JOIN US FOR ADVENT
Merry Christmas!! The Bible tells us to “take joy”. South Plains is happy to enter this
time of celebration and remembrance with hope for the future, no matter what seems to
be going on in the world around us. Join in the retelling of the miraculous story of God’s
indescribable love for us. In the Hebrew tradition, let us teach our children of God’s trustworthiness by recounting His faithful fulfillment of prophecy. God keeps His promises.
Don’t let the hustle and bustle of busyness get in your way of happiness. Remember
what Jesus told Martha. “You are mindful of many things. Only one thing is NEEDFUL,
and Mary has chosen the better part.” We should take His advice and choose the adoration
and glorification of God through Christ over all the other activities of the season.
Join us whenever you can, but always remember the object of our faith, to give Glory to
God and be people of good will who have Peace on earth. God rest ye merry and Joy to
Calendar for Advent - Christmas
November 30 - First Sunday in Advent
Lighting of the Advent wreath - 8:30 and 11am
December 6 - Decorating of the Sanctuary - 10am
December 7 - Second Sunday in Advent
Lighting of the Advent wreath.
Hanging of the Greens ceremony.
Communion 8:30 and 11am
December 14 - Third Sunday in Advent
Lighting of the Advent wreath - 8:30 and 11am
December 21 - Fourth Sunday in Advent -
Lighting of the Advent wreath - 8:30 and 11am.
Christmas Joy Offering received.
Children’s Birthday Party for Jesus
Christmas caroling, 3-5pm.
Meet back in Kirk Hall for Ungroup covered dish supper
December 24 - Christmas Eve -
Lessons and Carols,
passing the Light of the Christ candle - 5 and 7:30pm.
December 28 - First Sunday of Christmas - Guest Minister, 8:30 and 11am.
January 4 - Second Sunday of Christmas - Feast of Epiphany, Communion 8:30 and 11am.
Reflections From the Pastor
It sits on the shelf. For eleven months out of the year it collects dust and watches time pass by. Its pages are yellowed and worn, revealing its age. But now we take it off the shelf once again. Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is a classic read by many over the years. Movies are based upon it: whether staged in its original context, and/or adapted for settings which are more modern. Yet, the message remains the same.
It is time once again to open the haunting tale and be visited by Marley’s ghosts. The ghosts of past, present and future cause us to pause and consider our own lives and relationships: examining whether or not our lives live up to the gospel, and to seek release from the chains that bind us.
Marley is a frightening character, much like John the Baptist, who strikes fear into Scrooge as well as you and me. These terrors of the night remind us that the tapestry of our lives is broken and twisted, filled with debris and chaos. So once again, we pause and reflect upon our own journeys, seeking redemption from our mistakes and disappointments.
With Marley’s ghost of memories long forgotten, we recall those broken dreams and failed hopes that keep us bound in chains of regret and disillusionment. There is the loss of innocence that we long to recapture, like a butterfly that flitters just out of our reach. We call to mind broken relationships and friendships that have suffered the rust of time and lack of attention. We suffer the grief of loved ones now departed whose presence we long to embrace. These chains bind us and prevent us from experiencing wholeness and joy.
Marley’s ghost of present anxieties reminds us that we are still on the journey. We carry with us the chains of greed, envy, materialism and self-centeredness that bind us to this world. Family discord and resentments prevent us from loving fully as we have been loved. The strains of work and commitments fill our time and our thoughts, denying us the still waters and green pastures that our souls long for. In the rush to be, we find our lives void of meaning. We are bound in leg irons that prevent us from being truly free.
Marley’s ghost of the future also haunts us. We are haunted because the future seems so uncertain. We are anxious about pending examinations or that medical procedure. We worry about our retirement, or some new job opportunity. We are worried for our children, our parents, and our siblings. Each passing moment reminds us just how short life is and how quickly the journey’s end approaches.
