January, 2017

Pastor’s Column

            Denise Kulp is our Executive Office Boss, that is, she runs things in the office. She is efficient. She gets things done. She does so in a cheerful, expectant fashion. In other words, she’s got it under control, under the control of the Lord.
            A year ago I began bugging her about ordering the new hymnals for the new church. A decision had been made regarding the particular hymnal we wanted. The Committee thought a nice Slate Blue hymnal would fit our décor nicely.
            More than once a month it seemed I would ask Denise if she had ordered the hymnals. Each time she answered she had not. Her reasoning was quite sound: why would we want to store hundreds of hymnals in one building and then have to haul them over to the new building? It simply would not be efficient. Besides, the folk at the Lifeway office said they have thousands of those hymnals on hand at any given time, so Denise could order them on a Monday and have them arrive at our place by Friday!
            I agreed with all that, of course, but that didn’t prevent my anxious old carnal nature from asking her the same question a couple times a month. I didn’t plan to ask her about it each time, but like Aaron’s golden calf, poof, it just popped out! Each time I asked, she would patiently explain that, no, she had not ordered them yet, but assured me she would do so in due time.
            As you may remember, the date for our getting access to the new church kept getting pushed back. It wasn’t until June 23rd that we knew all the red tape had been addressed satisfactorily and we could begin worshiping in the new church the first Sunday of August.
            Soon after that, Denise made the call to Lifeway to order the hymnals. It was time for the new Slate Blue hymnals to be delivered directly to the new church and placed in the pew racks.
            Whoops! One problem: Lifeway did not have any Slate Blue hymnals in stock! It seems they had a big sale early in the summer, a sale featuring Slate Blue hymnals. It was so successful that the earliest they would have any available would be October. As you might imagine, this news was very exciting for Denise!
            What was she to do? What was she going to say when the Pastor asked her about ordering the hymnals? Fortunately, with all the other transition activity going on, I forgot to bring up the ordering of the hymnals. For some reason Denise didn’t bring it up with me either.
            Apparently she and the other ladies in the office got in quite a tizzy about the hymnal situation! But Denise, with their counsel, made an executive decision: Deep Garnet hymnals were in stock, so that’s the color she ordered. Deep Garnet hymnals were better than no hymnals.
            She and the other office personnel still had heightened apprehensions. Dave Doran texted her a picture of the just-arrived Deep Garnet hymnals placed on a pew. It seemed OK. Still, what if the Pastor was upset with the color selection? What if other folk involved didn’t like Deep Garnet? Various explosive scenarios could be imagined. And it was all on her.
            The week before our first services were held in the new sanctuary, I was over there getting familiar with things. I happened to notice the hymnals in the chancel area were in place, but they were a funny shade of Slate Blue! As I investigated further, the hymnals throughout the sanctuary were all that unexpected color.
            No, I didn’t rush out and demand explanations from Denise. But I did wonder what had happened. My presumption was that some interior design person had suggested we change the color of the hymnals. After all, they really looked nice and seemed to fit our color schemes perfectly. Better than Slate Blue would have been, to my way of thinking.
            Denise was quite relieved with my response. Then I found out why.
            This hymnal incident is a good example of God’s working among His people. The first verse of Psalm 4 says this: Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Be gracious to me and hear my prayer. The word relieved if translated more literally would read made room for. So the middle part of the verse would say, You have made room for me in my distress.
            I find great comfort in that knowledge. God is not compressed and held in the grips of any situation in which I find myself; in fact, he has made room for me in the midst of all such situations. True, I don’t know the manner in which that “room for” is going to find expression, but it will be sufficient and it will be good.
            Last year’s January Pastor’s Column was filled with speculation about the year ahead, a year that promised to be challenging and changing for our congregation. One of the big questions concerned what would happen with our old facility? We didn’t know. Some of the options we thought most likely to happen didn’t happen. They were out of stock, as it were!
            This January we know that our old facility is being used well. In fact, God used it to  make room for other ministries to go forward. God’s Treasure House – a discipleship ministry to women who have been incarcerated – has offices and teaching rooms there. Pastor Salim Wright is in my old office. He pastors the Household of Faith Deliverance Worship Center of Souderton, an African-American church plant holding services in our former sanctuary on Sunday mornings, Sunday afternoons, and on Tuesday evenings as well. What was our Fellowship Hall now provides space for the Thursday evening worship gatherings of God’s Quest Ministries.
            Love Cradle International utilizes office space in our old facility as does God’s House of Promise. Remember the upstairs choir room and adjacent spaces? Now you will find the office suite for the Bucks and Montgomery County Child Evangelism Fellowship located in that memorable space.
            We had some distress about our beloved 276 W. Cherry Lane facility; but God made room – for us and for others.
            We still have uncertainties before us. How much will it cost to heat our new facility this winter? What about electricity costs? We certainly have a bigger parking lot from which to remove snow! Our first sewage bill was a shocker. And we could go on and on.
            Just like Denise we can plan and purpose and do our best – and we should do that – but we need to leave room for God. We must look to Him. In Isaiah 22:11 the Lord reproaches the inhabitants of Jerusalem because they have made all sort of provisions for protection, but you did not depend on [or, look to/consider] Him who made it, Nor did you take into consideration Him who planned it long ago.
            As we head into 2017, we may be planning (rightly) on Slate Blue, but we will be quite satisfied if He determines Deep Garnet would be better.
                                                                                                In the Joy of the Lord,
                                                                                                John HC Niederhaus

