Happenings at an inner city church in Allentown

“Life of PI”

Our next book we are reading is “Life of PI” written by Yann Martel, which was made into a movie.
This is a story about a boy, his hometown, and what happens to him. Resources say it is a book that will help you believe in God and have faith. We will be meeting Saturday, March 23, 2013 for discussion in the parlor from 10:00AM to 11:30AM. Anyone is welcome. Pastor Lorraine

“An Invisible Thread”

The book we are reading currently is “An Invisible Thread” written by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresiniowski. It is about a woman working in New York, walking down a street one day when this little boy comes up to her and asks her for some change. At first she continues to keep walking but something makes her turn around and go back.

This is their story of how two people connected on a busy street in New York. One thing leads to another and they spend a lifetime caring for one another. It is a wonderful book about life, and how we often save each other through our friendships.

We will be meeting Saturday, February 16, 2013 at 10AM in the parlor for discussion. You are welcome. Pastor Lorraine

Sermon Title: “The Nazareth Syndrome”
Scripture: Luke 4:21-30

The reading for February 3rd, starts at the verse last week’s ended – Jesus’ assertion that “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” The congregations response to Jesus’ claim, is a bit negative. They spoke well of him but were also astonished that his words are those of a local boy, the son of a carpenter.

Jesus provokes them, ridiculing where there thoughts are heading. They think he needs help, the decide. They are ready to help him, off a cliff. Luckily, Jesus was able to take himself out of the situation before things went from bad to worse.
The truth is that sometimes God’s truth comes to us in ways and through people through whom we would have never expected.

If you would like to hear more of this message on how God uses the people near us as channels for his messages, come to church on Sunday, February 3rd. We will also be having our Souper Bowl Sunday soup after worship in the Fellowship Hall.
The cost is $5.00. Resource: Homiletics

Thought for the Week: “It is much riskier to open your heart to God each day to listen and to ask, ‘Lord, what are You
telling me today?’ – Bruce Larson

Let us pray: Merciful God, we are bombarded with information, all of it claiming to be the truth. Yet we know there are false messiahs among us who seek to exploit rather than serve us. Into this, you come as the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Thanks be to you, our rock and our redeemer. Amen.

Pastor Lorraine

For Sunday, January 20th

Sermon Title: “Abundance”
Scripture: John 2:1-11

This is the story of the wedding at Cana where Jesus miraculously turns water into wine when his mother lets him know that they have no more wine. This is the first of Jesus’ miracles in the gospel of John.

Weddings were a big deal in Jesus’ day, often lasting for an entire week. Seven days was the Jewish custom. That’s seven days of feasting, drinking, abstaining from work, and enjoying the company of loved ones, all as a way of celebrating and sharing in the new family’s joy.

Now if we did that kind of partying for weddings, we would not be able to afford it since an average wedding (a few hours) costs $27,000 today or maybe even more, depending on who you talk to about it.

The story goes that Jesus, his mother and his disciples are at this wedding in Cana. Jesus’ mother Mary, tells him that they are out of wine. At first he responds with “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” Then she tells the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” And he does it. Does she know her son and that he would respond as she had hoped?

There are at least four reasons why Jesus did provide more wine for the party. Come to worship on Sunday, January 20th and discover these reasons. Worship begins at 10:45AM; Sunday School for adults at 9:30AM as we continue our study of Revelation. Resource: Homiletics

Thought for the Week: “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
– Written by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Let us pray: O God, we thank you for the blessing of life. We pray for those who do not know you, that they may receive the good news of Jesus Christ. We pray for those who need to be touched by your healing graces, and for those who need
renewal, that they may receive the newsness of spirit. We pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Pastor Lorraine

Sermon Title:   “A Sign of God’s Grace”

Scripture:   Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

The lesson for this First Sunday after Epiphany is the baptism of Jesus.  Remember the story of Christ’s baptism.  John the Baptist was baptizing people in the River Jordan.  People were flocking to hear him and his message.  Among them was Jesus of Nazareth who was John’s cousin.  Jesus stepped into the water and was baptized by John.  The Holy Spirit had descended on him in a form like a dove.

