From The Deacon’s Desk – March 2017

The Deacons have been busy, and we are so glad to have such happy reasons to stay busy! How often do we host two receptions on one day? First, we celebrated anniversaries (very appropriate for this month) on February 12, and then we celebrated Rachel Riggle’s Ordination a few hours later. What an awesome and love-filled day for Rachel, especially since she was able to share it with family, church family, and friends. Having never attended an ordination before, let alone one for a former youth group member, I was especially impressed with the service, and the out-pouring of love from the congregation. We are definitely sending Rachel off to Grace Presbyterian Church in Winona, MN in style . . . Christian-style. April 9th will be here before we know it, and Muriel Mullins has again agreed, with the Deacon’s help, to coordinate the Palm Sunday brunch served on that day. The menu has been planned, the workers are practically in place, and we just need people with hearty appetites to fill the community room on that day. As always, we thank you for your past help and ask for your continued help with many of our “projects,” i.e., baking cookies, coffee hour helpers, flower delivery to hospital patients, Meals on Wheels, etc. Currently we are in need of a volunteer (2 volunteers make it more fun!) to deliver Meals on Wheels the third Friday each month. You would pick up the meals from CRIS Senior Services between 10:00 – 10:15 a.m. (time can vary, depending on your schedule), deliver them on the assigned route, and then return the coolers to CRIS. The entire route takes approximately 45 minutes. As a perk, Joyce DeBoer and I always treat ourselves to lunch after we deliver the meals. Please consider helping with this project.
In Christ’s Service,
Nancy Boesdorfer

A Pastor’s Perspective – March 2017

Dear Friends,
Truth be told, I am a creature of habit. Unless I’ve had a sleepless night, I get up at the same time every morning, and the first thing I do is make hot tea and read the newspaper headlines and obituaries. I rarely vary my route to the church or the path I walk my dog. I need time at the end of each day to read. I write lists before going to the grocery store. My spices are alphabetized. Most of us find great comfort and security in routine. Despite a preference for my usual patterns and behaviors, I look forward to Lent as a time to vary my spiritual practices and stretch myself. The season is a finite period, only 40 days, which is both long enough to incorporate a new habit into my life but not so prolonged that I cannot see the end. Some folks choose to give up a favorite food or beverage as a kind of sacrifice. Another idea is to give up an attitude or behavior that is not Christ-like (see the list in the next column, 19 Things to Give Up for Lent That Aren’t Chocolate). Rather than giving up something for Lent, I often adopt a new practice, which is more of a challenge for me. Making the time is always the biggest obstacle, but—as I remind myself—surely I can do it as an expression of my commitment to Christ. I read a book awhile ago titled 365 Thank Yous about a man who, in an effort to cultivate a spirit of gratitude and break his habit of self-pity, wrote a thank you note every day for a year to a stranger, friend, family member, colleague, store clerk— anyone who had touched his life for the better. By the end of the year, he felt himself changed by the practice. It’s a great idea! So how will you observe Lent this year? Why not try something new: a short period of daily prayer, Bible study, or spiritual reading? A walk with others in the church gym on Wednesdays at 5:30? Because the support of others can help as we attempt new practices, I will lead a weekly Spirituality and Supper gathering, during which we will have Lenten devotions and discuss spiritual practices, including prayer, silence, self-examination, honoring your body, creation care, and creative expression. Whatever observance you choose, use this time to step beyond your comfortable confines, and do it in a spirit of honoring the One whose sacrificial love is the basis for this Lenten journey. May this season be a time of encouragement and fellowship—and maybe even transformation—as you experience the grace and presence of God more fully.
Pastor Ann
19 Things to Give Up for Lent That Aren’t Chocolate Adapted from the original by Monsignor Keith Derouen
1. Fear: God is on my side. I have no need to be afraid.
2. The need to please everyone: I can’t please everyone anyway. There is only one I need to strive to please.
3. Envy: I am blessed. My value is not found in my possessions, but in my relationship with my God.
4. Impatience: God’s timing is the perfect timing.
5. Sense of entitlement: The world does not owe me anything. God does not owe me anything. I live in humility and grace.
6. Bitterness and resentment: The only person I am hurting by holding onto these is myself.
7. Blame: I am not going to pass the buck. I will take responsibility for my actions.
8. Gossip and negativity: I will speak well of others. I will also minimize my contact with people who are negative and toxic and bring other people down.
9. Comparison: I have my own unique contribution to make, and there is no one else like me.
10. Fear of failure: I cannot succeed without experiencing failure. I just need to make sure I fall forward.
11. A spirit of poverty: I will believe with God that there is always more than enough and never a lack.
12. Feelings of unworthiness: I am fearfully and wonderfully made by my creator (Psalm 139).
13. Doubt: I will trust that what God desires for me is beyond anything I can imagine.
14. Self-pity: God comforts me in my sorrow so that I can comfort others.
15. Retirement: As long as I am still breathing, I am here to share Christ with others. That does not come to an end until the day I die.
16. Excuses: A wise man once said, if you need an excuse, any excuse will do.
17. Lack of counsel: Wise decisions are rarely made in a vacuum. I will ask for help.
18. Pride: Blessed are the humble.
19. Worry: God is in control and worrying will not help.

