Friday, December 18, 2009

Good Shepherd Update Friday, December 18, 2009

Dear Good Shepherd,

This Sunday is a very big one. The annual "Greening of the Church", a Potluck lunch, Dress Rehearsal for the pageant. There will be a lot going on and, hopefully, alot of food to eat. So please come and invite your friends.

Music Minister Search is Over: The search for a music director has been successful. Tim Wetherbee is both an accomplished musician (organ and piano) and an experienced director. He has directed church music for over 40 years and has led music at Zion Episcopal Church in Greene and St. Andrew's, Vestal and is currently director of music at St. Ambrose Catholic Church. He leads both contemporary and traditional music and favors a blended approach combining both. 

He is, moreover, a believer in Jesus Christ, a committed Christian, who seeks to use his great gifts for the glory of God

He accepted our offer Thursday morning. The worship committee, the vestry, Tim and I believe that God has called him here. He will start at Good Shepherd on January 17th, 2010.

Thanks be to God first of all, and thank you, secondly, to the worship committee members who have worked so well and diligently.

Thank you finally to Chris Vail, Joyce Carlson and Jane Bronson who have worked so hard and well to keep the music program going during the interim.

Greening the Church (Christmas Decorating)On December 20th, THIS SUNDAY we will be decorating the church for Christmas. We need all the help we can get. This is the first time we have celebrated Christmas in our new building so we need people to come up with some fresh ideas for the decorations we already have. 

Decorating will be preceded by lunch and pageant dress rehearsal (which you can read about below) and we should be finished decorating by about 2pm

Pot Luck LunchThere will be a pot luck lunch right after the 10:30 am service on December 20th which is this Sunday.  For those who are new to Good Shepherd, this means that we all bring a great dish to share with everyone.  If you are not a cook, bring some bread or rolls and butter, or some veggies to nibble on.  Anything will be just great...after all, it is "pot luck."

DRESS REHEARSAL for Christmas Pageant PLEASE STAY for the Dress Rehearsal which will . The practice will start DIRECTLY after the 10:30 service. Everyone involved should stay upstairs and gather in the front two pews. This is a busy time of year and I know everyone gets hungry and tired after church, so the sooner we can begin practice the better. See you all on Sunday!

Choir Practice: In preparation for the Christmas Eve service, the choir is meeting Saturdays at 11am. If you cannot make one, please try to make the other. 

Christmas Bake Sale Report: The annual Christmas bake sale this year raised over $700.00 for the ACK congregation in the Kwenda slum in Nairobi. That, paired with the other contributions this year, should be enough to pay for a years rent. Some have asked how we will get the donations to Nairobi. Mail or any other method would be highly ineffective. Instead the money will be placed in a bank account in the United States that the Kwenda church will be able to access directly through a debit card which we will get to Nairobi via a courier who we know to be visiting Anne's parents there in early January. From that point they will be able to access that account and withdraw what they need for rent and other necessities. Thank you to everyone who has contributed in any way to this ongoing program to help this needy church. 

Systematic Theology  will meet this Saturday at 3:30pm. We'll discuss the Truthfulness of God and, hopefully, at least one or two more of his Moral Attributes ... Here is the recording from the last class. Looking forward to seeing you Saturday at 3:30pm in the parish hall. 

Christmas Eve Worship Schedule: The Christmas Eve service will begin this year at 5pm with carols. After that the service will start. The first half, the liturgy of the word, will be taken up with the pageant. The second half will be Communion. It will be a "high service," meaning there will be incense, etc. Carmen's son JJ has agreed to play the organ for us. Plan to be there and invite your friends. The pageant has grown bigger every year and this year will continue that trend. More kids have speaking parts than did last year and we have lots more sheep and shepherds.

Also, Murielle will be baptized on Christmas Eve. 

Christmas Day: On Christmas Day there will be one service at 11am. It is generally a quiet and small one. There will be no music but there will be communion and a sermon. 

Pledge Cards: Please Remember to turn in your pledge cards this Sunday

The week after Christmas (with the exception of Sunday) I will be taking off So no one will be in the office from Christmas Day until the following Sunday with the exception of Sunday the 27th which will be services as usual.

Free Computer for someone in Need: I have an Windows XP computer and monitor (not flat-screen) to give to a family or cause that can truly use it.  I am also willing to give the designated party any assistance needed getting started as I have dipped my hand into a bit of Information Technologies (IT) work before in the past.  The computer is already equipped with free anti-virus and anti-spamming programs that are (practically) maintance free.  I think some type of word processor (Microsoft Work or Open Office) is also on their along with Adobe's PDF reader.  Bascially all the regular things.  I would like to have it out of the house by the end of the month if at all possible (from Joe Kovac).

