November 2014 Messenger

November 2014 Messenger
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   My friends, I recall someone I knew in Akron saying to me, “Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.” With some thought, I have come to embrace this as sound pastoral advice. I don’t mean to say worry is unnatural or ineffective. I believe that we all have the capacity for worry; I believe that worrying can help us to gain focus on and take into consideration significant factors at important decision points. But here is the spirit of the statement: worrying that is not followed by intentional decision leads to decision by default, and default decision is almost always an admission of defeat. I think this is what Paul was aiming at when he wrote what is widely accepted as the earliest text in the New Testament, 1 Thessalonians. His subject near the close of this letter is the expected return of Jesus. This “second coming” is compared to a state visit by a ruler; in his time as in ours, such visits call for special preparations and practices. The apostle is very intentional in his writing here. He contrasts the preparations and practices of the worldly sphere (i.e., for rulers) with those of the church (i.e., for Christ). And here is what he writes (1 Thess 5:1-11, The Message): I don’t think, friends, that I need to deal with the question of when all this is going to happen. You know as well as I that the day of the Master’s coming can’t be posted on our calendars. He won’t call ahead and make an appointment any more than a burglar would. About the time everybody’s walking around complacently, congratulating each other  —“We’ve sure got it made! Now we can take it easy!”—suddenly everything will fall apart. It’s going to come as suddenly and inescapably as birth pangs to a pregnant woman. But friends, you’re not in the dark, so how could you be taken off guard by any of this? You’re sons of Light, daughters of Day. We live under wide open skies and know where we stand. So let’s not sleepwalk through life like those others. Let’s keep our eyes open and be smart. People sleep at night and get drunk at night. But not us! Since we’re creatures of Day, let’s act like it. Walk out into the daylight sober, dressed up in faith, love, and the hope of salvation. God didn’t set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. He died for us, a death that triggered life. Whether we’re awake with the liv-ing or asleep with the dead, we’re  alive with him! So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.   Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want. It can help us focus on unforeseen issues, but we need not  –  dare not  –  make a practice of it. So here is a faithful practice for you: speak encouraging words to one another, and build one another up so that no one of you is left behind, ever. You are the body of Christ, children of Light and Day. Paul offered this counsel in his earliest known writing to one of the foundational Christian churches. I agree with him on this and oh yes; I know you’re already doing this (some of the time). Just keep on doing it…a ll of the time! Peace be with you all, and always! Tom G   November 2014 Volume 28.11 St. John’s United Church of Christ St. John’s is a community of faith centered in Jesus Christ, seeking guidance and direction through the Holy Spirit, and demonstrating God’s love to all people in words and deeds.  An Open and Affirming Congregation 503 Stuart Circle Richmond, Virginia 23220 Telephone: 804.358.9291 Email: Web Site: Published monthly © 2014 St John’s UCC    2   The Messenger | NOVEMBER 2014   ALL SAINT’S DAY NOVEMBER 2   Worship on Sunday November 2 nd  will include an observation of All Saint’s Day. On the denomination’s website,, we find this description of the celebration:  All Saints Day is celebrated on November 1 or the first Sunday of November. The ancient church set aside such a festival day to remember martyrs and saints not honored on special days. Today, we often celebrate not only historic figures of the church, but the company of all those baptized who we have known and revered. By remembering those of the past, the church is inspired to live faithfully as Christ's disciples in the present. Come to worship the first Sunday of November for this special celebration of the saints of the church and in our lives! ASSOCIATE CONFERENCE MINISTER REV. KWAME OSEI REED RETIRING Here is an excerpt from Rev. Reed’s recent announcement:    After Twenty Seven (27) years of service on the Central Atlantic Conference Staff, I am retiring effective December 31, 2014. I deeply appreciate the opportunity to have served in this setting of the United Church of Christ. This ministry has been very satisfying to me. I hope that my service has been effective and faithful to our God and to you. My family and I… are looking to the future with joy and hope. I will continue to celebrate my status as an ordained minister in the United a Church of Christ. I will also keep the ministry of this conference and every setting of the church in my thoughts and  prayers as I also ask for your prayers. Peace and Blessings this day, henceforth and forevermore St. John’s UCC has benefited greatly from Rev. Reed’s friendship and advice over the years. Everyone associated with our ministry in Richmond is encouraged to share in the good thoughts and prayers of the church for Rev. Reed as he enters his retirement from active ministry.  