Monday, December 31, 2007
Resolved: To welcome others as we have been welcomed by Jesus Christ.
Resolved: To find the place where our passions meet the needs of our community, and use that passion to meet the needs.
Resolved: To explore our spiritual gifts and the best way to use them.
Resolved: To look at our personal and family finances and support mission instead of consumerism.
Monday, December 24, 2007
We were also reminded that, there but for the grace of God, go we. One event--the loss of a job, a home foreclosure, a medical emergency--could put us in these same circumstances.
As you celebrate Christmas this year, pray for the three families we adopted as part of our church family. And remember, it can be hard to see those who are struggling, even when they live right next door.
Take a gander at these pictures:
Many thanks to Mary for her hard work connecting with the families for sizes and details and organizing this mountain of presents!!
Pastor Fritz, the Yangs, and the Moons dropped off presents for these kids and their mom.
This family has promised to light their candle during our Christmas Eve service, to pray for us as we are praying for them. Hallams, Engleses, and Beatrix played Santa.
The Birchs and Pages dropped off gifts for the third family. The smiles on everyone's faces tell you how meaningful this project was for everyone--the givers and the receivers.
One of the mothers we delivered to said that she hopes that next year, she'll be the one delivering presents to another family in need. We hope so too!!
This is what Christmas is all about. As Rob said, it's Jesus' birthday, and this is how we give him a birthday present.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
So, there will be a quick, light supper at 5:00, and carolers will head out around 5:30.
Bundle up and bring your Christmas spirit!
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
She also, though, suggested that some stubbornness is not necessarily something to be proud of: the refusal to look at new ways of doing things, the deliberate blindness to those same societal pressures we're battling and possible new ministries they might require of us.
Being a small church is not a Bad Thing. If we had 300 people in worship every week, do you think we'd still be able to describe CPC as a family? I know that's something that a lot of members really value about our small church. Being a small church is not something to be fixed. It's something to be embraced--and that means recognizing that we have particular gifts (remember those spiritual gifts Pastor Fritz has been talking about?), and we have certain strengths. It's a matter of figuring out what those are and how to use them.
It's time to think about the true purpose of the church. Is it:
- To make money?
- To do God's will?
- To show up the Church of the Intercessor with our Sunday morning attendance?
- To spread the gospel?
- To be a static presence in a changing neighborhood?
- To serve our neighborhood, no matter how it's changing?
Monday, December 3, 2007
Here's what I think: The Kingdom of God must start inside each individual. We must have peace within ourselves and allow God alone to rule over us. Only then can the Kingdom begin to spread. Jesus, as the Messiah, showed and taught us what we need to do to achieve the Kingdom of God. Now it's up to us.
If that lion and lamb are ever going to lie down together, we'd better get to work.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
But emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
But we often leave off the beginning of this passage (not being part of the confessional hymn). Verses 3-5 read:
"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus..."
One of the things we are called to do as Christians is to emulate and imitate Jesus. While we can't exactly give up our (non-existent) equality with God, we can live in humility, as Paul instructs.
How would the world change if all who declared themselves Christians lived this way, looking to the interests of others rather than ourselves?
Leave a comment. Be bold. Be daring. Dream big. But live with humility.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
First week of Advent
Saturday, December 1
5:00 – 9:00 pm Lighting of Malverne table w/ hot cider & cookies
Sunday, December 2 (First Sunday of Advent)
9:45 – 12:00 Worship & church school
6:00 – 8:00 Family Advent kick-off (Dinner, Family Advent activity & evening worship
Friday, December 7
6:30 – 10;00 pm Fellowship Club Christmas Party, Irene Green’s house
Second week of Advent
Sunday, December 9 (2nd Sunday of Advent)
9:45 – 11:00 Worship w/ Dr. Marilyn Johns preaching
Christmas Tree decorating
11:00 – 12:00 Cookie Walk
Pastor’s Coffee House w/ Dr. Marilyn Johns
12:15 – 1:30 pm Lunch for SS Teachers (and others) w/ Dr. Marilyn Johns
Friday, December 14
6:00 – 9:00 pm Christmas Caroling (Rain date, Dec. 15)
Third Week of Advent
Sunday, December 16 (3rd Sunday of Advent)
9:45 - 11:00 am Worship, Baptism of James O’Brien
11:00 - 12:00 Coffee Hour, Pastor's Coffee House
12:30 - 3:00 Christmas caroling to Mrs. Burns
Saturday, December 22
9:00 - 12:00 Christmas Pageant Rehearsal
Fourth Week of Advent
Sunday, December 23 (4th Sunday of Advent)
9:45 am Worship, Children's Christmas Pagaent
Monday, December 24 (Christmas Eve)
