Tuesday, April 9, 2013

NE NEWS - April 9, 2013

Northeast Community News –April 09, 2013
 Dear Friends and Family,

It was another wonderful day in the Lord, this week! Tradition tells us the Sunday after Easter is “low Sunday” as we often experience a bit of a lull with Easter behind us, but our service was anything but a let-down! God came and moved in our midst! Praise God!

God's message this week came to us from John 20:19-31 and was titled, "Life's Locked Doors." The disciples were locked behind doors and feared for their lives! After following Jesus for 3 years and expecting Him to become a political powerhouse and restore Israel to its rightful place, He was executed instead and they feared the Jews might come after all of them next!

While we aren't likely to face the risk of death and persecution the first disciples faced, we can relate to the feelings of wanting to hide away behind locked doors. Are you hiding? Some of us are literally hiding behind locked doors. We are depressed or exhausted or have feelings of deep insecurity or grieving and we just want to sit on the couch and hide! Others might be hiding parts of a wounded heart because of deep shame, betrayal, or a childhood violation. Still others fear telling others about Jesus, so they hide their relationship with Christ carefully behind lock and chain! Are you in hiding?

If you're in hiding God's message is good news! First, we discovered Jesus comes supernaturally to all of us behind whatever locked doors we have erected. Whatever you are hiding from, it is important to know nothing can prevent Jesus from reaching you (except your unwillingness to receive Him). There is nothing too painful, too ugly, too long ago where Jesus can't come!

Second, Jesus wants to heal you and give you peace. His peace, which is translated as “shalom,” is more than the kind of surface peace we often seek. Shalom is a deep penetrating peace that desires to give us wholeness, health, and deep and abiding joy! To accomplish this peace, Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit that washes over us and allows us to forgive others!

Unlike a world that seeks retribution that only leads to more war inside, Jesus sends us out into a world of haters filled with the Holy Spirit that has healed the damage of hatred, bitterness, and anger within us, allowing us to love ourselves, love others, and spread shalom into the lives of others!

Finally, we discovered through His exchange with Thomas that Jesus brings peace to doubters, too! While Thomas often gets a bad rap for doubting, Thomas represents all of us who have ever struggled to believe something we haven't personally experienced. But Thomas is seeking despite his doubts! While he had been missing the first time, Thomas came back and hung in there doubts and all! Did Jesus reject Him? Hardly! Jesus came and offered His shalom once more and Thomas received His peace and declared, "My Lord and my God!"

Regardless of where or why or how you may be in hiding, the good news on
“low Sunday” is that Jesus still comes supernaturally, Jesus still offers us His peace, His shalom, that heals us deeply through the Holy Spirit, and Jesus still reaches out to doubters and offers them Shalom, too! Are you in hiding? Maybe it is time to welcome Jesus behind your locked doors!

Just about a year ago, Pastor Amy Orban shared her call to ministry with us and after an initial evaluation, your local church board extended her a local pastor's license allowing her to begin the lengthy journey to ordination. Last night the church board examined her again (an annual requirement) and voted unanimously (and with great joy) to extend her a license for another year.

The church board also recommended she take the next step toward ordination by asking the District to examine her (in May) for a district license. Finally, your board assigned her as our full time Associate Pastor! While we cannot yet pay her as our full time associate, this will help her meet the 3 year service requirements to be ordained!

Ordination is not a simple process (nor should it be). Before hands are laid on her dating back to Christ, a candidate must undergo annual examinations to determine if they have the gifts and graces, the character, the knowledge, and the skills needed to be an effective God-called pastor. Your church board had no doubts Pastor Amy's ministry is God-lead and effective!

For those preparing to be ordained, like Pastor Amy, last night was another affirmation that what God started within her, is evident to the rest of us! Join me in celebrating this accomplishment with Pastor Amy! While she rightfully gives God all the glory for what He began in her, we celebrate her obedience as a community of faith and thank God He gifted us with her ministry!


