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This Month Edition for January 7, 2021

Scripture Reading

Mark 1:4-11
Matthew 28:16-20

Preacher
Rev. Nancy Mikoski

Liturgists
Rev. Casey Aldridge and Dr. Christine James, Seminary Intern
Worship will be live on Zoom on January 10 at 10:15 am only.

If you have an email listed in the church family directory, you will receive the Zoom link on Sunday morning by 9 am.

Part of the service is the reading of "The Great Ends of the Church" which will appear on the screen but you may also choose to print it out in advance from here.

There will be a bulletin (or order of worship) on the page.

The Zoom link will also provide phone access.
Joys and Concerns
If you have a joy or a concern you would like lifted up in prayer this Sunday, you may offer them up live. 

"Living God, maker of light, thank you for the gift of this day. Let me be a light in your world so that people will look at me and see the goodness of your creation; in Jesus' name I pray. Amen."
 
Source: "Feasting on the Word Worship Companion Year B" edited by Kimberly Bracken Long. WJK. Louisville. 2014

Table of Contents


A Prayer for Our Country -- from Our Presbytery 

Tonight, as we gather in our homes around our streaming services and dinner tables to watch what is unfolding in our nation’s Capitol, we lift up hope and prayers for healing and a peaceful end to the events of today. 
 
We lift up the wisdom of the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, in affirmation that “…. we cannot keep drifting apart into two separate tribes with a separate set of facts and separate realities with nothing in common but our hostility towards each other and mistrust for the few national institutions that we all still share.“ (Senate floor, January 6, 2021)
 
Whenever we see divisiveness, our starting point is not which camp to be in. Abiding in God’s light calls us to use the lens of love to look beyond what is tearing at the fabric of our nation and find our loving community. We do so by harnessing our collective power of prayer to transform what scares us or feels like a hopeless endeavor into a kiln for the new thing that God is poised to do in our nation. James teaches us to “... pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” --James 5:16 
 
So as a Presbytery we pray: 
We pray for anyone who experiences harm as a result of this unrest. 
We pray that those who shepherd the peace in our nation’s Capitol all arrive back home at the end of their workday safe and well. 
We pray for our representatives in Congress to be safe in this tumultuous event.
We pray for our country to come back to respecting each other.
We pray for courage to be fostered in each of us to support justice in action
We pray for a rebirth of a shared commitment to the truth. 
We pray for a peaceful transition of power.
We pray for the future of our democracy.
We pray for our fellow citizens amassed on the steps of our Capitol as they seek consolation and comfort in their freedom of assembly and right to speak the pain of their hearts. 
 
Please pray with us and meditate on these scripture passages as our nation navigates the path through this unrest:
 
O God, we watch as the fabric of our civic life is torn. We gaze at the rips and tears, wondering how we will all be stitched back together or even if we can come together at all. Trusting that you are our refuge and strength, we bind ourselves in your everlasting presence. We pray for safety and care for all of those who are affected by the situation unfolding at the Capitol. In the midst of a world so far from what we hope, may Christ's witness be illuminated on this Epiphany evening so that your love and justice are known. Amen.
 
Psalm 66:7
He rules by His might forever; His eyes keep watch on the nations; Let not the rebellious exalt themselves.
 
Psalm 46: 1-3; 11
1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
11 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
 
from: 
Elder Cherry Oakley, Moderator
Rev. Molly Dykstra, Former Moderator
Elder Hope Anderson, CLT
Elder Gooitzen Vanderwal, CLT
Rev. John Williams, CLT
Rev. Dr. Paul La Montagne, Stated Clerk
Rev. Larissa Kwong Abazia, Resource Presbyter
 

What is a pastor to write about on the day after our nation’s Capitol has been attacked by an angry mob set on interfering with the duties set forth in our Constitution? What could I say about the rhetoric that led to this event, about the painful and dangerous schism that led to violence and even death? I presume that most, if not all of you, have been listening and watching the news, scrolling through social media as journalists and pundits, politicians and historians, foreign leaders and average Americans weigh in on these events. I have my own opinions, to be sure, but what I want to offer here is a reflection based on my scripture and prayer time this morning. I hope in some small way it might be a blessing at a time when our suffering is great.
 
Psalm 29 is a lectionary passage for this coming Sunday, which is Baptism of the Lord Sunday. The final verses caught my attention. “The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever. May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!”
 
