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Ash Wednesday Reflection

Ash Wednesday Reflection:

“…you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”  -Genesis 3:19

“Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing.

Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love…”  -Joel 2:12-13

       In one of my favorite devotionals for Ash Wednesday, the author offers up that perhaps the reminder of Genesis 3 is less about feeling small, shameful, or insignificant, and instead as a reminder that we belong to the earth.  Likewise, I love how the passage from Joel speaks of what we are to rend (rip, tear) and names that it is “our hearts not our clothing.”  I recall a time where Ash Wednesday felt like a day that I was supposed to feel wretched, terrible, good for nothing, and reduced to dust.  It was a time to become low, to repent, to feel extremely sorry and remorseful about sin and the ways I had offended God. 

Yet this devotional invited me to see the return to dust as an invitation to belong.  Added to that, the words from Joel to return to God further shifted my understanding.  It continues to both comfort and encourage me to go deeper, to rend my heart to God, and to recognize God’s attributes as being loving, gracious and merciful.  God is not angry, shameful, and is not calling us to rend our clothes or see ourselves as reduced to the dust we are made from.  The call to put on Ashes for Ash Wednesday can and should be about repentance, and yet sometimes our view of repentance (which comes from putting on sackcloth and ashes which have a mournful spirit to them) keeps us in a spiral of shame and self-loathing rather than move us to a place where we can actually turn back to God and live. 

        So I want to invite you in this time and space, wherever you might be, however you may view Ash Wednesday, to do 3 things:

1.) Read the passages above through the lens of God’s grace and mercy; as God desiring to make things right between us as creation and God as creator.  Consider that “being dust,” might not be a bad descriptor, but a reminder of our limitations, of our connectedness with the earth, and of our reliance on God.

2.) Rend your heart to God.  “…return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning…” In other words, let your heart break for the things you wish to change, should change, or will change about you in the coming weeks.  Consider what might help you and your relationship with God and with others. 

Perhaps if you haven’t fasted for Lent now is a time to consider doing so?  What would be beneficial to fast from? (Consider what thoughts, feelings, habits, or tangible items you have relied on and what might be keeping you from deeper relationships with God or other people? Coffee, chocolate, thinking you need to do everything, feeling angry or sad, feeling animosity towards others etc.)

3.) Come to church to receive the imposition of ashes on March 2 from 9-11am or 1:30-3:30 pm. If that doesn’t work, or you don’t have much desire to participate in that tradition, my invitation is to go connect with nature somehow. 

Play in the dirt (if it’s not frozen), or plant a seed like we did last year, maybe you sit and watch the birds for a while, or you could go for a brisk walk outside and bathe yourself in the nature around you.  Take in the sun if it is shining; after all it has been a long winter and the vitamins and warmth may just rejuvenate your soul.  Remember that you are dust, and feel connected to the world/universe around you.

       As we journey towards Jesus’ passion, and contemplate the events that led to his death and resurrection, we do so mindful that we are loved, forgiven, and invited to join in life giving practices.  We all probably know and remember John 3:16, but my favorite thing to remind people of, especially this time of year, is the verse that follows.  May it bring you comfort and serve as an assurance of God’s forgiveness for you:

“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” -John 3:17

Believe this good news and cherish the peace that comes with knowing you are God’s beloved.

In love and fellowship,

Pastor Nick

Mom Core

Calling all Moms!  Moms play many roles. They have to be experts in just about everything. It’s a lot of pressure.  Are you looking to connect with other moms going through the same season as you?  We are hosting a free 6-week Mom’s group video adventure that will inspire and encourage you as a mom.   This is a relaxed, no preparation opportunity to connect- you just come, watch the video, and discuss with fellow moms.  

Who:  Anyone who could use encouragement in their journey of motherhood

Where: First Presbyterian Church (white church with steeple).  90 Main Street, Victor.  In Person in sanctuary.  Option to have virtual participation as well.

When: 6 weeks on Mondays 6:30-7:30pm starting March 7 in the Activity Room at FPCV.

