Thursday, January 3, 2013

NE NEWS - December 27, 2012

Northeast Community News –December 27, 2012

Dear Friends and Family,

 What a sacred and wonderful time we had in the Lord last week! Our Sunday morning and Christmas Eve services took a lot of work but they were so worth it!
 From the nearly 500 invitations that went out (thanks Irene and everyone else) to the building of luminaries and the moving of furniture (thanks Theo, Pat, Gary, and everyone else) to the wonderful cookies (thanks Janie, Irene, and everyone else) to worship singers (thanks Shannen, Gerry, Pastor Amy and others) to the Advent wreath readers (thanks Anna, Gerry, Shannen, and Pat) to the special music (thanks Tom Rozegnal), to the great piano playing (thanks Jean C) to the mysterious person(s) who decorated the church, to those who lit remembrance candles for the victims in Connecticut (thanks to Mike, Lindsey, Taryn, Kandy, Kiera, Natasha, Dustin, and Danasia, and everyone else) to coffee by Linda, it took a lot of work by a lot of folks to make our Christmas Sunday and Christmas Eve services sacred, wonderful, and seamless!
God is so good to us! Praise Him! Don’t forget to see Pastor Amy’s page for a summary of God’s message on Christmas Eve!
By the way, I heard many, many comments about 'how beautiful,'  'how yummy,' 'how inspiring,' ‘how friendly,’ etc. our church is! What a joy to be your pastor! God moved in our midst and we were not only blessed, but a blessing to many!
God’s Christmas Sunday message came from Micah 5:2-5a and was titled “Anticipate: The Coming.” Micah, a minor prophet in the OT, recalls Israel’s long and very sad history. In 7 short chapters we discover that God hates sin, but loves sinners!
In the midst of God’s overwhelming prophesy of destruction spoken through Micah, He gives hope and consolation and instruction on how to live. Many have memorized Micah 6:8. Speaking of God Micah declares:
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
Jesus would teach and demonstrate these same qualities some 700+ years later.
But in our passage today God gave Micah the honor of foretelling the place where Jesus would be born! “But you Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are of old, from ancient times” (Micah 5:2)
What an incredible prophecy! But not just because it was made 700 years before Jesus was born or Micah had accurately pinpointed the location. The amazing thing about the prediction was where this birth was to occur. In BETHLEHEM!
Bethlehem wasn’t just off the beaten path; it wasn’t even recorded in many of the histories of Judah (see Joshua 15 and Nehemiah 11)! Unlike a king apparent in our culture, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords was born with no fanfare in a tiny obscure place to an unremarkable teenage girl and her groom to be.
There were no 41 gun salutes, chapel bells pealing, heads of state and thousands of people lining the streets when Jesus was born, only flies, the smell of animals, and a weary mother giving birth on a hard stone floor with a little straw.
It is out of this unremarkable place called Bethlehem Jesus came to stand with us, lead us, shepherd us, and one-day die to deliver us from our sins! It is Bethlehem where we are challenged to accept and respond to a God who defines Himself in terms of the weak, oppressed, empty and alone.
To those who feel shut in on every side, like the besieged citizens of Judah who first heard these words, Jesus still offers real forgiveness, real hope, real love, and eternal and abundant life that begins right here and now! Amen! Praise God!
“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).

Imagine our surprise when we opened our Christmas cards Christmas morning (a tradition Janie and I keep) and discovered that the church (ALL OF YOU) had given us a full week of salary ($400) as a Christmas Gift! WOW! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I have already spent it 7 ways in my mind, but Janie thinks we ought to save it! (Ha!) With our 100+ pounds of combined weight-loss your money will go a long way in buying us new clothes and fitness gear! God is good! We are blessed!
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
PLEASE NOTE! Beginning January 1, 2013, all correspondence with me will switch to a new email address: Please save me to your contacts, as I will be sending the newsletter and all other church information from this address. Thank you!


Thank you for Blessing our Children!
This year, Linda Kastens wanted to make sure that all the children of the church received Christmas presents. After getting a list of all of our children’s names and ages, she challenged everyone to pick a child, and buy a gift for $5 or less, so that every child could receive a gift. Thank you to everyone who participated! All of our children received at least one gift from underneath our Christmas tree! Thank you to Linda for coordinating this effort!

First Friday Chinese Lunch Continues – January 04th @ 11:30am
Everyone is invited to attend a delicious Chinese lunch on the first Friday of every month. The group meets at the Hibachi Grill on Alpine Ave, located behind the Target. No reservations are required, and the food is cheap and delicious! Just show up, and join us for fellowship. Talk to Tracy Tamm if you have any questions.

Family Church & Communion—Sunday January 6th
On the first Sunday of every month, we celebrate the sacrament of Holy Communion during our morning worship service. We also allow our children to remain for the entire service on this day. This not only gives our children’s workers a chance to participate in Holy Communion, but it gives our children a chance to be part of our service, too!

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.

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 you can relate to and who have 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!

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  
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.

