“And the one who was seated on the throne said, 'See, I am making all things new.' Also he said, 'Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.'” - Revelation 21:5, NRSV
If there’s one book that made me laugh, cry, angry, but eventually hopeful, it would be Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving and Finding Church by Rachel Held Evans. I started reading it two years ago but I put it down after a few chapters. This summer, I picked up the book again and I’m glad I did. I’m nearly done reading it and the main message is: there is hope for the church — even if attendance is going down and most people prefer to stay home on Sundays than go to church. According to Ms. Evans, her book, Searching for Sunday, is less about searching for a “Sunday church and more about searching for Sunday resurrection.” I don’t agree with all of Ms. Evans’ theological views but I appreciate her honesty, passion and humility in sharing her faith journey and struggle with the Christian church. Two of the things that I concur with are (in her own words), “I can’t be a Christian on my own,” and ...God is busy making all things new.
“I can’t be a Christian on my own.” The gospels are full of stories about Jesus and his followers doing things together. Yes, Jesus spent time alone by himself to pray, and invited his disciples to do the same. But as busy as Jesus was healing the sick, feeding the hungry, preaching and teaching; he always made time to go to the temple or synagogue, to worship and study God’s word. Jesus invites us to do the same.
“God is busy making all things new.” If God is all about “making things new,” why is God’s church struggling to leave the old behind? Many reasons have been given and one of them is that it’s hard. It’s easier to stick to the familiar. Ironically, being human and living in this planet is all about change. Whether we like it or not, we are changing every minute and the world around us is changing rapidly - both for good and for ill. Historical records also tell us that the church as a human institution struggled with change and still does. It is hard to give up the comfort of the familiar, to try something new — even if God is the one making the offer. But God will eventually come through. Change is inevitable. God created us to change, that is, to grow.
So, here we are once more at the beginning of a new month, a new season, and maybe, a New Dawn, as our ABCNJ Annual session 2018 theme proclaims. I say maybe, because we have a choice. We can walk out of our comfort zone and welcome God’s new dawn, or stay where we are. But if we do choose to welcome God’s new dawn for us, we have some learning (or re-learning) to do and a lot of praying in order to discern God’s call for us individually and as a church. God also invites us to “See” what new thing God might be doing in our midst.
One of the new things that I see God is doing is that Sunday School doesn’t always have to be on a Sunday morning. We’re still meeting on Sunday morning in September thru June, but this summer, the adult Sunday School class met on a Tuesday and a couple of Wednesdays to continue studying the Gospel of Mark with Bob Miller as teacher. We were hosted by the Levy family. In fact it was Jason Levy’s idea to continue studying through summer. Most of our class members showed up and I enjoyed learning more about the historical and cultural background of familiar stories of Jesus’ life. It was learning something new about something old and familiar. I also offered to teach Biblical Hebrew in one of our evening sessions. As of this writing, I haven’t done it yet, but I am excited to see what God would do. Yes, it’s a strange, ancient language, but it is the language Jesus knew and read. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to at least know the alphabet and a few but important words in Biblical Hebrew that can deepen and enrich our understanding of God and our faith? How about trying out something new and learn Biblical Hebrew this year with our adult Sunday School class?
Another new thing to consider and pray for is to have a new format for children and teens Sunday School this September and beyond. It is inspired by my experience with the learning stations in Vacation Bible School. Instead of having all stations done in one Sunday, I thought why not do one each Sunday. So for example, First Sunday is learning the Bible Story; Second Sunday, do crafts based on the Bible story; Third Sunday would be Drama and Music inspired by the Bible story; Fourth Sunday, Mission Project related to the Bible story; and 5th Sundays, Recreation. In using this format, we will have adult leaders take turns teaching one Sunday a month, with the help of our teen assistants. So if you sign up to teach, you only have to teach one Sunday a month.
I invite you to prayerfully consider being part of this new adventure of teaching and learning. For after all, before Jesus ascended to heaven, he commanded his followers to make disciples — to make learners — of all nations. We have been doing that at Central Baptist in the past, and will continue to do so, by the grace and power of God, thru each one of us who are willing to welcome God’s new dawn. So, back to school we go... trusting God to lead us, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
September Main Theme: The Power of Freedom
Focus: One in Christ
Morning Worship Service: 10:30am
TIME CHANGE: SUNDAY SETPEMBER 9th
9:15am Sunday School Classes Begin
Sunday School Classes are available for ages: 4 through Adult.
Morning Worship Service – 10:30am
Tuesdays and Thursdays: 10am. to 2 pm. * Please contact Pastor for appointments at other hours as necessary.
If there is an EMERGENCY in your family or you know of a need please call at any time:
- Pastor Carla (610-659-0314)or Parsonage (856-579-4767)
- Heidi Louis, Moderator (856-371-8791)
- Pat Moore (856-430-0685)
Council meeting will be held on Thursday, September 21st @ 7pm. in the Adult SS Classroom. All are invited to attend.
