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Advent – Week of Joy

 

“Advent” means “coming” or “arrival.” During the season of Advent, we celebrate Christ’s coming into the world and watch with expectant hope for his coming again. In its historical origins, the season of Advent was patterned after the season of Lent, a six-week period of penitence and preparation for Easter. Similarly, the four weeks of Advent present an opportunity for communal discernment and personal examination, as the church prepares to celebrate the Nativity of the Lord and looks with hope for Christ’s return. (From the PC(USA) office of Theology and Worship)

Once again we meet John the Baptist, who offers the same question to Jesus that we would—”Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”

 

We’re in the season of waiting. We wait for holidays and celebrations; and we wait for earnings reports and test results. We wait for the good things that will enliven our holidays; and we wait for those things we worry will take away from any kind of joy we hope Jesus has come to bring. We have specific dreams in mind that we’re waiting for, those things we just know will make everything turn out alright. And then, we remember that the world doesn’t revolve around us and, thanks be to God, Jesus offers something more: “Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.’” Why would we wait for anything else?

Sunday, December 15

Adult Sunday School
Miller Room
9:15 a.m.Children’s Pageant Rehearsal
FPC Sanctuary
9:45 a.m.

Fellowship
Commons
10:00 a.m.

Worship – Children’s Christmas Pageant
Sanctuary
10:30 a.m.

Monday, December 16
Morning Prayers
Library
9:30 a.m.

Bible Study
Library
10:00 a.m.Thursday, December 19
Women’s Christmas Fellowship
Kathryn Seller’s Home
4:30-7:00 p.m.

Presbyterians at the Pub
Dalton Brewing Company
5:00 p.m.

Saturday, December 21
Young Adult Christmas Party
The Granillo’s Home
6:00 p.m.

Advent – Week of Joy2021-03-01T14:16:57-05:00

Advent – Week of Peace

“Advent” means “coming” or “arrival.” During the season of Advent, we celebrate Christ’s coming into the world and watch with expectant hope for his coming again. In its historical origins, the season of Advent was patterned after the season of Lent, a six-week period of penitence and preparation for Easter. Similarly, the four weeks of Advent present an opportunity for communal discernment and personal examination, as the church prepares to celebrate the Nativity of the Lord and looks with hope for Christ’s return. (From the PC(USA) office of Theology and Worship)

Every year John the Baptist shows up in our preparations for Christmas by calling us to repentance. The root of that word “repentance” means turning—now is the time to turn back to God. We do this through practice of scripture reading, prayer, and confession. We do this through worship and service. Above all we do this with God’s help. The prophets encourage us to turn because, in Jesus, God has promised to meet us in a new way. As we turn towards God, God is always turning towards us.

Sunday, December 8

Adult Sunday School
Miller Room
9:15 a.m.Children’s Choir Rehearsal
FPC Sanctuary 
9:15 a.m.Children’s Pageant Rehearsal
FPC Sanctuary
9:45 a.m.

Fellowship
Commons
10:00 a.m.

Worship
Sanctuary
10:30 a.m.

Monday, December 9
Morning Prayers
Library
9:30 a.m.

Bible Study
Library
10:00 a.m.Tuesday, December 10
Book of the Month Club
Blue Ridge Elementary School
9:00-10:30 a.m.Thursday, December 12
Presbyterians at the Pub
Dalton Brewing Company
5:00 p.m.

Advent – Week of Peace2021-03-01T14:19:19-05:00

Advent – Week of Hope

“Advent” means “coming” or “arrival.” During the season of Advent, we celebrate Christ’s coming into the world and watch with expectant hope for his coming again. In its historical origins, the season of Advent was patterned after the season of Lent, a six-week period of penitence and preparation for Easter. Similarly, the four weeks of Advent present an opportunity for communal discernment and personal examination, as the church prepares to celebrate the Nativity of the Lord and looks with hope for Christ’s return. (From the PC(USA) office of Theology and Worship)

Jesus tells his disciples, “keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” Advent is the promise that God is coming in Jesus Christ in the midst of our lives of work and family, joy and grief, health and illness, hope and disappointment. We don’t always know what that looks like; and so Jesus’ promise is less a description of how this works and more an encouragement for our hope. We are people who live in light of this promise, who commit to practices of prayer, worship, and service, anticipating God coming into our midst. Jesus encourages us to watch and wait. How are you waiting? How are you preparing for God’s coming this year?

