Week of October 23-October 29

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E-Bridge week of November 9-15

Veterans-Day-Clip-Art-3

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Happening in your church family this week;

In worship Sunday we will take a moment to honor all those who have served in the armed forces. If you are now or in the past served our country in the military please come so that we may recognize you.

We are in the mix of stewardship season.  This Sunday I plan to spend some time during the sermon to reflect upon the 10 maidens who trimmed or did not trim their lamps. Some ran out of oil – what would happen if the church ran out of oil? Have you ever ran out of oil? Have you ever ran out of spiritual oil? Did you get shut out?

If we are all family how is it that some run out of oil and others seem to have plenty? It’s all about oil this Sunday.


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Family Time

Spirited Wednesday

Today’s reflection written by the Rev. Alison J. Buttrick Patton

November 05, 2014

Scripture: Joshua 24:15-18

Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.’

Then the people answered, ‘Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods; for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight. He protected us along all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed; and the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.’

Reflection:

I recently spoke with a young mother interested in having her daughter baptized. She’d been raised in a Congregational church and hoped her daughter would one day get confirmed. But she wanted to be honest: they weren’t likely to be regular church goers. “Weekends are for family,” she explained. Maybe you’ve heard this, too, or said it: “Sundays are precious.” “It’s the only time we have together.” “We want to savor this time while our children are young.”

When did church stop being about family? “It didn’t. It’s all about family,” we church-goers might insist. If that’s true, then we have a PR problem, because increasingly, young families see church as an intrusion into family life, hours deducted from the really quality time they want to spend together. I wonder: What could we say about the power of practicing faith as a family, in the company of others? What stories can we tell about raising children within a wider faith community? How might we say, “As for me and my household, we go to church on Sunday,” without sounding, well, holier-than-thou?

More importantly: What would those families find, if we did persuade them to show up for church? Do we really create enough space for families to explore faith together? How often do we worship, do Bible study, or ask our most pressing questions as households? Where do parents and kids get to share their doubts and insights with each other? Who helps them to navigate those conversations?

Joshua began his speech to the Israelites by listing all the highs and lows of their wilderness journey. “Remember? How God set you free from slavery? How you turned your back on God again and again?” Joshua kept that story alive, to be passed from generation to generation: a living, breathing story about a living, breathing God who keeps covenant, even when we don’t.

I’m not saying that spotty attendance necessarily makes one a bad Christian. But I am saying this: As for me and my household, hanging out at church, with folks who are telling and learning from that same story about a living, loving God…that has made us a better family.

Prayer:

Teach us to be a church for all ages, so we can grow together – and maybe even learn from our kids! Amen.

The Rev. Alison J. Buttrick Patton is pastor of Saugatuck Congregational Church of Westport.


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ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

VETERANS DAY IS NOVEMBER 11TH

LET’S REMEMBER OUR VETERANS WITH DONATIONS FOR THOSE IN

THE WEST HAVEN VETERANS HOSPITAL

 

Here is what is needed the most:  Socks, Underwear and t-shirts – all sizes needed from small (just a few) to 3x, Denture cleaner, Denture adhesive, Reading glasses, Deodorant, Shampoo, Nail clippers and Lotion.

They really do not need any conditioner, shaving cream, soap or puzzles at this time.   However they gladly welcome anything!

Donations can be placed in the Veterans bin in the Outreach Room.  Thank you!

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Snowflake Fair Updates

Another craft get-together has been scheduled for this Sat., Nov. 8th at 1:00 at Connie Wiesniak’s home. Bring scissors and glue gun if you have one.  Please let Laura Thompson or Connie know if you plan to come. 

