Saturday, November 30, 2013

Advent Crafts Festival Tomorrow Night

Our annual Advent Crafts Festival takes place tomorrow, December 1, beginning at 5:30 p.m. in Parish Hall.  This festive evening is full of craft centers for all ages.  The theme this year is “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”  There are favorite centers from past years and some new ones.  

You will also get to send a special greeting to our homebound members at one of the centers.  Please remember to bring finger foods to share with everyone at our holiday buffet.  Many thanks go to our Adult Council who sponsors the event as well as to Frances Nichols for coordinating the evening.  Listed below are the many craft centers that will be available. We hope to see you there!

Day 1: Partridge in a Pear tree-snow globes 










Day 2: Turtle Doves- felt turtle doves 












Day 3: French Hens-hen ornaments 
Day 4: Calling Birds- peanut butter pine cones 
Day 5: Golden Rings- golden ring bead bracelets 
Day 6: Geese a Laying- decorating plastic eggs 
Day 7: Swans a Swimming- pine cone swans 
Day 8: Maids a milking- cocoa mixing
Day 9: Ladies Dancing- ribbon rings 
Day 10: Lords a Leaping- clothes pin men
Day 11: Pipers Piping- tongue depressor whistles 
Day 12: Drummers Drumming- plastic cup drums 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Mitten Tree Ministry

We need your help collecting mittens, gloves, socks, scarves and hats in all sizes. These items will be distributed to our guests at the Christmas Pageant on Sunday, December 8.  There is a collection box for the items located outside room 209 (near the elevator) in the Children’s wing. You may also place them on the Christmas trees located on the first floor near the library, on the second floor in the Children’s wing and in the Preschool. All contributions are appreciated. 


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

First Sunday of Advent: Should ‘a been lookin’ for a Baby



In the time when Jesus was born,
Herod the King commanded armies
            Of soldiers,
            Of builders,
            Of counselors,
All guarding his rule against any challenge.
All watching for any rebel on the horizon.
He should ‘a been lookin’ for a baby.

The religious establishment pored over its sacred scrolls,
Searching for any sign of God’s promised intervention
            Into the affairs of nations.
Preparing the next generation of guardians of the faith,
            Schooling the boys until  they became the men
            Who were ready to stand watch over God’s promises.
Insisting that the only thing worthy of their attentions
            Was the piles of scrolls stored in sacred vaults.
They should ‘a been lookin’ for a baby.

Now our power brokers still watch for the challengers of this age:
            The terrorist, the next election, the other party,
            The economy out of control,
            The restless oppressed of every established rule.
All jockeying around to be the next influencer,
            The next grand innovator,
            The next… well, anything at all.
We watch for those who wield power of every sort,
            And power seems to come in all sorts these days,
We too should be lookin’ for a baby.
                      - Rev. Andy Ferguson

Monday, November 25, 2013

Urgent Needs for the Sharing Shop

The Sharing Shop was open today and saw more than 30 customers. The UMW says many of the customers they saw today are sleeping in cars or outside so there are some urgent needs as cold weather arrives. If you can donate any blankets, adult gloves and socks, it would be greatly appreciated. Also, the Sharing Shop would love to have some old sleeping bags. Please bring any donations to the church office or see Pat Bellingrath for more information. 



Sunday, November 24, 2013

Advent Crafts Festival Features "12 Day of Christmas"

Our annual Advent Crafts Festival takes place next Sunday, December 1, beginning at 5:30 p.m. in Parish Hall.  This festive evening is full of craft centers for all ages.  The theme this year is “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”  There are favorite centers from past years and some new ones.  We still need volunteers to staff each of the craft stations! Please e-mail France Nichols at fnichol1@yahoo.com if you can help. 

You will also get to send a special greeting to our homebound members at one of the centers.  Please remember to bring finger foods to share with everyone at our holiday buffet.  Many thanks go to our Adult Council who sponsors the event as well as to Frances Nichols for coordinating the evening.  Listed below are the many craft centers that will be available.

