Weekly Check-in 2022

Check-In For August 13, 2022

“Holy God, I am not yet as I hope to one day be. Grant me your grace, and lead me into abundant life in Jesus’ name. Amen.” -Ben Ingebretson

This Sunday we’ll continue with our second of four weeks in the book of Hebrews, and our exploration of what we mean when we talk about faith. Last week we examined the idea of conviction - believing strongly in the truth of something that has yet to be realized fully in our lives or in our world. This week we’ll spend some time with a very important characteristic - perseverance.

You can begin to see how these different pieces fall together. If we are going to remain true to our convictions - keep traveling, for example, towards a destination that we don’t seem to be near yet - it will require us to have perseverance. We will be in situations where we will need to stay with God and where God is leading us even though it is a challenge. As Ben Ingebretson’s prayer above begins, “Holy God, I am not yet as I hope to be.” I find that to be both succinct and true. Faith is about trusting that in following after God we can become something even better than what we want to be - we can become what God created us to be.

***

Flood Relief: Thanks to those who brought items for flood relief in eastern Kentucky last week. These items will be delivered to Steven Adams who is taking a truck to eastern Kentucky for distribution. Thanks also to those who gave offering for flood relief. You gave $1000 last week to help those who are suffering. This money will be sent to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to a fund set-up specifically for this purpose.

You may still bring items this Sunday and the Flood Relief jar - a wonderful creation of Allie Morris - will be in the entry way to receive gifts to go to the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance fund.

Celebrate Life!

George

 


 

Check-In For August 6, 2022

“‘And earth and heaven be one;’ that is the note that should sound like a clear, sweet bell through all Christian living, summoning us to live in the present as people called to that future, people called to live in the present in the light of that future.” -N.T. Wright

We will be reading from the book of Hebrews in worship for the next four Sundays and digging into the very fundamental idea of what is faith? N.T. Wright’s words above are a great beginning point for that exploration. Faith is all about the reality that we have a future hope that we believe to be true that determines how we live our lives today in the present. How we view the world around us. How we make decisions about what we will do and what we will not do. How we interact with the people with who we interact each day. Our faith speaks to all of that. I hope you’ll be there on Sunday mornings throughout August and join in diving into faith together.

August 7
Faith: Conviction
Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16

August 14
Faith: Perseverance
Hebrews 11:29-12:2

August 21
Faith: Reverence And Awe
Hebrews 12:18-29

August 28
Faith: Eyes On Jesus
Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16

***

After several Sundays away I am looking forward to being back this Sunday. This will be the first Sunday of my 18th year as the pastor at Hebron. Cameron was in sixth grade when we arrived and Eliza was in second grade. That seems like it was just yesterday and also a very long time ago depending on the day. Looking forward to sharing the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, as we do each first Sunday at Hebron, and continuing the journey with you.

***

Finally, a reminder that this Sunday there are a couple of opportunities to help with flood relief. First, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has established an account which will be used specifically for relief related to the flooding in Eastern Kentucky. If you would like to give in this way there will be a place to leave your checks (made out to the church) which we will combine to send to this account.

Second, Steven Adams, one of Hilda’s sons, has shared that he is planning to take a a truckload of supplies to an eastern Kentucky distribution site. Having myself visited and volunteered at one of these sites this past Thursday, I can tell you that the need is great and people are indeed accessing these items as they work to get through this difficult time. Steven sent this list of items. You are invited to bring any of these things to church and we will see that they get to Steven for delivery.

watertoiletriesbleach wipes, spray sanitizersshampootoothpastesoaps and deodorant

See you Sunday!

Celebrate Life!

George

 


Check-In For July 30, 2022

"I bet most people talk to themselves. I have extensive conversations in my head, mulling over the day and any challenging situations and interactions I have had. Sometimes these internal dialogues are not healthy; they can become a vortex for negativity, a place of habit where I'm trapped in old patterns of thought. But sometimes they permit healthy processing that leads to life-giving action or that reorients my heart and mind in a helpful direction." -Daniel Wolpert

My heart is full this Friday morning. Full of so many things. I have been having those extensive conversations in my head that Daniel Wolpert talks about above. This time away has largely been quiet time. Lots of time to read. Lots of time to think. To think about everything from the grandeur and beauty of God's creation to how quickly time moves by and how small we can feel in the midst of all that God is doing.

We were blessed to have Cameron come from Atlanta and spend a couple of days with us. We ate some good food and played Bananagrams and talked about this and that and generally got to enjoy the gift that is getting to spend time in a living space with one of your adult children. When they are growing up it feels as though it will always be that way, and then when they make their way in the world you treasure, as much as anything I can think of, those times you are together. We will be coming home by way of Durham to see Eliza so we will get to spend some time with her as she prepares to finish up her last week of her summer work doing Clinical Pastoral Education.

Our hearts have been broken by the news and images coming out of the flooding in Eastern Kentucky. So much tragedy, so much destruction, so much loss. Our prayers ascend for all of the people impacted by what is unfolding in this natural disaster. I am certain that our denomination will offer avenues for giving to help alleviate the suffering in Eastern Kentucky. We will keep you apprised of ways you may have an opportunity to help.

One more thing…

August 1, 2005 was officially my first day as pastor at Hebron. That means when August 1 gets here in a couple of days I'll be starting year 18 in the journey with you. I have loved it and am grateful for all of you. So many memories. Being the sentimental sort, I undoubtedly will mention that in the weeks ahead, beginning with my first Sunday back in the pulpit on August 7. For now, thanks to all of you for the gift of being your pastor.

Here's a look at the upcoming August Sermon Series built out of the book of Hebrews and digging into what we mean when we talk about faith.

August 7
Faith: Conviction
Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16

August 14
Faith: Perseverance
Hebrews 11:29-12:2

August 21
Faith: Reverence And Awe
Hebrews 12:18-29

August 28
Faith: Eyes On Jesus
Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16

This Sunday, we welcome Mary Davis to Hebron. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Celebrate Life!

George

 


 

Check-In For July 23, 2022

"O God, you know the truths I cannot speak even to myself. But I believe in your love and mercy, and I believe that you have made away for me even through the wilderness of my own heart. You have created a sanctuary and spring within me, so that I can be whole. Amen." - Jeannie Alexander

This powerful prayer was in a devotional I use (Upper Room: Disciplines) this past Wednesday. There's a lot to consider in this prayer. God knows the truths that we cannot speak to ourselves. Sometimes we may think that there is something we'd rather not talk to God about. Maybe it doesn't seem important. Maybe we are embarrassed by an action we've taken or a word we've spoken. This points past that. This isn't about what we would keep from God. This is about the reality that God knows truths about us that we are not able to see. The good news is God is already there. We aren't breaking news to God. We are conversation partners with our loving Creator who desires to lead us to growth, redemption and newness of life. Thanks be to God.

***

Julie and I will be gone for one more week. We have enjoyed relaxing and really not keeping a schedule or having a lot of expectation for accomplishing anything. I have been reading several books, one purely escapist fun by Steve Berry, the other two which you will likely be hearing ideas from in the next few weeks/months - Ruth Haley Barton's Invitation To Solitude and Silence and William Willimon's Preacher's Dare. I'm looking ahead to the lectionary through the end of the liturgical year (November 20). Looking to see what the texts suggest and if any common themes suggest possible series for sermons.

There is both a Methodist and Presbyterian church on Jekyll Island. Both smaller congregations and both served by retired pastors. Last weekend the Presbyterian Church here cancelled worship as the pastor was diagnosed with COVID. We attended the Methodist Church and heard a wonderful sermon by the Rev. Marcia Cochran. Her sermon was excellent and her announcements might have been even better. She told a story about being in church when she was a little girl and some instructions her mother would give her as regards her squirming. I look forward to passing that story along.

Praying that you all will have a great worship this weekend as you welcome our General Presbyter, John Odom to our pulpit.

