“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17
““I think accepting change is quite as important as defending the past.”
– Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, Downton Abbey
You may wonder why a quotation from a major character of the popular British historical television drama, Downton Abbey, has found its way into my message. Perhaps it’s because Cora Crawley is one of my favorite characters in the show. With the upcoming release of the film version of Downton Abbey on September 20, I am looking forward to reconnecting with the Countess of Grantham (though a fictitious character), and look to her for some inspiration in facing the inevitable that everyone encounters in the course of one’s life: CHANGE.
In the New Testament, John the Baptist paved the way for Jesus to bring about change in living out the same Covenant relationship with God. Jesus selected men and women to help him demonstrate the new thing God was creating through the Church, a new community, living actively in the present in the power of the Holy Spirit, while anchored in the promises of God in the past. Through the Church, God’s faithful presence in the past continues into the present and the future. Each generation is invited to be present and faithful to God but also to adapt to the changing times. In order to do this, Jesus and his first followers have left us a spiritual legacy and practices to help us fulfill God’s mission and serve as witnesses of God’s reconciling, restoring and renewing grace.
Central Baptist Church had been through a lot of changes since it began as a Sunday School class over 120 years ago. Just like most of mainstream Protestant churches in the West, our church is facing the huge challenge of decline and low attendance. And yet God continues to call and send us out to be faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ and the gospel in the world. We have a choice: we either give in to despair and hang on to the remnants of what was meaningful to us in the past, OR, we can take a leap of faith and be open to the new thing that God is already doing among us.
In order to take this leap of faith there is a great need to be intentional in engaging in a new season of prayer, reflection and action. In connection with this new season, I will be preaching a sermon series, featuring one spiritual practice every Sunday, beginning September 22 thru November 10 (except for October 13 which is AB Men’s Sunday). I ask for your support in prayer, presence and participation in this journey of revisiting seven practices that the Church has been learning since its birth in order to fulfill God’s mission. The main resources that I am using in my sermon preparation are, the Bible, and David Fitch’s books, Seven Practices for the Church on Mission and Faithful Presence. These books have been recommended by Rev. Eric Hoheisel, ABCNJ Associate Regional Pastor, who will be working with our church family as together we discern God’s direction for a new season in ministry.
I hope and pray that each one of us will make a commitment to God to actively participate in this discernment journey, and like Cora Crawley be open to accept change as quite important as defending the past.
May Christ’s joy, peace and love be with us all as we begin a new season in ministry and our life together as people of God!
Yours in the Partnership of the Gospel,
Main Theme: Leading Children and Families to Jesus
Leading Children and Families to Jesus in Making Disciples
Opening Exercises: 9am
Sunday School Classes: 9:15am-->
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)
Meet on Sunday, September 8th @ 7:30am at the Piston Diner. Any questions, please call Don @ 856-845-3959.
: Will meet on September 25th, at 7pm. Please see Judy Sanderson for location.
: Will be held on Thursday, September 19th @ 7pm. in the Adult SS Classroom. All are invited to attend.
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. Jalendra Caballero, Associate Pastor of First Baptist Church of New Brunswick, who will serve as our Guest Preacher for the Morning Worship Service on September 15th, 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.
It’s that time of year again… We are collecting school supplies for the children of the clients of our Food Bank. Please bring in to church any supplies that you purchase. Notebooks, pens, pencils, loose leaf paper, book covers, crayons, erasers, scissors, glue, glue sticks, tape, backpacks and anything else that looks good! Thank you!
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.
Senior Choir rehearsals begin again this month, on the 8th, following worship (which returns to its regular time of 10:30 a.m.), in the Blue Parlor (air-conditioned!).
We will begin rehearsing our Christmas Cantata at the first rehearsal. If you would like to sing and can sing in a 4-part choir, please consider joining us. The cantata will be presented on the last Sunday of December, the 29th, during the morning worship service.
This month, the AB Women will again loosen-up their wrists and “ring the bells of heaven” (or at least the Kristal Bells) on the 15th (AB Women’s Sunday). Libby has also agreed to lead a procession of all women doing the dance of the 777 veils (there are a lot of women!).
The Youth will sing, ring, dance, prance or whatever on the 29th for Rally Day. And next month, the AB Men have decided to sing on AB Men’s Sunday (October 13th) while doing a tap dance to the tune, “Lift Me Up, Lord – I’ve fallen and can’t get up.”
The organ should be tuned in early November, once heat has been on and stabilized things a bit. It’s due for a tuning, as you may have noticed.