4:00 pm Family Service w/ Communion
11:00 pm Service of lessons and carols
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I went to hear Jim Wallis speak tonight at the kick off for a new organiztion called NY Faith & Justice. This group commits itself to "following Christ, uniting the church and ending poverty," goals that are in their very nature prophetic and without faith they are impossible. "Faith is for the big stuff," Rev. Wallis said in his remarks. "Faith the size of a mustard seed (really really small) can move mountains (really, really big)," Jesus said. When government is at an impasse, when everyone is at wit's end, the movement of God thorugh the people of God sets things into balance. The American Revolution was preceeded by a revival. The Civil War was preceeded by a revival. The progressive social reforms of the late 1800's were preceeded by a revival. The civil rights movement was preceeded by a revival. Faith can move mountains. So we're called to pray. And we're called to live out our faith by walking the walk of Jesus.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Woman at the Well
Congregation of the Israelites
King Ahasuerus’ scribes
Gideon - Faith; Jesus - Compassion; Rahab - Assistance; Moses - Prophecy; Elijah - Shepherding; Solomon - Wisdom; Woman at the Well - Evangelism; Congregation of the Israelites - Giving; King Ahasuerus’ Scribes - Tongues; Jonathan - Love.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
But at the same time, maybe we're a little curious, and perhaps even jealous. What would it be like to be so full of the Holy Spirit, to give ourselves over so completely to God's presence?
I remember one Pentecost Sunday at a church in Louisville, when the greeters handed out lengths of red crepe paper streamer to everyone as we all came in that morning. I don't recall if they had a specific purpose, or were just to symbolize the Holy Spirit and to make sure everyone had a bit of red. In any case, I put mine around my neck like a scarf. Have you ever worn crepe paper streamer? It itches! But it occurred to me that maybe being full of the Holy Spirit isn't--and shouldn't be--a particularly comfortable sensation, either. We are so used to being in control of everything about ourselves--how we act, what we say, who we say it to--that allowing God to use us so completely must chafe.
Until we give up our precious control and just go along for the ride.
Maybe you have the gift of speaking in tongues--that is, of reaching out to someone across language and cultural barriers, of interpreting the specialized language of the church for someone who didn't grow up using it, of hearing what's really being said by someone who is angry, hurting, or afraid--and you never knew, until you let God and the Holy Spirit take control.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Peki is part of a vibrant Christian community in Ghana, and Rev. Affram-Boyd’s home church, the Peki Methodist Church, is in the midst of a building campaign to replace a church and school built in 1893 by Rev. Affram-Boyd’s grandfather. The congregation needs our help in three ways. First, we can support their efforts through our prayers, asking God to help them see their project through. Secondly, we can lend financial support. They need $130,000 to complete their building. Thirdly, we can go to Peki and witness their efforts. In August of 2008, Rev. Affram-Boyd is leading an educational trip to Ghana and especially Peki. If you are interested, let Pastor Fritz know.
Rev. Affram-Boyd’s passion is “to unite God’s people by bringing them to share the love of Christ across cultures.” To this end, she hopes to build sustainable partnerships between churches in the United States and the church in Ghana. It is more than the completion of a building. It is an opportunity to connect with a Christian community.
Friday, August 3, 2007
Rev. Affram-Boyd was born and raised in the Peki Mothodist Church in Peki, Ghana. The congregation founded by her grandfather, who attended a Methodist gathering and was converted. Rev. Affram-Boyd immgrated to the United States in 1971 and worked for many years as a nurse at North Shore hospital. At age 50, God called her into ministry. She attended Drew University Seminary and was ordained, serving the Methodist Church in Amnityville until sickness forced her to step down.
In the midst of all her health problems, she heard God calling her to return to Peki. In late February, against the adivce of almost everyone concerned for her health she returned. That experience has launched a ministry of partnership between congregations on Long Island and churches in Ghana. Since her visit, most of her health problems have ceased.
Rev. Affram-Boyd will be visiting Community Presbyterian with James Winans, who accompanied her to Ghana, and a close friend from Peki who is visiting. A special discussion time will follow the worship and an offering will be taken in support of her ministry.
US State Department Ghana Site
Official Ghana tourism site
PC(USA) Partnerships in Ghana
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Check out these two Psalms--one ancient and attributed to King David, the other modern and penned by songwriter Greg Brown. How many of us haven't felt something from each of them at one point or another?
