Author Archives: Megan Klose

Job Opening – Director of Music Ministry

We are looking for a new Director of Music Ministry.

Purpose of the position

The Director of Music Ministry (DMM) is responsible for the supervision, development, and direction of all sacred music ministries of the Church. The DMM is also responsible for accompanying choral and corporate singing on piano and, if possible, organ during Sunday worship and special worship services.

The incumbent will strive to support the overall mission goals of the congregation while developing engaging and diverse musical offerings. The DMM will contribute to the church’s overall ministry, utilizing music ministries to promote Christian growth and enhance its mission and outreach. The DMM will also foster community that promotes the fellowship and nurture of every member.

Responsibility

  • Plan music for all worship services, including special services (Advent, Christmas Eve, Holy Week, Easter, etc.), based on direction from the Head of Staff and Relationship with God Elder Panel. Select a wide range of musical styles consistent with the PC(USA)Directory for Worship that is responsive to the varying musical preferences and abilities of the congregation.
  • Conduct rehearsals and musical offerings of the adult choir (1 hour/week).
  • Direct and/or collaborate with others in directing Children’s and Hand Bell Choirs (1 hour/week). This includes coaching, directing, mentoring, and recruiting.
  • Teach and demonstrate music theory, technique, and interpretation to the various choirs and groups.
  • Provide opportunities and support for musicians of different instruments and skill levels.
  • Schedule substitute musicians when DMM is on vacation, or choir is on summer hiatus.
  • Participate in staff, Session, and other meetings as requested by Head of Staff.
  • Plan and coordinate special musical events with the approval of the Head of Staff and/or the Relationship with God Elder Panel.
  • Develop and maintain a professional improvement plan to keep current with varied genres and formats of sacred music.
  • Organize and maintain CPC music library.
  • Recommend and ensure the maintenance and repair of church music ministry resources including organ, piano, bells, robes, etc.
  • Other responsibilities as assigned by Head of Staff, Relationship with God Elder Panel, and/or Session.

Knowledge and Skills Required

Personal Attributes

  • Commitment to Jesus Christ.
  • Good verbal and written communication skills.
  • Flexibility to consider, assess, and implement new and innovative methods and programs to enhance the music ministry and worship of the church.
  • Effective planning and organizational skills.

 Technical Competencies

  • Proven interpersonal and leadership skills.
  • Proficiency in piano.
  • Proficiency in organ desired.
  • Experience in vocal and instrumental music direction.
  • Skill in choir training and appropriate music selection.
  • Proficiency in hand bells desired.
  • Desire to expand technical abilities to meet the dynamic needs of the music ministry.

Desired Expertise

  • Experience as a Director of Music or church accompanist desired.
  • Familiarity with Presbyterian Church (USA) worship desired.

This position pays $30/hour and requires approximately 15-20 hours/week. More hours will be required during the seasons of Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter.

Send resume and letter of interest to pastor@cpcfairfax.org.

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January 12, 2020

Baptism of the Lord
Matthew 3:12-17

All her life, my friend Laura had dreamed of being a doctor, like her parents. In her senior year of college, she had many med school applications to complete and essays to write. This was back in the days before unified applications — or even the internet — and each one had to be done individually.

The essay question for Case-Western was, “What is the most important thing you learned in college?”

What is THE most Important thing you learned in college.

Ridiculous.

Laura was understandably freaked out. How to distill 4 years of study and experience into one thesis sentence?

She polled all of us: What is the most important thing you’ve learned in college? What is the most important thing you’ve learned in college?

Most of us were not very helpful.

“Never take an 8:00 class.”

“Get a single room if you can.”

Laura fretted and exercised. She meditated and kept a dream journal. She second guessed herself.

“Why did I minor in Art History?” she moaned. “What medical gem did I miss because I took Art History?”

Then, one morning Laura came to breakfast all smiles.

“I figured it out,” she said. “The most important thing I learned in college is how to learn.”

We all “ahhhh”ed in amazement. It was the truth. Learning to learn was the most important thing we had all learned.

Laura got into the med school of her choice. She became a doctor. Then she became a psychiatrist. Then she became a pediatric psychiatrist. As she encountered challenges, roadblocks, speed bumps, and even inspiration, her mantra was, “I can do this. I know how to learn.” She continues to learn from her patients and their families to this day.

Some people think of baptism the way we tend to think of academic degrees. You go to school for what you want, you get your diploma, and you’re done, ready to live happily ever after.

Baptism? Check. Confirmation, maybe? Check. Religion and faith all set until you need to get married or be buried.

But finishing a degree is never the end. It’s the springboard for the next thing. Preparation.

Likewise, today’s story of Jesus’ baptism shows that being a Christian is never “done.” Baptism is just the beginning. And — spoiler alert — there is no happily ever after, at least, not in the way we imagine it.

The last time Matthew talked about Jesus was to say that his family fled to Egypt to escape Herod, Herod died, and the family moved to Nazareth, in Galilee.