Marley’s ghosts are haunting reminders that we are the created, and our lives—past, present, and future— are outside our control. They proclaim, like John the Baptist, that it is time to repent, to turn back to the one who knows all and sees all. In the stillness of the night, amidst the sour smell of moldy hay and farm animals, a young teenage girl gives birth to our savior. The infant who will be nailed to the cross is the one who sets us free from Marley’s ghosts and the chains of imperfection and sin. A lowly babe brings down the walls that separate us. It is a child that sets us free.
As Christmas approaches let us pause and remember that it is not about us, it is not about material possessions, or blinking lights. It is about Immanuel—God with us. He provides the healing balm for our woundedness. May each of you experience the warmth and peace of God’s love dwelling among us, not only during the holidays but throughout the years ahead.
Happy Christmas to all.
Pastor Kevin, Molly, Melinda and Ashley
HAITI CLINIC - NEWBORN LAYETTE PROJECT
In the Spring, the Mission Crafters group approved a new project, thanks to a suggestion from Debbie Garth who had recently traveled to Haiti on a volunteer mission trip. Debbie wrote: “Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Better than half the population is undernourished, illiterate and living below the poverty line. Maternal and child health is almost nonexistent for much of the country. A Haitian woman is 49 times more likely to die in childbirth than an American woman. There are no services for women who live in the mountain regions, and many die along the rugged paths as they walk seeking help with difficult pregnancies.
It is the mission of Family Health Ministries, an NGO founded in 2000 in Durham, NC, to provide health care to women and children and to prevent needless deaths. 2014-2015 should see the building of the Leogane Family Health Center in Leogane, Haiti, and the Women’s Health Center along the Jacmel Road in the mountains. Services will include access to pre-natal and post-natal care, childbirth services, education, contraception and transportation from the mountain communities to the Center for emergencies such as caesarean sections.
I had the opportunity to meet Kathy Walmer, Executive Director of FHM, in January 2014 while I was part of the beginning work of the Family Health Center. The memory of all those wonderful baby caps and gowns draped everywhere in the sanctuary of South Plains came to mind. We could provide a starting layette to each mother who would come to the Center. Thus, a mission to the women of Haiti has begun with 100 sets ready to be delivered by the end of the year. Thanks to all the Mission Crafters at South Plains.”
Sincerely, Debby Garth
EVERYONE IS CORDIALLY INVITED
SIX MISSIONARY REPORTS ABOUT THE ADVENTUROUS JOURNEYS OF PAUL
Starting on October 26 and running for six consecutive weeks through November 30, Bob Tracinski will present illustrated programs on the adventures of the Apostle Paul.
He will provide tours of such ancient cities as Athens, Ephesus, and Jerusalem, including Herod’s Temple. On the last Sunday, he will give a walking tour of downtown Rome in ancient times. His presentations explore the geography, culture, and religions of the key cities where Paul was challenged to spread the Gospel. The presentations begin at 9:45am in the classroom next to the Church Library
- October 26 First Missionary Trip (smaller cities of Asia Minor)
- November 2 The famous Jerusalem Council
- November 9 Second Missionary Trip (tour of ancient Athens)
- November 16 Third Missionary Trip (tour of ancient Ephesus)
- November 27 Paul’s Arrest ((tour of ancient Jerusalem and Herod’s Temple)
- November 30 Fourth Missionary Trip (walking tour of ancient Rome)
Each presentation stands alone, so attend when you are able.
ARE CHRISTIANS DIFFERENT FROM THE UNCHURCHED?
Library Report by Bob Tracinski
What makes Christians different from everyone else? Or, what should make Christians different from everyone else? One answer is this: The act of caring … actively sharing God’s love through forgiveness, generosity, and patience.
Perhaps it’s a good idea to define a key term: What are Christians? Christians can be defined as people who are convinced that Jesus has forgiven them for all past sins and cruelties, and who undergo a fundamental change of heart in a sincere desire to start fresh by loving God with heart, mind, and soul, and loving their neighbors as they love themselves. They care about people and show their love by contributing money, giving generously of their time, and helping those in need in many other ways.
