February 2021

The Epistle - LPC Newsletter

February 2021


Diane R. Ford - April 2018

I’ve always thought of Lent as a spiritual tune-up.  The irony for years was that I was preparing music and programs that were draining — Lent can feel so long!

Then I got together with two other creative people and as a team led a unique worship experience in the small chapel where I worked.  I led Taizé prayer songs from the piano.  The congregation, plus pastors from other churches came weekly to sit in the beautiful space we prepared, and be nurtured by the sound of voices praying together in this under-used, resonant space.  That was the first year I wasn’t drained by the end of the season.  The key for me was spending time creating something and praying together as a team. The three of us were used to preparing worship separately. But the team we made brought us so much joy that we continued that every Lent for the next few years.

What is it that brings you nourishment and joy with your church family?  Here at LPC I always feel a sense of togetherness when we prepare the building for Family Promise. That has not been possible for the past 11 months. The mask-making initiative last year brought joy to many sewers, and we had three neighbors participating, which brought an ingredient of community connection.  Delivering the masks with a personalized note from LPC brought smiles and gratitude to the receivers (over 500!) and showed God’s love to them.

During this season of spiritual tuning up, we are offering two programs. One is called Again & Again: A Lenten Refrain. This will shape our worship and music on Sundays and at-home reflection. The other program is called Testimony, which is a small group conversation exploring how we can use words to express our connection to God and our faith journey. Read more in the following pages.

The work of the church is to be Christ’s body in the world. I pray that as we lean in to God through worship and group reflection, we will find new strength, vision and community connection for the year ahead.

In Christ with You,
Diane


New for 2021

Family-Friendly Season of Lent
Again & Again: A Lenten Refrain

This past year has been a wild ride for everyone – and wild rides are always accompanied by God’s invitation to transformation.

Again-AgainYou are invited to take in Scripture, a poem and a video all ages will enjoy, as we set intentions for the six weeks leading to Easter. Anytime starting on February 17 (Ash Wednesday) follow the link to “Again & Again: We Are Invited In” to participate in the reflection.  The invitation is for us to be intentional about drawing inward, where God meets us.

       REGISTER FOR MATERIALS YOU’LL NEED

Register if we don’t already have your email so we can send support materials for the Feb. 17 reflection and the six week journey, including an “Again & Again” daily devotional and/or daily devotional cards (all free).  Sunday morning (10 AM) services on Zoom follow the ‘Again & Again” theme, bringing art, poetry, music and messages for Lent. Again and again we are challenged or mess up; again and again, God offers a sacred refrain, “I choose you, I love you, I will lead you to repair.”

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MORE ABOUT AGAIN & AGAIN: A LENTEN REFRAIN

In Lent, we’re reminded that, again and again, suffering and brokenness find us. We doubt again, we lament again, we mess up again. Again and again, the story of Jesus on the cross repeats—every time lives are taken unjustly,

Again and again,
God offers a sacred refrain:
“I choose you,
I love you,
I will lead you to repair.”

every time the powerful choose corruption and violence, every time individuals forget how to love. With exacerbation we exclaim, “Again?! How long, O God?” And yet, in the midst of the motion blur chaos of our lives, God offers a sacred refrain: “I choose you, I love you, I will lead you to repair.” Again and again, God breaks the cycle and offers us a new way forward.

This theme provides a clear invitation in a time when much is unclear. Even if worshiping apart, we come to God again and again with our prayers, our dreams, our hopes, and our doubts. Even if from a distance, we will continue to be community to one another—especially when it’s hard—by choosing each other over and over again. We will continue to love God with the same persistence God chooses and claims us. Our sub-theme, A Lenten Refrain, speaks to the ways God can make music of our lives. “Refrain” also reminds us that Lent is a season of abstaining from certain practices in order to take on new rhythms and habits.

In this season, we need rituals—both old and new—to remember and be transformed. Embodied practice builds muscle memory. Repetition helps retrain our neural pathways. We need the 46 days of Lent because this season shapes us into more faithful disciples. Join us this Lent as again and again, we bring all of who we are to God and trust that God will meet us, time and again, along the way.


New for 2021

TESTIMONY: VOCABULARY OF FAITH

Testimony

LPC is launching a new conversation to have in 2021!  

Why: As Rob Z. said,

Does this [curriculum] have any potential as a Lenten season program to “light some fires?”  Could we put it on our sign and invite friends to a totally on-line experience? I had a moment of inspiration during the Men’s Group session last night, in which I implored my fellow travelers to think on what in their faith experience — whether within our beyond the LPC community — they are enthusiastic about.  I was trying to take the position of a visitor or seeker who came upon us… could each of them describe their sparks to someone new?

