Happenings at an inner city church in Allentown

Archive for September, 2011

For Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sermon Title:   “The Confession App”

Scripture:   Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20

 The “Ten Commandments” – a familiar and well-known passage for all of us as Christians.  These commandments were given to us as children of God as guidelines for how to live with others and love one another, because the act of one person can affect a family and even a whole community.

Recently in my doing reseach for this up-coming meditation, I came across an app that Roman Catholics can access as well as we who are Christian.  It is for real, “the Confession App”, and it is the first app to be officially sanctioned by the Vatican.

Do we need an “app” to remind us when we have sinned and that we need to ask God for forgiveness?   Or can we simply turn to our Bibles to Exodus 20 to remind us of these commandments that protect us from committing evil?   The “Ten Commandments” are divided into two sections that call us to examine our consciences. 

Would you like to hear more, then join us at St. James UCC on Sunday, October 2nd at 10:45AM for worship.  On this World Communion Sunday, we will be celebrating The Sacrament of Holy Communion with thousands of our sisters and brothers across the world. 

We will also celebrate Birthday Sunday and have a Fellowship Hour after worship in the parlor, and you will be able to pick up your chow-chow orders. 

Thought for the Week:  What we think or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence.  The only thing of consequence is what we do.  – John Ruskin

Let us pray:   We give you thanks, O God, today and every day, for the wonders of your creation.  We pray for wisdom, discernment and healing as we are blessed in this shared stewardship.  May we see in every star, in every grain of sand, in every smile, in every living thing and human being, one more reason to give you our thanks and praise.  We pray.  Amen.

Pastor Lorraine

I BELIEVE – for 9/18/11

Scripture:  John 14:1-6a  

   Since I am still recovering at home, I want to share with you a personal experience as a pastor.  Pastors have many experiences with families, when we walk on holy ground.  This is one of those times in my life that I share with you today in place of a sermon on Sunday.  

    Two words “I Believe” that have a very special meaning to me.  Years ago during my first pastorate, there was a young woman, in her mid-thirties, a wife, and a mother to a young son who had battled breast cancer for a long time when it eventually moved to her bones.   The remarkable thing about her was that she never gave up looking for a miracle.

    I remember so well, that Monday evening when I got the call from her husband.  I was supposed to visit Tuesday morning and I had just put on icy hot on my hurting knees, put sweat pants on and laid down to rest a bit.  I will call this young woman Mati to protect the family.  We all knew it was just a matter of time until Mati would die, but we thought there would be more time.  The phone call came, it was cold and had been a bitter wintry day.  I immediately dressed and headed to their home. 

    It seems Mati had been calling for me all day.   She wanted to tell me something.  She kept saying to her family, “I have to tell Pastor Lorraine, I believe.”  But by the time I got the call in the evening, and arrived, Mati wasn’t able to talk much, nor did she open her eyes.  She wasn’t able to tell me what she saw or heard or experienced.

   I was on her left side, her husband on her right side, and her aunt at her feet – and that is how we stayed for hours until the end.   All at once, she opened her eyes, looked at her husband, at her aunt and then at me and breathed her last.    

   “I believe” – I know deep down in my heart, that Mati must have experienced something so moving or spiritual that she wanted to tell me about it.  But the way the day had gone, that was not possible.  I do appreciate so much the family giving me her message – “I have to tell Pastor Lorraine, I believe.”  I know it wasn’t about the song, it was about being touched by the holy, 0f that I am sure.   

    So now you understand, why those two words, “I believe” are so meaningful and sacred to me.  And I know one day, I will hear the whole story from Mati, when we meet each other again in heaven.  For that is our promise from Jesus,  recorded in the gospel of John, chapter 14, verses 1-6a:  “…In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.  Adn if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

   On this day of September 17, 2011 – “I believe”  –  do you?  Please share with me your thoughts and comments!  I look forward to reading them.  Bless you!

