Pastor's Pen Happy New Year!At least on the usual calendar. The Christian year starts on the first Sunday of Advent. But you knew that. I am just stalling - hoping something occurs to me that I can write about. When you read this I will be glad that Christmas is in the past. When I am writing this, I am only past 2 Sundays of Advent. I am cudgeling my brain hard to come up with messages that are worthwhile to you folks (whom I know better and better) and enticing to visitors. I am pleading with my spirit to create worship that is meaning and satisfying to you and to visitors. I am drinking extra coffee. But my creativity to write a newsletter article is nearly spent leaving little to write a newsletter article. I do need to say that several of you have been kind enough to let me know when a message or worship experience has been valuable. That helps, both in terms of me feeling good about what I am doing and in terms of knowing what you like/respond to/resonate with/need. Thanks. I will at times struggle when I hear nothing. I find it easy to assume that nothing I do is good and that I am not connected to where people are and to the questions of faith they have. There is something about silence that can be judgmental. Well, maybe not the silence but what our minds use to fill the silence. We hear echoes of those old messages from family and bosses with our old assumptions about (lacking) adequacy. We negatively interpret word, looks, and so many things that actually are our own fears about our self. We can be pretty brutal to our self. But you know that. I am still stalling - hoping I have something good to write - eventually. In some ways we do this with God. Well, I do. You probably already know this about a silence from God. If we fear that God is judgmental then we fill silence with God’s displeasure. If we fear God just is not there for us or any one, then we fill the silence with a sad sense of loneliness and abandonment. If we fear we are worthless, we assume the silence is confirmation at a cosmic level. If we fear - well we will project into that silence all of our darker thoughts. But you probably knew this too. I can not stall any more. Alice wanted this over 2 hours ago. And I have to get the list of Carols to Doris so she can practice them for the Family Christmas Eve Service. So, here is my message. My silence in this article, or at any time, should not be filled with assumptions about what I think of you. Please assume I forget, become distract, am wrong about what is important, or just do not know something. Also, I make mistakes. But you probably already know that. So the silence here should only mean I never figured out something to write in this newsletter that would lift your spirits, bind our community, or strengthen our faith. Let’s hope next month is better. Mark
New Year New
On December 3 Leah and Ketori Foster were baptized into the Christian Family. At the same time they both joined Sharon Congregation Church as full adult members. Family, friends, and a sister (which on some days might fit into either category) gathered with delight for their decision. December 3 was chosen because as the first Sunday of Advent, it is the beginning of the new year in the Christian calendar. A new day for a new way!
I like teaching. And I would like to do some here. I am thinking that a once a month bible study, after worship, would be fun. There is also a real cool book about the first Holy Week/Easter that we could explore weekly during Lent. I will do my Kneading Spirituality again, but not yet.
So does a bible or book study sound good? Either? Both? Of course, WHEN is always a pain. After worship? Early Tuesday or Thursday Morning? Thursday evening? Saturday workshops? Maybe we will have a survey after Christmas about this. I hate surveys. But.
New By-Laws [But don't panic!]
But first we need to do a bit of work our President, Joe, knows we need to have a set of by-laws that we use and that work for us. On January 14 we will look at the question about church structure. What has not worked and what do you see as 'needs' for a new one. No decisions will be made. Just a gathering of ideas. I know that you have done some of this work already. But I need to know too. And we do legally need to have something that we use. We will meet in the Lighthouse. I will have soup and bread to keep empty stomachs from distracting us with growling.
The Seventh Day of Christmas.
Sunday December 31 we will have a simple time of worship. Carols, maybe a bit of scripture, a poem. AND please bring one piece of a family nativity scene, especially if it has a story. But we will use it to tell the Christmas story no matter.
Mark will not make everyone sit down front, but gosh, he would sure like it.
Sharon Food Shelf October- December 2017
This has been a busy quarter. Anne Foley sent out letters for an annual financial drive in middle October. As of date, we have received 38 donations equaling a little over $10,000. Now, monthly we will be able to spend $1,000 to buy supplies for the shelf. There have been food drives at the Newton School in Straffod, the Sharon Elementary School, The Heartland Lions Club, and Colburn Store. A money jar at Midway Station in Sharon Village fills up with change and greenbacks amounting to several hundred dollars a year. The Mission Committee in conjunction with the Food Shelf gave out out to families from Sharon and Straffod 17 Turkeys and all the fixings at Thanksgiving and 26 Ham Baskets at Christmas. Fran Schimidt and Cheryl Foote chaired the “Christmas Stockings” project for children and their siblings from Sharon Elementary School. Any recipients of these gifts were ever so grateful for these baskets and stockings. Our food shelf clients and their families for this quarter were 185 clients, feeding 470 people. The number of TEFAP (the emergency food assistance plan), a free federal service program services 142 clients, fed 323 people during this quarter. The 16-20 volunteers working at our food shelf on Tuesday and Thursday evening each week are faithful and work hard as they greet and service the many client/families coming to our door. When food donations come in, these same volunteers count and shelf the food each night. Donated food amounts in poundage are more than what we have to purchase in a calendar year.