29 Craft and Specialty Vendor tables, offering various types of hand-made, ornaments, wristlets, tote bags, aprons & snowmen; knitted and crocheted towels, pot holders, baby afghans, quilts, scarves, Christmas stockings, hats & purses; gift items for dogs, cats and dog/cat lovers; bath salts, sachets & tub tea; birdhouses, home-made candy, soy candles, wire sculptured jewelry; Amato’s Toy & Hobby will have a large variety of items, and Seymour Cinemas will be selling gift cards. We will have reps from: Tastefully Simple, Silpada Designs, Jamberry (nail wraps) and Tupperware. Two of our members, Jaclyn Kregling (Disney pin collection & note cards) and Jane Bitzer (scarves & bric-brac), will also have tables with items for sale. Raffles for: Gift baskets, wreaths, homemade quilt and 6’ “All That Glitters” decorated tree; ladies boutique, baked goods table, craft area for kids on the stage, find great deals on items in our Christmas Treasures Room, and breakfast & lunch served in the Snowflake Café. We will also be selling gift cards to various stores like WalMart and Stop & Shop (a % of purchase price goes back to the church).

Donations for the baked goods table and desserts for lunch can be dropped off the night before from 4:30-7:30 p.m. or the morning of the fair.

Please don’t forget to see Nancy Cretella on Nov. 9 to get a specific gift idea for our Covenant to Care children.

Help us build up our “Giving Tree” to benefit the Gellatly Scholarship Fund and the CT Food Bank (will be in place on November 16th at the top doors near the office).

Any donations for the “Boutique” would be greatly appreciated.  These include mainly jewelry, but also pocketbooks, scarves, and any other accessories that you no longer need.  There is a box marked “Boutique” downstairs as you enter the Fellowship Hall where you can leave items, or give them to Laura or Connie.  Thanks  

Quilt Raffle tickets are available from Sandy Barber.  See her during coffee hour.

Thanks to everyone that has helped/donated so far ~ there are still empty spaces on the sign-up sheet to work the day of the fair.

 


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November 9th, 2014

10:00 AM – Worship

Please join us for coffee hour in fellowship hall following our service!

11:30 AM – Christmas Cantata Rehearsal-Last chance   to join the choir for the holidays and be a “Sometime Singer” and sing in the Cantata.  So grab a cup of coffee & come up & join us.

12:00 noon – Adult Choir Rehearsal 

 

Please send your announcements to the church office by WEDNESDAY morning if you wish them to be included in next Thursday’s E-Bridge and Sunday’s bulletin.

 

Meetings this week at Seymour Congregational Church

 

Monday, Nov. 10

3:30 PM                Weight Watchers

7:30 PM                 Amaranth

Tuesday, Nov.11

6:15 PM                 Girl Scouts #135

Thursday, Nov. 13

6:30 PM                Tenor/Bass Sectional

7:00 PM                 AA

 

OFFICE HOURS THIS WEEK

 

Reverend – Tues., Wed.  & Thurs. – 9:30 AM-4:00 PM

Administrative Asst. – Tues., Wed., & Thurs. – 9:30 AM-1:30 PM

Rev. Ed is here Tues., Wed., and Thurs. from 9:30 AM until 4 PM.  He would like to meet members of the congregation, and puts morning hours aside for that.  Please call first if you plan to come in the afternoon as Rev. Ed goes out to visit at that time.

Snowflake Fair Basket Raffle

Basket Raffle Update!

We have over 60 Baskets!!  Yes, you read that right!!

Take a look at our Facebook page to view the album of beautiful baskets that you can win!

Click on the picture below to go our FB album

basket_raffle logo

8-10-2014

Weekly Newsletter of

Seymour Congregational Church

United Church of Christ

August 10, 2014

Worship Service 10:00 AM

Did you miss our Worship Service on August 3rd? Click on the image below to view it!

August 3, 2014

 

“Celebrating Our 225th Anniversary”

HI Folks I am away – or almost on vacation – It is a time to dream- or reflect on this past year and the next. Peg and I will be at Chautauqua Institution for the two weeks. With our grandkids for the first week, then with their parents for week two, along with our second son and his significant other ( we need a better word for that) then Tonya’s parents are coming for a few days-  so my reflection time will be limited. But I do dream – and hold to the vision.

While I am away simply call the office if you have a question. Call a deacon for pastoral concerns.

