Tuesday, January 8, 2013

NE NEWS - January 8, 2013

Northeast Community News –January 08, 2013

Dear Friends and Family,

What another sacred and wonderful time we had in the Lord last week! Because last week was the first Sunday of the month, we gathered as a church family around the Lord’s Table and received the elements at Communion.
I often need to correct myself when it comes to Communion. I often say we ‘take’ Communion, but that’s not the truth, is it? Our Lord Jesus instituted this practice at the Last Supper to His disciples and then gave His life freely to us on the Cross! So, we do not ‘take’ the elements, we ‘receive’ them. I know it’s a small difference, but it’s significant! This is God’s gift!
God’s message to us this week was from Matthew 2:1-12 and was titled, “Responding to God’s Gift.” It is a familiar passage of Scripture and we can sometimes overlook the deeper meaning in it. As we examined the Magi from the east bearing gifts of “gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (2:11), we became aware that their gifts were actually a response to greater gifts from God.
First, God created and provided a star in the East for them to follow! Yes, the Magi were astrologers looking for a sign, but God provided one in a place where they could find it and it led them to Jesus! It was a miraculous gift designed only for them to lead them to Jesus!
What miracle did God provide to draw you to Jesus? Maybe not a new star in the sky, but God actively sought you and drew you to Jesus. As we move away from Christmas I wonder if it wouldn’t be fitting to simply thank God for never giving up on you! Give thanks for the person, the circumstance, the sunrise, and yes, maybe the stars in the night sky for leading you to Jesus!
Second, we must remember the story of the Magi is about more than a star and bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. If we’re not careful, we will forget the greatest gift God could have ever given a bunch of sinners like us! Jesus!
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
But we discover something even more profound in the way He gave us Jesus and to whom He first announced this greatest gift of all. We studied the importance of understanding the manger last week and Pastor Amy shared on Christmas Eve how God first announced the birth of Christ to those who smelled of sheep and weren’t allowed to worship in the Temple (Luke 2:8-20), but while the shepherds were Jews on the fringes, the Magi were total outsiders from the East.
God’s miraculous star to draw the Wise Men to Jesus reminds us that Jesus isn’t just God’s gift for those who are on the “inside” or those who “have it all together,” but for everyone including “those people out there.” As we move into the New Year let us reclaim this promise! The Good News of Jesus Christ is for everyone!
Finally, we are challenged to respond to God’s gifts. Some have asked, “Were the Magi saved when they left Jesus?” While we cannot know for sure, the warning in a dream (surely angelic) and their decision to avoid Herod (2:12) demonstrates God in their midst and evidence of transformation. Not only did these outsiders respond to God’s gift of a star with their own gifts of time, talent, and resources, they also received God’s gift of Jesus and their testimony provides proof of their transformation.
How will you respond to God’s gifts this year? Will you thank Him for the miracle He sent (or continues to send) to draw you to Jesus? Will you thank Him for the gift of Jesus and receive Him as your own Lord and Savior? Will you respond to God’s gifts with your own gifts of time, talent, and resources? Will you recognize that you might just be the miracle God is sending someone else to lead them to Christ?
May the Spirit of Christmas dwell in our hearts all year long! To God be the Glory! Don’t forget to join us for our Wednesday night Bible study @ 6:30pm. See you there!

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 Office: 616-459-2773 My Contact Info: 616-514-9521 or aorban@nnu.edu


Window Blessings!
As I sit in the basement office this morning, it is colder than usual and louder than usual. Why? Because as I type, the remainder of the basement windows are being replaced!

We were blessed as a church to have an anonymous giver come forward and offer to pay for 50% of the cost to replace the rest of the basement windows (the others were replaced a few months ago). Not only did this person offer to pay 50% of the cost, but we found out today that they surprised us and actually paid for about 75% of the cost! So of the $1,020 total cost of the windows, this person has already covered $800! Wow! Praise God! God is moving in our little church and this is just more evidence of it!

This Sunday there will be a special line in the church finance box for this project. You will see that we already have the $800, and if you would like to donate to this special project, please just write “window project” on your giving envelope this week. Thank you again to our anonymous donor and thank you to all who give and love our church!