Upcoming Events
January 4         First Friday Chinese Lunch, 11:30am, Hibachi Alpine
January 6         Family Church & Communion, NO Children’s Church
January 26       Church Work Day 8am-12pm
January 30       Weds Night Dinner @ 5:30pm, regular Bible study to follow

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 27, 2012

This year marked our third annual Christmas Eve Service. This service is special, because it is a time for us to take a step back from all of the hustle and bustle of Christmas activity around us, to slow down, and to really just marvel at the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.
Pastor Dan started the service by welcoming everyone, and then by inviting children and parents forward to light 28 candles in remembrance of the victims of the Connecticut tragedy. Next, we invited anyone who was missing a loved one to come and light a candle in remembrance of that loved one. Christmas is a time which can often magnify the pain we carry as we miss loved ones, and we had 57 people come forward to light a candle of remembrance. Candles lined the altar, and candles burned on tables in the four corners of our sanctuary throughout the service, in remembrance of lives lost and ones we miss.
After singing a few of our favorite Christmas carols, Tom Rozegnal (who also happens to be my dad) sang us a special song. This is the third year we have been blessed to have him sing a special song for us, and I dare say that it is becoming part of the tradition! This year he sang the classic song “How Great Thou Art.” While this isn’t a traditional Christmas song, the words speak profoundly of the mystery and greatness of God, and invited us to be filled with wonder at the fact that our Great God of the Universe was born to us, to walk in this world and die for us.
God’s message was based on the gospel account of the birth of Christ found in Luke 2, as well as Isaiah 9:2-7. If the birth of Jesus into our world shows us anything, it shows us that God is interested in us. In me, and you, and everyone. He came for us. I wonder if you have noticed that we aren’t always all that great? We are selfish, dark, and at our worst we are liars and thieves and murderers. We are sinners. We know that God hates sin, but the good news is that He loves, loves, the sinner! He knows the truth about us. Yet, Jesus was born to us, and continues to come to us and ask to be born into our hearts.
Isaiah the prophet described all the darkness of this world, saying that Jesus would be a great light for the people walking in darkness, a light which would dawn on those living in the shadow of death (Isaiah 9:2). The bad news is that the world was, is, and continues to be a sin-ridden, chaotic, painful mess. The good news is that God knows our pain. In fact God doesn’t just know about our pain, He isn’t just aware of it, but He actually takes it so seriously that He sent Jesus to give us a way out, to shatter the yoke that burdens us, to free us from the bar across our shoulders (Isaiah 9:4).
Christmas can either be the best of times or the worst of times for most of us. There are years of light and life and family and warmth, years where pictures are taken and timeless memories are made. These are the grateful years, when God seems near, when we see the Nativity scene and marvel that our Great God is so good to send His only Son to us.
But then there are years of depression, years of grief, years of mourning and pain and struggle. Years where things aren’t how they are supposed to be. Years where the hope, love, peace, and joy of Jesus seem to slip through our fingers like sand. Years where we ask, where are you God? Have you forsaken me?
We live in a culture which often wants to deny anything unpleasant. There can be heavy expectations about what Christmas should be like. There can be pressure to just be HAPPY, pressure to live out the Hallmark moment kind of Christmas. But to deny the real brokenness of our world and ourselves is to miss entirely the gift which is Jesus Christ.
You see, God came to us because He knew that the world was a mess. He knew the real condition of humanity, He saw the darkness and the sin and the pain, and He came. He came to the real-life condition of the world, to save us, to give us a way out.
Jesus was born to poor parents who had nothing to offer but their love. He was born in a stinky manger because the world had no room for Him. His mother traveled for miles on a donkey to Bethlehem, only to be rejected and then to give birth on the floor of a manger. A floor which was probably stone cold, with some hay, and dirt, and probably some animal poop. It is a wonder that both Mary and Jesus survived this entire ordeal. No one really noticed when Jesus was born, but the angels brought the news to the common shepherds in the fields. Not to kings, not to the important people. Just to the common shepherds.
We can really turn the Nativity scene into something clean and romantic, with our sparkling statues and perfect lighting. But the truth is that the birth of Jesus was probably not a Hallmark moment! Rather, it was a real-life moment, a messy moment, a moment when God Himself entered right into all of the stinky, painful, agonizing stuff which makes up this life.
The difficult circumstances surrounding the birth, life, and death of Jesus do not make Him any less our Savior. Rather, the birth of Jesus gives us a perfect glimpse of God’s character. God enters into the real stuff of this life. He came to us, homeless, He came into the darkness of night, He came into a world oppressed by evil. He entered in to the mess of the world. His birth marked the beginning of a life of rejection, all the way to the Cross where He died for our sin and the sin of the whole world.
Have you been wearing a mask, trying to deny your suffering, trying to somehow fit yourself into a Hallmark Christmas moment? The good news is that you don’t have to. Jesus didn’t. Jesus came, real and raw, to walk and talk and suffer with us. We find Him in the real stuff of this life, the suffering and the pain and the struggle. We don’t need to wear a mask, we don’t need the Hallmark Christmas. We just need Jesus, Jesus is enough.
Friends, I hope that you can lay down your mask and invite Jesus into all of the good and bad which this life has to offer, all of the real stuff in your heart. I hope that we can all say yes – yes my heart is also a stinky, messy manger, but O Lord Jesus come to my heart, too!

                                                         With Love, Pastor Amy

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