January Pulpit Schedule

1st – Best Wishes for a New Year – Isaiah 1:18-20; Matthew 2:1-12; Acts 26:24-29
            Paul has nothing but best wishes for King Agrippa and gathered dignitaries who listen to his defense for his life. Some of those present have not the slightest clue about the things he says. Governor Festus interrupts Paul to exclaim that Paul must be mad, a maniac confused by his great learning. Paul insists that he is not delusional or maniacal, but that he is speaking words of sober truth. His response to their various assessments of his witness is instructive for us. We need to have that same attitude in us that was in Paul. He got it right regarding time and goal.
8th – Live for God? Die to Sin! – Psalm 73; Romans 8:1-17; Colossians 3:1-11
            Though God has called Christians to live for Him, oftentimes believers think of holiness as an unattainable goal! Holiness, we think, is only possible for those who have died and gone to be with God in heaven. As a result, Christians can mentally check out of God’s process of making us His holy people and end up drifting into a type of carnal complacency. Christians can become disillusioned about God’s promises to transform them to experience victory in Christ.  As Paul teaches, this detrimental drift can be avoided by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.
15th – Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda – 1 Samuel 15:20-23; 2 Timothy 2:20-26; Acts 26:30-32
            All of us have wished we could have a second chance on some of the decisions we’ve made in the course of our lives. We simply were not aware of the gravity of some decisions, or the down-the-road fruit of others. How about a do-over! One wonders if that sort of thinking comes to Paul. After he finishes his testimony to the gathered dignitaries, we hear King Agrippa assert that if not for his appeal to Caesar, Paul could be let go entirely. Meanwhile, in our OT text, King Saul engages in some escapist thought. God brings him back to reality.
22nd – Why? – Genesis 8 s.v.; Luke 1:1-4; Acts 27:1-12
            Today we begin the last great action of Paul in the book of Acts: his trip by ship to Rome. Unfortunately, our text is a very mundane text. If you’re looking for great theological truths or glimpses of godly insight, this is not a very fertile text. Mostly it is just details about the trip. We learn the name of the centurion who has charge of Paul. We trace the stops the ship makes around the Mediterranean’s northeastern rim. We also hear Paul giving his opinion about the prospects of the trip: not favorable. Why? Why waste space in the Bible on such mundane facts?
29th – The Catch of Your Life – Luke 5:1-11; Jonah 2; 1 Peter 5:5-7
            Heard any good fishing tales lately? You know the kind where your buddy has his arms widely extended and is like, “It was so massively big!” But nobody likes to talk about the small catch or the trip where you spent all day in the boat but caught absolutely nothing! Well today’s sermon is an epic fishing tale, one where Jesus uses the ocean to challenge both the pride and profession of Simon Peter and other fishermen by giving them the catch of their lives. It is to be hoped that Jesus’ call to go fish will also catch some of us – hook, line and sinker!