Also while I am away I have left copies of the survey in fellowship hall for your reading and discussion. I have placed on the walls graphs and printouts of data gleaned from the survey. This is excellent information and the congregation should spend some time reflecting on its significance.

One interesting observation is that 84% feel that the minister needs to be very or essentially important to be a fellow traveler, 70% counselor / healer;  67% celebrant or worship leader and 61% spiritual guide. These roles are slightly higher than church administrator (51%) . or witness /Evangelist (29%)

The numbers are numbers and are an education to look into. So go at it and have some fun.

Rev Ed

Speaking of reflecting and dreaming –

Below is this week Spirited reflection from the Connecticut Conference site;


Spirited Wednesday

I  Am That DREAMER (And So Are You)

by Elivette (Elly) Mendez Angulo
August 06, 2014

Genesis 37:19 (NLT)

“Here comes the dreamer!” they said.

Reflection:

Usually we hear about dreams around February, when Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I had a dream” speech once more becomes important. Or maybe dreams are part of your everyday thought process, as you try to remember that dream that startled out of a deep sleep in the middle of the night. Or, that poem that you learned in your youth sticks in your head as a reminder of living out your potential, Langston Hughes asked, “What happens to a dream deferred?”

When we meet Joseph, his brothers call him a dreamer, and he was. But aren’t we all dreamers at some point, with stars in our eyes, knowing that we are meant for SOMETHING. ANYTHING.

Some of us have heard God’s voice speak greatness into our lives and yet, we stay still and much like a raisin in the sun, we dry up. But we are meant for greater things. We are meant to dream big. Because when we dream big and put our fears aside, we allow faith to take over and walk us into our destiny.

Peter walked on water when all he had was a notion of a dream. How else can you explain daring to ask Jesus to call him over and allow him to walk on water? When you dare to ask God, you get a guide. And for Peter, Jesus was his guide. When Peter truly opened his eyes and realized that the impossible had become possible, he fell into the water, more afraid of the known than the unknown.

We need to be like all those dreamers who came before, who paved a way for us. Joseph was a dreamer, and though his life was complicated, he lived the life of a dreamer. Peter, when he dreamed, was able to walk on water. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream, and we are still living towards that dream. Langston Hughes knew that dreams left untreated and unfulfilled could someday explode.

But I envision that explosion as an explosion of God’s glory pushing you forward, towards something you remember once having wanted. Be a dreamer. Live towards God’s dream.


ANNOUNCEMENTS

“Kevin Tucker, son of Debra and Alan Tucker, is our Lay Leader this morning.  Kevin is attending U Conn – Waterbury studying kinesiology for physical therapy and is expected to graduate in 2017.

This summer besides vacationing in Rhode Island and Florida, he has been taking chemistry and volunteering at Life Designs in Shelton.  Life Designs is a rehabilitation center and Kevin is helping patients who have suffered from strokes, spinal injuries and cerebral palsy.  We wish him continued success this year as he continues pursuing his degree.”

THANK YOU!!

 

Many thanks to Jeannette Raymond and Christine Murphy, guest Pianist, for sharing their talent with us this morning!

 

Please join us after church in Fellowship Hall for Coffee Hour.  It is being hosted by Dawn Ryan and Mary Jo Chevarella.

 

The altar flowers are given by Connie and Stan Wiesniak in loving memory of

their dad, Ralph Mann on his birthday today.

 


OFFICE HOURS THIS WEEK

 

Reverend – On vacation

Administrative Asst. – Tues., Wed., & Thurs. – 9:30 AM-1:30 PM

 

Rev. Ed will be on vacation until Tuesday, August 26.  Please contact Karen Baker, Deacon Chairperson at 203-888-0924 in his absence.

 

Please send your announcements to the church office by WEDNESDAY morning if you wish them to be included in next Sunday’s bulletin.


 

snowflake fair link button

 SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 22ND

9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Plans are under way for our 26th annual Snowflake Fair! Many of our vendors will be returning, but we do have some spaces left. If you know anyone who would be interested in renting a space ($25 for members, $35 for non-members), forms will be in the entry way and in the fellowship hall, or see Laura.