In the case of Jesus, the symbolism of the dove is important, as it represents peace and meekness.  From this we can see that Jesus was a different kind of Messiah, for he comes as a peacemaker and a servant. 

What about your baptism?  Many of us were baptized as infants and do not give it much thought as we journey through life.  But it truly is a rite of passage to a new life.  Come and join us in worship on Sunday as we look at baptism and how it is a sign of God’s grace.

Thought for the Week:   What do you expect of God – and from that, what do you expect of yourself?

Let us pray:    We give you thanks O God, for this new year and the promises and blessings we will receive.  Be with all those who need to be touched by your healing graces.  We pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Pastor Lorraine

“The Snow Angel”

The St. James U.C.C. Book Club decided to take a rest in December and not have a time for discussion.  We have scheduled a book though to be read for January, “The Snow Angel” by Glenn Beck.  We will be meeting Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 10AM in the parlor for discussion and light snack.

“This book is a tale about family, forgiveness, and the freedom to live a future free of the past.”  This was a direct quote taken from the jacket of the book.   It is just the kind of book you might want to read over your Christmas vacation.  YOU are welcome to join us.  Pastor Lorraine

For the month of November, the St. James UCC Book Club will be reading “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” written by Rachel Joyce.  This is a novel about a retired man, Harold Fry who doesn’t seem to be able to do anything right where his wife is concerned.  And one day he receives a letter from an old friend, Queenie Hennessy, who is in Hospice, writing to say “goodbye.”

The story continues as Harold starts walking to the post office to mail a response, and instead of dropping the note in the mailbox, he continues walking to see his old friend in person.   The walk will be some 600 miles.  On this walk, he meets some unforgettable people and realizes so many things, those things that are deep in his heart, some hidden for a long time.   Just like many of us have things that are hidden in our hearts.  Reading this book is a journey of its own, as we search our own heart at the things that we have hidden.

If you would like to join us for discussion on this book, come Saturday, November 24th at 10AM to St. James UCC, 15th and Walnut Streets,   Allentown.

Pastor Lorraine

“GRACE” by Max Lucado

During the month of October, the St. James UCC Book Club will be reading “Grace” written by Max Lucado.  We often hear the word  “grace” mentioned in worship, see it in books, even hear the word sung, but do we really know what it means?

Lucado writes, “Grace is simply another word for God’s tumbling, rumbling reservoir of strength and protection…He has enough grace to pardon every sin, solve every dilemma, wipe every tear, and answer every question.  It’s more than we deserve and greater than we imagine.”

If you are interested in learning more about grace, read Max Lucado’s book, “Grace” and then come to St. James UCC, Allentown on Saturday, October 27th at 10AM and join us for a discussion in the parlor.  Everyone welcome.

Pastor Lorraine

“Hiking Through”

   In September, the St. James U.C.C. Book Club members are reading “Hiking Through” by Paul Stutzman.

   This is a true story of finding one’s way after the death of a spouse.  Paul after resigning from his job takes on the challenge of hiking ‘The Appalchian Trail’, some 2,176 miles.

   It is a book of life, of death, of faith, and of finding oneself after a deep loss.  An example of one thought-provoking question from Paul in his book:  “Are you in control of events, God,or do things on this earth just happen randomly?”

   Join us on Saturday, September 22nd at 10AM at church in the parlor for discussion and light snacks.  Call the church office at 610-432-7677 for any questions.  Pastor Lorraine

   The novel we are currently reading is “Five Days in May” written by Ninie Hammon.  This story is about a category 5 tornado who roars towrd Graham, Oklahoma and how four people lives touch each other and change drastically through this tragedy.

    Even though I am only in the early part of the book, it touches on faith, what we believe about the sanctity of life both in regards to the quality of life  and death row inmates facing execution.  

   If this book interests you, you may either purchase it yourself or order it through Pastor Lorraine, who you can reimburse for the cost when you receive the book.   We will be meeting Saturday, August 18 at 10AM in the parlor at St. James UCC, Allentown.  You may call the church office with any questions at 610-432-7677.    Pastor Lorraine