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Holding Our Swords out of the Water

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, January 8, 2017

Holding our Swords out of the Water. The sermon title this week is a reference to this: When the “Frankish warriors came to be baptized in the water of the Rhine or the Rhone, they were always careful to hold their swords above their heads, out of the waters of baptism, not to save them from rust, but to keep them from Jesus.” They still wanted to be able to kill at will—and maintain their integrity. In a book study once, after reading this line, my friend, Judy, said, “…and I know what swords I hold out of the water.” And to the degree that we hold parts of ourselves out of the waters of baptism, we resist our truest identity as human beings.

Welcome Nancy Greidanus

 
Tuesday, January 3, 2017

We joyfully announce that Nancy Greidanus is our new Minister for Children and Families. (She replaces Rev. Sarah Juist, who has completed her interim position and now has accepted a call to the Hanover Ohio Presbyterian Church.) Nancy has served as Assistant Professor of Education at Calvin College as well as in several positions in teaching and youth ministry. We will welcome her in worship on January 8—please join us that day. Click the links below for more information re Nancy. We are thrilled to have Nancy joining us!

Letter from Rev. Chandler Stokes | Nancy Greidanus Brochure

Lifted Up in the New Year

Rev. David Baak

Sermon    
Sunday, January 1, 2017

The First Sunday after Christmas Day is not simply the “new year” — we have already begun this new year with the anticipation of Advent several weeks ago— and Christmas has now come! So, we can have the courage and the strength for us to live into the difficulties of our lives. We are given the faith to bring the Light of God’s love into the lives of children and families who suffer all over the world. We can bring the message of peace and God’s presence into the days and weeks of the calendar before us. God has, as Isaiah said, “lifted us up and carried us [all of our days]” We have been here before so we know we can have hope for the future.


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A New Name

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christ was born in Bethlehem. That’s what we celebrate on Christmas Day. And, although no one knows exactly where that manger was, it was somewhere. Jesus was born somewhere in this world—this world that we live in too, not some other make believe place. This world. And that makes all the difference.


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The Grace of God Here

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Saturday, December 24, 2016

The lectionary offers us the unusual text Titus 2:11-14 as the sermon focus for Christmas Eve at 8pm and 11pm. It is the declaration that God came to us in Christ to make a difference in our lives, to redeem us, transform us, and make it possible for us to indeed “be good” to “do good”—as much a miracle as Christ’s Advent in Bethlehem! Join us on Christmas Eve, as we sing, celebrate, and retell the Story of Christmas.


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Share: UIX: With an eye on changing the world by acting locally, ServeGR makes volunteering easy

  Volunteer Mission ServeGR
Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Last week, ServeGR.com was featured in Rapid Growth Media. The online publication's Urban Innovation Exchange section featuring the new site "highlights the people and projects transforming West Michigan through sustainable efforts." The article is a great way to learn more about how ServeGR came into being and what we hope it will do for our community! Please share the article link on your social media networks to get the word out!

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The Grace of God Here

 
Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The lectionary offers us the unusual text Titus 2:11-14 as the sermon focus for Christmas Eve at 8pm and 11pm. It is the declaration that God came to us in Christ to make a difference in our lives, to redeem us, transform us, and make it possible for us to indeed “be good” to “do good”—as much a miracle as Christ’s Advent in Bethlehem! Join us on Christmas Eve, as we sing, celebrate, and retell the Story of Christmas.

Beginning shortly before the 8:00p service, you can find a link to our live stream of that service in our Youtube feed.

Belonging to Jesus Christ

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, December 18, 2016

Isaiah really makes clear that God is coming to us as Emmanuel, whether we like it or not. What's not to like? Seems strange to think that we might resist such a gift..., but we do. Come and join us as we seek to rekindle our longing for the God Who is with us.


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The Longest Season

Rev. Jen A. Porter

Sermon    
Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Much broader than our grief for those who have died and are not with us during the holidays, at our longest season service we honor our feelings of fear, of anger, of pain, and a whole spectrum of losses. Those feelings do not disappear in this season, sometimes they are even more stark. Everyone is welcome to join, tonight, 7pm in the sanctuary. Communion will be served.