(excerpts; Today's New International Version, copyright 2001, 2005 by International Bible Society. All rights reserved worldwide.)
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Lord, I Have Made You A Place in my Heart
by Greg Brown; copyright 1997 Hacklebarney Music
Oh Lord, I have made you a place in my heart
Among the rags and the bones and the dirt
There's piles of lies and the love gone from her eyes
And old moving boxes full of hurt.
Pull up a chair by the trouble and care
I got whiskey, you're welcome to some.
Oh Lord, I have made you a place in my heart
But I don't reckon you're gonna come.
Oh Lord, I have made you a place in my heart
So take a good look and then leave.
Lord if you made me, it's easy to see
Y'all make mistakes up above
But if I open the door
You will know that I'm poor
And my secrets are all that I own.
Oh Lord, I have made you a place in my heart
And I hope that you leave it alone.
(Originally recorded by Greg Brown on "The Poet Game" from Red House Records)
Our faith cycles, from rejoicing in God's presence in our lives to rudely asking God to leave us alone, from echoing David to singing along with the narrator of Greg Brown's song.
Here's the thing though: even if our hearts look like the one described in the modern song, God's hand guides us and holds us fast. After all, "Blessed are the poor in spirit."
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
- Demand increases because children aren't in school
- Day camps come to the food pantry to help stretch their own meager budgets
- Vacations mean that donations are down
When Stan dropped off our July donations, they had only a single box of cereal left, and were almost completely out of food.
Pastor Fritz has called a Special Food Offering for the next two Sundays: July 29 and August 5.
Please bring what you are able, especially breakfast cereal, baby formula, and other staples. Remember, the food pantry also welcomes grocery store gift cards, so if you don't want to haul shopping bags to church with you, this is a great option.
Every person is made in the image of God. Recognize Christ in every person. Help touch the lives of the people who are living with hunger.
Monday, July 23, 2007
While she did a wonderful job playing for us every Sunday, leading the choir, and encouraging our young people in their musical pursuits, if you ever heard her play at one of her recitals, you'll know just what a fabulous musician she is. From premiering new works at Carnegie Hall to going on international tours, her musical career is full of highlights. We were blessed to have her among us for a few years.
Thanks, Marianela. For all your hard work and for sharing your talent with us. God bless you in all that you do.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Anyway, thanks to Stan, we sang a great old-timey hymn in church yesterday: "Jesus Calls us o'er the Tumult." I grew up with this hymn and have always liked it, but since it's not in the Presbyterian hymnal, it's been a while since I've sung it.
The ultimate message of that hymn is perhaps the essense of living life as a faithful Christian: Let nothing separate us from the love of Christ--not the tumult of our lives, not "the vain world's golden store," not all our cares and pleasures. As distracted as we get (by travels, visiting family, and so forth) we can always hear Jesus calling us to follow and love him. And, by extension, to love all those around us.
Day by day his sweet voice soundeth
Saying, "Christian, follow me."
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
When we worship money instead of God, we become scared, shallow and slow - all traits of our larger culture, which specializes in often doing too little, too late resulting in frugal, timid, sacrifice free solutions to major problems such as Katrina, poverty, the Iraq war, global warming, education, etc.
Our God is a God of courage, of significance and of nimble response to problems and calls us to be the same. Our God could create a world where there was none, because all the molecules of the world are at his finger tips. Our God could create nations from the wombs of barren women because he has life at his abundance. Our God defeated death and sin because he has love beyond measure.
All these God gives to us. "Be strong and courageous," God tells Joshua as he takes over from Moses. Together let us take the bold step and fix our focus from our wallets (which feel empty no matter how much they contain) to our God of abundance and let ministry in God's name flow from our lives and our community of faith.
Monday, June 25, 2007
As I was challenged today by our speaker to consider this question, I thought of how the local Catholic priest in the town I grew up in always complemented me on how well the lawn of my (Protestant) church looked after I mowed it, and nobody from my own congregation ever said a thing. I thought of hymn sings, ice cream socials and Wednesday night dinners at another congregation when I was even younger. I thought of a semi-retired minister who put me to work within seconds of meeting me, keeping me from leaving the ministry before I ever got in. I remembered my grandmother's bedrock faith, lived out through handiwork such as blankets for premature babies, intricately stitched communion cloths for her church and more.
