What kind of memories do you have of Christmases gone by? What’s the earliest Christmas memory you have? Is there a most poignant memory of Christmas? Surely you have a favorite Christmas memory of all time.
How about not-so-hot memories of Christmas – got any of those? Perhaps it’s the unpleasant remembering of the chaos and controversies of the day when you hosted the family Christmas party that evening. Or, maybe you remember a Christmas while you were in the armed services and sitting someplace far, far from home.
Here are a couple of Christmas memories I have, one very good and one very bad.
Christmas in 2011 was a difficult time for our household. Pat’s father had been living with us for six years and his health was severely deteriorating. He had a stroke in June that left him requiring 24 hour care. His dementia was such that he rarely recognized anyone. He had to be lifted in and out of bed and shuttled around in the house by wheelchair. Everyone was tired, the outlook bleak, and it seemed like a black cloud hovered over us.
I decided we needed a Christmas gift that would bring some joy and hope to our house. With our kids and their spouses gathered round, with Pat’s dad in the midst of it all, we opened presents until very few were left. At that point our daughter Ruthie said she had forgotten something in the car and had to go out and get it. Actually, it was a prearranged ruse so that she could bring in the surprise gift I had purchased that was supposed to bring joy and hope to us.
Ruthie came back in with a cheery Christmas bag. But the bag was moving all around as though something alive was inside it. There was something alive inside it! Before she could get it all the way to Pat (for whom the gift was designated) a furry little head popped out and our family had its first glimpse of Bruno, a ferocious Yorkshire terrier puppy! Immediately upon the emergence of that head, chaos ensued. Some shrieked, some laughed, there were a couple who were crying, and some set still in shocked disbelief. Bruno was soon out of the bag and running exuberantly from person to person. The scene was joyful to the point of hilarity.
Our family had never had a dog. As far as anyone knew we never would have one, though family members had petitioned for many years for a dog. Hence, the great surprise when Bruno suddenly appeared on Christmas day 2011. That is one of the best Christmas memories I have.
The bad Christmas memory I want to relate took place when I was about 13 years old. When I was kid we had godparents. Mine were great. My Aunt Laura and Uncle Bud loved me and I loved them. They always got me great presents. I knew I wasn’t getting clothes from them; nope, I would be getting something good!
Except for that one Christmas. That was the Christmas where I hefted the weighty present from them, expectantly removed the wrapping paper, opened the box, and out came a shoeshine kit. It was a wooden box with a handle on top designed like a foot rest for a shoeshine concession. Inside was a full complement of polishes, brushes, applicators, and buffing cloths.
I could not have been more disappointed. Not only did my disappointment show, I spoke about it. To my way of thinking, that had to be about the worst Christmas present I ever received. I communicated that to Aunt Laura and Uncle Bud with no thought of what that might mean to them. Yes, a horrible Christmas memory. No, not the gift, but my response.
The reason I mention all this is because Christmas is about the best gift ever given. It was also the most necessary gift ever given. God gave the gift of His Son, the Lord Jesus. Let me explain what I mean.
Romans 3:23 is a commonly cited verse: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. It tells the truth about the human race. It’s bad news. It means the just judgment of God awaits each one of us. One of the problems with Romans 3:23 is that lots of folk don’t think it’s true! At least, not for them. They think they’re quite fine, thank you. And you ought not be so judgmental as to suggest such is not the case whether you do so by quoting this verse or some other means.
Romans 3:24 is not a commonly cited verse: being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. This verse, though, talks about the gift of God. It’s a good gift. It is the gift of justification, that is, being made right with God. As the verse makes clear, this is a gift, and a most necessary gift. Without it we cannot be right with God, but have only the expectation of being justly judged and found deficient by Him.
If one rightly understands Romans 3:23, then Romans 3:24 is received with joy and gladness! It states a truth that will stand the test of time and eternity.
You’ll be glad to know I kept the shoeshine kit from Aunt Laura and Uncle Bud. I still have it. With the passing of the years I came to appreciate how thoughtful and useful it was. Of all the gifts they gave me over the years, it’s only the shoeshine kit that I still have and use. Eventually I worked up the courage to tell my godparents what a wonderful gift the shoeshine kit had been, and how wrong I had been in my estimate of it.
My thinking is that just like that shoeshine kit, most folk on earth do not appreciate the gift of God. They may have heard about it, but they’re too preoccupied with other things to understand what a wonderful gift God has given in His Son. They react to news of it much like I reacted when I first opened the gift with the shoeshine kit: disappointed dismissal.