Sunday, December 1

Sunday School
FPC
9:15 a.m.Fellowship
Commons
10:00 a.m.

Worship
Sanctuary
10:30 a.m.

Advent Compline
Sanctuary
7:00 p.m.

Monday, December 2
Morning Prayers
Library
9:30 a.m.

Bible Study
Library
10:00 a.m.Wednesday, December 4
Hanging of the Greens
Martin House
9:30 a.m.

Thursday, December 5
Presbyterians at the Pub
Dalton Brewing Company
5:00 p.m.

Advent – Week of Hope2021-03-01T14:19:49-05:00

Sunday School for Busy People

We had a good problem at our Christian Education Team meeting this week. We’re running out of space in our regular adult Sunday School room. This is great! There are enough people who want to explore our common faith through the established Sunday School pattern that we are looking for a new home. So, if you want to continue to learn about the formation of the New Testament with our regular class, keep on heading upstairs and squeeze into a chair (or stay tuned for a soon-to-be announced move to the parlor).

Our good problem also uncovered another challenge, however—and that is, not everyone can make it to Sunday School. Some people teach children on Sunday morning, or some have a hard enough time getting their own kids together in time to make it. Some people have choir commitments. Some people are not early morning people and don’t want an obligation to slide onto the calendar like every other day of the week. Worship at 10:30 can be hard enough. We wouldn’t dream of trying to add something else during the week either.

But maybe you’ve shown up to church a little early before. You’ve gotten your coffee. You don’t have teaching responsibilities that day. You don’t want to interrupt the regular class because it’s hard to jump into the middle of things and there aren’t many chairs and people can be particular about the chairs they sit in. You don’t want to wait in the commons for half an hour before anyone shows up. Where do you go?

Now there is a place for you: Sunday School for Busy People.

Sunday School for Busy People will meet in the Library of the Martin House (first door on the left through the front door) almost every week starting at 9:20ish. There will be minimal structure, preparation, or need to stay if you don’t want to (so don’t worry about having to duck out to choir or to something else that you’d be rather doing). It will work like this:

  • Every week, people who see interesting articles or blog posts things online will post them to the FPC Connect Page (our closed facebook group) or email a link to Will. Will will pick one article to post to the FPC facebook page.
  • If you want, read the article, and come for a quick discussion on Sunday.
  • Note: we may discuss the article, or we may just talk about our lives, or chat, or have coffee.
  • Stay for as much or as little as you can.
  • Don’t feel guilty about leaving, or about not being there.

That’s it!

Our goal is to provide a space for busy church people to wrestle with interesting ideals related to faith and life without the burden of an additional commitment. So come as you are, if you can; prepare if you want; leave when you like; at no point feel guilty about commitment.

Start sending articles in the next week. I’ll see you next Sunday (October 20) at 9:20ish.

Peace,

Sunday School for Busy People2020-09-08T16:05:17-05:00

What does it take to be a Presbyterian elder? Here’s what you need to know!

 

The Christian year begins with Advent, we know; but there seems to be some phenomenon of the “church calendar” which has taken a life of its own. So as every year in December we hear the prophetic announcement that God in Jesus is coming, we build up to it throughout the fall through some rather mundane activities—new Christian Education programming in August, stewardship in November, and, of course, elder nominating in September and October. Christmas Carols, candlelight, and a pageant may seem the most memorable things we do in a given season of the year; yet these other practices of our life together are equally constitutive of who we are as the people of God. They may seem mundane, but they are important and theologically profound. We are people who call our leaders—elders—in a particular way, realizing that the Holy Spirit is bringing us and them together. That way is through our elder nominating process.