Celebrate Life!

George

Link to the article about Rev. Cochran.

 


 

Check-In For July 16, 2022

“God’s coming in Jesus shows us that God is willing to enter into our messiness, into our suffering, alienation, and pain in order to restore, renew, and reconcile us. Though God has not caused our suffering, God redeems it, transforms it, and recreates it so that we can become more like Jesus - more filled with hope, more able to be agents of God’s reconciling power, no matter what season we are in, no matter what season the world is in.“ -Juan Carlos Huertas

This is such a wonderful description of the Incarnation. God coming to us in Jesus is God willing to step into our messiness. In Christ we experience redemption, transformation and each day offers us the possibility of new beginnings. We are a people who have hope.

The word messiness caught my imagination and led me to thinking of the Adopt-A-Highway gathering today (Saturday, July 16 starting at 8:00 a.m. at the church) and of the work we did last time. I knew there would be litter on the side of the road when we went to pick it up - still, I was surprised how much there was - I forget the exact number but I believe it was around thirty bags by the time we were all finished. When you drive by you see the occasional trash, but may not see ALL of it. But step into the middle of it, walk around in the messiness and much is revealed.

First, it’s a wonderful service to the community to do this ministry and chip away at the litter on the stretch of road behind the church on Preston Highway. Second, perhaps it’s a window into what God has done for us. God did not remain at a distance. God stepped into our messiness and knows the pain and suffering that exist in the world. Because Christ came we do indeed have hope because we know that God is at work in our world and invites us to share in that work.

We welcome Rev. Mary Davis to our pulpit this Sunday morning. She will be sharing the message “Core Tending” from Matthew 6:25-34 and Luke 10:38-42.

Celebrate Life!

George

 


 

Check-In For July 9, 2022

"The cruelest paradox of life is that an inordinate pursuit of happiness leads to misery." -Marc Foley

This Sunday morning we'll be reading Jesus' teaching about the Good Samaritan. It's a fantastic parable that is so full of meaning at so many levels that we can return to it again and again throughout our lives and it will consistently reward us with new truth. Perhaps one of the truths we might found is direction on what leads to fulfillment in life. It turns out Marc Foley is right, making happiness our one and only objective in life is likely a path to being neither happy or fulfilled.

Living for our own happiness as our highest goal is likely to be as good for us as a steady diet of nothing but sugar would be for our teeth. There is nothing wrong with happiness, but living only to chase happiness is not the way to be happy. Perhaps happiness in life comes from fulfillment and the parable of the Good Samaritan has a good bit to say to us about fulfillment.

To begin with, fulfillment, Jesus suggests, is found in watching out not for our happiness, but for the welfare of others. When we look beyond ourselves we find ways to serve, to participate in community and to reach out to those around us, helping them on their journey to happiness and fulfillment along the way.

Look forward to sharing more on this great story from Luke's gospel on Sunday morning.

***

The Session met this past Thursday evening (July 7) at the Church. It was the first meeting for our newly installed elders, Leigh Shader and Joyce Jaco. The thing I most want to communicate with you is that our work on selling the manse continues. It will likely not be happening immediately, but the process is underway, it just takes time to get things in motion. We will continue to share with you as events unfold.

 

Celebrate Life!
George

 


 

Check-In For July 2, 2022

For the past several years my planning calendars have come from a company called Sacred Ordinary Days. The calendars are handy because they include the lectionary readings (both the weekly for worship and the daily for devotional purposes) as well as special mention of most religious holy days/observations and there are templates provided occasionally for doing the Examen (a devotional practice) as well as inspirational or thought provoking quotes everyday. So, it’s a good planner.

They also send out regular emails with devotionals and links to podcasts and other opportunities they are offering. One such email arrived Friday morning and I pulled the following prayer from that email to share with you today. It is a prayer for entering the Sabbath. Sabbath for you may be Sunday, but it can also be any day or period of time you rope off in your life for intentional time away from the distractions of everything and for intentional time with God. I share this prayer for entering Sabbath with you and hope that it will be the gift for you that it was for me to consider the great and wonderful gift of being called to Sabbath by God.

Lord of the Sabbath
We enter this day
Mindful that you alone give true rest
You alone are our true rest.

You look at all you have made
And you say it is good
And you rest.

We too look at all the works of our hands
And we say that it is good
And it is enough
So we rest.

Today we make room
In our hearts, for more love
In our homes, for more joy
In our hands, for more peace
In our hurry, for more patience.

We make room
In our schedules, to show kindness
Around our tables, to share goodness
In our worship, to sing faithfully
With our words, to speak gently.

Guide us, this sacred day,
To reflect on your compassion
To revel in your creation
To remember your redemption
To receive your restoration.

This Sabbath day,
We draw near to your presence with us
We delight in your protection over us
We dance for your joy in us
We dwell in your love for us.

And we trust

That this rest

Is your best gift to us.

By Sarah Bourne Crosby

***

Adopt-A-Highway clean up is scheduled for Saturday, July 16, with rain date of July 30. Due to extreme weather conditions recently, we will start at 8:00 a.m. We will be taking additional water breaks and cool off periods in activity building. There will be a sign-up sheet in the vestibule. Talk with Ray for more information.

Celebrate Life!

George

 


 

Check-In For June 25, 2022

I believe living joyfully is a calling - not to happiness that is ready-made or store-bought, but to the kind of joy that is birthed only after (or only when) we have touched and known deep pain. -Lydia Wiley-Kellerman

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” -Galatians 5:22

Sunday morning we'll be hearing a passage from Galatians that lists the fruits of the Spirit and we'll explore them together. One of those fruits is joy. Joy is not a shallow happiness that runs away and hides as quickly as it came at the first sign of trouble. Joy is deep. It is to the core. It is a miracle of our faith that joy manages to grow stronger when circumstances are more difficult. That's the power of the joy that we will be talking about this Sunday morning.

***

This is the 26th Weekly Check-In of 2022 - halfway through the year! When I began doing them at the beginning of January I wondered how long they would continue. So far we have not missed a week. I am hoping they are a valuable form of communication to provide a thought or word of inspiration, to update prayer concerns, and to pass on current news of upcoming activities.

Adopt-A-Highway clean-up is scheduled for Saturday, July 16, with rain date of July 30. Due to extreme weather conditions recently, we will start at 8:00 a.m. We will be taking additional water breaks and cool off periods in activity building. There will be a sign-up sheet in the vestibule. Talk with Ray for more information.

Celebrate Life!

George

 


 

Check-In For June 18, 2022

“Harmony is the cooperative union of different voices. The various vocal parts must maintain their distinctiveness, even as they unite, if harmony is to exist.” -Brad R. Braxton

I can be taught to sing a part that is not the melody, but it doesn’t come easily for me. I admire people who have this supernatural talent for immediately enhancing music by coming in with a harmony part. It’s as though they are hearing a bit of the song that is hidden from me until they bring it into view and at that point you can’t imagine the song without it.

This is true also of the body of Christ. There are parts of congregational life that may come easy for any one of us, but there are also parts that require the gifts of someone else. As we look around at our congregation we can see so many instances of people with unique gifts and talents that they willingly share with all of us. What a blessing that we have the variety of gifts, but that together we can make such a joyful noise.

***

A reminder in worship tomorrow we will...

Ordain and Install our new elders for the class of 2024. We will be installing Leigh Shader who was previously ordained as a Ruling Elder and ordaining and installing Joyce Jaco. Thank you again to Debra Lentz and Jason Shockley as they end their terms on Session and welcome to our new Elders!

We will also be recognizing our 2022 graduates from all levels of school with gifts for our high school graduates.

Celebrate Life!

George

 


 

Check-In For June 11, 2022

“Notice one sign of God’s love in your surroundings, and concentrate on that for a long moment. Give thanks for every sign of hope and love that appears to you.” -Pamela D. Couture

I’ve seen many signs of God’s love this week.