From the Youth Pastor

            Isn’t it fascinating observing an infant working at taking his first step? It’s as though an unwritten rule exists, one declaring that everything in that little child’s body is to be fixated on doing everything it can possibly do to work towards accomplishing the goal of walking. It’s evident that by God’s design the body prepares to play to the program of putting one foot in front of the other. Granted, it’s often a stumbling, wobbly affair, but it’s a mesmerizing sight nonetheless. Once a child has his “leg license,” there’s no more crawling or rolling around. I’m a big kid so my primary mode of locomotion is to simply walk on. This walking upright is a massive change and personal accomplishment, one that we as adults mostly take for granted.
            Fast forward from those first steps to our present moment. Each of us must choose to take our next steps. Sometimes it seems as though life is now as it was back then, but in a different way. Although the challenges are different, we still have to muster up all that we have to take the next step. Life has a way of rendering us idle at times, where states of inner paralysis seep in and we can’t seem to move on from an experience, a grief or a change that has taken place. The self-propelling energy of our infancy is long gone and it’s hard to take the next step forward. Perhaps, the hesitancy is tied to misplaced steps that caused us to trip or fall, but the past shouldn’t stop us from moving forward. No matter where we have trod in the past, we still have a new opportunity to take the next best or right step forward that sets us in whole new direction. In all of this we still need to know what the right way forward is and how to walk in it. This is where the book of Colossians provides helpful exhortations to watch our steps by walking wisely.
               WALK WORTHILY FOR JESUS: First, Paul encourages us to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” (Col. 1:10). This is a helpful guide for our own steps. Are the choices, attitudes, and actions we are about to embark upon steps that … please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God [Col. 1:10]. It should be our purpose and our pleasure to walk in such a way that it pleases the Lord. Paul prays earlier [verse 9] that the believers will be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that they would walk worthily.
            WALK IN JESUS: Second, Paul wants believers to be people who are strong, stable disciples in the faith, who having received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him (Col. 2:6). It seems that many forces would like to set us on a different trajectory or direction, but if we are believers in Jesus let us walk in Him and the way He walked.
            WALK WISELY LIKE JESUS: Third, Paul says, Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity (Col. 4:5 NIV). Our conduct (steps) should not only be for God’s pleasure or our benefit, they should also be for the sake of those who lack wisdom. Jim Rayburn once said, Christian fella, you have a great responsibility toward the ones who are outside God’s family, walk in wisdom toward them – behave wisely . . . remember they are in the dark – their understanding is nil – their sense are dulled – they cannot receive things from the Spirit if God. To behave wisely toward them will involve being understanding and friendly, avoiding ugliness or criticism – always being gentle and tactful. Jesus sought and seized opportunities to walk and have good rapport with people who lacked wisdom. So should we.
            So there you have some brief ways that we can wisely watch our first steps in 2017. May you take the next best step and walk on.
In Christ,
Pastor Andrew Edmonds

 The End of an Era

            The end of 2016 also marks the end of 16 and a half years of ministry as Director of Children’s Education at Leidy’s Church for Sherise Rittenhouse. She began her ministry among us in the summer of 2000, while she and Scott still lived up on the Ridge.
            Known as Miss Sherise to the kids, she has been a familiar face and faithful leader/teacher to hundreds of kids. During this time Sherise has written reams of curriculum, taken thousands of photos, made videos for Prayer Card Day, developed crafts and games and  biblical-era sets for VBS, overseen the launch of thousands of balloons at the top of the cemetery hill, and the list could go on and on and on.
            That’s just the visible part. She also prayed, packed, and persevered. Sherise not only organized Prayer Card Sunday, she has been a faithful intercessor for our young folk. She worked hard at organizing and putting in boxes all the material for the Stormer Lake Mission Trip each year. Also, if necessary, she would work late into the night or early in the mornings. She did pray, pack, and persevere.
            We give thanks to God for the years of faithful and fruitful ministry that Sherise has had among us. Thank you, Sherise.

A Trip that May be of Interest

             For those who may be interested, Pastor Niederhaus is planning to lead a tour to Israel in February of 2018. It will be a 10 day tour of sites in Israel, with a three day extension to visit biblical sites in Jordan as well as the extraordinarily beautiful and important city of Petra.
            The tour is scheduled to leave on Monday, the 12th of February 2018, on a non-stop flight to Israel. Three days will be spent touring sites in Galilee, including Capernaum, Caesarea Philippi, Mount of the Beatitudes, and other well-known and not-so-well-known sites. Four days will be based in Jerusalem and all that’s to be seen there, but a day will be spent visiting Qumran, Ein Gedi, Masada, and the Dead Sea. It will be good.
            Cost of the trip is $3,298 per person with double occupancy. If you want to have a single room to yourself it will cost an extra $500. The extension to Jordan/Petra is $798. Included in the price is airfare, breakfast and dinner each day, all entry fees, hotel accommodations, etc.
            An information meeting will be held sometime in February for those seriously considering making the trip. For those interested in finding out more details, information sheets are available from the church office, or, talk with Pastor Niederhaus.