When by the grace of God the truth of Romans 3:23 comes home to folk, when they are in a dark and troubled time regarding the state of their soul and their eternal destiny, then to hear Romans 3:24 about God’s gift becomes to their souls just like Bruno was to our family at Christmas of 2011. Some receive this gift with joy and laughter, others with tears of deep emotion, and some with rapt silence. Finally, the gift – that is, the Lord Jesus and the redemption He brings to us – is gratefully received and forever treasured.
That’s why gifts are such a large part of Christmas. Each gift should be understood to point to the one, great, and best gift of all, the gift of Jesus. That’s why Christmas is filled with joy and hope, laughter and celebration, solemnity and awe.
May you and your household have a delightful and blessed Christmas season.
In the Joy of the Lord,
John H.C. Niederhaus
December Pulpit Schedule
6th – Quodlibet – Psalm 119:129-136; Daniel 3 s.v.; Luke 1:5-25
It’s that time of year again, time for the annual Quodlibet sermon. In case you’ve forgotten, or have never heard of this phenomenon, here’s what it means. The pastor does not prepare a sermon for this Sunday. Instead, in each bulletin there will be a slip of paper on which attendees may write a question. Those slips of paper will be collected just prior to the sermon, then the pastor will take them into the pulpit to read and respond to as many as time allows. The questions can be about anything – that’s what Quodlibet means: ask what you will.
13th – Who is God? – Daniel 4 s.v.; Luke 2:25-35; Acts 12:18-23
Our sermon title proposes an essential question. Most folk think they know the answer to that question, but there are times when such proves not to be the case. Nebuchadnezzar provides a classic example of a fellow who knows the answer to who is God, but still gets it wrong! Lip service will not suffice. In our day, just as in times past, there are plenty of folk who will not give even lip service to the notion that such a thing as God exists. The example of Herod points to the ultimate end of those who answer this essential question in the wrong way.
20th – Set Apart and Sent – Daniel 2 s.v.; Luke 2:36-40; Acts 12:24–13:4
Both Anna, an elderly widow in Jerusalem when Jesus was born, and the church at Antioch wherein Barnabas and Paul were leaders, exercised the discipline of fasting. Each is concerned with the subject of redemption. Through the discipline of fasting they get some answers from God about the redemption that was so much on their hearts. Not surprisingly, each had their eyes focused on the Lord Jesus, Anna at the time of His birth, the Antioch Christians at His rule as the ascended Messiah. Daniel’s rock cut without hands is about that redemption.
24th – Great Good News! – Isaiah 59 s.v.; Daniel 2:19-22; Luke 2:8-20
Believe it or not, it is easy to forget how great the Good News is. For that reason it is good to revisit on a regular basis the Judean hillsides of two thousand years ago. Just a few miles from Jerusalem, near the little village of Bethlehem, in a burst of heavenly lights and voices, the great Good News was first proclaimed. Promised for thousands of years, no one knew when it would happen and how it would happen. It was a mystery into which angels longed to look. When God pulled back the veil and showed them, they could not contain their joy.
27th – Straight Speaking – Daniel 1:8-21; Mark 1:1-8; Acts 13:4-12
We live in a world of political correctness. Everyone is on edge about the words we hear spoken. Words are said to contain triggers that elicit undesired responses in sensitive people. It’s not always been this way. In each of today’s texts we will encounter folk who speak with great directness. They engage in straight speaking. We’ll find the apostle Paul can be brutally confrontational in what he says. Daniel, on the other hand, is designedly diplomatic with his straight speaking. John the Baptist just tells the truth. We need more straight speaking in our day.
From the Youth Pastor
Putting God in a Box this Christmas (or a God-Shaped Hole).
You may have heard the phrase “We have a God-shaped hole in our lives that only he can fill”. Where does the concept of a “God-shaped hole” come from and is it accurate? It seems this popular notion has evolved from Blaise Pascal who in a book titled Pensées said: What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.
Is this “God shaped hole” a biblical idea? Well, Paul preaching to Greek philosophers on Mars Hill in Athens says something similar: He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.”(Acts 17:26-27) On the surface this seems to be the “God void” argument being made. After all, the men of Athens certainly had a God-awareness because of the inscription they had made to an “Unknown God”. Yet, the bent of people is not to seek after God but that “… they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:21)
As Romans 1 explains, all people by the common grace of God have an innate knowledge of Him. Each person then seeks either to suppress that truth or further it. This pursuit of truth is what Paul is challenging the men of Athens to be about. Paul is describing the person who in “seeking” God actually finds God. Many say there is only one ultimate seeker, namely the Holy Spirit who causes men to seek and respond to truth. That is the exactly the type of seeker being described by Paul, for God is determining and appointing that seekers would find Him. Paul was challenging the men of Athens to seek God in Jesus and some of them did (Acts 17:34)! This is a God-driven game of “hide and seek.” It will produce “found” people, but it’s not evidence for a God-shaped void/vacuum in everyone who ever existed.