How and When: Online. There are six lessons in the curriculum Testimony, each 60-90 minutes long. Fellowship groups as small as 2-3 or larger can choose exactly when to meet. Like the current men’s and women’s groups at LPC, we can rotate leaders amongst ourselves.

Who: This is available to anyone in the church and community.

SIGN UP FOR TESTIMONY!

Email the church. Then wait for the invitation into a group!
Everyone signed up will receive a poll asking what days and times you are available.
How do I learn more?

Click here to learn more, see a sample lesson and video.

LPC will provide the program materials for any LPC-affiliated group upon request.

Testimony: Vocabulary of Faith – The Presbyterian Outlook (pres-outlook.org)

  • Wrestle with the language of faith and its relevance for today.
  • Consider ways of living that reflect your faith beyond the church doors.

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You Are The Light.
You are their light.

“You provided my children and I a safe place to sleep during a time in our life when we had no where else to turn. Escaping abuse with three children in the midst of a pandemic while unemployed nearly broke me. But the shelter that you gave me was so much more than a safe place to sleep. Caring staff never left our side, and the emotional support my children and I needed helped anchor us and empowered me to see a new life ahead despite all of the challenges.”

Thank you.

Dear Friends of 180,

Throughout this trying year, your belief in our mission has been a beacon of light. It has guided us through long days and difficult nights and enabled us to continue serving the survivors who depend on us. As we spend time reflecting this holiday season, our gratefulness for your generous support during these extraordinary times is stronger than ever.

Thanks to you, our dedicated team was able to perform more life-saving work than  ever before at our emergency Safe House when stay-at-home order left survivors exponentially more vulnerable to their abusers. As our Safe House overflowed with traumatized families rendered homeless due to domestic violence, your generous support made it possible for 180 to be a place of safety & comfort for nearly 200% more men, wormen, children, and pets than we did in 2019.

We are eternally grateful, as are our survivors and our heroic frontline staff, who we’d like to take a moment to acknowledge. As the world seemingly began to shut down and brace for safety, our caring staff remained steadfast in their service to our families. While so many of us retreated home to work remotely, our courageous caregivers and counselors marched forward to the frontlne. Our staff made personal sacrifices with the understanding aht the critical services they provide often mark the difference between life and death for those we serve. Our work would be impossible without these remarkable individuals.

As uncertainty clouds the future amid the longest, darkest days of winter the bright light cast by your encouragement and financial support, our teams’ passionate dedication, and the promise of a better tomorrow and safer year ahead for our survivors illuminate our path forward.

Thank you for making it possible for us to meet the challenges of our mission with compassion, grace, and skill.

Wishing you a healthy, safe, and happy holiday,
Anna Diaz White, Executive Director
Brian M. Nelson, Board President

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Community Engagement

LPC
Diane Ford & Lincroft Presbyterian Church
are inviting you to our weekly online Zoom Worship Service

Topic: Virtual Church
Time: 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Every week on Sunday

Join Zoom Meeting

https://zoom.us/j/582266497

Meeting ID: 582 266 497
One tap mobile
+19292056099,,582266497# US (New York)
+13126266799,,582266497# US (Chicago)
Meeting ID: 582 266 497
Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/adD73V9f0w

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Actions You Can Take to Protect Birds Where You Live

PC-USA Earth-Care Seal

Audubon

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Into The Light

 Presbyterian Women 2020-2021
 Lincroft Presbyterian Church

 LPC Presbyterian Women
 Women’s Bible Study Group

  The Curriculum for September 2020 through January 2021:
   “Into the Light”
   “Finding Hope Through Prayers of Lament”

  from the Horizons Bible Study Program 2020-2021
Horizons is a magazine published for Presbyterian Women Groups

During this time of the corona virus we are meeting online using ZOOM technology. We welcome all new participants, including any non-LPC members. If you would like to attend  online using ZOOM – please call LPC’s office at 732-741-8921 with your name and email address and joining instructions will be provided.

The Curriculum for February through June 2021 –
Subjects of spirituality present in our daily lives:

Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Tuesday April 27, 2021
Tuesday, May 25, 2021
Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Meetings during the pandemic are via Zoom technology – 11:00 am, Fourth Tuesday of the month.