Be Present for the First One

            Lots and lots of events have taken place in our new Fellowship Hall since we began using our new facility on August 7, 2016. We’ve had a Rally Day breakfast, a Senior Saints Luncheon, an FCA tailgate banquet, several family gatherings, a Happy Birthday Jesus part complete with a Grace Notes kids cantata, and a concert presented by the Southeastern PA Symphony Orchestra among other things. What we’ve not had, however, is an all-church dinner/meal! That’s about to change.
            On Saturday evening, January 14th, the first-ever Leidy’s Church Congregational Dinner & Business Meeting to be held in the new Fellowship Hall will take place. Over the past several months the Kitchen Committee has been learning the ropes in the new kitchen. They think they have a pretty good handle on things. Even the dishwasher is up and functioning.
            The menu for the evening is yet to be determined. If you have menu suggestions, just funnel them through Francis Weiss as he has lots of pull with the Kitchen Committee! Whatever menu is chosen, it will be a hearty and satisfying and a delight to the taste buds.
            That’s the dinner part of the evening. As far as the Business Meeting goes, there will be a full run-through of our 2016 expenditures and the presentation of a proposed budget for 2017. If all goes as planned, there also will be a complete review of the building project now that it’s essentially done. All that should be plenty of business for the evening!
            Remember, you should fill out a registration form for this event. The Kitchen Committee needs to know what size crowd they need to prepare for. Registration forms will be in the bulletins or available from the church office. If you regularly attend Leidy’s Church, but are not a member, you’re quite welcome to attend and be part of evening, though you will not have voice or vote in the business matters.
            Child care will be provided for the business part of the evening for children under the age of 12.

Kids Learning About God

            Wouldn’t it be great if your children could learn about Missions and Obedience and The Truth of Scripture and Unconditional Love and The Sovereignty of God in a memorable way? Yes, it would be – and it can happen this winter through their participation in a musical production as part of our children’s music ministry. Here are the details.
            All the above desired truths are found in the story of Jonah, the reluctant prophet. The truths Jonah learned in his day are just as applicable to us in our day. Certainly such was the case back in 1997(!) when Jonah’s story was first done in musical form at Leidy’s Church.
            The revival of the hit musical Go, Go, Jonah! is set for April 8 & 9, 2017. Students in grades K-6 are invited to come out for the Kick-off on Wednesday, January 4th. It takes place from 5 to 6 pm in the Fellowship Hall. Parents are welcome to stay and hear about our new rehearsal schedule while enjoying some snacks and games.
            Our children’s musical program has proven to be a way to teach biblical principles to our children, while also instilling in them the confidence and courage to stand and speak and sing in front of people. Come on out and see how your children can benefit from this great ministry.

Doubling Your Dollars

            Things are looking pretty good on the Doubling Your Dollars front. By mid-December some $136,409 had been given to the Building Fund since the first Sunday of November. Our matching challenge for 2016 is $150,000. We have every expectation of meeting the full challenge by the end of December. Hallelujah!
            The Doubling Your Dollars contributions will make a big dent in our mortgage principal. But we also want to add significantly to that from our remaining assets. At its December meeting, however, Consistory decided to wait until January before making the decision of how large of a payment to make from those remaining assets. There still are some outstanding charges to be received, and our escrow funds with the Township are not yet available to us. Consequently, the decision was made to wait until the haze has cleared away a bit before settling on that number.
            Regardless, the goal still remains to reduce our mortgage as much as possible, hopefully bringing it below the $1 million mark. It is known that funds will need to be used to correct the sound situations in the Fellowship Hall and in the sanctuary.
            We give thanks to God for raising up faithful folk to challenge us, and for faithful folk to rise to the challenge. Gifts from one to five figures have been received and each one helps meet the challenge. Each one also helps knock down the principal on our mortgage.

iBlast Second Stage Engaging!

            If you haven’t heard, iBlast is awesome! Kids from our church and even some newcomers have been growing deeper in their faith, learning powerful Bible verses, and singing exciting songs grounded in Scripture.
            The fall semester of iBlast is over, but iBlast (like a mighty rocket ship) has a second stage. Another thrilling semester will begin on January 18th!
            Who might want to be along for this ride? Well, if you’re an adult of any age, don’t sit on the fence. If you’ve been thinking about serving at iBlast: Get involved! There is a place of service for you.
            If you’re a kid who’s not sure what this is all about, now is a great time to get involved. God has good things in store for this winter and spring. It’d be great to have you join with us.
            iBlast at Leidy’s Church is for children age 5 through 6th grade. It happens on Wednesday nights from 6 to 7:30.
             Here is what’s coming up this winter and spring:
  • January 18 Tropical Paradise Night
  • January 25 Fear Factor Night
  • February 1 Bring a Friend Night
  • February 8 Team Pride Night
  • February 15 Back to the Future Night
  • February 22 Superhero Night
  • March 1 Top Secret Mission Night
  • March 8 Family Night (iBlast Store!)
            If you haven’t signed up yet you can sign up at www.leidyschurch.org/children/iblast/ or speak with Pastor Andrew. Second Stage Blast off happens soon!

