DCUMC E-News: Mar 16-23, 2016
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Palm Sunday, March 20, 2016        
9:45 AM Sunday School
11:00 AM Worship

The Other Way

This moment on this road for Jesus feels both like the end and the beginning. Such are so many moments of our lives. A pilgrimage may reach
its destination but the hope, the wisdom, the lessons learned along the way have offered a new starting point for us. What have we learned and what transformation–what “other way”–are we called to in the name of right relationship in our lives?

Let us continue on our Lenten journey together in worship. Hope to see you on Sunday!

After Worship: Fellowship in Grant Hall (downstairs) with food and preparing bags for the Weekend Backpack Program.

12:30 PM Choir Practice in the sanctuary


Taize Worship Service, Wednesday, March 16, 5:30 PM.

Maundy Thursday
5:30 PM with Communion
Easter Sunday

9:30 AM Easter Potluck Brunch
Children's Easter Egg Hunt
11:00 AM Worship

SPIRITUAL RETREAT FOR LEADERSHIP, Saturday, March 19, 9 AM-5 PM at the Methodist Camp. Meet in the Lodge. Potluck lunch.
           All serving on committees are welcome!

Extend your Lenten journey by participating in this spiritual formation program for a different flavor of reflection: one of joy and fulfilled promises! Reflect and explore your spiritual gifts and see how they can work alongside the gifts of others in DCUMC, our community, and in the world. 

This spiritual formation program is a do-it-yourself program with an accountability group called Easter People Small Group that will meet on
Wednesdays, March 30-May 18, 6:30-8 PM with Soup and Salad dinner

Interested? Email Pastor.Engel.AK@gmail.com.

Thursdays at Northern Light United Church starting February 11-March 24, 12-12:50 PM.


SUNDAY, March 20, 5:15-7:15 PM at Northern Light United Church. 

Work day coming up for our room at NLUC! Tuesday, March 22, 9 AM- NOON, 2-4 PM.

Pad the Pews!
In 2016, Douglas Community UMC has committed to embodying God’s radical hospitality and welcome for all people through our words, thoughts, and actions. One of the first ways we can easily welcome people is by providing cushions for at least half of our pews in the sanctuary. Padding some of the pews will provide comfort for many different aches and conditions that the Body of Christ who gathers together in the sanctuary might have.
Let’s join together and pad the pews to take one of our first steps in making our sacred space more hospitable!10 pews, 10 cushions! With the cost of materials and local labor from our own Dick Hamilton, each pew cushion will cost approximately $260. Please contact the Church Office if you would like to contribute to making this vision coming to life.
Donate to the Mission & Ministry of Douglas Community UMC!
Worship This Week:
Sunday, March 13, 2016
Children: 7/35 (20%)
Church Calendar
Wednesday, Mar 16
5:30 PM Taize-Sanctuary
7:00 PM Scouts-Grant Hall

Saturday, Mar 19
9 AM-5 PM Spiritual Retreat for Leadership at the Methodist Camp

Sunday, Mar 20 (Palm Sunday!)
9:45 AM Sunday School
11:00 AM Worship

Holy Week:
5:30 PM Maundy Thursday Service

Easter Sunday Worship
9:30 AM Easter breakfast potluck
Easter egg hunt with children
11:00 AM Worship
To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Contact Information
Church Office

Pastor Melissa
(907) 500-5263
Have news to share? How is God showing up in your part of the world? Share your news with us! Contact Rev. Melissa Engel, pastor.engel.ak@gmail.com.
(Please keep your story to 200 words or less.)

Have a prayer request? Please contact Claudette Curtis atclaudette600@hotmail.com. If it is an emergency prayer request, please indicate.

Feasting on Last Week's Word...


Sermon: “The Free Way”

Sacred Texts: Isaiah 43: 16-19; Phil 3: 13-14

Rev. Melissa Engel

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Here we are in week 5 of our Lenten journey. We have wandered through the wilderness, blessed the travelers, wished each other “buen camino,” dreamed and imagined the possibilities God has for us, experienced God's all-encompassing love and grace that welcomes us and all to the table and back home into God's loving arms. We have followed Tom on his journey on the Camino to Santiago—getting the guts to start the journey, being courageous and humble to turn around and go on a journey into understanding of self and other, being surprisingly welcomed to a table.

Last week, Laura preached on the story of the prodigal son and the amazing welcome back home from his father and of the other son. In Tom's journey in “The Way,” a gypsy boy runs off with Tom's pack when he is in a pub and the great chase begins. Tom and his fellow pilgrims take off and try to run him down and the boy disappears. Disenchanted by this experience, Tom is determined to go home to America as soon as possible. He has lost the ashes of his son, the only thing that matters to him, and he is done. But just then, the father of the boy who stole Tom's pack appears in the bar and apologizes, handing Tom's pack back. There is apology and forgiveness. The man invites Tom and his fellow pilgrims to a party with his family and friends—they move forward together in the spirit of celebration. The next day, the father has his son carry Tom's pack to the edge of town where Tom and his fellow pilgrims continue on their journey. The boy understands what he has done by carrying the burden; yet he too gets to let it go, lay it down and move forward. This scene illustrates the grace-filled welcome and acceptance of each other despite the hardships when we make it right with each other and reconcile so we can move forward.

I share about this scene from the movie because there is no future without letting go. Without forgiveness. Today's scriptures are all about moving forward. Keeping on the journey despite the hardships. Making it right with each other and God. And deeming those moments as sacred.

