Friends in Faith,
It was great to be in worship with you on Sunday after a wonderful family vacation in our previous stomping ground of Tucson, Arizona. The metaphor for the trip was revealed in what was once the dusty front yard (desert) of our hold home. Years ago, we planted saplings that are now healthy, tall and in full bloom, providing much needed beauty and shade… a reminder of the ways God brings things to fruit in God’s good time.
The trip to Tucson was also a reminder of the diversity and vibrancy of Christ’s church beyond our small congregation. We visited Southside Presbyterian Church a diverse and active congregation where Gretchen served as Interim Pastor, as well as Presbyterian Campus Ministry, my previous ministry with college students at the University of Arizona. After our time in Tucson, we headed to Los Angeles, where I had a chance to visit Homeboy Industries, a powerful ministry with gang members led by Father Greg Boyle, aka “G.” I can’t recommend his most recent book – Barking to the Choir: the Power of Radical Kinship – highly enough.
During the sermon last Sunday, I couldn’t help but reference a story from Father G’s book about a former gang member who said that it’s all about “making a good expression.” This was a perfect fit for our exploration of Paul’s exchange in Athens with the intellectual elite of his day. Paul employed some sophisticated rhetorical strategies to share the good news of Jesus Christ in their own philosophical framework. But, what was truly transformative was his ability to listen with love.
Speaking of listening with love, we had the opportunity to do just that as we heard a wonderful flute offertory from Madeleine Correllus, accompanied by her mother, Rebecca. We have several folks who have signed up to offer their own talents – musical, poetry, etc. – for our Mother’s Day Flowers & Music service (see ENCOUNTERING GOD below), and we hope you’ll consider it as well. Please be sure to RSVP by next Monday, May 7th.
But, before then, we’ll begin a three-week series on Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi this Sunday, May 6th. The Epistle to the Philippians reveals both Paul’s deep love for the congregation, as well as his deep trust of God in all circumstances. It’s a fitting letter for a fitting time. Hope to see you there.
PS – Thanks for your patience as we transition to life without our Admin. Instead of rushing to hire someone new, we are going to take some time to review the position and assess what kind of office support we need. This may take a while, but we’ll keep you posted as we get clearer.
Food Donations – This month we are collecting food donations at the sanctuary entrance for:
- First Presbyterian Church Welcome Table (Fri & Sat hot meal): mayo, pasta, sauce, canned meats, beans, powdered drinks
- St. Andrews Food Pantry (Sat food distribution): hot/cold cereals and Parmalat (shelf-stable milk), the next deadline for donations will be May 20th.
(here)after Art Show – The Faith in Art Gallery at the Amity Arts Center invited local and regional artists to explore the theme (here)after and enter work that is any interpretation of the call. For example, what comes next upon death, the effects on those left behind, any physical, emotional or spiritual shift or evolution after a significant change or loss. As part of the exhibition there will be several conversations about art and death before and after. Exhibition runs through May 27th.
(here)after and the Resurrection – Death will come for us all. How do we understand – and live with – this truth? All are invited to join Pastor Ben in the Faith in Art Gallery of the Amity Arts Center for a conversation on the Christian understanding of the mystery of death in light of the mystery of the resurrection. Conversation will begin at 12pm on Sunday, May 20th.
Flowers & Music – Our annual Mother’s Day tradition is right around the corner. On Sunday, May 13th, we’ll remember the gift of motherhood, in all of its powerful complexity. It’s also a time when you can participate in the service. Here’s how:
- Bring in flowers from your lawn/garden to decorate the Sanctuary by 9:30am on Sunday
- Share a creative offering for the service: music, poetry, an original skit, etc. Offerings should be 2-5 minutes and title/presenter/type of offering should be communicated to the church office (email@example.com) by Monday, May 7th
Stephen Ministry – Deacon Rose Quirk has been commissioned into a special ministry of care and concern for others as a Stephen Minister. This rite of commissioning culminates a period of extensive training and preparation. Following the commissioning, Rose has begun building a team of Stephen Ministers who will serve our congregation and community, working with people who are experiencing such life crises as hospitalization, retirement, financial setbacks, the loss of a loved one, or other difficulties of daily living. Their ministries will increase greatly the overall ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ at First Presbyterian. If you are interested in becoming a Stephen’s Minister, contact Rose at (845) 765-1985 or firstname.lastname@example.org.