Walnut Creek

Open Door's Holy Week Schedule

Holy Week is the last week of Lent marking Jesus' final journey toward the cross, death, burial and resurrection.

In addition to our regular Gathering on Sunday evening (where we'll celebrate resurrection!), we will also host the experiential Good Friday Passion Sojourn and an Easter Sunrise Hike.  Details below!


Good Friday Passion Sojourn (available 5-9PM with child care from 5-7PM)

Join us for a haunting moment of remembering the Passion of Jesus. This will be a contemplative, multi-sensory sojourn intended to be experienced in solitude. The sojourn will occur in the Parish Hall at St. Paul’s and will be open between 5-9pm. The entire experience should take 45-60 minutes depending upon your pace.

Easter Sunrise Hike

Join us at the Shell Ridge trail head at 6:00am for our annual Easter sunrise hike. Rain or shine, we will take the hike and remember the wonder of resurrection together. Our sunrise hike will include some light snacks, a 30 minute moderate hike, music, and a shared Resurrection liturgy as we watch the sun rise over Mt. Diablo.

Easter Resurrection Celebration

At 5PM we will Gather to celebrate resurrection together! (Our weekly Open Door Kids experience will be up and running.)

Today is Ash Wednesday

Today, Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of the 40-day journey of Lent.


These 40 days are deeply symbolic in our Christian faith. As the next 40 days pass, we remember the 40 years the Israelites spent wandering from God - attempting over and over again to save themselves, relying on their own strength and understanding. Like the Israelites, our plans - as good as they may be - will not suffice. We cannot save ourselves.

During these 40 days of Lent, we remember the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness, facing isolation and temptation. Unlike the Israelites, and unlike us, Jesus - Lord and Messiah, as the true son and image of God, remained faithful to the father, making a path in the wilderness, preparing the way for the good news of God’s salvation to be extended as a gift of grace to all creation, and to us.

Us. the lonely. the wandering. the broken and the breaker of others. the mourning and the bringers of sadness. the sinful. the hurting. the addicts. the prideful. the deviant. the afflicted and the inflictors.

During Lent we recognize that on our own, our path leads to death and decay. To ashes and to dust.

In Genesis 3, the rebellion of creation against the creator results in a series of curses. The snake, the tempter, is cursed. The ground is cursed. Human beings, male and female created in God’s image, are cursed: for dust you are and to dust you will return.

Today is Ash Wednesday, and we remember how true that is: for dust you are, and to dust you will return.

As we move through Lent, we'll consider the life of abundance that Jesus invites us into and question the things that keep us from embracing life to the full. Aaron Niequist, a liturgist and friend of Open Door, has created an experiential liturgy of confession and penance that we invite you to enter into today.

This liturgy - A New Liturgy No. 3: Lord Have Mercy - is available as a free download from Noisetrade this week and is beautiful starting place for the journey we'll be on together.

A New Liturgy No 3

Would you join together with us on this Ash Wednesday to take twenty-five minutes for the journey of this liturgy?

Everyday Story: A Sweet Journey (Brook Dalrymple)

It has been a sweet journey and a highlight of our 4 month marriage so far joining Open Door. I really feel that the journey God has us on during this season aligns with what the Open Door community is about. everyday_storiesIt was a week before our wedding in July and we had just started moving boxes into our new place in Pleasant Hill. I emailed a family friend who lives in Martinez about what churches Justin and I should check out. She told me that I had to check out Open Door. So we went! We were warmly welcomed and had several people come up to us asking if we were new. However, what stood out the most for me though was right before Jer started teaching, he was expressing the grief he had in his heart over what was going on around the world at the time...the airplane that was mistakenly shot down that was caring the top AIDS researchers in the world, and Syria and Gaza were erupting...and we all prayed together for God's mercy. I turned to Justin and said, "is this for real?"

Both Justin and I have spent a lot of time overseas in Asia and the Middle East and God has really cultivated in us a heart for the world yet we came from a church that was nervous about making mention to anything outside the church walls. It was thrilling to have someone mention from the pulpit realities of what was going on in the world and then responding in prayer for God's mercy.

