On September 11, 2015 we held our annual Angel Walk. Twenty-nine people signed-in and others also joined in presence or participative support. By God’s grace and faithful generosity and the hard work of many, we were able to raise $1,700.00, Thanks be to all who graciously contributed time, talent and treasure to this effort. Eight hundred and fifty dollars will go to the Children’s Cancer Research Fund and eight hundred and fifty dollars will go to the Youth Scholarship Fund of the Brentwood Presbyterian Church. Sunday, September 20, 2015 included in the lectionary reading from the gospel the story of Jesus taking a little child into his arms and saying, ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’ Children were important to Jesus and they are important to us.
Although our church may be small in size we seek by grace to follow the example of our Lord to love as Christ has loved, to love all whom Christ loves. When asked which was the greatest commandment Jesus responded, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38This is the greatest and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Jesus always sought out those who were the least, those who were marginalized, and those who were cast out because of illness or what was perceived to be unclean. As we look with honest eyes we see that we are all broken and needy before God. Yet God has chosen to love us and make us whole in and through Christ. Therefore with freedom and great joy we can by grace love freely as we see ourselves in the other and the face of Christ in all. Our Angel Walk is just one of the many ways in which we put this truth into practice.
The children of our Sunday School together with enthusiastic adults look forward every year to a day of fun and fishing on the waters. This year the excursion took us out to sea in rocky waters. Nevertheless, there was laughter and excitement as we cheer each fish that was caught and sent back to sea. It’s not easy to get the big ones. But no one seemed to mind as the helpful mates encouraged the participants in the adventure. One of our seniors caught her very first fish. Prizes were awarded just for fun. For course all of the children were winners.
It is always a part of who we are as a community of faith to provide opportunities that promote the intergenerational building of relationship. Everyone has a place within the family of God. For our children it is just another way in which we encourage them to live and develop the fullness of life that is in Christ Jesus. Sunday School and Sunday worship is important. It is what provides the strength and spiritual substance as we gather to worship in the presence of God, to hear God’s word and partake of the sacraments. But being church is so much more. It is a unity of love that makes us a community. This is just one of many events that nurtures friendships, unity and joy.
On September 12, 2015 the Brentwood Presbyterian Church will celebrate its annual Angel Walk. This event is dedicated to the memory of Irene Schreiber and other individuals who have lost their battle with cancer. It is held prayerfully in the hope of continuing progress in the battle against this disease.
Each year several members of our church and community meet for this walk around the neighborhood, ask friends and colleges to sponsor their efforts, and gather at its conclusion for food (hot dogs and cold drinks) and fellowship. This year we will be walking around the church property several times.
The funds collected from sponsors and donors are split evenly between the Children’s Cancer Research Fund and the Church’s Youth Scholarship Program. Both of these programs promote fullness of life, each in its own way. We are grateful to all who have given in the past. Together we have donated over $10,000 to the Children’s Cancer Research Fund, praise be to God. Additionally the youth scholarships have enriched the lives of children within our community who have been the beneficiaries of opportunities that encourage spiritual, emotional, cognitive and leadership development.
All are welcome to join with us in this important effort. Participate in the walk or mail a contribution made out to the Brentwood Presbyterian Church and marked for Angel Walk.
How often we hear the self-identification, “I am spiritual but not religious”. This acknowledgment of our spirituality addresses the reality of St. Augustine’s affirmation, “that our hearts are restless until we find our rest in Thee (referring to God)”. Why? Because we are spiritual beings created by God to be in relationship with God and one another. A relationship that finds its fullest expression in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Lord. Christ came to reconcile us with God and each other in the fullness of God’s love.
We are encouraged by Scripture to “consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another”. Hebrews 10: 24, 25 It is in the interdependence of a communal relationship of faith, grounded in Scripture and empowered by the Spirit of God, that humanity reaches its fullest potential finding both identity and meaning. It is when we understand that “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” James 1: 27. The Christian worldview is filtered through the will of God expressed in scripture and revealed in Christ. It is one of mutual forbearance and compassion. It is one in which peace and joy is the consequence of unconditional love. No we are not perfect but by grace we continue to encourage and support one another as we seek to live out the reality of our spirituality within the expression and the faith of the Christian religion. Therefore, by grace we are both spiritual and religious and encourage others to “taste and see that the LORD is good; happy are those who take refuge in him. Psalm 34: 8.
The ministry of Compassion, Peace and Justice encompasses many different aspects of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Whether addressing issues around the rights of farmworkers, responding to a natural disaster or helping communities help themselves, our ultimate goal is to bring people together to reach those in need and share God’s wonderful love.
Our church participates in both the One Great Hour of Sharing and in the Peacemaking offering of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in support of the ministries of the larger church which individual churches cannot offer on their own. Additionally we have a food pantry and provided the entrée meals bimonthly for the ecumenical feeding ministry at St. Anne’s in Brentwood. Additionally, our Matthew 25 Deacons ministry reaches out with compassion to the needs within and outside of our faith community. Love is an action verb that requires good stewardship of our time, talents, and treasures.
When asked what was the greatest commandment Jesus responded – “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22: 37-39
A small group of faithful believers gathered by the labyrinth preparing to enter the winding path leading to its center. This symbolic pilgrimage in prayer is an ancient tool to facilitate the quieting of one’s heart that one may swell at its center in stillness before the presence of God.
The journey toward the center is a pathway of confession, a time of surrendering the stress of the day, of letting go by grace of all the things that burden and limit us. With thanksgiving and holy anticipation we stand humbly at the center in God’s abiding love. We lift our hearts, by the ministry of the Holy Spirit, in supplication and expectation. Here we receive by faith the guidance.
Here is the center we turn our heart toward others as we lift up prayers of intercession for our world, the church, and those whom God places in our hearts. Returning to silence we prepare to return to the ordinary experiences of life. With the words of the Lord’s Prayer meditatively spoken in silence we begin the journey outward. Slowly we follow the winding turns preparing to return to the living of each ordinary day in the presence of God as we follow our Lord Jesus Christ that by grace we may remember always “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with (our) God.” Micah 6: 8
Our next Labyrinth Prayer Service is on August 12, 2015. All are welcome.