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Reflections

Welcome to the JCPC Daily Reflections Blog. Reflections are daily devotionals authored by JCPC pastors, staff and members and provide insight, guidance and comfort to help you make it through each day. If you’d like to receive Reflections each day via email,  provide your email address.

Friday, April 29 2022

herefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

-Colossians 3:12

 

There’s a story that once a man was watching a butterfly struggle to free itself from its cocoon. It managed to make a small hole, but after much effort, it stopped moving. Afraid that the butterfly was dying, the man gently made the hole larger. The butterfly fluttered again, but made no more effort. In his rush to do what seemed kind and compassionate, the man had doomed the butterfly. The struggle a butterfly endures is nature’s way of forcing fluid from the swollen body of a butterfly into its wings to strengthen them and infuse them with nutrients for a new flight. The man’s well-intentioned help was only temporarily helpful. He lacked the patience to exercise the necessary restraint.

 

The history of work trips as mission into impoverished areas of our own country and the developing world could well be categorized in this way. For centuries, people of faith with good intentions raced to help people on their struggles without first understanding if their help was like someone who frees a bird from a porch or a whale from a beach… or more like a butterfly from its cocoon. The intentionality and reflection is a necessary step in aid work that separates pity from compassion. Educational reformer John Dewey once said, “We don’t learn from experience, we learn by reflecting on experience.“

 

Scripture teaches us not to simply go and help or rescue people, but to make disciples. Jesus modeled a relationship that takes years. We must always be intentional to go and serve where we can build relationships with communities, hear their struggles, arrive at solutions together, and then do the work. And afterwards, reflect, learn more, and grow. That’s why our adult teams go back to La Lachosa in the DR over and over and why our youth are returning to San Antonio Del Mar. We are intentional to build relationships with the communities, to learn, and to do good work together. And each evening, we reflect on the work and the relationships we form. I hope you can join or support one of these trips. Perhaps you can travel with us, perhaps pray for us, or maybe send prayer cards. And perhaps you’ll learn with us and help us as we all grow through the leading of the spirit and wisdom of intentionality and compassionate care.

Prayer for Today

Lord, make me a patient and attentive partner to those in need, full of compassion and not pity, intentionality and not hubris.

Amen.

Posted by: AT 04:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, April 27 2022

ing praises unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks unto him for a remembrance of his holiness. For his wrath endureth but the twinkling of an eye and in his pleasure is life. Heaviness may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

-Psalm 30:4-5

 

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

 

Happy Easter! As many of you know, Easter doesn’t end with Easter Sunday, but instead begins on this day. Along with Christmas and Pentecost, Easter is one of the “Big Three” in Christianity, and rightly so. We are an Easter people, and when we worship, we affirm that Christ was raised from the dead. He broke the heavy bonds of death with an act of immeasurable love. So it is only natural that we celebrate Easter longer than just an hour on one Sunday.

 

In fact, Eastertide includes 7 Sundays. During Eastertide, it is traditional to offer the Paschal greeting of “Alleluia! Christ is risen!” in some form, and we will start our service this coming Sunday with a similar Call to Worship. This is to proclaim the unbelievable power of our Cosmic Christ and to remind us that Easter is not a day but a season of joy and praise to our Holy Sovereign.

 

It seems fitting to me, then, that Psalm 30 is assigned to this upcoming Sunday in the lectionary. I encourage you to read the entire psalm, but this verse is especially meaningful to me:

 

Heaviness may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

Taking metaphorically, we can hold on to this hope in every hardship in our lives, but it also reflects the traditional practice of Lenten penitence (which is a “heavy” time) followed by the joy of Eastertide. Friends, we are living not in the night, but in the morning. No heaviness can weigh us down forever, nor should we let it. Often, we are hurt by others and our pain feels heavy. But sometimes, we hold on to grudges, anger, and vengeance, and refuse to let the joy shine through. Are you holding on to something negative that you need to let go? In Christ, we can find the true source of joy but only if we live into this joy and hope. Let us remember this Easter season to focus our minds on the Source and reflect pure joy and love into this world so quick to hate and retaliate.

 

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Prayer for Today

God of Easter Joy, Alleluia! Let us raise our voices together to magnify you, O Lord, for you have turned our heaviness into joy. Let us give thanks to you this holy Eastertide and work to bring your joy into the lives of all we encounter. Help us to live as Easter people to bring hope to those in need and despair.

Alleluia!

Posted by: AT 03:58 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, April 25 2022

God’s Power at Work

 

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. -Ephesians 3:20-21

 

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord, Jesus Christ! Blessings to you all! I hope and pray that this reflection note finds you well.

 

Well, as I write this, I realize that by the time you receive it I will have been here three full weeks already! Wow, where did they go, though? I have met many wonderful people so far—both here in the office during the weekdays and many more of you on Sunday mornings and other times. All in all, it has been three of the most special and blessed weeks of my life!