The one comical piece to this was that during this particular service, the sermon was more of a time of story and application from a previous series and we just so happened to not have opened the Bible. And so, I remember telling Justin that if they just open the Bible, I'm totally in. We have to go back. So, about month later, now married and settled into our place, we came back and we're welcomed again and people remembered us. And then... we opened our Bibles and I took this sigh of relief and said to Justin, "ok, I'm good." During that same service, we heard about the Orientation to ODC circle and agreed that this was are best next step in this process because we still knew very little about Open Door and wanted to get plugged in as soon as we could.

Taking a step back, a theme of the last 4-5 years of my life, and Justin's as well, has been understanding the Gospel in a deeper capacity that goes beyond my individual salvation. The greater picture has been the greater story of God restoring and redeeming creation and Jesus bringing the Kingdom of God on earth. So right now, we are in process of that restoration. I am being renewed and made more like-Christ, but so is the rest of the world. And I must be attentive to how God is allowing me to be apart of bringing that renewal to the world. So, what solidified things for Justin and I in the Orientation Circle was that Open Door is SO about this....this bigger picture of heaven being ushered in on earth. To us, that was extremely refreshing and authentic to here and matched what God has been sanctifying in us. This is a church that is attune to where there is brokenness happening and aware of posturing themselves to how God is restoring and building his Kingdom here on earth. The Orientation Circle also gave us an opportunity to get to know Jer and Dave better. When we were first looking at churches in the area, Justin kept saying that whoever the pastor is, he has to be someone that he would want to follow in how he imitates Christ...which is discipleship in it's simplest form. What's so cool is that already, we have literally followed Jer and Dave and walked alongside them, learning with them and practicing being peacemakers.

We are now finishing up the Black/White Race divide Circle. It's really difficult to try and formulate how meaningful and transformative this Circle has been and I am (and will continue to be) in process with it for a very long time. And it's pretty insane to think about how timely this Circle is to what is going on in America currently. And what's crazy, yet again, is how the Circle is aligned with understanding the position that the Gospel is about God's story of redeeming the world and slowly restoring creation, which is made possible through Jesus. If I am viewing the Gospel in this way, then racial divide in the East Bay matters. Ferguson matters. Eric Garner matters. Hearing the pain of people among the black community matters. One of the pastors who spoke in our circle said that we have to be about addressing the broken systems that are breaking people. I've learned to a greater degree about walking humbly...listening to pain that I won't ever fully understand, and asking hard, awkward, tense, uncomfortable questions that force me to confront how I look at the world around me. And not coming up with answers or rebuttals or defensiveness, but just humbly listening. And being in situations were I feel unsafe. And I realize how little I cared about justice before, because I never experienced injustice in the way I personally looked at the world. But God is a just God and so his restoration of the world involves justice...making the world right.

That's why on hard days, or really any day you read or watch the news, you sense this tension. The tension of what is and what should be. And that's where we are. Envisioning and moving toward what should be amongst what is. There are still so many other thoughts that are still being formulated, but I am very grateful to be processing all of this within a community of people who love Jesus and are learning with me about how we actually mourn and weep and bring peace in a way that is reflection of who Jesus is.

Engage in the Life of the Open Door Family

Yesterday, we posted an update from our Steward Team and at our Gathering, Steward Team shared their thematic goal for the upcoming year: to develop clear on-roads into the life of the Open Door family. Steward Team's focus throughout the year will be to develop and catalyze the resources of Open Door to support this thematic goal, but as was shared last night, it's not possible to "program family!" We will grow together as a family through a combination of (a) Open Door's resourcing (leadership/staff, environments, teaching content, Circle guidance, etc.), (b) each of our personal initiative, and (c) the Holy Spirit's weaving and cultivation. In light of this, will you take some time to reflect on three key areas of engagement in Open Door's life with the following questions:

Engaged Presence

  • How do I prioritize gathering with the family on Sunday evenings?
  • Am I aware of the needs of those in the Open Door family and how do I respond?

Intelligent, Courageous Contribution

  • Am I courageously generous with my resources (i.e. time, finances, talents, ideas)?
  • Do I initiate giving of myself and my resources, or do I wait to be asked?

Movement toward Authentic Relationship

  • How have I recently engaged with someone outside the Gathering? Do we share about how God is moving in our lives?
  • Am I comfortable being my true self with the Open Door family, or do I tend to put up a front?

On January 11, Steward Team will host a wine and cheese night after the Gathering to dialogue and converse about this year's thematic goal and Open Door's movement in these areas.