Some suggest a passage in Ecclesiastes suits this attempt to harmonize the God-shaped vacuum with Scripture. I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves. He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime.” (Ecclesiastes 3:10–12) These verses highlight the human desire for eternal things despite being in a time-bound universe. But this doesn’t infer a God-shaped hole.
C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity echoes Ecclesiastes when he writes, The Christian says, ‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.” What both Lewis and Ecclesiastes put forth is that humans have a capacity to experience more than what this earthly experience offers. Because we hunger for more than this life, it suggests
there is more than just this life, namely God and eternal realities exist. Words such as desire or hunger are more helpful (and biblical) than vacuum, void, or hole.
This article asks the question “does a God void/hole/vacuum make the case that everyone has a longing/desire to be filled by God?” The idea of a hole is distinct from a hunger for God. The absence or void of food is not the same as having an empty stomach that is hungry for food. Just because there is a void it does not follow that something must exist to fill it. Any religion could claim the “God-shaped hole” as an apologetic. That’s why I favor the more biblical description of thirst or hunger for God. Jesus in the context of a feast where his hearers’ physical need of food and drink has already been met says this, If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (John 7:37–39) The desire for God will be given by God and will be met by God and Him alone.
Upon reflection, it seems to me the God-shaped hole idea is to put God in a box. It may be helpful to get people to consider the need for God in their life. I have used it that way myself. But it’s a very limited concept and carries the feel of just needing to add the final God-piece to one’s life to find ultimate completion, like a narcissistic Lego of sorts. Instead of our focus being on a “hole” in us, maybe it’s more helpful to think about God and how we can be whole in Him.
Writing in his Confessions, Saint Augustine imparts an inspiring vision of God: And what place is there in me into which my God can come—into which God can come, even He who made heaven and earth? Is there anything in me, O Lord my God, that can contain Thee?” His point is that God is more than can be contained in our little hole. This is not to deny the awesome significance of what happens in a person when God saves someone. It’s because we bear the image of God [the imago dei] that we yearn and are restless for a God-shaped wholeness that comes through union with Christ. Augustine is a better guide for us than Pascal, for he describes the Christian condition before God in this way: Thou movest us to delight in praising Thee; for Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.
This Christmas season we are reminded of the God-shaped hole in humanity (the debt of our sin) and how God steps down to fill it (atoned by God himself) in the birth and life of Jesus Christ. May you and I be restless for Him until we are found by Him and in Him. Now where has my vacuum gone… oh Pascal!
Pastor Andrew Edmonds
Getting in Gear with Christmas
As you push in the clutch and begin putting in place your plans for all your Christmas activities, here’s some info that may help prevent the gears from clanging. Here are some gears we encourage you to engage:
Ø Each Sunday in December there is worship happening at Leidy’s Church. Yes, it will be great to have you present for worship during Advent!
Ø On the afternoon of December 13th carolers from Leidy’s Church will be out spreading Christmas cheer. This is a service project that morphs into a fun project that morphs into a worship project. Caroling is a tradition Christians continue to perpetuate, and rightly so.
Ø During the Sunday School Hour on December 20th a children’s musical will be presented in the Fellowship Hall. Kids from Kids Klub will give their all in the presentation of Follow the Star. Afterwards, enticing edibles for all – cast and audience!
Ø That same day, the 20th, at the 10:45 service of worship the pre-school classes from our Sunday School will provide special music. This would be the two, three, and four year old classes. Their singing can be spotty, but their presentation always is memorable.
Ø At 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve, a Thursday this year, Leidy’s Church will celebrate the birth of The Promised One. It will be an informal but worshipful service, focusing on the birth of Jesus, told through first century eyes. The story will be enhanced with songs, congregational carols and instrumental music provided by many of the musicians from within our fellowship. Pre-service music from the instrumentalists will begin at 6:30.
Ø At 10:30 a more formal service of worship will take place. It will be a preaching service, this year with the focus on the great good news that makes Christmas Christmas. There will be some special music as well as an anthem from the chancel choir and the sharing of the Lord’s Supper. Our time of worship will end with the candle light singing of Silent Night.
