We don’t how to best demonstrate God’s loves to others. Whether we’re saying the right thing in the best way. We don’t know whether they will be grateful or annoyed, or whether they will say something mean in return.
Here’s a piece of paper which includes messages about God’s love from the Bible. Both sides are filled with inspiring words of hope. Let’s pretend you have these messages to share with me, so try to get the “message” to me. Go ahead, maybe throw the paper towards me! Wow, that didn’t get to me. Nope, it just fell to the floor. Crumpling up the paper may get it to me, but when I receive it I can’t read it! How else can those inspiring words get to me? It needs a lift!
Create a paper airplane! Now, the wigs give the message lift, and it can fly right to me! Go ahead, send me airmail! Got it!
All these folds are like the Holy Spirit, and the wings catch the power off the Spirit which will give our messages strength to get to the people we care about. If we’re going to show the fruit of the spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, and show God’s love to others, we need the “direction” of the Holy Spirit and the “lift” only the Holy Spirit can give! Now that’s inspiring!
(More people are responding, “Yes!” to that question. How about you?) If you’re ready to say Yes!, our 2019 Explorer Membership Orientation begins February 10, 9:15 AM in the Red Brick Church.
We are delighted that you have found many reasons to be involved at Cold Spring Church! You have worshipped with us, attended our events, volunteered in numerous ways, and have become an important part of our community of faith! We are honored by your current connection with us. But if you’re looking for something more, I have an opportunity for you to consider!
We hope now is the time for you to say “Yes!,” and attend our informal and informative Explorer Membership Orientation starting Sunday, February 10th.
We will gather for three Sundays in February: 10, 17, and 24. Our 45-minute sessions will begin at 9:15 on the 2nd floor of our Red Brick Church Worship Center!
Bring your questions, doubts, and stories as we get to know one another and the unique benefits and responsibilities afforded to members, as we consider the foundations of the Christian faith.
Let me know this week that you want to build a new future as an Explorer in 2019! This is the year of possibilities that starts right now! However you choose to connect, we are delighted that you are part of our community!
Remember to sign-up to receive the weekly Connections news brief. While the Brickette is a monthly review and pre-view, receiving our Connections in your inbox (usually sent Thursday each week) will give you a timely, quick read of the weekend-ahead events including worship, activities, and lots of photos that help tell the amazing way people like you are making a difference in greater Cape May.
You can catch-up on past issues of both the Brickette and the Connections online, too. So get connected and share what God is doing in our community.
Today is Epiphany, the last day of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Did a few of your ordered Christmas gifts arrive after Christmas?! Sure, it happens. While upsetting, we and the recipient are likely to appreciate the gift. The Three Kings did not arrive late. They were right on time before they even met him, they knew he was worthy of their best. We, too, celebrate the day when the Star of Bethlehem, a very bright moving star, came to a rest just above the spot where Jesus lay, ending its journey from the East and leading a caravan of Magi to the Christ child. The word Epiphany literally means a season of light and Jesus is the source, he is the Light of the World! He is the shining Star.
Celebrities in our culture are VIP’s from sports, to entertainment, to politics. Some stars are rising and others falling and we should be careful not to follow their words too carefully. You just don’t know where they will lead you! We can also be our own “star” as if wearing the T-Shirt that reads, Its All About Me. The Three Wise Men remind us that we are not the star, but rather Jesus is and we have an opportunity to reflect his light, no tonly in our community of faith, but even better, to the community at large! That is our mission as a church. And God invites you to give your very best, too. Can 2019 be the year you give Jesus your very best so that you can live your very best selves, the abundant life Jesus’ promised to us? I think it can!
Today, as you are sent out after worship, I will open this box of Frankincense and Myrrh and if you’re ready to give your best to Jesus, go ahead and take a piece. We have plenty for all of us. But its up to you.
Wow, the Three Kings presented their best and they didn’t even know Jesus. Now here we are, all these years later, and we have tasted and seen the goodness of the Lord, we know that God did not send his son into the world to condemn it, but that the world through him would be saved! Now that’s Good News. Star Words for the year ahead.