What: We will be doing Mom Core with Karen Stubbs from Birds on a Wire.

Weekly Topics include:

  • Purpose: Every mom needs purpose in their life.  Karen will answer the question of how we measure success as a mom.
  • Boundaries: Boundaries are needed in every aspect of our lives, with family, friends, in-laws, and even children.  Discover what boundaries are and why they are so important in the life of a mom.
  • Time Management: Every mom struggles to fit everything into their crazy, hectic schedule.  Practical tips will be shared and a new way to view your impossible task of time management.
  • Being a Student of Your Child:  In order to parent effectively you must KNOW your child and what makes them tick.  We will be diving down into personalities and the benefits of truly knowing and understanding your child.
  • Discipline:  Taking a step back and looking at the mind set of discipline and why it is so important in the life of a child.
  • Contentment:  We all struggle with being content and not playing the comparison game.  Learn how to find contentment in whatever season you are in as a mom.

How do I learn more and participate?  Contact/IM Cathy Martz (cemartz33@gmail.com) by March 1.  Let me know which day you would like to attend and if you may need childcare.  

About Birds on a Wire

Birds on a Wire is a ministry that provides Godly, practical advice so you’ll feel celebrated, encouraged and equipped to parent with confidence.

Karen Stubbs, a mother of four grown children, is an advocate for moms because she knows first-hand how difficult it is to raise children. What started as a group of eight moms meeting in Karen’s basement has grown into an international ministry with hundreds of moms all over the world. Birds on a Wire supports moms with events, Bible studies, books, a weekly email newsletter, and podcast.

Birds on a Wire is for all moms. Moms who work out of the house or in the house. Moms who have a newborn to moms who are empty nesters. No matter where you are in the journey of motherhood, Birds on a Wire is here to encourage and equip you.

PGV Congregational Learning Day 2022

Back to Basics

Saturday, March 5, 2022

via Zoom

**REGISTRATION DEADLINE: MONDAY, March 1, 2022**

The 2022 CLD focuses on elder/deacon training and leadership

development with two courses—see descriptions below:

▪ COURSE 1 – Called and Equipped: Training for Elders and Deacons

▪ COURSE 2 – Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory

Courses are designed for:

▪ new elders & deacons

▪ elders & deacons at large

▪ pastors

Courses are FREE—all are encouraged to attend!

Schedule of the day–

▪ 9–9:15 a.m. Welcome & instructions for COURSE 1

▪ 9:15–11:15 – COURSE 1 – Called and Equipped: Training for Elders & Deacons

▪ 11:30 – 12 noon Worship – for registrants attending one or both courses

▪ 12 noon – 1:30 p.m. – COURSE 2 – Canoeing the Mountains: Christian

Leadership in Uncharted Territory

Register HERE

9:15–11:15 COURSE 1

Called and Equipped: Training for Elders & Deacons

Rev. Aaron Neff and Rev. Erin Jacobson, First Presbyterian Church of Pittsford

Join in this interactive seminar to gain practical leadership tools, hone your skills for the ministry to which you have been called, and discover how discernment lies at the heart of Presbyterian leadership. A portion of the course will be spent in groups of elders and deacons focusing on the unique parts of each ministry. New and returning elders and deacons will leave feeling equipped and inspired.

11:30 – 12 noon Worship

Led by the Harvest Neighborhood of Presbyterian Churches and our ecumenical friend, Albion First Baptist Church. Also featuring specially created music by Laurence Tallman, music director at Byron Presbyterian Church.

12:00 – 1:30 p.m. COURSE 2

Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory Elder Susan Orr, Transitional Leader/Stated Clerk, Presbytery of Genesee Valley Although explorers Lewis and Clark were prepared to find a waterway to the Pacific Ocean, instead they found themselves facing the Rocky Mountains. You too may feel that you are leading in a context you were not expecting. If you’re going to scale the mountains of ministry, you need to leave behind the canoe and find new navigational tools. Author Tod Bolsinger brings decades of expertise in guiding churches through uncharted territory to help you reimagine what effective leadership looks like in our rapidly changing world. This course is a broad overview of Bolsinger’s book of the same title and serves as an introduction to a six-part series being offeredPresbytery-wide by Zoom on Wednesday evenings April 20 – May 25.


