14th Sunday in Ordinary Time / 5th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A
In a long, dull story with no heroes everything works out as it is supposed to. How? Because everyone just did normal, ordinary things. Of course this is how miracles happen. These people from the Bible can be our heroes. Which one is yours?
Abraham was "tested" which means he was asked to go on a journey where he could not see what God sees. This is faith for us as well. Faith means getting on your donkey, going on a journey that makes no sense, doing something that seems utterly absurd, and trusting God with the outcome. Because God sees what we cannot.
Yes, people in the Bible behaved badly, and people today behave badly. But God hasn't given up on us or the world! God is always working to redeem, restore, and reconnect what is broken, sometime in spite (regardless) of ourselves.
We are tempted to live like Sarah, believing that the best is over, and we are only waiting for God to take us. Then we become far to serious. Like Abraham, let us wait on (serve God) and then we will find that God is all around us. The Spirit always leads us to life--and laughter.
GRACE PRESBYTERY TO INSTALL REV. DAVID IVIE AS PASTOR MARCH 26
SERVICE WILL INCLUDE DEDICATION OF NEWLY-RESTORED STAINED GLASS
First Presbyterian Church of Forney is excited to host the Pastor Installation Service and Stained Glass Dedication at a special evening service on Sunday, March 26, 2017 at 4:00 pm.
David has served for the past two years as Designated Pastor—Pastor for a “designated” period of two years. This allowed the church to bypass the interim pastor process. In October 2016, the congregation elected David as Pastor (no specified length of service).
A 7-member commission will represent Grace Presbytery and install David as Pastor. The commission will include David’s friends from Rockwall, Waxahachie, Fort Worth, Garland, Terrell, Brite Divinity School, and of course FPC Forney. Ecumenical representatives will be David’s friend from Iowa Alex Kindred who will preach and Pastor James Jarrett from Water of Life Lutheran (Forney). Musicians are guest tenor Steven Latham and guest organist Margaret Ball.
The service will also include a Dedication of the Stained Glass which was gifted to us from First Presbyterian Church of Teague, Texas when that church closed several years ago. This magnificent piece of art has been completely restored by Willet-Hauser Architectural Glass Company. It depicts the resurrected Jesus at the empty tomb with Mary, based on John 20:11-18. Former Pastor Kathy Collier will be present to share the history of the beautiful work of art. For more info, see: http://teaguechronicle.com/Article/Show/5156
A meal catered by Alfredo’s Steak House will follow the service.
Off lectionary as a response to Dallas and other shootings
Because of the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives, we can partner with God to turn toward love, mercy, unity even in difficult times as our country is grappling with the problems of race, guns and violence. This is a Christian response to shootings that occurred by police in LA and MN and on police in Dallas the week of July 4th, 2016. We do not have to live in fear and division. We can use this opportunity to learn about ourselves and reach out to those different from us and to learn from them. This is the work of Christ, bringing down dividing walls and ending hostility. And it is our call as well.
Rev. David Ivie, Pastor
We have a problem with race, guns and violence. This is a statement of fact but also a confession and a lament...
We had 5 of our Children and Youth attend Camp Gilmont Summer Camps in Gilmer this past week.
1 Youth attended Adventure Camp, which involves sleeping in treehouses every night and cooking most meals for themselves. Another youth attended Explorer Camp which is for ages 11 - 14, and three attended Discovery Camp for ages 7-10.
This year's theme was Fearless Faith:
The Courage to Show Up
The Courage to Trust
The Courage to Forgive
The Courage to Change
The Courage to Connect
"We believe that camp is one of the foundational experiences for a healthy faith."
A great time was had by all! Not only did they have a chance to be outside in beautiful East Texas, but they were able to connect with other campers they had met in previous summer camps. They were able to learn more about God, hear important stories from the Bible, and sing great worship and camp songs!
We are grateful to the church for supporting our children and youth by paying their way to summer camp! We believe that camp is one of the foundational experiences for a healthy faith. They will report to the church during worship on Sun., July 10th!
1 Kings 19:1-15a Elijah runs from Jezebel's threat and finds God in the sheer sound of silence
5th Sunday after Pentecost, 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
We have options when it comes to dealing with difficult people, and we can do better than sitting around stewing and complaining about others. We can't change others but we can change the way we deal with others. Whether we leave, confront or ignore difficult people, God will find us and lead us in the faithful way, through earthquake, windstorm, fire, or even still small voice.
The 222nd General Assembly adjourned just before noon on Saturday. I had a little bit more committee work to do as part of 02 Bills & Overtures. We looked at the Protests and Dissents that had been filed and made sure they were in order. The GA remains in effect until the next GA (223rd) convenes in St. Louis in June 2018.
Afterwards I went two stops down on the light rail and ate lunch at the Portland International Beer Festival. It was in a beautiful tree-lined park with music, food, games and of course beer from all over. People brought their dogs and I enjoyed so much just being outside in the wonderful weather.
On Sunday I went with a group on a "Mission Tour" to Mount St. Helens, which is just about 1.5 hour bus drive. We had an excellent tour guide who explained the history of the volcano and went into great detail about the events around the explosion in May 1980. We made several scenic stops along the way and ate box lunches at Coldwater Lake. Coldwater Lake is within the blast zone which killed everyone and everything, so everything around us was new growth within the last 36 years. In fact Coldwater Lake didn't exist before the blast, it was formed naturally as a result of it. Previously it was only Coldwater Creek.
It was a beautiful clear day. We were able to see a great distance, and I got a sunburn. We got within 6 miles of the mountain, on the north side, near Spirit Lake. It was an incredible experience. The bus was full of Presbyterians who were really enjoying the day of nature after a long week at the Oregon Convention Center.
