Good day, Brothers and Sisters.
It is hard to believe that I began the process to offer online or ‘electronic’ giving six years ago! Six years ago, the fear and suspicion of conducting financial transactions on the internet was widespread and palpable. Today this practice is all but ubiquitous. Whatever your opinion about Amazon, they, and other internet vendors, have pushed the banks to develop robust protocols and guarantees to safeguard our transactions. Now, six years later, we have finally arrived!
Thanks to Mary’s hard work, with the consultation of Bob Glick our Treasurer, we are rolling out our own “giving portal.” When you visit our web page you will now find an ‘Online Giving’ tab at the top of the page which will link to our new donation page. This is a secure and safe transaction portal and offers you options to direct your gift to several different Parish Funds. This portal can be valuable even if you regularly tithe by check. If you realized that you did not bring your check or will not be at Church on Sunday, you can easily use the portal to complete your giving. In addition, this portal will be easy to use for one-time givers who, for example, have attended a parish event and wish to contribute.
I did not plan it this way, but I am not surprised by the timing of this long-planned accomplishment. October is the time when we look back at our financial year and faithfully plan for the year to come. The Stewardship of all that we have is the focus of much thought and prayer as we spiritually inventory the multitude of blessings that God has showered upon us. Creator, our Church home, is the spiritual center of our growth in the Body of Christ and the place where we can truly leave the world behind.
There has always been spiritual tug-of-war going on in our hearts and spirits: how the Church serves me vs. how I serve God. St, Paul speaks of this in his Letter to the Corinthians,
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 10:13
Sadly, these last couple of years have stressed Christians everywhere and shown that, without a deep and abiding spiritual focus, that tug-of-war is all too frequently lost. Not so with us! Our strength comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth! (Psalm 121:2) We hear the call of the self and answer with words of Christ: “Come unto me all ye that are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.” (Matt. 11:28) Our feeding is NOT separate from our spiritual growth, but a sub-set of it. Our response to the inward disquietude is not despair or running to a “new” place, or to no place (for we will find once we get there, we are still ourselves), but in recognizing our craving, we seek the manna from heaven—the blessing of God, to feed us and show forth God’s witness to the world!
We will send out Stewardship cards next week for you to pray over and seek God’s blessing. You may return your Stewardship card anytime or wait for our Stewardship Sunday, October 24th.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Peace in Christ,
Listening to God
"My soul waits in silence for God; from him comes my salvation; from Him comes my hope.” Ps 62:1-5
All of us want to hear God speak, actually speak, to us, but how do we hear God’s voice? Do we really expect a physical voice like yours or mine, or do we imagine a spiritual hearing of God’s language? Unfortunately, there is a problem: our lives are so noisy, and our heads are filled with so many voices, is it even possible to hear God amidst the cacophony? How can we hear the voice of God and receive clear guidance from God for our everyday lives?
Mary Geegh served as a missionary in India through the Reformed Church in America from 1924 to 1962. For 40 years she ministered and prayed with the people and wrote about her experience of God’s presence in a little book entitled God Guides. In this book she describes how God spoke into the lives of many as she prayed with them for God’s guidance using the Listening Prayer.
When we pray, most of us picture prayer as a monologue: we talk to God, sharing our heartfelt thanks and offering up our petitions and requests. But prayer is intended to be more of a dialogue than a monologue; we just haven’t experienced it in that way. It’s been observed we were given one mouth but two ears—an indication of what God would have us do twice as much. In Henri Nouen’s The Way of the Heart, Abba Arsenius (a 4th century Roman Imperial Tutor and one of the most highly regarded of the Church Fathers) is quoted to have said, “I have often regretted of having spoken, but never of having remained silent.”
The Listening Prayer centers around a clear request for God’s guidance. In making our request, we give God’s guidance authority over the other voices we hear throughout our daily lives. Then we hit the pause button. We wait on God in a time of silence, giving the Lord opportunity to speak to us. We focus our time of prayer on intentional, purposeful listening and let God do the talking. “Be still,” says the Lord, “and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10).
Try praying this prayer. It will be awkward at first, even clumsy, but that’s okay. The main thing is to stay at it, make it a regular part of your prayer routine, and expect God to speak. Here is, perhaps, the hardest part; waiting on the Lord. Pray the prayer and wait. Take paper and a pen and write down what comes to you. Repeat the silence and write again. The waiting may be 10 minutes—or more! I told you it would seem awkward.
Remember that in learning a new way to pray we are actually unlearning the old. We are moving from form to function, silence to hearing. If you get frustrated stop and try again later, but don’t quit.
“Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus Christ, your son, and according to James 1:5.
I am seeking wisdom for _____________(your request).
In the name of Jesus, according to Matthew 28:18 and Luke 10:19-20, I take authority over Satan and his fallen angels and command that they be rendered deaf, mute, and blind to my prayers, and removed from my presence.
I submit my own voice to the shed blood of Jesus and command that my own thoughts be taken captive to the obedience of Christ, according to 2 Corinthians 10:5.
I ask, Father, that only your Holy Spirit will speak to me now as I wait on you for wisdom, insight, and direction. And whatever you show me or direct me to do, I pray that I will quickly obey.
