Easter at Washington Cathedral

by Pastor Tim White

What if I could promise you an Easter experience this year that would be so inspirational - so powerful that it would kick your life in gear!  An Easter that would engage all your faith emotions just like you hoped. An Easter Service that would be a great encouragement. Easter is God’s triumph over death, and we need to celebrate it. 

I love Easter Sunday when people greet one another with the words - “He has risen” and then we get to respond —"He has risen indeed!” A service with cute kids singing “Christ the Lord Has Risen Today” joined by the choir, instruments and congregation all turning it into a tender moment of triumphant spine-tingling faith. All followed by a re-enactment of the first Easter with the “Give Us Barabbas” scene, where the kids will be yelling “Give Us Jesus!”  You can see in their faces and written all over their countenance the impact of this simple story. The crucifixion comes alive by video shot by our beautiful waterfall. This year my sermon is a simple telling of the Easter to the children. (This is something that I am always working on as a grandpa and a pastor.)  Our praise band will lead us in emotion-filled joyful praise.  If ever I have needed an inspirational Easter service, it is this year. With most of the schools on Spring break this year, it is going to be tough. But with your help, we see a miracle happen.  Washington Cathedral needs a miracle. And you need one too, so what a combination.  Please come and bring your friends to this 60-minute experience in the Randy and Rod Re-creation Center. It is a huge building, so we have our work cut out to fill it up.

Of course, there are other events taking place at Washington Cathedral Easter this year.  Pastor David is going to have a delicious Easter breakfast starting at 8:00 – 11:00 am and again after the 11:00 Service.  An Easter Egg Hunt in our swimming pool is open to all the community at 2:00 pm on Saturday, with Pastor Becca White having a short, visitor-friendly Gospel message.  On Easter Sunday, right after the 11:00 am service, we will have a massive Easer Egg Hunt on the hill. As well as thousands of candy-filled eggs, there will be bounce houses and a carnival.  Of course, the kids will hear a short, creative story of the Good News of Easter If it rains, we will move this all inside.   We are so blessed as a church to be able have a contingent plan at our campus. 

At 7:00 am on Sunday, our Youth Pastor Josh will be preaching at the Sunrise Service in the waterfall sanctuary. Communion will be served and the sanctuary is beautiful with the cross scene in the waterfall. Easter Breakfast begins right after this service.

Friday night Pastor Linda will be preaching at our Good Friday Service which is a great time for our church family to all come to gather.  We are going to have a meditative time to remember the Stations of the Cross followed by an all-church communion.  And the choir will be performing to make it a very sacred service.

So, please come Sunday at 11:00 am. We need 1200 people to fill up the Randy and Rod Recreation Center, so we need your help.   The Brazilian Congregation will be packing out the Spirit Falls Sanctuary at 11am and the Korean Congregation will be in the Olympic Room so don’t get confused and miss this dynamic experience of a life-time all in English at the Recreation Center.

And bring a friend.

 

 

Give Me Jesus

By Pastor Tim White

They were the first words said by a freshman quarterback at Alabama after he shocked the world. And the Philadelphia Eagles kept repeating them after their Super Bowl win. Don’t you just love when some young man or woman begins their interview with the words:  First and foremost, I want to thank Jesus Christ for all he has done for me. I hope we, as Christ followers always keep fresh that same humble innocence in our lives. And I am sure that it has a debilitating impact on our best intentions when we lose it.
I can’t tell you what it means to a grandpa to see faith in Jesus Christ growing in young grandchildren.  It means everything to me.  I know the standard is high for our generation to model authentic faith and that is a challenge I wrestle with every week of my life.  Since we have been on this series on The Prayers of Jesus, our church has been memorizing the Lord’s Prayer and saying it almost every Sunday for those who are just memorizing it.  We are following the new version that Pope Francis had pioneered because, as many Protestant Theologians and Preachers have pointed out, the traditional form was a bit misleading when it said, “lead us not into temptation.”  The Book of James makes it clear that God never tempts us.  Instead many Protestants and Catholics are praying the French translation “let us not fall into temptation.”  Just a minor change that most people probably understood anyway.  But for me it is a delight because every time my grand-daughter sees me she says, “I wanted to pray your favorite prayer GP.”  And then with the sweetest voice she prays the Lord’s Prayer and my heart just bursts with faith and joy. 