Newcomers are of course welcome
call 732-741-8921 for further information

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Christian Education & Spiritual Growth

Insight from our Fifth Bible Study
Presbyterian Women, January 2021

Lesson Five looks at lamenting life from Job’s point of view and explores ways we can accompany one who laments their life. Job would never have asked, How do I stop lamenting the poor choices I made in my life? (though his friends sort of did). Job knew he hadn’t made any poor choices that would have led to the point where he found himself bereft of family and possessions, sitting on a dung heap. But something like this question may come up in your discussion of Lesson Five, so let’s consider it, first from the process of lament and then from the perspective of some Internet answers.

First, do we really lament the choices we have made? By that I mean, do we actually make a list of the choices and decisions that bother us, select one or more or all, and write prayers of lament about them? Imagine doing that with your choices and decisions. It might be a good spiritual exercise. Making a list allows us to examine the issues and problems that linger in our minds. We can look at each problem or decision individually rather than as an overwhelming mass that seems to say all our decisions were bad. Maybe there are only one or two choices that ultimately rise to the level of lament.

Once we have our list of lamentable choices, we can begin to truly lament them. Remember that offering a prayer of lament is not just expressing our discontent or our sorrow. Offering a lament is presenting the issue to God, the one who can change things. Offering a prayer of lament is remembering that no matter the decisions, we have been, and continue to be, in a relationship with God. A prayer of lament includes calling on God to act—which means we will need to decide what we are asking God to do. It includes a statement of trust that God has heard our lament and will act—though not necessarily in the way we have asked. Addressing those decisions through Biblical lament, and sometimes a bit of repentance as well, offers a completely different experience than the suggestions made on the Internet.

Instead of saying that you have to change your ways through your own efforts, you can ask God to help you make the changes needed. Instead of wasting time and energy in regret, you can spend time in conversation with God. Lamenting is, in itself, a way of learning from the past, from our ancestors whose faith in God was characterized by the practice of lament. Instead of the isolation that comes from believing that no one wants to listen, you are reminded that God will always listen because you are God’s child. Instead of “just move on,” we move on with the knowledge that God moves on with us.

When we consider the relationship between lamenting and life, we might spend some time thinking about what happens on the other side of lament. Having truly lamented decisions and choices, then what? What is the vocabulary for our post-lament life? Redeemed? Restored? Whole? The practice of lament has the power to change us and to change our lives. Thanks be to God.

Please join us on our journey; all women are   invited to join us for this very timely Bible study which meets via Zoom, the 4th Tuesday of every month at 11AM.

For more information on Lesson 5 Here’s the link:

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Small Groups

LPC Men’s Discussion Group

The Men’s Group held its first monthly meeting of 2021 on January 18 via Zoom.  Participants were Doug Irwin, Frank Munn, Bob Nahory, Dave Reichard, Phil Telman and Rob Ziegler. All men are invited to participate, including men who are not members of LPC.

The discussion topic for this meeting was stimulated by a news article first appearing on the Religion News Service website, asking the provocative question “are we getting Zoomed out by virtual worship?”  In other words, is there something elemental about worshipping together that cannot be captured with the use of Zoom and similar internet-based video collaboration tools?

We spoke about our individual experiences with on-line worship, both pros and cons.  Although we expect that LPC will re-convene traditional in-person worship at some point in the coming year, it appeared to us that eliminating an on-line service component at that time would eliminate worshipping opportunities for at least some of our members and friends.  Perhaps virtual worship is part of the new normal, not just a pandemic contingency strategy.  We also spoke about worship styles and their long-term consequences for the future of our congregation, and finally about examining our own spiritual lives for enthusiasm and excitement that we could share with others to attract them to our faith community.

The next meeting of the group will be on Monday, February 15 at 7:30pm.

Submitted by Rob.
January meeting host

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Conscience

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Deacons

COG UPDATE

In December of 2020 COG had surprisingly large funds to distribute to the community despite being closed for 6 months due to Covid. They helped with $24,400 which was distributed to 17 charity organizations. The Calico Cat Food Pantry was open for some of those months and EAF (Emergency Assistance Fund) continued to operate without ever shutting down.

To recap for those who are not familiar with COG, LPC along with 11 other member churches work together to support COG with donations and volunteers. COG runs the Calico Cat Food Pantry and Cupboard which gives food and clothing to those in need and EAF which helps needy families with rent, utilities, etc. Jane Chou is the coordinator for the Emergency Assistance Fund. The COG Thrift Shop at Calico Cat provides the funds for the Pantry and Cupboard, EAF and the funds to be distributed to the community. With your Deacons’ Envelope contributions, we are able to contribute to this very worthwhile organization.

At this time with the Covid pandemic still a part of our daily life, it is important for us to help and support COG and its mission to help others in need. Thank you for all your generous help.

LPC DEACONS

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