Tag Archive | Pastor

Pastor’s Post – November 2016

From-the-Pastor-2

Dear friends:

This is the season we celebrate the bounty of God’s blessings in our lives.  The iconic Norman Rockwell painting of the American family gathered around the table on Thanksgiving Day lives in my memory as an image of peace and plenty.  There are certain ideals in that image that are under threat today.  Most important is the picture of a unified, multi-generational family gathered in one place.  Fewer of us each year have that experience.  Now, we are coming to understand with the guidance of the Holy Spirit that family can come in a wide variety of forms — the group gathered around the table often looks very different now than   in Rockwell’s time.  The important thing for us as followers of Jesus Christ is to recognize, affirm and support the ties of love that bind families together, whatever combination of people are involved.

The other important part of Rockwell’s image of the traditional Thanksgiving that is under threat is that enormous turkey on the table which symbolizes the wealth of food and other basic necessities that we Americans have enjoyed for a long time.  Sadly, Newsday reported in a recent edition that the number of children on Long Island living in poverty in the last nine years has gone from 6.1 percent to 9.9 percent, an increase that is considerably larger than that for the entire state of New York.  There are many things that contribute to these grim statistics, which add up to many empty tables at dinner time in our neighborhoods.

In our draft Plumbline Study of our congregation(s) we renew the commitment of our Christian fellowship to respond to these concerns by being a family for those who have lost their family and to do this by being alert and responsive to people’s needs for fellowship.  We also call for a continuation and expansion of our mission commitment to hungry children.  I would hope that we can enhance our commitment to Long Island’s children by both continuing our charita le giving and by becoming advocates for increased public support for the poorest children.

Yes, the Norman Rockwell image of thanksgiving is changing, but the vision of family unity and prosperity continues to inspire us.  I pray that the Holy Spirit will lead us to a new level of commitment this holiday season to each other and to our community.

_Pastor Lou

Pastor’s Post – April 2016

From-the-Pastor-2

Dear friends,

On Easter Sunday, our combined congregations engaged in a renewal of our covenant with God.  We modeled this event on the great gathering of the people of God at Shechem under the leadership of Joshua, as it is described in the 24th chapter of the book of Joshua.  The first part of our covenant renewal process was a recitation of the many blessings we have received from God, both as individuals as churches.  The second part was a statement of what we are promising to God as we proceed into the future.  I have re-printed this second part below, so that we can all re-read it and consider what we are promising.  I will welcome any thoughts or reflections you may have.

-Pastor Lou

Our Pledge to God:

We will follow You into the future as one people, keeping Christ always at the center of our common life.

We will reach out to get to know the members of both congregations that we do not know now, we will work to blend our cultures and our ways of doing things, so that a new and dynamic ministry will emerge.

We will treat each other as beloved sisters and brothers in Christ, seeking always a common understanding and a unity of purpose.

We will not be afraid to share the Good News with others but will speak with joy and welcome to all.

We will give generously of our material resources and will share our time with the community as family and work commitments allow.

We will not horde our earthly and spiritual treasures, but will share with all, so that like the loaves and fishes of the little boy, like the jar of oil and the bin of flour of the Sidonian widow, like the manna in the wilderness, they will never be used up but will be an ever-flowing stream giving life to all.

This we solemnly promise, knowing that we are weak and prone to wander from Your way.  Pour out Your mercy and forgiveness upon us, we pray, that we may endure and gain the prize and at last enter into Your Kingdom of peace and plenty.

In the name of the risen Christ, we say, Amen.

 

 

Pastor’s Post – March 2016

From-the-Pastor-2

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.

-Pastor Lou

 

 

Pastor’s Post – January 2016

From the Pastor

The New Year Brings a New Worship Opportunity

As we begin a new year of worship and work here in Levittown/Massapequa, I am looking forward especially to the re-launch of the Sunday evening service at our Massapequa campus on Sunday, January 3.  This will be a less formal worship opportunity in which we will be inspired by music written in recent years and performed by local musicians.  Our music leader will be Stella LaMassa, a member of Massapequa Church.  Stella was instrumental in a similar service that was held last year at Massapequa for several months.