This week I will be sharing the beginning of a new series as we look at the powerful gospel that is the hope for the world … our only hope.  I have entitled it “Give Us Jesus.”   Many people are rejecting Christianity as a religion, but they really don’t know who Jesus is.  My sermon this week is about the events preceding Easter and I have entitled it First and Foremost.  I am so inspired with the beautiful stories of Jesus that I want to yell at the top of my lungs from a mountain top…”Give us Jesus!”  So, ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves to be inspired.

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White
 

State of the Dream

By Pastor Tim White

I had a moment. It was a moment which stood out from all the other moments in my life. In this moment, all of life seemed fresh and new. God’s power was so apparent that all my fears and doubts were changed by the faith that God was pouring in my heart.  I was walking around the campus with my loyal dog Captain Gus.  It was a Saturday night after a beautiful Worship Service in front of the waterfall. Do you ever have moments where time stands still, and you can see life with a perspective that was hidden from you before?  Of course, we all have.  When you decide to get married, or a baby is born or your first day of high school.  We all have those moments - we just don’t have enough of them.

On this walk, after I had spent time singing hymns and looking into the stars, I could see the future of Washington Cathedral and the dream to Build a Great Caring Network.  I thought, let’s have a banquet - I need to share this with everyone who really cares about this dream. When I shared it with the pastoral staff, the banquet turned into Weekend Worship Services.  No renting a big ball room in a fancy hotel or bringing in a big-named music band like Jesus Culture or a big-named speaker like Bill Hybels.  No! we would serve a light meal at the Saturday night service and a big breakfast between the 9:30 am and 11:00 am worship services. So, Saturday night at 5:30 pm, Sunday at 9:30 am and Sunday at 11:00 am services I will pour out my heart.  Of course, our music team will make the music great and our staff will make the experience unforgettable with a slide show and testimonies about the impact of this great dream. I will then share what God had put on my heart.  I will address the exciting future for our church as we grow into God’s plan.

If you believe in the dream of Washington Cathedral, please be there this weekend.  You will be inspired and quite frankly, we need you. My sermon will conclude the series of Jesus’ Teaching on Prayer with the sermon, “My House shall be a House of Prayer.”   I expect it to be one of the best sermons that I will ever preach in my life.  We will see you there my friend.

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White

Prayer Motivates the Unmotivated

by Pastor Tim White

Last holiday season I was sitting around with my grown children and they were teasing me about the way I had raised them.  I took Elise surfing before she could swim.  I was so excited for her to learn and to share this experience with her.  Fortunately, we made it through a bunch of close calls without a horrible accident.  I taught them to climb mountains, drive cars in snow storms, catch fish, do homework, read defenses in football.  And a lot of other useless things that we all now laugh about.  But there was one thing that surprised me.  They all said they were so glad that I taught them to build a fire when it was almost impossible to start one.  My son said, “The first time I went hiking with friends I was shocked that no one else seems to know how to do that.”  I laughed, but they were all serious that building and starting a fire in difficult situations was the one useful lesson I had taught them.

Well, starting a fire in a rainstorm, or in a blizzard or without matches, takes a lot of patience.  Giving up is not an option.  It reminds me of learning how to pray.  It is a life-time pursuit.  This week I am preaching on how prayer motivates the unmotivated.  My text is the “High Priestly Prayer” of Christ in John Chapter 17. It is going to be a great message. I am enjoying it even now as I am studying for it and talking about it with my colleagues.

 “Prayer is a conversation within a relationship.” 

We are going to learn a lot this week about how to enrich our prayer lives and to grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ. If nothing in our series has begun a blazing fire in your prayer life yet … don’t give up.  We are going to keep studying God’s Word and lifting our inner spirit to the God of the Universe until that wildfire is roaring with light and heat.  This may be the most important thing that you learn under the teaching of Washington Cathedral.  I pray that this wildfire of authentic prayer multiplies throughout our church as we look at Jesus’ teaching on prayer in the Gospels.

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White

 

Prayer that Transforms Darkness

by Pastor Tim White

Nighttime at a hospital is rough when you are recuperating from a major illness or setback. The hospitals can get busy and you can feel so alone, and your fears can be magnified by every ache, pain or sorrow-filled thought. I guess that is why for three generations my grandfather, dad and I have spent the night at the hospitals with people who are really struggling. And there are some benefits. Almost every time I am a patient in the hospital the staff thinks I work there because they see me so often.  So much so, that at times we have had to be persistent in order to get our bill. 😀

I have heard time and again from young pastors that the days of pastors spending their time caring for people in the hospitals are over. As a matter of fact, many seem to boast that they don't do hospital visits at all. I was musing with one person in health care and they told me "I don't know of any other pastors nowadays that spend the night with dying people at the hospital." I said, "Well, to me it has always been a blessed adventure and I don't know any other way to authentically be a pastor." We even had one large church in our area call and ask us if they could refer all their hospital visits to us. It seems there's a new generation of churches arguing that it is just not worth their time.

