Northeast Community News –December 11, 2012
Dear Friends and Family,
What a wonderful and full day we had in the Lord, Sunday! This week was the
second Sunday in Advent and Anna Boeve lit our Advent wreath after Shannen
Parsaca welcomed us and Pastor Amy called us to worship and offered a prayer
of invocation inviting God into our presence. And guess what? God came! Amen!
God’s message this week came from Malachi 3:1-5 and was titled, “Anticipate the
King.” Are you ready for Christmas? No, I’m not asking if your shopping is done
or your tree is up or whether you’re going to be able to pay off the credit card.
While all of those external things are good, the 4 weeks of Advent leading up to
Christmas is an opportunity to concentrate on the condition of your insides.
In many ways, the Advent season is troublesome. In Advent, we not only prepare
for the ‘coming’ infant birth of Christ we celebrate at Christmas, but we also prepare
for His ‘second coming’ when Christ comes to judge and take His own to heaven.
You may be ready to celebrate His first coming but are you ready for His return?
Malachi 3:1-5 has many points but three of them are: 1) God’s plan is to send
a messenger to prepare the way; 2) God’s plan is to send Himself; and 3) God’s
plan when He returns is to purify His followers and take them to heaven.
As New Testament (NT) Christians we know God has indeed sent a messenger
before Christ in John the Baptist (see Jn 3:1-3). As NT Christians we also know
God has indeed sent Himself in Jesus (see Jn 1:14). Now, I am not one to wear a
sandwich board sign declaring this truth up and down Fuller Avenue, but as a NT
Christian pastor I am 100% certain Christ is going to return to judge all humanity
and take His followers back with Him, too (see Jn 14:1-3)!
While many wonder, ‘Are you ready for Christmas?’ I am much more interested
in knowing, ‘Are you ready for Christ’s return?’ If you’re not yet trusting in Christ
for your salvation, confess, repent, and receive God’s gift of Himself this year!
Wednesday Night Adult Study!
This week Pastor Amy continues her four-week study on Advent and why we
celebrate it! Aren’t quite sure what Advent is and why we should celebrate it?
Great! Join Pastor Amy this week at 6:30pm and learn! You’ll be glad you did!
ALL CHURCH CHRISTMAS EVE EMPHASIS!
Have you ever heard the pastor(s) say, ‘You really ought to invite someone to
church’ and thought or even said out loud, ‘But, I’m not wired to easily do that?’
We get it! We really do! But you know what? Everyone will consider coming to a
Christmas Eve service. Christmas Eve is an opportunity to sing Christmas carols
from our childhood and hold a candle at the end and sing, ‘Silent Night’ acapella.
Christmas Eve is an opportunity to invite someone who would never normally
come to church. You can do this! The question is, ‘will you?’
This year we have printed 500 special invitations for EVERYONE to hand out! If
all 50 of us took 5 invitations and handed them out we will have 500 possibilities
for God to touch someone this Christmas Eve. The invitations are on the tables
outside the sanctuary and on the soundboard. Hand out 5 and make a difference!
Blessings! Pastor Dan
Blessings! Pastor Dan
Hello From Pastor Amy/Your Part-Time Church Secretary
My office hours will be on Tuesdays from 8am-5pm, but if you need to see me, you may want to call first. My responsibilities also include preparing our weekly program, so if you have an event that you would like to put in the program or newsletter, please feel free to contact me!
On Prayer Requests: If you have a specific praise or prayer request which you would like to appear in the program and/or newsletter, please make sure to fill out the tear-off sheet in the weekly program, or contact me at any time.
Please Update Me! We have a long, ongoing list of prayer requests. Please keep me updated. Requests will be pulled from the newsletter & program after three weeks. Thank you! Church
PLEASE NOTE! Beginning January 1, 2013, all correspondence with me will switch to a new email address: email@example.com. Please save me to your contacts, as I will be sending the newsletter and all other church information from this address. Thank you!
NEWS & EVENTS
Work Day Thank You!
A group of workers showed up at our last work day to lend a hand in the maintenance of our building and grounds. While you may not see it, there are a lot of people who tend to our church and help make sure everything is taken care of. Thank you to everyone who showed up to help!
Buy a Gift for a Child!