The Three Kings, the astronomer, astrologer, Magi, knew something about Jesus before they even met him. The knew he was special because they saw the brightest star in the sky, brighter than anything seen before. It guided them to Jesus. And they present gifts to Jesus fit for a king. Gold. Frankincense, and Myrrh. We’ve seen gold. But Frankincense and Myrrh are pretty unusual. Here is a special box of these unique nuggets which are derived from the gummy sap that oozes out of the Boswellia and Commiphora trees when their bark is cut. It’s so rare that these items were essential currency and worth a great deal. So the Three Kings gave Jesus something very special. They just didn’t reach into their pockets and see what they found. They prepared and brought their best. You know? God loves us, and wants us, our very best and even loves us when we seem to offer our worst! But as we look forward to a new year, I wonder if you’re ready to give God your unique best? Your best time, energy, and attention. If you’re ready to do that, please take some Frankincense and Myrrh with you. Carry it with you, or keep it in a special place in your room to remind you that God loves you and you decided to give him your very best this year.
This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone (Titus 3:8, NIV).
Then Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives. When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. “What a huge harvest!” he said to his disciples. “How few workers! On your knees and pray for harvest hands!” (Matthew 9:37-38, MSG).
SS Cold Spring Church– One of my favorite Peanuts cartoons shows Lucy, once again, lecturing Charlie Brown on the meaning of life: “Charlie Brown, life is like a deck chair on a cruise ship. Passengers open up these canvas deck chairs so they can sit in the sun. Some people place their chairs facing the rear of the ship so they can see where they’ve been. Other people face their chairs forward – they want to see where they’re going. On the cruise ship of life, which way is your deck chair facing?” Charlie replies, feeling frustrated: “I’ve never been able to get one unfolded.”
Sometimes we can feel a lot like Charlie Brown. Getting stuck at getting started! It can consume our valuable time, energy, and attention to the point that we end up accomplishing very little, and even more importantly, could end up distressed, or depressed, figuring out the next step! For Charlie, which way his deck chair was facing, finding his place on the ship was secondary to getting the deck chair opened in the first place!
Opening our own life’s deck chairs represent how we invest three gifts that God has given all of us to share. And I mean all of us; no matter our age or experience, whatever our talents or interests, or particular cycle of life, or our mobility. The three gifts are our Time, Energy, and Attention. (Think of it as our TEA, for short: Time, Energy, and Attention.) As the New Year begins, take a moment to review how your TEA is tasting! If you have lots of Energy and Attention, but no Time, you probably feel overwhelmed. If you have Time and Attention, but no Energy, you are likely exhausted. Or, maybe you have lots of Time and Energy, but no Attention. If that describes you, then you are probably distracted. But when our TEA is in balance, we can “open our deck chairs” to feeling more energized and engaged. And, we will feel more satisfied in doing good in the community in the name of Jesus Christ! We will find our own unique place on the ship called, Cold Spring Presbyterian Church. God commissioned us three hundred years ago to chart a course for blessing our community in the name of Jesus Christ. Do you need help with your deck chair?
Consider the scripture verses above for insight from God’s word about how we can find our place on board. The Apostle Paul wrote the letter to Titus, the New Testament book bearing his name, as a kind of instruction manual for the young pastor. Titus was concerned about what activities the new community of faith should focus on. The believers who met at Titus’ house church on the Island of Crete didn’t just to be busy. They wanted their Time, Energy, and Attention focused on the right priorities. Loving and glorifying God. Serving others. So Paul stressed— devote yourselves to doing good! That’s Titus’ bottom line as he followed Christ, and how Paul wanted every ministry and activity to be evaluated. Was it good for others? Did it accomplish good, or not? If so, do more of that. And if not, then stop doing that!