These root memories, or bedrock stories, provide us strength during times of challenge and remind us of God's presence throughout our lives and the lives of those who have gone before. And through bedrock stories we can project God's presence into the future.
Click on the comments link and add your bedrock stories.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Stories - For the past two days we've been talking about stories - our own personal stories of faith and the stories of our congregations. And last night we went to see an incredible presentation of the play Peter Pan - more stories.
Last week at coffee hour we put our stories on a great timeline of our congregation. Stories of confirmations, baptisms, weddings, funerals. Stories of pain and victory as a congregation. Stories of personal moments. Stories of faith regained. Put together these stories are, in part, our congregation's story.
"People become part of the congregation," Carl Dudley, our keynote speaker this week, said, "when they share and become part of our congregational story" - when they can tell some of our shared stories, when they contribute to our ongoing story. "Remember your story of faith," Karl, our collegium co-pastor, said," when you are facing difficult times. Your faith story sustains you."
When we live in faith, whether as individuals or as a congregation, we are living in our story. This does not mean that we live in the past. Rather our story is a wave and we are a surfer. We are on the front, breaking edge, moving with the water; but the wave is made up of the millions of memories, millions of experiences of our history and the history of faith. Just as millions of drops of water power a wave, our experience, our story powers our lives.
As I type this, the small congregation arts festival is continuing here on campus. The Hosanna banner from the sanctuary is on the wall, art from our children and Mary Hallam is on the table, all attracting many admirers.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
There's a tendency sometimes to be defeatist: oh, we're so small we can't do anything. People don't have time to help. No one will donate anything--no one really cares any more.
But guess what? With just a little bit of effort on our part, we accomplished a heck of a lot in the space of a week. We made contact with hundreds of neighbors through the door hangers, spoke with many more on the street while collecting the food, and touched the lives of everyone who will open one of those cans or boxes to feed their family.
Who'd a thunk it?
Well, Pete, for one, since the food drive was his brain child. Pastor Fritz, who encouraged and embraced that brain child, and everyone in the congregation who hung a hanger, prayed for the harvest, highlighted maps, stuck stickers, table sat, drove around collecting from door steps, and brought a bag of food themselves.
Seems to me that brain child has grown into a mature, generous, loving brain adult. We should be proud.
Saturday, June 9, 2007
After church, as many of us as are able will spread out through the streets of Malverne distributing door hangers to our neighbors inviting them to join us in our annual food drive. If everyone pitches in, we'll be able to reach more homes than ever before.
We'll have goodies left over from the picnic this afternoon as motivation and energy boosters, plenty of hangers to go around, and good fellowship.
Let's make this a team effort and really get the word out.
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
In an archipelago of safe houses [along the China/North Korea border] I met groups of peple who live every moment in sickening fear. These are North Koreans who have escaped to the "free world" - China - and are now at constant risk of being captured by Chinese police who hand these escapees back to North Korea.
Those returned by China are often sentenced to prison for several years, and repeat offenders or Christians can be sent with their entire families to labor camps for life. ne Christian I spoke to had been beaten so badly after his return by China that he tried to commit suicide by swallowing a handful of pins. The prison, not wanting to have to dispose of a corpse, freed him — and he eventually made his way back to China. Christian missionaries in North Korea can face execution.
Read Kristof's entire column. (Must subscribe to Times Select.)
If confessing Jesus Christ meant risking life in a labor camp for you and your entire family would you still confess?
Monday, June 4, 2007
We've also had several people in our church family, including our extended church family, who have suffered various losses, stresses, worries, or concerns, including the loss of family members; some of our young people preparing to leave home for the larger world (both exciting and stressful!); illnesses; and neighbors, friends, or family members being deployed to various hot spots.
This is the perfect time to remember a song we could easily have sung on Heritage Sunday: "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands." It's a simple song, but in case you need a reminder, here's the basic verse:
He's got the whole world in his hands
He's got the whole wide world in his hands
He's got the whole world in his hands
He's got the whole world in his hands
The cool thing is that you can replace "the whole world" with just about anything you want. Some common variations:
- He's got you and me, Sister [or Brother], in his hands
- He's got the itty bitty baby in his hands
- He's got the wind and the rain in his hands
And on and on and on.
Here's another cool thing: The whole world that God has in his hands is way, way bigger than just this little round ball we call Earth. It's the past and the present and the future. It's those who have left us and those yet to come. And yet, even the itty bitty baby isn't too small for God's notice and won't slip through his fingers.
