The Fabric of Community
This weekend, we’ll look at Romans 12:3-8 as we continue our series of messages on Christian community. “No Solitary Threats” is the title of my message and it reflects Paul’s concern with those who choose to go alone as believers. This text is especially important for us to hear as people living in an age focused on the individual, to the exclusion of the community.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in his classic book, Living Together, “It is easily forgotten that the fellowship of Christian brethren is a gift of grace, a gift of the Kingdom of God that any day may be taken from us, that the time that still separates us from utter loneliness may be brief indeed. Therefore, let him who until now has had the privilege of living a common Christian life with other Christians, praise God’s grace from the bottom of his heart. Let him thank God on his knees and declare: It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren.”
Thanks for being a part of a community of faith with me. Your presence enriches my life!
Moments with Pastor Tim and Friends
A highlight for me last weekend was Pastor Tim’s first “Children’s Moment’s” at Pearce. He did a great job as he sang “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” with the children. Then he invited Jorge Tamayo to come and sit on the platform with him. Jorge, who immigrated from Cuba 10 years ago, sang a song in Spanish. Then Pastor Tim invited Vivek Christy, an RWC freshman, to sing in one of the languages of India, his homeland. Finally, to everyone’s surprise and joy, Ephaste, the director of International Child Care in Rwanda, joined us with a recorded Skype video to sing in the Kinyaranda language. What a wonderful way to remind ourselves of the worldwide Body of Christ.
Heart & Soul Is All Wet
Or, at least some of those at Heart & Soul will soon be all wet! Thanks to your generosity this past weekend, Pearce is sending a check for $2,651.49 to enable Heart & Soul, a congregation on North Clinton Street, to purchase a portable baptismal pool. This will enable them to buy the baptismal, as well have some funds left over to utilize in their ministry to the people of the city of Rochester.
What a delight it was to have Pastor Louis Colon and his children in our services this past weekend. And thanks for “dipping” into your pockets to help our sister congregation! (Sorry, bad baptismal pun!)
How Are John & Elizabeth Doing?
You may recall, John and Elizabeth Gay headed out earlier this year for a term of service at a hospital compound in the Congo. I’ve had copies of their newsletter placed at the Welcome Center for those of you interested in their work.
Elizabeth included the picture shown above of John holding a little boy in the town of Dongou. She writes this about their visit:
Once in Dangou, we visited with a few families. I even had a previous patient of mine who recognized me and came to see me. We had not eaten and saw a small hut with a cooler. On a hot day, having a hankerin’ for a cold Coke, we treated ourselves. I think the cooler was really a cardboard box painted white. You got it, the Coke was not cold. Refrigeration here is a rare thing—even for the missionaries.”
Thanks for keeping the Gays in your prayers!
Join the Conspiracy
You are invited to join with others at Pearce in being a part of the Advent Conspiracy. This is a movement of Christians across the United States to place an emphasis on “presence” over “presents” during the Christmas season.
Rather than invest in gifts, many of which are not really needed, we are asking people to invest in sharing their time with friends and loved ones. The money that normally would be spent on gifts can then be invested in helping to provide clean drinking water somewhere in the world.
Over the past five years alone, our congregation has contributed a total of $61,291.56 at Christmas time to Clear Blue Global Water to fund the digging of wells. I think that is an amazing amount of money!
I spoke recently with Pastor Brenda of Clear Blue and she expressed her deep appreciation for Pearce’s continuing support. In the next couple of months, Clear Blue is raising funds to dig a series of wells in Nigeria, among the Fulani tribe. (A couple of Fulani children are in the photo above.)
I hope you’ll join with me in finding ways this Christmas to enrich the lives of our loved ones, as well as fund these much needed wells in Nigeria. To support this provision of clean water, simply mark your gifts in the coming weeks with “Advent Conspiracy” or “Clear Blue Global Water.”
There are only 79 days till Christmas! Let’s walk through these next two months with the joy of our Lord and a heart for others.
Carol Stevenson, who has been leading our efforts to provide teacher training for the staff at the school in Nzige, shared an email she received from Niyigena Ephaste, the director of ICCM in Rwanda. In the email, Ephaste made this statement: “The good news is that there are other teachers from other schools who came to learn from Nzige teachers. You can see how it is amazing that you trained trainers.”
Do you catch what Ephaste is saying? Pearce sent two teams of teachers this year to help improve the skills of the Nzige school staff. Now other schools in the area are sending their teachers to learn from the Nzige staff. How wonderful!
I had to chuckle this past Saturday evening when Joyce Wagner arrived for the Saturday worship service. Each year, Joyce observes “Pastor Appreciation Month” by presenting me with a memorable gift. One year it was a stapler that looks like a fish. Another year it was an inflatable turkey. Once, it was an ugly clock; it still sits on a shelf in my office at Pearce.
This year, Joyce presented me with a beautifully wrapped box that contained the phone pictured above. Yes, that phone now sits on the desk in my study at home. So if I pause before I answer, know it’s because I’m not quite sure how to approach my phone!
Thanks, Joyce! It’s what I’ve always wanted. Really!