Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Father's Love Begotten

QUESTION: How do our holiday celebrations reflect the love of God as expressed in the life and ministry of Jesus?
ANSWER: Not very well.
The very sad truth is that our Christmas celebrations are often marked by consumerism and overindulgence. It is not that God is anti-celebration. God loves it when his people celebrate. In fact the Bible commands us to celebrate the good things of God.
During Advent we’ll look at four Advent celebrations in Scripture and ask two questions: What is being celebrated? And how could our Christmas celebrations reflect the Father’s love begotten through Jesus in the world today? Come and explore new ways to celebrate that are more congruent with the one whose birth we are celebrating November 30 – December 21 at Westminster.
So here is an advent idea:
How about having a family meeting this week and talk about Christmas and how you celebrate it?
Share stories about the “comfort foods” of Christmas – not just he foods but the things you always want to do because they bring you closer together and remind you of home and family.
Share the things that drive you a bit crazy at Christmas and could be discontinued.
Share about new things you could do to make this Christmas more Christian.
Agree on a plan for a simpler, more Christian Christmas.
For ideas- Find out about the Advent Conspiracy:

More alternative celebration ideas:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Westminster Stuff

Someone once said, “Change is always difficult and if it isn’t difficult it isn’t significant change.” If that is true and I think it is, I am very happy to say that we’ve been experiencing true change at Westminster this last year. At our congregational meeting last year we voted to change our number of elders from 12 to 7. This may have seemed like a small change, but it was an important piece of a bigger plan.
For many years sessions have been seen as the managing center of the church. In some ways this has worked well, but in other ways it has not. A plus is always having people to fill positions, but a negative is that the gifting and passion of the incoming elders does not always fit the open positions. Another downside is that the visioning and governing role of elders is often lost, as session members are too focused on their own individual committees to have a sense of the whole picture of the church. When the session is in essence a committee of committee chairs, it is easy to lose a sense of the overall vision and leadership can degrade to turf wars.
The new plan relieves the elders of most of the committee and ministry responsibilities so they can actually be the visioning and governing board of the church. The committees and ministries are then lead by gifted lay leaders and/or staff who work under the direction and broad guidance of the session. The structure allows for the ministry leaders and committee leaders to have more freedom to move forward without session having to micromanage every action. The result is more actual ministry and less committee meetings and red tape.
This first year has not been without its bumps and everything is not yet functioning as envisioned, but much great progress has been made. The most progress has been in the growth of small groups, more community building opportunities and the good work being done to beautify our church campus We now have 7 study groups and 5 fellowship groups! Our Sunday Welcome Table and New Dinner Groups are helping build community. The painting of the sanctuary and the remolding of the bathrooms are just a few of the projects that have been accomplished. There are many good things happening.
In January at the annual session retreat will be evaluating our progress, regrouping and moving forward into 2009 and beyond. Thanks to everyone who has been patient and willing to take risks to try something new. Remember the 7 last words of the church are: We have never done it that way before.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Florida Trip Pictures

Shannon and I spent a few days visiting the Piper's in Florida. Due to our 50 and over year old bladders, I think we visited every restroom in the park. It was great to see Greg and Julie and Dave and Debbie. I was able to show off my awesome driving skills at the Magic Kingdom. The day at Disney concluded with a wonderful dinner on the top floor of the Contemporary Hotel watching the fireworks display.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A new poem

Here is a poem I am enjoying that I heard a while back on the the Writer's Almanac:

Sing we and chant it
While love doth grant it.
Not long youth lasteth,
And old age hasteth.
Now is best leisure
To take our pleasure.

All things invite us
Now to delight us.
Hence, care, be packing!
No mirth be lacking!
Let spare no treasure
To live in pleasure.

"Sing we and chant it..." by Anonymous. Public Domain. 1595