As you begin to clean out your closets in preparation for the fall/winter months, the Board of Deacons is asking you to save your clean, lightly used coats and winter apparel (gloves, scarfs, hats) for our annual coat drive. These items can be dropped off in the boxes on the bridge, near the library and by Reighart Hall. The items will be distributed to those in need during our annual coat drive on Nov. 23rd. Donation Deadline: Sun. Nov. 17th.
Let us pray for …
and the neglected …
all over the world,
that their cries for daily bread
may inspire works of
compassion and mercy
among those to whom
much has been given.
This coming Sunday, October 6th is World Communion Sunday. This special day which is celebrated by many churches and denominations around the world was conceived by the Rev, Dr. Hugh Thomson Kerr, a Presbyterian minister, who was at the time also the Moderator of the General Assembly (our national church conference). Dr. Kerr had a vision that if every church around the world, regardless of the regular rhythm of their communion schedule, would celebrate it on the same day, that it might further Christian unity and ecumenical cooperation. That vision was in 1930 just a year after the stock market crash of 1929.
Ironically the concept was furthered by the ‘’Division of Stewardship” at Shadyside Presbyterian in an attempt to bring churches together in a service of Christian unity—in which everyone might receive both inspiration and information, and above all, to know how important the Church of Jesus Christ is, and how each congregation is interconnected one with another. (Incidentally, Rev Sherm Skinner’s father was also a pastor in the 1960s!)
While it might seem counter-intuitive to see stewardship and communion as partners, indeed, “Bread Holds Everything Together”. This is our theme for this year’s Generosity (stewardship) Campaign.
Bread in all its forms is a gift from God. Unleavened bread was and still is a sign of God’s protection and deliverance to the Israelites during their escape from Egypt. Manna from heaven was delivered to the Israelites while in the desert. In the New Testament Jesus feeds the 5000 with bread, becomes for us the Bread of Life, and institutes bread as a symbol of his body broken for us.
As the saying goes “Bread makes the world go ‘round”. The giving of bread, which is a form of stewardship help us unite and feed our brothers and sisters. Bread is the gift of recognizing we are fed at the table from and by Christ and that no one should be turned away. Bread is also the slang for money.
Our generosity through stewardship can continue to make the work and the church go ‘round.
So come to the table, bring what you can so that everyone can have a taste of Heaven.
Serving bread with you,
The Deacons will be collecting monetary donations for the PCUSA Peace and Global Witness program from September 8 through October 6. The Deacons will contribute 25 % of the total funds collected to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). You may use the designated envelopes provided in the pews on Sunday, or mail your donation to us: (FPCB P.O. Box 157, Boonton, NJ 07005)
O sacred season of Autumn, be my teacher,
for I wish to learn the virtue of contentment.
As I gaze upon your full-colored beauty,
I sense all about you
An at-homeness with your amber riches.
(Modern Prayer by Edward Hays, USA)
We’re (almost) back in the saddle. There are many blessings (hidden and obvious) in returning to routines that, by and large, most people and especially children thrive in. However, getting there is easier said than done especially after a season where there is a much more relaxed pace with less rhythm and schedule. This is true of our church activity and formal faith development as well.
Some of you may remember a time when “back to school” also meant “back to church”; when “Rally Day” was not a congregation-wide road race (which is what I thought it was when I was a teen) but a concerted effort on the Sunday after labor day to involve as much of the congregation as possible in Sunday school or other Christian formation opportunities.
While some churches still do this warm turnout, we have realized that ‘returning to church and faith formation opportunities’ grow more organically than flipping a switch. But maybe it should be.
A few months ago, the overhead light in my kitchen starting acting up. It would hesitate before it came on completely and it seemed to be ‘growing in weakness’. Eventually, it failed completely. This wouldn’t be so bad except that my kitchen is an ‘interior’ (i.e., no windows, no natural light).
No problem. I’ve replaced the 2 fluorescent circular bulbs before. I can do it again. No such luck. It’s not the bulbs, it’s the ballast that needs replacing. Whilst waiting for the electrician to come, assess, quote and schedule the repair, how many times do you think I walked into the kitchen day and night and flipped the switch even before I remembered the light was out? I have actually lost count.
My muscle memory was so strong, that before I could even remind myself that the light was out, I had already flipped the switch.
“Muscle memory” can be either for good or unhelpful routines and habits. Neurologist Dr. Daniel Amen talks about the brain and muscle memory frequently including that daily habits build muscle memory. Regardless of whether the habit is ‘life-giving’ or ‘life robbing’ (my terms), he says “The brain is very susceptible to repetition”.