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Chimes Volume 2016, #4: The Community at Worship

  Chimes Worship Worship Blog
Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Volume 2016, #4 issue of Chimes is now available. In this issue: 

  • Grace and Peace from Chandler Stokes
  • Making Sense Out of Time
  • Stories of Worship
  • WPC Music By the Numbers
  • Much more!
Files Size

2016-12_Chimes.pdf

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A New World Coming: Just You Wait!

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, December 11, 2016

At the heart of our tradition is this simple affirmation: Our chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy God forever. Joy is at the center of who we are to be as people of God. Sometimes it's a little embarrassing to realize that. Where has joy gone? Can we recover it legitimately, honestly, truthfully? Join us as we listen for the Christmas angels who offer good news.


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That We Might Have Hope

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, December 4, 2016

Because hope is not rooted in the present but in an unseen future, hope is hard. Hope is hard, but it is essential. And amazingly, we do catch glimpses of it in the present. Those who live by hope witness to its reality and power—as do the poets. Mary Oliver’s The Place I Want To Get Back To is, for me, a great present witness to hope. Look it up and join us Sunday as we lift up the witnesses to hope.


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Election Follow-up from Rev. Chandler Stokes

  Election Sermon Letter
Wednesday, November 30, 2016

On November 13, I gave a sermon on 1 John 3:18-21 and Exodus 3:1-15, asking three things of us as a congregation. One, to get out of our echo chambers by listening to those on the “other side of the aisle,” talking to and trying to understand one another; two, to remain vigilant about racially-charged speech; three, to be in solidarity with those at risk—to “walk each other home.”

Following that sermon, it became clear to me that getting out of our echo chambers is not always easy. The next Sunday, I shared that I wish my sermon had also included, “Please have those conversations in a safe venue, and have those conversations when you are ready. Many are about to go home for the holidays, and that is not always an easy space for those conversations! So, please be gentle with yourselves.”

I also said that we cannot wait on the other two points of that sermon: being vigilant about racially-charged speech and being in solidarity with those at risk. To that end, I announced that the session was sending a letter to the president-elect, asking him to use his authority to disavow the racially-charged rhetoric made during the campaign. The session voted unanimously to send the attached letter.

One might think that such an action would somehow be unusual or violate the separation of church and state. On the contrary, I believe that nearly every Presbyterian session I have ever served has sent some letter to the newly elected president. The focus of these letters has always been on what the president is called to, e.g., “now be the president to the whole nation.”

Our current session, in addition to assuring the president-elect of our prayers, asks him to use his authority to aid us in our work against racism by speaking out against racial attacks. Regarding the separation of church and state, the session’s letter addresses the rhetoric in the campaign, not the persons saying it. The church must always speak out against any form of oppression, but legally cannot endorse persons running for partisan office.

I encourage you to read the letter, which is intended to communicate a concern for justice and safety that Republicans, Democrats, and Independents among us all share.

Wake Up and Get Dressed

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, November 27, 2016

When Isaiah promises peace “in the days to come,” we ask, “When is that?” Good question. Paul boldly tells us, “You know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep.” Paul says “the days to come” are now, and he entreats us to wake up to that fact. His whole statement is “Wake up and get dressed”—he says, “Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, … put on the Lord Jesus Christ….” By living Christ’s peace, “the days to come” arrive. That’s the Advent—the arrival we anticipate. Join us as we listen for the call to wake up this Sunday.


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Take a Risk on Paradise

Rev. David Baak

Sermon    
Sunday, November 20, 2016

Walter Brueggemann gives us this prayer: “We pray for the coming of your kingdom on earth…we are people grown weary of waiting…and we have settled for what we can control." But the challenge of this Luke passage about the crucifixion is for us to take seriously the offer of Christ’s spirit living in us, giving us courage. We are the ones that have a choice between “settling” for things that we can manage for ourselves or we can take a risk and enter the room, so to speak, with “How can I be helpful?…” The reign of Christ describes an option for how we live our lives.


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