Tag Archive | United Congregations

Pastor’s Post January, 2019

Now that Christmas, 2018 is behind us, it’s time to close the books on our poet friend, W. H. Auden and his long Christmas poem, “For the Time Being.”  Here are some of his final words as he brings the story to an end:

Well, so that is that.  Now we must dismantle the tree,

Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes—

Some have got broken—and carrying them up to the attic.

The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,

And the children got ready for school.  There are enough

Left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week—

Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,

Stayed up so late, attempted—quite unsuccessfully—

To love all of our relatives, and in general

Grossly overestimated our powers. Once again

As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed

To do more than entertain it as an agreeable

Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,

Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,

The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.

Sort of captures the mood of the days just after Christmas, doesn’t it?  Those feelings of joy, love and warmth wear off, and we are back in the rut of everyday existence before we know it.  As Auden says, “we have failed to do more than entertain it (the spirit of Christmas) as an agreeable possibility.”  Auden says we are like children who can’t keep a promise for very long.

Does Christmas simply offer a momentary respite from the ordinary?  Or, can we learn to live the whole year in the spirit of that special day?  You may read this after January 1, but there is still time for a resolution or two.  I would suggest more regular attendance at church—try to be present at least three out of four Sundays.  Don’t get upset if we are worshipping in “the other” church building.  All the buildings, all the meeting rooms are now “ours.”  Nothing is “theirs” any more.  The more time we spend together in worship and prayer, the easier will be our transformation into a united congregation.

Here are some special dates that I would like you to put in your appointment calendar:

Sunday, February 24.  We are planning to hold the final annual meeting of the two historic congregations and also the first congregational meeting of the new United Presbyterian Church. The session of the new congregation will be elected that day, along with its board of deacons.  This will take place immediately after the worship service.

Wednesday, March 6.  Ash Wednesday.  Please plan to attend the traditional evening service.  This is the beginning of Lent, and this will be an important season of prayer and re-commitment for all of us as we begin the adventure of being a revitalized, unified congregation.

Thursday evenings in Lent, March 7, 14, 21 and 28 and April 4 and 11.  These evenings will be dedicated to the study of our church’s mission in community—our relationship as a congregation of Christ’s followers to the social issues that affect us and those around us.  We will also spend some time at each meeting in group prayer.  Time and location to be announced

Sunday, April 21.  Easter.  We will have our third annual “sunrise” service on the lawn at Levittown and our 10 a.m. service at the Massapequa campus.

I hope you will be present for these events.  Please be a part of this new enterprise of the spirit as we begin life as a new church!  As poet Auden said in the closing lines of his Christmas poem:

“He is the Way.

Follow Him through the Land of Unlikeness;

You will see rare beasts, and have unique adventures.”

 

-Pastor Lou

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship Services

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We will host two Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship Services.

Please join our United Congregations on Christmas Eve, Monday, December 24, 2018.

Join us at 7:30p.m. for a Candlelight Worship Service hosted at the First Presbyterian Church of Levittown

Join us at 11:00 p.m. for a Candlelight Worship Service hosted at the Presbyterian Community Church of Massapequa

Pastor’s Post – December

 

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Christ and the Grinch

Shortly after Thanksgiving, my family went to see the “Grinch 2” movie, in which Benedict Cumberbatch (don’t you love that British name?) takes over from Jim Carrey as the chief Christmas gremlin, determined to ruin the holiday for his neighbors in Whoville. Early in the film, before
we were even through the first bag of popcorn, there is a seen with a group of Whoville carolers. They are singing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (and Ladies, we must presume).” Here are the words to the first verse, all of which were sung in the scene:

“God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay, remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day, to save us all from Satan’s power, when we have gone astray, Oh, tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy. ”

I suddenly sat up straight (well, actually you can’t physically sit up straight in modern movie seats), startled by this unexpected appearance of religious language in the middle of a popular Christmas movie. What, one had to ask, were Christ and Satan doing in this PG rated candy cane
of a film? I immediately developed a theory that this caroling scene was a little sop given to the “put Christ back into Christmas” crowd. Why not have a bit of theology thrown in, just in case someone wanted to raise a question about the moral value of this entertainment?