This really simple song has humongous implications, doesn't it? Isn't it amazing that something we learn as children can turn out to be deeply theological?
What verse do you need to sing right now to help you with your losses and stresses? Leave a comment (anonymous or not) with your new words to this old song.
Friday, May 25, 2007
A response to a question about the considerable conflict in the Presbyterian Church (USA) struck me as especially poignant and useful for all of us in times of conflict and discord.
"God is trying to lay ahold of us and make us into real Christians, teaching us to love each other as Christ loved us; teaching us to be willing to be with each other in all our sinfulness."
She then went on to talk about how Jesus came down to us despite who we were and loved us despite our sinfulness and gave himself for us - not when we changed but because we couldn't
"We must take the time to know each other," she said, "to know each other's hearts and then give ourselves to each other" out of servant love - not because we share an agenda, not because we like each other, not because giving ourselves to another person gains us anything - but because that is the model that Christ showed us; that is what it is to be Christian.
Monday, May 21, 2007
He also reminded us that one day, some Heritage Sunday fifty or a hundred years from now, others will be looking back at us.
Our church is at a crossroads, and it's time to decide which direction we're going to go. Will we still be Community Presbyterian Church, embracing the whole community, no matter how it might be changing or will change in years to come? Or will we become Lingering Presbyterian Church, clinging desperately to how things used to be?
We as individuals won't be around forever. But the Community of Faith and the work of God will be--it's up to us to make sure CPC continues to be a witness in and around Malverne.
Friday, May 18, 2007
The following are some excerpts from an article by Leslie Woods of the PC(USA) Washington Office about why the Farm Bill is so important. The complete article can be found here.
The Farm Bill authorizes some of the country’s most important tools for fighting hunger in the U.S. and -- unlike its name implies -- it does not affect only American farmers. In fact, the Farm Bill touches the life of almost every person living in the United States, and many who live in the global community. Perhaps it would be more aptly named the “Comprehensive Food, Land, and Trade Policy Bill.”
Folded into the broad reaches of the Farm Bill are topics that range widely -- from anti-hunger measures like the Food Stamp Program, to government subsidies for farmers and policies that affect international trade agreements, to programs designed to protect the environment. The Farm Bill also governs international food aid policy, as well as plans to promote development in rural communities in the U.S.
Many are concerned that current farm policies are unsustainable and unjust, both in the global economy and environmentally.
The commodities program, for example, was originally intended as a safety net for family farmers. However they increasingly benefit large farms and agribusiness, leaving small and mid-size farmers without that important safety net.
Current Food Stamp benefits average $1 per person per meal and the household monthly minimum benefit is as low as $10.
The 2007 Farm Bill should:
• Increase investments that combat rural poverty and strengthen rural communities;
• Strengthen and expand programs that reduce hunger and improve nutrition in the United States;
• Strengthen and increase investment in policies that promote conservation and good stewardship of the land;
• Provide transitions for farmers to alternative forms of support that are more equitable and do not distort trade in ways that fuel hunger and poverty;
• Protect the health and safety of farmworkers;
• Expand research related to alternative, clean and renewable forms of energy; and
• Improve and expand international food aid in ways that encourage local food security.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Where were the men? Don't they need this moment of healing or are they just willing to go it alone?
Monday, May 14, 2007
Are you happy? I don't mean content or without sorrow, but truly, deeply happy? Not very many of us are, so if you're one of the few, leave a comment to let the rest of us know how you achieved it. For everyone else: Have you ever sat down and worked out why you're not happy?
Maybe we think it's because of the bills piling up on the table or the repairs that need done around the house or any of the other myriad worries that oppress us. But those are physical things, and I believe happiness is a spiritual state of being. Sometimes those who seem the most joyful are those who have the least. So I don't think our finances or our own particular worries necessarily have anything to do with our happiness.
It's harder than it sounds, but let's all try this: Find happiness in the assurances of God. Everything is in God's hands, and if God is in control, we can release all those things that weigh us down. And allow ourselves to be truly, deeply, spiritually happy.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
In Pastor's Coffeehouse on Sunday, we talked a little bit about the divisions in the Christian church and contrasted that to the choir John saw in his Revelation that was made up of people of every nation, tribe, and tongue. So often, the things that keep us apart are small, petty things: I don't like how you dress; you don't like the songs I sing; he's too quiet in church; she's too loud.
Sure, sometimes it's theology. We've been learning this year about communion, baptism, and scripture and all the different interpretations of these chuch essentials.
But isn't all that matters Jesus Christ, his taking on our sins, his victory over death?
