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Farming Event

2019-09-01 Message- Stacking-Up Mission Hospitality

By Sermons

We sometimes overlook, or misunderstand, the revolutionary character of Jesus’ message. This week’s text from Luke 14:1, 7-14, is worth taking a closer look. Jesus’ advice was to, “not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors to your luncheons, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid.” Instead Jesus declares that his followers (that’s us!) should invite those who have no hope of ever repaying their host— those he so-called “the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.” In other words, those so-called outcasts who can never promote their hosts’ status, and whose presence at table will most likely pull down their host’s standing in the community social structure. Wow. Hospitality occurs when the stranger and neighbor and the excluded are intentionally invited and included! All are welcome means, well, ALL are welcomed (and intentionally invited, sought out, and brought!).

Jesus is describing a whole new model of hospitality. How could our worship, concerts, dinners, bazaars, and all other community-facing events become more seed-planting, farming-style, and hospitality-driven? Let’s consider our amazing events to be interconnected… and stack them up, one on top of the other, each connected to the other, so that together they become cascading opportunities to welcome the stranger, reach out to neighbors, and in the end, embrace God’s own love for us all. Let’s not overlook God’s seeking out of us, welcoming us into the abundant life through Christ!This Fall, let’s stack-up our events in authentic and humble hospitality. God’s love… for all! (Who will you invite?!)

Focus Your Vision — 30-Day Challenge

By Intersections

“If you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith” (Gal. 6:8b-10, NRSV).

On June 24, about sixty people participated in our Focus Your Vision Day in Price Hall that included worship, luncheon, and conversations about the future. It was an engaging and energizing milestone on our transformation journey. A summary of our focused vision includes: 1) Hold on to the best of the past, 2) Explore the new, 3) Plant spiritual seeds, 4) Serve everyone in the community, 5) Grow the ministry. The session will be leading us in th next view months as we put this vision into action.

We are grateful to everyone who participated, offered comments, shared ideas, concerns, and hopes, and affirmed their visions for the future. We expressed thanks to the Mission Study Team, especially to Lenore Bowne for organizing the delicious luncheon and making Price Hall welcoming for everyone, including many first-time and returning visitors and guests.

Keep the best of what you have moving into the future.

Hold On To The Best, Let The Rest Fall Away

About forty-five remained after lunch to watch the Focus Your Vision video and table conversations led by Melissa and Pastor Kevin. We filled a dozen newsprint sheets with great ideas that included:

  1. Celebrated our congregation’s many strengths, staff, leadership, new members, 200 acres including our facilities, cemetery, and historic red brick church
  2. Identified the best of what we do that we want to keep doing as we move into the future including our Reformed worship, events, tours, and dinners, a history of service to veterans, families, and the community at large
  3. Proposed improvements to areas and facilities to make our ministry more welcoming, accessible, and able to serve youth, younger families, and older individuals
  4. Listed priorities to guide us as we follow Jesus Christ into the future to ensure that we do what we agree is important as we grow

Focusing our vision is not just a one day event. Every day we listen to God’s Spirit who is showing us where and how to become more engaged with our community through worship, witness, mission, and service. Our leadership team (Session), caring team (Deacons) and our many groups and committees will ensure that Cold Spring Presbyterian Church continues to learn and grow as we follow Jesus Christ.

Keeping the best of what we have was one of the seven key insights from the video. Blessings from God include tangible assets (people, location, property, buildings, and finances) and intangible assets such as our history, relationships, experiences, passions, hopes, talents, abilities, and our mental, physical, and spiritual gifts.

On June 17, the message Feed the World, Plant More Seeds considered the mustard seed. (Listen to the message by clicking here.) Though it is the smallest of seeds, it will grow into an incredibly large tree. The same is true of our faith. While we may think our faith is small compared to others, it is enough and it can grow. We are in the seed planting business. Not only in our ministry as a Farming Church, planting seeds and sharing the produce with the community at large, but we are planting spiritual seeds, as well. Whatever amount of faith you have, it is sufficient for God to bless and use us in amazing ways! But we don’t want to merely consume the spiritual fruit for ourselves. If we consume all our fruit, we not only will become overfed, but others are left hungry! We want God to produce fruit in abundance to feed us to feed others! So, how can we nurture our community of faith to have spiritual fruit to generously share with the community at large? One way is to accept the 30-Day Challenge.

