Thursday, December 10, 2009

Good Shepherd Update Thursday December 10th, 2009

Dear Good Shepherd,

I hope all is well with you. This is the Third Week of Advent.

Christmas Bake Sale: The annual Christmas bake sale will begin Saturday at 10am and last until 2pm. This year the proceeds will all go directly for the benefit of the ACK church in the Kwenda slum in Nairobi. Thank you to the ACW and everyone who will help serve and contribute in any way to this campaign.

Systematic Theology  will meet this Saturday. We're moving into a discussion of the Mental Attributes of God and the Moral Attributes... Here is a (partial) the recording from the last class. Unfortunately, I only had tape for the first half hour. 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.

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 on December 20th.  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."

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.

Choir Practice: In preparation for the Christmas Eve service, the choir is meeting both Thursdays at 7:30pm and Saturdays at 11pm. If you cannot make one, please try to make the other.

Christmas Pageant PLEASE STAY for the practice. 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!

Open Office Hour Changes: 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.
Beginning THIS week, however, I will be changing my office hours 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 will also mean 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 vestry meeting at 6:30pm on Wednesday December 16th

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.

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.

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 one offer (thank you 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 approximately 50 dollars. 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 1 is scheduled to serve tonight at the Shepherd's Bowl.

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: There will be No Women's Bible Study this Saturday in order to make way for the Christmas Bake Sale.

Audio and Video of Last Sunday's Sermon: 
Is there such thing as Purgatory? What about soul sleep? Where do our souls go after death? In case you missed it, here it is: What Happens to Believers Who Die?.

This Sunday's Sermon: This Sunday we'll move on from verse 13 and cover the rest of chapter 4 which deals with the second coming of Christ, the resurrection and what has been called the "rapture" of believers.

 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.

Question and Answer (from a parishioner):  If we go to heaven or hell directly after death what then is the purpose of the judgment? Are we not already where we would be anyhow? Why doesn't the judgement happen at death?

Answer: Good questions: in some sense judgment takes place now. In John 3:16-21, we learn that those who commit their lives to Jesus Christ now, are already saved and those who do not are "already condemned." Your response to the gospel of Jesus Christ is itself a judgment.

And on the basis of your decision when you die you go either to be with Christ or to the place of torment spiritually. But, as you note, this is not the final judgment.

In the last line of my sermon I mentioned that even those believers who are "asleep" or who's souls live consciously in the presence of Christ, are not in "heaven" in the technical sense. Nor is it technically "hell" for those who are separated from him in the place of torment.

God's original purpose was to create human beings as unified creatures...with undivided bodies and souls. Sin destroyed that unity. But God's purposes and plans are eternal. So it would not be full redemption to merely remain with Jesus spiritually and to have the body/soul unity forever rent assunder. Sin and death would, in that case, still rule and reign over God's created order. Death would still stand victorious.

The fullness of heaven will only be realized when both sin and the effects of sin (bodily death) have been completely destroyed. That will be what takes place at the resurrection when our spirits will be reunited with our bodies--and our bodies will be transformed from bodies that are subject to death, age, disease, illness imperishable bodies (1st Corinthians 15). And we will live on a remade earth with Jesus forever. That will be Heaven (Rev 21) in the ultimate sense.

Hell also will be experienced not simply spiritually, but bodily as well. (Rev. 20) Otherwise the just consequences for sins done in the body would not be able to be experienced in the body.

So the resurrection will be the final fulfillment of God's redemptive plan for his creation.

Men's Bible Study and Breakfast: Dave Delany 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: The Incarnation of God the Son...this is a short two or three class series on the meaning and nature of the incarnation. We'll discuss how God "became" man both historically and theologically. How can humanity and divinity reside in the one Person? Is Jesus really God? Is he really a full human being? How can you be fully human and never sin? How can you be fully God and die? Was Mary really a virgin? We'll discuss all these questions and more.

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