Perhaps the most basic reminder is that no elected official or even American democracy is God. During the horrible, scary hours of the riot on the capitol, many spoke of how what we were seeing was like a coup in a banana republic. That is true. American democracy is something for which we are rightly proud and the peaceful transfer of power is a high standard we have set before the world as a fundamental practice. Yesterday, that model was broken. Only four people died but it could have been much worse…a blood bath. Thank God that cooler, wiser, more trained, and disciplined minds kept this from becoming even worse.
 
A friend and colleague of mine from years ago shared on Facebook about the text messages she got from her son from his office in the Capitol building. He is a young man, working in the nation’s capital. I remember him as a sweet toddler running around the churchyard during refreshment time. Yesterday, he was hiding behind a couch in his office while the door was being broken down and anarchists were scaling the walls outside his window. He was led to safety and protected by a SWAT team. Yes, I’ve read that four people lost their lives in this, but I’d say much more was lost, died, along with it.
 
What is the matter with us? How can this be happening? Who would think that breaking into the Capitol and interrupting the work of Congress would give the president another term? When the next president is inaugurated in a few days, we will still have some who are angry, gullible, racist, greedy, violent, manipulative, or easily manipulated in our country. So, what does it mean today to say that the Lord is on the throne? Is that to say that people will be held accountable to the king of heaven, perhaps in this world, but surely in the world to come? Is proclaiming the Lord is on the throne intended to change our perspective, to lift our eyes from ballots and winners and losers and procedures and political parties and platforms? We must stay engaged in our country’s struggles but must never lose sight of who is on the throne.
 
In Psalm 29, the Lord is enthroned and it says the Lord is enthroned over the flood. What we experienced yesterday wasn’t a little rain seeping into the basement. It was more like a dam breaking and fierce rushing water carving new courses across the land. The Lord is not only king forever, the Lord is enthroned over the flood.
 
The final verses are a prayer. The psalmist, and we who take our places as praying people, ask the Lord to give strength to the people and to bless the people with peace. This strength isn’t strength that comes from having more money or more votes or more followers or more guns or more muscle. Instead, the strength we need and God gives is strength for wisdom and clarity on how to move forward; strength for self-control; strength for courage; strength to work for justice; strength to say no.
 
The peace of God isn’t just a feeling of relief when conflict has subsided. It’s not a gift reserved for the most powerful or victorious. The peace of God is about wholeness and wellness. In the Hebrew scriptures, peace is often coupled with justice. Scholar Joseph Healy writes, “Peace encompasses a relationship that is ordered, a relationship of equity…peace embodies the notion of a restoration of creation to justice, truth, and righteousness.” (The Anchor Bible Dictionary “Peace”)
 
These are difficult days. I hope you will have people to help you process what is going on and find ways to care for yourselves in the aftermath of this event. And may scripture and prayer open us to God, for it is God’s great desire to love and bless us.
 
Lord, you are enthroned forever. You remain steadfast even as the floods of this world overwhelm us. Thank you, God. We need you, Lord. We are hurting. Our country is in pain. God, we pray for your blessings of strength and peace for ourselves but also for all in need of your mercy and grace today. Turn us from destructive thoughts and actions to the way of life you offer that is marked by grace, true peace, and justice. Amen.
 
Nancy

News . . .  Briefly
  • We've posted a new devotional posted from Nancy Mikoski on the PPC Facebook page. It focuses on Genesis 1 and the subject is 'light.' Check it out and share your thoughts.
  • Youth activities are resuming and you should stay in touch with Pastor Casey for information.
  • Look for your email from Nancy Mikoski about training for new Elders on January 23 from 9 am to 12:30 pm. Installation and Ordination will be part of the Zoom service scheduled for January 24.
  • The look-ahead worship schedule is at the end of this newsletter.

Volunteers Needed in the Church Office

As you may be aware, at this time the church office is operating under special arrangements. When PPNS is in session, someone needs to be in the church office from 9 a.m. to noon to handle deliveries, phone calls, mail distribution into mailboxes, and other simple tasks on occasion. The goal is to support Hope Anderson so she may focus on her PPNS duties. We need help on Thursdays and Fridays, from 9 am to noon.
 
Monday through Wednesday morning, Pam Paluzzi, our Financial Administrator, is in the office. If there are enough volunteers, the 9 to noon period and the days of the week can be shared. COVID safety procedures are in place. You are on your own in the office with adequate cleaning products. There is a special safety shield in front of the office in case someone arrives and needs to approach the office. In case you have questions, you will have remote support by telephone. In sum, you will be helping out the church family and will also have time to read or for web access or other activities that you choose while sitting at the desk. 