A Timely and Important Conference

               It seems as though the world has gone insane. As an old bumper sticker used to prophesy:
God’s Law or Chaos
The world seems to have chosen chaos over God’s Law. Chaos is often depicted in the Bible, even though that particular term may not be used. Its most apt definition is stated in the last verse of the book of Judges: In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
               BMCE is sponsoring a Conference by Harvest USA the last weekend of March to help folk navigate through our cultural morass. It is a Friday evening, Saturday morning conference titled Finding Sexual Sanity in a Sex-Crazed Culture. It will be held at Leidy’s Church, so plan to participate and encourage those in your sphere of influence to consider attending too.
               More information will be forthcoming, but now it’s on your radar, so set aside the evening of March 24th and the morning of March 25th for this timely and important conference.

Transition Committee

            Here’s the question of the hour: if Sherise resigned, who’s going to do all the work she did? Now that’s a good question! Here’s the answer.
            For the time being a Transition Committee has been formed to make sure all the bases are covered as best they can. Justine Smith is heading up that Committee which also includes Bekah Kulp, Mary Beth Musselman, and Matt Harris. They may conscript a couple of more folk along the way. Be ready!
            While there is no immediate successor to Sherise’s position, the Spiritual Council has a sub-committee evaluating where we are and what the new job description should look like. If possible, the intention is to have someone hired to fill that position before the middle of the year. We’ll see. Your prayers are solicited.

Transitions Continue – New Adult Class

            For the past couple of years the Joy & Glory has been taught by Jeremiah Rizzo. Such will be the case only through the first couple of weeks in January. After that, the class ends. Needless to say, Jeremiah’s teaching has been a benefit to many and we will miss him in that role.
            A new class will be starting – we’re not certain that it has a name yet – and will be led by Andrew Rosenbaum. He has been much involved with youth and young adult ministry, but this will be his first stint with an all-adult focus.
            With a lively interest in apologetics – that is, explaining the Christian faith to others while seeking to answer their questions about it – Andrew is beginning with a six week series featuring an apologetic classic: The Case for Christ. Based on the well known book of that title by Lee Strobel, each class will have a brief video segment. The bulk of the class time will involve teaching and discussion.
            Andrew invites you to consider becoming part of this new class. It will meet in the same room where the Joy & Glory class met, namely the room on the Christian Ed level that’s directly below the Conference Room.

Women’s Ministr

Ladies of Leidy’s
            The January meeting takes place on Tuesday, January 3rd at 7:00 p.m. in the Conference Room. During the business portion of the meeting, plans will be discussed for the coming year as we welcome Deb Schatz as President for 2017.
            The featured program for January will be Joke Nite, a tradition started many years ago to start the coming year off with a shared laugh. All ladies are welcome to attend.

Waste a Day for Jesus

            The March for Life is the largest single event speaking to the conscience of our nation’s lawmakers and populace. Hundreds of thousands of folk converge on Washington, D.C. on that day to call our nation back to its senses. Friday, January 27th is the date for the 2017 March for Life.
            As usual, Leidy’s Church will have a tour coach taking folk down. Cost this year is $12 per person – a real bargain, thanks to the helpful contribution of the Church and Community Committee. A sign-up sheet is posted on the narthex wall.
            Our Perkiomen coach is scheduled to pull out of the parking lot at 6 am, so participants should be here by 5:45 or so. There will be time to sleep on the ride down! Also, a stop will be made for breakfast.
            There is no extra charge this year for Metro-Rail fare. We will be parking at Union Station. Inside are plenty of eateries (though not the cheapest in the world!) and it’s only a few blocks from the Washington mall and all the museums as well as the March for Life Rally site.
            In some ways, this day can seem like a big waste of time. What do you accomplish? Nothing and Everything. It’s not like cleaning a dirty table. Rather it is raising an aroma of truth and justice to the world and to our God who loves and desires truth and justice.
            So what happens? Well, despite a Supreme Court ruling in 1973 that made abortion legal, people are still aware that while it may be legal it still is not moral. That’s something worth wasting a day to proclaim. Join us.