Along with our normal Basket and Quilt Raffles, Snowflake Café, Boutique, Bake Sale Table, Christmas Treasures Room and Kids’ craft area, we will have a “Giving Tree” for donations to the Gellatly Scholarship Fund and the CT Food Bank (donations can be anywhere from $1 up ~ would like to have a good start on filling the tree before the fair, so we will have donation forms available the week prior). Also, the stage area will have decorated boxes for donations to TEAM “white gifts”, the Veteran’s Hospital, and “Covenant to Care” to bring community awareness to the missions we support.

As always, we cannot have a successful fair without your help! We will be collecting items starting by the end of August for our basket/ raffle (if you cannot do a whole basket, there will be a separate box in the hall for items we can incorporate into full baskets) ~ we will plan on starting to collect and display the baskets in late September or early October. If you plan on donating a basket (approx. $25 in value), please be sure to take a form to list all items included so we don’t miss anything in the description. Forms will also be downstairs for business donations; if anyone knows of a business who may want to donate a gift card or basket, please take a letter and indicate where you are delivering.

Don’t forget to collect items for our “Positively Pink” basket (proceeds from tickets sold for this basket will go to Seymour Pink); we will display what we have so far in mid August.  Other miscellaneous items we can use NOW include: clear wrap for our gift baskets and wired ribbon; donations for our “all that glitters” tree, the Christmas Treasures Room, and the Boutique will be collected starting in mid October.


Sunday, September 14th

Rally Day

and

Church Picnic

Come join us as we celebrate our beloved Church

together with friends and family

 

The picnic will offer plenty of food and fellowship

and there will be lots of activities for

the young and young-at-heart

 

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Thank you to all who visited Grace Farmer on her 99th birthday.

Happy Birthday Grace!!!

New Baskets added to Snowflake Fair Raffle

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2013 Basket Bonanza

Drawing to be held at SNOWFLAKE FAIR on Nov. 23, 2013

Pictures of all the baskets can be seen on the church’s facebook page:

Seymour Congregational Church and go to Snowflake Fair Basket Raffle album

Tickets for baskets & wreaths are $1 each or 12 for $10; trees are $2 each

1.    Avon baby ~ Car seat cover with seat belt pillow, shopping cart cover and sensory toy.

2.    Ambrosia Maple Wooden Bowl ~ hand made by Woodstock, NY artist (Lee Dayton’s father)

3.    Shop WalMart ~ WalMart $20 gift card and snowman fingertip towel

4.    Avon Holiday Extravaganza ~ Diffuser set, 2 24-oz bubble baths, 4 mini bubble baths, 4 hand creams, 8 lip gloss & 2 mini emory boards.

5.    Bake for the Cure ~ 3 mixing bowls, 3 nesting measuring cups, silicone baking sheet, Komen for the Cure tote bag, spatula, oven mitt, all resting on a metal cookie sheet.

6.    Arden Assortment ~ Elizabeth Arden “Interlude” body spray, “Pretty” body lotion, “Red Door” perfume, and Elizabeth Taylor’s “White Diamonds” body powder

7.    For the Birds 1 ~ Bamboo bird feeder, with 2 packages of suet

8.    Night at Ozzie’s ~ $25 gift card donated by Ozzie’s Family Restaurant & Pizzeria, Seymour

9.    For the Birds 2 ~ Double suet feeder, with 10 packages of suet

10.   Cardinal Garden~ stepping stone, solar light, 2 garden ornaments, garden gloves.

11.   Cozy Quilt ~ Beautiful twin/full quilt with 2 pillow cases

12.   All Things Pumpkin II ~ Pumpkin: pancake mix, salsa, syrup, seeds, napkins, liquid soap, marshmallows, bread, pie filling, cheesecake cookies, dishes, cider

13.   Breakfast Anyone? ~ Waffle stick maker with mix & syrup

14.   Snowmen Steppers: Lighted snowmen on ladder and Christmas tree “Lights in the Night” night light

15.   Beautiful Noise ~ Beautiful tones to this “Shenandoah Melodies” set of chimes

16.   Let’s go to Rio ~ Anchor  Hocking 16-piece Anchor Hocking “Rio” glassware

17.   Kitchen collection ~ Santa jello mold, 3-piece hand graters, reindeer salt & pepper shakers, Santa wine topper, and 2 mugs, all resting in a rod iron fruit bowl

18.   The Cat’s Meow ~ Scratching post, grooming brush, 3 cat toys, food & treats, resting on a disposable litter tray with small bag of litter.

