Happenings at an inner city church in Allentown

Archive for December, 2011

For Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sermon Title:   “Pieces of the Puzzle”

Scripture:    Luke 2:22-40

Happy New Year to one and all!  Even though we will be celebrating the beginning of the New Year on Sunday, don’t forget we are still in the Christmas season for 12 days until Epiphany which is January 6, 2012, the commemoration of the magi’s visit to baby Jesus.  So keep your joy, Christmas is not over, even though the retail stores say it is with their Valentines Day decorations.

As New Year’s Eve approaches, you are probably as diligent as I am about what my new year’s resolutions will be for 2012.  Every year as this eve approaches, I really give it a great deal of thought and prayer as to what God wants me to work on.  Sometimes I make it through the year with my list of to do’s, and other years I am barely out of the new year and already I am forgetting what I promised to do.  I am sure we all wish for a better year for us and for those we love.

The passage in Luke begins with Mary and Joseph taking their baby to be presented to God.   Jewish law said that “every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”, so Mary and Joseph are being a good Jewish family.  Along with bringing their firstborn male to be consecrated, they were also to bring a sacrifice.  If you couldn’t bring a year-old lamb, you could bring two doves or two young pigeons.  They brought two doves.

Both Simeon and Anna recognized the Christ child, and shared their prophetic words with Mary, the mother of Jesus.  No matter how many times people would share these prophetic words, Mary and Joseph were still amazed.  As a parent, there is much to worry about, but one thing we can count on, God’s love as we are held in God’s hands.

Come and join us on Sunday, January 1st as we celebrate the beginning of a New Year.  After worship there will be a time of fellowship in the parlor.  No Sunday School, but worship begins at 10:45Am.

Thought for the Week:   “It is always easier to believe in a Christ who is coming than a Christ who has come.”    – Fred Craddock

Let us pray:   God of the New Year, we lift up our concerns, and our resolutions to you, knowing that you will guide us and stand beside us as we journey through life.  May we greet you this new year with songs of praise and thanksgiving.  We pray in your name.  Amen.

Annual Christmas Dinner 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011, we had our annual Christmas Dinner after worship.  The hospitality committee plans a wonderful turkey dinner including appetizers of fruit with a chocolate fountain.  Great fun, great eating and wonderful friendship.  What follows is a few of our pictures.

Christmas Gift Jigsaw Puzzle

"Firetruck"This Advent season I spent two weeks putting together a jigsaw puzzle in the shape of a firetruck for my grandson Bryce.  He is almost two years old, and loves firetrucks.  I guess part of his fascination is the fact that they live right next to a fire station.  The second thing is that his daddy is a volunteer fireman, and more at this fire house.  So would I be misleading in saying that it runs in the family.  Who knows.  But I do know that whatever Bryce does, he will do it passionately and in a caring way. 

I am so excited to see what Bryce will do when he sees it on Christmas Day.  He already has a jigsaw puzzle of a water hole with lots of animals in his bedroom.  It gave me great joy as I was working on this puzzle these past two weeks, knowing it was for this very special little boy.  It did have my wondering if I had lost a piece or two because it was not the traditional puzzle in a rectangle shape but in the shape of the fire truck.   The ironic thing is that I couldn’t make it on the puzzle table because I am stuck on a puzzle that is taking me forever to finish.  So I put it on the dining room table.  But I finally completed the fire truck, with no pieces missing.  Thank you, God.

May all you who read this have a blessed Christmas and a healthy 2012.  Pastor Lorraine

For Sunday, Dec. 25, 2011

Sermon Title:    “Thank You for Coming”

Scripture:    Hebrews 1:1-4 / John 1:1-14

Merry Christmas to one and all!    The title for my meditation on Christmas morning is “Thank You for Coming”.  Who am I thanking:  our Lord Jesus or You?

As I contemplate writing this message, many thoughts are running through my mind, especially the years as a child growing up in a home with four other siblings.  Christmas morning, after opening gifts, we always went to church, to sing in the Christmas program.  It didn’t matter if Christmas was on a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday, it was a day to go to church and celebrate and give thanks to “God for coming.”

For most Christians and churches, this year is rare, to go to church on Christmas morning.  Two things I would like to share with you about the passage in Hebrews:  1) the babe in the manger is the fulfillment of the plan of God, and 2) Christ is the perfect reflection of the character of God. 

In the gospel of John, we see a different Christmas story:  it has no star, manger, shepherds, angels, magi or even a babe.  In essence, John reports the nativity as this:  “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen his glory. ”  (John 1:14).  It seems as though how Jesus was born, is not as important as our response to that event. 

As we contemplate the gift of Jesus, think about this:  What am I doing with the gift of Jesus Christ in my life?   Only you can answer for yourself.  Join us on Christmas morn at 9:30AM at St. James U.C.C. in Allentown.  You are WELCOME!   Resources from Clergy Journal and Dynamic Preaching

Thought for the Week:   Christmas, my child, is love in action.  Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.  – by Dale Evans

Let us pray:   Almighty God, today we celebrate how you came into this world for all time.  We pray for all of your people everywhere, for the good news you have brought.  Let your good news be sounded every place where light is needed, even in our own hearts.  We pray in your name.  Amen.