 Right to Life Prayer Summit

            Saturday, January 14th, a Prayer Summit will be held at Living Hope Community Church in Dublin. The Prayer Summit is in conjunction with National Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, which is on the 15th.  It will begin at 9:30 am and be over by 11:15 am. Coffee and donuts will be available at 9 am.
            Sponsored by Crossroads Pregnancy Care Center in Quakertown, prayer segments will focus on three subjects: 1) clients and staff of the many pregnancy care centers such as Crossroads across the nation; 2)  prayers for our nation and this matter of the life of the unborn; and 3) prayers for the unborn.
            Pastors Ryan Weberg of Valley View Bible Church, Tim Buczek, of Hilltown Baptist Church, and Mike Haub of Crossroads Community Church will introduce and lead particular prayer segments.

Within the Fellowship

            Our sincere Christian sympathy to Sandy Nase and family at the death of her mother, Laura Wolf.  May God be with them at this time.
            Congratulations to Alex and Meghan (McFarland) Wilwert, who were united in Christian marriage. May God be with them as they begin their life together in Him.
            On Sunday, December 4th we welcomed new members. They are Shaun & Meghann Permar, Thelma Spitzkopf, and Kendall Musselman. Be sure to get to know these new members and make them feel a part of the Leidy’s Church family.

From the Worship Pastor

            Realm. You may have noticed this new, rather uniquely named, weekly event popping up everywhere at Leidy’s Church. So, what is it? A new designer label? A Sunday School class? A youth event?
            Actually, it’s none of those things. Rather it is a new weekly time of worshipping through song, listening to God’s Word, and seeking the Lord in prayer in a relaxed and passionate atmosphere. How can something be relaxed and passionate at the same time? Well, we will be relaxed in terms of dress, teaching style, and musical form, but passionate in our seeking of the Lord our God, and in our relentless pursuit of knowing Him better.
            What should you expect at this new event? We will be spending 30 to 40 minutes singing praises to God and worshipping Him through modern worship songs. Examples of the type of song we will be singing would be: Jesus by Chris Tomlin, Build Your Kingdom Here by Rend Collective, and Holy Spirit by Francesca Battistelli.
            After we sing we are going to study God’s Word, all the while seeking the Lord in prayer. This leaves two key questions, why call it Realm and why have this sort of thing at all? The answer to the second question is more important so we’ll start there.
            We were created to worship. Worship is in our blood. Man will worship just about anything (seriously, just think of some of the silly obsessions of our culture). Everyone worships. But, as those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, we know there is only one right and true object of worship, that is, the true and living God.
            One of the most powerful expressions of worship is singing. Revelation 5:11-14 describes the scene in heaven this way: Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.
            I would suggest the closest we get to heaven on earth is when we are singing, praying, and responding to God’s Word in His presence with other believers. Hence, the name Realm, as in God’s reign over both heaven and earth.
            Our tagline is: Let our worship be on earth, as it is in heaven. There is constant worship around the throne of God and when we praise the Lord we join in the mighty chorus, even if only in a mirror dimly. One day we will worship Christ on the throne, experiencing the fullness of glory. This is why I believe Realm is so significant. What a blessing it will be to me (I have the blessing since I’m part of the team) to be able to devote a night of my week just to worshipping God. This is not a replacement for the worship of the church body on Sunday. Rather it is a shot of adrenaline to encourage us to slow down and worship God throughout our whole week. (How’s that for a mixed metapor!)
            Come, join us in worshipping our Savior, giving praise to His name, and experiencing His goodness to us. All this is in anticipation of the day when we will praise Him not just with the church in Souderton, in the United States, or in the 21st century. We will be with all those redeemed by the blood of Christ from Moses and the Saints of Old to our children’s children. Sing for joy in the LORD, O you righteous ones; Praise is becoming to the upright.
                                                                                                Faithfully in Christ,
                                                                                                Christopher Tawney