In Jesus’ mighty name, amen.”
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
2 Corinthians 10:5
5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Peace in Christ,
All of Us, Together
Dear Creator Family,
I write with good news this week (lower case “good news,” that is. One must always keep perspective on what we’re about!) After such a long process we have turned the corner on several fronts. We have received the Health Department approval for a new drain field and have contracted with C & W Hanover Septic to do the work. We are on their calendar and hope to begin construction in October.
After the disappointment of our Yard Sale cancellation, we were able to connect with Redeemer Roman Catholic Church and join them in their ministry to Honduran Christians. Redeemer has had a mission to Honduras for many years and the recent unrest and natural disasters there have made their support all the more vital. A crew from Redeemer was here on Monday and was able to take over half of our items to sell in their yard sale to support our brothers and sisters in Honduras. This blessing to them is—by extension—a blessing for us that we can help those in such need in the name of Christ. That’s how the Gospel works, after all—by so many small, often unseen, connections. Praise be to God and our brothers and sisters at Redeemer! Please pray that their event goes well this coming weekend, as if there’s anyone who knows the hard work behind a big yard sale, it’s Creator folk!
Many of the remaining items will be donated to Fix Ministry, a Thrift Store which reaches beyond sales to help the most in need. After that I earnestly ask for help, after we plan a date(s) in the next month, to clean and clear our Sunday School rooms—straightening, tidying, getting rid of the last boxes, trash, and what-have-you. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to “take back” our building? Please help me mobilize a one-time effort along these lines.
In the church office, we are nearing the completion of our research into electronic giving software and hope to have “on-line-giving” as an option very soon. Mary has completed her renovation of the online directory and, while the new format may not very noticeable to you, it will be much easier for her to maintain.
What’s on Deck?
After our Parish Hall is emptied of the accumulation, we will dive into the Vision Ministry’s recommendations. These plans start with a thorough cleaning and an assessment of the building. From there we will move to a few much-needed improvements, which will open the door for our Parish Hall to be a multi-use building with available rental space. The completion of our portico lighting and bathroom fixtures will finish up the outside until special projects are re-engaged.
The fall is looking to be an exciting time of completion and new beginning bringing glory to God and opportunity to our Creator Family. Please contact me or your Vestry person to find a way to connect and contribute—our family, and our parish, is all of us together!
Peace in Christ,
Turning our Eyes to the Hills
The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin and…they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” The Lord [said to] Moses, “Go out in front of the people...Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” Exodus 17:1-7 abbreviated
This is a very abbreviated version of what transpired in the Desert of Sin (a real place), and I encourage you to read the entire text for a complete account because it’s a great story!
Basically, the people are hot and tired, and their water is running low and there is no stream or pond in sight. The people are, well, afraid, and they turn on Moses because he is their leader, and they are now frustrated with themselves that they may have thrown in with the wrong guy. Their fear and frustration are legitimate, and their complaint is valid—or it would be if their focus and understanding were correct, which they are not.
The Exodus event is a people thing. The People of the Exodus are on the move, both physically and spiritually, and they are being challenged in both areas as well and tried in their emotional state. So much has, and is, happening that their heads are spinning, and their fears have taken over their better judgment. In response, God makes a very public show of power and provision providing for their fear (water) and their faith (miracle). God shows that, while they are being tried by the circumstances of their travel, they are also participants in the blessing of their journey. How is this not akin to our current situation?
The Psalmist writes in Psalm 121: “I lift my eyes unto the hills, from where is my help to come? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth” (vs. 1-2). To liken our last year of COVID- 19 vigilance to the physical Exodus journey may be a stretch; however, to understand our fears and trials as a likened experience with our ancient brothers and sisters is appropriate.
As we continue down untrodden paths encountering strangely familiar obstacles which frustrate and scare us, our eyes must turn to the hills! By many accounts, COVID-19 in some form or another will be with us forever and if not it, then some other virus or disease. So, what has really changed? We are always encountering health difficulties and hearing about new terrors that shake us to the core. There was a time, not remembered by many, when Tuberculosis and Measles were killing and permanently afflicting people in comparable numbers to our current COVID affliction. Where did people turn to for help back then? Doctors, science, and—if they were people of faith, God. I can still remember my mom praying for the children who had died of measles during my early 1960s childhood. I can still remember her praying in thanksgiving and hope for the vaccine that my siblings and I received.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore (Psalm 121:7-8).
It’s hard to hear these words when we are sick or in pain or thirsty, and not wonder if they are simply hyperbole. Our physical well-being is important to God, and our physical life is constantly in peril, but our spiritual well-being is also important, and God speaks to us about both.
Each day, we must force our eyes to gaze at the hills, to look for God present and coming. We must remind ourselves that God is constantly caring for us through the love of family and friends, the attention of our doctors and medical professionals, the brilliance of scientists, the comfort of familiar things, the witness of history, the beauty of creation, and the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit. Turning our eyes to the hills means seeking the presence of God in everything and everyone. Turning our eyes to the hills means living in the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection and the absolute assurance of the presence of the Holy Spirit always—even right now!
“My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”
Peace in Christ,
Father Bill Burk†