Lest you think I am becoming the Grinch by raising any question about our latest sugar-plum movie for kids, I hasten to say that there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with the rest of the story. Although I’m afraid that I fell asleep before we got to the resolution, it seems that the Grinch was converted to cheeriness at last, after trying to steal all the Christmas decorations and toys in his village. The catalyst for his conversion was a kind, adorable little girl, Cindy-Lou Who, voiced by child actress Cameron Seely, who wanted to meet Santa but instead encountered the
Grinch. Cumberbatch gave an interview in which he explained that his version of the Grinch was less mean than the original Carrey version, and the audience could see that the Grinch’s behavior was rooted in his loneliness and feeling of isolation from the villagers.

Films like this can be good family fun, but our kids need to hear the real Christmas story from their parents and their church. They need to be told that Christmas began as a way of remembering God’s great gift to us, the gift of his Son, and that our seasonal giving and receiving is simply a way of reminding us of that wonderful truth. All the rest is, well, tinsel.

Pastor Lou

 

 

Pastor’s Post – November 2018

From the Pastor

Pastor’s Post

During the past month, I attended two Saturday mini-conferences that looked at the prospects for the Christian church and its American congregations in the near future.

The first event was sponsored by Lutherans here on Long Island and featured a lot of practical information about congregation building.  Two words of wisdom that summarize a lot of that day are:

“People are drawn to a church with a purpose.”  The speaker suggested focusing church   attention on one or two community needs.

“People are drawn to a church when they can see that it is changing lives.”

This speaker had quite a bit to say about stewardship practices and evangelism, and I hope to share those with you as occasions for that kind of discussion arise.

The second event was a day-long mini-conference sponsored by the Presbytery of Long Island that featured Rev. Brian McLaren, a nationally recognized thinker and author on the future of Christianity in our country.  This man grew up as a fundamentalist but has now changed his mind about a lot of theological things.  Early in his remarks he challenged us by saying that many Christians now are trying to “save” their churches, but we need to consider Christ’s words when he said that someone who wants to save his or her life must lose it.  What might that mean for us in terms of the life of our church?   He told an inspiring story about a church in England that began to work with kids who were using the church parking lot for skateboard activities.  Rather than chasing the youngsters away, the church people found a way to organize the skating activity and even got the young people to think about God and their own lives.

Church members who attended the McLaren conference with me were:  Arlene Griemsmann, Maria Studer, Joan Tischner, Carol Teta, Camille Hartman, Sharon Slade and Janice Kincaid.

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November is stewardship month, the time of year we ask all members to let the Session know what you will give in the coming year of 2019.  Over the past three years, I have been thankful for the faithfulness of the membership in giving.  Your pledged giving goes toward two important things:

1) Maintenance of our buildings, which not only are our places of worship but that host many community activities.  Everything from AA to boy scouts to basketball leagues to dance and yoga classes are benefiting from the space we provide at modest rents.  All these groups would find it difficult to find other places to meet if we were not here.

2) Support of our worship and Christian Education programs.  As a Presbyterian Church, we value the leadership of trained clergy and the volunteer service of our Sunday School teachers and Gathering organizers.

In thinking about financial needs in the coming year, I would advise you that there are no plans to close either of our two properties.  By December I expect the Session will make a firm commitment to maintain both our pre-schools through June, 2020.  Our financial performance during 2019 will be an important indicator of whether we should support both buildings beyond June, 2020.

 

-Pastor Lou

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supper at Six – November 18th

Sunday, November 18th from 6 to 8 p.m. in the fellowship hall of the

Massapequa Church.

Members friends and family of our consolidating congregations are invited

to attend. Children and grandchildren are always welcome. We will be

playing bingo after dinner. Each attendee is asked to bring a dollar scratch

off card to be used as a prize for the Bingo winners. Please bring a covered

dish of your choice. Jeanne Menneg and Muriel Magrane will provide the

setup, beverages and desserts for this dinner. Please RSVP Muriel at

516-249-1854 if you plan on attending.