At the memorial service for DuWayne Wilkins on Monday. Many great stories shared. Love, shared and demonstrated in so many ways. Today, Saturday, June 11, at 1:00 p.m. we will gather again in the sanctuary to remember Cles Milby and will follow that with a time of fellowship and a meal in the Activities Building. Another time to remember, to celebrate, and to share in ways that tell of God’s love for us and the love God inspires us to have for each other.

Our Session met on Tuesday evening to do the work of the church and I am always impressed by the deep care and the love of our Elders for our congregation. We look forward to welcoming our two new elders, Joyce Jaco and Leigh Shader, who will be ordained and installed on June 19 during worship. We say thank you to the two elders rotating off of the Session - Debra Lentz and Jason Shockley. As an example of the commitment of these folks, as we were wrapping up the meeting Jason said to us (I’m working from memory), “Just because I’m going off the Session don’t forget about me. If you need something done, let me know.”

Keep on the look-out for God’s love all around you and take a moment to be grateful and meditate on how you can share that love.

***

I will print the complete list of graduates next week in the Weekly Check-In and in the bulletin. We will acknowledge graduates during worship on June 19 and will have gifts for our high school graduates. If any of the high school graduates are unable to be there we will be sure to get the gifts to them.

Celebrate Life!

George

 


 

Check-In For June 4, 2022

“Surrounded by the community of faith, we are charged with loving our neighbors as ourselves and with proclaiming the good news of God in Christ with our words and with our lives. As the cloud of witnesses between the disciples and our generation would attest, without the Spirit such a mission is unattainable. But with the Spirit, nothing is impossible.” -Elaine Eberhart

It is a blessing to be a part of a caring Christian community. We share the journey of life together. We celebrate birthdays, graduations, weddings and many other life events together. We support and encourage one another in difficult times. And we comfort one another in times of loss and transition.

This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost is a big red (red for the tongues of fire atop the disciples’ heads in the 2nd chapter of Acts) reminder of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst. In all of our joys and sorrow, our setback and accomplishments, times of celebration and times of heavy hearts, the Spirit moves among us.

This coming week on Monday, June 6, we will remember and give thanks for the life of DuWayne Wilkins. The service will be at 2:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary. There is a time of visitation and fellowship prior to the service from noon to 2:00 and after the service as well, in the Activities Building. Betty Hogan is a good contact person if you would like to help with the hospitality/visitation/fellowship time.

On Saturday, June 11 we will remember the life of Cleston Milby. That service will be at 1:00 p.m. and is followed by a dinner in the Activities Building. Again if you can assist in this bereavement meal please be in touch with Betty Hogan.

Let us celebrate the impactful lives of DuWayne and Cles and be guided by God’s Holy Spirit as we make our way together into each new day, forever grateful for the Great Cloud of Witnesses who travel with us.

***

Sunday June 5 is Pentecost Sunday. You are invited to wear red, the liturgical color for the day of Pentecost, reminding us of the tongues of fire that alighted on the disciples heads on the Day of Pentecost (you can find that story in Acts 2).

***

Celebrate Life!

George

 


Check-In For May 29, 2022

I wrote this prayer and shared it on Wednesday Evening Prayer. As we prepare for worship this weekend it is still the prayer that is expressing my thoughts about what has gone on in the past several weeks and most emphatically this week in Uvalde, Texas.

Holy God,
We are broken.
Spirits,
hearts,
capacity for action,
responsibility to our children,
responsibility to those who instruct and care for our children,
compassion,
beautiful families,
beautiful children,
towns,
cities,
leadership,
citizenry,
grocery stores,
churches,
schools,
will to change.
Broken.
Comfort those who are suffering beyond my ability to understand.
Turn to us in our brokenness,
and please help us not to stumble in our brokenness
- as though it is inevitable -
towards the next horrific disaster wrought of our brokenness.
Amen.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with groanings too deep for words. -Romans 8:26

***

Tuesday Prayer Group will meet this Tuesday, May 31 at 11:00 a.m. in the Activities Building. We will have a guest speaker this week at Prayer Group. Rev. Tony Roberts will be sharing about mental health, his personal struggles with brain illness, and the ministry that he carries on now to those with mental illness and families and friends who stand with them. Tony is the author of two books, Delight In Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission and more recently When Despair Meets Delight: Stories To Cultivate Hope For Those Battling Mental Illness.Tony and George were classmates at Louisville Seminary and have remained friends over the years. Tony resides with his wife Susan in Columbus, Indiana.

***

We have two memorial services coming up in June and I will continue to put reminders in as it's always possible someone has not yet seen this information.

On Monday, June 6, on what would have been his 75th birthday we will have a service celebrating the gift of Duwayne’s life at the church. Carolyn is anticipating having a time for visiting beginning around noon in the Activities Building with the service at 2:00 and followed by additional time for fellowship following the service.

On Saturday, June 11 we will have a service celebrating the life of Cleston Milby at the church at 1:00 p.m.

Both services will be followed by a time of gathering for food, fellowship, and the sharing of memories in the Activities Building.

***

The Congregation of Hebron Presbyterian Church met last Sunday, May 22. Joyce Jaco and Leigh Shader were elected to serve as Elders for the class of 2024. The congregation voted to concur with the recommendation of the Session that the church manse and the property it is on be sold.

Our new Sunday evening Zoom study “A Hop, Skip, And A Jump Through The Bible” will begin this Sunday evening, May 29, at 7:00 p.m. You are welcome to drop in whether or not you have the book. The study will run most Sunday evenings (with a few exceptions) through the end of August. This Sunday evening will be an overview of the Bible and how it came together. The Zoom link is included in the email version of the Weekly Check-In. If you are reading this on Facebook or on our website and would like the Zoom link please email George Love at hebronpcusa@gmail.com before Sunday evening.

Sunday, June 5, is Pentecost Sunday. You are invited to wear red, the liturgical color for the day of Pentecost, reminding us of the tongues of fire that alighted on the heads of the disciples on the Day of Pentecost (you can find that story in Acts 2).

Celebrate Life!

George

 


 

Check-In For May 22, 2022

“Like craftsmen working on a great cathedral, we have each ben given instructions about the particular stone we are to spend our lives carving, without knowing or being able to guess where it will take its place within the grand design.” -N.T. Wright

“You yourselves are being built like living stones into a spiritual temple. You are being made into a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” -1 Peter 2:5

We are living stones. God is using us to build every day and at the same time using us to build tomorrow and all of God’s future. Our greatest joy is to participate in what God is doing and creating. Much of the anxiety of life comes from our worry about what is going to happen next. Will we have what we need? Will we have the necessary resources? Will we fail?

We are the resources. We are God’s resources. We are the building blocks that God is relying on and will use in ways that will amaze us. Anxiety we will always have with us, but we can alleviate some of our concerns and begin to experience more and more of God’s goodness when we are able to trust that we are really God’s living stones and that God is at work in our lives all the time.

***

The Session has called a meeting of the congregation for this Sunday, May 22, 2022, following morning worship for two purposes. The first is two elect officers for the Elder class of 2024. The nominees are Joyce Jaco and Leigh Shader. The second purpose if to act on a recommendation of the Session that the church sell the manse.

***

Coming Soon On Sunday Evenings…

A New Zoom Gathering and You Are Invited
“A Hop, Skip, And A Jump Through The Bible”
Sunday, May 29 – Sunday, August 28

The study will work its way through the book “A Hop, Skip, And A Jump Through The Bible” by J. Ellsworth Kalas. It is a short book that will give us a quick overview of every book in the Bible. We will gather by Zoom each of the Sunday evenings at 7:00 p.m. and meet for around an hour.