When you come for worship on Christmas Eve, whether it be for the earlier service or the later one (or both!!), it always is a beautiful sight to see the luminaries glowing as you arrive and leave. We extend our thanks to the Special Services Committee for their oversight and care in decorating our church property in such an appropriate way to celebrate the birth of Him who is still the Light of the world!
Loosen Up, Get Out a Bit
Have you had a tough fall season being cooped up on Sunday afternoons watching certain athletic teams perform uncertain feats? Are you getting pretty discouraged and disillusioned? Then here’s an opportunity for you to loosen up and get out a bit. Join the caravan of carolers who will be hitting the highways and byways of our community on December 13th.
Yes, December 13th is the day for Leidy’s Church’s 2105 caroling Sunday. We gather in the Fellowship Hall at 1:45 to receive our team assignments – usually we have two or three caravans – pick up our caroling books, and find out who our team will be caroling.
To facilitate the formation of caroling crews there will be caroling sign-up slips in the Sunday bulletins. Please fill one out, drop it in the offering plate, or put it on the desk in the office. Without the sign-up slips we would not be able to organize the teams and determine the itineraries for each one. By the way, on those sign up slips there also is space for you to suggest persons or places you’d like our carolers to visit.
As carolers from previous years can attest, the teams do loosen things up and sing carols with a robust abandon that brings joy and encouragement to the households they visit. There is a freedom of spirit that comes with singing the good news of Jesus’ birth!
The carolers end up back at the Fellowship Hall where food and drink await them.
Want to be a blessing to someone? Sign up for caroling on the 13th and you will be!
Three projects are part of the Leidy’s Church Christmas outreach this year. Each is part of larger projects in which we participate.
The largest of those projects is Operation Christmas Child sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse. Seventy six boxes were taken home, shopped for, filled, and brought back this year. They are now in North Carolina being sorted and checked before heading for their final destinations around the globe. A big thanks to all who participated in this effort!
Leidy’s Church also worked with Colleen Estes and Shula Mulenga to send Christmas boxes to specific children and youth on the Pikangikum Reserve in Ontario. Forty two boxes were packed full of good gifts for specific young persons at Pik. Those boxes will soon be on their way to International Falls, MN, where a Living Hope Native Ministries volunteer will get them to Red Lake and then Pikangikum. Colleen and Shula said to extend their thanks to you!
A new project this year is being undertaken in conjunction with International Orthodox Christian Charities [IOCC]. All of our Christmas Eve offerings will be sent to IOCC to be used to help Syrian Christians. Regarded as non-persons by many relief agencies, they are the forgotten group in the devastated Middle East.
The IOCC has provided help for Syrian refugees in Serbia, Iraq, Jordan, Greece, Armenia, Lebanon, and Syria since the outbreak of Syria’s civil war. They provide food, shelter, bedding, clothing, and crisis counseling for families displaced from homes, jobs, and way of life. Want to help them out? Come to one of the Christmas Eve services and participate in the offering.
Of course, it will be a good thing to remember each of these projects in your prayers during this Christmas season and beyond.
Since January 22, 1974 there has been an annual March for Life. Exactly one year earlier the Roe v. Wade decision was handed down legalizing abortion in the United States. Most assumed that settled the issue. Not hardly.
Thanks to March for Life founder Nellie Grey and others the abortion issue was not settled. It really was just beginning. Up until that time most folk had not really thought through the issue of abortion. The patient, persistent faithfulness of a few challenged the hearts and changed the minds of many. But it took time. And a persistent faithful presence.
On Friday, January 22, 2016 another March for Life will be held in Washington, D.C. Leidy’s Church will be sending a bus load of folk down. If we had enough interest we would send two buses.
You can sign up to make the round trip journey on a comfy Perkiomen coach. Thanks to some undergirding from the Church and Community Committee, the expense involved is very reasonable: $12 per person. That includes a round-trip Metro-Rail ticket to get you from the parking lot to the Capital Mall and back again.
Our departure from the church parking lot is set for 6 am! On the way down a stop will be made for breakfast. On the return trip a stop will be made for dinner; this usually takes place at a mall food court where options are abundant. Your $12 does not cover the cost of these meals, so bring funds along to cover these costs and any other incidentals that may come along.
We anticipate arriving in DC with a couple of hours to spare so that participants can make excursions to a museum or historical site or memorial of their choosing.
Praise be to God for the persistent, faithful marchers who take to the streets of DC each January as part of the March for Life. What began with 20,000 marchers now has crowds in the hundreds of thousands.