The Holy Spirit doesn’t always fit into our timetable, but we try as best we can. It looks like this:

  • In late August the congregation nominates and then elects two members (one woman and one man) to serve on our nominating committee. The session elects its own representative who will chair the committee. This year our nominating committee consists of Jodi Johnson, Jim Burran, and Jeane Jones (chair). Aside from the alliterative possibilities of such a group, you can see that the Spirit is already at work bringing such gifted people together. In my role as Pastor I serve as a non-voting member and advisor to the committee.
  • The nominating committee will spend the next six weeks soliciting nominations for elders of the class of 2022, who will begin three-year terms of service in January of 2020.
  • In October, the session will call a congregational meeting to vote on a slate of candidates to serve as elders of the class of 2022 and the congregation will vote on this slate with a called meeting in October. In accordance with our polity, this meeting will allow the opportunity for nominations from the floor to be considered, too (although it’s the sporting thing to do to ask someone ahead of time if you might nominate them).
  • During November and December our elder nominees will receive training that will help them in their terms of service. Training includes Bible study; exploration of the Book of Confessions of the PC(USA); an orientation to our polity through the Book of Order; and a review of our session policy manual, The Trellis. As elders are typically elected in a dual role as committee chairs, they also receive training and instruction relevant to whatever team they may shepherd going forward (for instance, worship, congregational life, missions, finance, etc.).
  • Following this training, the session will review the elder nominees as to their preparation and readiness to undertake this important work. And, pending approval, we will ordain and/or install these elders in worship in early January. (Quick note: once you are an elder, you are always an elder. Active elders are those currently serving on session. Ordination makes you an elder. Installation makes you currently serving.)

If you have made it this far then good for you! You may have what it takes to be a Presbyterian elder. Or, alternatively, you may wonder what makes a good Presbyterian elder. This is where you come in. Your job as a member of the congregation is to nominate someone you think God may be calling to leadership in our congregation. Functionally, nominees must be people of good standing who have been members part of the congregation for at least one year and not in an immediate family relationship with a currently serving elder. Theologically, there is much more to consider. Our Trellis provides a kind of job description for them:

Elders are expected to:

  • Seek to deepen their own spiritual life through prayer, Bible study, worship, and acts of kindness and commitment;
  • Seek ways to encourage our members to deepen their spiritual lives and promote the work and worship of the church;
  • Participate in officer training sessions, concluding with an examination before the current Session and ordination/installation at a regular worship service;
  • Be a faithful member of the Session, attending and participating in both stated and called meetings as well as activities of the congregation and Cherokee Presbytery wherever possible;
  • Seek to find his or her special niche of service within the church to best utilize the gifts that each has been given;
  • Make a regular financial commitment to the work of the church.

While elder responsibilities are considerable, we believe that those called for service are given suitable gifts and abilities by God to fulfill these responsibilities. In addition to having the necessary talents, natural and acquired, those who undertake particular ministries should be persons of strong faith, dedicated discipleship, and love of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

This is a heady description. It also reflects what makes First Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the universal Church of Jesus Christ special—and that is, there are people here who meet this description, people who God calls for nothing less than the task of service and leadership in this new creation God is forming before our eyes. People wonder, what makes all those meetings and minutes and administrative minutiae worth it? The answer is just this: that you see God at work. Isn’t that enough?

Do you know someone called to be an elder in the church? Please submit your nominations to the church office or a member of the nominating committee by the end of the day on Friday, September 20. The nominating committee will consider each submission.

And if you don’t have a nomination, prayers are welcome too.

Peace,

What does it take to be a Presbyterian elder? Here’s what you need to know!2020-09-08T16:05:17-05:00
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