Posted on Thu, Jun 26, 2014
From the Pastor
First of all, congratulations to Veloy, who was the first to find all 35 books of the Bible in last month’s puzzle. Anne Gravel found 33 as she was proofreading the Chimes, and Bill Berckes emailed me that he had found 34 shortly after I received Veloy’s email. Last Saturday I got a letter from Fran Haas with all 35 books listed as well. Three cheers for everyone. For those who gave up in frustration, or passed on the challenge, the key is posted on the bulletin board in the narthex.
This is the month in which we celebrate Independence Day, the Fourth of July, the day we celebrate the founding of our nation and the freedom it enjoys. We're all familiar with the concept of freedom as it applies to our national life and our national history. We all know the story of the Declaration of Independence and the abuses of freedom on the part of the British parliament that led to it. We have heard of "taxation without representation" and of the practice of forcing American families to provide lodging for British troops. We have heard of the Boston Tea Party and of Patrick Henry's impassioned plea, "Give me liberty or give me death." We have seen the paintings of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and have read its words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal...they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights...that among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” We celebrate the fact that the United States is the oldest democracy in the world. And we proudly proclaim that we have one of the highest standards of living in the world because our commitment to personal freedom encourages entrepreneurship.
What we sometimes forget, however, is that Thomas Jefferson's original draft of the Declaration of Independence gave the unalienable rights as life, liberty, and property. His words were changed by the Continental Congress to the more nebulous "pursuit of happiness" by the wealthy landowners who made up the Congress because they were not at all sure that the average, non-wealthy, non-male, non-white individual really did have a right to property and certainly not to theirs. We forget that the noble souls who declared that all men are created equal produced a Constitution that endorsed human slavery, denied women and non-property-owning males the right to vote, and counted blacks and Indians as only three-fifths of a person for census purposes. And we forget that, as industrialized nations go, we have one of the highest crime rates in the world, while ranking fairly far down the list as far as adult literacy, infant mortality, and adult lifespan are concerned. We look around us and discover that the traditional family is no longer the norm, that our society seems to have no societal morality, values, or ethics; and that concern for our neighbors in need is the province of a government bureaucracy which spends more money on salaries and facilities than on actual aid to the needy. What happened?
Before we answer that, let's look at the Church. We know the story of Pentecost and the tongues of fire that empowered the first disciples to go out and preach Jesus Christ to the known world. We know of the missionary journeys of Paul, Silas, Timothy, and others. We know of the witness of Christians and martyrs down through the centuries. We look at universities and hospitals--both creations of the Church. We look at the role Christians played in the elimination of slavery in the United States and in the education of native peoples and the end of colonialism around the world.
Then we look around us, and we see dissension and factionalism in the Church. We see more than a dozen Presbyterian and Reformed bodies in the United States, and over two hundred different denominations. We see denominational leaders who question the authority of Scripture and ignore the confessions and traditions of our faith, and we see the souls of America being won by non-Christian groups. The fastest-growing faith group in the USA is the “nones”: people who don’t identify with any religious group, except possibly atheism. The USA is now considered a mission field.
I have heard the story more than once of the man in New York City who got on a bus and sat down next to a man of unquestionably African descent. Thinking the African must be a United Nations diplomat, the New Yorker struck up a conversation with him. He was surprised to learn the African was not a diplomat; he was a missionary. "To what country?" asked the New Yorker. "To the United States," replied the African. His church in Africa had sent him to the United States to reach out to the unchurched. What happened?
In both cases, the answer to the question, "What happened?", is that we have confused freedom with license. Freedom implies responsibility, self-control, and respect for others. License is irresponsible, self-indulgent, and heedless of others. The apostle Paul tells us, "for you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another.” Paul goes on to name works of the flesh: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. When we do these things, we are not free. We are slaves: slaves to sin and to self-interest; slaves to ourselves and slaves to our culture. And this slavery leads to the loss of freedom in other ways.
We have had a number of cats over the years. The first two we acquired, Purrcy and Purrscilla, we acquired close together. Purrcy was one of the kittens born in Marilyn’s mother’s garage. All the wild neighborhood cats used to go there to have their kittens. Marilyn brought Purrcy back from Texas with her 23 years ago.
Less than a month later, Purrscilla walked into the high school auditorium where one of the theater groups I belonged to was rehearsing “Into the Woods,” jumped up on the stage, and began meowing and rubbing on everyone. Apparently she was dumped in the parking lot by someone. I took her home because no one else in the cast wanted her.