As I am writing this I am sitting beside Janie in a train bound for Chicago. While Janie has a work conference to attend, we felt it would be an inexpensive way to get out of town and enjoy a week of vacation! So, pray for me as I wander Chicago this week and pray for Pastor Amy as she fills the pulpit! God is good...you got it, ALL THE TIME!
Please note that our Wednesday night program will continue as usual, with Shannen Parsaca teaching our adults at 6:30pm.
Blessings! Pastor Dan

Hello From Pastor Amy/Your Part-Time Church Secretary
My office hours will vary on Tuesdays, and if you need to see me, just call! 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.
Church Office: 616-459-2773 My Contact Info: 616-514-9521 oraorban@nnu.edu


Next Northeast Community Potluck: Sunday April 14th – This Sunday!
We will be holding another potluck after morning worship on Sunday, April 14th. This is a great time to invite friends and family to church! Bring a dish to pass and join us for great food and fellowship. Please remember that even if you are not able to bring a dish to pass, or you forget, we still want you to join us, because there is always plenty to go around. To help set-up, decorate, or clean-up, talk to Irene Pratt.

Marriage Enrichment begins—May 05 @ 2:00pm
Our marriage enrichment small group begins May 05th from 2-3:30pm at Dick and Emily Morse’s house. If you are interested, please let us 
know asap! We also want to extend an invitation to couples to who are not yet married, so if that’s you, consider joining us for a time of relationship enrichment! There is already a wide range of couples, with marriages ranging from 3 years to over 50 years! It’s going to be a great time! Talk to Pastor Amy if you are interested in joining us!

Indian Lake Nazarene Camp Events
If you don’t know, Indian Lake is a Nazarene campground where people from churches all over our district gather for District Assembly, children and youth camps, and various other activities. Pastor Dan and Janie own two cabins there, and usually invite everyone down to visit during family camp week in July. It is a beautiful place, and a lot of fun! Here are some upcoming events at Indian Lake as we approach Spring and Summer:

April 20 – Work Day and RV Pre-Opening Weekend. Includes breakfast, and
sandwiches for lunch, but they ask that you please bring a side dish to pass for lunch.
May 21-23 – Work and Win Weekend. More work days to spruce up the camp after winter. The camp is including free meals and lodging for workers!
May 25-28 – Memorial Day Weekend. There will be family activities on Saturday, and a concert on Sunday morning.
July 4-6 – Family Festival. Fun filled days with activities for all ages, including a 5k walk, other sports, water slides and rides, animal show, crafts, swimming, ponies, pontoon boat rides, a climbing wall and zip line, an outdoor movie and more!

·        Discovery Camp (grades 1-2-3): July 1-3
·        Boys & Girls Camp (Grades 3-4-5): July 29-August 2
·        Middle School Camp (Grades 6-7-8): July 18-22
·        High School Camp (Grades 9-12): July 14-18

This year, Indian Lake is offering a special promotion! If we get three new campers to attend camps, the fourth goes for free! Registration for camp begins April 15th, so begin planning! Please note that scholarships are available to help pay for kids who want to go to camp. You can see the bulletin boards, the tables outside of the sanctuary, or Pastor Dan or Pastor Amy if you are interested and want more information. You can also go to the website: www.ilnccamps.org, or call 269.649.2281

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 Meet in our Building! Next Meeting Monday April 22 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!

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
April 14         Northeast Community Potluck
April 15         Registration for Indian Lake kids/youth camps begins!
April 20         Work Day at Indian Lake Nazarene Camp/RV Pre-Opening Day
April 22         Earth Day
April 24         Wednesday Night Potluck Dinner @ 5:30pm
May  05          Marriage Enrichment Small group begins @ 2pm, Morses’ house
May 12           Mother’s Day
May 21-23     Work and Win at Indian Lake Nazarene Camp