19.   Winter Reading ~ Ken Follett’s “Winter World”, Dan Brown’s “Inferno” and 4 Daniel Silva books

20.   Tea Time ~ Tea and cookies in a Princess House “Biscuit Barrel”

21.   Just for Kids ~ Sticker activity book with play scenes, 5 “Top Hat” books, and 2 “Little Squirts” drink bottles

22.   Christmas Table ~ 6’ table runner, 8 reversible napkins & 4 cristal d’arques “Combourg” wine glasses

23.   Teen Tote ~ 200-piece nail design kit, Bath & Body Works vanilla verbena sugar scrub, 2 “Soft Lips”, emery board, manicure kit, shower gel, and blue & pink nail polish, in acolorful corduroy-lined tote

24.   Winter Warmth ~ 50” x 70” plush throw, pair of gloves, scarf, Christmas mug, and 4-pack of hot chocolate mix

25.   Scrapbooking Selection ~ Everything you need to keep your special memories organized and looking great – too much to list!

26.   The Weekender ~ 3-piece Weekender luggage, Colleen Coble’s “Rosemary Cottage”, a first aid kit, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner & hair spray

27.   A Night for Reading ~ Mary Jane Clark’s “The Look of Love” and “Dying for Mercy”, coffee mug, tin of International French vanilla coffee, box of assorted Bigelow teas, and 3bags of snacks

28.   Jewelry Box ~ Vernier watch with interchangeable bands and 3 bracelets: onyx, honey jade & amethyst

29.   Girl Scout Cookies ~ 8 boxes of everyone’s favorites!

30.   Deck the Halls ~ Musical plush sled with snowman, dog & penguin that plays “Sleigh Ride”, 2 lighted snowflake window clings, a snowman door hanger,  Santa tea light holder,green box ornament, and 5 hibiscus silk flowers.

31.   “The Christmas Tree” ~ Beautiful print by our own artist, Lynne Traverse

32.   “Betsy” ~ print #2 by Lynne Traverse

33.   Cookie Time! ~ Bake up a batch of cookies with this sugar cookie mix, holiday sprinkles, 3 cookie cutters, a baking mitt, and  2 Christmas spatulas, with a glittering “Joy” sign.

34.   Tool Time! ~ Kobalt set of tools, in a handy storage case: screwdrivers, pliers, hammer, wrench, utility knife, bit set & more!

35.   Mitford Years ~ Jane Karon’s 7-book set of “The Mitford Years”, plus “Light from Heaven” and a box of Bigelow Tea.

36.   Christmas Reading ~ Debbie Macomber’s “The Christmas Basket, “Where Angels Go” & “The Perfect Christmas”, plus a box of Bigelow tea

37.    The Dog’s Woof ~ various items for your pooch!

38.    I’m Puzzled ~ Puzzles for kids, a plush snowman toy & ??

39.    Ladies Only ~ a purse, pewter cross, mug, scarf & a box of Bigelow Tea

40.    Cozy Evening ~ Bottle of pinot noir, 2 wine glasses, and a Christmas

 

WREATHS #1, 2 & 3 are part of the $1 raffle; final wreath will be a silent auction wreath.

 

TREE RAFFLE (#1 and #2) –tickets are $2 each

SCC E-Bridge

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Welcome to this week’s E-bridge

Week of November 3, 2013

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DON’T FORGET TO TURN YOUR CLOCKS BACK ONE HOUR SATURDAY NIGHT!!!

