Well, since February has arrived, I suppose I will have to finally agree to take down the train display. It has been a lot of fun again this year and it is always such a long time until next Thanksgiving when it can go up again.
Saturday I had the privilege of attending the Karen New Year’s celebration in Utica with JoAnne and other teachers from our church’s ESL ministry. First we were invited to an early lunch at the Utica Karen Wesleyan Church with many traditional ethnic foods. I enjoyed sampling the different dishes. Then we went to the gym at Mohawk Valley Community College for the main celebration.
I learned that while the holiday itself only dates back to about 1939 during the British colonial administration, the Karen people count their years from the time they migrated as a people to Burma, about 739 B.C. The New Year was celebrated with the blowing of a ceremonial animal horn and beating of a drum. Then there were traditional dances in beautiful colorful costumes. One was the ‘banboo’ dance where participants danced in between moving poles. One of the neatest parts was the honoring the elders. About fifteen of the oldest people were brought forward and seated on the side. A line of young men came out and recognized them followed by a line of young ladies bearing gifts. Then one of the elders spoke.
When I download from my camera I hope to include some pictures. As the pictures will show, our ESL teachers were among those honored at the celebration for their help given to the Karen people.
I am lifting up my youngest brother, Phil Jones, in prayer today in our prayer services and well as tomorrow and
Friday. He is on a short term missions trip to Guatemala. He has been there multiple times, being involved in building a church there. This time the organization he has worked with, called Impacto, has asked him to come on a planning trip to help plan for the expansion of the organization’s ministry.
There was a real excitement in the meeting of the 50th Anniversary committee last night, a real sense that it was a privilege to be able to mark this milestone of God’s faithfulness and look forward to the future of our church. I chose devotions from 1 Sam. 7:7-17, describing how Samuel built an Ebenezer stone (“stone of help”) to commemorate God’s help in Israel’s victory over their enemies. Pastor Eric referred us to the account in Joshua where Israel built a monument of 12 stones to remind everyone of God’s parting the waters of the Jordan. We reflected upon how in a sense the whole idea of celebrating an anniversary and all the ways we mark it are an “Ebenezer”, a “Stone of Remembrance.”
The committee starting thinking about an overall theme. One suggestion was “Celebrating the Past – Welcoming the Future!”
And we also set up a subcommittee framework. During the next month, we will be looking for God’s leaders and members for each subcommittee. Steven will start working on a website addition to cover the 50th Anniversary and highlight the history of the church too.
I don’t usually get too excited over committee meetings, but somehow I found this one exhilarating.
(written Sat. 23 Jan. 2010) I participated in the dedication of the new MBK SAM bus today. It marks a special accomplishment for the group, but especially for Rev. Baum who has spearheaded the effort, including forming a separate 501(c)3 organization and overseeing the procuring of needed grants from the Office of Aging. Rev. Baum received recognition from the Chamber of Commerce. Two sisters from the Catholic churches, and the pastor of the UM church in Bridgeport were also participating as was the mayor of Minoa. We took lots of pictures, gathered in the church sanctuary for prayers of dedication and presentations, fellowshipped, toured the bus, and took a short ride. Channel 10 covered the event. (http://news10now.com/cny-news-1013-content/494059/dedication-ceremony-held-for-senior-bus-service)
The main purpose of the bus is to provide transportation to seniors for doctor’s appointments, shopping, etc. since our area is no longer to be served by city buses. Without it some residents would have to shell out for substantial cab fares. I believe it will be a helpful practical ministry in our area. Service began this past week. Riders are asked for a small donation for each round trip.
Over the next several weeks, the bus will visit participating churches on Sunday morning. It is to visit our church Jan. 31.
I love winter mornings like this–sunshine, crisp,frozen,still, but not too cold–great day for ice fishing or bird watching or taking a long winter walk at Green Lakes. I guess it is just one of those little things to savor in life that brings us joy.
I read a good thought this morning in the devotional book for men that I am using in daily devotions. The book is Walking with Christ Every Day. It was a quote from E. Stanley Jones, who was a missionary in India. “God is a never-ending source of support and courage for those of us who call on him. When we are weary, He gives strength. When we see no hope, God reminds us of his promises. When we grieve, God wipes away our tears. God will hold your hand and walk with you every day of your life if you let Him. So even if your circumstances are difficult, trust the Father. His love is eternal and His goodness endures forever.”
“Faith is not merely you holding on to God–it is God holding on to you.”
What an encouraging word!
I want to encourage you today on this day of sorrow, prayer and fasting for Haiti. If you saw the news, you know that Haiti suffered another major aftershock of 5.9. They definitely need our continued prayers. Here is a website I found that is reporting some of the news firsthand from Wesleyans in Haiti. http://gpcaribeatlantic.com/
As you think of the great need there, I encourage you to be at prayer. The prophet Samuel once said to king Saul of Israel, “Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you” (1 Sa 12:23 NIV). May we feel that way about our brothers and sisters in Haiti during this time of severe testing. I encourage you to be involved in the discipline of fasting today or some other time this week too. Eva’s class has been studying it and she has put a good encouraging word about fasting on her class page on our church website. I recommend it. http://www.kirkvillewesleyan.org/sunday-school/97.html.
Did you know that the Minoa-Bridgeport-Kirkville (MBK) Ecumenical Council Senior Adult Ministry (SAM) spear-headed by First United Methodist Church of Minoa under the leadership of Rev. Roosevelt Baums has succeeded in purchasing a bus to help with the transportation of seniors. Grants have made purchase possible and help pay the driver, but donations are sorely needed to help with operating expenses.
The dedication celebration for the new vehicle will be this Saturday,January 23,2010 at 1 p.m. at First United Methodist Church of Minoa with an “open house” to follow at 3 p.m. This bus is an opportunity for us to join with brothers and sisters in Christ in working together to help seniors in our community.
As pastor, I am encouraging all of us to participate in fasting and prayer for Haiti. I have designated Wednesday, Jan. 20, as the day this week for as many of us as can to join together in intercession for Haiti. I will make it a special focus of our Wednesday night intercessor’s meeting as well. Please define the mode and extent of your fast in the way the Lord leads you. But please take this opportunity to obey our Lord who did say, “When you fast…” implying clearly that there would be times that his followers would practice this discipline.
As I was on the web last evening, I learned that our Wesleyan leaders are calling for all of us to take a day this coming week to engage in sorrow, fasting and prayer for Haiti. They are also asking for us to contribute a day’s food budget toward Haitian relief. As one who has visited there twice, I strongly endorse this call.
The call for a church-wide Day of Prayer and Fasting for Haiti, along with sacrificial giving, has been issued by the Board of General Superintendents of The Wesleyan Church. According to board chair Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, “The immense tragedy of the earthquake that has devastated Haiti is beyond human comprehension, but not beyond Christ-inspired compassion. We encourage each of our local congregations to set aside one day between Sunday, January 17 and Sunday, January 24 as a day of sorrow, prayer and fasting for the suffering nation of Haiti. We also ask every Wesleyan to donate the cost of at least one day’s meals to our cooperative disaster response effort by sending gifts either to the Wesleyan Emergency Relief Fund or World Hope International (our primary international relief and development partner).”
I also learned there is a twitter site where you can get updates on Wesleyan missions (twitter.com/gpnow).