Lent Book Study Options

As we prepare for the Lenten season: would you like to find a fresh perspective this Lent?  One that allows you to reflect and connect in a new way? Pastor Nick has provided three options for a book study, that would run 6-8 weeks beginning the first week in Lent, the week of 3/6/2022. Below you will find a synopsis of each book for you to consider. Please fill out this form with your preferences of book and days and times that would work best for you: https://forms.gle/d1zsH7KfCY8VaA6w7

Pastor Nick is always willing to lead a weekly Bible Study on a book of the bible.  For Lent if this is something you prefer, please indicate on the form above which Gospel you are most intrigued with to study beginning in Lent (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John).

From Amazon.com: “Jesus’ final days were full of risk. Every move he made was filled with anticipation, danger, and the potential for great loss or great reward.

Jesus risked his reputation when he entered Jerusalem in a victory parade. He risked his life when he dared to teach in the Temple. His followers risked everything when they left behind their homes, or anointed him with costly perfume. We take risks as we read and re-read these stories, finding new meanings and new challenges.

In Entering the Passion of Jesus: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy Week, author, professor, and biblical scholar Amy-Jill Levine explores the biblical texts surrounding the Passion story. She shows us how the text raises ethical and spiritual questions for the reader, and how we all face risk in our Christian experience.”

From Amazon.com:
“In this devotion for the season of Lent, Jill J. Duffield draws readers’ attention to ten ordinary objects that Jesus would have encountered on his way to Jerusalem: dust, bread, the cross, coins, shoes, oil, coats, towels, thorns, and stones. In each object, readers will find meaning in the biblical account of Jesus’ final days. Each week, readers encounter a new object to consider through Scripture, prayer, and reflection. From Ash Wednesday to Easter, Lent in Plain Sight reminds Christians to open ourselves to the kingdom of God”

From Amazon.com:

Pete and Geri Scazzero developed the Emotionally Healthy (EH) Relationships Course over a 21-year period to directly address core biblical principles to guide you and others into an experience of discipleship that will deeply change your life. In the EH Relationships Course, everyone will learn 8 practical relationship skills to develop mature, loving relationships with others such as: 

  • Stop Mind Reading and Clarify Expectations 
  • Incarnational Listening 
  • Climb the Ladder of Integrity 
  • Clean Fighting 

And since loving others and loving God cannot be separated, each person will also grow in their personal, first-hand relationship with Jesus by incorporating stillness, silence, and Scripture as daily life rhythms.”

Per Capita Sunday, January 23rd

Per Capita:

“What in the world is it and what does it do!?”

Most people are familiar with denominations like ours (PCUSA) having operating expenses and as such requesting churches in the denomination to contribute to help with those costs.  For many in other denominations this may have been called: assessments, dues, or apportionments.  In the PCUSA it is called per capita.  It originates from the Latin, “each person (literally ‘each head’).”  Yet, I want to caution us regarding this myopic understanding of what Per Capita actually is and does.  Yes, it covers expenses, but it also names our commitment to each other and our desire for the work of the church to continue.  This week’s Sermon will be about the many gifts of the body of Christ and how we all rely on each other from 1 Corinthians 12:1-11.  In many ways we cannot be the Presbyterian church in Victor without the PCUSA and our Presbytery’s help and resources. We cannot be the Church of Jesus Christ without everyone’s gifts and resources being shared for the greater good.  We rely on each other in mutual love and respect, not a sense of unhealthy co-dependency.