Day 1: Partridge in a Pear tree-snow globes 










Day 2: Turtle Doves- felt turtle doves 











Day 3: French Hens-hen ornaments 
Day 4: Calling Birds- peanut butter pine cones 
Day 5: Golden Rings- golden ring bead bracelets 
Day 6: Geese a Laying- decorating plastic eggs 
Day 7: Swans a Swimming- pine cone swans 
Day 8: Maids a milking- cocoa mixing
Day 9: Ladies Dancing- ribbon rings 
Day 10: Lords a Leaping- clothes pin men
Day 11: Pipers Piping- tongue depressor whistles 
Day 12: Drummers Drumming- plastic cup drums 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Walk Through Bethlehem Still Needs Volunteers

Our seventeenth Walk Through Bethlehem is just a couple of weeks away and around 20 volunteers are still needed to make the village come alive for our guests on the afternoon of December 15. Shopkeepers, wise men, census taker, storytellers, and greeters are still needed for the second shift from 3:30-6 p.m. A few places are still open for the first shift from 1-3:30 p.m. as well. Please stop by the chart in the children’s hallway and sign up to help with the annual event, or contact Sue Isbell (sisbell@churchstreetumc.org) for the most current needs.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Advent Crafts Festival Needs Volunteers

On Sunday, December 1, we will begin the Advent season with our annual Advent Crafts Festival in Parish Hall, from 5:30-7 p.m.  This is a fun-filled evening for all ages to come together and make their favorite holiday craft. This year’s theme is “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”  In order for the evening to be successful we need everyone’s help in the following ways:
  • We need volunteers to help at each of the craft centers. All materials and instructions will be supplied. Contact Frances Nichols at fnichol1@yahoo.com.
  • We need everyone to bring holiday finger foods to share that evening.  The kitchen staff will provide drinks.
  • We need you to bring fresh greenery and pine cones if you have them available from your yard for some of the centers.
  • And finally, we need you to come and enjoy making things for the home for the Advent season. If you have any other questions about the event, please contact Frances Nichols at the above e-mail address.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Time to Prepare The Thanksgiving Baskets

Church Street is blessed to be able to provide 85 baskets as our expression of love to this community and the community of Willow, Alaska. We need people to help assemble baskets for our area by coming to the gym this Thursday, November 21, beginning at 6:30 p.m.  A pizza snack will be provided.  

We also need help delivering the baskets on Sunday, November 24.  Come to the gym following Sunday School or 11 a.m. Worship to pick up a basket for a family near your home to be delivered on that afternoon.  If you’re unable to help with the packing or delivering of the baskets, you can make a donation to help fund this important outreach. 


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sermon - November 10, 2013 - Heaven Forbid!



                                                                                                                      
Luke 20.9-19
Rev. Andy Ferguson

            This rich parable can be read in several ways; I want us to consider two approaches:
1.     We can read it from beginning to the end;
2.     We can read it from the ends to the middle.

I. If we read the parable from Luke 20 from *beginning to end*, then we will begin with the problem and end with the resolution.
1. An owner builds a vineyard and leases it to tenants.
2. He goes away to another country for a long time.
3. At the time of harvest, the owner sends a servant to collect his share of the rent.
4. The tenants beat servant #1.
5. The owner sends servant #2 with the same result.
5b. Then, he sends servant #3. Same thing.
6. Then, the owner sends his son, hoping they will respect his son.
7. Instead of respect, the wicked tenants kill the son, hoping that the old man will die and leave the vineyard abandoned.
8. Then, Jesus asks, “What do you think the owner will do?
9. Well, of course, he will come and clean out the whole lot of them.
10. And, then he will rent the vineyard to better tenants who will give the owner what is due.
11. Finally, Matthew tells us that Jesus said directly to the chief priests and the elders with everyone listening: **17 But he looked at them and said, “What then does this text mean:
‘The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone’?
18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.” 19 When the scribes and chief priests realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to lay hands on him at that very hour, but they feared the people.

Thus, the events leading to the cross are begun.