Why can't we let go of all the other stuff--we'll never really know the answers anyway--and join together in Christ's salvation?
Friday, April 27, 2007
We'll have rock 'n' roll, Cuban music, comedy, classical music, juggling, and who know what else. (The comedy and the juggling will likely overlap--Pastor Fritz hasn't practiced in a while.)
Performers include the CPC youth rock band, acclaimed pianist Marianella Santurio, Pastor Fritz, and many other members and friends of the church.
Feast on chili, hot dogs, finger sandwiches, and tasty baked goods while you cheer on the performers.
Day: Saturday, April 28
Time: 6:00 pm
Place: Lower Church Hall
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Are you curious about how the Bible came to be? Some of the questions Pastor Fritz will address:
- Who wrote it?
- What makes it different from the Koran and other holy writings?
- Why do different churches use different Bibles?
For example, did you know that the contents and order of the Catholic Bible is different from the Protestant Bible?Come to the last of the 2007 Winter Seminars tonight and find out more about the most important book to our faith.
Pizza dinner at 6:30
Seminar at 7:00
Sunday, April 22, 2007
The family of Rachel Scott asked the same question after her death at Columbine High School eight years ago. Rachel was the first victim murdered that day. Her brother was in the library with two of his best friends, both of whom were murdered.
To answer their question, Rachel’s parents read her diary which she carried with her that day. Rachel provided the answer. She said, “I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion then it will start a chain reaction of the same." In an essay she wrote for an English class titled “My Ethics – My Code of Life,” Rachel stressed that we must look beyond appearances and first impressions. She believed that we know the other person and not just his or her “type,” we have no right to pass judgment. Rachel said, “Look hard enough and you will always find a light, and you can even help it grow, if you don’t walk away from those first impressions.”
As a result of reading Rachel’s journals, her family began Rachel’s Challenge, traveling to schools across the country to ask young people to accept Rachel’s Challenge. The tenets of her challenge are:
Eliminate prejudice by looking for the best in others.
Dare to Dream – set goals – keep a journal
Choose your influences – input determines output
Kind Words – small acts of kindness = huge impact
Start a Chain Reaction with family and friends
Pray that we heed the wisdom of a 16th year old.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Two ways to participate:
1. Be a walker
Join the Community Presbyterian team and walk in memory or honor of someone you know who had or who is fighting cancer. A $10 registration fee applies.
2. Be a sitter
Community Presbyterian is going to have a booth at the event with information about the church, free give-a-ways and an opportunity for people to write prayers for those fighting cancer. We need people to be a friendly face for Community Presbyterian – listen to stories, tell people about the church and give away water bottles, magnets and church brochures. We also need people willing to help set up and take down our booth and someone with a pick-up truck or a large van/SUV with no seats to help transport stuff. If you can sit, sign up in the back of the church or talk with Roxanne Weil.
It's hard to doubt the existence of evil when a young English major turns from writing about the darkness inside to acting out that darkness by spreading death around the campus. And that what seems so tragic here is but a daily occurance in the neighborhoods of Iraq. Paula Dean smother me in your southern charm and help me forget.
A note in my email box this afternoon from Linda Valentine, the Executive Director of the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly Council reminded me that for Christians repression is not an option. We serve a God who on the cross stood up to evil and defeated it. We hold in our tradition the Gospel of peace, the gospel of light. We are called not to repression but to acknowledgement and action. Elder Valentine informed me that a special response team from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is on its way to Virginia Tech to help console and council. Local ministers and laity are also responding.
Rev. Valentine also called us to prayer - prayer for the families, prayer for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are facing the evil of that day head on, prayer for our society and our world.
An elder at Community Presbyterian recently mentioned to me that we're not praying enough for Iraq in church. That elder was correct. I'd pulled the covers over my head, I'd been repressing and when we repress we can't pray. So I call myself and all who read this to a ministry of prayer - to acknowledge evil and batter it to a stand still with our prayers.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Of course we may find answers in short supply. Our faith, our God and our relationship with God is shrouded in mystery. I know God works in this world because I feel God working in my life. How? I don't know. Why? I can give pat answers (love, grace, because that's what God does) but I don't really know. But ultimately I must accept the mystery.
Monday, April 9, 2007
"Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God."
So many of us these days suffer from post-holiday let down--we've used up all our energy getting ready for The Big Day, and the day after we crash back to earth, fall back into our normal routines with our usual concerns (laundry, getting the taxes done, arranging child-shuttling schedules).