Many of those faithful marchers from years gone by are gone! But God has been faithful to raise up a new generation to take up the banner for life. Each of us is encouraged to consider being among that persistent, faithful number this year. Invite some friends or co-workers or family members to join you in hitting the streets in Washington to march for life.
2016 is an election year, an especially crucial time to be persistently faithful. Combined with the undercover videos released during the course of this past summer, the March for Life in 2016 promises to have significant impact.
A sign-up sheet will be posted on the narthex wall. As is always the case, young persons under the age of 18 must be aligned with a responsible adult.
New Members to be Received
On Sunday, December 20th, new members will be received into the fellowship of Leidy’s Church. If you or someone you know is interested in joining Leidy’s Church and has been through an Inquirer’s Class in the not too distant past, please contact the church office or Pastor Niederhaus. Because of the hectic holiday schedule, it’s better to contact sooner rather than later.
Congregational Dinner & Business Meeting
The second Saturday of 2016 is when the annual Leidy’s Church Congregational Dinner and Business Meeting takes place. That would make it the 9th of January, with the meal beginning at 6 p.m. Registration forms for the meal will be in the bulletins and on the narthex desk.
As is usually the case, a hearty meal will be prepared by our very capable Kitchen Committee. Please register for this event so the committee knows how much to thaw out in some cases, how much to cook in other cases, and how much to order in other cases.
Following the dinner, the annual business meeting takes place. Please note that if you are the Treasurer of an organization within the church, then your financial records should be included in the Annual Booklet which means you should have that information to the church office by December 30th if possible, and in no event no later than January 2nd.
At this meeting a budget will be adopted for 2016. Copies of the proposed budget will be posted on the narthex wall between Christmas and New Year’s. Also, the proposed revised Constitution – you should have received a copy in the mail – will be discussed and voted on. Perhaps we’ll be able to announce a firm date for this first service of worship in the new facility!
Child care is provided during the Business Meeting for children age 11 and under. Those older than 11 are expected to remain for the Business Meeting unless designated as part of the child care corps by the appropriate designating authority – i.e. Pastor Andrew.
This Newsletter column should be considered the official notification to all members of Leidy’s Church of the annual Business Meeting.
Bringing it Down
According to the Consistory Notes in this Newsletter, our anticipated mortgage when the new church is done is $1.621 million. We would like to bring that number down. That number represents what the mortgage would be if no more money comes in at all. But every dollar that is given to the Building Fund helps bring that number down.
During November and December we have the Doubling Your Dollars challenge in place. Matching funds are available up to $200,000. If that challenge is met, then one could subtract $400,000 from the anticipated mortgage, so that instead of 1.621 the number would be 1.221. That would be bringing it down significantly!
During the first four Sundays of November a total of $34,095 was given to the Building Fund. That’s an excellent start, but we have a long ways to go. Will we make it? We don’t know. You, however, are invited to join in the effort to bring that number down.
As this article is written there are 165,905 matching dollars available. Gifts of any amount will help us meet the matching challenge. We need $1 gifts and $20 gifts and $225 gifts and gifts that include five figures to the left of the decimal point! Each gift, regardless of size, will help bring that number down.
Want to Help – Here’s How!
At the turning of the year, Leidy’s Church always has opportunities for folk to help in all sorts of ways. Below is a list of some ways each of us should consider being part of the volunteer crew that makes ministry happen in our church. Read through them, see what suits your gifts and/or your fancy, and then take action!
- Committee Sign-up: Leidy’s Church has a number of Committees that do a ton of work. Membership is for one calendar year. Sign-up sheets will be on a table in the narthex near the Fellowship Hall entryway. Each sheet has a brief description of the work that Committee does. If you need more info, just check with the friendly ladies in the church office or one of the members of the pastoral staff.
- Sunday Coffee Preparation and Clean Up: This is a year-round sign-up, not just the end of the year. We’re always in need of folk to sign-up on a week by week basis to make coffee and then another crew to do the clean-up later on. Easy-to-follow instructions are provided. If you drink it, it would be a good idea to help make it!
v Meal Ministry: Volunteers provide meals at various times during the year for folk who have been in the hospital or have some other occasion to need some help with meals.
ü Prayer Chain: This ministry is self-descriptive. If you are already on the e-mail prayer chain you will continue to be on this ministry. If you would like to be added, contact the church via e-mail and you will be added to the list.