About 150 people, representing 15 churches will be coming to St. John’s on Nov. 2! That’s right, every year churches from all over Richmond use our facility to kick-off the Richmond CROP Hunger Walk, a 3.5 mile walk that loops through the city. St. John’s team raised over $1,300 in 2013 and with your help we hope to hit $1,500 this year. 25% of the funds will go to local organizations that provide hunger relief; CARITAS, VA Food Bank, MARCH and 31 st  St. Baptist Church. The other 75% will go to Church World Services to be used to stop hunger within the U.S. and around the world. Please come walk with us on November 2 nd . Donate online by visiting Registration will be at 1:15pm and the walk will begin at 2pm. Thank You! Thank you St. John’s for supporting our October special - uniquely UCC - mission offering, Neighbors In Need. Through the Neighbors in Need offering, the church expresses a common commitment to  justice and compassion throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. You have generously offered $680 toward this mission offering.  3   The Messenger | NOVEMBER 2014       S    t .    J   o    h   n    ’   s    U   n    i    t   e    d    C    h   u   r   c    h   o    f    C    h   r    i   s    t     2    0    1    5    P    l   e    d   g   e   s   GOAL! $126,000   $105,000   $84,000   $63,000   $42,000   $21,000   CURRENT $96,124.00 -  44 pledgers   Please feel free to contact Stewardship Chair Jeff Jacobs (at or (804) 355-1115; Finance Chair Jeff Hetzer (804-550-3928 ); or any member of Church Council with any questions you may have about church stewardship or finances. STEWARDSHIP 2015 Blessed to be a Blessing!    Please turn in your pledges!    Worship and Music Committee ALL SAINTS DAY - NOV. 2 We will be observing All Saint’s Day on Sunday, November 2. During that worship service, we will light a candle for members and friends and family of members of St. John’s who have died this past year. Please be sure to attend this important day as we remember those who have gone on before us. COMMUNION - NOV. 9  At Holy Communion, we share a simple meal of bread and wine. Here, we experience the presence of Christ again. Together, around God's welcome table, we recall God's loving acts especially in Jesus, we experience our oneness in Christ, hope for a time when all will be fed, and anticipate the fullness of God's love and justice throughout creation. St. John’s will be sharing Communion on Sunday, Nov. 9 . THANKSGIVING WORSHIP AND GREENING OF THE CHURCH - Nov. 23 On Nov. 23 , we will worship with  joyful Thanksgiving for all of God’s blessings, After worship we will enjoy our covered dish Thanksgiving Lunch followed by the greening of the church. PREPARING FOR ADVENT The Christian Formation and Worship and Music ministries have begun planning a shared ministry approach to advent for 2014. Each Sunday in advent will be marked by traditional lighting of the advent wreath along with the celebration of Holy Communion by intinction. Please contact any member of these ministry teams if you have questions. 4   The Messenger | NOVEMBER 2014   Worship is central to the life of our faith community, and extravagant welcome is at its core.   Greening of the   Church   2014 Each year we have lovely poinsettias on display in the chancel area during the Christmas Season. If you wish to order a poinsettia in memory of or in honor of a loved one, please complete this form and drop it by the church office, place it in the offering plate, or mail it to the church office. The cost is $12.50 per plant, and you may take it home after the comple-tion of the Christmas Eve Service. Ordering Deadline: Sunday, November 23 □  In memory of □  In honor of Name ___________________________________________ Given by:_________________________________________ ▬   □  In memory of □  In honor of Name ___________________________________________ Given by:_________________________________________ ▬   □  In memory of □  In honor of Name ___________________________________________ Given by:_________________________________________ ▬   □  In memory of □  In honor of Name ___________________________________________ Given by:_________________________________________ ▬    Your name _______________________ Phone: _________ Number of poinsettias ordered ___________ @ $12.50 = $________________ (please attach payment with this order and mail to St. John’s UCC~503 Stuart Circle~Richmond, VA~23220)   Ordering Deadline: Sunday, November 23 Poinsettia Order orm
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