We want to make sure each child in our church receives a Christmas gift, and we are asking YOU to help. At the back of the sanctuary is a list of all the children in our church. Simply pick a name and cross it off. Then buy a gift ($5 or less), wrap it and put the child’s name on it, and place it under the Christmas tree in the sanctuary. Gifts will be handed out after our Christmas service (Sunday Dec 23rd) or you can pick them up at the Wednesday night Bible study. Please join us in making Christmas special for our little ones! The “Five and Below” store on Alpine between Target and Best Buy is a great place to find inexpensive gifts, including mittens, gloves, coloring books, and toys. See Linda Kastens or Gerry D with questions, thank you!
Tithe Envelopes Available for 2013
If you would like tithe envelopes for 2013, they are now available. Starting on Sunday, you can pick them up from the table in the vestibule. Talk to Gerry Dawson if you have any questions.
Emotions Anonymous Meets Here on Tuesdays
Do you often feel nervous, tense, or bored? Do you have trouble sleeping or sleep
too much? Do you often experience mood swings or feel useless? Well, you’re not alone. Our building hosts one of the oldest 12-step Emotions Anonymous groups in Michigan on Tuesday nights at 7:00pm. At an EA meeting you’ll find others who have been where you are and experienced many of the same feelings, but found help. If you would like more info you can find a small literature rack in the corner of the ‘Community Room’ in the basement, ask Pastor Dan, or call Helen W. (leader of EA group), at 616-363-7347. Helen is wonderful and a joy to chat with!
Christmas Eve is Coming! Want to Help?
We are already planning our annual Christmas Eve Service. We are already planning our annual Christmas Eve Service. We need lots of helpers! We need people to read, light candles, help set-up and decorate, sing, and create the luminaries we set up along the sidewalks. If you want to be a part of this, talk to Pastor Amy or Pastor Dan. Don’t forget—this is also a great time to invite someone to church!
Reflecting God- Devotions for Holy Living
Did you know that each quarter (fall, winter, spring, summer), our Nazarene Publishing House prints a small book of daily devotions called, “Reflecting God?” This book is a simple way to organize a time of daily bible study, prayer, and meditation around a key thought or insight in the Christian journey. Reading them each day is a simple way to draw closer to God. There is no cost, and they are located on the table outside of the sanctuary, please help yourself to one!
Postcard Greetings Now Available
Is there someone you’ve missed? Someone you used to look forward to seeing each week but they are missing? Maybe there is someone you would like to invite to church or to a potluck or to Sunday school, but you’re not sure how to go about it. Well, one possibility is to send them a postcard! We recently had postcards made and they are available to anyone who would like to send them to invite, encourage, miss, or welcome someone to the church! Interested? See a Sunday school teacher or Pastor Amy or Dan.
Girl Scouts Meeting in our Building! Next Meeting Monday December 17th at 6:00pm
We are thrilled to announce that beginning in October, the Girl Scouts program will be meeting in our building every other week on Monday nights @ 6pm. If you have a girl who is interested in joining, there is a $12 registration fee, and the group will tentatively be meeting every other Mondays of the month. Also, if parents of girls are interested in volunteering, they are also more than welcome to register to be a part of the program! Talk to Pastor Dan for registration forms!
Check out our Website – Find us on Facebook!
Here is the link:www.necommunitynazgr.
Please send any input or ideas to Shannen Parsaca at firstname.lastname@example.org
Check us out on Facebook under “Northeast Community Church of the Nazarene”
Want to help, but not sure how?
If you are wondering where to plug in, but are not sure how, we have opportunities. Current opportunities include a soundboard worker, nursery helpers, childrens workers, potluck coordinators, visiting our shut-ins, greeters and ushers, visitor follow-ups, Sunday School teachers, music leaders, people willing to shovel snow in the winter, and much more. It doesn’t matter how long you have been attending our church, serving is a great way to honor God and get to know the people around you! If you sense a call to a specific area or need some ideas to pray about, please contact Amy Orban or Cherry Pakiela or Irene Pratt.
Reflections from Pastor Amy
Weekly thoughts, life-lessons, and reflections from a redeemed child of
God, a mother, a wife, a student, a sinner under the
Cross of Jesus Christ, and a Pastor-in-training.
December 11, 2012
I came home from church on Sunday with a full belly from a delicious potluck, and with very tired kids who immediately curled up to take naps. I considered doing the same, but was drawn to warm up a cup of leftover morning coffee, and spend some time in the Word and in prayer.