            Reading the parable from the beginning to the ending, points us to the wicked tenants who did not respect the owner of the vineyard. Jesus makes the connection between the wicked tenants and the chief priests and elders easy to see; they are understandably angry.
            Reading the parable this way calls up our sense of justice. These tenants had a job; they refused to keep their end of the bargain they had made with the owner. They were clearly in the wrong. Whether we like the boss or not, when we agree to do a job, we all share the conviction that we ought to do our part OR quit and walk away. The tenants, whether we sympathize with them or not, are in the wrong. We all share this sense of justice about the matter.
            Actually, Jesus’ parable is more difficult to swallow than that. In the days of Jesus, that area of Galilee was the breadbasket for the whole region. Traveling from Jerusalem north into Galilee is to see the world turn from brown to green. Several years ago, we traveled by bus from Egypt through Israel and into Galilee. Land along the Nile River was green and very productive. From there, across the Sinai Peninsula and then through Israel, the land was desert brown until we reached Galilee. There the desert gave way to green and fruitful fields.
            In the days of Jesus, Galilee was largely owned by foreign investors who then leased the land back to local tenant farmers. It was an economic system designed to keep the locals poor and landless. It was a system that took the best produce of Galilee and exported it to the cities for better prices. For Jesus to tell a story about a landowner in Galilee would call up memories of this oppressive economic system. As the parable opens, the landowner does not have anyone’s sympathy.
            You can imagine the local people of Galilee, struggling under this economic system, wondering just how strongly those foreign owners want to keep their property. They live a long way off. What would they care if they lost this? Maybe if we beat a few of their bill collectors, they will get the message that we don’t want them around here. It was a daydream that many likely considered but few were willing enough to follow.
            As the parable continues, Jesus teases his listeners to reach down to their own sense of justice. Yes, the economic system that leaves the outside owners rich and the people of the land in poverty is harsh. But, we did agree and so must keep our agreement. Grudgingly they would give up their natural loyalties to stand with the owner against the wicked tenants.

            C. In this sense, the parable is about *accountability*. Like the landowner, God has a right to expect something of those whom God has blessed.
+       Have you kept the 10 Commandments?
+       Have you loved your neighbor?
+       Have you kept yourself clean?
+       Have you paid your taxes?
+       Have you loved the Lord your God with heart, soul, mind and strength?
Christians, who live under God’s blessings every day, should not hide behind God’s love to do any-old-thing we like. God has expectations of us; and we have expectations of ourselves.

II. There is a 2nd way to read this parable: We can read it from the ends to the middle.
            Recall the parable: the owner sent three sets of servants to collect what was due. When each was met with abuse and violence, the owner had to decide what to do. We expect that the owner will respond with overwhelming violence of his own. As the parable says,
            16 He will come and destroy those tenants.”
The word, “destroy” is a strong term.
            But, there in the middle, Jesus tells us of an owner who will do the unexpected: He will send his beloved son, confident that they will respect the son. The owner who has every right to respond with destruction against these tenants, makes a conscious choice to respond with the gift of his beloved son. We hear this and recoil at the naiveté of the idea. Either the owner is very stupid or the owner is great of heart. Which do you see?

[QUOTE:] Kenneth Bailey says of this decision: The owner has the right to contact the authorities, who at his request will send a heavily armed company of soldiers to storm the vineyard, arrest the violent men who have mistreated his servants and bring them to justice. The abusing of his servants is an insult to his person, and he is expected, indeed honor bound, to deal with the matter. No anger is mentioned, but it is assumed. The question is, what will he do with the anger generated by the injustice he and his servants have suffered? There are plenty of examples from inside and outside the Bible of what leaders have chosen to do in the face of rebellion (1).

