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On Pastor Katie's Mind...

Hi Tab,

I know we are a bit scattered as a community especially in July and August with summer breaks and travels. My hope is that all of you are getting some good opportunity for rest in these months. 

I know some of you were not able to be present for Oscar’s baptism in July, and so I thought I would share with you some words from the service because baptism is more about the faith community than it is about an individual. Baptism is about the importance of you being a part of this particular community where we work to remind each other in one way or another that we are named and claimed as beloved children of God. And we do this in resistance to the lies of the world that try to name us and claim us otherwise. 

Heather and I were so thankful for the beautiful service for Oscar. As Heather said, “We felt the love, the fire (96 degrees) and the renewing water of the Spirit. And we felt blessed beyond measure with a wide circle of family and community to help us raise our child in the path of love and justice.” We also give special thanks to Rev. Susan Teegen for leading the service with such grace and power. 

Below is an excerpt from the sermon preached at Oscar’s baptism as well as some photos of the even taken by Chris Baker Evens. 

May you feel God’s peace and rest this month of August and be reminded of your belovedness in God’s sight.

Pastor Katie  

Named and Claimed By God

Baptism without the church, without the community of faith, would make no sense. One of the promises we make as parents is to raise our child in the community of faith. 

This Heather and I know: That though we will make our promises to Oscar and to this church to raise him to follow in the way of Jesus Christ, to show love and justice, to resist oppression and evil, we also know that alone, we as parents will not be enough for Oscar to live into his full calling and identity as a child of God. The community of faith —the place where we are practicing resisting evil together, where we are growing together in our practices of justice and love – this is the context in which baptism unfolds in its meaning and fruitfulness.  

Oscar has two moms who love him to the moon and back. And his two moms are white and have never experienced what it is like to grow up as a child in the age of Trump, to grow up as a boy and later as a man (if he continues to identify himself in that way), and as a person of color. This world is going to teach him all kinds of things that I will hate, and that I know that we will want to resist. The world is going to teach him that to be a man means to show little emotion, that to be strong is to dominate and control others, and that violence and making lots of money is a way to solve problems and get ahead. And as a brown man, he’s going to learn from our white supremacist culture that he’s not valuable, that his body is threatening and criminal. He’s cute now, but when he’s 12, people may begin to fear him. I hate all of this, but I know these powerful forces of evil are real in our world. 

 
As a white person, I will never know what it feels like to be in Oscar’s brown body no matter how much I love him and try to understand. And though Heather and I will fight for him with every ounce of our being, we know Oscar will need people in his life who he can identify with, who look like him, who have experiences like he does, and who will teach him resilience as he experiences the evils of white supremacy first hand. And this is all another reason why baptism is not a private event. It has to be within the context of a faith community like this one. Because we, all of us, are asked to make our promises to nurture Oscar and teach him in such a way that he will know first and foremost his identity as a child of God. The world will call him other things, the world will try to make claims about him and label him, but we will claim that his primary identity is as a child of God. 

What are we claiming in baptism? Today we are claiming specifically, that Oscar belongs to God. That his name is known to God. We are claiming that the grace of God is already at work in his life, saving him before he is even fully aware of who God is. We are claiming that Oscar has a place and has belonging in the family of God. That his body and life is valuable. We are claiming that he has been given the gift of the Holy Spirit as his advocate, and that the Spirit now and forever will be an active and creative presence in his life, leading him into all truth. 

These are big claims to make. And the only way any one of us could ever really live into any of these claims, is through a community of faith where we are nurtured in our primary identity as children of God. And this identity is nurtured in resistance to the lies of the world that are constantly trying to name us and claim us. 

What I want you to know today, that baptism isn’t just about one person. It’s not all about Oscar. Baptism is about community. The community of Christ, the body of Christ. Baptism is about becoming a part of a beloved community of joy and of resistance as we follow in the way of Jesus. 

I find it significant that Jesus would not just request baptism for himself, but rather would demand it (Matthew 3:13-17). Did you know that Jesus needed community too in order to live into his identity as a child of God? He demanded that John baptize him because he said, “We must do this to fulfill God’s justice.” 

Jesus knew that he needed to be baptized. He needed not only community, but he needed to experience a kind of death, a death to the powers of evil. He needed to renounce his obligation to Rome, to Ceasar, and to Herod, and to be born again into new life, life in God’s kin-dom, where the requirements of citizenship are quite different from Rome’s requirements. Citizenship in the kin-dom of God is based on radical love, solidarity with the poor, redistribution of wealth, sharing of God’s gifts and resources, it’s based on forgiveness of sins, it’s based on caring for the flourishing of God’s creation. Jesus needed that personal transformation and he needed community, mentors, people who would help him live into that new life. 

