We are offering members the opportunity to donate funds to purchase Easter lilies for display during worship at the 8:30 and 11:00 services on Easter Sunday, April 16. Lilies may be designated as memorials or in honor of loved ones. The cost is $20 per plant. If you wish to participate, call Mickie Elzinga at the church office (293-3133), or email her at , or you may put your check in the offering plate with your dedication. Deadline for participation is 4:00 p.m. on Monday, April 10.
Archives for March 2017
One Great Hour of Sharing was started in 1949 and is a long-standing ecumenical effort aimed at raising the funds necessary to provide relief and reconstruction for communities in the aftermath of disaster.
What started as an hour-long radio appeal has evolved over the years, varying from eight to 29 participating denominations, and has become the most participated-in Offering in the PC(USA).
The theme this year is “You Shall Be Called Repairers of the Breach” (Isaiah 58) Self-development of people helps people establish new lives after prison. A descriptive flyer will be placed in each bulletin when the offering is collected on Palm Sunday, April 9 during worship.
I often ride to Westminster with someone whose political opinions are quite different from my own. We agree on lots of the problems that our society faces, but we differ pretty widely on how they should be addressed. Nevertheless, the years of riding together, airing our beliefs, sometimes passionately, have served to deepen our friendship and bring us ever closer.
Why is this? I frequently leave these discussions scratching my head over how differently we see the world, and they stay with me through the week. And I’m sure the reverse is true too. But our discussions on the road force me to examine my beliefs in greater detail, to argue with myself before arguing with someone else about them – leading to a greater refinement and nuance of my own opinions: why do I believe what I profess? And of course, there’s the inevitable common ground on which we arrive (without searching) when coming from different points of view.
I don’t argue well. My religious and political opinions don’t fit on a bumper sticker. I use this commuting relationship as an opportunity to forge them, hammering and sawing until they are right for me – just like what we believe about our church: Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda – a church reformed, always in need of reform. But the most important product of this process is the friendship to which I return.
“For [Christ] is our peace, and he has made the both of us one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility.” Ephesians 2:14
The theme of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is the separation of the faithful from the power of the darkness in which they were used to living. What are our darknesses? First-world problems like snow days with homebound kids, power outages when the wind gusts, or the tap water tasting a little funny? Having to wait two weeks for a doctor’s appointment, or waiting in a line for the gas pump? What about that dividing wall, in a nation that claims to be indivisible?
During this time in which common ground is difficult to find, I have started to double down on compassion and humanity. Our call to love God and neighbor can take many forms, and whether it’s a Facebook war or an interaction with a stranger, I try to keep these ideals at the forefront. Life in public is messy, and has always been, but we remain at our best when we keep to the values that reflect our Christian nature. Jesus Christ models for us and encourages us to be the best versions of ourselves.
~ Winston Barham
Just wrote my children’s sermon for this Sunday and thought I would share. A good reminder for reluctant adults as well. Blessings, Ken
One day, in the fifth grade, someone asked me to sing for a special event, and I said, “Yes.” And though I was scared, I ended up singing in front of my whole school-classmates, teachers, parents, everybody. I sang “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.” It was nerve racking, but it never would have happened had I not said, “Yes.”
At a time when I was learning to swim, I was wading in the shallow end of the pool when my older brother, Dan, invited me to swim with him out into the deep water. He promised he would swim beside me the whole length of the pool, out into the dark green water where I had never ventured before. And I remember as I swam, I kept looking over to see if my brother was still beside me and there he was. It’s a good memory. But it never would have happened if I hadn’t put my trust in him, if I didn’t take a chance or a leap of faith, if I didn’t say “Yes.”
When was 14 years old, I remember my neighbor inviting me to his youth group at church. And I said, “Yes.” I didn’t know it then, but by saying “Yes,” my whole life was about to change. I became a member of that church. That church sponsored me to go to seminary. And eventually, I became a pastor. They asked me to lead and I said, “Yes.” They asked me to attend a class or a bible study or a retreat or even join a committee and I said “Yes.” They asked me a lot of questions and as long as kept saying “Yes,” I kept growing and deepening in my faith.
Saying “Yes” is good thing. We may not know where our “Yes” will lead us or how our “Yes” may change our life’s direction.
Someone may ask us to lead or follow or try something new; they may ask us to stand or sit or sing or pray out loud. So tell me: “Why is our first impulse to say “No?” Because in my experience, saying “Yes,” opens new doors, offers us perspective, and expands our perception of reality.
Tiny Fey, comedian, once said, “Say yes and you’ll figure it out afterwards.” So true, right?
One day, I remember lying in bed thinking about God. I thought about everything my Sunday School teachers taught me. I thought about Jesus. I thought about nature and about my youth group. I thought how happy I felt when I realized how much God loved me. And in that moment, I said “Yes.” Yes to God! And this “Yes” changed my life.
So, this week if someone asks you to do something, instead of complaining or whining about it or saying “no” because you’re feeling tired and hungry, or overwhelmed, instead, surprise yourself!
On Friday March 24th at the Martin Luther King Center Dr. Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel prize author will lecture on Economic Inequality in America. Tickets are required at this event. You may order them on line, off of Virginia Foundation of Humanities site, Festival of the Book, under An Evening with Joseph Stiglitz, clicking on “get tickets.’ Or you may contact John Peale at (434) 996-5710 for tickets.
On the same date at 4:00 p.m. at the Jefferson School African Heritage Center there will be a panel moderated by Frank Sesno, of three current authors on Economic Inequality, This event is free and open to the public, with no tickets required.