From The Deacon’s Desk – February 2017

As we enter the new year the Deacons are extremely grateful for the financial and volunteer support from the congregation of our Christmas basket project and our upcoming program of work for the congregation in 2017. With your help we enter the year with sufficient resources to maintain our ministries of emergency medicines and food for the upcoming year together with the more pedestrian but equally important functions of church receptions and flowers to hospitalized and shut-in members of the congregation. As Nancy Boesdorfer said in last month’s Chimes, may God continue to richly bless our church and church family in the year to come. We would like to especially thank the collective women’s circles of the church for their generous donation to our Christmas basket project from the proceeds of their cookie walk. We are planning a reception on February 12 following the ordination in our church of Rachel Riggle (yay, Rachel!) Rachel is transitioning from a position as interim youth pastor in Columbia, MO to become the pastor of a church in Winona, MN in early March. Watch the upcoming Chimes and weekly bulletins for the time of service of ordination. The reception will be immediately following. Come help us celebrate this big event. …and for your calendars:  We will plan a congregational brunch for Palm Sunday, April 9. Watch this space for further details.  The all-Church picnic will be held on September 10 at the Hideaway in Kennekuk County Park.
In Christ’s service,
Bill Garrison

A Pastor’s Perspective – February 2017

With the ordination of Rachel Riggle on February 12, this church will have the unique opportunity to celebrate and bless God’s presence and transformative power, not only in the life of this extraordinary young woman but in the life of the congregation as well. When a child is baptized in the Presbyterian Church, the parents (or others) who present a child for the sacrament and the congregation promise to provide guidance and nurture in the Christian faith. The congregation does that through personal relationships, mentoring, and prayer. By providing programs for children and youth (nursery care, Sunday school, Shining Stars, VBS, youth group, mission trips, confirmation class), encouraging the presence and participation of children in the worship and work of the congregation, and creating a hospitable environment for children and their families, the church demonstrates its commitment to the spiritual formation of its youngest members. That this church has two members, Rachel and James Potts, who have been supported and encouraged as they explored their sense of call to ministry in our denomination is significant. It says that as a congregation you affirmed the spiritual gifts that you saw in them. You have had pastors who encouraged their seeking. The Session has used the church’s resources, financial and otherwise, to assist them in their theological educations. You have prayed for them. What a gift it will be to them and to the denomination as you rejoice in their ordinations and then send them out for service to the larger church. God surely had a hand in all of this. Just as God called Rachel and James to ministry, so too did God lead and inspire you in loving and nurturing them on their unique journeys. I commend you for the care you have offered to them and to all the young ones entrusted to you over the years.
Grace and peace,
Pastor Ann