O Flower chart: Each Sunday the flowers in the sanctuary are sponsored by an individual or a family. Sometimes they are given in memory or in honor of someone, sometimes they’re given just for the glory of God. You can sign-up for the Sunday of your choice on the chart posted on the narthex wall – if you get there first!
Our thanks to all who give of time and talent and energy to these volunteer ministries.
Consistory Ordination & Installation
The last Sunday of the year is when Leidy’s Church ordinarily ordains and installs new Elders and Deacons. There are two persons who will be ordained and installed this year and both are named Dave.
Dave Reich was elected to a serve a three year term as Deacon. He has been meeting with the Consistory since the October meeting to become familiar with the issues and workings of that body. Dave Walbrandt was elected to serve a three year term as Elder. He has been serving on Consistory as a Deacon, but now he’ll serve on Spiritual Council as well. He’s been meeting with the Spiritual Council since October to gain familiarity with its issues and workings. Since each has been elected to a new office, both will be ordained and installed to those offices.
Also elected to Consistory terms at the same time as the two Daves, were Dana Gehman and Rich Kapusta. Already serving on Consistory for the past three years, neither Dana nor Rich will need to be installed to the offices they already occupy.
The one fellow who is going off Consistory this year is John DiLenge. He has served two consecutive three year terms on Consistory so must be off Consistory at least one year before serving another term. John’s cogent remarks, cheerful disposition, and willingness to serve will be missed.
Our thanks to God for raising up faithful men such as these to serve Him in the context of the Leidy’s Church Consistory and Spiritual Council.
Follow the Star: A Christmas Pageant
You don’t need to follow a star on December 20th. Just follow the crowds into the Fellowship Hall. That’s where the Kids Klub musical pageant will be presented.
Follow the Star is the name of the pageant to be presented. Kids Klub participants have been practicing like mad and are excited to have you come hear the story they plan to tell. Remember what it was like to memorize lines, practice singing songs, wondering if your friends and parents would see you, and getting all excited in the process? That’s what’s happening with our Kids Klub kids right now. You can make their day by coming out to see their pageant.
Most likely you’re familiar with the story line. It’s about wise men from the east who are seeking a king. They know he is to be born sometime soon – maybe he already is born – and they know he will be a special king. They intend to bring gifts to give Him.
The cast will be a familiar one: King Herod, scribes, angels, shepherds, Joseph and his family, and the wise men. It will be a new set of kids telling an old, old story. The story is still exciting and worth remembering, and the kids will be glad to see your supportive presence.
Oh, by the way, there should be some Christmas goodies to munch on afterwards. Also, cast members will hang around in the event you want to collect some autographs.
In 2015 the 7 p.m. Christmas Eve service will be a bit different from previous years. It will be a time to celebrate Jesus’ first coming as a Babe in a manger, as always. This year, however, Curt Lockman has assembled a troupe of singers and instrumentalists to tell the Christmas story through first century eyes.
The Promised One recounts God’s answer to man’s separation from Himself. It is by the coming of Immanuel – God with us. Though He’s wrapped in rags and sleeping in a cattle trough, the baby Jesus is the One in whom all the promises of God find their fulfillment.
Leidy’s Church is blessed with many persons possessing exceptional musical talents. A good proportion of them will be participants in this presentation. There will be congregational singing and candle lighting as well. The candle lighting, though, comes in the midst of the program, not at the end. A bit different.
There will be an offering, but all of it will go to aid Syrian Christian refugees in the middle east.
Childcare is not provided for this service, though the nursery will be open for parents who need to use it.
Ever Heard of a “Jesse Tree”?
by Jerri Thompson
When I volunteered in Children’s Ministry at a previous church, a guest speaker challenged us teachers to find and teach Jesus in every Bible story we taught. Taking this thought home with me led to changes in our family’s annual traditional Advent Jesse tree.
Many years during the Advent season, we have done a Jesse tree. Starting with Creation we build up Jesus’ family tree adding a symbol to the tree each day until we get to the Baby Jesus and all his visitors. (Directions for these are readily found in books or online.) Usually our trees have been poster board with construction and craft paper ornaments. (Reality disclaimer: as our family got busier and we were home less, some days we added no ornaments and other days we caught up with two or three.)
Back to the changes: First off, we stopped using an apple with a bite out of it for Adam and Eve. The focus in that image is on their sin. We changed it to a snake with a foot coming down on top of it. We added a drop or two of blood, and the kids readily made the connection with Jesus dying on the cross. This image from Genesis 3:15 put the focus at the very beginning of the Jesse tree on the promise of Jesus coming.