You will get more out of the class with the book, but you are more than welcome to drop in and participate without it. It will be very easy to opt in. You don’t need to sign up (although letting me know in advance would be welcome). I will be sending out the Zoom link each week in the Weekly Check-In Email so if you are getting that email you will be able to look for it there. If you are not getting that email, we hope you will get your email to myself (George) or Judy Morris so you be receiving weekly updates on church happenings and prayer concerns.

If you have questions about the study or questions about picking up a copy of the book speak to me.

Celebrate Life!

George

 


 

Check-In For May 15, 2022

“The canon (Scripture) is replete with divine visions, and the spiritual health of God’s people is a direct result of how they attend to those visions from God…” -Gary W. Charles

The Bible is indeed full of visions given to the people of God by our Creator. On Sunday we will be reading the story (Acts 11:1-18) of one such vision received by the Apostle Peter while in the city of Joppa. We’ll also be reading a short passage from John’s gospel (John 13:31-35) where Jesus emphatically says that our vision of all of life should be primarily focused on one thing - love.

I look forward to exploring the biblical vision of Peter and to unpacking what Gary Charles says above - our spiritual health is a direct result of how we attend to the visions God places before us. See you Sunday.

***

The Session has called a meeting of the congregation on Sunday, May 22 following morning worship for two purposes. The first is two elect officers for the Elder class of 2024. The nominees are Joyce Jaco and Leigh Shader. The second purpose if to act on a recommendation of the Session that the church sell the manse.

***

Coming Soon On Sunday Evenings…

A New Zoom Gathering and You Are Invited

“A Hop, Skip, And A Jump Through The Bible”

Sunday, May 29 – Sunday, August 28

The study will work its way through the book A Hop, Skip, And A Jump Through The Bible by J. Ellsworth Kalas. It is a short book that will give us a quick overview of every book in the Bible. We will gather by Zoom each of the Sunday evenings at 7:00 p.m. and meet for around an hour. This study follows the completion of another Zoom study. The Zoom format is a nice alternative to offer and is not intended to replace in person gatherings - it is its own thing.

You will get more out of the class with the book, but you are more than welcome to drop in and participate without it. It will be very easy to opt in. You don’t need to sign up (although letting me know in advance would be welcome). I will be sending out the Zoom link each week in the Weekly Check-In Email so if you are getting that email you will be able to look for it there. If you are not getting that email, we hope you will email me (George) or Judy Morris so you can begin receiving weekly updates on church happenings and prayer concerns.

If you have questions about the study or questions about picking up a copy of the book speak to me.

Celebrate Life!

George

 


 

Check-In For May 7, 2022

“Pastor God, lead me to those places that nourish my soul. Amen.” -Nicola Vidamour

The prayer above came at the end of a devotional built around the 23rd Psalm. This coming Sunday is often called Good Shepherd Sunday, because the lectionary - the suggested scriptures for the day - feature shepherd images in three of the four readings. Here the prayer asks our Good Shepherd to lead us to places that nourish our soul. What nourishes your soul? If you know the answer to that question are you able to find time in your life to do the thing that feeds your soul? If you aren’t sure what feeds your soul, is it time to spend time in prayer with our Good Shepherd asking for guidance on where you might turns for renewal and restoration?

Join us on Sunday as we explore Psalm 23 and Acts 9:36-43. We’ll reflect on the image of the Lord as our Shepherd and we’ll take a close look at a woman who meant a lot to the New Testament church in Joppa, a woman known as Tabitha and also as Dorcas. Let’s gather on Sunday and seek to nourish our souls together.

***

I participated in the community National Day of Prayer Service in Shepherdsville on Thursday at noon. A group of local pastors under the coordination and leadership of Donna Bradshaw gathered to pray for schools, businesses, government, and for God to be active in our individual lives, and in our communities, states, nationally and in our world.

Here is some awesome news. We presently have five children who plan to participate in summer camp in July at Cedar Ridge. Several are going back after having enjoyed it last year. At least one is a new camper this year. It’s exciting to have these great kids heading to camp, but that is only part of the story. Once again this year the Presbyterian Women are providing half of the fee for each child and Ray and Pat Baker are providing the other half. This just flat out lifts my spirits. This is a great experience for these children right now and its an investment in a faith that will sustain them into the future.

The Session met this past Tuesday and there is a lot to report.

We have a slate of Elders to nominate to serve as the class of 2024. They are Joyce Jaco and Leigh Shader. The Session will be calling a meeting of the congregation to elect officers following worship on May 22.

Also at that same meeting we will be presenting for congregational approval a motion from the Session to sell the manse. You are invited to talk with Session members or with me in advance of the meeting on the 22nd and there will be time for questions that day as well. The basic thinking is this. Our primary relationship to the manse for at least the past 20 years has been as landlords. The property is valuable to us as a source of rental income, but is also a source of regular expenses. Given the current market the property is likely as valuable and as attractive as it is going to be. It has been appraised and at the amount it has been appraised it is likely we can invest the money with the Presbyterian Foundation and come close - in most years - to having the same sort of income from it we presently receive without having to do maintenance on an aging building. Again, the Session has voted to present the idea of selling the manse for congregational approval at the meeting following worship on May 22.

The Session also voted to do some work outside around the bench that honors the memory of Sandy Clayton on the side of the church. The bench is in a good location, but gets a lot of sun. The Session approved the addition of a pergola that will provide shade and make the bench a more comfortable place to rest a few minutes on a beautiful day. I did not know what a pergola was when I first heard the word, but you can do a quick Google search to get the idea if you also don’t know and can talk to Judy Morris who is leading the way on this project.

We received an excellent financial report from Lisa Streible. The report shows our expenses are ahead of income through the first three months, but Lisa also put a year against year report together for us that showed last year at the same time our deficit at this point was about double what it is this year. There are several expenses, a primary one is our per capita which we pay to the Presbytery, which are kind of front loaded in the year. Our recent history shows that through your generous support of our church we find our way back to positive territory as the year progresses. From 2015 through the end of 2021 we have wound up the year with a positive balance 5 of 7 times. One of the misses (2016) was very close (within $1200) and one (2017) was the year when the manse was empty for most of the year and a large amount of money beyond the normal was put into the renovation of the manse (and again it’s important to emphasize that even there our stewardship was excellent as we did spend money on materials but several individuals gave freely of their time and talents which saved us a lot as well). The other five years all showed income ahead of expenses, a wonderful gift for our church and especially a blessing as those positive years include the pandemic from spring of 2020 through the present. All of which is to say, thank you again for your faithful support of the church.

Finally, we heard a report from Beverly Caple and Ray Baker about a meeting they had with a representative of Bullitt County Schools related to how we - our congregation - might build relationships with our schools and make a real practical difference in the lives of children in need - particularly in the area of homelessness in the student population. There are some heartbreaking numbers related to the number of students who are impacted by housing insecurity, in the coming weeks and months we look forward to sharing more about what we can do to make a difference. In the next few weeks we’ll be hearing about the Pentecost offering of our denomination, another special offering which we will receive on Pentecost Sunday. This offering is intended to help at-risk children and young people. This is a denomination offering with a twist - forty percent of the offering stays with our church. The Session voted to utilize the forty percent that stays with us as seed money for this new outreach with the schools. Again, listen for more about this in the weeks and months ahead.

That’s a lot. Thankful for our great Session and the leadership they provide and for so many folks who do so much for our church and for each one of you who supports us with your time, talents and treasures.

Celebrate Life!

George

 


Check-In For April 30, 2022

“The message of Easter is that God’s new world has been unveiled in Jesus Christ and that you’re now invited to belong to it.” -N.T. Wright

We are in the season of Easter. It begins on the day of Easter and continues to the Day of Pentecost. As Lent is a time to reflect and to consider life in the wilderness, Easter is a time to access the joy of the resurrection and the possibilities that life in Christ offer, possibilities that bring meaning to life.

