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The 223rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church

I had the privilege of serving as a commissioner at the 223rd General Assembly. Here is the church at work in the connectional way that unites us as one. We took to the street of St. Joseph, MO, marching to the City Justice Center with $47,200, money collected during our first worship service and used to bail out people incarcerated for minor offences who could not afford to pay their bail or fine.

We dealt with issues of climate change, immigrant parents being separated from their children and gun violence. We sought ways to put our faith into action at the world, national and community levels. Working through the denomination’s Mission Responsibility, Through Investment Committee we will continue corporate engagement with oil and natural gas companies. After long debate it was voted to stay at the table and use investment as leverage for industry change. The assembly votes 484-34 to approve a resolution calling for the immediate end to the government policy of separating parents and children and to place families “under the care of the community” rather than in detention.

These were only a few of the many issues that we wrestled with. As we look to the future we seek to be even more a church the is faithful to the call of Christ to love God and neighbor in word and in deed.

He Is Risen! Christ Is Risen Indeed

Two discouraged and disillusioned walk the road to Emmaus on that first Easter day. The crucifixion of Jesus has shattered all their dreams and hopes. Jesus began to walk along side of them. But they did not know that it was Jesus. He began to explain to them the plan of God that had been realized on the cruel cross of Calvary using the Old Testament scriptures to reveal the hand print of God in all that was accomplished. But it was not until they invited them into their home extending hospitality that Jesus revealed himself.

He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.

Suddenly the Old Testament so skillfully presented by Jesus, as they walked their sorrowful journey, comes alive.

So many times when we are facing our own disappointments and discouragement we forget to look to Christ to find our hope, to look to scripture to find our compass. It is important to remember God’s faithfulness in the past so that we can trust it for the present and the future. Don’t discard your dreams because you cannot see the good that is around you.

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Christ has said, “for where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them.”

We invite you to come and worship with us each Sunday and encounter the risen Christ. Things change when you encounter Christ – or should I say – when you are encounter by Christ. Come meet a Christ that is as relevant for the 21st century as he was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. It is a life transforming, heart burning experience of hope, joy and everlasting life.

 

Its Been A While

 

Sometimes life interferes with our plans. When that happens we need to set priorities and put even important things on hold until the appointed season. So I have been away from this page as other significant events have woven through my life and even the life of our congregation. These events have helped to continue to work out God’s plan and purpose which is always intended for our wellbeing.  God is so faithful and worthy of our praise.

Nevertheless, it is good to return to blog with you as a way of sharing God’s love and God’s amazing grace. Perhaps in your life you have faced some difficult event or feel an emptiness in the midst of many blessings. A famous passage from St. Augustine’s Confessions (Lib 1,1-2,2.5,5: CSEL 33, 1-5 states You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” Many have been searching for life’s purpose and meaning through various practices of spirituality. Some long for the certainly of faith they saw in their parents or grandparents but not the rigid rules and condemnation of their faith.

As we enter Holy Week with its expectations, its solemn journey to the cross, and its victorious celebration of Easter joy, I invite you to revisit the momentous reality of God’s love revealed in Christ and its meaning for your life. The world around us may be in chaos but God is sovereign and God’s plan and purpose is good and certain. If you choose we invite you to join us in this journey. Worship times and address are posted on our home page. I invite you to return to this blog as we explore issues that are current and I trust will be a blessing to us all.

Blessings,

Pastor Ida

Ash Wednesday

On Ash Wednesday churches throughout the world gather for the beginning of the season of Lent. It is a solemn time of discipleship that reminds us of our total dependency on the love and provision of God. The sign of the cross imposed on our forehead reminds us that we are dust and to dust we shall return. It recalls the reality of our mortality that we hide behind sterile doors, avoid in the franticness of busy lives and the cult of the self-made man or woman.

The forty days of Lent invites us to pause and take time to be still in the presence of God, to reflect, to repent and to be renewed but the grace of God’s love and mercy. It is a time to recall the faith proclaimed at our baptism and how it should be lived out in our lives. What does it mean to live as children of God? We look to Christ for our guidance as we journey by faith toward the cross and resurrection. The council of scripture encourages us to

Let the same mind be in you that was in 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. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. Philippians 2: 5-8

Sacrificial love and obedience to the will of God becomes our standard. This brings us to our need for grace and mercy, to a place of repentance for our sins of commission and omission. Yet thanks be to God it is also a place of forgiveness and renewal. We have in Christ a savior that brings us into life, renews and enables us by his Spirit to grow in maturity, love and grace. Come taste and see that God is good.

All Saints Day

White flowers adored our sanctuary on Sunday, Nov.1th, All Saints Day, in celebration of those saints that have died in the faith this past year. During prayer we gave thanks for the lives of the saints who have preceded us to glory. Some were apostles, some were martyrs, some great theologian, evangelist, missionaries and teachers. Some of their names and stories are preserved within the inspirational words of Scripture. Others are a part of the history and traditions of the church universal. Still others have walked among us as in quiet humility known only to those whose lives they touch directly and to the all-seeing eye of God.

Saints are saints because of God’s action, call and consecration of their lives. You and I, if we have by grace professed faith in Jesus Christ and followed him through the waters of baptism to new birth as children of God, and members of his body, the church; are saints of God. No, we are not perfect, no one is perfect except for Christ Jesus our Lord. Scripture tells us that so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”1 Corinthians 1: 29-31 It is because of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in us, that we grow in grace and maturity. God produces the fruit of the Spirit in us as we serve in faithfulness, within God’s church militant, the church on earth, united in love and service to the glory of God. And yet we are also one with the church triumphant who now rest from their labors. Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us” Hebrews 12: 1.

Fellowship and Silent Auction

On October 23, 2015 both church members and community friends gathered in our Fellowship Hall for fun, food, and fellowship. There were about one hundred and twenty prices to select from in our silent auction. A special table of select gifts was also auctions for an additional cost for tickets. The participant scouted the treasures spread among the tables and dropped their tickets in the containers for their chosen items. Everyone was a winner and some left multiple treasures. Laughter and a delicious feast of desserts, coffee, tea and cold drinks added to the gaiety of the evening. Be sure to watch for the announcements of next year’s silent auction and all the other activities of our church.