They Will Know We are Christians By Our Love!
We used to sing this song around the campfire on youth retreats when I was growing up in Arizona. As I pondered this newsletter article, I was amazed at how we are showing our love to each other and the world around us.
In June youth and leaders from First Presbyterian Church, along with volunteers from another church, traveled to Schuyler, Nebraska to host a Vacation Bible School for youth in the community. This has been going on for years and years, and the people of the community have come to know and trust us with their kids while we teach them about the Bible and faith in Jesus Christ. A few weeks ago, we had members on a medical mission to Jamaica where they provided much needed dental care for the people there.
Right now as I write this, our youth and adult leaders are on a mission trip to Wyoming where they are painting and sealing homes against the weather. Our group traveled to Wind River, Wyoming, working with tribal housing authorities to let the folks in Wind River know that they are loved and cared for.
These things are great, as we send people across the land to other cities, states and countries, but sometimes we forget about what happens right around us.
This has been a week of much needed pastoral visits. I have made more visits to homes and care facilities than any other week I can recall. At each and every visit I made, I heard about how other people in our congregation had visited, or were on their way to visit the same person I was visiting. I was amazed…In every case, in addition to pastoral care visits, each person who was recovering from illness, suffering illness, or preparing to grieve the loss of a loved one, were also receiving visits from friends and fellow church members!
I am so thankful for the members of this church who care so well for each other. I love seeing this, and I love hearing how the next visitor after me will be someone from the church. It affirms the message that we are trying to send to the world, far away and right at home, that people are loved and cared for. Thank you for allowing me to serve you and help you send that message into the world!
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness,, but will have the light of life.”
On Saturday, July 18, First Presbyterian Church had a retreat at Camp Calvin Crest, which is outside of Fremont, NE. The previous day was 95 degrees with a heat index of 112 degrees. We lucked out as the temperature was in the 80’s and a heat index in the upper 80’s as well. We had a wonderful drive out, and then we had a really good time as we had sessions that focused on discipleship, meditation and relaxation, and creativity.
The day started with registration and picking up the matching lime and blue Go Fish t-shirts. Go Fish was the theme of the retreat. We had donuts and coffee available and then the first session began with music, singing, and information for the day.
Next was lunch and then we had our first group of sessions. There were a total of three sessions that church members rotated through. We had a session where we were encouraged to write our faith statement. Much was discussed about the Bible, God, etc., and then people were on their own to write their faith statement or journal. One could even write a letter to God telling him what was going on that day and including problems.
We had a rest and relaxation time where the new pool was opened for swimming or just dunking a toe in the water. This was only the second day the swimming pool was used, and it was wonderful! We also had a hayrack ride through the Camp, dinner, and a Vesper Service which included a bonfire and s’mores. What a wonderful day to remember and everyone left with fellowship and fun. Check the Photo section on the home page for more pictures!
The date for the sixth annual church picnic was Sunday, July 12. Place was Elmwood Park Pavilion. Like the mailman, come rain, hail, sleet, or snow, the picnic was going to be held at the pavilion. However, who thought of 90 degree plus temperatures with a heat advisory from 1:00 pm until 8:00 pm and a heat index of 100 to 108 degrees? Not many expected this with the cool summer we have had.
So, we changed our plans and still had a wonderful picnic indoors in our church dining room. We still had the red and white checkered table cloth, all the drinks in coolers, and wonderful food. We had fried chicken, a variety of salads and vegetable offerings including delicious baked beans, and scrumptous desserts. The only thing lacking was going to the swimming pool or playing a game of softball/baseball. Everyone had a wonderful time, and were very thankful to be in the cool air-conditioned dining room. We will see what the seventh annual church picnic brings us next year!
To Be Like a Child!
As I write this article, our Vacation Bible School has just started. The children of the church and some very generous and helpful adults and older youth leaders are just beginning their “journey off the map”. When I stopped over this morning, I saw a roomful of children, youth and adults finding such incredible joy as they learned more about God’s love for us.
They watched intently at the opening drama as two children go off the map on a journey to find their father, who is an explorer. They danced and sang the songs that are part of the Vacation Bible School. They went to Bible Study to learn about God’s word. They made crafts to illustrate the lesson of the day. They played games and ate snacks, and they all had such a great time.
I think I miss being a kid! I miss Vacation Bible School. I miss being so excited in Sunday School that the teachers couldn’t calm us down.
Do you remember what it was like when everything was new and fun, and it was so easy to be who you are without worrying about what other people think? This week’s Vacation Bible School has sure reminded me of what Jesus said about the importance of receiving the king-dom of God like a child! I think as we get older, we decide we have to “act our age”, and that often involves serious, somber contemplation of the Scriptures and God.
I think we are getting it wrong. We need to have joy and laughter. We need to sing and dance. We need to celebrate and be filled with passion in our faith. I don’t know about you, but the God I know is a God of celebration, a God of joy, a God who sometimes is silly (God did make the duck billed platypus, didn’t he?)
I pray that each of us may find the joy in Christ that I heard this week ringing throughout our church. I pray each of us may receive the kingdom of heaven like a child!
FPC has deep roots in mission giving. One example of this is the Hand Up Food Pantry. Our Pantry is open every Thursday from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Our church provides the budget to get food from the Food Bank for the Heartland, which is our major supplier of USDA food. We also purchase other food at various outlets to supply well-rounded meals for our clients including turkey dinners for Thanksgiving and hams for Easter.
Congregation members are the volunteers that gather food, put it on shelves, and serve the clients in our church auditorium. We have the ability to serve over 100 clients each week, and we continue to grow. Just last week we served 183 people! Occasionally, we even have other Presbyterian churches in the
Would you like a First Presbyterian shirt? Following is a list of shirts available. T-Shirts (adult and youth sizes) – $12 for short-sleeved; $17 for long-sleeved; Hoodies – $20; Collared Polo Shirts – $18; V-Neck T-Shirts – $15. In most cases, shirts in shades of white, blue, and yellow can be ordered. Please talk with Phil Franco at (402) 345-5383, email@example.com, or in person on Sundays. They make a nice witnessing tool. Get one today!
Have you remembered to shop with Scrip? Help FPC earn additional money by purchasing Scrip either in Calvin Hall on Sundays or through the available website. You can add as much as 13% from the purchase of your Scrip to our church. One can purchase Scrip for many familiar stores and now we even have a grocery store. Stop by the table in Calvin Hall to see the list of stores available to you and make your purchases. Scrips ordered this Sunday will be ready for you next Sunday. Happy Shopping!