The reality, of course, is that we can experience joy in life in Lent and we can experience the wilderness in the days after Easter. Our lives are not governed by a pre-set liturgical calendar. However, Easter is annually a glorious reminder of the truth that we do have cause for celebration in the empty tomb. This Sunday we will gather around the Lord’s Table for the first time this Easter season and partake of the joyful feast of the people of God that Christ has prepared for us. See you Sunday!

***

Continuing to collect names of graduates from all levels of school who have ties with our congregation. You can tell me (George) or send them to me at hebronpcusa@gmail.com.

The Session will meet this Tuesday evening, May 3 at 7:00 p.m. at the church.

For the past 15 months we’ve had a group of folks that have been doing a weekly Zoom using a spiritual growth resource called The Reservoir. We began with around twenty people and wound up with three of us participating. It was great. It would have been awesome to have a larger group all the way through, but it was a really good experience. This coming Sunday it comes to a conclusion.

What I’m casting out feelers for now is if anyone would be interested in joining in a new Sunday evening Zoom group that would likely begin sometime the second half of May and go for thirteen weeks (a much shorter time period than the Reservoir’s 15 months).

I’m looking at a book called “A Hop, Skip, And A Jump Through The Bible” by J. Ellsworth Kalas as our resource material. It’s a quick, thirteen chapter, overview of the entire Bible. It’s a nice tool for getting basic walking around information for all of scripture. The thirteen chapters all fit within one hundred and twenty-eight pages so it’s not a big lift reading wise. We’d mostly weekly - with a few Sundays off here and there and likely be done towards the end of August, beginning of September.

This is all casting bread on the water, seeing who might be interested at this point. Let me know if you would be interested in being a part of this by commenting below, speaking to me, emailing me (hebronpcusa@gmail.com) or I guess carrier pigeon if you have the capability to do that sort of thing. Thanks!

Celebrate Life!

George

 


 

Check-In For April 23, 2022

“We might wish that Jesus’ resurrection would erase the troubles of our past and catapult us into a wholly new future. ….Instead, we look more like the disciples, our lives a mixture of fear and joy, doubt and faith.” -Amy Platinga Pauw

Is Easter beautiful and good beyond our wildest imaginings? Yes. Is life in our present moment still full of challenges today, almost a week after our annual celebration of Easter? Also, yes. Christians believe that Easter fundamentally changed everything forever. That Jesus won the victory over sin and death through the cross and the empty tomb, yet sin and death still seem to hang around. What gives?

That’s what we’ll be exploring this Sunday morning in church. The text will be John 20:19-31 if you would like to have a look ahead. The message is “Life: The Easy Part”. Looking forward to digging in to this together.

***

All the Easter flurry is past so the announcements are a bit shorter.

Your total gifts for One Great Hour Of Sharing were $709.55. This included $90 in the fish banks!

Our first Adopt A Highway clean-up will be TODAY Saturday, April 23 from 9 a.m. till noon. Meet in the Activities Building. Recommended close toed shoes and gloves. Safety vests, pick up sticks and trash bags will be provided. Looking forward to this activity which extends us into our community!

Also today, Saturday, April 23…

Rebecca Rink invites you to a birthday party for Rick Bean on Saturday, April 23 at 3:00 p.m. Covid forced the cancellation of the big 70th party, so let's celebrate now! There will be Bootleg BBQ for dinner with cupcakes and ice cream floats, and good company. The party will be outdoors at 110 Bates Lane. Contact Rebecca to RSVP.

Tomorrow - Sunday, April 24 - is the fourth Sunday of April. Our fourth Sunday Children’s Church leaders are Joe and Lauren Dessart.

Celebrate Life!

George

 


 

Check-In For April 16, 2022

“Jesus looks at us this very day in the same way he looked at every human being that he encountered during his earthly life; with infinite sadness for our predicament, yet with unquenchable love and with unflinching resolve to rescue us from certain condemnation and death, whatever it took, wherever it led, whatever the price.” -Fleming Rutledge

Infinite sadness. Unquenchable love. Unflinching resolve.

This is a beautiful description of Christ’s love for us. For each of us and for our world, God’s world. Whatever and wherever led to a cross on Golgotha. But even on this Holy Saturday, we know that it leads beyond that to an empty tomb. We have journeyed through the wilderness. We have walked the steps of Holy Week. We have been to the upper room and remembered the last supper and have walked to the cross and to the grave.

Always remember though, we are an Easter people. All of those things I just mentioned are true and they are hard, but they are not ultimately defining. Easter is ultimately defining. Tomorrow, again, we rejoice.

Christ is risen.

Christ is risen indeed!

***

Easter Egg Hunt at the church today, Saturday, April 16 at 11:00 a.m.

Easter Sunday worship, tomorrow, Sunday, April 17 at 11:00 a.m. Invite a friend to come and celebrate the resurrection.

We receive the One Great Hour Of Sharing Special Offering tomorrow, Easter Sunday. If you have Fish Banks to bring back, remember to bring them tomorrow. Envelopes will be in the bulletin specifically for One Great Hour of Sharing Gifts. Thanks to Helen Sarver for spotlighting the One Great Hour of Sharing Offering for us this Lenten season.

Our first Adopt A Highway clean-up will be Saturday, April 23 from 9 a.m. till noon. Meet in the Activities Building. Recommended close toed shoes and gloves. Safety vests, pick up sticks and trash bags will be provided. If you have questions speak to Ray Baker.

Thank you to a couple of our folks who regularly are blessing us with their time and talent. Joyce Jaco shares her musical gifts with us on Sundays and also played both Maundy Thursday and Good Friday for us this past week. Rick Caple was at the church this week I believe on Thursday, cutting the grass and getting our grounds looking great for this Easter weekend. Thanks Joyce and Rick.

I also want to thank our regular Children’s Church rotation folks: Rebecca Rink, Joe and Lauren Dessart, Twila Hartmans-Carlton, Monica Shockley and Shelly Brown. Bev Caple has also stepped in to help and Judy Morris was key in preparing the kids to sing and getting their costumes ready for Palm Sunday. Thanks to all of you. You bless us as you bless our children.

Celebrate Life!

George

 


 

Check-In For April 9, 2022

“Only by looking at the cross of Christ do we learn the magnitude of the forces that held us in bondage.” -Fleming Rutledge

Looking at the cross of Christ is what we will do with closer proximity as we journey from Palm Sunday to Good Friday. We can think of the events of Good Friday in a very general historical way. Jesus went to the cross for everyone across all of history. For all of humanity sin and death met their defeat at Calvary. We can also think of the events of Good Friday in a very personal way. Christ went to the cross from the deep love he felt for each one of us. For me. For you. For each of us because we are each of us loved.

The point of this reflection on the cross is to focus us on the all encompassing nature of God’s love for us. At the moments in life when we feel the deepest despair we can turn our eyes to the cross of Christ and know that Christ reaches out to us in hope speaking words of life. Let God speak to you this Holy Week - words of a love that holds nothing back and invites us to abundant and everlasting life.

***

Adopt A Highway: Our first Adopt A Highway clean-up will be Saturday, April 23 from 9 a.m. till noon. Meet in the Activities Building. Recommended close toed shoes and gloves. Safety vests, pick up sticks and trash bags will be provided. If you have questions speak to Ray Baker.

Three Children’s Church Sundays In April: This Sunday, April 10 is Palm Sunday. The Children will be singing as part of worship. Also, it is the second Sunday so Children’s Church will follow the Children’s Moment. Additionally on Easter Sunday, April 17 there will also be Children’s Church available as there may be more children in worship because of the special day. We will also have Children’s Church on the fourth Sunday, April 24 so in all we will have three Sundays with Children’s church in April.