Hope Collection

by Jerri Thompson
            I collect hope. For example, I make my bed every morning. My children believe I am a neat freak, which is partially true. However, I also make my bed so I can set the lamb and the little pillow in place on top of the coverlet. The lamb reminds me that Jesus is my shepherd and the pillow that He loves me. It has a line from a children’s book stitched on it: “I love you to the moon and back.” And I mentally add, “God’s love is even larger.” The lamb and pillow set my hope in order every morning.
            I need these reminders because I tend to forget. I remember all too well my college years when I didn’t know Jesus and did things I blush/cringe to think of. I remember, more frustratingly so, the sins I have committed (and even continue to commit) since becoming Jesus’ follower. Old habits from college died hard, and new sins showed up. Oh, how I need the hope of Jesus to save me from my sins. [See the Christmas story in Matthew 1, esp. v. 21]
            This hope is a sure thing, an anchor for the soul, but sometimes I need extra reminding. Last spring after a family argument, I was pounding the pavement on the Harleysville walking path. I came across a scrawl in the asphalt, “Hope.” It included a period after it. It seemed like a message sent straight from God, with the period for emphasis. I laughed. I walked home and resolved the argument as much as I could.
            I noticed over the summer how “Hope.” stayed on that small side trail. It was either some fantastic sidewalk chalk or maybe spray paint.
            In November right after Thanksgiving, we had had a hard rainstorm that cleared the loose limbs out of our trees. I was walking again and came to that side trail. There’s a pond above this trail and water drains over the path in rivulets after rain. It was very wet. I went searching for “Hope.” I walked three-quarters of the way down, thought sure I had passed the spot, walked the three-quarters way back, checking again. I did not see it. “Does that mean that hope is gone, Lord?” I lamented. I wonder if He grinned. Continuing my walk, I retraced the three-quarters. Then, a little further, there it was (maybe at the seven-eighths mark). Wet, but still there. “Hope.” I think God laughed at my thumbs up to Him.
            Hope is always present. With my melancholy personality, I often have to remind myself of it, and I sometimes have to hunt for it. Occasionally, I ask God to show me again. He is as patient with me as He was with Gideon in the Bible. However, hope is always there even when days have been dark. My word for 2017 is “Hope.”

Special Treat & Enticement

            There is a culinary cult that delights in the products of The Three Fat Guys cooking company. Of course, it’s not just three guys, rather a conglomerate of guys – and some of them are not that fat! But they are excellent cooks.
            Why mention all that? Because they have committed to baking a considerable number of cinnamon buns for our consumption. Served warm and freshly baked, the buns are pretty much irresistible.
            Here’s the kicker, though. The buns will be served before Sunday School on January 29th. Around 8:15, or maybe earlier if you’d like, you will be able to come to the Fellowship Hall and enjoy some coffee, fellowship, and a tasty cinnamon bun or two.
            In addition to coffee, The Three Fat Guys will insure that hot chocolate and tea are available. There is no cost for the cinnamon buns, but donations will be gladly accepted.

Consistory Notes

            Still awash with the cordial feelings generated by the Consistory Christmas party the previous Saturday evening, the men of Consistory met on Dec. 7th to do their duty. Below is a summary of highlights of the evening.
  • Dana Gehman led devotions on the topic of forgiveness. Commenting that this is an area we each need to experience in terms of granting and receiving, he used several passages from the gospels to demonstrate his point. The perfect example of forgiveness being granted is Jesus unjustly nailed to the cross asking God to forgive his persecutors. For us, Dana pointed to Eph. 1:7 and our forgiveness being grounded in the blood of Christ.
  • Consistory officers were elected for 2017. They are: Dave Reich, President; Dave Walbrandt, Vice President; and Stan Ott, Secretary.
  • Assignments were accepted for Usher Captains and Communion preparations.
  • The budget for 2017 was finalized for presentation to the congregation in January. It was acknowledged that utility costs for the new building are speculative, but the hope is that we’re in the ball park. Overall, the budget is increased by 7.64% from the year before. It reflects 2% raises for staff. It will be offset somewhat by anticipated rental income from the 276 building.
  • Glen Tyson gave an update on the Building Project. The remaining punch list has about five items on it, some of which will not be able to be addressed until the spring. Dave Doran is keeping track of issues that arise as we go through the normal course of activities, weather conditions, and special occasions.
  • A Facility Usage Policy needs to be composed. Stan Ott will head up a committee to work on that. It is hoped something will be in place before summer.
  • In light of Sherise Rittenhouse’s resignation, a Transition Committee is in place to provide direction and coordination for all the tasks Sherise carried out. The Credentialing sub-group from Spiritual Council will be working on a new job description for the position Sherise held. Appreciation was expressed for Sherise’s faithful, diligent, and fruitful ministry over many years.
  • Steps continue to be taken to address sound system issues in the Fellowship Hall and the sanctuary. Spinnaker Multi-Media Solutions has been authorized to undertake a study and make recommendations for ways to make those spaces more hearer friendly.
  • During the discussion of sundry business items, the Consistorymen enjoyed consuming multiple pizzas containing a variety of toppings, and washed down with assorted soft drinks. This was done in recognition and celebration of the past six years of service of Scott Rittenhouse and Glen Tyson, who were ending their terms of service.
  • Property Committee has installed two benches at the front entrance. It is hoped that two additional longer ones will be purchased and installed outside the doors. The Committee is deciding how to handle the large pile of unused mulch.
  • The stoves and ovens in the kitchen were discussed. Being institutional grade, they are more complex to operate and can present particular dangers. Solutions to resolve these difficulties were discussed, but nothing definitive decided. Perhaps a more user-friendly stove can be swapped in for one of the others.
  • Various other reports were received and considered as well, with the meeting ending at 10:17 pm with a time of directed intercessory prayer and the unison praying of the Lord’s Prayer.