Today’s passage is preceded by a description of John the Baptist. Chapter 3 begins, “In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’” (3:1-2) John is offering a baptism of forgiveness of sins, absolution after confession.

He also says, “After me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

Cue Jesus.

When Jesus walks up to be baptized, and John protests: “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” (v. 14) Jesus says, this is what is to be done, so let’s just do it.

As soon as Jesus comes up out of the water, the heavens open, the Holy Spirit lands on him like a dove, and a voice from heaven says, “This is my Son, my beloved. With him I am deeply contented.”

With this story Matthew establishes Jesus’ identity. There is John’s foreshadowing of the Son of Man. Then there are supernatural events: the sky splits, a spirit descends, and, in case that weren’t enough, a voice says, “This One. This is The One.”

Prior to this, Jesus hasn’t done much of anything. And yet, God claims him as his Beloved, and announces that God is deeply contented with Jesus.

There is no turning back for Jesus. Once God has declared you to be a Son in front of witnesses, there is only forward. Forward into ministry. Forward into preaching and healing. Forward into confronting an unjust system of government and unfaithful management of religion. Forward to the the passion and death on the cross and resurrection.

In fact, the very next sentence that follows is, “Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” (4:1)

For us, baptism allows us to imagine living into the people God made us to be. In our Reformed tradition, we understand baptism to be a sign and symbol of God’s claim on us as God’s children. That’s why we baptize babies. Baptism isn’t about us choosing God. It’s about God marking us as God’s own with water and the Spirit. God loves us and is well pleased with us even before we’ve done anything because God is loving and created us good.

The sacrament we practice in the church is a corporate act of a community welcoming a new member. Every time we baptize someone, we all reaffirm the vows we made — or someone made on our behalf — at our own baptism. Baptism is our launch pad, our first equipping that helps us remember who we are, and whose we are in this secular world.

Because, as Karoline Lewis says, baptism assumes wilderness.[1]

I’m always kind of wistful this time of year because just last week people were bringing the baby Jesus birthday presents, and boom, this week he’s all grown up. His public life begins with his baptism, and we know it doesn’t last long or end happily. The first time, anyway.

But it’s important that Jesus’ ministry begins with baptism. It is his fortification. He immediately heads out into the desert to be tempted. When the devil whispers in his ear, “If you are the son of God,” Jesus can cut him off with his mantra, “This is my Son.”

Likewise, our lives are constantly in flux between OK — great, even — and the next difficulty. We believe and teach one thing at home, then send our children out into the wilderness to fend on their own. We live in families with like-minded people, and work in a diverse world of divergent viewpoints and values.

This is why baptism is not personal, and neither is wilderness. None of us is alone. None of us could possibly make it alone.

Renewing our baptismal vows, sharing in the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, hearing the Word proclaimed all build us up. Like a candle wick being dipped repeatedly in wax, we are built up, fortified to walk God’s way every time we share in the corporate life of the body of Christ.

We need to come to church, we need to learn scripture, we need the witness of community because then we learn God’s truth in our bones.

And that truth is that we are never alone. When the Hebrews wandered the desert with Moses, they had each other. When Jesus was in the desert, he had the Spirit. We have the community of baptism.

In baptism, we are equipped to live into who God calls us to be despite all the “despites” — despite peer pressure, economic pressure, political pressure, expediency, or convenience.

When Madison Avenue tries to tell us, “You need a bigger, better fill in the blank,” we have “With you I am well pleased” as our mantra.

When we are crippled by guilt or self-loathing, we have “You are my beloved” as our mantra.

When we are desperate and lonely, we have “You are my child” as our mantra.

In baptism, we are publicly identified as God’s children. We can turn our backs on that truth, but we can’t make it not true. It will always be true that, no matter what we face, we are accompanied by the Spirit, and carried in prayer by our family in Christ. Sometimes we are even helped in physical ways by our fellow incarnate beings. And in our work as members of the body of Christ, we accompany, pray for, and help others.

So friends, remember your baptism and be glad. Remember that we are all God’s beloved, no strings attached. May we fulfill God’s vision for each of us.

Now to the One who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

[1] Karoline Lewis, “You Are All My Beloved,” www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?post=4790,
accessed January 8, 2020.

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January 5, 2020

Epiphany
Matthew 2:1-12

We celebrated New Year’s Eve last week. Does anyone have a New Year’s resolution?

We are all familiar with the usual ones: eat better, get control of our finances, spend more quality time with people we love …

I always have one resolution. It’s a wish, really. A prayer. I hope to be a better disciple. To live more fully into a Christ-like person.

Please don’t roll your eyes and think I am sanctimonious.

“Of course the pastor says she wants to be more God-like. Why can’t she just want to lose weight like everybody else?”

Well, I would like to exercise more regularly. Actually, I would like exercise to happen to me so I don’t have to actually be there.

But I really do want to be a good disciple, an effective pastor, and a purer conduit for the Holy Spirit.

I bring this up because today we are observing the feast of the Epiphany.