Here is where your money goes when we pay for our Per Capita.  (This is taken directly from the PCUSA website): 

Per Capita giving makes it possible for:

  • Presbyterians to discern and live out God’s call in their lives
  • Churches to connect with individuals seeking a call to ministry
  • Staff support for General Assembly committees and commissions
  • Management and coordination of General Assembly gatherings
  • Presbytery and synod leaders to gather for training and discernment
  • Counsel and support for churches in crisis (misconduct, legal matters)
  • Presbyteries to address matters of inclusion, participation, and representation at all levels of church leadership and decision-making
  • The denomination to build connections with ecumenical partners around the world
  • Presbyteries and pastors to receive support on immigration issues
  • Presbyterian history to be cataloged, preserved, and utilized by future generations

Please consider making an additional gift with “Per Capita” in the memo line ($35.58 per member).  Our offering this Sunday January 23 is a special Sunday for us to consider giving to Per Capita specifically.  Let us show forth that we appreciate and are committed to this work with our Presbytery, our denomination, and with one another.

Family Promise News!

From Pastor Nick: Weekly thoughts on Worship, Faith, and Life

Reflecting on Hebrews 4:9-5:10:

All worship of God stems from the original sabbath day of rest. Hebrews names that there is no parting of ways with Judaism in naming that there is still a sabbath rest for the people of God. Our call to worship in Hebrews is that we would enter that rest, that we would hold onto the confession, and draw near to the throne with boldness/confidence.

Spirit inspired worship in a vital church must be centered on who Jesus is, and who we are called to be. There are times where we neglect the rest, there are times where our worship falls short. The most important aspect of worship that we can never lose sight of is our genuine belief in God’s grace given through Jesus Christ. Our worship of God is central to Jesus being the one who has mediated our relationship with God.

As long as we hold to the confession of Jesus Christ as ‘the one who reconciles and makes whole’ our worship will not turn into idolatry (that idea that we make an idol anytime we place something in front of our worship and devotion to God).  To be honest, all of our worship is imperfect, all of our words fall short of fully describing or fully advocating for all that we desire.  Our approach to the throne is still done with boldness because of our recognition of who Jesus is, what Jesus has done, and how the Spirit intercedes even in our worship making it holy and beautiful before God.

Pastor Nick

Family Promise News and Needs | November 2021

Family Promise of Ontario County is alive and well and currently helping families in 3 apartments in Canandaigua and 2 in Geneva. Although our in church model has changed, there is still great work being done in our FP apartments and numerous families that have graduated from the program!

Here is a current “wish list” of opportunities congregations/ committees/individuals can get involved with, where there is no direct interfacing with the families. Please reach out to me by email, phone, or text if you need clarification or would like to volunteer for any of the tasks.   

Family Promise Congregational needs  

Donation Organizer – Assistance with large donations  

Delivery of food to our families and our graduates  

Guest Transportation – Doctor’s Appts, Mental Health Appts, SS Appts,  etc.  

Inventory specialist – someone willing to track our inventory and be  responsible for pulling items for apartments.  

Social Media specialists – Facebook, Instagram, someone willing to  make posts  

Tow & Carry Crew – Looking for team leader. As Items are donated or  acquired, straight to apartment or where they are needed in lieu of day  center storage.  

Clean & Stock for apartments – towels, sheets, kitchen items etc…Get  everything to inventory specialist. Taking inventory and bringing out  the dirty. Take laundry and linen with family as they leave.  

Congregations to adopt a new apartment, to paint, fix up…handman  type work. Once a year, freshen up with paint, clean, fix etc…. 

Office Angels, people for clerical support and thanking donors  telephonically. Notes put in data base.  

Volunteers to meet with children, to occupy children, to read to  children while parents are meeting with case worker.  

Volunteer team to go through toy and book inventory and distribution  for current items.  

Volunteer who can cut hair…  

Have a congregation adopt a family when they move in  

1. Welcome Dinner – At Day Center  

2. Transportation as needed.  

3. Keep contact with the family  

4. What personal items does the family need, where are their items  stored, etc.  

5. Teach budgeting classes, individual or with family  

6. Teach Good Tenancy Program  

Christmas Committee or Holiday Committee  

Congregational Space for Christmas 

Congregations and volunteers must understand that the families served can be encouraged to be vaccinated but cannot be forced.  Volunteers must wear masks during family contact.  