   Pastor Lorraine

Remembrance of 9/11


Jesus overlooking the towers

Scriptures for Sunday:   Exodus 14:19-31 / Romans 14:1-12 / Matthew 18:21-35

If you checked out the St. James UCC Chatterbox issue for October, you will see that I already had a title picked out for this special Sunday – “Can We Forgive Them?”  For us at St. James, this is not only remembrance of 9/11, it is our first Sunday back to our regular time of Sunday School at 9:00AM and our  worship time of 10:45AM.  We are also recognizing ‘Grandparents Day’ with a few special gifts that will be handed out and there will also be a baptism. 

As much as I wanted to be with all of you in worship this day, I will be home, still recovering and healing from surgery, hopefully watching TV and the special events and services they will televise on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.  This past week especially I am sure we can all say this has been the focus point of many TV shows, and the news.

Where were you on Tuesday, 9/11/01?  I was on I-78, on my way to my church when I heard the devastating news of the first plane hitting the first tower.    It was so scary, I didn’t know if I should turn around and go home, or continue on to church.  Listening intently over the next few hours, prayers were constantly being raised up to God, praying for all those who were caught up in this horror and for their famililes.  During my time at church, I felt the need to contact all of my family, to make sure everyone was ok, even though none of us were anywhere near New York.     

As we prepare ourselves for the anniversary of 9/11, I suggest you read the scriptures for this day.  And listen to what God may be telling you through the reading.  Romans 14:7-8 says, “We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves.  If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s”.

Think about what Paul says in Romans 5:6-7.  ‘he states it is rare that someone will die for a good person, but that only Christ would have died for sinners.’  Not anymore.  Think about the First Responders on 9/11, those who rushed in both of the towers, running up the steps as other people were running to get out.  These first responders did not try to determine if a person was righteous or a sinner before running up those burning towers to save them.  They just did what they had to do.  They stepped out in faith, just as the Israelites did so long ago, walking into the breach between water and water that could engulf them.

If we claim to be disciples of Jesus, we need to remember certain things: Jesus spoke not of revenge or retribution, but of forgiveness, refusing to strike back, refusing to judge.  If we want to follow Jesus, we must preach it, and live it. 

If you struggle with forgiveness of someone who hurt you, or those who hurt others like in 9/11, I suggest you read the book “Amish Grace”.  The Amish take seriously the clause from the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”  Their model of forgiveness seeks to break the cycle of violence and create a positive change.

May we all take time on Sunday, 9/11 to remember on this 10th anniversary but also to see the Hope that is there for all who believe. 

Let us pray:  Lead us from death to life, from falsehood to truth.  Lead us from despair to hope, from fear to trust; lead us from hate to love, from war to peace.  Let peace fill our hearts, our world, our universe.  Amen.

Some material quoted from Frank Ramirez.                 – Pastor Lorraine

Puzzles n’ more Puzzles

   These are three of my favorite jigsaw puzzles:  the lighthouse reminds me of God’s light that shines on us all, the butterflies represent new life, and the one by the lake, it is called “Autumn Lake”. 

   They have given me much inspiration this past week as I nap in the spare bedroom.  I feel like I am just like my grandson, Bryce who takes a nap in the morning and the afternoon faithfully every day.  I do that too now, as I recover from surgery.  It is so amazing how much the naps help me feel better.

   The last puzzle I made was “Autumn Lake” and as I was working on this one, I remembered why I love making them so much.  Growing up, my parents, me and four other siblings lived with my grandmother.  In the winter time, she would always lay out a jigsaw puzzle in the living room on a card table.  All winter long, we made one puzzle after another.  And there was  no cheating, we were not allowed to find the outside pieces first, like I do now.  I loved sitting with my grandmother, helping find pieces to create the finished puzzle.  That was our special time together.  

     I guess that is why I always enjoyed making jigsaw puzzles with my granddaughter, Jordan.  I saw it as making special moments for Jordan, as my grandmother made for me.  I look forward to making some of those special moments with Bryce as well.  We are just beginning to make some of those heavy, wooden puzzles.  I hope those of you who read this, will remember some of your special moments with grandparents, parents or other family too.  Such precious memories we have and can share with others.  

    On this Labor Day weekend, may you have a day of rest, relaxation and time with family.  God bless all of you!   Pastor Lorraine