The 30-Day Challenge I am passing on to you a gift given to me years ago by my mentor, the Rev. Chuck Reinhold, a Presbyterian minister and regional director for Young Life when I was on staff with that national youth ministry.

Like any gift, this gift comes free and is useless unless you use it. As Chuck said, this gift is also very expensive and actually cost Jesus Christ his life, which was his mission and his joy (Heb. 12:12). He died on the cross for our sins in order to bring us to God (John 3:16, John 1:12, 1 John 5:11–12). This gift comes alive to us when we accept the challenge every day.

We can know a lot about religion. We can recount historical facts about faith, the Bible, and might be able to tell wonderful stories about Cold Spring Presbyterian Church, but this gift is not to know more about Jesus Christ, it is to grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ. The gift is received when we accept this Challenge: decide to meet with God every day for thirty straight days by reading a portion of Scripture and asking the Lord for something specific to apply that day. That’s it!

If we miss a day, then we start the thirty-days over again until we read and apply what we read for thirty straight days. If you already set aside time to read Scripture daily, make sure that you actively try to internalize and apply it to your day. The 30-Day Challenge should be challenging! And practical. When we do this, chances are we’ll never quit, and the spiritual seeds planted in our life will continue to grow. What’s more, this gift becomes a gift to others through you!
As you read a portion of Scripture ask yourself, “What does God want me to be, feel, or do today?” Then as you pray, write out a sentence about what you discovered so you will remember to put it into practice. Repeat daily.

As we gathered around the Lord’s Table July 1, we recalled John 15:5 when Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” We are in the seed planting business at Cold Spring Presbyterian Church. Growing is what we do. Imagine the possibilities if each of us in our own way commit to the 30-Day Challenge. Remember, if you miss a day, there is no failure or judgement. Just renew your commitment the next day!

To bring our focused vision to life we need nourishment to grow. Let’s plant spiritual seeds. Let’s share God’s abundance and grace with others. It sounds pretty simple, but many things most treasured in life are just that, simple. So start the 30-Day Challenge today to spend time with God and you will enjoy renewed energy, insight, sensitivity, and love for yourself and others, too. You might want to share your experience, too. As you keep the gift going you will be amazed how your life, our congregation, and community are being transformed!

Let’s get growing!

A Message of Hope from the Pastor about Recent National Violence

By Intersections

“Blessed are the Peacemakers!”

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).

Dear friends,

The violent massacre of worshipping neighbors at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas November 5th, All Saints Day, was shocking and overwhelming news. But sadly, it was all too familziar to Americans in that it occurred only five weeks after the Las Vegas mass murders, and many other similar events before that. We learned that children and adults were among the 26 dead, with over 20 wounded. Cold Spring Presbyterian Church and The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) extends its deepest condolences, prayers, and its support to the congregation, its families, and the entire community of Sutherland Springs as it begins to deal with this trauma.

This devastating act reminds us of how fragile and frail human life is when exposed to gun violence and the often associated social and mental health issues that may be underlying and remain untreated in the lives of the perpetrators. Our prayers go out to the congregation and community, and everyone impacted by this tragedy. But prayers are not enough.

When I was a pastor in North Philadelphia, I observed first hand how gun violence destroyed families, took the lives of children, and devastated communities. Our congregation on Ontario Street knew it had to act so with other community partners and law enforcement, we collaborated to create a gun violence prevention program that became an effective model for us, and for other cities, too. I wonder what we might be led to do in our communities now?

This week in Louisville, the Presbyterian Church General Assembly Stated Clerk, the Rev. J. Herbert Nelson II, wrote in a pastoral letter that it is long past time for a “national conversation” on gun violence as a “moral and ethical imperative that demands the action and engagement of people of faith.”

Remember that faith without action does not amount to much. People of faith must engage. But to do so requires us to connect with our neighbors every day of the week. So let’s pray, yes. Let’s make sure we shine the clear Light of Christ and provide a safe place for even more life-affirming and engaging activities for people of every age especially as the holiday season begins.

For 303 years we have cared for this community. We have a solemn responsibility to re-double our best efforts in caring through our worship and mission. We learn once again from our sisters and brothers in Sutherland Springs, our work in the name of Jesus is needed more today than ever. I welcome your thoughts, and especially your acts of love, as we mourn with those who grieve, and work with all others for justice and peace.

“Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).

Pastor Kevin

Art depicting the letters A-C-T-F for Action Changes Things Faith IS Action

Mission Is More Than “All Are Welcome”

By Intersections
Art depicting the letters A-C-T-F for Action Changes Things Faith IS Action

Faith IS Action at Cold Spring Church!

Mission Is More Than “All Are Welcome”

Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by ac- tion, is dead (James 2:15-17 (NIV)).

What is Our Mission?

Well, you’d likely begin by describing our worship together on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. in our well-known red brick building, our Worship Center. Worship includes welcoming and engaging activities such as singing, praying, re- sponses, Scripture readings, and the preaching of God’s Word. In worship, whether in our personal devotional time or together, we express our gratitude and praise to God and become energized and equipped to make a positive difference in the world. But there is more to Cold Spring Church’s mission than corporate worship on Sundays. Much more.

Faith Is Action

Look around. Though our attendance is increasing (seventy-eight last week), the vast majority of people do not attend our Sunday worship. Actually, most of our community does not attend any Sunday worship. While we want to keep improving our interactive worship experience for every age group, for newcomers as well as longtime participants, we must work hard to make our faith visible, as James exhorts us to do in the passage above, “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by ac- tion, is dead.”

Action Starts with Listening

When we respect others and really listen in a spirit of openness, we begin to hear stories that deserve our response. Cape May County families are being ravaged by the opioid abuse and overdose epidemic sweeping the country. While this epidemic may seem a bit distant to you personally, not far from our Worship Center a thirteen-year old middle schooler recently died from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. The parents were as shocked as they were devastated by this tragedy, unaware of how or even why their child would be taking these drugs. This is just one of many horrific opioid overdose stories being told in our neighborhoods. While this news can easily feel overwhelming, the faith community must respond with practical resources, something in addition to, “Come to church on Sunday.”

As I left the Wawa on Bayshore Road the other day, there was a Prescription Drug Drop-Off zone that urged parents to clear out dangerous and unneeded drugs from their medicine cabinets. I wonder if we could provide prevention training in partner- ship with the New Jersey Opioid Program, or space for classes to help Parents learn how to better monitor and support their kid’s activities?

Listening Leads To Change

As we keep listening, we also recognize that some in our community have had traumatic or painful experiences related to God, religion, de- nominations, or churches in general. Our Explore God series provides a safe place for inquiry and sharing. How many have become disillusioned by religion, disappoint- ment by bad-actions associated with Christ or the practitioners of the Christian faith, or simply lack hope that their faith could once again become more meaningful and alive. While we are welcoming, our neighbors may need something more as they seek spiritual energy, hope, and possibilities.

As we move into the holiday months of Advent and Christmas, let’s renew our commitment to be more than just welcoming and more than just worship. How can we practically address urgent community needs and partner with others by learning and listening, loving and serving, inviting and building discipleship, and becoming a pro- active champion for our greater community? Of course, we still will gather for worship, but if all we do is worship on Sundays, we will miss even greater weekday opportunities God has set before us to do (John 14:12).

Action Changes Things

What connections can you make in your neighborhood? How can we help? Think about those who may need an encouraging phone call? Think about the teenage skateboarder you see on the corner, the family next door, the person walking down your street every day, or your favorite store clerk? Many have not been in a worship service recently, or ever. They may not want to, either! Realize that our world of favorite songs, sermons, and prayers will be unfamiliar to them, not make any sense, and they may feel more like outsiders.

What activities does our community enjoy? Pet lovers? Hobbyists? Community- minded volunteers? How about connecting to others around art and food? Studying the Bible? Homework help? Youth activities? Senior respite? Any car or motorcycle en- thusiasts? Outdoor fans? These activities can create natural connections that can be nurtured at Cold Spring Church.

Our community of faith has held fast to core Christian theological beliefs since its founding by followers of Christ in 1714. Let’s recommit to putting that faith in action! However you put your faith in action, know that it is deeply appreciated. I believe Cold Spring Church’s mission can achieve an even greater impact in our community as we work together! What will you do today to make your faith real?

Sincerely, Pastor Kevin

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