Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thursday Notes

Dear Good Shepherd,

Happy Thursday:

A Day of Prayer and Fasting for Good Shepherd: In the midst of troubled times and crises the people of God often gather together to seek his protection and help through fasting and prayer.

One example among many in scripture can be found in the book of Joel. A great swarm of locusts had ravaged the crops and the people faced starvation. Here is how the prophet Joel called them to respond:

Consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly.
Gather the elders
and all the inhabitants of the land
to the house of the Lord your God,
and cry out to the Lord. (Joel 1:14)

At Good Shepherd we face a court hearing on December 12th that could end with our eviction from our present location, the loss of our assets, and the end of a vital ministry to the poor and hungry in this neighborhood, and the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ on the corner of Conklin and Livingston.

For that reason, this Saturday, November 22, from 10am to 4pm, you are invited to join in a Day of Fasting and Prayer. There will be a number of pastors including Bill Puckey, Ron Goldberg, Tony Seel, and Jim Jones present to encourage us and lead in prayer as well as some guest musicians from all around Binghamton.

God is sovereign over every institution, including the court system. We do not need to fear for our future whether God brings legal victory or not. His promises to us stand forever. But because God is sovereign we pray for his gracious protection and defense on December 12th.

It is so very important for every member of the parish to be there (fasting is optional of course). I hope and pray that you will set aside everything else to be for this event. Bring devotional books, your bible, a notebook, anything to help you spend the day in prayer. I wrote a brief prayer guide a couple of weeks ago for one of our weekly prayer meetings and, drawing from Nehemiah's prayer found in the first chapter of the book named after him, I identified five principles (below) that should guide our prayers during this time. It might help to print them out and bring them on Sunday:

1. We pray, recognizing that we are seeking God's grace and mercy, not "fairness" or "justice".

2. We pray for victory, believing that God will be glorified before the world...a victory in court against such great odds would be a clear witness to his soveriengty over all things and it would, in the eyes of many, provide vindication for the truth of scripture, God's Word, on which we have taken our stand.

3. We pray, believing that God has the power to do what we ask (see Hebrews 11:6). We believe that God has the power to effect even the mind and heart of a secular judges.

4. We pray, believing that the power of our prayer lies in God's power not our faith. Faith is not a force. We cannot will God to do something by believing it hard enough. God will act always in accordance with his own will and purpose. We pray then that we are standing and walking in that purpose.

5. We pray, trusting that even if God's answer is "no" that he gives good gifts to his children...that when he closes one door, he opens another. That he has promised to provide for us in one way or another.

Good Shepherd in the News: I was interviewed this week on Family Life Radio regarding the Day of Prayer and our situation with the lawsuit. The interview lasts about 5 minutes. You can listen to it by following this link:

If you were trying to find it by following the link I posted yesterday, use the one above instead since the station changed the URL.

3. Here is the audio for Last Sunday's sermon on the Second Greatest Commandment or...

Download "The Second Greatest Commandment" in MP3 format

Sermon this Sunday: This Sunday's sermon will be based on the Gospel text assigned for the week: Matthew 25:31-46...the Sheep and the Goats...if you have the time try to read it before hand to prepare your mind and heart.

Thanksgiving service: This coming Tuesday is the annual South Side Ecumenical Council's Thanksgiving service. The service starts at 7:00pm at St. Andrew's Catholic Church on Conklin Avenue. It's a great way to start Thanksgiving week. Here's a map. Both Anne and I will be speaking.

Men's Breakfast Cook: Tom and Brian Madigan are scheduled to cook for the Men's Breakfast and Bible Study tomorrow morning.

Bible Studies during Thanksgiving week: There will be no bible studies during Thanksgiving week (unless Chris Vail decides to have his on Tuesday morning). Enjoy your time with family.

Sunday Christian Ed: We'll start to wrap up our Christian Education series on division in the Church this Sunday, speaking about the Orthodox and some of the later developments in the ecumenical movement and drawing some conclusions. We'll also be discussing what topic we might take up in the next series. Hope to see you there.

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