Then we changed our Joseph symbol to be more inclusive. Instead of just a coat of many colors we did a paper doll string—twelve figures for the twelve boys of Jacob. Boy #4 is yellow; he represents Judah in the ancestry of Jesus. Boy #11 has Joseph’s multi-colored coat. We need him to save Judah from the famine, or we won’t have Jesus down the line.
We changed the Moses symbol from the Ten Commandment tables to the Passover Lamb with bloody wool one year. Another year we used a doorway with blood on the frame of the door. In either case we emphasized the need for blood to save the Israelites since they failed to keep the Law.
We also extended the Jesse tree past Christmas Day. After we did the baby Jesus, the shepherds, and the wise men, we would end sometime around New Year’s Day with three hinged hearts—the black sin heart covered by the red heart of Jesus dying on the cross for us covered by the white heart when Jesus takes away our sins. We get to be represented on the Jesse tree because of Jesus grafting us in.
The Jesse tree has been a great tool for us to initially teach our children about Jesus, and later to keep them focused on Him during the Christmas season.
A Couple of Couples to Keep in Your Prayers
Leidy’s Church is blessed to be able to know and support a good number of missionary families. We also provide temporary housing from time to time for some of them. The two most recent families helped in that way are the DeFazios and the Walters. The DeFazios just left for the field, and the Walters will leave just prior to the end of the year.
About 7 o’clock on Thanksgiving evening the DeFazio family – David, Sonya, and their two young sons Caleb and Noah – set out from Souderton to head for JFK airport. Their flight out of the country took off at 12:40 am that night. They flew from JFK to Taiwan and from Taiwan to Thailand. They will spend a few days in Thailand before heading to the Philippines and their assignment for the next four years.
A couple of days after Christmas, Clay and Becky Walter along with their three young children will set out for Papua, New Guinea. For the past three years they’ve living in Nampa, Idaho, the headquarters of Mission Aviation Fellowship. Clay is an airplane mechanic, one of those guys who keep mission planes in the air. Like the DeFazios, the Walters family will have some long flights and then settle in at a new home far from home.
Each family will very much appreciate our prayers as they launch into new fields of ministry.
It was as early in the month as Consistory can be scheduled to meet, the 4th day of the month, when the Consistorymen of Leidy’s Church held their November meeting to address the business and concerns of the congregation. Below are some pertinent parts of that meeting:
- Devotional thoughts were shared by Stan Ott who quoted from 1 John 5:19 that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. After reading various definitions of evil, scripture verses were cited to show how Christians should deal with evil. Recognizing the existence of the devil and the reality of evil deeds done with evil purposes is a major key. While Christians are in the world, they are not of the world, hence do not lie in the power of the devil, but must resist him and all his devices. All were encouraged to be aware of evil forces at work, let others know about the same, and go forward knowing God is ruler over all things, even the devil.
- Received from the Spiritual Council suggested revisions for our Constitution. The entire document was reviewed, some additional revisions suggested, and then the entire revised document was approved to be sent to the congregation. The intention is to vote on the revised Constitution at the Congregational Business meeting in January.
- The most significant agenda item for the evening was the proposed budget for 2016. It was examined and discussed section by section. Because of the uncertainties of costs for maintaining the new facility next year, as well as those of the current church facility, some of the numbers are speculative. It is anticipated that our maintenance costs will increase by about 39% when including costs for both facilities. That number would decrease by any rental income received for our current facility. Most sections of the budget will have no increase in 2016, but the maintenance/property section will see a significant increase. The budget will be reviewed and adjusted again at the December meeting prior to be approved and sent to the congregation.
- Glen Tyson gave a quick overview of the Building Project. Franconia Township changed engineering firms a couple of months ago. Projects in process were able to maintain the same engineering firm or opt for the new one. The latter option was adopted by the Construction Committee. The sanctuary is a bit behind schedule according to the builder. It seems likely that the turning over of the keys to us will not happen until after the first of the year. Our current anticipated mortgage is $1.621 million if no other monies come in at all. Any monies given to the Building Fund will help reduce that number. Of course, change order requests could cause it to rise also.
- The times for services at the new church were resolved. After discussion it was determined that Sunday School will precede the service of worship, with Sunday School beginning at 8:45 and the church service to begin at 10 a.m.
- The Options Committee has met with various groups interested in renting our current facility. None is prepared/able to pay what we think the carrying costs could be. Various alternatives were discussed and some other options will be explored.
- The Worship Committee reported once we receive the keys to the new facility we will need to allow for about a month to practice with/troubleshoot the sound system before we conduct any formal service of worship. Other committees likewise opined that a period of time for transition will be required before the building is officially occupied.
