The annual, national Thanksgiving Day is a metaphor for thanksgiving as a daily practice of our faith for our time. Both can be responses to the message of this, the last Sunday of the liturgical year—the Reign of Christ Sunday. Come for a sermon on Colossians 1:11–20.
We’ll hear wonderful music from the Action Brass quintet at both services and the Sanctuary Choir at 11:00a.
Join us this Sunday as we celebrate—and give thanks for—the reign of Christ.
Tuesday: Employment networking event
The EaRN/Westminster Works program invites you to NetWork 2 NewWork, an employment networking event, on Tuesday, November 19, from 5:00–8:00p! Everyone is welcome to attend this free professional gathering focused on networking and building careers. RSVP at www.nw2nw.org. Space is limited to the first 100 participants.
Wednesday: WOW! with Feminist/Womanist theology
Join us this Wednesday for Westminster on Wednesday (WOW!). Come for dinner at 5:30p, and stay for conversation with friends, or join the Feminist and Womanist Theology discussion group at 6:00p for “The Real Housewives of Abraham: Sarah and Hagar, Dueling Matriarchs,” a dialogue about the women and feminist voices in the bible, throughout history, and in our public spheres.
Saturday: Catching Fire
People who would like to follow up on this month’s WOW! viewing of The Hunger Games can gather to see its sequel Catching Fire at Celebration Cinema North. We’ll gather in the lobby at 2:15p for a 2:45p showtime on Saturday, November 23. Purchase of tickets online in advance of that day is encouraged. We’ll discuss the movie during the education hour on Sunday, December 1.
Rev. Chandler Stokes
A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on Psalm 8. The psalmist declares, “You have set your glory above the heavens.” Praise, praise, praise—that our lives may be an expression of praise. Yet praise does not deny the pain or other realities of the world—including suicide, as our congregation recently experienced. Rather, worship names that which is worthy, and so we praise even in the midst of pain.
Ministry Architects, a church consulting group, recently concluded a three-day assessment of Westminster’s youth ministry. The group presented the church with a 26-page report about the ministry, its strengths, and its needs.
For the most part, Ministry Architects feels “the youth ministry at WPC is doing extremely well.” In fact, Sara Bailey, the consultant on-site, described our church as “great.” Bailey continued by saying “Unlike the title of Collin’s book, Good to Great, in which he speaks of companies moving from being ‘good’ companies to being ‘great’ companies, the youth ministry at Westminster is already at ‘great.’ The church is ready to make a leap from a great youth ministry to a top-notch youth ministry.” In a time of transition, this is music to our ears!
So what makes Westminster’s youth program great? Some of the current strengths listed in the report are: The exceptional youth at WPC, very dedicated volunteers, consistent and established programming, youth choirs, and the collaborative staff. Given the much beloved youth ministers recently left the staff, the overall climate surrounding our youth ministry is quite positive.
How do we become a “top-notch” youth ministry? According to Ministry Architects, we work through the obstacles sited in the report collaboratively to strategically move the youth ministry forward. Some of those obstacles include: understanding the challenges most youth ministries face, missing framework in the infrastructure of the youth ministry, long term goals to lead us forward, clarification of roles with the new staffing structure, unrealistic expectations for our new youth minister, and the physical youth space.
Where do we go from here? Ministry Architects concluded their visit with very detailed recommendations and an outline on how to strategically implement their recommendations. We will continue to pray and process all the information presented. In the meantime we continue along our path, the right path, which is all “great” stuff!
Psalm 8 declares, “You have set your glory above the heavens.” Praise, praise, praise—that our lives may be an expression of praise. We often say during worship, “It is right to give thanks and praise,” which is a doxology—a word that means “to speak praise.” Doxology does not deny the pain or other realities of the world, nor does it withdraw and ignore the pain, suffering and grief that await when worship ends. Just as worship names that which is worthy, it also dismisses the competing claims upon our loyalty.