All of this was going through my mind as I was recovering from knee replacement surgery, hoping to be better than ever. But I had some rough nights, reaching those low points that bring dark thoughts like: "Why had I spent the last 43 years ministering to people in hospitals when many of them never expressed their appreciation?" But God wouldn't leave me alone to have such a pity party.  He spoke to me in two-way prayer saying, "This ministry has been for ME and I've used you to bring comfort and hope to numerous people through the years.  Remember to thank me always, for this honor!"

There is a prayer that transforms darkness.  And this week I am going to teach on the amazing Biblical idea of the Mount of Transfiguration.  Most of the best commentaries written on this section of the synoptic gospels are by Popes before they even became Popes, so knowing their history is helpful.  This is just a fascinating area of Biblical inquiry - I think we are all going to learn something new that will impact our lives and the lives of those we touch in the community. 

I have been in the darkness watching Wheel of Fortune 😀 and sent out a prayer asking God to transform the darkness.  Please join us this week.  It's been a long winter. We all need a powerful, practical message from the scripture that transforms the darkness for us- please join me and bring a friend.

Diving into Prayer

by Josh Zappone

Here’s the thing, compared to some of you reading this post I am a prayer novice. There are several people at Washington Cathedral who I consider to be prayer warriors and giants, who I have so much to learn from. Though I have been praying for most of my life, I still struggle with it at times, and sometimes feel like I “suck” at prayer.

Rather than saying I “suck” at prayer, it would be more accurate to say I struggle with the discipline of prayer. I’ve never been the most disciplined or organized person, and I have often felt that may be hindering my prayer life. Still, I have this thirst inside me longing to reach those depths of prayer that I read about or see in other people at the church.

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; 
my soul thirsts for you; 
my flesh faints for you, 
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 

Ps 63:1 (ESV)

I am willing to bet that there are many people out there that feel a frustration with their own prayer lives, who desire more intimacy with God, who try this and try that but still struggle.

I have some great news for you. Be discouraged no more. Take it from someone who has experienced this first hand.  Here is the first step to help you break through that prayer wall.

Stop comparing, start praying.

If you feel like your prayers are lacking, if you feel like you are failing to pray the way you should, or if you simply have fallen into a rut where your prayers are rote and not bringing you closer to God- stop comparing! There are so many great teachers on prayer and great practices that we can take up. SO MANY! You could read about prayer for years! 

I think we have the temptation to make a “mountain” out of the spiritual discipline of prayer. We see the greatness and the height of it and it is intimidating. Can I ever attain such a prayer life? It’s like seeing the massive but glorious undertaking of backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail… You could dream about it for years! You could buy the gear and read the blogs and then never set foot upon the trail. All this thinking about prayer can lead to a discouragement where you abandon the depths of prayer that transforms your life.

When it comes to prayer I cannot look first to the many others who have come before me. I am not going to be a Brother Lawrence or an A.W. Tozer. I am going to be Josh. Your prayers do not need to sound like the polished prayers of Paul or Jesus. I am going to look first to Jesus as it says so perfectly in Psalm 63, “earnestly I seek you”. That is the simplicity of prayer. It is Josh and Jesus. 

I would challenge you to think of prayer as a vast ocean and not a mountain. There are great depths to prayer and a vastness that allows you to simply seek Jesus without hesitation. It will be a lifetime of exploring and going deeper

My encouragement to you this week is to pray. Let nothing hold you back. Jesus is waiting for us to abide with him- to find ourselves in him. Let your journey of prayer take the path it will take, maintain that thirst you have for God, and humbly stop comparing your prayers to others. Give yourself freedom to pursue God and understand that you are diving into an ocean of unknowable depth and richness and you are not alone. 
 

