a Bible Study before, don’t worry! You’ll be in good company of people who are giving it a try for the first time. There’s no required preparation. You can read along chapter-by-chapter in the book if you would like. If not, you’ll still easily be able to jump into the discussion. If you’ve been looking for that “next step” in getting to know people at Abiding Presence and/or growing in your relationship with Jesus, the midweek Lenten small group experience would be perfect.

On Ash Wednesday we heard the invitation to the Disciplines of Lent - repentance, prayer, fasting and works of love. I encourage you to be intentional in your response to the invitation to add these disciplines into your life for the next six weeks in intentional ways. Joining a small group - even if it takes you a little outside of your comfort area - might be a great place to start!

Abiding in Burke through Lent (and Beyond)
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Coins (Noisy Offering)

During this season of Lent we are “Abiding in Burke” as we seek to support and learn about our local service ministry partners. Each week we will collect a different item as a “work of love,” one of the disciplines of Lent. This weekend we will be collecting coins during noisy offering to support the Shepherd’s Center of Fairfax-Burke. One of our church members who is active with the Shepherd’s Center will be with us at the Abiding Table on Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. to share a bit about their ministry, how we are currently engaged in supporting it and how you can get involved.

Pajama Sunday this Sunday
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This Sunday, March 10

The beginning of Daylight Savings Time and the loss of an hour of sleep can be a real bummer and make it hard to get up for church. This year, however, we’re making it something to celebrate. Join us for our first ever Abiding Presence Pajama Sunday! Kids (and adults if they want, too) are invited to wear their pajamas or other comfortable clothes to church and Sunday School. Sleep in, roll out of bed and come on over for worship. Daylight Savings Time is a Sunday you don’t want to miss!

Ash Wednesday Worship
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This Wednesday, March 6
Worship Services at 12:00 noon & 7:45 p.m.
Children’s Worship Service at 6:45 p.m.

The Lenten journey begins on Ash Wednesday with services of the imposition of ashes and Holy Communion.

The OWLs (Older, Wiser Lutherans) will meet following our 12:00 noon Ash Wednesday service. More information is available here.

The Children’s Ash Wednesday worship service is geared toward preschool and elementary school age children, although all ages of kids and adults are welcome to attend. There is a pizza dinner prior to the service at 6:00 p.m.

Meredith KeseleyWorship
All Are Welcome

Every Sunday Pastor Heidi or I stand behind the altar at the time of Holy Communion and offer the invitation, “This is the Lord’s Table and all are welcome here.” Most Sundays when I am behind the altar, you hear me say it twice so that I am book-ending the instructions on how to receive Holy Communion. Why? Because I want to make sure you don’t miss the message. I want to give it a minute to sink in so you realize that “all” means you. It also means those who you might not realize are welcome alongside you at the Lord’s Table.

Here at Abiding Presence, “all” really does mean all...everyone...no exception. Why? Because the communion table isn’t our table. When you get down to it, Abiding Presence isn’t really our church either. It’s Jesus’. It’s Jesus’ communion table and Abiding Presence is Jesus’ church. When we look at Jesus’ witness - his life, death and ministry - we see that the kingdom of God has come near for the sake of the world that God’s so loves. God’s desire is for everyone to believe in Jesus - everyone, without exception. In Jesus, God’s kingdom came near for you and for me, the faith and the not so faithful, the people we agree with and the people we don’t, the people we love and the people we strongly dislike (note: I didn’t use the word “hate”…remember last week’s sermon?). We are not the gatekeepers of the kingdom of God. That’s a position far over our heads best left to God alone! Instead, we are inviters to and proclaimers of the good news of Jesus, which is good news that God wants all people to hear. Our Lutheran proclamation that “all are welcome” is good news that needs to be shared.

I hope this week that you will take a few moments to prayerfully consider who in your life needs to hear the good news of Jesus. Who do you know that needs to hear that God’s love is for them? How might God be calling you to be an inviter to and proclaimer of that good news that Jesus came for them, too? Think about it. Prayer about it. Act on it. There’s a world out there that God loves and God wants to hear the good news of Jesus and we are the hands, feet and voice God has to proclaim it.

Mardi Gras Pancake Dinner & Silent Auction

Sunday, March 3
Music & Silent Auction: 4:00-5:00 p.m.
Pancake Dinner: 5:00-7:00 p.m.

Abiding Presence is celebrating Mardi Gras as we prepare to enter into the season of Lent. We’ll gather for a traditional pancake dinner. A freewill donation will be collected to support the work of our Dominican Republic Mission Team. There will also be a silent auction with over 100 items to support the Mission Team as well.


**Due to the anticipated weather at Shenandoah University, the Shenandoah Conservatory Jazz Ensemble Concert has been postponed until Sunday, April 28**

"Called to Serve" Time and Talent Survey
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“Called to Serve” Time and Talent Survey

God calls each and every one of us to serve. We are called to be Christ’s hands, feet and voice in the world today. Regardless of your age, ability or experience, God is calling and equipping you for service.   

Here at Abiding Presence, our vision is for every person in our faith family to be engaged in some form of service both in the church and out in the world. This year as part of our “Making Firm the Foundation” vision, we want to help ensure everyone is equipped to listen to God’s call. Further, we want to raise up service opportunities so that people can get connected. In order to do this and track our progress toward every member serving, we will be distributing a “Time and Talent Survey” to all adults and youth in 7th-12th grade. Elementary and preschool kids will have the opportunity to fill out a special form just for them in worship this weekend. We hope to have the surveys returned prior to worship the weekend of March 2/3 so we can celebrate our faith families’ commitments to service for this coming year.

 If you have any questions or would like the opportunity to talk further about listening to God’s call and/or service opportunities, please contact Pastor Keseley, Pastor Eickstat or any member of the church staff. All of us would love to talk with you and/or help get you connected with lay leaders in our congregation.

ENewsMeredith KeseleyServe