Because both were kittens about the same age, they got along. Three years later, however, when we were in Texas again for Marilyn’s high school reunion, we found a starving little kitten that someone had abandoned. We took her in, fed her, named her Purrsimmon, and took her back to St. Louis with us. Purrcy accepted the newcomer fairly well. Purrscilla, however, did not. For several weeks she would rarely come upstairs, preferring to mope around the living room. She would no longer sleep on the bed at night. She would not enter the bathroom to drink from the sink if the newcomer was in there. We put no restrictions on her. She still had free run of the house, just like always. She still had complete freedom to come and go as she pleased. It was she who chose to give up her freedom and to be inhospitable. Any limits on her ability to be a free, happy housecat were put there by her selfishness, her desire to protect her own space, her inability to share.
We could learn a lot from cats. When Christians live greedy, self-indulgent lives, ignoring the needs of their neighbors while gratifying their own desires for money, power, or fame, that is not freedom in Christ: that is bondage to sin. The irony of the situation is that absolute freedom in Christ means absolute submission to Christ. In Christ, we are set free from the bonds of sin, not for the bonds of sin. In Christ we are freed from the claims that the world and its sin put on us and freed to be what we were created to be—good, joyful, loving, caring children of God. We take on the characteristics of free people: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faith, gentleness, and self-control. This is how we were created, in God's image. This is what we are like when we are freed from slavery to sin. And when we live as free Christians, we can truly live as free citizens as well, making our nation a better, freer place as well.
--The Rev. Randy Nolen
On June 9, the PW Circle had our end-of-the-year luncheon, with the Lydia Circle from First Presbyterian invited. Thanks to all who attended. A special thank-you goes out to Dorinne Lykins, who catered a very delicious luncheon for us.
The Birthday Offering and Least Coin were dedicated. The Rev. Randy Nolan installed the officers for the coming year.
Moderator: Goldene Mondragon
Vice-Mod: Connie Berckes
Treasurer: Dorothy Straley
Secretary: Margaret Johnson
There will be no circle in July and August; we will resume in September with the new lesson book. Have a safe summer!
It’s that time once again, time to help out Hungry Harold. He says for July 2014, he is in need of Kool-Aid and/or Drink Mixes along with Pastas and Dried Pinto Beans. He gives thanks for the many blessings he has received from members and friends of Westminster Presbyterian Church.
Your librarian has stumbled across a couple of promising little study books, which purport to be of value to those who are interested in further study of the Bible. Not having actually read them, we cannot ethically recommend them, but they certainly do look to be worth a try.
The first, The Unexpected Teachings of Jesus (Encountering the Gospels All Over Again), is by John Coleman, a Lutheran minister. It “presents the Gospels, not as simplistic solutions to everyday problems but as a collection of sacred stories that are challenging and can teach us all how to live in today’s world. Filled with wise, wonderful, and sometimes quirky stories from the author’s own life and experiences as a father, teacher, and minister, the book delves into the Gospels to uncover the essence of what it means to believe in and follow the radical, compassionate, generous love of Jesus. Reading this collection of reflections is like putting on a new pair of glasses. It offers all Christians a new way of knowing Jesus’ words and shows us teachings are sometimes the opposite of what we thought we understood.”
As recommended in the Church News, the second is a paperback, entitled Being Disciples of Jesus in a Dot.Com World—A Theological Survival Guide For Youth, Adults, And Other Confused Christians, by Ted V. Foote, Jr., and P. Alex Thornburg. This one is definitely Presbyterian, acclaimed by other authors as an outstanding study. One says, “Don’t let the conversational writing style deceive you into thinking this is a light-weight study. The authors, like top-drawer tour guides, lead the disciple through a landscape that is practical in a postmodern way, empowering in an eccentric way, faith building in a faith-shaking way, and motivating in a mind-stretching way, it deserves wide reading and study.”
Both books appear so enchanting that it may be a while before they are available, until after your librarian has finished reading them herself. Check it out!
Anne the Librarian
May 2014 - June 2014
1). Light in Narthex replaced.
2). Sprinklers fixed. Two sections working
3). Fellowship hall flooded, men mopped up. Purchased wet-dry vacuum.
4). Purchased new gallon roof sealer.
5). Ray used weed whacker.
6). Replaced pulpit microphone.
7). Ditches dug for trees and bushes
8). Thanks to John Martinson, hole in the ceiling near men’s bathroom has been repaired and the crack in the bathroom fixed.
