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.
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.
We’ve traditionally used the PC(USA) Mission Yearbook for our “Minute for Mission” during worship each Sunday. But, some of you have had questions about it recently. Here is some of what we’ve heard:
- “Why do we have a Minute for Mission every Sunday?”
- “Why is it about people and places we don’t know about?”
- “Why is it always a lot more than a minute?”
Those are the kinds of questions we pastor-types enjoy hearing. That means you’re taking worship seriously.
One of the ways we Presbyterians have talked about worship over the centuries is that “through the Word and Sacrament the church is empowered to serve God in the world.” Notice that last phrase: “to serve God in the world.” When we come together to worship it isn’t to hide out from a harsh world. We worship to give thanks for God’s presence in our lives and to help us see more clearly that God is active in our world. Worship will give us more commitment and energy to serve God beyond the church walls.
So, to make that part of our worship more clear and less boring, we’re going to be doing some things differently:
- The Minute for Mission will be more focused, more clear, more condensed;
- It will include more information about church mission in our community, our state, and our region, as well as the rest of the world;
- It will help us learn more about how our mission dollars and other gifts are being used in the name of Jesus Christ to ease people’s burdens and give them hope;
- It will challenge us to find ways to give thanks for God’s blessings to us by making gifts that will help others also experience God’s blessings.
We hope to see you Sunday!
It’s Holy Week! This Sunday CPC will Join First Presbyterian for Palm Sunday Worship. Services start at 10:30 AM. THERE WILL BE NO SERVICES 3/20 AT CPC! The Final Lesson of the Lenten Bible Study series will happen during out Thursday Noon Potluck. Our Maundy Thursday Worship, with a meal and Communion will be 3/24 at 6pm. CPC will join First again for a Good Friday Service in their Chapel 3/25 at 5:30pm. Easter Sunday will begin at 8 am with a Sunrise Breakfast. The Easter Egg Hunt will be at 9am. Easter Worship will begin at a special time of 10am! Easter Sunday we’ll be collecting the One Great Hour of Sharing offering. We hope to see you as we celebrate our risen Lord!
The following message is brought to you by the Presbyterian Mission Agency…
During this Advent season, we reflect on the Influence a promise can have on our lives. God promised each of us salvation, and kept that promise with the birth of Jesus. That promise sustains and uplifts us, during good times and challenging ones.
When we understand this deeper meaning of a promise, we also understand each of us has a special responsibility to make and keep faithful promises of our own. The Christmas Joy Offering is one way to do that. Each gift received equally supports two vital promises for our faith. Continue reading
Truck or Treat returns Saturday, October 31st! We’ll be opening out Trunks for Treats of all ages starting at 3pm till 5pm! We hope a lot of our neighborhood children start their night with us! We can’t wait to see you there!!
UPDATE: We will be having Trunk or Treat RAIN OR SHINE! If it rains we will move the “trunks” into the Education wing. See you there!
The next day will be Heritage Sunday. It’s our annual joint worship service with the other two PC(USA) congregations in Pine Bluff. This year we will be worshiping at Faith Presbyterian Church. Again, there will be NO SERVICE at CPC on Nov. 1st. Faith Presbyterian is located at 913 University Drive. We will be providing Bus Service from CPC to Faith at 9:15 am and 10:30 am. The bus will return after the completion of lunch at Faith. It will make 2 trips back to accommodate everyone. Please join us in this wonderful worship experience!
Central Presbyterian Church extends an open invitation for everyone to join us for our Annual Heritage Sunday. First, Faith, and Central Presbyterian of Pine Bluff will come together for this joint service to celebrate our Presbyterian Heritage. Central is proud to host the joint service this year which will begin at 10:30 AM. Please note this special start time. We will also be having a catered fellowship luncheon after the service. This Sunday is also the end of Daylight Savings Time. Don’t forget to set your clocks back by an hour Saturday Night. We hope to see everyone at this Heritage Service!