Upcoming Events!
It is a new year, and we are planning new events to look forward to in the coming months. We will be holding a baptism service in February, a membership class in March, and a Marriage Enrichment small group for couples. More details, times and dates will be published soon. If you are interested in being baptized, coming into membership, or joining our small group, please talk to Pastor Dan or Pastor Amy.

Indian Lake Scrapbook Weekend! January 25-27
All women are invited to Indian Lake for a “beat the winter blues” scrapbooking weekend
get-away. The cost is only $25 per day, and includes table space, devotionals, games, prizes,
give-aways and all meals. Hotel lodging is available for $50 per night. You can call Indian Lake
with questions at 269.649.2281 or talk to Pastor Amy for registration forms.

Workdays Continue—Saturday, January 26th
The trustees are holding monthly workdays this year, scheduled for the last Saturday of every month, from 8am-12pm. No matter what kind of skills you have, there is always plenty of work to be done around the church, including painting, cleaning, organizing, and other odd jobs and maintenance. It is important to take care of our building and grounds! If you can help, just show up ready to work! Talk to Theo Orban or Pat Parsaca if you have questions.

 Last Wednesday of the Month—Dinners Continue! January 30th @ 5:30pm
On the last Wednesday of the month, we gather one hour before our Wednesday night Bible Study to enjoy dinner and fellowship. The theme is soup, salad, and bread. Bring a dish to pass and join us @ 5:30pm. Talk to Julie Orban if you can help set-up or clean-up.

Next Northeast Community Potluck – Sunday February 10
We will be holding another Northeast Community Potluck on Sunday, February 10 immediately following our morning worship service. Bring a dish to pass if you are able, and join us for delicious food and fellowship. Everyone is welcome to attend, and this is a great time to invite a friend or family member to church! If you would be willing to help set-up or clean-up, please talk to Pastor Amy or Irene Pratt.

Grand Rapids Taste of Soul – February 17, 1-4:30pm
African American History month is in February, and to celebrate, the Grand Rapids Public Library is holding their eighth annual Taste of Soul celebration on February 17th from 1-4:30pm. The event includes literature, history, storytelling, music, crafts, author visits, and food. If you are interested in attending with a group from our church, talk to Pastor Dan.

New Membership Class Begins – March 31st
While the end of March may seem like a long time away, we wanted to let you know that we will be holding another new membership class for anyone interested in membership. If you are considering membership, you have plenty of time to pray, ponder, and ask questions. The class will run for four weeks, and will cover a book titled “Welcome to the Church of the Nazarene.” If you are interested, talk to Pastor Dan or Pastor Amy.

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 January 14th 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!
Please send any input or ideas to Shannen Parsaca at slparsaca@gmail.com  
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 Pastor Amy or Irene Pratt.

Upcoming Events
January 26       Church Work Day 8am-12pm

January 30       Weds Night Dinner @ 5:30pm, regular Bible study to follow

February 1       First Friday Chinese Lunch, 11:30am, Hibachi Alpine

February 3       Communion Sunday/Family Church—NO Children’s church

February 10     NE Community Potluck following morning worship service

February 17     Taste of Soul Sunday, 1-4:30pm (details in newsletter)

February 23     Church Work Day 8am-12pm

February 27     Soup, Salad & Bread Dinner @ 5:30pm

March 9           TEAM Day

March 31         New Membership Class begins

April 22           Earth Day

Reflections from Pastor Amy 
Weekly thoughts 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.                                    
January 08, 2013

Ordinary is Good
My sister and her large family live in southern Indiana, and this year we took the 5 hour drive down to visit. We packed up our two little ones complete with snacks, blankets, music, and tablet for cartoons, and drove. And drove. And drove.

This year the weather was perfect. In years past, we have suffered through blizzards which turned a five hour drive into a 12 hour drive on snowy, icy roads. But we had good luck this year. The sun shone, the clouds were fluffy, and the traffic was thin. Smooth sailing.

Have you ever taken a long drive with a one year-old and a two-and-a-half year-old? At best, it can be called interesting. At worst, it can be called things which I probably shouldn’t repeat.