Looking ahead to our scripture:

This week’s Scripture come to us from Luke 6:20-31. The powerful words of the beatitudes flow across the hillside and enter into the minds and hearts of those who sat on that hillside. All of them saints in the heart of the divine. You, too, are a saint, and this week we will remember the saints of the Seymour Church and community who have passed on to the eternal during this past year.

The festival of All Saints has become one of the more misunderstood celebrations in the Church year. In liturgical traditions the day has held a high place in the Church’s calendar of feasts and festivals, resounding with the joy of Easter and God’s promise of resurrection made concrete in the raising of Jesus Christ and granted in the particular to all Christians through Holy Baptism. In non-liturgical traditions, however, All Saints Day is scarcely known and rarely observed. In fact, the secular corruption of the festival, Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, stands as a nearly unrecognizable vestige of the festival and demonstrates the insignificant and even ominous place to which it has been relegated.

This Sunday we will raise up the banner so to speak – sing the powerful songs of the Saints, remember our past and maybe look around in the pews and witness today’s saints as we share in the bread and cup. You too are a saint.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

 

MC900117999[1]SNOWFLAKE FAIR

SATURDAY, November 23rd
9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

24 Craft and Specialty Vendor tables, offering hand-painted wooden Santa Claus figurines and ornaments; snow people and soft sculptured snowmen; silk flower arrangements; Amato’s Toy & Hobbies with children’s books, puppets, puzzles, games and craft kits; knitted and crocheted dog coats, towels, pot holders, sweaters, scarves, hats & purses; gift items for cats and the cat lover; wire sculptured jewelry; “Make a Bracelet” and a “Thirty-One” rep will be in the choir room. Our Sunday school will also have tables with items for sale. We will also have an author with her book “Wings Up” and reps from: Tastefully Simple, Origami Owl, Scentsy Candles, Silpada Designs, Party Lite and Tupperware. Raffles for: Gift baskets, wreaths, homemade quilt and decorated trees; ladies boutique, baked goods table, craft area for kids on the stage and breakfast & lunch served in the Snowflake Café. Silent auction for angel-themed tree will benefit the prayer & serenity garden and youth activities; silent auction for a wreath will benefit the church.

Gift baskets, as well as donations for the Boutique and Christmas Treasures room, are due no later than Nov. 17th. Donations for the baked goods table and desserts for lunch can be dropped off the night before from 4:30-7:30 p.m. or the morning of the fair. Monetary donations are also greatly appreciated to help us offset costs. Food bank donations will be accepted at the door. Thanks to everyone that has helped/donated so far ~ please come and support our vendors and our church on the day of the fair!

 

The Parish Life Committee

will again this year sponsor a Craft Night/Movie Night for children.  It will be held on Friday, Dec. 6th from 6-9 p.m. in Fellowship Hall. The children will make a Christmas themed craft and then watch a movie.  Popcorn and juice will be provided. There is no charge and parents need not attend. Bring a friend.  Sign up sheet is posted.  Contact Karen Schuttler or any member of Parish Life for further information.

~ Anyone who would like to volunteer to light a candle during Advent, please contact the church office or see Rev. Ed.

~ Ministry opportunities!  Would you or your family like to support us so that we can order our Thanksgiving and/or Christmas bulletins and letterhead?

Thanksgiving – $10

Advent – $40 for 4 Sundays

Christmas Eve bulletin, letterhead and mailing – $90

Contact the church office if you are interested.

 

 

Sunday Worship Service

November 3, 2013

10:00 AM – Worship

11:00 AM – Coffee Hour

11:15 AM – Cantata Rehearsal – Grab a cup of coffee and come join us! No experience necessary.  Just a desire to sing.  Come give it a try!

12:00 PM – Adult Choir Rehearsal

Get your creative juices flowing and join us during coffee hour to make crafts to contribute to the Youth Group Table at the Church Fair.

GREETERS:  Elwin Jimmo

LAYLEADER:  David Tripp

DEACON OF THE MONTH:  George Wityak

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OFFICE HOURS THIS WEEK

Reverend – Tues., Wed. & Thurs. – 9:30 AM-4:00 PM

Administrative Asst. – Tues., Wed., & Thurs. – 9:30 AM-1:30 PM

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Calendar of Events

Monday, Nov. 4

3:30 PM   Weight Watchers

Tuesday, Nov. 5

6:15 PM   Girl Scout #135 7:00 PM    Diaconate Mtg.

