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“Rejoice in the Lord” Philippians 4:1,4-9 October 15, 2017

 

Photo credit: Marina Shemesh “protect love”   License: CC0 Public Domain

Psalm 23 (RSV)

 

The Divine Shepherd

A Psalm of David.

23 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want;
    he makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters;
    he restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I fear no evil;
for thou art with me;
    thy rod and thy staff,
    they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
thou anointest my head with oil,
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    for ever.

 

Philippians 4:1, 4-9 (RSV)

Therefore, my brethren, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.;

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you.

Revised Standard Version (RSV)

Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Blessing of the Animals 10-8-17

On October 4,2017, The Church recognized Saint Francis of Assisi Feast day. In our church we  had a simple “Blessing of the Animals”. This year 5 dogs were blessed in person and many others were prayed for in their absence. Animals are mentioned in scripture many times but we first see them in Genesis with the creation story and in the story of Noah and the flood.

Genesis 9:9-10 (RSV)

    9 “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. {1}

 

 

“The animals of God’s creation inhabit the skies, the earth, and the sea.
They share in the fortunes of human existence
   and have a part in human life.
God, who confers gifts on all living things,
   has often used the service of animals
      or made them reminders of the gifts of salvation.
Animals were saved from the flood
   and afterwards made a part of the covenant with Noah.         (GENESIS 9:9–10)” {2}

Animals, many times, play such an important part in our lives. Most even love us unconditionally and have such innocence in the trust that they place in their people. Animals are a gift from God and a gift that we are bound to respect and love back.

   Many blessings, Michelle

{1}Revised Standard Version (RSV)

Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

{2}Credit:  https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/a-service-for-the-blessing-of-animals

“Pressing On” Philippians 3:4-14 / Oct 8, 2017

 

photo credit: Scott Meltzer      License: CC0 Public Domain

Psalm 19:7-10 (RSV)

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
    making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
    enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
    enduring for ever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true,
    and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
    even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
    and drippings of the honeycomb.

 

Philippians 3:4-14 (RSV)

Though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If any other man thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law a Pharisee, as to zeal a persecutor of the church, as to righteousness under the law blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith; 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Pressing toward the Goal

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Revised Standard Version (RSV)

Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved

“Things Left Undone” Matthew 21:23-32 10/01/17

photo credit :George Hodan   License: CC0 Public Domain

Psalm 78:1-4 (RSV)

God’s Goodness and Israel’s Ingratitude

A Maskil of Asaph.

78 Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
    incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
I will open my mouth in a parable;
    I will utter dark sayings from of old,
things that we have heard and known,
    that our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children,
    but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
    and the wonders which he has wrought.

 

Matthew 21:23-32 (RSV)

The Authority of Jesus Questioned

23 And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you a question; and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, whence was it? From heaven or from men?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From men,’ we are afraid of the multitude; for all hold that John was a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.

The Parable of the Two Sons

28 “What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he repented and went. 30 And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him; and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him.

Revised Standard Version (RSV)

Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Newsletter October 2017

Newsletter, October, 2017

Dear Church Family,

We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, with those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

I have always been what one might call a “news-a-holic.” I just never can get enough of what is happening in the world around us—locally, nationally, or globally. But in these recent days—this month in particular—I sit down and wonder—how much worse can it get? I mean, really—Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Jose’; the fires in the Northwest and Canada; the earthquake in Mexico City; the threats and rhetoric of conflict, even war, that seem to fill the air even as I write.

I watch the TV, I read on my computer, I look at the newspaper—and I know you do the same—and I wonder where this is all taking us. If I told you I had the answer, I would be lying. But I have learned over these 61 years that it does me no good to sit around and wonder why all of this is happening, and seemingly happening all at once.

But then, I realize our job, as Christians, the ones who profess to be followers of the One who fed and healed and comforted and prayed, is to be the folks who do the same, not sit around and whine and point fingers and say, “Why me?” or “Why us?”

There is no shortage of opportunities for ministry. Our mission and our task is to look for those opportunities for ministry, and instead of “being in the church,” let’s seek out “the least of these,” and then let’s go “be the church.” And maybe our main opportunity for ministry is to pray for those affected, for those with big decisions to make. Let’s do not fail to do what needs to be done as we seek to minister to others.

October is “Toilet Paper Month.” We are collecting packages of toilet paper to take to FISH (Faith in Sharing House), our local food bank. Toilet paper is a big need among those in need.

Our Fall Study is in full swing, dealing with prayer. Each lesson is independent of the others, so feel free to join us at any or all of the remaining sessions. We meet on Tuesdays from 7-8 PM in the fellowship hall. Our study concludes October 24.

Our kids will be having their major fall fundraiser, the 5th Annual Enchilada Casserole Fundraiser, on Sunday, October 22, raising funds for camp and other activities throughout the year. You will be able to eat after church in the fellowship hall, or you will be able to take it home. If you would like to eat later, the kids will be serving in the evening, also.

Our church has purchased an automatic external defibrillator (AED). The machine will be mounted in the fellowship hall. On October 22 at 9 AM in the fellowship hall, our own Rusty Powers, fire chief for the City of Plainview, will be leading a training session for CPR and use of the AED. There is no cost for this training, unless one needs a certification card. The church will cover that cost for members ($5).