Our music, too, will be full of praise: Westminster members Linda and Roger Nelson will play string music at both services along with our new harpsichord, and then at 11:00a the Cherub Choir, Carol Choir, and Sanctuary Choir will sing together.
And fon’t forget us at 9:30a for roundtable conversations! We’ll consider if violence is ever justified, and if Jesus always condemned violence.
Finally, follow on to the dining room for a special meeting after the 11:00a service to elect the newly-formed Youth Minister Search Committee (YMSC).
Bring a friend or neighbor and join us Sunday as we celebrate and give praise to the God who created and sustains us.
Repentance can be a difficult subject. There’s a Shaker song, ‘Simple Gifts,’ whose lyrics say, “To turn, turn will be our delight ‘Til by turning, turning we come ‘round right.” What does it mean to “come ‘round right”? We look to Luke as we consider these questions. The American preacher Fred Craddock says of the text, “In fact, for Luke the gospel is the offer of repentance and forgiveness of sins…” A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on Luke 13:6–9.
“We are trustees of the Lord’s bounty unto us.”
That’s how this 1959 pledge appeal from our archives puts it. As you can see, we’ve been doing this pledging thing for a while—just as we do it today.
Repentance can be a difficult subject. There’s a Shaker song, ‘Simple Gifts,’ whose lyrics say, “To turn, turn will be our delight ‘Til by turning, turning we come ‘round right.” What does it mean to “come ‘round right”? We’ll look at Luke 13:6-9 as we consider this. The American preacher Fred Craddock says of the text, “In fact, for Luke the gospel is the offer of repentance and forgiveness of sins…”
As usual, there will be beautiful music: The Westminster Winds will perform at both services, and be joined by the Sanctuary Choir at 11:00a.
And don’t forget education at 9:30a: Dr. Jeff Tyler, professor of religion at Hope College, continues our series ‘The Church and the Reality of Violence’ in the chapel.
Rev. Chandler Stokes
A sermon with selections from Hebrews 11 in celebration of All Saints Day. Our faith is a song—we learn it from others, add our own voices to it for a time, and teach it to others so they can sing it after us. The basis of that song of faith is a call to remember not only the saints themselves, but the basis of the faith that empowered them: Christ has defeated death.
The November issue of Chimes is now available. In this month’s issue:
- Focusing on our core missions: Westminster Downtown Food Pantry, WCDC, and Camp Henry
- Introducing the new Community Food Club
- Looking ahead to Advent
- ArtPrize 2013 wrap-up
- New members
Our worldwide missions team is in Cuba this week with First-Hand Aid, bringing medical supplies to three different hospitals. Please keep them in your prayers.
Photo by Simon Cocks.
This Sunday we celebrate All Saints Day.
Our faith is a song—we learn it from others, add our own voices to it for a time, and teach it to others so they can sing it after us. The basis of that song of faith is a call to remember not only the saints themselves, but the basis of the faith that empowered them: Christ has defeated death.
Friends, join us at 8:30a and 11:00a as we celebrate communion, hear songs from the choirs, and remember the saints who have come before us.
Rev. Chandler Stokes
Pledging is a practice of thanksgiving, and so we explore thanksgiving as a practice. Karl Barth, the great 20th century theologian, once said, “To believe in Jesus Christ means to become thankful.” This is not to say we’re always in touch with gratitude, as the parable of the laborers in the vineyard from Matthew 20 indicates—in fact, we find it very easy to be ungrateful! A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on Matthew 20:1–16.
Rev. Chandler Stokes
“Whoever loves their dreams of the Christian community more than the community itself becomes its destroyer,” said Dietrich Bonhoeffer. There is a tension between what we long for the church to be, and what it actually is. But the heart of the Gospel is found with accepting those whom Christ has called—including new ones. We consider how to love an imperfect institution, and what discipline, hope, and love it takes to do so. A sermon on Isaiah 55:1-5.
Our focus this month is on stewardship. Why do we give? Quan and Gaëtan Gerville-Réache said it well in this video from Sunday.