Meet on Sunday, September 16th @ 7:30am at the Piston Diner. Any questions, please call Don @ 856-845-3959. Please note the change of date for just this month. Thank you.
In order to help you keep up with recent announcements and the focus of our Worship Service, on any Sunday that you are unable to attend church, please feel free to contact any of us to send you a copy of the bulletin and any inserts that might have been included. Joan Moyer, Chair, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or
Corann Okorodudu, V. Chair: Email: email@example.com
We welcome, Rev. Estelle David, ABCNJ Associate Regional Pastor for Sacred and Safe Spaces, who will serve as our Guest Preacher for the Morning Worship Service on September 16th, on American Baptist Women’s Sunday.
The Greater Woodbury Cooperative Ministries Food Bank, located at the Seventh Day Adventist Church on the corner of South Barber and Evergreen Avenues, is collecting food and household goods. Please donate food and/or non-perishables to the Food Bank, and they will joyfully take them. If you are able to purchase extra while out shopping, please bring to the Food Bank, from 9:30am to 11:30am on Tuesdays and Thursdays, or please put them in the box in the Narthex. ** Also, remember that you can make a monetary donation to the Food Bank, and they will purchase the much needed food.
PRAYER REQUESTS- Please do not hesitate to call with any requests for prayer. Contact Diane Bradley or the church office to start the Prayer Chain.
Do any of you remember the back-to-school jingle from many years past? “…Mother knows for better clothes it’s back to Robert Hall’s again…You’ll save more on clothes for school; shop at Robert Hall’s.”
Even though our calendar year ends in December and begins again in January, there is still a sense that the experiential year begins in September. School begins; vacations end; the weather begins to change (at least it did when I was growing up – now summer seems to drag on into October).
And so it is with the church program year. Senior Choir rehearsals begin this month, following worship each Sunday. We still have room for a couple basses, or tenors, or altos, or sopranos, or all of the above. The Youth Choir will begin rehearsing once-a-month, as part of the new Sunday School schedule. We will begin rehearsals for our annual Christmas Cantata.
Our Thursday evening Sandwich and a Song continues on the first and third Thursdays of the month (sack supper at 5:00, rehearsal at 5:45). Anyone is welcome to join us for either part or for both parts of the evening.
This month we will have a guest musician playing the English Handbells on September 2nd. You may remember Matt Whitecar played for us a few years ago, and will be back on that Sunday.
The congregational women will play the Kristal Bells on September 16th (AB Women’s Sunday); and Rally Day, September 30th, will feature Sunday School songs and the Youth playing Kristal Bells.
Looking ahead to October, the men of the church will again participate in worship on AB Men’s Sunday (Oct. 14th), under the control of Don Sanderson (using his Jedi mind tricks). The men will sing during the offertory, and perhaps tap dance to the tune: “Shall We Dance.”
We in the music department look forward to contributing to the worship life of Central Baptist again, this New Year.
Boyd Fox, Music Director
Just a reminder that we still collect donations for the church’s lawn and leaf care. Anyone willing to donate, should notate on their envelope or check the designation. Thank you for your continued care of our church building and lawn.
Sunday, September 9th at 9:15am.
Join us for our new and exciting Children’s Sunday School Program!
Come Join the Fun!
Sunday September 30th
On our church lawn
Where do CROP Hunger Walk funds go?
CROP Hunger Walks help to support the overall ministry of Church World Service, especially grassroots, hunger-fighting development efforts around the world. In addition, each local CROP Hunger Walk can choose to return up to 25 percent of the funds it raises to hunger-fighting programs in its own community.
CROP Hunger Walks help to provide food and water, as well as resources that empower people to meet their own needs. From seeds and tools, to wells and water systems, to technical training and micro-enterprise loans, the key is people working together to identify their own development priorities, their strengths and their needs something CWS has learned through some 68 years of working in partnership around the world.
SIGN UP TO WALK OR SPONSOR ANOTHER WALKER.
**Please see Pastor Carla for registration sheets**
I was scurrying past the Tweens/Teens Sunday School class this past spring, and heard the teacher (who shall remain nameless) testing the Youth to see if they understood the concept of getting to heaven by God’s grace.
She asked, “If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale, and gave all my money to the church, would that get me into heaven?” “No,” the Kids answered.
If I cleaned the church every day, mowed the grass, and kept everything neat and tidy, would that get me into heaven?”
Again the answer was, “No.” By now I could hear the excitement building in the teacher’s voice; she felt she had gotten the lesson across to her students.
“Well, then, if I was kind to animals and gave candy to all the children and loved my family, would that get me into heaven,” she inquired. She received the same answer.
She thought, one last question should seal the deal. ”Well, if I volunteered at a soup kitchen, and did chores for my neighbors, and told everybody about Jesus, would that get me into heaven?” Again, they answered, “No.”