Christmas Outreach: In order to assist some families with challenges during this Christmas season, please bring to church one or more of the following items : 
boy size 8-9 (loves spiderman) snow pants, pajamas, jeans, sweat pants
girl size 24 months any clothing
money for gift cards 
If you have the means/desire to help, please do so by Sunday.

Open Office Hour Changes (reminder): My open office hours have been 9am-1pm Tuesday through Thursday every week for about 2 years now. During those times you have been invited and welcome to walk in without an appointment and talk to me about anything. Of course, you can always make appointments for other times, too.

Open Office Hour change reminder: my open office hours (when you are invited to drop in to talk about anything without making an appointment) from Tuesday - Thursday to Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 9am-1pm.

There are a number of reasons for this change:
1. Most people don't work on Saturdays but do work on Tuesdays. Having Sat. office hours make more sense.
2. Saturday used to be a study day for me, but with Systematic Theology and various events (like this week's bake sale) happening on Saturday, it no longer works out that way and I don't get any studying done. So I might as well take Tuesday as my study day and be at church all Saturday.
3. Tuesdays, which used to be very busy, have now, since Chris V. and Ife O. are teaching the two Bible studies, suddenly become very open...which means I could use Tuesdays, when people are at work, to get a lot of studying done. 

Morning Prayer: This also means a change in the Morning Prayer schedule. I need to talk more with the regulars but I will most likely add Saturday to the Morning Prayer 9:30am rather than 8:30am (just on Saturdays). Morning Prayer on Tuesdays-Friday will continue at 8:30am.

Vestry Meeting: There will be a special vestry meeting on Wednesday the 23rd of December at 6pm.
Christmas Flowers: The donations for the Christmas flowers are due on December 20th.  Please be sure to put your name down as donor and the names of the people you wish to honor, whether they are living of deceased.  The names will be listed in the Christmas bulletin.  Remember that if you mail it in the envelope provided, cross out the 74 Conklin Ave. and change it to 356 Conklin Ave.

Friend Looking for Work (from Kellie French): One of my housemates, Natalia, is here from Russia. She's a grad student and the terms of her visa don't allow her to apply for jobs here, so she's looking for odd jobs to do - babysitting, cleaning, tutoring, secretarial work, etc. - because she still has bills to pay. (Her English is excellent - she got a Master's in it!) So far she's received two offers (thank you both so much!), but in her other time she may be able to take on more, so please let her know if you have something you'd like help with. Many thanks from both her and me! 

Parishioner in Need: One of our parishioners has had difficulties with her car and does not have the money necessary to make repairs. So far we have received approximately75 dollars. She needs about $300.00. If you would like to help this person please call the church office or email me at

Women's Bible Study: There will be Women's Bible Study at 10am in the parish hall.

Audio and Video of Last Sunday's Sermon: Some believe that prior to the rise of the "Man of Lawlessness" described by Paul in 2nd Thessalonians 2:3, Jesus will return secretly to raise dead believers from the grave and take up living believers into heaven in order to escape what some call The Great Tribulation. Is that really what the bible teaches about the last days? Last Sunday's sermon dealt with that question and many more in a discussion entitled "Will There Really be a Rapture?" You can watch it below:

This Sunday's Sermon: This Sunday we'll move on to chapter 5 of 1st Thessalonians  which deals with the way Christians are to live in preparation for the second coming of Christ. Here's the text (1 Thess 5:1-11):

1Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
 4But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. 7For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Question and Answer (from a young parishioner):  When did Jesus become God?

Answer: Jesus never "became" God, he was both fully God and fully human from the moment of his conception. There was never a time in Jesus' existence that he was not both God and Man in one Person. The words of the angel Gabrielle to Mary were:

"The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God." Luke 1:35

From these words it is clear that Mary's pregancy was the direct result of divine intervention so that the human baby created in her womb was, from the very moment of conception, "the Son of God"

That is important to remember when we consider the love of God for unborn babies. We are, from the moment of our conception, living human beings, created in God's image, and our humanity from conception on has been lived and experienced by the Son of God who lived in Mary's womb for nine months. 

This, at the very least, means that believers in Jesus Christ must never support abortion in any way shape form but always oppose it in every way possible as it represents the killing of a human child. 

Support for life, nevertheless, needs always to paired with the message of God's compassionate mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ and his infinite love for those women who have had abortions in their past and who seek him now. There is no sin that cannot be washed clean and completely forgiven. Jesus' death on the cross was and remains sufficient for my sins, yours and those of all who come to him.  

Christian Education: The Incarnation of God the Son...Be sure to be there this Sunday. We'll continue our look at the biblical evidence for the virgin conception of Jesus and we'll watch a clip of a sermon preached in New Zealand by a minister who rejects the idea and talking about ways to address those who raise his and similar arguments.

Youth Group: There will be no youth meetings this week.

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