I withheld naps from the boys before we left, figuring that they would sleep for a few hours in the car. In typical sweet little Theo style, he fell asleep within ten minutes, and in the rear-view mirror I watched him snooze sweetly for several hours, snuggling his sheep pillow to his cheek.

On the other hand was Remi, who, in typical high-wired Remi style, did not sleep a wink. In my rearview mirror, I looked back at him, and saw his enormous brown eyes, wide awake, staring back at me. The entire way there. Oh wait, that’s right – he fell asleep when we got off of the highway, about 10 minutes from our destination.

About four hours into our trip, we stopped at McDonald’s for dinner. My husband got the joyful job of feeding the boys while I kept driving. Remi proceeded to throw every single French fry on the floor, screeching at new and never-before-heard decibel levels. Little Theo played in his ketchup. Remi dumped his bottle upside down and let it leak all over the car. Little Theo whined for his special blanket and proceeded to wipe his ketchup-covered hands all over it.

My husband sat sideways in his seat, strangled by his seatbelt, reaching awkwardly backwards and trying to keep the boys happy with cheeseburgers and fries. Remi began a game of throw-my-pacifier-on-the-floor-and-scream-until-daddy-picks-it-up. The car began to smell like a strange mixture of cold French fries, ketchup, soggy diapers, coffee, and little boys.

I could feel my husband’s blood pressure rising. Know what I mean? He yelled “You better get us all out of this car soon!”

Just in this moment, a song caught my ear, playing in the background, underneath the shrieks of my children and pounding blood pressure of my husband. It was a silly song. It was a special song. It was a song that I loved back when we were first dating. It was the kind of song I listened to and thought about him, but would be so embarrassed to admit it to him.

It was the kind of song that made me romanticize the future. It was the kind of song that made me think of what our wedding day would be like. (It was beautiful). It was the kind of song that made me think about what our babies would look like, how sweet and beautiful they would be. (And they are). It was the kind of song which made me think about a romantic, picture-perfect future, the white-picket-fence kind of deal. It was the kind of song that made me think about these days right here.

In this moment, my girlish fantasies of the future crashed head-on with the current reality of that future now lived, and I just had to laugh out loud. Where do our heads get filled with these expectations that our marriage and kids are going to be perfectly serene, lovely, and free of conflict or blemish? Was it the Disney movies or the Backstreet Boys who filled my head with this stuff? I’m not sure, but in any case, it made me laugh.

There is nothing like a five-hour road trip in close quarters as a family to fill up pages and pages of not-so-white-picket-fence moments. We argue about the radio station. The kids smell ripe. My husband chronically corrects my driving. I tell him I wish I was as perfect as him. Hot coffee splashes onto my hands while I’m driving. I yell, and my son repeats my yelling. People drive slow in the left lane and I have to pass them on the right.

My husband wipes boogers off the boys’ noses with the McDonald’s napkins and leaves them sitting on the dashboard. It drives me crazy but I give him a break and don’t say anything. The floor is covered in crumbs. The kids continue to shriek. And did I mention the weird smell yet?

I leaned in to turn up my silly song, and sang along to the lyrics. My husband expressed his dislike. I laughed out loud again.

Here’s the truth: reality is much better than the romantic expectations. Reality is sweeter. Reality is hilarious and beautiful and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

We have been married for three years. Three years and two kiddos and a whole world of change since my silly little song which I listened to in the quiet of my own imagination. Now I am wise enough to know that perhaps I am not as wise as Pastor Dan and Janie who have 20 years of marriage, or my parents who have 37 years, or my aunt and uncle who have 50 years.

But three years and two kiddos has given me enough experience to proclaim with confidence that the smell of McDonald’s combined with ketchup blankets and a husband who hates my sappy songs is far better than any story I could have written for myself. Ultimately, Disney’s got nothing on us. Ultimately, ordinary is awesome.

We have been home for a few days now, and tonight we went out to dinner to celebrate some good news. Remi again covered the floor in French fries. But somewhere in the ranch-smeared smile from little Theo, I found again, the truth that I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Dear God, thank you for all the messiness of this life, thank you for all the quirks of reality, thank you for kids who don’t sleep, a husband who doesn’t like sappy songs, and French fries all over the floor. It is a good life and I thank you for it. 

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