Jesus’ words inspire us to get involved in this New Year. He said, “What a huge harvest! How few workers!” When we look at the greater Cape May community of neighbors, friends, and family, do we see opportunities? Well, God does. And God has invited Cold Spring Presbyterian Church to “open our deck chairs” and do good! There’s work to accomplish. Love to demonstrate. Service to offer. Like it was said of Jesus who reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives. Proclaiming the Good News about Jesus requires us to do good. To bless others. To respect others. To welcome everyone.
Once we figure out where we put our “opened deck chair” we will know how we fit in, join in, or serve by investing our Time, Energy, and Attention better. Some of us want to celebrate where we’ve been. We have lots of experience. That’s great. You would be a great encourager, prayer warrior, or contributor, and your source of wisdom can help us move forward. Or, perhaps you are called to face forward and help to set the course, grow, and help the ship bring its gifts to the community.
Our communities and neighborhoods deserve hope and wellness of mind, body and spirit. Cold Spring Presbyterian Church has the spiritual resources to do even more good in 2019. Will you consider your TEA this week and ask God how to best invest your Time, Energy, and Attention. Get those deck chairs opened and get ready, “striving what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13). I think 2019 is going to be an amazing adventure in our 305th year of doing good in Jesus’ name. Get your TEA ready! All aboard!
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. Beyond the Manger was inspired by the writing of Joseph Martin and Ray Bakke.
Find out what churches, mattress stores, and shepherds can teach us beyond the manger!
Beyond the manger, We hear no Silent Night
There are no sounds of animals, No star is shining bright
Beyond the manger.
Beyond the manger, We see healing in the streets
Words of hope and forgiveness meet, But now we hear the angry crowd
The sounds of the hammer fall, I see a rugged cross, the chill of night.
Beyond the manger.
Beyond the manger, We see no see no swaddling clothes,
No host of angels sing, There is no candle glow.
Beyond the manger.
Beyond the manger, On the dump outside of town
Amazing grace breaking his heart, The messiah hangs upon a cross
Beyond the manger.
Because the tomb was empty, our lives can be filled
Beyond the manger.
Like the shepherds, you have met at the manger tonight. And can now see beyond it! To the life, words, signs, and work of Jesus. To the cross. The empty tomb. The ascension and promised return!
And you are being sent out as deputy shepherds! That’s right. Each of you has a job to tell the community: There is hope. Spiritual resources are available for young and old. Our mission is to those who have not been reached. To proclaim the Good News about Jesus, and if necessary, use words!
What have you heard? Will you make it known?
What gift have you received? Will you share it?
What hope and peace have you felt? Will you go and tell the amazing news!?
Then our entire community can see God’s amazing love and get the spiritual resources it needs for wellness and living the abundant life Jesus promises!
What an exciting time of year! Christmas! One of the joys of Christmas is the Christmas Card. Has your family received Christmas Cards? I especially like the ones with a photo on them, a photo of the family. I have some to share with you. Here’s a favorite of mine: It’s of my dog, Finn. Yes, that’s right, he sent his one Christmas card this year! Even better, here is a dear friend’s family pictured on their card. And another. Here’s a family photo, very nice! We love photo Christmas cards because they tell a story. They show us what the family is like. Did you know that God sent a Christmas card to you? Oh, yes, God sent an amazing Christmas card and its of the scene right here: the manger. A long time ago Jesus was bored. Jesus is God’s son and you can see that Jesus was bird in a house with the animals all around. What animals do you see? And others were there, too. Here is a shepherd. The shepherds were out watching their sheep at night when thousands of angles appeared. Here’s our angel. Imagine all these angels telling the shepherds to hurry up and go see the baby, who is God’s Christmas card to us. God’s love letter, the Bible, tells us all about Jesus. And Jesus grew up and showed us how we are to live our lives by doing things for others just like you have been. Cleaning chores, making meals with your family, baking cookies for your neighbors, showing love to others, helping kids at school, all these are practical ways to give because God gave us a most incredible gift of his son Jesus who gives us life that will never end! Jesus said, if you see me, you have seen God. That’s one amazing Christmas card, isn’t it? Let’s pray and thank God for Jesus, and for showing us the way this Christmas.