If you are interested, please contact Jane Simpson by email.
 

2021 College Care Package

 
In years past the Deacons’ Heart Tree allowed the PPC congregation to sponsor Care Packages that were delivered to our young-adult members who were attending college, working from home or working elsewhere.  This year, due to COVID-19, there will be no Heart Tree, so we ask for your help by making monetary donations either by check or by using the Donate Now button at the top of the PennPres.org website. Please make sure you write “College Care Package” on the check memo line or in the Donate Now Notes section. Your donations will be used to buy food items and gift cards as well as to offset the cost of shipping.  All donations are due by Sunday, Feb. 7, so that we can purchase the items, package, and ship.  Please contact Ron Russell or Kathy Pietras with your questions.
 
 
Pray for our Community ...
  • Our neighbors at the Har Sinai Temple 
  • Our healthcare workers who are doing heroic work as the pandemic continues to rage
  • All those suffering from COVID19
  • All those developing, approving, manufacturing, transporting, receiving, and  administering the COVID19 vaccines so that this pandemic may be controlled
  • All  those suffering the many forms of insecurity due to COVID19 and all those who are helping
Continue to Pray for …
Barb Sergeant; Jean Cooper's family and friends; Ruth Morewood's family; Cindy Reeder; Evelyn Marion Keneman; Virginia Silliphant; The family of Dorothy Bryan; the family of Alice Blackwell; Don Trismen; Edna Stout; Robin Hepburn; Elsa and Charles Koczan; Melanie Parsons; Bob Macek; Shirley Norton; Corinne Beyer; Bill Sherman; Marji McAvoy; Hal Wittlinger; Marge Ryan; Galen Meyer and his family; David Anderson; Michael Berkowitz; Karen Kelly; Dawn Cocco; Bob Fletcher; Dee Wilson; Caroline Woodward; Jayne and Jay Neary; and all families who are grieving and lonely.


A Death in the Extended Church Family ...
We learned from Wendy Pfeffer that Norma Wagner, a long-time member of PPC, died on December 24 surrounded by her loving family. Wendy shared the obituary.
 
Pray for Our Church Family ...
We pray each week for those listed alphabetically in our church family directory. This week: Rev. Bill and Barbara McQuoid; Matt, Jena, Liam and Callum McWha; Karl, Kathy, Maeve, and Quinn Merzena; Galen, Carol, Lauren, Kennan and Lane Meyer.

Pray for the People of the World …
Please continue praying for the world. All nations are being impacted by the pandemic, on top of the daily universal challenges that include climate change, and economic, food, and physical insecurity. 

Prayer Chain ... 
Contact Nancy Lehman to request prayers. She will distribute the request to the PPC's Prayer Chain. If you want to use a telephone, please call Barbara Pratt.

A Special Thank You for Your Prayers ...

Vicki Wheeler requested prayers for her granddaughter Sydney who contracted COVID19 and has had a hard time of it. Thanks be to God, Sydney is on the mend and she sent a thank you for your prayers and included some excellent perspective. If you know of young people resistant to precautions against COVID, you might consider sharing Sydney's note about how her life and health have been affected.
 
Let us Pray in the Name of Jesus Christ ... 
Lord, you are enthroned forever. You remain steadfast even as the floods of this world overwhelm us. Thank you, God. We need you, Lord. We are hurting. Our country is in pain. God, we pray for your blessings of strength and peace for ourselves but also for all in need of your mercy and grace today. Turn us from destructive thoughts and actions to the way of life you offer that is marked by grace, true peace, and justice. Amen.
 
(From "Pastor's Thoughts)
 

Look Ahead to the Worship Schedule

 
Current Plans for Sunday worship as approved by Session on January 6:
 
January 17 – Video recording of worship from the sanctuary, premiering on pennpres.org at 10:15 am
January 24 -- Zoom worship at 10:15 am with ordination and installation
January 31 and forward -- Livestreaming from the sanctuary at 10:15 am with only worship leaders and tech team in the sanctuary for COVID safety reasons. 
 
(Phone call-in links will be available each Sunday. Zoom links will be emailed directly by 9 am on Sunday morning. Adaptations may be made to this plan if we have a reason to prefer Zoom on some occasion, or if we decide to invite a small congregation back to the sanctuary.)
 
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