As baptism was a new beginning for Jesus, so is it a kind of new beginning for Oscar. It’s the beginning of his life as a part of the church, the beginning of his life as a student and follower of Jesus. And the beginning of this new life is not a life marked by fear of the future or dread of the unknown. It is not marked by fear of the after-life, or fear of anything at all really. This new beginning through baptism is a beginning marked by an empowering force of the Holy Spirit. It is marked by a sure and certain hope that I am named and claimed by God as beloved. If we can start there, there is little to fear. 
A Note from Pax Ressler, Tab's Minister of Music

I'm excited to tell you that there are lots of ways that you can be involved with music at Tab! Consider singing with the TAB Songleaders, a group that rehearses before select Sunday services to add beauty and leadership to music and worship. This group helps the congregation learn new songs and enhance our music. If interested, there is absolutely no obligation to sing every Songleader Sunday—only when it works for you! Reach out to me with your interest and I'll make sure you are included in the email invitations. 

If you're an instrumentalist or vocal soloist, your gifts are very welcome in Sunday morning worship. Do you have an interest in playing prelude and offertory? Playing or singing with me on songs or special music? I'm grateful for your gifts and would love to find ways for you to share them with the Tab community. 

To contact me about these opportunities or to ask questions, don't hesitate to reach out to Pax (they/them) at paxressler@gmail.com. Thank you!
Council Corner
 
Council had a lively and wide-ranging meeting on July 9, beginning with Rev. McLeod's meditation/discussion on Howard Thurman's deception chapter.  In addition we approved Oscar's baptism, discussed raising rental rates now that we have air conditioning,  suggested a preliminary date of September 28 [Editor's Note: the date has been changed to September 21 due to a rental conflict] for the block party, agreed to a September 15 congregational meeting about the environmental discernment process, received a report on the status of the bathroom and elevator, and discussed Jennifer Jordan's extremely helpful letter to Council about mission giving.  Council appreciates your feedback to all our communication, and encourages you to respond when the spirit moves you.

What's Happening at Tab...

The next SKY (Still Kinda Young) gathering will be on Wednesday, July 31st at 7 pm. Join us for game night and snacks at Bukie and Nick’s. Feel free to bring your favorite game! Contact Bukie at bukadekoje@gmail.com or 973-997-2590. 

Environmental Action Team Discernment.  Council, at its July meeting, approved a proposal from the Environmental Action Team (EAT) to begin a discernment process in September to discover in what ways we, as a congregation, can become engaged in the ongoing environmental crises. EAT members will share with the entire congregation, following worship on September 15, plans for this period of discernment. This critical initiative will be similar to two earlier periods of discernment, one that preceded Tab's decision to become a Sanctuary Congregation and, again, later its decision to become a More Light/Open and Affirming congregation. Eloise Chevrier chairs EAT and Ginny Rice, Geneva Butz, Lee Pugh, Dick Fernandez, Bukie Adekoje, Deb Aherns, Lyn Denton and Susan Wargo fill out the Team.    

Bible Study:  The Bible Study group will meet on August 7 and 14 to discuss the texts listed below.  We meet at 5:30 pm in the community room. 

  • August 7: Isaiah 1:1, 10-20; Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16; and Luke 12:32-40
  • August 14: Isaiah 5:1-7; Hebrews 11:29-12:2, and Luke 12: 49-56
If you have any questions, please contact Jean Erb or Pastor Katie. Join us!
 

Important Dates
  • Jul 31 - Bible Study, 5:30-7pm in Tab Community Room
  • Jul 31 - SKY (Still Kinda Young) Gathering at Bukie and Nick's, 7pm
  • Aug 7 - Bible Study, 5:30-7pm in Tab Community Room
  • Aug 13-14 - Chelle on Vacation, office closed
  • Aug 14 - Bible Study, 5:30-7pm in Tab Community Room
  • Aug 14-25 - Katie on Vacation
  • Sep 15 - Congregational Meeting following service
  • Sep 21 - Joy & Justice Block Party
  • Oct 12th - Philadelphia Family Pride Conference, 9am-3pm
  • Oct 13th - Outfest Sunday, 11am-5pm
Tab.edu - Summer Hiatus
 
HAPPY SUMMER, TAB FOLKS!  During the summer, Deb Ahrens will be working on EDU programming for autumn 2019 and beyond. Please feel free to bring any suggestions to her attention for future sessions: very much appreciated and needed for EDU to continue!
 
August Service & Bulletin Roles


August Supporting Roles
 


August Communion Rotations
 

Tabernacle Church  Staff

Ministers ……………......................................................................................................TAB congregation
Pastor ………...…..............................................…..……….......................................Katie Aikins (she/her)
Minister of Music ….......................................................……..….........…........Pax Ressler (they/them)
Sunday School Teacher...............................................................................Nathalie Cerin (she/her) 

Nursery Caregiver …….............................................................…………………….Lisa Jacobs (she/her)
Office Manager .....................................................................…..........….............. Chelle Bruhn (she/her)
Sexton …………………….........................................................................……….. Patrick O’Brien (he/him)

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