Monday was travel day. I had a direct flight to DFW but made the mistake of asking the flight attendant on the way in how long the flight was: 3 hours 13 minutes, she said. Instead it turned out to be a 4 hour flight that landed in Lubbock. DFW was surrounded by intense storms around 6 or 7pm last night, so DFW rerouted all the traffic. We few around in circles and finally had to stop in Lubbock to refuel. They did let us de-plane, but the "food court" was only a Pizza Hut, Burger King, and a Bagel Sandwich shop. We got back on the plane and arrived at DFW around 10:30, 3 hours after schedule. I got home around midnight.
"I absolutely loved every bit of it. I loved being a part of the process and having a voice."
Some Reflections on General Assembly Experience:
General Assembly is an overwhelming experience. It is emotionally and mentally draining, but also incredibly inspiring. I absolutely loved every bit of it. I loved being a part of the process and having a voice.
This reaffirmed my love for my denomination. Though I didn't agree with every decision, I gained a new hope for the direction we are going.
I am proud of Grace Presbytery. Our 10 commissioners and YAAD represented us well, making prudent and helpful comments and motions. Grace proved again to be smart and thoughtful.
I was so glad to meet so many new people from all over our denomination. Most of the group dinners and table conversations forced us to eat next to people we didn't know, and I was thoroughly impressed with how we are represented (pastors, elders, etc.)
I was also so glad to catch up with some old friends that I had met at other Presbyterian events in the past. I saw three others who were in my CREDO experience last September, old colleagues from the Presbytery of East Iowa to which I used to belong, other interim pastors. It's nice to know others working across the country, even if we don't keep up with each other on a regular basis.
Five of our Children and Youth attended "Mission Camp" at First Presbyterian Church of Rockwall the week of June 20-24th.
The idea started when First Rockwall approached us about visiting and working in our Garden on the Tuesday of their mission camp. From there, the idea expanded when they invited our children to attend their mission camp for the rest of the week. So it went. Rick drove our kids to Rockwall on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and they came to our church on Tuesday.
On Tuesday they worked in our garden, weeding, harvesting and planting under the direction of Jennifer.
We are grateful to have partnerships with other churches like FPC Rockwall which help us pool our resources and build community!
The rest of the week, Rick drove them to Rockwall where they engaged in other mission activities and had a lesson and devotional time with Pastor Cheryl, who is a good friend of David's. This year's theme was "Feed My Sheep," based on Jesus' instructions to his disciples in John 21.
Mission Camp is a new variation on traditional Vacation Bible School. Rather than spending time inside, Mission Camp engages the children with service activities, followed by a time to reflect on what they did and why they did it.
Besides working in our garden on Tuesday, activities included stuffing pillows for the hospital, making dog biscuits for the animal shelter, and shopping for Helping Hands. Of course there was also time for fun such as swimming and bowling.
the compromise was orchestrated on the floor of the assembly by members of Grace Presbytery
Of special note, we did not vote for full divestment from fossil-free companies. This was a surprise, because the overture had a great deal of concurrences, and the advocacy group Fossil-Free PCUSA ran an excellent grass roots campaign. However, the assembly chose instead to follow the recommendations of the study compiled by the PC(USA)'s Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI). This is described as a middle way, and interestingly the compromise was orchestrated on the floor of the assembly by members of Grace Presbytery working in coordination with the commissioners from New Covenant (Houston area). The MRTI report suggests that we use a "focused engagement process" with oil, gas, and coal companies, working with them through our investments to reduce emissions and reliance upon fossil fuels.
In other business, on Friday morning I spoke on the floor against a recommendation that we change "teaching elder" to "minister of Word and Sacrament." The assembly voted for it anyway, so now it goes to the presbyteries for approval since it is a constitutional change.
Yesterday was a historic day for our denomination. In a very moving moment, we voted to accept the Belhar Confession and added it to our Book of Confessions. This is historic in that it is extremely difficult to amend the Book of Confessions, far more difficult than to amend the Book of Order. It takes the action of 3 different General Assemblies and also the approval of 2/3 (not simple majority) of the presbyteries. It happens maybe once every generation, if that. This was the final step of the process. It is also historic in that it was 50 years ago that the GA met here in Portland to adopt the Confession of 1967 which deals in part with the issue of racial issues in our society and the theme of reconciliation. Belhar was a response to apartheid in South Africa, and has three main themes of unity, reconciliation, and justice. It has much to say to the church now as we gather grapple with issues of race in the wake of the massacre in Orlando and the 1 year anniversary of the shootings of African American church members in Charlotte.
We also approved a revised Directory for Worship (the middle section of our Book of Order) to be sent to the presbyteries for approval.
I don't think you'll be able to see me, fortunately, my spot is not in line with the cameras!
Belhar has much to say to the church now as we gather grapple with issues of race in the wake of the massacre in Orlando and the 1 year anniversary of the shootings of African American church members in Charlotte.
If you are not sure about how this works, please know there are several ways we do business in General Assemblies:
vote on constitutional changes that are then sent to presbyteries for approval. The constitution is NOT changed until the proposal is approved by a majority of presbyteries by June of next year. Most of these deal with proposed revisions to the Book of Order (Book of Confessions is a longer, different process)
issue authoritative interpretations (much like courts issue rulings on existing constitution)
And importantly, the General Assembly is made up of people like you and me, commissioners sent from presbyteries from all over the nation and Puerto Rico. It is not a separate entity. And the Office of the General Assembly (in Louisville, KY) can only do things that are decided at GA like this one. The church is us!
"I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ." Phi. 1:6 NRSV