+       When the people of earth lived in wanton sinfulness, God sent a flood to wash away all the sinners and all the results of their sin – Noah and the Ark.
+       When Pharaoh would not let Israel go to freedom, God sent 10 plagues to punish them and change his mind. Disobedience led to punishment.
+       When Israel would not live according to the commandments of God, war and eventual exile was the result. Disobedience led to exile.
+       When the American South seceded from the Union over slavery and the economic system that came with it, Abraham Lincoln led the Civil War that forced them back into the Union. Rebellion was met with force.
Violence and treachery most often get violent punishment in response.
The owner of the vineyard must decide what he will do with the anger generated by this injustice. Will he allow his enemies to dictate the nature of his response? Is further violence the only answer? You can almost sense a painful pause in the middle of the parable as the owner thinks about what he must do (1).

Now, the parable shows us something most unexpected. The owner, in the face of repeated insult and injury, decides that the way to solve this is to send his son -- even at the risk that they will kill him. To everyone’s surprise, the son is sent to the vineyard alone and unarmed. The son goes with no escort, to meet the vicious men who were tensely awaiting his father’s response to their last outrage.
What kind of risky, humiliating thinking is this from the owner? Is this foolish thinking? Or, is this something deeper and more profound that only God can imagine? But more, *is this the character of God?* And does this show us something about the cross? I think it does. The cross of Jesus is how *God straightens things out*. God might have chosen to punish all our sins and wickedness, but God chose the cross instead. As someone said, “He chose the nails.” This is how God straightens things out.
That is what God did when he sent his Son Jesus to die on the cross for the world. God was and still is trying to fan the dying embers of us scoundrels’ sense of honor. In Jesus, God took His righteous anger at rebellious humanity and *chose to respond with grace*.  We expect violence. We expect God to declare judgment upon our wickedness. This is the way the world works. But, in Christ God chooses grace, which we cannot deserve, hoping that the moment of realization will be a moment when we can freely return to the service of God. The Wicked Tenants when they realized the moment of grace made the other choice; they chose to kill the Son. No coercion; God makes possible this incredible choice, now placed in our hands. When you get it, be prepared to find your hardened heart softened. This kind of love is that moving. Hearing that the owner sent his son in one last attempt to turn the hearts of the tenants speaks to us of God’s desire to deal with our treachery, not with force or destruction, but with grace.
We should go back to the Ten Commandments. They point us toward the Kingdom of God. You and I can keep the Ten Commandments without exception. They are intended for our health and well-being. They remind us where we fall short and where we are frankly rebellious against the will and the intention of God. So, what should God do when we fall short? What should God do when we break the Ten Commandments in our deeds and in our hearts? What should God do when are rebellious? God has every right to respond with punishment. Our prisons, our divorce courts, and our personnel files are filled with the results of punishments.
 But, as Jesus teaches in this parable of the Noble Vineyard Owner and as Jesus demonstrates through the broken bread and his death on the cross, *God chooses grace*. Grace in the hope that, when we encounter costly grace, we will respond with honor and loyalty and love. How will you respond to the God who chooses grace?

[CONCL:]
            Think about it. We all know what to expect when people are cruel or mean. We expect the world and God alike to respond with punishment. What is the logic behind God’s incredible decision to respond to the world’s cruelty with the gift of God’s own Son? How does that work? It is no wonder that the Church stands before this parable and declares that God has done something new in Jesus Christ. It is no wonder that the Church proclaims that Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords.


Notes:
1. Bailey, Kenneth. Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes, p. 410ff.


SERRV Market Returns This Sunday

The SERRV market is returning for another year at Church Street. You’re invited to shop at the market on Sundays, November 17, 24 and December 1. We will be selling the fair-trade merchandise beginning at 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., and on Sunday evenings starting at 4:30 p.m. and concluding at 6 p.m. in Parish Hall.  Shop early for the best selection, as we have new items in this year. The SERRV market is sponsored by the Community and Global Missions Committee. For more information on SERRV, click here


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

UMCOR Begins Relief Effort in the Philippines

In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is actively mobilizing resources to respond to this latest and largest in a series of disasters to hit the Philippines over the past twelve months. Although an accurate casualty total is yet to be determined, it is clear that the destruction and disruption of lives due to Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda, is massive.  Haiyan crashed into the Philippines on Friday, November 8. The initial response from UMCOR will involve the distribution of food and water purification tablets. You can support UMCOR’s relief and recovery work in the Philippines by designating a donation to Advance #982450.  All of your gift, 100 percent, will be used to help those in need. You may also donate online here


Friday, November 8, 2013

Help Wesley House Prepare For Christmas

I know what you're thinking, it's too early for Christmas! We may not have celebrated Thanksgiving yet, but our friends at Wesley House are planning ahead to make sure the participants there have a great Christmas. Here's a note from Wesley House with several ways you can get involved!