9). Sanctuary vacuumed.
Left to do: Seal skylight and replace florescent bulbs.
6th Tom Johnson
13th Dottie Parsons
20th Barbara McNallen
27th Abel Esquibel - pending
Our annual PRIDE day was held on June 7 this year. Nancy Armstrong, Phyllis Lester, Bill and Connie Berckes, Lee Perkett, Ann Dye, Randy, Ryan, and Travis Nolen and Ray Lewis all pitched in. The day started with “Breakfast with Bill,” and we’ve been told his Apple Cinnamon Pecan pancakes were fantastic! Work started about 8:30 and was done around 10:30. A big Thank-You to everyone who helped. Many hands make short work. The day’s accomplishments were:
1). Fellowship kitchen cleaned and re-organized.
2). Old and expired items discarded.
3). Cabinets sorted and arranged.
4). Choir pews oiled.
5). Plexiglas covering Communion table cleaned of wax.
6). New candles for table.
7). New stand for bulletins and sermon now located near sound system.
8). Posts outside fellowship hall painted.
9). Playground equipment water sealed.
10). Sprinkler hole filled in.
11). Debris on west side of building, parking lot, and gutters cleaned.
12). Grass cut, edged and blown clean.
If you didn’t make it this year, we hope to see you next year on Pride Day to enjoy food, fellowship and to help keep our church looking great!
1. Congrats to our custodian...Sarah received her AA degree in Health Administration's in May. She will be continuing with online classes to complete her BS later this year.
2. Horizons Bible Studies are important for all. 2014-2015 is out...seminars are scheduled for anyone to attend in leading classes. Contact the Presbytery office for more information, 575-623-6235.
Understanding of scripture can be deepened by being aware of the ‘lens’ in which you see the ancient writings...Reconciling Paul: A Contemporary Study of 2 Corinthians provides a dialogue that connects past and present perspectives. We can discern "this message is meant for us." (Rosalind Banbury, The Presbyterian Outlook 06092014/p. 50)
3. Youth Confirmation class meets Wednesday evenings. We now have 4 students. The study began 05/28/14 and will conclude in July. In 8 summarized lessons, the youth begin to develop their faith walk with our Lord and the Presbyterian Church (USA).
4. Good read recommended ... BEING DISCIPLES in a DOT COM WORLD -- by Ted V. FOOTE Jr., & P. Alex Thornburg. They wrote another a few years back, Being Presbyterian in the Bible Belt. This is referred to as a theological survival guide for youth, adults and other confused Christians.
At its meeting on Sunday June 08, 2014, the Session conducted the following business:
Pastor’s Report: . – Will be in Alamogordo June 22 on COM business. Will be out of the pulpit June 29, vacation June 28–July 04.
Committee Reports and Recommendations:
New Committee Chairs:
COMMUNICATIONS – Chair Fran Beason
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION – Chair Margy Dye
EVANGELISM & CONCERN - Chair Barbara McNallen
FELLOWSHIP – Chair Julia Esquibel
MISSION & STEWARDSHIP - Chair Nancy Armstrong
NOMINATING –Chair Loris DeKay
PERSONNEL –Chair John Martinson
PROPERTY –Chair Bill Berckes
Review of Upcoming Dates: 14 – 18 July Vacation Bible School
21 September, 5:00 pm, Annual Pic-a-nic in the park
May 25 - 61
June 1 - 58
June 8 - 58
June 15 - 54
June 22 - 60
Mark Your Calendars!
July 4. Holiday! Office Closed
July 5, 8am. Men’s Breakfast
July 6. Communion Sunday
July 10, 9am. Comm. Kitchen
July 12, 8am. Men’s Breakfast
July 18. CHIMES Deadline
July 19, 8am. Men’s Breakfast
July 24, 9am. Comm. Kitchen
July 26, 8am. Men’s Breakfast
July 27. Cents-Ability Collection
July 28, 9am. Piece Maker’s Day
is published monthly by
Westminster Presbyterian Church
(575) 622-2801 phone
Pastor’s office hours:
Monday – Thursday 9 – 1
And by Appointment
Admin. Asst. office hours:
Monday - Friday:
8:00 – 1:00
Contributions are kindly requested by the third Friday of each month.
Editor Ann Dye
Russ & Loris DeKay
Tony Merz & Enid Kelley
No messages have been posted.
You must first create an account to post.