Prayers That Refresh Best

By Pastor Tim White

The movie "The 15:17 to Paris" is the real-life drama of three Americans and one French citizen who saved over 500 people from a terrorist armed with an AK47 and a handgun.  Clint Eastwood directs it and it seems to come from a Christian perspective. It's the story of three young men who had been life-long friends and how two of them, who were serving in the military, had been preparing all their lives for such a moment as this.  In fact, at one point in their childhood these boys kept getting in trouble so were thought to be troubled kids. However, their single mom's answer back to the school principle was that "their God was bigger than any problem."  And he was, because those troubled boys all grew up to be outstanding young men.  As you may know from the News story -- They disarmed the terrorist and put him in a sleeper hold.  And then applied first aid to save another man's life who had been shot.  At one point the three young men tell the wounded passenger that he could die, and they asked him if he wanted them to pray for him.  It almost comical but the man and his wife say - "No Thanks".  When Jackie and I watched this on our Valentines date the whole theater laughed in response to that line.  

Sometimes we know we are in need but the last thing we want is someone's mistaken view of prayer.  This man was more afraid of an unknown prayer than the tragedy he was going through.  And I think the audience laughed because we could all relate to that in some small way.  As followers of Jesus we would, of course, say please pray for me.  But there is still that misguided prayer that we all are concerned about.  The prayer that stresses us out.

This week I will be returning to the pulpit after my knee surgery and I would appreciate your prayers for my continued healing. I am going to be sharing from the words of Jesus on prayer and meditation.  I call it the Prayers that Refresh Best.   There is a difference between stressing yourself out by praying all your fears instead of being in authentic conversation with a personal God in which you receive strength, thanksgiving, joy, and encouragement. God hears your prayers and has something to say to your inner soul in order to refresh you.  Please join me this weekend.

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White

Pause

by Pastor Becca McCary

Prayer fascinates me. It's so simple that anyone can do it. All prayer consists of, at its essence, is to be in the presence of God. Even babies in the womb can sense God's presence and dance with joy, in a prayerful state. Prayer is so ubiquitous even atheists often find themselves praying when they are truly in need. Prayers like The Lord's Prayer that Jesus taught his disciples are memorized and recited by countless individuals. 

Any yet, prayer can be remarkably toilsome, elusive, and intricate at other times. It's in these moments when prayer is the most fugacious and difficult to achieve that I'm reminded that prayer is much more of a dynamic relationship than a static pious act. 

This week I get to preach on the Lord's Prayer and this prayer in particular I find it difficult to pray with a sincere heart unless I'm really investing in my relationship with Jesus. It's a good barometer for me in my faith. When I pray "our father", do I feel a sincere connection with God as the one who cares for me and provides for me? When I pray "Your will be done" I have to ask myself if I've actually been letting God lead my life lately or have I been too busy? 

To pray the Lord's Prayer with a sincere heart takes a lifestyle of turning to Jesus. I found this anonymous quote that really spoke to that sort of attentive heart... "Practice the pause. When in doubt, pause. When angry, pause. When tired, pause. When stressed, pause. And when you pause, pray." The humble act of pausing throughout my day, to turn my heart to Jesus, brings so much more depth to my prayer life. Prayer becomes so much more engaging and powerful when I think of it less of a routine and remember that I'm checking in with a real person who is King of my life.

Still, I believe Jesus put it best when he spoke in Matthew 6 saying:

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. "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.

What Is It About A Name?

By Pastor Linda Skinner

Our lives changed enormously when we added a little 7 week old 4 lb Cairn Terrier puppy to our family last November.  We had no idea what challenges, joys and lessons God had in store for us with the addition of this little bundle of fur, energy and needle-sharp teeth.  As we prepared to go pick up our puppy, one of the big decisions is what do we name him.  When he was born the breeder put a cobalt blue Velcro collar on him, so the only designation he had was “cobalt blue” and we decided that sounded like a name from some Science Fiction movie.

Since he is a breed that originally comes from Scotland, we wanted a name appropriate for his heritage.  We had a list of names and decided that when we met him and saw his personality, we would know for sure.  Years ago, we had a cat named John Barclay and he was a combination of love and a bit of the devil.  So, we were leaning toward Barclay.  Cairn terriers are known for having a loyal, but extremely energetic kind of temperament.  Very loving and yet all terrier (some say like a “terrierest”).

When I walked up to the kitchen pen at the breeder’s house, there was six of the cutest little balls of fur clamoring for my attention. Over the top of them climbed a little guy with a “cobalt blue” color.  His eyes were fixed on mine and it was like he was saying – “forget all of those others, you have eyes for me only.” At that point we knew right away, that was Barclay and he looked like a little Bear cub so his middle name became “Bear”. “Barclay Bear” has lived up to his name.  He can the sweetest little guy you have every met and he can be the most challenging pup ever.