In the meantime, feel free to reach out to any member of Steward Team or email ben@abluedoor.com to reach Steward Team's chair, Ben Johanson.

Steward Team Update - December 2014

Note: See this related post for an invitation to reflection on your engagement in Open Door's family life. Friends,

ODC.Logo_2Every fall, Steward Team gathers for a retreat to reflect on Open Door's previous year and to discern direction for the next twelve months. Out of this time together we develop a Thematic Goal that focuses our work moving forward. Our Thematic Goal for 2014 was “To refine current organizational structure and expand paid staff." Key initiatives that emerged included the development of the Circles environment and the hiring of our Pastor of Community Formation, Dave Kludt.

At our retreat this September we celebrated the stories emerging from the integration of Circles and Gatherings and the addition of the Kludt family to our community. As we reflected on our focus for this coming year, the word that rose to the surface was "Family." We've always identified ourselves as "a family of sojourners learning to walk in the way of Jesus for the good of the world" (our identity statement), but we began asking questions like:

  • How does the Holy Spirit weave us together as a family?
  • What are signs of health and areas of growth for our family?
  • How must Open Door’s staff & structure resource the cultivation of our family?
  • What kind of personal initiative is necessary to grow within our family?

With these questions in mind, Steward Team developed this year’s Thematic Goal:To develop clear on-roads into the life of the Open Door family." Already this Thematic Goal is shaping our life together in Circles, our recent teaching series, and the ODC Orientation Circle and Square One initiative, both designed to help us understand who we are and how we can become engaged contributors to the Open Door family. In 2015, watch for an updated website, Winter and Spring Circles, the Discover Retreat (March 13-15), the Selah Retreat (May 29-31), and other exposure points designed to resource our cultivation as a family.

This year, let’s deepen our engaged presence with one another as we join God in what He’s doing all around us. Let’s also commit to intelligent and courageous contributions to what God is doing in and through Open Door. If one of your contributions is financial, please consider a year-end gift and/or commit to consistent giving throughout the coming year. Finally, let’s proactively move toward authentic relationship with one another as we listen for the voice of the Spirit and live what we hear.

We are thrilled and humbled at God's ongoing faithfulness and are excited to move forward together as God's Spirit continues to cultivate us into a Jesus-following family.

With gratitude and anticipation,

The Open Door Steward Team

Ben Johanson, Rebecca Olson, Tony Collins, Alison Knox, Brendan Cheney, Heidi Brandow, Dave Kludt, & Jer Swigart

Note: See this related post for an invitation to reflection on your engagement in Open Door's family life.

To Hear and See Joy (Lectio Divina and Psalm 126)

On Sunday, we spent time thinking and talking about joy. Jer talked last week about hope as the certainty we find in God's character, and on Sunday I suggested that joy was a response to God's actions and the activity of God's people congruent with God's character. So hope is certainty that God will act and joy is the response when God does act. Jesus frequently said "those who have ears, let them hear," which, at least in part, means that everyone is capable of hearing but not everyone choose to. Part of our formation is to become people who can see and hear God's activities around us.

One way to do this is through the ancient practice of lectio divina ("divine reading"). Lectio is a practice of listening for God to speak as we meditate on Scripture. Lectio is an invitation to trust that:

  • God speaks.
  • God speaks through Scripture.
  • God speaks to you.
  • God speaks through you.

This week, we practiced lectio divina together and I'd invite you to carry that practice with you throughout the week. Here are some guidelines using Psalm 126 as a starting point.

  1. Find some comfortable space for silence. Read Psalm 126 slowly, listening for a word or phrase that rises to the surface for you. What images or ideas come to mind as you dwell on that word or phrase?
  2. Read Psalm 126 a second time. Focus on the same word or phrase, and spend time reflecting on how that word or phrase speaks to the current reality of life. Think about your week in the context of that word or phrase. What's happened or what's on the schedule that resonates with that word or phrase?
  3. Read Psalm 126 a final time. As you continue to meditate on the word or phrase God has lifted to the surface for you, consider what God might be asking you to do, see, hear, or become in response. What is an invitation, loving reminder or promise God has for you in this?

Let this practice cultivate in us an awareness of God's presence and work in our midst so that we might be people of joy!