Notes from Pastor Steve

January/February 2019

2019 – A new year full of possibilities and opportunities for ministry and service at First Presbyterian Church! As this year unfolds, I hope that you may find peace, joy, and fulfillment in your life. And remember, there is no better place you can possibly be than in worship with us each and every Sunday morning. Make the year of our Lord 2019 the year you dedicate yourself to attending worship and participating in the ministries of your church! Happy New Year!

Advent and the Christmas season of 2018 was a wonderful time in the life of our congregation. In early December, the Live Nativity scene highlighted the evening. The Live Nativity, Christmas card signing, live music and caroling, and cookies, hot chocolate, hot coffee, and hot cider were all enjoyed by many people who either participated or merely stopped by to enjoy the festivities. I understand the practice of having a Live Nativity scene outside our church dates back many, many years – a tradition that is enjoyed not only by our church but by the entire Ste. Genevieve community! Thanks to all who helped to make this wonderful evening possible.

Sunday afternoon, December 16th, we had several youth and adults go Christmas caroling in the community. It is always a joyful experience to be able to bring some Christmas cheer into the lives of those who may be homebound or in a nursing home. The evening of December 16th was the Youth Sunday School Christmas Program complete with a visit from Santa Claus himself! Thanks to Amy Pfaff, Sharon Boyer, and Marcia Schaefer for organizing, directing, and working with the music for this evening.

Of course, we had our Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion worship service at 6:00 pm on December 24th. This is always one of the highlights of the year for me as we gather to celebrate the coming of the Christ Child – it causes us to focus on what this season is truly all about – Emmanuel (God with us).

I want to take a moment to comment on the passing of two long-time members of First Presbyterian Church during 2018: Thelma Maynard and Norma Rottler. These two extraordinary ladies had both been a part of this congregation for many, many years and their presence will be greatly missed by all of us. Neither of these kind, strong women ever wanted to draw attention to themselves or to the work they performed on behalf of our church, but their years of service supporting the ministries of First Presbyterian Church should serve as role models for us all. May God continue to hold them in the palm of His hand.

On January 6th we will begin our 2019 schedule of celebrating communion on the first Sunday of the month – with the exception of the month of June, where it will be the second Sunday (which is Pentecost Sunday). We will also begin the use of “communion teams” to prepare the elements for these first Sunday services. I also plan to put in place a regular rotation of Liturgists for 2019 who will each be serving approximately once every two months. If you would like to be a part of our Liturgist group, please let me know as soon as possible – there may still be dates where you can be placed in the 2019 schedule. We will continue the practice of having a Short Service Sunday on the fourth Sunday of each month – for the time being, anyway. The occasional fifth Sunday will also continue to be celebrated as Bonus Sunday!

Most of you are aware that in my 5½ years of preaching at First Presbyterian Church I have followed the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) as the starting point for my message or reflection preparation. The RCL typically provides an Old Testament scripture passage, a Psalms scripture, a Gospel passage, and a second New Testament passage for each Sunday of the year in a three year cycle. My focus has always tended to be on the Gospel passage, as the “good news” is what I feel most called to preach. For the beginning of 2019, I plan to focus on the second New Testament passage found in the RCL. I also plan to go “off” lectionary approximately once every month in 2019 – more often if the Spirit so moves me! Hopefully this slight change to my message preparation technique will bring a new perspective to our Sunday morning worship experience! Sometimes we pastors/preachers tend to become isolated as we sit up in our ivory towers, so keep in mind that I always welcome feedback and/or comments about my messages – both positive and negative.

May God bless you and your family as move forward together in ministry in 2019.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3: 5 & 6 (RSV)

Yours in Christ,                    

Pastor Steve