Blest Are They…

[newmark]3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 
 6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
    Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

During the month of Valentine hearts, our scriptures reflect on Jesus’ lessons of love.  The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) start with the assumption that life is difficult and we don’t always feel loved by God. However, Jesus gives hope and blessing to those who seek the spiritual things, “theirs is the reign of heaven”. Last month, several beloved friends left this world. Jesus taught that when we love deeply, we will not regret that love, but be comforted by it.   At the same time, the purest and most innocent babies are welcomed into this congregation.  In February, we will baptize our newest child, Hope. Blest are you who yearn for God in all seasons of life.  Come and be blessed by God’s Word and our shared witness to Christ’s Love. (more…)

Have you picked a News Year Resolution

[newmark]Dear Church Family,

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!  So how many of you have picked out New Year resolutions? How many of you have broken them already? Did some of you pick out resolutions and then “modify” them because you figured you’d never be able to keep them anyway? (That would be me.) I find that people who set reasonable goals for themselves, and are serious about changing their diet, habits, lifestyle, etc, are more apt to do this well with accountability partners. (more…)

Now there are varieties of gifts

[newmark]Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 

(I Corinthians 12:4 January 4th Officers’ Training: The newly elected officers and current session elders and deacons will attend a training and spiritual retreat on Saturday, January 4, 2014.  Because of the size of the session of ruling elders and board of deacons, there will be two separate retreat times.  The deacons will meet in the morning and elders in the afternoon.  We will meet in the Presbyterian Church’s conference room. What will we do? First, we will discuss the call and responsibilities of elected officers of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Second, the group will have the opportunity to strategize, envision and plan for the coming year.  Third, those who are newly elected and current classes of elders and deacons will have an opportunity to communicate their ideas to one another. All throughout the training, we will prayerfully consider the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12). (more…)

Christmas Letter: Hidden Gifts

[newmark]As I write this Christmas letter, my thoughts and prayers center on Thanksgiving.  Preparations for both Thanksgiving and an expanded family gathering on Friday are well underway.  Tragically, my uncle Robert fell broke his neck and died in November.  My sister and first cousins agreed that the two remaining sisters must be together.  So, my mother will flying from Texas to unite both families including two children, four grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and Aunt Elaine’s four children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.  I have lost count.  It does not matter because we just want to be together.  I am so thank-full for the hidden gifts of love! (more…)

Staying Upright, Avoid the Risks of Falling

[newmark]Dear Church Family,

It seems we have overshot our quota of people falling in November.  Santa is definitely going to put us on the naughty list if we keep this up in December!!  We haven’t even gotten into the snow and ice yet, so I thought we might go over some ideas for staying upright this Christmas and being able to HO HO HO instead of BOO HOO HOO!

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Pastor Deb’s November Reflections on “Giving Glory to God”

[newmark]You may have noticed our new Presbyterian hymnals are entitled “Glory to God” (abbreviated GG). These lighter but backed purple songbooks reflect our reformed tradition of centering our worship on God.  While researching my doctoral thesis, “Blues on their Hearts, Praise on our Lips: Preaching Doxological Sermons in the Struggling Congregation”, I discovered Calvin’s sermons filled with God’s Glory and doxology. (more…)

Why Do You Take Communion?

[newmark]If you think this title sounds like a Sunday School theme for confirmation students or first communion, you would be correct. “Why do you take communion?” is a blog site for interdenominational ministers to explain their personal reasons.  The week before World Communion Sunday, October 6, 2013, our first parent/child lesson will explore the meaning of The Lord’s Supper or Eucharist. “Faith and Families” is a program I’ve instituted in at least four churches.  The hands on lessons about the Sacraments, Advent, Lent and the Bible  begin the Sunday School hour. Parents learn along with their children, the basic concepts of our Reformed faith in the first half hour.  Then, the parents have time alone to discuss our beliefs and ways to teach their children at home.  Statistics and observation tell me that children grow up emulating their parents and/or grandparents actions more than their words when it comes to faith.  “Faith and Families” gives children an opportunity to see their parents’ faith in action.

“Deepening and reaching out in Faith” is a general theme of the October scriptures and sermons. Worship and education hour will delve into the subject of Faith around the globe.  World Communion and the Peacemaking Offering will begin the month. Opening our discussions to explore conflicts and peacemaking in various parts of the world, I hope will enrich and deepen our faith.   Speakers who have traveled as teachers , preachers and visitors will share their understanding of various cultures and religions.  I hope to share my experience and partnership with the Reformed Church in Labitlan, Hungary. There I worshiped and received communion in church buildings once closed by the Soviet Government. Yet, the elders secretly met with the faithful in secret rooms to take the bread and cup.  The Lord’s Table and sacrament is precious to those yearn for communion with God.

Around the world and back again.   What does Communion mean to me? It is a sacred meal, connection to God and with all people, in every time and place.  The Lord’s Supper provides spiritual nourishment of mind, body and soul for the living of these days.

Come to the Lord’s Table, Taste and see, the goodness of the Lord,

 

Pastor Deb

Ticks and Lyme Disease

[newmark]Dear Church Family,

I hope you all had a healthy and restful summer.  My family spent two weeks in Quebec, Canada.  We spent time hiking, rowing the boat, canoeing and hauling logs (the hauling logs part was not restful but necessary).  However, I was careful to wear proper clothing for all activities and to check for ticks after hiking.

Ticks are disgusting little bugs.  I lump them in with mosquitoes, tiny pests that have no useful reason for being here!  However, they are here and can be dangerous if they latch on to you.  We have had a few parishioners who have been attacked by ticks this summer, so I thought it best to revisit the topic of ticks and Lyme disease.  Lyme disease is a bacterial infection.  The bacteria Borrelia Burgdorferi  is spread to a human through the bite of an infected tick.  The ticks that are the culprits are the black legged (also called deer) ticks.  These ticks are common in our area.  It is noted in several medical articles I read that a tick USUALLY needs to be attached to you 36-48 hours before the bacteria is passed on to infect you.  So, if you came back from a 4 hour hike and found a tick embedded in you where there had not been a tick before, and pulled it out, chances are good you would not be infected.  Also, not all ticks carry the Lyme disease bacteria.  Nymphs (immature ticks) are most generally the ticks to infect people.  They are very tiny (less than 2mm), so are not easily spotted.  They tend to be in you undetected longer than a mature bigger tick.  I had a nymph embed in me while I was raking one fall.  I had on a jacket, warm sweater and shirt. Somehow this stupid thing crawled its way into my armpit.

This brings me to the next topic: how NOT to remove a tick.  My husband had heard that you should burn a tick and it will back out. (Maybe that is true if you don’t burn it into its victim.)  However, the tick was so small it ended up dying and being burnt into me.  I had to go to my doctor to have him dig it out.  NOT FUN!!!  The proper way to remove a tick is with tweezers.  Grab it at the point of entry and very firmly pull it straight out.  Do NOT apply petroleum jelly, nail polish, or burn it.  You will most likely only kill it.

If a tick bites you, you should watch for a bull’s eye rash 3-14 days later (this does not always occur).  You may experience fatigue, fever, headache, muscle and joint pain and or swollen lymph nodes.  In some people the disease may lay dormant till years later.  I will have information out on the Health table concerning how to avoid ticks and how Lyme disease is diagnosed.  My number is 315 759 9039.   Beth