Bursting with pride, she asked, “Well, then, how can I get into heaven?” One of the kids shouted, “You gotta be dead!”
Our children are our most precious gifts, and present many of our greatest challenges. Sometimes we forget Jesus’s words: “Unless you receive the Kingdom like a child, you will never enter it.” I thought it might be interesting to hear some of the things the children say to God before we teach them how to be ‘religious’:
- I didn’t think orange went with purple until I saw the sunset You made. It was cool!
- Instead of letting people die and having to make new ones, why don’t You keep the ones You already have?
- Maybe Cain and Abel would not have killed each other if they had their own rooms. That’s what my Mom and Dad did for me and my brother, and it works.
- If you watch me in church on Sunday, I’ll show You my new shoes.
- I bet it is very hard to love everyone in the whole world. There are only 4 people in our family and I’m having a hard time loving all of them.
- In Sunday School they told us what You do. Who does it when You are on vacation?
- Are you really invisible, or is it just a trick?
- Is it true my father won’t get to heaven if he uses his bowling words at home?
- Did you mean for the giraffe to look like that, or was it an accident?
Wishing all of our children, youth, and young adults, a safe, enjoyable, prosperous school year!
Chubby (your church-mouse-in-residence)
Have you ever wondered how to tell if an article that you are reading in the Internet is fake or not? NPR (National Public Radio), published an article on how to identify fake news on Dec. 5, 2016, based on their program, “All Tech Considered.” The author of the article is Wynn Davis. Below are the “best practices” that can help the reader to identify fake news sources.
“Pay attention to the domain and URL.”
In the Internet “domains are defined by the IP address. IP means “Internet Protocol.” “An Internet protocol is a numerical label assigned to each device connected to a computer network that uses the IP for communication. An IP address serves two principal functions: host or network interface identification and location addressing.” “IP addresses are usually written and displayed in human-readable notations such as 172.16.254.1 in IPv4.” (Source: Wikipedia)
“URL is the abbreviation of Uniform Resource Locator and is defined as the global address of documents and other resources in the World Wide Web. To visit this website [providing the definition of URL], for example, you’ll go to www.webopedia.com.”
“Established news organizations usually own their domains and they have a standard look that you are probably familiar with. Sites with such endings like .com.co should make you raise your eyebrows and tip you off that you need to dig around more to see if they can be trusted. This is true even when the site looks professional and has semi- recognizable logos. For example, abcnews.com is a legitimate news source, but abcnews.com.co is not, despite its similar appearance.”
“Read the ‘About Us’ section.”
“Most sites will have a lot of information about the news outlet, the company that runs it, members of leadership, and the mission and ethics statement behind an organization. The language used here is straightforward. If it's melodramatic and seems overblown, you should be skeptical. Also, you should be able to find out more information about the organization's leaders in places other than that site.”
“Look at the quotes in a story.”
“Or rather, look at the lack of quotes. Most publications have multiple sources in each story who are professionals and have expertise in the fields they talk about. If it's a serious or controversial issue, there are more likely to be quotes — and lots of them. Look for professors or other academics who can speak to the research they've done. And if they are talking about research, look up those studies.”
“Look at who said them.”
“Then, see who said the quotes, and what they said. Are they a reputable source with a title that you can verify through a quick Google search?”
“Check the comments.”
“A lot of these fake and misleading stories are shared on social media platforms. Headlines are meant to get the reader's attention, but they're also supposed to accurately reflect what the story is about. Lately, that hasn't been the case. Headlines often will be written in exaggerated language with the intention of being misleading and then attached to stories that are about a completely different topic or just not true. These stories usually generate a lot of comments on Facebook or Twitter. If a lot of these comments call out the article for being fake or misleading, it probably is.”
“Reverse image search.”
“A picture should be accurate in illustrating what the story is about. This often doesn't happen. If people who write these fake news stories don't even leave their homes or interview anyone for the stories, it's unlikely they take their own pictures. Do a little detective work and reverse search for the image on Google. You can do this by right- clicking on the image and choosing to search Google for it. If the image is appearing on a lot of stories about many different topics, there's a good chance it's not actually an image of what it says it was on the first story.”
According to the author, Wynn Davis, these are just starting steps you can take to determine whether the article you are reading is fake or not. If you take the time to do these steps and find out that the article is fake, you can help stop the spread of false news, by doing two things: don’t share or pass on to your family and friends; and respectfully let your family and friends know that what they may be sharing is not real news.
One last caution from the author is to know which publications are known for articles that are written as satire, exaggerated claims, and humor; and thus, not to be taken literally. The most well-known ones are “The Onion” and “Clickhole.”
It appears like one needs to go through a lot of steps to determine fake from real news. But I believe these are worth our while, especially if we are followers of Jesus who proclaimed, “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)