Letter from Pastor Carl

I always look forward to Christmas Eve and the days following, because that’s when Christmas really begins, for me. As fast as the commercial Christmas season begins, sometime after Halloween, it ends abruptly following Christmas day. The retail stores start preparing for the next season; the radio and TV stations back off on Christmas like it’s all over, a distant memory. Everyone has had it with parties and sweets and social obligations. That’s why my birthday always seemed so anticlimactic (December 27). “It’s time to get back to reality, whatever we make of that, and put this long, dragged out, season behind us.”

This begins the holy-days, for me. I love this inbetween time during the twelve days. Nothing is going on, no special worship services, or social obligations, and if you don’t pay much attention to the New Year, this can be a quiet time of reflection and rest. I’ll listen to WJNJ while driving along, in the car (88.9 or close to that: the radio station of the Roman Catholic Diocese) They play some wonderful, classic and other Christmas hymns and songs that help all listeners to dwell on the meaning of this season.

For people of the Christian faith, the commercialization of Christmas obscures the meaning of our tradition. Simply put, the birth of Jesus is remembered and embraced as God coming into our realm, our earth, to bring the good news of God’s intention to be reconciled with all the peoples, all the cultures and traditions, including all of creation. In Jesus the Christ, God dwelt among the people of Israel, not with overwhelming or impressive force but with overwhelming and extravagant love. What the world judges as weakness and foolishness is just how God will, in God’s good time, bring all things to completion for:

“God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus who became for us the wisdom from God…(1 Corinthians 1:27-30).

Looking ahead, I encourage everyone to set aside January 23, at 6:00 p.m. for an evening of food (pot-luck) fellowship and discovery. The discovery part is called the “Three Colors of Ministry.” This is really an opportunity to discover your own spiritual type that has been given to you from birth. The three colors refer to the Father (green), the Son (red), and the Holy Spirit (blue). Everyone is usually drawn to one color or something in-between: this, you will discover by taking a very brief survey.

The colors are associated with certain biblical characters, e.g., Peter, Paul, Moses, Jonah (that was mine), Mary or Martha. All of them and us have spiritual leanings that will resemble one of or a combination of characters.

Your eyes will be opened, not only to your character but to others as they gather around tables to compare notes on why they have landed where they are. This exercise can be hilarious, at times, but, more importantly, it provides the possibility of receiving a deeply meaningful insight for you in your relationship with the Three-In-One God. This exercise will lead you to recognize that everyone in the Christian faith may be somewhat like you or not at all like you, but somehow, by God’s grace, we all belong together. We belong to the family of God.

In a way, this is a game, games are fun when you play; they are a little fun when you watch. By playing this game with your brothers and sisters, you may grow personally and relationally with others and with God. This evening of discovery and fun will help us prepare to discover our spiritual gifts (EVERYONE HAS ONE OR MORE) that we will be able to apply, with joy, to the ministry of Pleasant Valley United Methodist Church. The Spiritual Gifts discovery will take place at a later date to be announced. In the meanwhile, be at peace with yourself, with your family members, with your neighbors and with God.

Pastor Carl Franson

Choir News

Choir practice starts up again, and in an effort to accommodate as many people as possible, Mari will have choir practice on Thursday evenings at 6:45 PM and on Sunday mornings before worship service at 8:30 AM.

You do not have to attend both practices, if you can make either one, you can join the choir on Sunday.

Mari would also like to start a children’s choir to “perform” in church during worship service. Parents and children that are interested are encouraged to meet with Mari on Sunday, October 18th immediately after coffee hour and offer any suggestions.

If you are not able to meet, please call Mari with your thoughts at 860-738-2828.

UMW News, October 2009

Our first meeting of the season found 13 ladies in Fellowship Hall enjoying our traditional potluck supper. This time of fellowship is important as we take time to catch up with everyone following a busy summer. Ruth Schultz led us in
Devotions and a business meeting followed.

Of particular interest this month is an invitation we received to attend a Get Acquainted Tea for the Northwest area cluster UMWs on Sunday, September 27th. This tea will see women from several area churches come together in fellowship with the common goal of seeking ways in which to grow our individual organizations. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet with other UMWs to see how each organization works, what things work well for their units, and how we can share information to build our membership.

In September we began collecting our items for the Church World Service Mission Kits. This time we concentrated on items for the school kits. Items for hygiene kits and baby kits will be collected at upcoming meetings with a final assembly meeting in April. It’s not too late to contribute something as our collection continues throughout the year.

Ann Kramer and Pat Allen continue to work on plans for the Christmas Fair to be held on November 7th this year. Everyone is encouraged to work at home on crafting, knitting, or crochet projects or attend some of the ongoing crafting sessions that have been taking place. We’ll need everyone’s help to make this year as successful as past years.

Our next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, October 7th and we encourage any women of the church to come and see what we’re all about.

Shalom, Margo Fenn, UMW President

Christmas Child 2009

The time has come to again think of filling the shoe boxes that will be donated to Operation Christmas Child.

This year our Youth Group will be coordinating the project and will be asking for everyone’s help in supporting this important Mission project.  Collection of shoe boxes will take place in mid-November so now’s the time to begin collecting the items that you’ll want to include.

Additional literature and information will be coming, so stay tuned for more details.

Message from the Pastor

Last Sunday during prayer concerns, one of our choir members expressed dismay over the hateful discourse that is taking place in our nation concerning health care reform. I’ve seen citizens on TV screaming at each other and thought, “they are totally unable to listen while they are screaming.” Have they ever thought that they share the same concern, that is, affordable insurance and access to treatment for all? Why are they unable to reason peaceably? Resentment and distrust seem to carry the day rather than seeking a solution to an ever expanding crisis.

The reading from James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a, provides insight into this human condition: “show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom…for where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will be disorder and wickedness of every kind” (James 3:13 & 16). Name calling and slander lead only to violence.

Many of those who are cursing one another are doing so while believing they are at the same time Christian and followers of Jesus Christ. “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy” (James 3:17). We need to uphold this standard as we participate in the debate.

Jesus teaches us to love one another and to protect the weak, poor, and those who have no political power. Freedom of speech is a constitutional right, but that speach must be accompanied with respect for the opinions of others and empty of slander and hatred.

By the way, I am having a wonderful time getting to know my brothers and sisters of this congregation. Together we can grow in the love of Christ to serve our neighbor while serving God.

Pastor Carl

UMW Update

The UMW will begin their meetings on Wednesday, September 9th at 6:30 PM in Fellowship Hall.

Please note the date and time change from the usual first Wednesday of the month. We are trying to accommmodate moms with school children who may not want to come out the first week of school. 

As is our custom, we’ll gather to share a potluck supper meal and catch up with all the events of the summer. It is always a special time of fellowship and enthusiasm for the upcoming year. I’d also like to remind everyone that the fall Bean Hole Bean Suppers are being held on September 19th and October 24th this fall. Once again everyone’s support will be needed to make these final two suppers in 2009 a success.

Again, I’d like to invite all ladies of the church to come to a meeting and see what we’re all about at UMW. In the meantime, may the peace of the Lord be with you.

Ladies’ Arts & Crafts Night

Join us Wed, September 16, October 21 and November 18 at 7 PM. No experience is required and it’s open to all ladies in the community, so please bring a friend!

We’ll have some supplies, but feel free to bring your current project to work on and/or any art or craft supplies you’d like to use or share. Come for a no-stress night with the girls.