A pick-up choir will be scheduled once-a-month, and you are invited to join us. Unlike the regular senior choir, you do not have to be able to sing a vocal part. Even if you have trouble carrying a tune, we have buckets available to assist. If you enjoy singing, this is a nice way to participate a bit more fully.
Enjoy the fall, and always remember to “Make a joyful noise!”
Boyd Fox, Music Director
Mark your calendars: We will be meeting on the following dates in the Lower Fellowship Hall. We hope you can join us!
Thursday September 5th and
Thursday, September 19th @ 5pm.
It is that time of year again CBC Family. The church and parsonage lawns need to be manicured for the Summer months. If you are willing to contribute to this need, please put your gift with designation for lawn care in the Sunday offering plate. Thank you.
See You in September - MUSINGS FROM THE MOUSE
One of my favorite ads for ‘back-to-school’ supplies shows a parent zooming along on a shopping cart, the kids with downcast faces, while in the background plays the song, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
September is a mixed bag. The days are getting noticeably shorter, the laid-back mood of summer gives way to a business-as-usual attitude.
To lighten things a bit, I thought I’d share some of the humor I’ve come upon over the summer, from various sources.
A man who dined regularly in his favorite restaurant complained about the bread. It wasn’t fair, he complained, that while other restaurants served lots of bread, at this place he only gets one piece of bread. The next time he came in, they served him four pieces.
The guy still complained it wasn’t enough. So, on his next visit the server brought him a dozen pieces of bread. The man still complained. So for his next visit they put a large basket of bread on the table. And yet he complained. “The other restaurants give you all the bread you can eat.”
They decided to be ready for him the next day. They had an enormous loaf of bread prepared. It was six feet long and two feet wide. Four people carried the loaf to his table. They plopped it down in front of him. It took up half the table and hung over both sides. The chef, pleased with himself, stood back to see how the customer would react.
The difficult diner looked over the loaf and commented, “So we’re back to one piece again, are we?”
Why should 70-plus year-olds use valet parking?
Answer: Valets don't forget where they park your car.
A young couple moved into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they were eating breakfast, the young woman saw her neighbor hanging the wash outside. "That laundry isn't very clean", she said. "That woman doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs a better laundry detergent." Her husband looked on, but remained silent. Every time her neighbor hung her wash out to dry, the young woman would make the same comments.
About a month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband, "Look, she's learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her." He replied, "I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows." (And so it is with life. What we see when watching others depends upon the purity of the window through which we look.)
Where should 70-plus year olds look for their glasses?
Answer: On their foreheads.
A fellow going to propose, takes his gal down to the lake. “Oh, Mary, I love you with all my heart. I want to marry you. I don’t have a big bank account and a Rolls Royce like Johnny Green, but I want you to know that I love you with all my heart.
“Oh, honey,” she replied, “I love you too, with all my heart… but could you tell me a little more about Johnny Green.”
Hope these brought a smile to your face. Have a wonderful September. Remember, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
Chubby (your church-mouse-in-residence)
The words discern and discernment are not frequently used in everyday language. These are words associated with a deeper understanding of God’s will and important things that matter to us individually and as members of a family or a church. The dictionary defines discern as “to perceive or recognize something, being able to see or hear something…” In the biblical sense, to discern is “to be able to perceive or judge (evaluate) well.”
In his book, Discernment, Henri Nouwen defines discernment as “a spiritual understanding and an experiential knowledge of how God is active in daily life that is acquired through spiritual practice. Discernment is faithful living and listening to God’s love and direction so that we can fulfill our individual calling and shared mission.” (Nouwen, H., Discernment, 3)
Discernment does not happen quickly. It takes time, patience, prayer, and practice. Nouwen and his students learned that in order to engage in a discernment process, “one needs to slow down for a time in intentional community…Discernment is a life of listening to a deeper sound and marching to a different beat, a life in which we become ‘all ears.’” (Nouwen, H., Discernment, 5) In the Bible, the apostle Paul describes the experience of discernment in Colossians 1:9-10” “We ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord.”
One exercise offered by Nouwen in developing the skill of discerning God’s will is done by answering the following questions:
- What shared practices (meditation, prayer, songs, Communion, silence, service in the world) are your most natural pathways to listening to God in your life?
- Reflect on the times when you discerned God’s presence. What were you doing? Where were you? What insight might these reflections give you about your need for sacred time and space?
I invite you to try doing this exercise regularly and discern how God is leading you individually and as a member of Christ’s body, particularly here at Central Baptist Church. I pray that as you do so, God will bless you and increase your understanding of God’s wisdom; and encourage you to share this blessing with your church family, as together we discern God’s direction for a new season of ministry.