Thursday, December 3, 2009

Good Shepherd Update Thursday December 3rd, 2009

Dear Good Shepherd, 

I hope all is well with you. Second week of Advent is coming up. Hope you're ready....also St. Nicholas Day is this Sunday which means that on Saturday you might want to put a pair of your shoes out by the fireplace and maybe he'll leave something for you in the morning...unless you've been very bad. St. Nicholas has graced us with his presence may be that he will do so again this Sunday. He's sort of unreliable for a saint though, so we'll have to wait and see.

The Real St. excerpt from  an article that may be read here:

The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.
Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals—murderers, thieves and robbers. After his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church...
Baptism this Sunday: Siyi Zhang will be Baptised this Sunday and welcomed into the visible body of Christ. She is already a believer in Jesus which means that she is already a member of his invisible Body, the fellowship of all who believe. But by baptism, she will commit herself publicly to Jesus Christ and to the covenant community that bears his name. Please come and help celebrate this great day.

Systematic Theology
  will meet this Saturday. We're moving into a discussion of the Communicable attributes. Here is a the recording from the last class. Looking forward to seeing you Saturday at 3:30pm in the parish hall.

Christmas Eve: 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.

Makeup Acolyte practice: If you missed practice last Sunday, we'll have another practice session this Sunday during Pageant practice. I'll pull you out and we'll go over the things you missed.

Acolyte Practice for Christmas Eve Volunteers:
those who volunteered to serve as acolytes during the pageant will be held also after the 10:30am service

Christmas Pageant PLEASE STAY for the practice. This week we'll be assigning parts and passing out scripts. There are parts for everyone and plenty of other jobs if you want to be involved. 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!

Capital Campaign:
We are in the middle of our Stewardship Campaign and I wanted to mention in midstream that the Capital Campaign is still in need of people willing to commit to give on a regular basis. Many of you have made very generous three year giving commitments (in January we'll be moving into year 2). These will be crucial The hope is, and this is actually one of our five year goals, to pay off our mortgage in five years. Presently we are renting out the school building which helps defray mortgage costs, but think of what we could do with that building should we pay off our mortgage.  There are so many ways we could use that building to bear witness to Jesus Christ, educate, help those in need etc...but presently, for the next five years, we cannot. And simply in terms of mission and ministry, with mortgage paid, we'll have that much more money to pour into our efforts to expand the Kingdom of God. If you are able, over and above your pledge to the church, please consider committing to the Capital Campaign so that we can pay off the mortgage by 2014.

Stewardship Campaign: Just a reminder that we are asking for pledge cards to be returned by December 13th, 2009. Please think and pray about your giving this year.

What is Advent? (I'm running this again because people have asked about it): The season of Advent begins Sunday November 29th, the Sunday after Thanksgiving. The word "advent" comes from the Latin word "adventus" which means "coming". Advent is a season of preparation during which, historically, the Church has focused both on both the coming of Jesus Christ at his birth and his second coming at the end of the age.

For many Christians, Advent is a season of repentance, almost like Lent, in which John the Baptist's call to Israel, "repent and prepare for the coming of the Lord" becomes a call for believers to examine our hearts and lives and, with God's grace, to rid ourselves of those things which we've set in the way of Jesus Christ and his purposes and desires for us in preparation for his second Advent at the end of the age.

There is, however, a tinge of joy also. We are waiting for the coming of a new Kingdom, a new heaven and a new earth, the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ who has already guaranteed the inheritance, resurrection, and eternal life to all who have committed their lives to him.

All this can be somewhat strange feeling...while the rest of the world begins celebrating Christmas right after Thanksgiving (it seems) with carols and lights and decorations, our worship retains a solemn but hopeful feel right up to Christmas Eve (when the church is decked out in lights and color to celebrate the Lord's birth).

But this "hopeful solemnity", because it stands out so much in this season, might also prove to be an opportunity to share the gospel with non-Christian guests--an opportunity to talk about who Jesus is, the virgin born Son of God, the saving work did for us in his life, death and resurrection, and his second coming as both Judge and Deliverer.

Liturgically, you will notice a few changes. The color of my stole (the long scarf-like thing Anglican pastors wear around their necks to symbolize the fact that we are yoked to Christ, or slaves of Christ) and the chasuble (the pancho-like vestment that symbolizes the righteousness of Christ that he has imputed to believers through faith that makes it possible for us to be in communion with the Father) will go from green which is used during "regular time" (during Pentecost and from Epiphany to Lent) to either blue or purple...Blue is used to point to the coming dawn. It recalls the darkness before the birth of Christ and the dawn of his birth and second coming. Purple is the more traditional color that symbolizes repentance and sorrow for sin.