But the disciples seem to have been buoyed up by Easter--they completely forgot about everything except worshipping God. They had seen a miracle: victory over death. (So now only one thing in life is certain: taxes.)
How has Easter buoyed you up? If we truly comprehend the miracle, can we do anything but be "continually...blessing God"?
Find ways this week to join with the disciples in their praise, whether it's a simple prayer of thanks, or a wild celebration of the life that has been given to us. Share your ideas and blessings in the comments to this post.
Thursday, April 5, 2007
Good Friday (4/6) - 7:30 pm - a contemplative service focused on reading the story of Jesus' crucifixion.
Easter Sunday (4/8)
Sunrise Service - 7:00 am @ Tanglewood Park (Directions)
Celebration of the Resurrection - 9:45 am - includes Easter monologues, youth band, communion
Easter Egg Hunt - 11:30 (or whenever the Easter morning service concludes)
Here's the column:
“It’s 6:00 and time for the news,” intones the smooth voice from the clock radio as I roll over and slap the snooze button. There was a time when I let the morning news filter through my brain as I moved from bed to shower, but now I skip the news and wait for the music. “It seems as if the whole city’s on edge,” a friend said to me the other day - no surprise when we start our days with the latest body count from Iraq, more lies from Washington, New York’s finest being shot and our pets being poisoned.
“Because Jesus lives, I can face tomorrow,” penned Bill and Gloria Gaither in 1970 as their child was born into a troubled, war torn world. “Because he lives, all fear is gone. Because I know he holds the future, life is worth the living just because Jesus lives.” The foundational belief of Christianity is that Jesus Christ, a teacher, preacher and prophet who lived in the first century AD, was unjustly executed by the Roman government and then, three days later, came back to life. In Jesus’ resurrection, celebrated by Christians on Easter, God shows that he can defeat all things, even death. He can bring all people, no matter what they hold inside, new life.
I have a friend who found the strength through Jesus Christ to defeat a drug addiction that had left him homeless on the streets of Manhattan. I have another friend who found the strength to recover from sexual abuse. Yet another friend relies on her faith in the resurrection to support her as she nurses her husband through a long illness. As for me, I get out of bed every morning because I know God – working through us – can fix the messes in my life and in my world. God brings me resurrection.
When parishioners and guests enter Community Presbyterian Church this Easter Sunday for our Celebration of the Resurrection, they will find a dead tree in the center of the sanctuary. As the service progresses the tree will “come to life” as those in attendance fill it with leaves celebrating their resurrection experiences. God’s gifts from the past remind us that there is hope for the future. Even death cannot defeat the abundance of life that flows from God.
Where ever you are journeying and whatever burdens you are carrying, may God bless you with resurrection this Easter.
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
Do you think God worries much about what we have for Easter dinner or whether the Easter Bunny makes a visit to our homes? Probably not.
Take time this week to walk with Christ through Holy Week. And so what if the tablecloth doesn't get ironed?
Sunday, April 1, 2007
Sunday was Palm Sunday and I thought it was really nice that we've brought back the breakfast. The food was delicious and it was great to take a break from our busy lives to catch up with friends. It was a beautiful to see the children celebrating Palm Sunday by waving their palms (the leaf, not the body part) in the air with shouts of Hosanna while parading into the church.
The parade was a fun way to let the kids in on the action. Lord knows how many times I've had palm fun with Emily or Breionna! To me it seemed like there were more people there on Sunday than average, when it hit me. There *were* more people there than average! Holy weeks, i.e. Palm Sunday, Easter and Christmas get the most attention in the Christian community, as most people only come on these high profile days. The Bible says that we are to take the seventh day off for worship... and yet some people only come a few times a year. On one hand, it is our duty as Christians to find the time on Sunday to come to church. But on the other, can we really apply this to life in 2007? Work dictates our lives and Sunday is 1/7 of our week!
While my family and I try to come every Sunday, sometimes conflicts arise and it is impossible for us to attend. This happens to most people. I end my Monday Musings here, with this question. Does the 'you must take the seventh day off for church' rule still apply in 2007? And can we follow it faithfully if it does?
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Monday, March 26, 2007
Sometimes life is like that. We look around and we see all our blessings, but we still don't feel as warm and content as we should. We want just a little more, or we just can't shake some disappointment, or cabin fever has made us restless.
It's moments like these when working on that foundation Fritz talked about yesterday is the best bet: blessing the poor, loving our enemies, giving expecting nothing in return. "...give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back." (Luke 6:38) In other words, the spiritual version of a big bowl of chowder--warming, sustaining, comforting, nourishing. And tasty, too.