The holidays are right around the corner, and what better way to celebrate than to give to others? Each year, we try our very best to have all of our senior citizens, children, and siblings of our children adopted for Christmas by our generous supporters. If you are interested in "adopting" one of our amazing participants, please contact Wesley House today! kelsey@wesleyhouse.com (for children), sharon@wesleyhouse.com (for seniors), or call 865-524-5494. 




Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Service of Compline

For centuries, the close of the monastic day has been the office of Compline, a time of prayer before sleep. This sung service includes Psalms, petitions, hymns, and other music, ending the day in prayerful meditation. Join us on Sunday, November 10, at 9 p.m. in the Nave as the men’s ensemble, Orison, will make its debut performance as part of the Church Street Master Arts Series in a Service of Compline. Here’s what to expect at the service:

  • A service late in the day – historically, Compline is the final church service of the day, that’s why it’s at 9 p.m.
  • A time for quietness and reflection – there will be no speaking; you will participate by listening and praying along with the Psalms.  You will hear mostly chanted unison singing, along with a couple of motets (selections sung in parts) by the twelve men’s voices. With only one exception, the service is sung in English.
  • A dimly lit Nave – the lights will be on low and there will be votive candles all around the Nave.  There are no printed bulletins or programs. 
  • A multi-sensory service – you will experience the smoke of burning incense, which is interpreted as a symbol of the prayer of the faithful rising to heaven. You’ll hear the random ringing of the tower bells to indicate the beginning and ending of the service.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Sharing Shop Seeking Donations

As the weather turns colder, the Sharing Shop has two current needs: blankets and men's coats. 

You may bring the items to the Sharing Shop (we are open the second and fourth Mondays of each month from noon until 3 p.m. and are located in the bottom of the CLC) or to the church office. We appreciate your continued support of this ministry. 


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Women's Bible Study Begins Advent Series This Week

This week the Wednesday Ladies Bible study will begin a new Advent study called The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs.  The study looks at the lives of three women, Elizabeth, Mary and Anna, whose hearts belong to God. Follow each of their footsteps as you prepare for the Savior to enter your heart, your mind, and your life in a vibrant, new way this season.  We will read chapters each week and discuss study questions.  This five-week study meets every Wednesday, 9-11 a.m., from November 6, through December 11. Childcare is provided.  The cost of the book is $10.  Please contact Juanita Cowles at rockytoptennjc1@hughes.net to participate or for more information.   

Friday, November 1, 2013

Jim Fleming Lectures Begin Tomorrow

Dr. Jim Fleming will return to Church Street tomorrow for a series of five lectures. Dr. Fleming will focus on "Little Words in the Bible That Make a Difference." The schedule of lectures is below. All lectures will be held in Parish Hall and are free of charge. 

Saturday, November 2
8:30-9 a.m. - Gathering Time & Coffee
9-10:15 a.m. - When Jesus Saw Their Faith: How the faith of others can help those who lack faith
10:30-11:45 a.m. - Five Barley Loaves and Two Small Fish: How God can bless and multiply our small gifts

Sunday, November 3
9:40-10:40 a.m. - The First Day of the Week: How understanding the Feast of the Firstfruit helps interpret Resurrection Sunday
4-5 p.m. - Now there were 153 Fish: How the Apostles learned to include as many people as there are kinds of people
5:45-7 p.m. - There were Three Generations of 14: Looking to the promised Davidic descendant