Other reports and information were received and discussed, but at 10:34 the meeting was adjourned by a time of intercessory prayer followed by the Lord’s Prayer.
The Westminster Larger Catechism
The first 90 questions of the Westminster Larger Catechism teach what man ought to believe regarding God. We’re right in the middle of that section making it appropriate that this month’s questions deal with Christ and His humiliation and exaltation.
What Man Ought to Believe Concerning God
- 46: What was the estate of Christ’s humiliation?
Answer: The estate of Christ’s humiliation was that low condition, wherein he for our sakes, emptying himself of his glory, took upon him the form of a servant, in his conception and birth, life, death, and after his death, until his resurrection.
- 47: How did Christ humble himself in his conception and birth?
Answer: Christ humbled himself in his conception and birth, in that, being from all eternity the Son of God, in the bosom of the Father, he was pleased in the fullness of time to become the son of man, made of a woman of low estate, and to be born of her; with divers circumstances of more than ordinary abasement.
- 48: How did Christ humble himself in his life?
Answer: Christ humbled himself in his life, by subjecting himself to the law, which he perfectly fulfilled; and by conflicting with the indignities of the world, temptations of Satan, and infirmities in his flesh, whether common to the nature of man, or particularly accompanying that his low condition.
- 49: How did Christ humble himself in his death?
Answer: Christ humbled himself in his death, in that having been betrayed by Judas, forsaken by his disciples, scorned and rejected by the world, condemned by Pilate, and tormented by his persecutors, having also conflicted with the terrors of death, and the powers of darkness, felt and borne the weight of God’s wrath, he laid down his life an offering for sin, enduring the painful, shameful, and cursed death of the cross.
- 50: Wherein consisted Christ’s humiliation after his death?
Answer: Christ’s humiliation after his death consisted in his being buried, and continuing in the state of the dead, and under the power of death till the third day; which hath been otherwise expressed in these words, He descended into hell.
- 51: What was the estate of Christ’s exaltation?
Answer: The estate of Christ’s exaltation comprehends his resurrection, ascension, sitting at the right hand of the Father, and his coming again to judge the world.
- 52: How was Christ exalted in his resurrection?
Answer: Christ was exalted in his resurrection, in that, not having seen corruption in death, (of which it was not possible for him to be held,) and having the very same body in which he suffered, with the essential properties thereof, (but without mortality, and other common infirmities belonging to this life,) really united to his soul, he rose again from the dead the third day by his own power; whereby he declared himself to be the Son of God, to have satisfied divine justice, to have vanquished death, and him that had the power of it, and to be Lord of quick and dead; all of which he did as a public person, the head of his church, for their justification, quickening in grace, support against enemies, and to assure them of their resurrection from the dead at the last day.
Volunteer of the Year
In case you missed out on it, you might like to know who was awarded the coveted Volunteer of the Year award at the Celebratory Banquet in early November. Remember, this is a lifetime award. If you’re in your salad days, forget about it. It’s reserved for seasoned veterans.
At that dinner the chief overseer of the preparations for the dinner was the fellow who received the award. That would be Ron Moyer. A member of Leidy’s Church for almost four decades, Ron has been active in many, many efforts. He provided (and provides!) the major push for the Stormer Lake Mission Auction. He’s been on Consistory and served multiple terms as Consistory President. In fact, he was the Consistory President who got to burn the mortgage when we paid off the new addition back in the 90s.
If you see Ron, offer him a word of congratulations. Thank him for his years of faithful service and let him know we expect the same for a number of years to come!
6th Jean Saylor
13th Julia Kulp
20th Alice Kraus
27th Ken & Connie Merritt
6th Lorraine Shoemaker
13th Marge VanOmmeren
20th Fern Vasey
27th Pearl Walter
Greeters 8:00 10:45
6th Gary & Karen Brown Matt and Cathy Connor
13th Bob & Ruth Bugge Dennis & Bonnie Doran
20th Paul & Denise Carsley Dustin & Ashley Doran
27th Justin & Emma Coale Jesse & Jeanne Fletcher
8:00 Dana Gehman, Captain; Bob Bugge, Steve Bandura, Norm Weiss, Bob Peterman, Ron
10:45 Stan Ott, Captain; Bill Weigner, Jerry Kulp, Sherman Focht, Delton Plank, Jeff Schatz.
The A/V Booth technicians for December are Brian Radcliff and Collin Radcliff.
The Emergency Committee for December is Ed and Darlene Schmidt.