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Annual Report

Our Annual Congregational Meeting was Sunday, January 31, 2016 following our morning worship service. During the meeting, our Ministry Teams presented their annual reports for the previous year. Your may view or download a copy of the report by clicking here.

Lenten Sermon Series

Many people over the ages have tried to define who Jesus was. Historical Jesus studies proliferated a number of years ago, and recently even T.V. commentator Bill O’Reilly jumped into this genre with his book “Killing Jesus.” As a person who likes history and is a follower of Jesus, I have found all of these books interesting even if I didn’t agree with their conclusions.

It's A Wonderful Christmas!

Many families have Christmas Traditions that help set this time apart from all other times. One tradition that makes this season special for me is watching Frank Capra’s “It’s A Wonderful Life.” I am sure you remember the story: George Bailey is an average joe whose dreams of making it big and traveling around the world are constantly being interrupted by real life. First his father dies, and he has to give up his dream of college to his brother. Then his brother returns from college with a great job, and George agrees to stay with the family business so it doesn’t close. Eventually, George’s uncle Billy loses some of the Building and Loan’s money, and George faces the prospect of being arrested for bank fraud. In a desperate state, George goes to a bridge and considers jumping in and dying knowing that his insurance policy would cover the lost money and provide for his family. In the nick of time, his guardian angel, Clarence Oddbody, prevents him from going through with his plan, and then gives George a great gift - the ability to see what life would have been like if he had never been born.

It truly is an interesting idea to consider: what would life be like if you had never existed. What would or wouldn't have happened if you were not around? What would your loved ones be like if they had never met you? Who would they be? What would be different? If this exercise was really possible, you could discover the influence have you had on the lives of others that you just don't realize. You might find that you indeed have a wonderful life.

This idea got me to thinking: What if Jesus never came to earth as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes? What if there had never been a Mary or a Joseph? A heavenly host, or humble shepherds? Wise men from the east, with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrhh? What if the God of all creation, did not humble himself and become incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ?

Well, without the birth of the babe in the manger, our standing before God would still be based on our ability to fulfill the law of God. Since there is no one who is able to completely fulfill the law of God, we all would still be under condemnation. There would be no salvation.

Without the coming of the Christ, sin would still have power over us. Their would be no possibility for us to overcome sin and its effects in our lives. Sin would separate us from God and we could not experience true forgiveness. Without the ability to receive God's forgiveness, we would not be able to forgive others.

Without the gift of Jesus, his cross, and his resurrection, death would still have power over us. The grave would have the final word, and there would be no hope of eternal life with God and those whom we love.

Without the coming of Christ, there would be no gift of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, we would have no one to empower us and encourage us to good works.

Without Christ, hundreds of millions of people would have not been recipients of the church's mercy ministries over the last 2000 years. No St. Francis of Assisi; No Martin Luther, No Mother Teresa; No Billy Graham;

If the fictional Bedford Falls was worse off without George Bailey, can you just imagine where our world would be had the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords not come to that tiny manger, in a humble stable in almost forgotten city of David?

Praise the Lord, that on that Christmas night so many years ago, Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Because he was: We have been saved by Grace through faith; The power of sin has been broken and sin no longer has dominion over us; We have been forgiven and as a result can forgive others; The power of death has been shattered; and in Jesus' resurrection is the promise of our own; We have been gifted with the Holy Spirit who engenders faith in us and who encourages and empowers us to love and serve God. This Christmas let us all remember that Jesus Christ truly is the greatest gift ever given!

May each of you have a blessed Christmas and happy New Year!
Your friend and pastor,
Pastor Lee

Ten Years After

Ten years ago this November 21st, I walked into my office here at church and began my pastoral ministry with you. At that time, I had two 8 year olds and a four year old and was just about to celebrate my 40th birthday. Now my twins are applying to college and my youngest is a freshman in high school! (I am still 40!) When I look at my children, I truly realize how much time has past.

Fundraiser for Local Missions

It’s time for our annual Chicken Pie Sale to raise some extra funds that can go directly and immediately to the local helping agencies we support. It is our hope for this sale to go beyond the membership of the church, so we encourage everyone to invite their neighbors, friends and coworkers to order, either for themselves or to give as gifts.

Large chicken pies (which can serve 6-8) will be $13 each, or $12 per pie for orders of 3 or more pies. Small chicken pies (which can serve 1-2) must be sold in packs of 4; a pack costs $16.

In addition to our yummy chicken pies, we are also offering a new item this year: baked spaghetti. The cost is $13 per container of baked spaghetti, or $12 per container if you buy 3 or more.

Order forms are available at the church or by clicking here, and all orders must be in by November 8. Payment is due at the time your order is placed; please make checks payable to First Presbyterian Church. All items will be available for pick up in the fellowship hall on November 14 (9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.) and November 15 (12:00-2:00 p.m.).

My Take on the Pope's Visit

Over the last week or so, I have had a number of people ask me what I thought about the Pope and the Pope’s visit to the United States. Even though I am a protestant minister, I have greatly respected the Catholic Church and its leadership over the largest Christian group in the world.

When I lived in Lexington, Virginia, one of my closest friends was the Catholic Campus Minister. We did many ministry events together, and I learned a great deal from him. I have often thought that the reformers in the 16th and 17th centuries may have discarded too much in their efforts to reform the abuses of the Catholic Church. I have always appreciated the Catholic Church’s emphasis on personal spiritual disciplines, ministry to the poor, and have loved the writings of the Catholic mystics.

One aspect of Pope Francis that I truly admire is his humility. He has relinquished claims to many of the special privileges of former Popes. He has chosen not to live in the papal residence but in a much simpler apartment that allows him to live in community with others. He wears simple white clothes with an iron cross rather than the more lavish clothes and gold crosses of other Popes. He likes to be around people and is much more accessible to the average person.

His visit to the United States has been encouraging and uplifting for Christians in both the Catholic and Protestant church. It is so refreshing to have a major Christian leader receive positive press about the good things the Church of Jesus Christ does. Too often, much coverage of the Christian church is negative. I’d rather have the Church known for what it is for than what it is against. The Pope’s visit has been a nice highlight of what is good about the Church and following Jesus.

Presbyterian Table - Winter/Spring 2016

The Presbyterian Table meets Thursday nights at 6:00 PM, reserving a table at a different restaurant each week. Anyone who wants to eat out is invited to come sit at "the Presbyterian table." This is an informal group open to all with each person being responsible for his or her own expense. We invite you to join us any week for good food, fellowship, and lots of laughter.

SCHEDULE:

Spaghetti Supper

We will have a fellowship dinner in our fellowship hall on Thursday, October 8 at 6:00 PM. We will be serving baked spaghetti (which will be available for sale/purchase alongside our chicken pies this fall), salad, bread, dessert, and tea. Not only will you get to sample the baked spaghetti, but you’ll also be treated to a short, informative and inspiring program by Donna Hurt, our former Director of Christian Education and Formation.

Small Group Bible Studies

Small groups offer a place to both grow in our relationship with God and in our relationships with other church members through fellowship and Bible study. If you are interested in joining or facilitating a small group, or if you’d like more information, please contact Travis Fortune.

Kick-Off to Fall!

We had a fabulous kick-off to our fall ministry programming on Sunday! We had a good crowd for both our early fellowship hall service and our 11 a.m. sanctuary service. It was great to have both the Gathering Band and the Choir back in worship. You could feel the energy in all of our Sunday school classes. Our Acts Alive Youth group had a great day on the lake even though the weather was a little cool, and our Young Disciples and Kids Club groups were bursting at the seams.

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