Additional items:

1. There will be new volunteer training available online in the coming weeks based on two modules, v101 and v102. This is both for new and current volunteers. Link is https://family-promise.coassemble.com/unlock/eXzJ5h3

2. David Simmons has taken over for Lauren Lamb as Volunteer Coordinator. He can be reached at the FP main number at 585-905-3988.

3. Our next “host week” in December 5 – 12. In lieu of in church hosting FP is requesting Byrne Dairy gas cards and food cards from Tops and Wal-Mart.

Thanks as always for all you do for homeless children and their families in Ontario County. Please reach out to Rich Cromwell directly at richcromwell94@gmail.com or 585-370-0839 if you would like to discuss any of the above information or would like to volunteer.

VCI Sermon Series “Talk-backs”

Are you curious about Vital Congregations and what these markers of vitality are?  Do you ever want to talk about the sermon?  Here is an opportunity to do both of these and to explore together in discussion who we are and who we want to be. 

Why call it a “talk back?” The answer to that is fun and simple! In many ways the sermon is a chance for God and the Preacher to talk and the people to listen; but as the congregation it might feel like you don’t have an opportunity to respond to everything.  This is your opportunity to “talk-back” to Pastor Nick, Clay, or other VCI team members about what VCI is all about, what is being stirred within you, and ask questions in a different way. 

We want everyone to engage in this material as much as possible, because we believe the more we engage the content of VCI the greater the vitality will be for everyone.

Dates:

In-person, Sundays after worship: Oct. 24, 31, Nov. 7, 14, 21

ZOOM, Mondays 7-8pm: Oct. 25, Nov. 1, 8, 15, 22

ZOOM link:
Topic: Talk Back Sermon/ 7 Marks Review, Time: 7-8pm

Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88108807850?pwd=cWlZWjNYT0NjQUVRdGZCV3RrNHBWdz09
Meeting ID: 881 0880 7850Passcode: 206152

Victor-Farmington Food Cupboard News!

Lots of news coming from the Food Cupboard this month!

In September we fed: 633 adults, 353 children, and 172 seniors.

Angel Tree Program: Our program is going to be primarily virtual again this year. The link to the sign up is bit.ly/donateangeltree  People can sign up there and we will have a dropoff box on the porch of one of our volunteer’s homes. All that information can be found at the link above.

Our Thanksgiving distribution will be November 18th and our Christmas distribution will be December 18th.  Anyone who would like this assistance should call the Food Cupboard by Halloween at 585-924-2720.  For the Christmas distribution, we would like to give pouches of cookie mixes, any flavor or brand.  We’ll need at least 300, so if folks could pick those up when they are on sale the next 6 weeks that would be wonderful!

The Target registry has been updated to include the cookie pouches and some other items we need. This is the direct link or donors can go to Target.com, click on registry and enter Victor Farmington Food Cupboard.

From October 1st to December 31st we are part of the Target Circle charity program. If anyone belongs to Target Circle (this is not the debit or credit card), you get votes each time you shop.  You can use your votes to help us raise money this quarter and it doesn’t cost the shopper anything!

November 30th is #GivingTuesday. Most nonprofits participate in this and the Food Cupboard will be participating from November 16th to 30th.  More information will be coming out soon! Please save the date now!

Anyone who would like to help with deliveries this winter can contact Karen Guidarelli at the Food Cupboard. We are looking for two teams of two for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  Some days we have no deliveries; some days we have 8, so we’re looking to split those with volunteers if we can.

We’re also looking for church cleaning teams for 2022. You would only need to sign up for two times per year since we have teams in once a month.  You can choose a Tuesday (afternoon or night) or a weekend morning to come. Please contact me (924-5642) to pick a month for the first half of 2022.

One last note:  We are currently allowing only fully vaccinated volunteers at the Food Cupboard until April 1st.  If anyone is fully vaccinated and interested in volunteering, you can stop by the Food Cupboard MWF mornings or give us a call at the office number.

Hopefully you will be able to support the Food Cupboard in one or more of the above opportunities! We appreciate all the churches help to feed the needy.

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