In colloquial terms, “epiphany” means a revelation or a sudden, life-changing realization. Epiphanies often happen in a dramatic way. An “a-ha” moment, like Newton figuring out gravity or Martin Luther realizing that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone.

In liturgical terms, Epiphany, with a capital “E,” is the story of the Magi finding the Christ child – the first Gentiles’ “a-ha” moment when they realize that God has come among us. As a baby.

It’s probably one of the more familiar stories in the Bible, although it appears only in Matthew. Some magi have followed a star in the East to King Herod in Jerusalem. They ask him directions to the other king, the King of the Jews. Herod is frightened to imagine that there is a king out there who is so compelling that foreigners are driven to seek him out. He asks the Magi to tell him where to find this other king so he, too, can pay homage. The Magi find Jesus and worship him. They offer him very strange gifts for a baby. Then they are warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, and so they don’t.

It’s so familiar, it’s easy not to think about it very deeply. It’s easy to boil it down to “We Three Kings” and designing on magi outfits for Christmas pageants.

But when I really consider today’s scripture, I realize am not one of the magi.

I am in league with Herod.

I am the white daughter of two white, married, middle class parents. I have two advanced degrees, I’ve been married to the same man for 25 years and we own our own home.

OK, we own almost 1/3 of our own home. But we have a secure place to live.

We have health insurance and private transportation and I am confident that my child will always have enough to eat. I part of Jerusalem’s elite.

When magi come asking me about the King of the Jews, I am frightened. I mean, in general I think God is a good idea, but what does the Prince of Peace mean for my health insurance? What do I have to lose for people in need gain?

I don’t want to be in league with Herod. But what else can I do?

Enter the magi. One biblical scholar says the magi are perfect models for discipleship.[1]

First of all, they had been studying with anticipation and expectation. They knew the prophecy of a King, and believed it could come true in their lifetime.

Second, they didn’t just study. They observed the world around them. They looked out the window for signs. When they saw the star, they recognized what it could be.

Third, they sought confirmation. They thought they knew what the star meant, but they went to check it out in person.

Fourth, they were willing to ask for directions along the way. Herod wasn’t a great choice, but that’s another matter.

Fifth, when they confirmed that the sign had led them to the King, they worshiped him with everything. First, they offered their whole beings in homage. Then they offered the gifts they had brought. They didn’t hold anything back, and they didn’t apologize that they didn’t have more to offer.

Finally, they remained humble. After they had found the prophecy fulfilled, they remained open to further revelation and continued to respond to divine inspiration.

And so here is my prayer for 2020:

May we seek Christ with enthusiasm and anticipation. May we ground ourselves in the Word through Bible study, small groups, personal devotions, and worship. May we hunger for Him. May we want to fill ourselves with the wisdom of our foremothers and forefathers in faith so that when Christ arrives, we will recognize him. May we be delighted, but not surprised, when we find him.

May we pay attention to our world. Not just our personal circles, but people we bump into on our commute or in the grocery store. What’s going on in our city, our region, our nation – all of creation. Let us watch for manifestations of God’s promises in scripture so that we don’t miss them. Who knows what signs we have missed already?

May we put our money where our mouths are. May we not be disciples who only sit in pews. Let us put our bodies where our hearts are and confirm the leadings of the Spirit not only through special mission projects, but in how we live our lives every day. Let us trust that, if we fail, more will be revealed. And if we succeed, that we will be equipped as we need, when we need it.

May we be willing to ask directions, to ask for help. That may mean that we make ourselves vulnerable to each other as individuals. Or that as a congregation we seek out collaboration with other congregations – especially those who know terrain that is unfamiliar to us.

May we in all things first surrender ourselves to our Creator and praise our Maker’s wondrous works. Let us always praise God the Father for giving us each other and life’s experiences.

Let us thank God the Son for coming alongside us to show us how to be our best selves. Let us thank him for reassuring us that we are never lost to God, no matter how we mess up.

And let us thank God the Spirit for staying with us. For the spark of life that lets us celebrate joy. For comfort in our suffering. For inspiration that lets us find meaning in it all.

Finally, may we remain humble and wait upon the Lord. Pay attention to our dreams – the dreams we dream at night, daydreams that allow our imaginations to fly free, God sightings. God’s Spirit has poured out on us. We are made to prophesy and see visions. So may we be receptive to the subtle – or not so subtle – nudges of the Spirit that will tell us where God might be leading us. Let us be willing to receive those messages honestly, even when they are scary or difficult.

We no longer see that same star in the East, that sign that pointed the magi toward the Messiah. We have something even better. We have the Messiah. In this post-Christmas season, let us, like the magi, having seen our Savior, turn ourselves outward to live into the Good News.

Now to the One who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

[1] William V. Arnold, “Epiphany of the Lord: Matthew 2:1-12: Pastoral Perspective,” in Feasting on the Word: Year B, Volume 1: Advent through Transfiguration Sunday, eds. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor (Louisville: John Knox, 2008), pp. 212-216.

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