 

As your interim pastor, I have enjoyed meeting you, getting to know you, and becoming part of your personal and congregational faith journeys. I am attempting to learn as many names as I can. And, I am deeply grateful to all those I’ve had the privilege of sharing a meal and conversation with. Thank you all for your kindness and generosity, and I look forward to getting to know everyone better.

 

The in-between time since Gray’s retirement and my arrival may have seemed long and possibly awkward after so many years with Gray, but it is behind us! And, most importantly, it has not diminished what God has been doing at JCPC. God is indeed busy around here! Here are some of my observations of what God is up to …

 

The family of faith here at JCPC is very warm and welcoming, and your sense of caring is genuine and wonderful. The mood of people around the church is positive and upbeat! There’s peppiness in our footsteps and energy in the hallways and pews/chairs. Smiles can be seen on our faces. Laughter can be heard in our gatherings. My friends, the Holy Spirit is moving among us and reinvigorating JCPC for a bright and exciting future!

 

The church staff is a good, strong, and healthy team. We work well together, we work hard, and we have fun in all that we do. We have meshed very well together, and God has blessed us all with energy and enthusiasm!

 

Finally, your Session and ministry teams are hard at work planning for various events and activities in the coming months. We are poised to be great servant leaders and accomplish many wonderful things in God’s name during 2022 and beyond!

 

And, there is more! There is always more that God is doing in our life and ministry together. This is an exciting time for JCPC, knowing God is with us every step of our way forward into a wonderful and blessed future, and I pray you will find ways to be part of all that God is doing in and through our congregation. 

 

To those of you who have been able to be an active part of this family of faith since my arrival, I thank you. But, to those of you who have not had the opportunity, please accept my invitation to join us. Whether you have been away for a few weeks, months, or years—it doesn’t matter—we welcome you home to JCPC with open arms and hearts full of love!

 

Until the next time, I remain just another silly preacher, giddy as a schoolboy that God called me to JCPC! ~ Pastor Steven

 

 

Session Highlights and Updates

As we emerge from Covid routines and return to a traditional pattern of worship we should still anticipate some changes. And nowhere was change more evident than at our most recent Session meeting last Monday evening.

 

Newly arrived Interim Senior Pastor Rev. Barnes, (Pastor Steven, as he prefers to be called) led the session in lively discussion of upcoming mission trips, congregational meetings, review of membership rolls, positive financial reports, facility maintenance projects as well as monthly mission team activities. It sounds like it was a long meeting, which it was, but it was filled with spirit and good fellowship. Pastor Steven reminded us that “patience” must go hand in hand with change. Both our staff members and we as congregants will need to be filled with patience during this time. It will be an exciting and Spirit-filled time. Some of the changes and other actions by your session and staff are listed below.

 

Your Session-

  • Acted on the worship team’s request to shift a Communion date to June 12th from June 5th.
  • Acted to change the membership category on families we know have moved away during the past few years.
  • Acted on a combined worship team and educational team request to approve a Sunday morning schedule change for the summer called “Summer Celebration,” which includes a schedule of a single 10:00 a.m. worship to be held in the Chapel and to be preceded by a 9:30 a.m. coffee and sweets fellowship. This will begin on Memorial Day Weekend and continue throughout the summer. Adult and youth Sunday School will be paused during the summer.
  • Were informed of staff’s desire to begin “Passing the Peace” and singing of a third hymn during worship.
  • Recognized Billie Bothwell’s fantastic coordination of providing meals to families in need over the past year.
  • Received a financial report showing strong improvement with families graciously sharing their gifts.
  • Pastor Steven shared that the Presbyterian Disaster Relief fund is a conduit for Ukraine relief.
  • Received a presentation from Jeff Arnold on this fall’s reintroduction of our Planned Giving Program which was sidelined during Covid.
  • Requested that worship team return to scheduling our Fine Arts Academy musician instructors for Sunday worship services.
  • Our youth elder, Niko Furtado shared that our youth group will be holding combined fellowship and volunteer activities with the Pleasant Hill Presbyterian youth group in anticipation of the two groups sharing a house during their Montreat trip this summer.
  • Property team shared that the retaining wall renovation has begun with tree removal and demolition of the old wall will begin soon.
  • Pastor Steven closed the meeting with prayer asking God to bless our ministries, protect us, and be with those we love and especially be with those in need of care both on our prayer list and those known only to God.

 

Yours in Christ,

Dr. Rick Zellmer

Clerk JCPC Session

Prayer for Today

Now, as we look ahead, may we be comforted by these prayerful words from Ephesians 3:20-21:

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.

Amen.

Posted by: AT 03:36 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
 

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