In Paul's letter to the Philippians that we heard today, he talks about moving forward. A little earlier in the chapter, Paul mentions who he was and who he is now: he was a Jew, a Pharisee to be exact, who persecuted followers of Christ until he met Christ himself and changed from Saul to Paul that very day. He says that he had a lot going for him, he was considered very righteous, yet when he met Christ, he realized that all those things that made him righteous got in the way and didn't matter. They got in the way of his longing to be like Christ.

He is writing this letter from his prison cell, mind you, so when he speaks of moving forward, he is speaking metaphorically of our spiral-like journey to become one with Christ in this life. This imagery of a race comes from Paul's time: the chariot races at the first and greatest circus of all: the Circus Maximus in Rome. The charioteers HAD to be intent on the race. There is no way they could look back since one false move threatens their losing the race and possibly even their loss of life!

From his prison cell, Paul is able to encourage the church in Philippi to keep on keeping on their life journey. Think about this—this is really remarkable: Paul is writing from his prison cell and giving hope and encouragement to his brothers and sisters in Christ in Philippi. I can guarantee you that Paul had an easier life before Christ.

Actually, I was at a leadership event in Idaho a few days ago where I got to meet with other pastors and leadership members of churches. One of the speakers we got to listen to was Shane Claiborne who is known for living the way of Jesus. Really embodying the ways of peace and community. One of the things that Shane says is, “Jesus wrecked my life.” Meeting Jesus wrecked his life. Put a wrench in the way he was living, his priorities, who he was and he changed everything.

This was Paul's experience. Wrecked. Completely wrecked by Jesus, sitting in a prison cell for his journey to become like Christ, for the sake of Christ. Yet Christ is his strength, helping him to persevere. No looking back, no being nostalgic of the easiness of life before, the power he had before. And he is passing on this wisdom to the church, and now to us, to not dwell on the past.

However, that doesn't mean that the past should not be reflected on. The past, in fact, can transform our understanding of the present and the future all because God is.

Do you have those moments in your past where you can look back and see when God stepped in and wrecked you? Wrecked your old way? Whether it was one moment or the tapestry of our lives as a whole, we can at least find some way to see and talk about moments of death of self, death of our old ways and moments of transition and wilderness, and moments of new life, of a new way. These moments, these strung together woven moments in the tapestry of our lives, they are held and strung, they are woven by our God.

Our God who has been there; and if you don't see it, I invite you to think about who is God for you? What is your image of God? God calls us back to creation and deliverance through the prophet, Isaiah today. God's presence over the seas—over chaos. God parting the Red Sea and delivering the people of Israel from oppression. A God of steadfast love. Our God who is the Source and Giver of Life. Our God who sustains us and redeems us—welcoming and loving us throughout our whole journey, the things that we have been through, the times we have been turned around and don't see God.

We must look at our journey as a whole: to see God, to see where God has been in our past, to see how we have gotten through those hard times and moved past them, forward—since that is the only way, whether we go straight on the path or not.

I gotta say, of course there are detours on our paths. And those detours end up being the path itself: we learn more about God. About ourselves. About how to be in relationship. Being with the Board of Ordained Ministry for my interview this past week in my ordination process reminded me of how I describe my calling. Everyone else talked about their moment when they knew that they were called into ministry and I always described it as a path. A winding path with detours. With doors that slammed shut and windows that opened with possibilities.

I used to be nervous and ashamed that my life story sounds different than the stories of others, but it is my path. And a path, a process, is how I describe life and the faith journey into the Love of God. The process of discovering and living into God's grace that bears so much fruit in our relationships. The way you describe your calling in life, in God, is nothing to be ashamed of.

Whatever your path has been, I want to say that you are on your way and already there—God's love is here and now, wherever you are on the journey. Here, on this Sunday before Holy Week, Christ is almost to Jerusalem. We are almost to Jerusalem. Christ is almost past suffering, as are we. Christ is almost beyond the tomb, as are we. Christ is almost rising, as are we.

So, looking to the future where God is doing a new thing, we press on toward the Love of God. Yet, we know that we must acknowledge those things we are still holding onto. Those hardships. Those things that keep us looking back and dwelling.

The pilgrims on the Camino in the movie, “The Way,” came upon a cross and laid down rocks and other items to symbolize their laying down of their burdens. Laying down the things they better understand now because of the journey. And they did so at a sacred place, a marker like our spiritual ancestors made to God when they got to a place where they noticed God. It's time. Let's notice God and mark this place.

Today, we have the chance to come to a place of ritual reflection near the end of our Lenten journey. I invite you to take the stone you received when you arrived and to lay it at the foot of the cross. What have you discovered on your Lenten journey? Lay it down. What do you need to let go of in order to make room for new life? Lay it down. I invite you to press your intentions and burdens into the stones as you lay them down.

So, come. Come forward and lay down your burdens. Let go and let us make room for new life that is possible through our Living God, Christ who lives in our hearts, and the Spirit who loves and challenges us into life together. Come.



Let us pray the unison prayer in your insert:

Pilgrim God,

our shoes are filled with stones,

our feet are blistered and sore,

our faces are stained with tears.

As we stumble and fall

may we know your presence

in the weariness and the tears

and in the healing and the laughter

of our pilgrimage.

Unburden us from these weighty things.

Use these stones to pave new pathways

of love, of hope, of faith

through which we may travel with joy.

Release us and set us free to new life.