Westminster Larger Catechism

            As the Westminster Catechism addresses the Ten Commandments, we find the 4th Commandment receives a very full explanation. It’s the last of the Commandments detailing our responsibilities to God; the next six will deal with our relationship with other people.
What the Scriptures Principally Require as the Duty of Man
            Question 115: Which is the fourth commandment?
            Answer: The fourth commandment is, Remember the sabbath-day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God: in it you shall not do any work, you nor your son nor your daughter, your man-servant nor your maid-servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested in the seventh day, wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath-day and hallowed it.
            Question 116: What is required in the fourth commandment?
            Answer: The fourth commandment requires of all men the sanctifying or keeping holy to God such set times as he has appointed in his word, expressly one whole day in seven; which was the seventh from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, and the first day of the week ever since, and so to continue to the end of the world; which is the Christian sabbath, and in the New Testament called The Lord’s Day.
            Question 117: How is the sabbath or the Lord’s day to be sanctified?
            Answer:  The sabbath or Lord’s day is to be sanctified by an holy resting all the day, not only from such works as are at all times sinful, but even from such worldly employments and recreations as are on other days lawful; and making it our delight to spend the whole time (except so much of it as to be taken up in works of necessity and mercy) in the public and private exercise of God’s worship; and, to that end, we are to prepare our hearts, and with such foresight, diligence, and moderation, to dispose and seasonably dispatch our worldly business, that we may be the more free and fit for the duties of that day.
            Question 118: Why is the charge of keeping the sabbath more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors?
            Answer: The charge of keeping the sabbath is more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors, because they are bound not only to keep it themselves, but to see that it be observed by all those that are under their charge; and because they are prone ofttimes to hinder them by employments of their own.
            Question 119: What are the sins forbidden in the fourth commandment?
            Answer: The sins forbidden in the fourth commandment are, all omissions of the duties required, all careless, negligent, and unprofitable performing of them, and being weary of them; all profaning the day by idleness, and doing that which is in itself sinful; and by all needless works, words, and thoughts, about our worldly employments and recreations.
            Question 120: What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment, the more to enforce it?
            Answer: The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment, the more to enforce it, are taken from the equity of it, God allowing us six days of seven for our own affairs, and reserving but one for himself in these words, Six days shall you labor, and do all your work; from God’s challenging a special propriety in that day, The seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord your God; from the example of God, who in six days made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; and from that blessing which God put upon that day, not only in sanctifying it to be a day for his service, but in ordaining it to be a means of blessing to us in our sanctifying it; Wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath-day and hallowed it.
            Question 121: Why is the word Remember set in the beginning of the fourth commandment?
            Answer: The word Remember is set in the beginning of the fourth commandment, partly, because of the great benefit of remembering it, we being thereby helped in our preparation to keep it, and, in keeping it, better to keep all the rest of the commandments, and to continue a thankful remembrance of the two great benefits of creation and redemption, which contain a short abridgment of religion; and partly, because we are very ready to forget it, for that there is less light of nature for it, and yet it restrains our natural liberty in things at other times lawful; that it comes but once in seven days, and many worldly businesses come between, and too often take off our minds from thinking of it, either to prepare for it, or to sanctify it; and that Satan with his instruments labors much to blot out the glory, and even the memory of it, to bring in all irreligion and impiety.

January Ministries

Lay Visitors:
1st        Diane Gehman
8th       Jean Frederick
15th     Tom & Judy Leidy
22nd     Beth Guntz
29th     Debbie Caserta
Tape Ministry:
1st        Deb Schatz
8th       Lorraine Shoemaker
15th     Jerri Thompson
22nd     Marge VanOmmeren
29th     Fern Vasey
1st        Les & Bonnie Pross
8th       Ede Rupp & Pearl Walter
15th     Rob & Lois Ruth
22nd     Jeff & Debbie Schatz
29th     Ed & Darlene Schmidt
Usher Captains: Greg Nase & Ed Schmidt
Ushers: John Leidy, Ben Smith, Tim Leidy, Jim Kinney, Phil Shafer, Shaun Permar, Dave Freed, John Caserta, Derek Freed, Jimmy Mylin.
The Emergency Committee for January is Joe Sciacca.