On the third Sunday of Advent, the liturgical color changes, for one Sunday only, from blue or purple to "rose" because that is the Sunday traditionally set aside to honor the faith and faithfulness of Mary. At Good Shepherd, we do not pray to or through Mary. Scripture teaches and so we believe that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived in her womb through the Holy Spirit and remained a virgin until after Jesus was born when she and Joseph had more children. God gave her amazing faith and courage and we revere her as the mother who bore and raised the very Son of God incarnate but recognize that she also was a sinner saved through faith in her own Son. Her song of praise in Luke 1:46-55 is a beautiful testimony to God's grace and saving power in her own life and in ours.

During Advent you will also notice a tall candle standing in the center of the altar area. Near the top, you will see what looks like a Christmas wreath with four candles. This is an Advent wreath. Each Sunday in Advent (there are four) one candle is lit until Christmas Eve when all the candles are lighted. As each candle is lit, over the course of four Sundays, the increasing light represents the light of Christ steadily defeating the darkness of the fallen world and ultimately overcoming it.

If you have any questions during this season (or any other time) please feel free to email me at or give me a call at 773-4810

ACW Christmas Outreach: If you or a family that you know is in need of help with Christmas gifts, please speak to Anne or Matt. The women of the Church of the Good Shepherd (ACW) will be organizing a Christmas outreach. A Christmas tree with ages, sizes, and genders of needy children will soon be displayed in the Parish Hall. Parishioners may select one or more children for whom they may purchase an appropriate article of clothing and a toy. These should be brought to the church wrapped and labeled before Christmas Eve. If you have questions, see Pat Chaney or Carmen.

Greening the Church (Christmas Decorations):On December 20th, we will be decorating the church.  Since this is the first time we have done so in this church home, we need people to come up with some fresh ideas for the decorations we already have.  Please come with your time and ideas. 

Pot Luck Lunch: we will have a pot luck lunch right after the 10:30 am service.  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."

Alistair Begg: Personal Evangelism parts A and B: So how do we talk to people about Jesus? Do we share our experiences, do we say what Jesus has done for us? Or do we lead off with the content of the gospel, who Jesus is and what he has done to reconcile fallen humanity to God? Alistair Begg addresses those questions here

And here is part B.

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.

The Manhatten Declaration: In recent years, in the United States and in Europe, there have been increasing attempts by abortion advocates and those who favor same sex "marriage" to create laws and regulations that criminalize Christian pastors, churches and organizations, that maintain the biblical standard in both preaching, serving, and hiring practices. In response to this growing threat, a number of Christian leaders including our own archbishop, Robert Duncan, have signed the Manhattan Declaration which commits them to resisting to the point of not obeying laws that would force them to disobey God's word. You can read the declaration here. And you can sign it here.

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, but she needs a way to make some money because she still has bills to pay. If anyone has something they'd like some short-term hired help with (babysitting, cleaning, tutoring, secretarial work, something else completely?), she would love to know about it. She's in her twenties, her English is excellent (she got a Master's in it!), and while work happening between now and February is ideal because semesters are busy for PhD students, she might be open to work even extending through the rest of the school year. Please let me know if you're interested. 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. She needs about $300.00. If you would like to help this person please call the church office or email me at

Shepherd's Bowl: Team 5 is scheduled to serve tonight at the Shepherd's Bowl. Lee Bronson has volunteered to cook. His wife Jane and Joseph and Andrea Kovac along with perhaps a contingent of students will launch team five tonight.

Beginner's Bible Study: Beginner's Bible Study is on for tonight. We will be continuing in John 3 this evening.

Women's Bible Study: Meets this Saturday in the parish hall at 10:00am. They are currently studying the book of Isaiah. All women are welcome.

Audio and Video of Last Sunday's Sermon:  In case you missed it, here is Katy McFadden's sermon from two Sunday's ago. The video of my sermon from last week did not come out well so I'll hopefully be able to retape it today and post it up.

I announced last Sunday that we're skipping ahead in 1st Thessalonians to chapter 4:13 through the first sections of chapter 5 for Advent. We'll return to the first part of chapter 4 and our discussion of sexual purity afterwards. But for Advent we'll be focusing on the return of Christ, what happens to us after we die, and "the rapture"...all traditional topics during Advent and 1st Thessalonians 4:13 to chapter 5 is one of the key passages in the NT where these matters are discussed:

 13Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18Therefore encourage each other with these words.

1 Thessalonians 5

 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.

This Sunday we'll discuss death. Why does Paul use the word "sleep" in verse 13 in reference to dead believers? Do we really go to sleep? What happens to Christians between the time of our death and the time of our resurrection.

Men's Bible Study and Breakfast: Joe Barham is scheduled to cook Breakfast is served at 6:30am and the study starts at the same time. All men are welcome. We've now moved into 2nd Samuel.

Christian Education: Science and the Bible/Creation and Evolution.  This Sunday we'll sum up our class on Science and scripture and then... move into a brief Advent series on the conception and birth of Jesus Christ. We'll start this Sunday by considering the biblical evidence for the virgin conception and the arguments of those who reject the idea that Jesus was born of a virgin. We'll also discuss and think about why this doctrine matters so much. Does it really make a difference if Jesus is not virgin born?

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