A book has been donated to the library that can help us understand what is involved in being someone who cares. The book is titled CHRISTIAN CAREGIVING: A WAY OF LIFE by Dr. Kenneth C. Haugk. The author has a Ph. D. in clinical psychology; he practiced and taught psychotherapy for many years. He’s also an ordained minister, pastor, seminary professor, prolific author, and founder of the Stephen Ministries. His background uniquely qualifies him to help Christians reach out in love to fellow Christians who carry a heavy burden, or to anyone who needs a kind and patient friend.
I found something useful in chapter 10: “A Surprise Gift: Forgiveness.” After talking about the usual theme of forgiveness – that through the sacrifice of Jesus, God freely offers forgiveness to anyone who will accept it – he goes on to explain that we have the ability to share that gift with others. He writes: “At times when God’s forgiveness seems foreign and remote, a warm human being will communicate God’s forgiveness, helping me grasp more fully that God has truly forgiven me! Your ability to share the forgiveness of God with others is one of your most valuable assets.”
Think of it … we Christians are agents of God. Our willingness to forgive is both a gift and a treasure to share. In this book Dr. Haugk provides practical suggestions for sharing that treasure and feeling the warmth that comes from Christian caring. We have other books by Dr. Haugk: A Time to Grieve; Experiencing Grief; Finding Hope and Healing; Rebuilding and Remembering; Don’t Sing Songs to a Heavy Heart.
Check them out … in the church library. ##
December News - Presbyterian Women at South Plains
PW Meetings in December
• PW Christmas Potluck Meeting and Bible Study - Monday, December 8 , 10am, Barbara Cain’s home (800 Club Drive, Keswick). If you are not a regular attendee and need to be called into the Keswick gate, please call Barbara Cain (295-2113). Lesson 4
• PW Circle Meeting and Bible Study - Monday, December 8, 7-8:30pm, at Barbara Shaffer's home (25 West Lake Forest Drive, Lake Monticello). If you are not a regular attendee and need to be called into the Lake Monticello gate, call Barbara Shaffer (207-4355). Lesson 4
Please know that you do not need to attend each month in order to participate in PW gatherings - we would love for you to join us any month that you can.
Stamp Mission Project - after many years, the coordinator of this project has decided to end the project due to the value of stamps markedly going down and the rising cost of postage to mail the stamps to her. If you have any stamps to turn in to the glass bowl in Fellowship Hall, please do so by December 10.
Thank you to those who have been a part of this mission project over the years.
Wishing you all a blessed Advent and Christmas,
BITS ‘N PIECES
• From Lyn Johnson: “I am doing well in East Africa. Everyone is
friendly, and so far there have been no major mishaps. The month
is shaping up to be an enjoyable change, though quite busy.”
• News regarding the CROP Walk: over $14,186 was raised , with
more promised, to help hungry and suffering people throughout
the world. 72 very dedicated people walked through the rain this
year. Thank you for this response to our faith.
• South Plains now has a few items to loan for emergencies. If you
have need of crutches, a walker, a cane or a wheel chair, please
contact the Church Office or a Session Member.
• Fluvanna Community Singers Concert at Carysbrook, Route 15:
Saturday, December 6 at 7:30pm and Sunday, December 7, 3pm.
Worship Bags Available for Church Services
Parents – please note that we now have blue cloth worship bags available in the Narthex of the Sanctuary for your children to bring into the worship service. We hope this will enhance their experience during worship. We appreciate Heide Schumann’s generosity in donating the fabric, Linda Makranczy for sewing the bags, and for Pastor Kevin providing the worship worksheets that follow the liturgy of the day. Please help your child remember to return the bag to the Narthex as they leave the Sanctuary
New Program for South Plains
Currently sermons are available on the website, www.southplainspc.org, in both printed and audio form. We realize that everyone does not have access to a computer and that the sermon is only part of the service. Beginning September 7, the entire service will be recorded and then transferred to individual CDs. When we have the technology, we will include video using DVDs. The CDs will be made in the office and distributed to those unable to attend services. If you would like to be included on the list of people to receive the CDs, of if you know someone who would like to receive them, please contact the Church office.