Thursday, Nov. 7

6:30 PM     Special Adult Choir Rehearsal

6:30 PM     Girl Scout #135 Leader’s Mtg

7:00 PM     A.A. Meeting

 

About All Saints Day 

Some thought gleaned over the years on the particular of All Saints Day.

One of the primary meanings of All Saints is as simple as it is straightforward: we gather to give thanks to God for the Saints of every time and place to whom we are joined in eternal fellowship; for those who have been particularly important to us and who, having died, now live in the nearer presence of God; and for God’s mighty raising of Jesus Christ from the dead so that we might have hope not only in our dying but also in all of our living. In this regard, a reading from Ephesians 1:11-23 would be helpful to you. This reading places forward the inheritance we have in Christ Jesus to live in faith now and to be joined to Christ and all the saints in the life to come.

At the same time, however, the “Festival of All Saints” has become one of the more misunderstood celebrations in the Church year. In liturgical traditions the day has held a high place in the Church’s calendar of feasts and festivals, resounding with the joy of Easter and God’s promise of resurrection understood in the raising of Jesus Christ and granted to all Christians through the sacrament of Baptism. In non-liturgical traditions, (free churches and faith expressions that have drifted away from the lectionary calendar) All Saints Day is scarcely known and rarely observed. In fact, the secular corruption of the festival, Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, stands as a nearly unrecognizable vestige of the festival and demonstrates the insignificant and even ominous place to which it has been relegated. Where then is the “Festival”?  Who remembers the saints?

Some thinking about the word “saint” could help here.

First, it’s helpful to know that All Saints Day was originally set aside to commemorate all those martyrs from the early persecutions whose names were never recorded and thus whose memory was in constant peril of being lost. Over time, this celebration was extended to remember all who have lived and died in the faith and now rest eternally and triumphantly from their labors. We continue this aspect of the celebration when we name those persons of our individual parishes who have died in the last year and live now in the glory of God.

A second dimension of the word “saint” was added during the Reformation. (Yes it is I our traditional roots)  The reformers reclaimed the New Testament confession that all those who have been baptized into Christ and declared righteous by grace are, in fact, living saints of God.  In this regard, it is notable that the Apostle Paul addresses even the Christians in Corinth, those whom he has rebuked and castigated for many and various moral offenses, as saints, or holy ones. (1 Cor. 1:1-9 )  Clearly, then, their sanctity – and our own! – is not one of moral achievement, nor even a complete triumph of grace in their lives, but rests, rather, upon their having been made holy by God’s declaration in Baptism.  For this reason, we now celebrate All Saints not by contrasting the saints over there — those who have died and gone on to glory before us — with the would-be saints still over here.  Rather we recognize and celebrate our union with those for whom Christ died in every time and every place, a union secured by Christ’s death once and for all, established by our common baptism, nurtured by our life together, and brought to fulfillment in the age to come.

Third, a final thought of the word “saint” emphasizes that a saint is not only one who is made holy, but also one who is blessed by God. It’s in this final context that the reading for this Sunday comes to us from the beatitudes. Luke’s starker, sparer rendition of Jesus’ teaching that we read this year underscores the peculiar, even radical understanding of blessing that animates the Christian tradition. Blessing, according to Jesus, far from being about material abundance, is to enjoy the regard and favor of God. And the God of Israel to whom Jesus bears witness reserves special regard for the poor, the maligned, the downtrodden. This God shows particular favor, that is, to those in need. This Sunday come in need of standing in grace. While this may at first seem threatening to those of us who enjoy so much of the world’s bounty, it also clarifies our calling to identify and help those in need, and it promises that God stands also with us in our moments of loss, distress, and poverty. The heart of the God we hear described in these verses is full of mercy and compassion, abounding in steadfast love.

Blessings,

Rev ED