Take a minute to look back on your life. Who all have you lived with? In the earliest parts of our lives, we might live with parents or grandparents or other caring adults. Perhaps siblings. Over the years, we might live with friends and extended family, family of choice or even sometimes with strangers. And sometimes we might find ourselves living alone.
No matter whom we live with now, or whom we have lived with before, God’s vision for the world is that everyone find a place within God’s kingdom—God’s house. What we celebrate at Pentecost is God’s pouring out of the Holy Spirit so that people of every identity and language can hear a word of welcome into God’s household. All belong in God’s household, and we get to live together, and learn together and celebrate together.
At Pentecost, we look especially to the children, youth and young adults with whom God has called us to live. The psalmist reminds us of the importance of faith being established during our earliest years, saying, “God from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.” God’s youngest family members need support to build their full potential in both faith and life, and all of us have a role to play.
These young ones also show and sometimes teach all of us more about faith in Jesus Christ and how the Holy Spirit is moving in our world.
In Isaiah 58, the author is addressing a people who have returned to Jerusalem,
where the Temple—God’s house—was in shambles. I imagine it was a heartbreaking
scene. And in that rubble, the prophet challenges the people not to rebuild the
building or to restore their religious rituals, but to care for the hungry, the weak and
the vulnerable–the prophet called the people to become the house of God. We are called to become, as Isaiah promised long ago, “repairers of the breach, restorers of streets to live in”.
Together, we become the household of God.
In the lead up to Christmas, many of us spend time in search of the perfect gift — the gift that communicates to friends and family how much we know and love them. We search our memories for indications of what gift might cause the faces of our loved ones to light up. We scour the stores and shops, hoping to come across the thing that will communicate a depth of love that our words cannot.
As important as gifts to loved ones are, we have an opportunity to give gifts that help many people we do not know through the Christmas Joy Offering. These gifts in particular draw us back to the manger and God’s perfect gift to us — Jesus Christ.
Jesus came to live among us, bringing light into darkness, and reconciliation to God and to one another. A perfect gift from a gracious God.
Central Presbyterian Church has been asked to provide 200 Cans of Sweet Potato to Neighbor to Neighbor of Pine Bluff for Their Thanksgiving and Christmas Meals. Any assistance that you can provide would be appreciated. Please leave donations on the table in McElyea Hall. Thanks for your support of our friends and neighbors!
October 6th is World Communion Sunday, which celebrates our oneness in Christ with our brothers and sisters around the world. It’s perhaps the most appropriate day of the year to receive the Peace & Global Witness Offering — to think about what it means to be peacemakers, to be witnesses and advocates for compassion, peace and justice. To seek “peace in all times in all ways” (2 Thess. 3:16).
Celebration of World Communion Sunday, as it was originally known, was adopted as a denominational practice in the Presbyterian Church in 1936. Churches in other denominations were invited to celebrate with us, extending the celebration to a large number around the world. World Communion Sunday is a gift of the Presbyterian Church to the larger ecumenical church, and on October 6th it will be celebrated around the world by many denominations.
Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, invites us to the table. It is a big table and we share it with many.
Now that the waters of the Arkansas River are receding, the real work is beginning.
Many have asked how to help in the wake of the flooding that has plagued Arkansas. So we will answer the question as comprehensively, briefly, and helpfully as we can.
Recovery is a slow process.
What the needs are and what you can do:
In the lead up to Christmas, many of us spend time in search of the perfect gift — the gift that communicates to friends and family how much we know and love them. We search our memories for indications of what gift might cause the faces of our loved ones to light up on Christmas morning. We scour the stores and shops, hoping to come across the thing that will communicate a depth that our words cannot.
For those of us gathered together in Advent expectation, we know that the only perfect gift ever given was the one we received in Jesus Christ. At the Incarnation, we celebrate God who came to dwell among us, bringing light into darkness, and reconciliation to God and to one another. A perfect gift from a gracious God. Although we cannot give the perfect gift, we can give generously, knowing, as the New Testament letter of James says, “every generous act of giving … is from above.” And, as important as gifts to loved ones are, the Church rejoices and gives in special ways, drawing us back, again and again, to a manger scene with bowed shepherds and joyous angels, and the truth of God’s perfect gift to us.
The Pentecost Offering unites us in a churchwide effort to support young people in Christ and inspire them to share their faith, ideas, and unique gifts with the church and the world.
Each year on Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birthday of the church. The Holy Spirit remains with us still, connecting us with the church of the past, continuing to inspire the church of today, and pointing us to the church of the future.
Studies show that a foundation of faith established during childhood through young adulthood, helps ensure lifelong faith and service. Psalm 71 testifies to this same truth. Verse 17 says “O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.” The patterns and lessons established during these formative years continue to bear fruit throughout a person’s life.
These lessons might be taught through a congregation’s commitment to Educate a Child, Transform the World in ministries that shape a child’s academic achievement, setting them on a path toward a stable future. They might be taught through one of the youth events sponsored by Ministries with Youth at the national church that brings together young people from all over the country to share their experiences of faith with one another, and learn how their faith can help them address challenges all over the world. Or our young adults may be guided through a year of intentional service where they discern God’s call upon their lives by our Young Adult Volunteer Program.
In 2012, civil war broke out in Syria, where ISIL’s presence continues to create violence and fear. More than 250,000 people have been killed, and 13.5 million others have had to leave their homes to seek safety in Lebanon, Europe, and the United States.
Thanks to our gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) was able to respond to this refugee crisis soon after it began. Working with churches in the region, primarily the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon, PDA helps Syrian refugee children in Lebanon continue their education and provides refugee families food, shelter, and heating oil. Across the denomination, PDA assists efforts by congregations to resettle Syrian refugees. Their welcoming hands bear witness to our biblical imperative
to extend hospitality to the stranger and the foreigner.
Every other year when Our General Assembly meets, it’s helpful to remind ourselves what it is. It’s helpful to remember, too, how we are organized. The Presbyterian Church, USA is a “representational” Church. We are not a “hierarchical” church where many key decisions are made by a bishop or a central body. We are not a “congregational” church, independent from all other congregations and church bodies,
making decisions that apply only to us.
- We follow a pattern we find in the Scriptures. We are led by “ruling elders,” elected by a congregation, and “teaching elders,” church pastors and others in different ministries.
- A group of Presbyterian congregations in a geographical area is a “presbytery.” Central, Faith, and First here in Pine Bluff, along with almost 90 other congregations, are part of Arkansas
- Groups of Presbyteries in different regions of the country are called a “synod.” Presbyterians in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana, are in the Synod of the Sun.