Because when we have a strong foundation and the flood arises, or even suburban malaise, the waters will burst against our house and not shake it. (Luke 6:48)
Friday, March 23, 2007
Fred never considered himself spiritual or religious but he was a man of deep faith. Before he'd come to Community Presbyterian he'd been treasurer at Canarsie Reformed Church in Brooklyn and was absolutely committed to keeping small churches alive - or at least present in their neighborhoods. He used to tell me: "We can't let this congregation close because every time a church closes and their steeple comes down the presence of God is no longer visible in the neighborhood."
Fred was deaf as a door post so I would just let him talk - no point in arguing, even when he wanted to slash the mission budget. After he'd left, I would send him an email in response. Fred always checked his email - but he hated to type. So a few days later he'd come back in and give me the response to my email. Then I'd email him again, and we'd go round this way. It was truly a great way to have a conversation.
A little over a year ago Fred and Margaret sold their house in Valley Stream and moved out east to Bayshore. Margaret is still there. Pray for her.
Pastor Fritz is looking for something that our older youth can join in on, so if you're looking for a meaningful way to spend quality time with your kids, please come.
From the testimony of those who went to Mississippi last year, writing a check cannot compare to the experience of helping someone with your own two hands, meeting the people you're helping, and really connecting.
Check the e-bulletin or call the church or Pastor Fritz for the meeting time.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
There will be a chance to practice your sprinkling and dunking techniques... No, not really.
But there will be pizza at 6:30, and starting at 7:00 discussion about what baptism signifies, the different types of baptism, and why different denominations do it differently. There might even be a movie clip.
Baptism is the first sacrament most Christians participate in, but many don't remember it. Come find out about it tonight.
If you'll be there for pizza, try to let Pastor Fritz know ahead of time, so he knows how much to order. See you there!
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Here's this week's question:
Where do you think God is leading Community Presbyterian Church, and what are you willing to do to get us there?
Maybe having a thousand people show up at our block party is scary. But wouldn't it be amazing? Fritz does tend to exaggerate, of course. But if we keep doing it, keep inviting people, keep making reaching out part of our mission, maybe his ginormous vision can eventually become reality.
Maybe, if we listen for God's direction and are courageous enough to act on it, Community Presbyterian Church will become "a churning cauldron of the Holy Spirit."
Now that's scary.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
- Expands and diversifies client food choices.
- Empowers clients to make food choices according to their individual health needs and cultural preferences.
- Enables clients to buy fresh foods, which are usually better nutritional choices.
- Cuts down on wasted nonperishable food held in our pantries.
- Eliminates need to rotate food.
- Increases efficiency of food distribution.
- Eliminates time and effort required to deliver food to homebound clients.
- Reduces storage space needed for food storage.
- Saves donors the cost of gas and vehicle mileage.
- Donors can mail in gift certificate rather than drive food in.
Yet from a worship and stewardship standpoint I don't like the gift card idea. There is something special about going around the grocery store - or helping our children go around the grocery store - and picking out our gift to our neighbor. A very strong statement is made when our wagons come up the aisle. And the food is a physical object that passes from our hands into the hands of our neighbor in need. Its personal. Plus a gift card requires the client to go to both the food pantry and a grocery store and who is to guarentee that the client doesn't buy beer, tobacco, junk food, etc.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Allison Starr-Esposito and her husband, Joe Esposito, welcomed their first child - Donald Joseph Starr-Esposito- named after Allison's dad who passed away a few years ago.
I was Allison's Sunday School teacher and Girl Scout leader. How swiftly time flies!
Monday, March 12, 2007
If you were President of the United States, how would you put these commands into practice? Could you? And if you did, do you think you would be reelected?
Our current President has often proclaimed his Christianity. How has he applied Jesus' instructions during his presidency?
Friday, March 9, 2007
What do you think? Does this idea appeal to you? Would you want to include communion (there are a few in our midst who want communion every week)? What time would work best for you?
Leave a comment here or come to the meeting on Tuesday (March 13, 7:30 pm), where ideas and ideals for worship will be presented and discussed.
Monday, March 5, 2007
1. Some Christians give up their wealth in order to better follow God.
Should we do this? Could you do this? What would be the hardest thing to give up?
2. If we don't give it all away, how do we relate to our wealth? What is the difference between a Christian's attitude toward their money and our community's attitude?