Within two weeks we knew we needed training help.  Our vet helped us by providing a list of recommended trainers.  We learned quickly that the first thing that was essential was for Barclay to learn his name – for his safety and for our piece of mind. So, our first task was to train him in name recognition. We were also told that we should never use his name to correct him, his name should only be used to praise and show love.  Correction words are “don’t, no and ah!ah!”  His name should be something that he feels good about all the time.

Isn’t it interesting how similar our human response is to our name.  We love to hear our name and we love it even more if it is used in a positive way.  If it is used too often in a scolding or negative way, we start to ignore and even dislike our name being used. I think God was teaching me a lesson in preparation for this weekend.

This weekend, while Pastor Tim is recuperating from his knee surgery, he assigned me the next sermon in our Soar, Run, Walk series as we explore Jesus teachings on prayer.  John 14:13-14 Jesus tells his followers, “You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.  Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!”

 What is it about Jesus name?  His father, God the creator, assigned him that name.  His name has been used to “bless” and to “curse”.  His name brings great joy to some people and great anger to others.  I hope you can join me this weekend to explore with me what it is about the name of Jesus that makes it so special. 

Look forward to seeing you.  Blessings on your day,

Pastor Linda Skinner

PS  I promise we’ll be finished in plenty of time to catch all the Super Bowl festivities and commercials.

When Trust and Fear Co-Exist

By Pastor Becca McCary

Love me for it, hate me for it, or don’t give a care about it, if you know me well, you know I struggle with anxiety. Though I’ve always struggled with it to some degree, it’s gripped me in a new way in the last couple of years. A big part of this was becoming a mom and feeling the weight of love I have for my kids. If anything serious were ever to happen to them, my heart would really struggle with that. Another big part of my anxiety is simply growing up as I come to terms with my own limits and lack of ability to control certain outcomes in life. Despite my sincere love for Jesus, too often I struggle to trust him at the core of my being.

That’s what catches me off guard about the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. I can’t seem to wrap my head around Mary and Martha’s response to their brother’s death. This great tragedy befalls them, and they are so honest with their grief. They even blame Jesus to his face... “Lord, if you would have been there, our brother wouldn’t have died!” Just breaths after uttering her words of honest grief and blame, Martha precociously expresses her unwavering trust in Jesus. 

How?!! How can they love so deeply? How can their hearts be so broken? And still, how do they bring their suffering right to Jesus’ face and choose to trust him? Was it all the time they had spent sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to his teachings? Was it all the meals they had eaten with him in their home? Was it all the miracles they had witnessed?  

Grief and anxiety are often tied together. There is fear of change, fear of the unknown, and overwhelming emotions. The story of Lazarus captures all of these emotions so well. There is weeping, and yelling, shock, and a whole myriad of other emotions taking place among dear friends and family. Most of us can relate to these intense emotions at some time in their lives.

What encourages me most in this passage is not the piety of Mary and Martha, though it is beautiful and admirable. What encourages me most in this passage is seeing Jesus’ reaction to Lazarus’ death.

Reading through John 11:1-45, Jesus is so Divine, knowing exactly what the future will hold for Lazarus’ healing. He is so confident of the future good that he almost seems cold. But when he goes to be with the grieving family, he is filled with immense emotion over Lazarus’ death, weeping, and even shouting. He is so human.   

Too often I’m afraid to be as human as Jesus. Any negative emotion I feel... sadness, fear, anger, regret, I try to numb it, and stuff it down by staying busy and productive. But in the process of suppressing negative emotion, I inadvertently suppress the good emotions too, like joy and trust. I can be a coward towards my own feelings at times. But Jesus is so courageously human, allowing himself to feel the full weight of grief. Reading this story, it’s like Jesus is giving me permission to be human too, to feel whatever it is I’m afraid to fully express.

And simultaneously Jesus reminds us that he has good plans for us that stretch beyond the grief. Jesus is in control, so we don’t have to be. We can let go. We can feel. We can trust. Because, as we see in the story of Lazarus, Jesus is the resurrection and the life. He works miracles greater than we can ever see or imagine. Death still happens. Bad things still happen. But even through all the pain and emotion that we experience in our humanity, God is in control, pouring out so many blessings in our lives, including the gift of eternal life. For me, on my most anxious days, that is a great comfort. I hope it’s a comfort for you too. 

As you listen to this song below, please take a moment to allow yourself to be as human as Jesus, feeling whatever it is you feel. And at the same time, invite your heart to trust a bit deeper, our Good God, who is the resurrection and the life.

“Be Still My Soul” by Kari Jobe