I hadn’t talked much with God this week, and I don’t know that it could have been any other way. I was not refusing to speak to God, and while I was angry, the anger wasn’t directed at Him. It just seems that there are those times when there are not words, times when the most I can do is sigh, and look up, and ask why. And God is present, like the perfect friend who sometimes knows when it is better to just be quiet and be present rather than making me talk about it.
This week we were feeding the ducks at the park when I got word that someone we have known for several years had died of a drug overdose. His girlfriend found him, dead that morning. He was someone who we have seen in times of the most terrible sickness from addiction, and in times of recovery and freedom. Over the past couple of years, it has been a real source of hope and blessing to see him grow in health, physically and mentally.
In one moment I went from happy duck-feeding with my boys, to drug overdose death, and back to happy duck-feeding with my boys, only now with tears and anger in the cold wind.
Why, God? Seriously.
The last time I saw this man was on a warm day in October, while I was out for a walk with the boys. He was outside of his house with a friend, and they were washing their cars. He told me he had received a call from God to be an evangelist, and he was on his way. His friend smelled like booze, and I hoped I was wrong. We chatted and I said something about bringing them dinner sometime, in somewhat of a hurry to get away from a situation I didn’t entirely trust.
I guess my instincts were right. It’s been awhile, but I guess booze still smells like booze, and someone on dope still looks like someone on dope.
I have no idea what drives people back into addiction after they have tasted freedom. I have been there too, and I still have no satisfying answer. Like dogs who return to our own vomit, we are.
In these times, my heart shrinks into something cold and small, and I just don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to pray. Every effort to articulate what is in my heart feels mostly just like sand running through my hands. I’m just tired. I look at God and He looks at me, and we just shake our heads together, and that’s about what my prayer life amounts to.
And I am angry, in fact I’m really angry. But at this point I know enough to know that anger directed at God is misdirected. This God who looks kindly on the lowly, this God who provides the life raft to sinners, this God of third and fourth and fifth and twentieth chances.
How many times before this overdose should this man have died, but was protected by this God? We have no way of knowing. No, this God is not unfair; rather, this God who is full of grace and love weeps with me.
To watch the broken fall away - not just addicts but all sinners of all forms - to watch them fall away into the abyss while still keeping out of the pit yourself is sometimes like surviving a massive scale earthquake or other natural disaster. Scrambling desperately out of a sinking pit, fortunate enough to be one of the ones who finds something to grab onto. There is no joy, there is no pride, there are no thoughts of being sure that you are good enough to not fall into the abyss too. There is no I-told-you-so, there is no sense that somehow we are immune. There is only the realization that this thing is powerful to the point of death, that it wants to kill us. There is only terror, and a shell-shocked gratitude, combined with the realization that all is grace upon grace. And with tear-streaked cheeks you lift tired, shaking, weak hands in the air, praising God for the gift of another day of freedom, and O God have mercy.
These are the times when we pray Come Lord Jesus, come quickly. Come thou long-expected Jesus. And in the meantime have mercy because we are so, so tired.
And again, Jesus is just there. I see Him in the people around me. They way my mom just stays near and waits for me to talk. The way a friend shows up with a hot cup of coffee and tears. The way my husband is quiet but his hugs are a littler tighter than usual. The emails and prayers and friends who know the hell of addiction all too well. The way the ones who have made it pour into meetings like clinging to a life raft. The way it’s always okay to add more tear drops to the old wooden altar on Sundays. The way the church of Jesus gathers under the Cross on Sunday morning, bringing all of our tears and joy and worry and all of the heavy things we carry.
So God remains patiently by my side, and finally I’ll talk about it a little today. Little by little we will talk more and more. In the meantime, there is a set of missing footprints in the sand of my life, while He once again carries me along. There are times for just receiving, for being still though it storms, and knowing that He is God. (Psalm 46:10).
I have no eloquent theological explanation for these things. No neat and tidy perspective which cleans it up to make it less ugly. Sin is just chaos, plain and simple.
The addict who suffers and finally dies from addiction typically would want nothing more than for others to find the freedom of recovery, for others to seek out the freedom which the dead could not hang onto. This is what we pray for, that those who die serve the purpose of leading some of us to get well, or to cling to the freedom we have already found. Sadly, the opposite is often true, and the face of death by addiction serves only to lead many further into the abyss of the hopeless. It is a vicious cycle, one only broken by grace and desperation.
The suffering are everywhere, even if you do not know the signs to see them.
Don’t forget them in your prayers.
With Love, Pastor Amy