A Pastor’s Perspective – January 2017

Happy New Year! I pray that each of you experienced special moments of God’s peace and presence during Advent, and that as Christmastide continues through Epiphany on January 6, you might still be attentive to God’s light shining in the darkness. For pastors—and probably for many of the rest of you the weeks after Christmas are a recovery period from the demands of a busy season. I am grateful for a few days away with my family between Christmas and New Year’s. We always travel to Grand Rapids, which becomes the hub for our family scattered throughout the state of Michigan. (Despite our invitations over the past 17 years, nobody seems interested in spending their holiday with us in Hoopeston!) It’s just as well though, because Grand Rapids has wonderful restaurants and a huge variety of options for entertainment and outdoor activities. As my daughters attempt downhill skiing for the first time this year, I will relax in the warmth of the ski lodge with a good book. Careening down a snowy mountain (or, in my case, tumbling down the bunny hill) is not my idea of a good time. I know my limits! I am grateful for the hospitality you have extended during my first six weeks here—for the meals out, the lovely cards and notes, so many Christmas gifts left on my desk (many from “Secret Santas”), the words of affirmation, and the warm welcome you gave my daughters when they visited. Thank you too for the delightful staff lunch you provided and for including me in the staff Christmas gift. New beginnings are energizing and hopeful for me, so I am looking forward to 2017, and especially to how we might learn and grow, worship and serve together. As the poem below reminds us, the work of Christmas continues, even as the nativities are packed away until next year.
The Work of Christmas By Howard Thurman
When the song of the ANGELS  is stilled,
When the STAR in the sky is gone,
When the KINGS and PRINCES are home,
When the SHEPHERDS are back with their flock,
The work of CHRISTMAS begins:         
To FIND the lost,         
To HEAL the broken,         
To FEED the hungry,         
To RELEASE the prisoner,         
To REBUILD the nations,         
To bring PEACE among people,         
To make MUSIC in the HEART.
Grace and peace,
Pastor Ann

A Pastor’s Perspective – December 2016

As I write this article two days before Thanksgiving, I am already feeling behind on Christmas preparations. Although I have purchased a few gifts so far, my “to buy” list is still much longer than my “bought” list. My inboxes for snail mail and email are filled daily with coupons and advertisements that have thus far failed to inspire me. Apparently this year, Black Friday isn’t just a day but a week, so that’s a lot of pressure. My unaddressed Christmas cards have been sitting on the dining room table for a couple of weeks. We won’t put up our Christmas trees or outdoor decorations until after Turkey Day, and I don’t want to think about baking pecan bars and sugar cookies until the pumpkin pie has been eaten.

Beginning this new call at First Presbyterian in mid-November may suggest a poor sense of timing on my part, but actually I appreciate the opportunity to be quickly and fully immersed in all things Advent. My tendency is always to be planning for the next thing, which means that if I’m not careful, I can easily miss what’s happening right now.

So even as I delight in the shopping, wrapping, baking, decorating, card-writing, and celebrating with family that comprise this holiday, I deeply desire quiet moments to be aware of Emmanuel,  God with us. I don’t want to be so exhausted by all the busy-ness of the season that I cannot keep my eyes open for the glimpses of holiness that God will show me—and us—as we wait for the light. I don’t want to be so fully focused on what I have “to do” tomorrow that I fail simply “to be” in the presence of God today.

During this season, I am grateful to prepare with you for Christ’s coming. I invite you to join me in the intentional work of getting our hearts ready to receive him—with daily readings and prayers from the Advent devotional booklet, weekly worship, and deliberate reflection on what it means to shine Christ’s love in a dark and hurting world. “Waiting for the light,” which is the theme of the Advent devotional, is more meaningful, in my experience, when we do it with others who similarly anticipating the arrival of Jesus. Let me know how the waiting is going for you!

I am trying to learn your names as quickly as possible. If you can wear your name tags or introduce yourself to me on Sunday mornings, that would be most helpful. And please, stop in to say hello if you are at the church during the week. For now, I will maintain the same days off to which you are accustomed—Friday and Saturday (except for the Casual and Contemporary worship on Saturday night). I will generally be in the office from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., but call first if you need to see me, in case I am visiting folks or attending a meeting outside the church.

I wish each of you a beautiful Advent and Christmas season.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Ann