Pastor Lorraine

For Saturday, Dec. 24, 2011

Sermon Title:     “The Light of Christmas”

Scripture:    Isaiah 9:2-6 / Luke 2:1-14

Our Candlelight Christmas Eve Service begins on December 24th at 7:30PM.   As we gather on this most holiest of nights, we will hear once again the story of Jesus’ birth as recorded in Luke 2:1-14.   While scholars debate the historical accuracy of any worldwide registration being decreed by Augustus (2:1), the important point in this passage is that Luke clearly wants the reader to be aware that the birth of Jesus takes place not only in the particular context of the rule of Caesar Augustus, but confronts it.  – resources from Homiletics journal

Christmas Eve is a night for miracles.  It is a magical night of wonder and faith.  Children are excited, parents are excited, and grandparents are excited, too, as we all remember the joy and anticipation we felt as youngsters as Christmas approached and we see that same joy in the eyes of children around us.  It is good to hear the prophetic words of Isaiah, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on this living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned…For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

We all experience darkness at some time in our lives, but there is a light that shines…And that light is a babe born in Bethlehem.  No matter where you live, go to church to celebrate and welcome this light into your lives.  We at St. James U.C.C. in Allentown have a 7:30PM candlelight Christmas Eve service and YOU are welcome!   Christmas Day our service will be held at 9:30AM.

Just remember one thing – the light in the manger never goes out regardless of any mess we make of things.  Jesus’ light never goes out.  Have a very Merry Christmas and a healthy, blessed year of 2012.

Thought for the Week:    To believe in God is not just to love life, but to work so that there is life.  – Jon Sobrino

Let us pray:   Joy of the world, we come this eve with thankful hearts – Christ is born!  Alleluia!  Thanks be to you, O God, who knows so well the way of light and darkness and assures us of the light.  Let this night hold the kind of memory that lasts.  Blend all our hearts with those everywhere who rejoice in your time and your coming into our time.  We celebrate with exuberance or with quietness – because the Word is among us and we are given the gift of Light.  Alleluia!  Amen.

Pastor Lorraine

For Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011

Sermon Title:   “Restore Us, O God:  LOVE”

Scripture:   Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26

On this fourth and last Sunday of Advent, we will light the fourth candle with the theme of LOVE. 

Psalm 89 declares God’s steadfast love and faithfulness, along with the promises of an heir and eternal line which is associated with the season of Advent.  God promises that the love of God will never end.  God’s love is an “always” love.

The gift of Christmas, is the gift of love, in a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger in a stable.  The psalmist said, God’s love is an “always” love.  What about your love for Jesus?  or for those you love?

What would you do for the one you love?  What wouldn’t you do for the one you love?  God’s love has no limits.  Sometimes words are not enough, we need to show love through our actions to back them up. 

Come and worship with us on this last Sunday of Advent as we prepare to welcome the newborn baby once again on Christmas Eve.  Our Christmas Eve candlelight service begins on December 24th at 7:30PM.  Come and worship!

Thought for the Week:   The coming of the Lord is the coming of the new, not the renewal of the old.  Our Advent is the celebration of this hope.  – Thomas Merton

Let us pray:  Gently we pray, still as we may, that you this day might show us the way.  As Mary said, “Yes!” evermore bless all who confess the reign of the Savior!  Forever!  Amen.      – from Lectern Resource

Pastor Lorraine


Advent / Christmas Craft Workshop for Children

Sundays,  November 27, December 4 and December 18, we had an arts and crafts workshop for children, grandchildren and neighborhood children to attend.  Their crafts and decorating stockings will be hung around the church until Christmas morning.  Then on Christmas morning, December 25th when they come to our 9:30AM worship service, the children will be able to pick their stockings up which will be filled with goodies by Santa.  Anyone is welcome.  See also our beautiful church and sanctuary decorated for Advent and Christmas.  Pictures were taken by Marie and Michael Sincavage.

For Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011

Sermon Title:    “Restore Us, O God:   JOY”

Scripture:    Psalm 126

On this Third Sunday of Advent, we will light another candle on the wreath with the theme of JOY.  The first week was HOPE and the second week was PEACE. 

Psalm 126 is known to some people as a musical piece that God’s people would sing on their journey to Jerusalem, and to the temple.  It has two parts:  the first section is about memories of the past and the second section brings vision of the future. 

Where does real joy come from?  Is it just the warm and fuzzy feelings connected to holiday memories with family and friends?  Or is there much more to this feeling of JOY? 

If you would like to hear more of JOY, come to worship on Sunday at 10:45AM.  Come and worship and see our beautiful sanctuary during this Advent season.

Thought for the Week:   God whispers to us in every candle and carol, every card and creche:  “I love you, I love you.”   – by Leonard Sweet

Let us pray:   Almighty God,the longings of our heart are deep in this season of Advent.  While we are surrounded by glittery tinsel and pretty things, we are reminded that superficial things do not truly satisfy.  We need you, Lord.  Come to us, to calm our restless hearts.  We pray.  Amen.        Pastor Lorraine