Community Holy Week Services are back. With a new twist. This year they will be hosted by the Shepherdsville Christian Church (337 Lees Valley Rd, Shepherdsville, KY 40165). These services will take place during Holy Week - Monday, April 11 - Friday, April 15. The services will be from noon till 12:30 p.m. each day and are followed by a light lunch provided by the church of the speaker for the day. George will be be speaking on Tuesday, April 12. Our Presbyterian Women will be organizing the lunch to share. Offerings each day will go entirely to help the Fellowship of Concern which provides for people in need in our community.

Holy Week Services and activities at Hebron:

Maundy Thursday, April 14 at 7:00 p.m. A remembrance of and observance of the Last Supper is part of this service.

Good Friday Tenebrae Service, April 15 at 7:00 p.m. A service of light and darkness that remembers the love Christ demonstrated for us on the cross.

Easter Egg Hunt will be back on Saturday, April 16 at 11:00 a.m. If there are children in your life we invite you to bring them to enjoy this event. Also we need folks to begin to bring plastic eggs filled with wrapped candy or stickers for our children to hunt.

Easter Sunday Worship on Sunday, April 17 at 11:00 a.m. - Invite a friend to join us in celebrating the resurrection

Celebrate Life!

George

 


 

Check-In For April 2, 2022

“We can’t breathe without oxygen from outside of ourselves. Similarly, the soul can’t live without God.” -Evan Moffic

The soul cannot live without God. The operative word here is live. It may be able to survive from day to day for a period of time, but I think live refers to something more than continuing to exist. To live is to learn, to grow, to experience joy as our Creator intended. Living is more than putting in another day. Living is finding meaning in the living of the day. This is why we cannot do it without God.

People throughout history have found their way into trouble by trying to find meaning in life in things that are not God. The people that I have encountered throughout my life who seem the most fulfilled and the most joyful - regardless of circumstances - are the people who place the highest value on their relationship with God.

The call to us is to feed our soul by feeding our relationship with God.The goal of growing that relationship is to live that life that truly is life.

***

Thanks to everyone who helped with the Presbyterian Women’s Yard Sale last weekend and this weekend. Many folks came through our doors, much stuff left the building and a great deal of fellowship was enjoyed.

Children’s Church is usually the second and fourth Sunday of the month, but we have an extra gathering this weekend, April 3. Judy Morris and Twila Hartmans Carlton will be working with the children following the Children’s Moment this Sunday to prepare a song they will share on Sunday, April 10 - Palm Sunday!

These last few announcements are repeats from last week, but still timely as Holy Week and Easter draw near…

Community Holy Week Services are back. With a new twist. This year they will be hosted by the Shepherdsville Christian Church (337 Lees Valley Rd, Shepherdsville, KY 40165). These services will take place during Holy Week - Monday, April 11 - Friday, April 15. The services will be from noon till 12:30 p.m. each day and are followed by a light lunch provided by the church of the speaker for the day. I will be be speaking on Tuesday, April 12. Are Presbyterian Women will be organizing the lunch to share. Offerings each day will go entirely to help the Fellowship of Concern which provides for people in need in our community.

Our Holy Week Services and activities at Hebron will be as follows:

Maundy Thursday, April 14 at 7:00 p.m. A remembrance of and observance of the Last Supper is part of this service.

Good Friday Tenebrae Service, April 15 at 7:00 p.m. A service of light and darkness that remembers the love Christ demonstrated for us on the cross.

Easter Egg Hunt will be back on Saturday, April 16 at 11:00 a.m. If there are children in your life we invite you to bring them to enjoy this event. Also we need folks to begin to bring plastic eggs filled with wrapped candy or stickers for our children to hunt.

Easter Sunday Worship on Sunday, April 17 at 11:00 a.m. - Invite a friend to join us in celebrating the resurrection!

Celebrate Life!

George

 

Check-In For March 19, 2022

“…We may think we are a community or assume we are a family but if we do not serve one another we are, at best, a collection of people who live alone together.” -Joan Chittister

“…the spiritual life is not simply what we think about; it is what we do because of what we think. It is possible, in fact, to spend our whole lives thinking about the spiritual life and never develop one.” - Joan Chittister

A life of faith is always two things at once: contemplation and action. A wise elder in the Prestonsburg church used to repeat this proverb - we can be so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good. Walking around with our heads so far in the clouds that we easily glide past those who are hurting and suffering in the world is never the outcome God desires.

We are called to be in a healthy, active relationship with God so that we can best prepare ourselves to live in ways that serve and carry-out God’s will. This means being attentive to both God and to one another. God did not create us to “live alone together.” God made us to share the road, walking and growing, living and loving together.

***

As Lent winds its way forward we will have our fourth Sunday of our six week “Reading The Old Testament Through Jewish Eyes” this Sunday morning, March 20 at 9:30 a.m. for fellowship and 9:40 a.m. to start class. All are invited and welcome to come and join us in the Activities Building.

The next two Wednesdays, March 23 and 30 we will gather in the Activities Building at 6:30 p.m. for a meal, provided by the Presbyterian Women, and a program. The program will be Jesus and the Galilee on March 23 and Jesus and Jerusalem on March 30. We’ll look at pictures of sights connected to stories from the Gospels that were taken during past trips to the Holy Land.

Celebrate Life!

George

 


 

Check-In For March 12, 2022

“God of all time and space, I rest in trust that your promises for our world are bigger and more beautiful than I can imagine.” -Molly Vetter

“Every choice is an end point from which we depart. … To embark means to depart; to go ahead is to leave behind.” -Marc Foley

We make a lot of choices every day. Some small, some large. Many we can’t tell at the time if they are small or large. The impact doesn’t reveal itself until the choice is made and we are committed to the path on which the choice has placed us. As Marc Foley suggests, each choice is a new beginning. The purpose in pointing that out is not to overwhelm us with anxiety surrounding our choices, but to fill us with hope and expectation for the direction each new choice creates. As Christians we believe that God’s Holy Spirit is working with us to help us find our path. It is important for us to remember as we make our choices to also continue to engage scripture and pray without ceasing that we may be always inviting God’s Spirit to walk with us all of our days.

The reason is abundantly clear. As Molly Vetter reminds us, God’s “promises for our world are bigger and more beautiful” than we can imagine. The only way to get to such promises is to be available to the guidance of the One who dreams such dreams.

***

Week Two of our “Reading The Old Testament Through Jewish Eyes” built on and expanded the momentum of Week One. More great conversation and sharing took place this past Sunday and I look forward to more this Sunday morning, March 13 in the Activities Building at 9:30 a.m. for fellowship with class beginning at 9:40 a.m.

Celebrate Life!

George

 


 

Check-In For March 5, 2022

“The combination of uttermost penitence and unconquerable confidence lies at the dry heart of the knowledge of who we are before God and what he intends for us. This is Ash Wednesday.” -Fleming Rutledge

“On Ash Wednesday the church makes us admit our mortality, finitude and sin.” -William Willimon

Ash Wednesday has come and gone and Lent is underway. On Wednesday evening I said that Ash Wednesday is our gateway into this journey of forty days, not including Sundays, until we arrive at the glory of Easter.

As William Willimon suggests this is a season that asks us to take a hard look at the reality of our own mortality. We are dust and to dust we shall return. These were the words that were said as the ashes were imposed Wednesday evening. The goal though is not for us to become depressed and morose. The goal is to see this truth and lean ever more fully into the promises of God.

Fleming Rutledge sets the phrases “uttermost penitence” and “unconquerable. confidence” up against one another. Both are needed. Our recognition of our need for forgiveness is what prepares us to receive that gift of forgiveness and God’s amazing grace that answers that deep need in each one of us. Being fully honest about the ways in which we miss the mark when we rely on our own efforts enables us to see how stunning the generosity of God is in doling out to us grace upon grace.

