From the Pastor:
Special events this Lenten-Easter Season
This year, we are adding two activities that I hope you will support by your attendance. First, we are arranging home communions to occur each week of Lent. You will receive a personal invitation to one of these, a week or ten days in advance of the event. The communion service will take place either in the home of a member or at one of our two church buildings. We will meet at 7:30 on a week night and be done by 9. People from both congregations will be invited to the evenings, to create an opportunity to get to know each other better as we move closer to merger. In addition to sharing the Lord’s Supper, we will spend some time sharing about our respective church experiences and what we hope for from a merged and renewed congregation.
Our second innovation will be an early Easter morning service on the lawn at Levittown Church. We will gather at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 16 to celebrate the events of that long-ago Easter dawn when the world was changed forever. (If the weather is bad, we will go inside.) This will be an act of public worship that will demonstrate to one and all the promise of our new life together in Christ. There will be a breakfast following worship, and many of you I’m hoping will stay to attend the 10 a.m. service, also at Levittown.
Dear brothers and sisters:
As part of our Lenten emphasis on the Scriptures of the Old Testament, we have recently read in worship the story of the great gathering of the people of God convened by Joshua at Shechem to re-commit their national life to God. This story contains the Old Testament in a nutshell: 1) God offers the covenant of his steadfast loyalty and love to the people; 2) the people promise in return to be faithful to God and his law for their lives; 3) the people then wander away from God and forget their promises to be faithful; 4) God punishes the people through defeat and occupation by hostile forces; 5) the people repent and cry out to God for salvation; and finally, 6) God hears their cries and restores them to their lives of peace and prosperity in return for their promised faithfulness. This is the cycle of human behavior repeated several times in the Old Testament.
This Lent and Easter season, I would like us to borrow a script from Joshua and re-examine our covenant relationship with God and each other. In our worship services the next several Sundays and in our Sunday evening Bible studies, we will continue to explore the story of the people of God and their covenant relationship to God as it is told in the Old Testament. On Easter morning, we, as one people, will make our own re-commitment to the divine covenant. Let us for the moment set aside the technicalities of merger and a new identity, and assume our identity as the unified assembly of the people of God.
I want us this year during the Easter service to renew our covenant relationship with God through a litany that we all will help write. So, I would like you to write down on a sheet of paper the things that God has done for us over the years. Now, I’m going to ask you to write in two columns—one column can be for the blessings that God has bestowed on you and your family, and the other column will be for blessings that God has bestowed on us as a people, as a church—you can think of your own church, Massapequa or Levittown plus our combined effort, should you wish to mention that.
On the other side of the form will be an opportunity to say what we should include in our re-commitment—what promises we should be making as a people to our God. This one too, will have a column for your personal re-commitments, and for the re-commitments you feel should we should make as a people of God—as one church growing out of two, however you want to think about it.
I’m going to distribute the form next week in church (March 6) and give you one week to work on it, and I’ll be the editor, to turn it into a litany of thanksgiving and re-commitment. You can sign the form if you so choose, or just contribute it anonymously. On Easter morning during our 10 a.m. service we will gather as the people of God gathered at Shechem to re-commit to the Lord and to the future of his ministry in this place.
Let this liturgy of re-commitment be the beginning our goal-setting for our life together, our renewed community life that we will live in the marvelous light that shines forth from the face of the risen Savior. The apostle Paul reassures us in I Corinthians 10: 13 that God will not abandon us, that He will not let us succumb to the enticements of the devil, if we approach him with humbleness and repentance. Through his covenant, God will reward us beyond all that we ask or think, so let us turn our hearts during this special month toward God, our pillar of fire by night and cloud by day who will lead us through the wilderness of doubt and confusion into the promised land of love, justice and peace.
Meeting Sunday February 21st. & 28th. & March 6th. & March 13th. at 6:20pm
Hosted at the Massapequa Community Presbyterian Church
The Lenten study sessions will be held at Massapequa Church, beginning at 6:20 p.m., following the contemporary service on February 21st. Rabbi Marci Bellows from Temple B’nai Torah will join us on February 21st. to discuss how the Jewish community understands their Scriptures and uses them in worship and as a moral guide for life. After Rabbi Bellows appearance on February 21, we will meet on the next three Sundays: February 28 and March 6 and 13. The specific topics for each discussion will be announced a week in advance.
Lent and Holy Week We will begin Lent with an Ash Wednesday service at 7 p.m. in the Levittown sanctuary on February 10. This will be a welcome moment of reflection and a quiet time together to prepare for the special season of Lent and Holy Week.
During Lent, we will emphasize our relationship to the Old Testament, otherwise known as the Hebrew Scriptures. These sacred texts make up for more than half the Bible, and our understanding of how we relate to them and use them is a very important part of our faith that we sometimes neglect.
We will kick off a series of Sunday evening sessions on the Old Testament with a guest appearance by Rabbi Marci Bellows from Temple B’nai Torah on February 21. She will talk with us about how the Jewish community understands their Scriptures and uses them in worship and as a moral guide for life. This will help us lay a foundation for a clear understanding of our Christian perspective on the Old Testament and how we can draw inspiration and guidance from it.
These Lenten study sessions will be held at Massapequa Church, beginning at 6:20 p.m., following the contemporary service, which runs from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. After Rabbi Bellows appearance on February 21, we will meet on the next three Sundays: February 28 and March 6 and 13. The specific topics for each discussion will be announced a week in advance.
Our holy week schedule will be as follows:
Palm Sunday, March 20, 10 a.m. service at Levittown Church
Maundy Thursday, March 24, 7 p.m. service at Levittown Church
Good Friday, March 25, 7 p.m. service at Massapequa Church
Lenten Vigil service, 6:30 p.m. Presbyterian Church of Sweet Hollow (more info later)
Easter Sunday, March 27, 10 a.m. Massapequa Church
The contemporary service will be held on both Palm and Easter Sundays at its usual hour of 5:30 p.m.
Please join the First Presbyterian Church of Levittown for Ash Wednesday Worship Service, February 10th. at 7:00pm. All are welcome to Meet God & Friends Here!