Pastor Amy’s Page
God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good” -Genesis 1:31
Last week I took little Theo to the Meier Gardens to see the butterflies in bloom. It was a beautiful sunny day. Little Theo rocked his Mickey Mouse sunglasses, and sat happy as can be in the back seat, talking my ear off all the way to the East Beltline.
We got there just after the doors opened, but the parking lot was already packed. As we walked inside, we were overwhelmed by crowds of happy children moving about. Theo clung to my hand with big eyes.
We paid the outrageous price to get in, and headed towards the butterfly room. If you have not been there, it is an absolutely enormous greenhouse of exotic plants, flowers, vines, streams and waterfalls. It is bright, humid, and simply beautiful, like stepping suddenly into a tropical rainforest.
 As soon as we walked through the door, we couldn’t move because there were so many people. I’m talking stepping-on-the-backs-of-your-shoes kind of crowded. I’m talking I-can-smell-your-breath-because-we-are-standing-so-close kind of crowded. I’m talking I’m-going-to-lose-my-son kind of crowded. I’m talking I’m-going-to-spontaneously-combust kind of crowded.
The bigger kids knocked into my little Theo, stepping on his toes and shoving their way in front of him. Someone’s stray one year-old was tearing the wings off of a butterfly. A butterfly fluttered past us, and my Theo screamed and clung to my leg.
As a parent you think you have a good idea, and you create this expectation of an event which will lead to priceless and picture-perfect snapshots to remember forever. I imagined my Theo, in his bright blue sweater, smiling his magical smile, reaching candidly for a gorgeous fluttering butterfly, under a perfect canopy of vines and flowers, and with heavenly sunlight shining through the greens to create the most perfect picture anyone has ever seen.
Instead, I got a 3 year-old screaming terrified of butterflies while getting shoved by bigger kids who are simultaneously stomping on my toes. Really? I just paid to do this? Totally overrated.
As we shuffled down the winding path, the crowd began to thin out, at least enough so that you take a breath without having to share the oxygen with someone else. Theo was finally able to stop and get a good look.
We were standing by a waterfall, and enormous tree-leaves were drooping near us, covered in bright butterflies. Something caught my eye, and I looked up to see two enormous butterflies chasing each other, fluttering happily behind the backdrop of the waterfall, bright rays of sunlight streaming through the water and reflecting on their bright blue happy wings. Picture perfect.
It was so beautiful my pulse skyrocketed, and I actually gasped out loud as it took the wind right out of me. I was, in an instant, in the midst of my cynicism, confronted with all things creative, beautiful, unspeakable, and inexpressible. 
It pointed to God, His creation, His gifts to us, His handiwork, His immeasurable and all-surpassing awesomeness summed up in a fleeting dance of butterflies. It was a glimpse of Heaven, of Jesus, of all things made right and perfect and unblemished.
And in the middle of this giant crowd of people and disorder, I burst into tears. There was just no way around, it was too beautiful and I just couldn’t even pretend to stay composed in the face of God’s wonder. My irritated heart was melted, and remolded into something more whimsical and childlike.
For the rest of the day and on, things looked different. The sky brighter, and the air fresher. The curls on the heads of my boys sweeter, their little bodies more precious. The soft sense of God with us more real. Details viewed through the lens of grace.
I used to be tough. Tough, and smart. And arrogant. A couple of years ago, if I was reading about someone crying over some stupid butterflies, I would roll my eyes right out of my head and write it off as useless emotionalism. Smart, strong, respectable people don’t cry over silly things, especially butterflies for crying out loud. Smart, strong, respectable people also don’t see God in such little useless details. Don’t they know that God is way bigger and more important than that? Butterflies. Give me a break.
But here I am, writing about butterflies and getting the lump in my throat again just thinking about it.
In the Old Testament, God promised to restore the world to how it was supposed to be, to restore it to His normal. Not the normal of sin and disorder, but the normal of harmony with God, with ourselves, with each other, and with Creation.
Jesus has begun this process of the new normal, and we know He will return to finish it. We live in the in-between time, seeing glimpses of God’s completed perfect normal which we will know and live when Jesus comes back again.
Paul puts it this way, saying, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12). What we see is imperfect and incomplete, a foretaste of what will become much more.
It is strange, sometimes, the ways we can come face-to-face with glimpses into God’s perfect normal. Jesus chose to be present to me via butterflies that day, and it certainly changed me, but I do not know why He did it by these means, at this time, in this way. Apparently He knew that I needed something, and gave it to me without explanation, in the same way I give my boys what they need because they don’t know what is good for them.Just receive, child!
I don’t have the whole picture, and I am not sure that I can articulate a coherent theological connection between butterflies, and the presence of Jesus. But I know Jesus melts my heart, heals my vision, and corrects my perspective. And that is enough, enough to make me want to stay very near to Him. Because I want more.
Time and time again, from person to person, I have seen that Jesus melts the heart of stone. For me, it has been a process of healing, and it is still incredibly unsettling to realize that the presence of Jesus and His great love can knock me off of my square and turn me into a weeping whimsical child crying over butterflies at any moment. I have come to believe that Jesus loves us in more intimate, detailed ways than we realize. I hope you have your own beautiful Jesus butterflies today, your own glimpse and foretaste of God’s normal for us.
 With love, Pastor Amy

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