First Christian Church congratulates The Rev. Dr. Doug Skinner in celebrating 20 years of ministry at Northway Christian Church in Dallas. Several of us were fortunate to hear Doug at the Disciples of Christ Gospel Weekend event at First Christian Church-Lubbock in September. Doug and Mary Lynn served FCC-Plainview in the early-mid 1980s, and is fondly remembered by those that were here during his tenure.

And we welcome the Rev. Dr. Andy Mangum, who will begin his tenure as Regional Minister on November 1. Andy has previously served as senior minister of First Christian Church-Arlington. Andy will do a great job for folks in the Christian Church in the Southwest.

Sarah and I are indeed grateful for all that you do for us. We look forward to having you over to the parsonage in the near future. If you know of new ministry opportunities, don’t hesitate to let us know.

Blessings,

Richard+

“Unfair?” Matthew 20:1-16 Sept.24, 2017

photo credit: Jean Beaufort    License: CC0 Public Domain

Psalm 103:1-5 (RSV)

Thanksgiving for God’s Goodness

A Psalm of David.

103 Bless the Lord, O my soul;
and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

 

Matthew 20:1-16(RSV)

The Laborers in the Vineyard

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place; and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing; and he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the householder, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you, and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”

 

Revised Standard Version (RSV)

Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Works Under Construction , Matthew 18:21-35 9/17/17

photo credit: alex grichenko    http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/

Matthew 18:21-35 (RSV)

Forgiveness

21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; 25 and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32 Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; 33 and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

 

Psalm 103:8-12 (RSV)

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
    nor will he keep his anger for ever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
    nor requite us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

Revised Standard Version (RSV)

Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

“Let it Go” Matthew 18:15-20 Sept. 10, 2017

Photo credit: Michelle Swim

Psalm 119:33-35 (RSV)

33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes;
    and I will keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, that I may keep thy law
    and observe it with my whole heart.
35 Lead me in the path of thy commandments,
    for I delight in it.

Matthew 18:15-20 (RSV)

Reproving Another Who Sins

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

Revised Standard Version (RSV)

Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Telling the Truth Matthew 16:21-28 Sept. 3, 2107

photo credit: Michelle Swim

Psalm 26:1-3 (RSV)

Plea for Justice and Declaration of Righteousness

A Psalm of David.

26 Vindicate me, O Lord,
    for I have walked in my integrity,
    and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
Prove me, O Lord, and try me;
    test my heart and my mind.
For thy steadfast love is before my eyes,
    and I walk in faithfulness to thee.

 

Matthew 16:21-28 (RSV)

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men.”

The Cross and Self-Denial

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? 27 For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”

Revised Standard Version (RSV)

Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Newsletter September 2017

Newsletter, September, 2017

Oh, my goodness!

The summer is gone. No one told me that, as we get older, the days go by a lot faster. It’s fall. School is starting, and things are starting to perk up around the church.

The vast majority of us has been out of school for a long time, or at least, some time, but it seems that when school starts, everybody seems to get back in focus, most vacation time slows down, and we get back to a routine that seems to point us toward holiday seasons and the next vacation times.

Our first big opportunity of the fall is to spend a weekend with the Reverend Dr. Doug Skinner. Doug was the pastor of FCC-Plainview when I was in seminary in the 1980s, and is a good friend of many in this congregation. Doug will be in Lubbock for a program at FCC-Lubbock September 8 and 9. He will be preaching Friday evening and teaching Saturday morning. There is no charge for this event. Even if you have never met Doug, you will want to hear this great man of God teach and preach.

Our Fall Study Series begins September 19, and will continue for six weeks. We will begin on September 19, and will conclude on October 24. We always begin at 7:00 PM, and are usually out by 8:00 PM, or a little after. Our study this fall will be about prayer. I encourage you to come and join us.

Our Dine & Devote group continues to meet every Wednesday at 6:00 PM at a local restaurant. Dine & Devote is a great opportunity for fellowship, and concludes with a brief devotional. We always have room for more folks to join in for this mid-week gathering.

The Senior Adult Ministry—SAM—meets every 4th Tuesday at 11:45 AM at a designated place for food and fellowship. But don’t let the name of the group fool you—we have folks of all ages join us for this monthly opportunity.

On another note,s I am writing this article, the remnants of Hurricane Harvey are still devastating the people of southeast Texas. The storms and rain will end this week, but the losses will continue from flooding for days to come, and it will take a long time to clean up from this horrible storm.

I would imagine that all of us have family members, friends, friends of family, and family of friends who are being affected by Harvey, and at the time of this writing, it’s not over yet. We may be limited by what we can do physically for these folks in the way of the storm, but we can certainly lift them up in prayer day by day. Also, our church’s relief effort, the week of Compassion fund, is already on this situation, and is a good offering to use for getting help to needed areas. Week of Compassion sends 100% of monies donated to these types of catastrophes.

Finally, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the Southwest, our regional church, has extended a call to the Reverend Andy Mangum, senior minister of First Christian Church in Arlington, to become the new Regional Minister. I know Andy, and am looking forward to working with him when he comes on board November.

Sarah and I are almost completely settled in the parsonage. We thank you for all you have done for us. We look forward to having you in our home.

Blessings and peace,

Richard+