***

We had a great group for the first week of our Sunday School Class, “Reading The Old Testament Through Jewish Eyes” this past Sunday morning. The class continues and you are invited to join us on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. in the Activities Building. We fellowship for ten minutes or so and try to begin on time at 9:40 a.m. This week we’ll be looking at stories and themes in the book of Genesis, the first book of the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament).

Celebrate Life!

George

 

Check-In For February 26, 2022

"We love God not so God will love us, but because God already loves us."

"An ache in our heart is an invitation from God to take a step to transform the world." -Robert Logan and Ralph Plumb, An Undivided Heart: Living and Loving Like Jesus

Robert Logan is the author of the book, The Discipleship Difference. You may remember it from two sermon series I've preached in the past few years which have elaborated on his themes by unpacking their biblical foundation. His congregational/personal model for discipleship is based on a tree with a strong root system and grows in the following ways:

EXPERIENCING GOD: Intentionally and consistently engaging with God in such a way that you open yourself to a deeper understanding of him and deeper relationship with him.

SPIRITUAL RESPONSIVENESS: Actively listening to the Holy Spirit and taking action according to what you are hearing.

SACRIFICIAL SERVICE: Doing good works even when it's costly, inconvenient or challenging.

GENEROUS LIVING: Faithfully stewarding what God has given you so you can contribute toward the advancement of the Kingdom.

DISCIPLE-MAKING: Living in obedience to the great commission given by Jesus, which entails making more and better followers of Christ.

PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION: Changing your attitudes and behaviors in positive ways as a result of your relationship with God and others.

AUTHENTIC RELATIONSHIPS: Engaging with other people in ways that reflect the heart of God toward them.

COMMUNITY TRANSFORMATION: Personal involvement with others to facilitate positive change where you live and beyond

I've begun a more recent book of his that continues to dig into layers of discipleship - An Undivided Heart. I look forward to sharing ideas from this book sometime in the future, but for now the two thoughts at the top of the page are both good ones to dedicate some time to giving some thought. God's love for us is there always. Before we realized it, God was loving us. How do we respond to God's love? One way may be, as the second quote suggests, to listen to what makes our heart ache and ask what we can do to address that ache. Perhaps that is how God is calling us to live out God's love in our lives.

***

Our new Sunday School Class, Reading the Old Testament Through Jewish Eyes: A Study of the Scriptures Jesus Read begins this Sunday, February 27 at 9:40 a.m. in the Activities Building. Begins at 9:40. There will be bagels and coffee available also - it would be good to plan to arrive by 9:30 if you would like time for some fellowship and to get a bagel and/or some coffee before we start.

Ash Wednesday is next Wednesday, March 2. This marks the beginning of the season of Lent. Our Ash Wednesday Service will be at 7:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary.

Celebrate Life!
George

 


 

Check-In For February 19, 2022

“But I say to you who are willing to hear:
Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you.” -Luke 6:27

This passage is a part of our text for Sunday morning worship. The complete text is Luke 6:27-38. Verse 27 advises us to love our enemies. Enemies. Hate. These may seem like strong words to you. Perhaps you struggle to think of anyone you might consider an enemy or anyone you might hate. Perhaps if we replace these words with concepts like irritate and annoy we might begin to think of relationships where we know things are not optimal. I was reading a commentary on this passage this week and it suggested a spiritual practice for the week that could help in problematic relationships. It’s practical and it helps both the other person and us.

A Spiritual Practice For This Week…

Choose an enemy to pray for this week. Write their name on a piece of paper and place it somewhere you will see it regularly. You might use this prayer: ‘May they have enough. May they love and be loved. May they know and be known by God.”

***

There are prayer concerns that are shared in the email version of the Weekly Check-In which goes out to folks who have shared their email with us. If you would like to receive this weekly Check-In by email let us know at hebronpcusa@gmail.com

Remember our six week Sunday School Class on “Reading The Old Testament Through Jewish Eyes” begins on Sunday, February 27 and continues through Sunday, April 3. It will begin each Sunday morning at 9:40 a.m. in the Activities Building. Everyone is invited. We will explore each of the five books of the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) - scripture that Jesus would have studied and known well in his lifetime on earth.

Celebrate Life!
George

 


 

Check-In For February 12, 2022

"Too many of us have been conditioned to feel as if God's commands (or the commands of anyone) are to keep us from doing what we want to do. The truth is, however that the principles and lessons of scripture are intended to guide us on the path of abundant life."

"This is the high calling we choose when we decide to follow Jesus: to be a people whose very energy and presence bring healing and grace to broken places."  -Brandon Robertson

Last Sunday in worship we read Luke 5:1-11 which told Luke's story of how Jesus called Peter, James and John. We focused on Jesus's call for the would-be disciples to put out into the deep water. As a result of being in that scripture I've been thinking a lot about call. These two quotes from the daily devotional Upper Room: Disciplines 2022 both crystallized aspects of what it means to respond to Christ's call.

The first one pushes back on the idea that to follow Jesus is to somehow intended to keep us from doing what we want to do. In fact, to follow Jesus is to be opened up to exactly who we were made to be and to be the best version of ourselves. Faith isn't out to remove all that is enjoyable and fulfilling in life, it truly is the path to the most meaningful life we can possibly live.

The second quote lays out for us what that meaningful life can look like. We can find meaning and purpose in being "a people whose very energy and presence bring healing and grace to broken places." I had the opportunity to watch health care professionals go above and beyond their job descriptions to make a positive impact in the lives of people in their care. It gave them more work to do. They didn't have to do it. They could have done their jobs well and fully while doing far less than what they did. But they saw an opportunity. They responded to it joyfully and as a group made a huge difference. They were a blessing. And I believe they were blessed by their actions as well. I believe that in bringing joy they experienced joy. That's what discipleship, what following Jesus is all about.

***

This reminder from Ray Baker…

We are participating in the Adopt A Highway program to pick up trash along a 2 mile stretch of Preston Highway. We will do this 4 times a year. If you would like more information about this program, there is a sign up seen in the vestibule. Ray Baker will provide a detailed description of the program, as well as answering any questions you might have.

Celebrate Life!
George

 


 

Check-In For February 5, 2022

“God does not come on hoof beats of mercury through streets of gold.
God is in the dregs of our lives.” -Joan Chittester

“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who see takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.”
-Elizabeth Barrett Browning

God is everywhere, all around us, at work in ways great and small. I’m not sure even that great and small are categories that God is interested in - those are our categories. I suspect that for God it is all significant, all important. I have been taken this week with this sentence from Joan Chittester about God not coming on hoof beats of mercury through streets of gold. I’m not even sure exactly what hoof beats of mercury are, but I take her point. If we are waiting for God to make a grand entrance, we may be missing a lot of the entrances God makes into our lives each day. Elizabeth Barrett Browning has it right - earth is indeed crammed with heaven. Will we have the good sense to take off our shoes and have a look?

*****

Remember we have two big weeks of food collection coming up. On Sunday, February 13 (that is not this Sunday, but a week from Sunday) it’s the Souper Bowl of Caring. The Bengals made it to the big game and I could not be happier with that result - Who Dey! Our regular food collection day is the third Sunday, which will be February 20. We can bulk up our food pantry supply by bringing non-perishable food items on both of those Sundays!

Celebrate Life!
George

 


 

Check-In For January 29, 2022

“When we make loving our neighbor an abstract ideal, we make loving them difficult.” -John Gooch

“We are capable of choosing for God in life. We are not trapped by an essential weakness that makes God knowable but not possible.” -Joan Chittester

These two thoughts seem to be connected in my imagination. God doesn’t have a standard for us that is impossible for us to meet. God doesn’t ask us to love and at the same time make it beyond our capacity to do so. We will not be perfect, but we are more than capable of love, and God does very much want to be in relationship with us.

Sunday morning our scripture is 1 Corinthians 13. There will be plenty to say about love, but for now I’ll begin by reassuring all of us that it’s in our skill set to be loving. All of us. We can do this. One loving action at a time.