The new service will begin at 5:30 p.m. and last for about 45 minutes and will continue through June.  Young people and children will be encouraged to remain in the service.  Afterwards there will be an hour of youth activities and Christian Ed programs for young people.  If there is sufficient interest, I will lead a Sunday School class for adults.  We can do some Bible study and also discuss current issues from a Christian perspective.

This new Sunday evening service will allow families to come together for worship and to deepen their understanding of their faith in a two-hour period at a time of day that will be less likely to conflict with other activities.  If you are a regular participant on Sunday morning, you may wish to attend both morning and evening worship, since each will be different, or you could continue to come to the morning service and then attend the Christian Ed hour, which will begin around 6:20.

I encourage you to think about friends and relatives who might be interested in attending this type of service at this time on the Sabbath.  Let’s not hide our new candle under a bushel basket!  -Pastor Knowles

 

Interfaith Thanksgiving Service at Temple B’nai Torah, November 25th. at 7:00pm

Interfaith Thanksgiving Worship

 Interfaith Thanksgiving Service Wednesday, November 25th. 7:00pm

This years Interfaith Worship service will be hosted by Temple B’nai Torah, 2900 Jerusalem Avenue, Wantagh.  Join Pastor Knowles as he delivers the Thanksgiving Sermon.  Please share your bounty with those in need.  Bring canned food as a donation to Long Island Cares.

Pastor’s Post for November 2015

From the Pastor

Dear friends:

As we look forward to the holidays, the traditional time of generosity and openhandedness, I hope the members of Levittown church will be especially thoughtful in finding ways to share the peace and joy of the season with your new companions on the pilgrim way from Massapequa Church. Advent is the time we celebrate God breaking into history and into our lives in order to begin a wonderful new work in us. So in the spirit of Advent, you should be looking forward to transforming old ways of doing things into new rituals of friendship and new program partnerships.

Between now and Thanksgiving, there are yet four opportunities for small group meetings with me. These “ice cream socials” are listed elsewhere in this issue. They are open to people from both congregations, and I hope they will afford an opportunity to meet not just me but some of your new partners from Massapequa Church. Please sign up for one.

During Advent, I will offer a three-session Bible study series on the different Christmas stories as found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and the “non-Christmas” stories of Mark and John. In the spirit of Christian brothers and sisters coming together, we will see how the two stories of Matthew and Luke each have their own message, and how they have been joined over the centuries by the church into a powerful combined narrative. This synergistic combining of two Biblical traditions may provide insights for us as we begin the process of weaving together the traditions of our two congregations. Each study session will also provide time to pray together.

I am still deciding about when to do the Advent Bible studies: daytime? Evening? Day of the week? Please let me know your personal preferences. If necessary, we will conduct day and evening repeat sessions.

My family and I wish you all a joyous Thanksgiving with your loved ones. – Pastor Lou

Pastor’s Post for October 2015

Growing Together - Church Family

Dear friends:

During September and most of October my sermons will be built around the Great Ends of the Church.  This is a six point document that is part of the constitution of the Presbyterian Church in the USA. Here are the Great Ends in their entirety:

The proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind

The shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God

The maintenance of divine worship

The preservation of the truth

The promotion of social righteousness

The exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world

Please read this brief list carefully and think about how our churches are or are not pursuing these “Ends” or goals.  As we go forward together, it is important to articulate a clear understanding of what we are called to do as the church of Jesus Christ here in this place and time.  Given the great diversity of churches that people can choose from these days, we must ask ourselves what is special about our mission.  We Presbyterians have a great heritage of theology, church organization and mission, and we need to become more aware of that history and be clearer in our own minds about what we are called by God to accomplish now and how we should go about the work of the Kingdom.  Studying and discussing the Great Ends will give us a good start.

Beginning in October, I would like us to learn a “memory verse of the month.”  This will be a Bible verse that carries an important message for all of us. It will be printed in the bulletin for three Sundays and we will recite it during the service.  On the fourth Sunday, we will not print it, and we will recite it from memory! Please help me select the verses by giving me your favorite two or three verses.

-Pastor Lou