It occurred to me that as fall arrives, we all need to build back up our muscle memory and routines for faith formation. Some of this is committing to daily prayer, regular attendance and mission. Some of this is being open to the new ways in which we as a congregation, are seeking to develop faith formation for kids and adults alike.
If you wanna flip the switch to get the light, you gotta have a fixture that actually works and is plugged into the right power source. Come get plugged into the light that no darkness can ever overcome.
Seeking the light of Christ with you,
By the time you read this and/or return to church for the first time after being away, you’ll see the nearly completed church offices renovation. I am deeply grateful to the Kelly and (William) Birch families for their generosity to fund this endeavor. We are still completing the finishing touches but already it is a tremendous improvement in cheer and function! We are indebted also to Charlie Maraziti who did the yeoman’s share of project management (without ever being asked), Thanks also to Amanda and Lorrie Skinner who helped break down our offices and throw away a lot of junk along with John Crozier who literally watched paint dry, and the Whipple, Yanez and Ambrosiani men who literally did all the heavy lifting. I can’t wait for you all to see it.
More importantly, though, I am really glad you were not here to witness the upheaval and all of the emotional swings we went through for the last month. For those of you who have moved, especially recently, or are preparing to move or…send a student to or back to college or housing, you KNOW how stressful it is.
While some of us handle change better than others, very few of us function at our best when our living or working space is in turmoil. And there are always surprises. Unplanned changes, blunders, miscommunications and the like also add another layer of spice to the experience. I’d like to say I was well-prepared, patient and flexible throughout the entire process but there’s little truth in that. I wish I had acted more like the scriptures in the artwork on my walls; but alas they were packed away.
So how do you handle the planned and unplanned chaos? What words do you turn to when you’re wide awake at 3 AM worrying about all the things you can’t control? The one verse that I kept saying to myself (and Sandy and I said to each other) was, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
So whatever you are facing or worrying about, choose a scripture that you can repeat and then release all that worries or distracts especially when you are discouraged. I know you do that already but it’s a gentle reminder, Christ is with us especially in our places of our lowliest state.
Finally, as you know, each time we return and read scripture, we learn something new. When I looked up the Philippians text, I laughed out loud. Verse 13 says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. Verse 14? And I quote; “In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress”. God is hilarious.
Sharing chaos and new beginnings with you in Christ,
Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the infinite peace to you.
A Summer Prayer
Long warm days…
The pace of life slows…
A time for picnics and
rest in the shade…
help me to rest awhile in the cooling shade of your presence.
Slow down my restless heart and fill me with gentle compassion for all your people.
July is gloriously upon us! But before we depart for travel, vacations and family events, let’s revisit what an amazing June we’ve had! We celebrated The Lowther Scholarships, and graduating seniors, presented bibles to our newest disciples and gave “Lord’s Prayer plaques” to all the students who learned the learning the Lord’s Prayer last fall. We also recognized the years of service to all the Chancel and Bell Choir members and honored the Sunday School teachers and youth leaders . Lastly, we commissioned our 4 seniors to Youth Triennium. This was just one Sunday!
June also saw the celebration of Pentecost/Confirmation Sunday when we celebrated our 7 new members. We gifted them with special “Jesus-Baby” tee-shirts that also donned their individual spiritual gifts. We also gave them individual ‘bean pots’ from the main bean pot which has been growing new bean shoots unsuspectingly since our Ash Wednesday ritual.
Last Sunday afternoon I came out the Handicapped entrance to lock everything. I was both exhausted but thrilled after leading our next new members class with the Skinners.
I looked at the bean pot and it desperately needed water. Back in I went to the flower room, filled up 2 pitchers with water and watered the pot. In the oppressive humidity I was eager to get into the A/c of my car. But then I saw not one… not two… but about six long beautiful bean pods and more baby ones on the way!!! I was ecstatic. I don’t know why I was so shocked but probably because I have never grown vegetables. I think I was also surprised that they seemed to have showed up ‘overnight’. I have been watering the pot when able but not as ‘faithfully’ as maybe if they were in my home garden.
The joy of seeing new growth come from the seemingly dead, dried, hard kidney beans we all sank into dark soil on a cold night in March was thrilling. Then I heard Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 3: “ I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth…the one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose…for we are servants of God, working together, you are God’s field, God’s building”.
God is clearly giving the growth at the corner of Church and Birch. Not only have we added seven fine young men to our membership, but we are about to add 13 (!) new members as well. They are all amazing people who are eager to add or who are already adding to the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ.
So, this July as you tend to your own gardens, begin vacation and family plans, don’t forget that God has laid a foundation here and because of you, your care, your efforts and your faithfulness we are adding more bans to the pot.
Watching God’s growth with you,