Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The boxes filled with Christmas decorations have hardly started collecting dust in the garage and already we’re rushing ahead to the next holiday.  Depending upon your interests I suppose that would be either Super Bowl or Valentine’s Day.

A couple of weeks ago our choir sang “When the Angels Song Is Silent.” This song is written from an after-Christmas point of view; “the stable door is open…the angels song is silent…the shepherds have gone home…the swaddling clothes are folded…then the promise of Christmas begins.”
Over the last year Prineville Presbyterian Church worked to make good on this Christmas promise by trying new things.

We provided new stuffed animals to the Police Department and Sheriff’s Department for officers to use in comforting children caught in traumatic situations.
We used our “Souper Bowl” canned soup collection on Super Bowl Sunday to launch a monthly canned food drive to help stock the food pantry at St. Vincent DePaul. By the end of the year we had collected enough groceries to provide 1100 meals.

We found ourselves suddenly brought into a situation with a person living out of their motor home. Taking a big, deep gulp - while seeking to authentically follow our Christian faith - we extended temporary sanctuary that allowed this person to catch their breath and position themselves for a brighter future.
Like many people, we are aware of homelessness; however our sanctuary guest brought the challenges of homelessness right to our door step, opening our eyes even more fully to the depths and complexities confronting people lacking secure housing.

This led to an increased sensitivity that has brought us into new partnerships. Now, with our friends at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, we are looking at ways to bring our combined efforts alongside clients from Redemption House - the local homeless shelter - in using our one acre garden to provide opportunities for Redemption House guests to learn gardening skills and other work habits while providing fresh vegetables for their own use.   

Our Squares and Prayers quilters group embarked on an ambitious project that resulted in a gorgeous quilt. Their great work continued as the quilt was raffled off to raise money for our Children’s Fund. This fund is used in our partnership with St. Vincent DePaul to provide aid for families needing assistance with rent or power bills.
We have been honored - and humbled - to use these funds in helping 50 families during the past year. In many cases the financial assistance was only a part of the aid we provided; meeting with the families also created a safe space for people to vent and share and seek God’s comfort.

Words like “we” and “our” are the key to all of this. Carrying out the ministry of Jesus Christ is not the work of one new pastor, nor is it left to the work of one church community.
Rob Bell is a writer and has been a very popular pastor. He has supporters and critics, I find him thought provoking. In his book Velvet Elvis he writes:

“We can insist that hope is real and that a group of people who love God and others really can change the world. We can reclaim our idealism and our belief and our confidence in the big ideas that stir us deep in our bones. We can commit all the more to being the kinds of people who are learning how to do what Jesus teaches us…
 …but I can’t do it alone…

We need you to rediscover wonder and awe.
We need you to believe that it is really possible.

We need you to join us. It’s better that way.
It’s what Jesus had in mind.”

The earlier mentioned “When the Angels Song Is Silent” also included this: “All the world is changed forever…for the echo lingers on.”
That echo begins with all of us rediscovering, believing, and joining. And that echo lingers long after the Christmas decorations have been put away.

Together We Serve,
Pastor Mikeeacons yesterday. Our elders work to strengthen and nurture our congregation’s faith and life. The deacons are a friend to those inside and outside the church, sharing Christ’s love with anyone in distress. Both elders and deacons set the pace for this promise of Christmas.

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