During Lent, we often take on practices of self-denial. We fast from foods or pursuits that do not satisfy us or distract us from the more important and meaningful things in life. In their book Meeting Jesus at the Table authors Cynthia Campbell and Christine Fohr point out that such fasting (which can take many forms from certain foods and habits to activity on social media) “reminds us that we do not live by bread alone.”
That idea of course is what Jesus says in response to the first temptation in the wilderness, to turn stones into bread. With this in mind, we can begin to see denial as not just doing without but as a means to get more fully in touch with what sustains us. Such a shift of thinking is helpful (or it is for me at least); it is a subtle shift perhaps but one that can make Lent less of a drudgery and more of a holy joy.
In that spirit, each Sunday in lent, the narthex will have “signs of sustaining”: different items, resources, and tokens you can take home with you that might continue to lift our spirit. This past Sunday our “sign” was Lent Devotionals—one produced by Presbyterians for Earth Care and the other by the Office of Congregational Vitality of the PC(USA). This latter one is one I have been digging into and it offers fascinating, thought and heart provoking reflections about how our discipleship as the church can be more vivid and active. Please do check them out.
In coming weeks we will offer the following signs:
3/5: Metal Tokens to keep in your pocket, your car, your bedside table. These tokens are in the form of traditional Christian Symbols such as a cross or fish.
3/12: Bookmarks with various bible verses; you can use in your bible or Lenten Devotionals!
3/19: M and M’s and Lifesavers : If you have given up chocolate for Lent, never fear! We’ll have Lifesaver mints as well as reminders of the sweetness that even a season of Lent promises to bring.
4/2: Palm Crosses and Eco Palms: to celebrate Palm Sunday and help us enter Holy week with an awareness of both the procession and the passion of Jesus in Jerusalem
4/9: Seed Packets: For easter morning, seed packets will be available as we welcome again the certainty of a new creation made possible in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.
I hope these small, simple resources will be signs of joy and reassurance for you in the weeks ahead, and I pray that you may receive such sustenance in various other ways as well: through good books, art, and movies; through friendships and meals; through our life and work as the church together. If you do develop a particular practice that sustains you, please share it with me and I’ll put it in a future message so that others can be comforted by it as well.
The Lord Bless and Keep You,
*In-Person/Livestream Worship: Join us each Sunday at 11:00am in person or online (via Facebook live) for worship!
Online participation via Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/firstpresbyterianchurchofgarner
See and share the service from February 26, the first Sunday of Lent Below.
On Sunday March 5th, we continue our Lenten series “Again and Again” proclaiming how “God Welcomes Us” especially to the table. We’ll celebrate Communion and continue to receive encouragement to make this welcome of God known far and wide.
*Masks are welcome but optional during in-person worship as we continue to contend with COVID and an emerging flu season. We also ask everyone to be still mindful of social distancing and respectful of the personal space of others even as we give thanks for being together.*
*Family Promise Week is April 2-9! We had a wonderful visit from Family Promise on February 26 and are excited to again partner with them by serving meals to the families they host. Contact Lisa Jackson to see how your gifts can be put to use in this mission effort.
*Lent Celebrations! In addition to weekly worship, we have a number of programs that will help us focus on Lent. Wednesday Bible Study by Zoom, Thursday Morning Bible Study in person and online, and a Tuesday night prayer group by Zoom (with an encore on Sunday morning in person). Contact the church office for more information and to get the Zoom links for these groups.
- Walking Group: Join the Walking Group each Tuesday at 6pm. We currently meet at Cadence Senior Living Center (200 Minglewood Dr.). Dress warmly! If you have any questions, contact the church office at 919-772-0727. In the event there is inclement weather, we’ll just gather the following week.
- CNCB and Wellness Hygiene Item Drive: Community Navigators, Community Builders Youth group is planning a Women’s Health Event on Saturday, March 18. As part of the preparation for the event, the Wellness Activities Ministry team is coordinating with CNCB to have a Women’s Hygiene Item Drive. Items can be brought to the church office during the week or placed in a bin in the Library on Sunday’s. The collection will run through March 12.
*2023 Vision Update: In January’s edition of the Spire, Rev. Acton wrote about church leaders (session, deacons, and staff) exploring an emerging vision for FPCoG, rooted in the idea of serving our “neighbors.” The Session continued this conversation at its February meeting and approved the following recommendations:
1. Appoint a group who can help develop a consensus among the congregation for a vision of FPCoG rooted in the image of being neighborly towards our local, regional, and global communities.
2. Complete a demographic study of our region to better know who our neighbors are and what their needs might be.
The next step will be identifying people to serve on a “Vision Team” described above and identifying resources to help us complete a demographic study in a helpful way. The Team will be composed of active members of the Session, the Deacons, as well as the congregation. If you might be interested in serving and helping clarify the call God is issuing to FPCoG for its ministry now and into the future, please contact Rev. Acton or Mike Koenig, the Clerk of Session.
*Boy Scout Troop 392 is having a Krispy Kreme fundraiser. Please contact the church office at (919) 772-0727 for information on how to get your certificate for a dozen glazed donuts. The cost is $15 for each certificate which can be used at any Krispy Kreme location across the United States. (Not valid for in grocery store purchases.)
* The 2023 Flower Chart is up! The flower chart is posted in the hallway and ready for sign-ups. The cost of the flowers for the coming year is $40.00.
*Share FPCoG with Each Other and Our Neighbors! FPCoG is an active church! To help others know this (and to stay up to date yourself), please consider following and asking others to follow us on Facebook or Instagram!
If you have pictures of church events, please share them as well! Send to firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephanie Taylor, our church admin, and our Instagram Volunteer Susie Knabe will take it from there!