*****

Some new dates to be aware of (okay, actually the dates have always been there, it’s the activities scheduled for them that are new, but I digress)…

Sunday, February 27 through Sunday, April 3 (6 weeks)

On these Sundays we will be setting aside our normal Sunday School curriculum to engage a limited time study titled "Reading The Old Testament Through Jewish Eyes: A Study Of The Scriptures Jesus Read." This study will take place during Sunday School prior to worship each of the six Sundays. Everyone is invited to participate. As the title indicates it is a look at the first five books of the Old Testament - The Torah - the scripture that Jesus would have been familiar with as a Jew living in the first century A.D. The past four years we have read through each of the four gospels during the season of Lent. This year I will be creating a reading chart with selections from the first five books of the Old Testament which will correspond to both what we will be doing in Sunday School and to what I will be preaching on in worship. There is a book of the same name as the study by Rabbi Evan Moffic, who is a gifted communicator of the Jewish faith to Christian audiences. The book is not necessary to be a part of the Sunday School class. If you would like a copy you may obtain one for yourself, or if you would like me to get one for you, please let me know.

Lenten Wednesday Evenings

We will be back on Wednesday evening for two gatherings in March (March 23 and 30). Details are still in the works. The Presbyterian Women will provide meals for us each of these evenings.

Lent, of course, doesn’t begin officially until Ash Wednesday, which this year is March 2. So we have some time between now and then to enjoy the cold and the snow, but these things are coming and will likely be here before we know it.

Celebrate Life!
George

 


 

Check-In For January 22, 2022

"Grace and goodness come from God…. We are not the sole authors of our own story." -Joan Chittester, Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality For the 21st Century

"Ubuntu - 'I am because we are' - is a South African philosophy that speaks to our interconnectedness, interdependence, and interrelatedness as humans. Our humanity is only fully actualized in relationship with others." -Marilyn Pagan-Banks, Upper Room Disciplines

A nice feature of Facebook is what happens when it's your birthday. The well wishes roll in. From high school friends, college friends, seminary friends, folks from the two churches I served prior to coming to Hebron, Hebron folks, the Methodist friends I've picked up through Julie, family and extended family and other folks I am not remembering each offering a "Happy Birthday." I enjoy seeing the names and pausing with each one for a moment to recall how our paths have crossed and to say a prayer of blessing for the connection.

These two passages from my readings this past week both point to how important it is for us to understand how we are connected, both to God and to each other. As Joan Chittester puts it, "we are not the authors of our own story." Yes, we surely have an important role to play, but it's a collaborative effort and we can avoid some major miscalculations by beginning with the awareness that we aren't doing much of anything by ourselves.

Marilyn Pagan-Banks lifts up the South African idea of Ubuntu and reinforces that "our humanity is only fully actualized in relationship with others." It's instructive to remember that Jesus didn't decide to go it alone in his public ministry. One of the very first actions he takes is to go and find some folks to share the journey with him. If Jesus thinks companions are valuable, how much more so are they for you and me.

***

The Super Bowl game is coming on February 13. That means you will be invited to bring non-perishable food items on that Sunday for the Souper Bowl of Caring offering as well as on February 20 which will be the third Sunday of February. It will give us a chance to boost our pantry twice in February. Yes, it's not February yet, but for those of you who write things on calendars these are a couple of dates to remember. The Bengals have another hurdle to clear Saturday afternoon, but it's still possible they could be playing in that Super Bowl game. Maybe not, but a pastor can dream can't he?

Reminder that this Sunday, January 23 there is a called meeting of the congregation to act on the Session's compensation recommendation for the pastor for the year 2022. The recommendation is a four percent increase. This meeting will happen directly after morning worship.

Celebrate Life!
George

 


 

Check-In For January 15, 2022

“The Pharisees went out and met in order to find a way to destroy Jesus.  Jesus knew what they intended to do, so he went away from there.” -Matthew 12:15

“Right then, Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go to the other side of the lake while he dismissed the crowds.” Matthew 14:22

“If it pleases the king, and if your servant found favor with you, please send me to Judah to the city of my family’s graves so that I may rebuild it.” -Nehemiah 2:5

“Bloom where you are planted.” This is a saying I’ve heard over the years that encourages us to know that wherever we are can be a place to serve God. I fully believe that this is true. It is important to know that we don’t have to wait until we get to some future time when everything is perfect to serve God. We can do it right now, wherever we happen to be planted at the moment.

On the other hand…

Each of these verses from my reading this week tells us about people physically moving from one place to another.

* The Pharisees are plotting against Jesus, so Jesus leaves that place and goes to another place. A safer place.

* The disciples and Jesus have been ministering in one location, Jesus decides to send the disciples on to another place, across the Sea of Galilee. This story continues with the disciples winding up in a storm and Jesus walking on the water to meet them.

* In the Nehemiah passage, Nehemiah is asking if he may return from exile to work on rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.

Sometimes, we need to bloom somewhere else. Sometimes we need to move in order to bloom. This points us to a practical strategy for daily life. If we feel stuck, maybe a move might help. A move doesn’t need to mean going to another country or even across a lake. It may just mean we change up our routine. Make a choice to do something or try something that is outside of our comfort zone. Perhaps changing the scenery in some way shakes some things loose, frees up our creativity, helps us get unstuck and moving forward again!

***

The Presbyterian Women will meet on Wednesday, January 19 at 10:00 a.m. - please note this is an hour earlier than usual start time. After the meeting the plan is to stay and do some cleaning in the Activities Building.

Celebrate Life!
George

 


 

Check-In For January 8, 2022

“Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life, what you’ll eat or what you’ll drink, or about your body, what you’ll wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes?” - Matthew 6:25

“Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life?” -Matthew 6:27

“Therefore stop worrying about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” -Matthew 6:34

Matthew 5-7 which is the feast known as the Sermon on the Mount, is chock full of great verses to remember. These three are among my favorites. One of those things that has seemed more and more true with each passing year is that worry doesn’t really help much of anything. It’s super easy to do and it can be all consuming, but the return on investment is lousy.

Jesus goes further than telling us simply not to worry. He tells us why. When we worry we tend to worry about the wrong things - stuff rather than that which has lasting importance. When we worry we aren’t doing anything positive for our well being. When we worry we are bringing tomorrow’s potential troubles into today and making mountains out of what may turn out to be nothing when it finally gets here.

***

This Sunday in worship we’ll be reading Isaiah 43:1-7 and hearing how God will be with us when we pass through troubled waters in life. This has led me to finding water in so many scriptures I’ve read this week. One late addition to the line-up for Sunday morning…the story at the end of Matthew 7 about foundations and what makes for good ones and not so good ones - hint: they need to be able to withstand water damage.

***

COVID just keeps on reasserting itself. Many requests for prayers related to friends and family members of Hebron folks who are dealing with COVID in some way. Let’s keep our prayers going for all who are impacted and also for all who provide care.

***

Finally, we have results on our Special Offerings from December…

Tornado Relief $1400.00
Joy Gift Offering $610.00

Thanks to all for your generosity. See you Sunday.

Celebrate Life!
George

 


 

Check-In for January 1, 2022

“There was evening and there was morning: the first day.” Genesis 1:5

In Judaism, the new day begins at sundown - the day runs from sunset to sunset. For the first day of the new year then, we are well underway. We’ve had evening and it’s now morning. There is a new year before us - what will we do with it?

A great beginning will be to listen for God as well as we are able. A prayer I’ve shared before at church is one written by a former moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Rev. Joan Gray. She offers it in her book Sailboat Church (which is a great read if you have an interest). I share it with you again now.

“God I trust that your will is the best thing that can happen to me. Let your will be done in everything, no matter what it is. Make me a graceful presence wherever I go. In, around, through, and in spite of me, let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.”