- Next Sunday:
What’s New: Recent Posts
Categories: All Posts (blogs)
Our Presbyterian Social Witness Ministries, Bill Somplatsky-Jarman, General Assembly Coordinator for Social Witness Ministries, will be with us at NPC on Sunday, February 26.
Following the 11:00 a.m. worship service there will be a light lunch after which Bill will update us on our church’s ministries in two areas—advocacyof human rights in Israel/Palestine and ministries of advocacy to curb the trafficking of children for purposes of sexual exploitation. There will be ample time for questions and members of the church are invited to attend.
Mary Ann Eschbach and Gary Skinner are coordi-nating this event. For more information feel free to contact either of them.
Saturday, December 24 – 28th Day of advent
The anticipation of Advent can bring out the best and the worst in me. I try to carefully keep “the reason for the season” in the forefront but I admit that the busy, crazy days of December can sometimes overtake me. When I find myself worried about the holidays or freaked out that I haven’t done enough or have fallen behind on my long
list, if I can find a way to stop, breathe and reflect on the many blessings in my life I will almost always start to feel calmer and less overwhelmed. As I get older, I am discovering that it is OK to let go of the things I think are expected of me and instead concentrate on a few things and try to relax and live in the moment, enjoying life rather than worrying about what is coming up.
When I think about the simple birth in a manger, imagining how incredibly overwhelmed Mary and Joseph must have felt, I know they were able to carry on with grace and love. In my mind’s eye, I see the bright, shining star guiding visitors from afar to the humble stable to visit the newborn baby; I am able to feel all the love and comfort around me with my family and friends. I am grateful to God for giving us this opportunity each year to march through Advent in a purposeful yet calm way, remembering that Jesus, the Prince of Peace, was born. Hallelujah!
Friday, December 23 – 27th Day of Advent
Our Advent theme is gratitude. Wow! When I think of my family’s gratitude for Newport I can’t help but feel a call to action this advent season.
With Jacob and Nathan settled at Whitworth, I am so thankful for the love and care Newport has shown our family. We joined Newport 3 months before the boys were born and you immediately accepted us as family, providing incredible support during the medical crisis surrounding their birth. Nearly nineteen years later we are so blessed. I see and feel the love that so many within the Newport family hold for my boys and my family. That is powerful to know. That is powerful to feel.
Advent represents the welcoming of our savior Jesus into our lives as the family of Christian believers. I see Jesus’ love in the care that our congregation gives to so many in our midst and the broader community. What better time to embrace this care with gratitude than at Advent? And then … knowing we are loved, we share this love with others during this blessed season. This Advent season may all of our hearts be filled with a call to action as we show Jesus’ love for others.
Thursday, December 22 – 26th Day of Advent
Storylines are something I usually think of as belonging in books or movies. Recently, though, I’ve been thinking about their role in my life. The author of a book I read this year suggests that God wants us to “live good stories” in order to find more meaning in our lives. Living a good story doesn’t mean that you have to do something grand or extravagant—to me, it means getting off my couch more often, living mindfully, acting intentionally, and working to overcome adversity. Instead of assuming that the events of my life will just happen to me, I strive to take more control of my role in my own story. After all, I’m the protagonist of the story I’m living!
So this year I’ve been more grateful for challenges and obstacles. Without them, I would not have any chance at living a good story. Challenges give me opportunities to become closer to my friends, family, and to God. And in the long run, challenges help me find more meaning in my life. For that, I am grateful.
Wednesday December 21 – 25th Day of Advent
Where does one start regarding how grateful and thankful we are for the things God has given, or taken away, from us? Yes, sometimes losing something can be a blessing in disguise – you just don’t realize it until God reveals it to you!
Last October, I was laidoff – a frightening prospect at my age and in this economy. It was financially tough on my family as Unemployment Insurance covered only a third of my previous salary. Beyond that, I had just spent the last 7 years with a company I thought I’d eventually retire from – 7 years gone!
I found out through a fellow veteran that my U.S. Navy service time counts as federal time. If I got a federal job, I could buyback the 6 years that I served. It would not only count for retirement but for vacation time as well. I pursued this avenue and was rewarded this past June with a job at the local VA hospital. So, I get 6 years back and I get to work with (and for) fellow veterans and heroes everyday. I’m grateful for everyone who supported and helped me during this time, especially my wife, Jennefer. Beyond having to carry the financial burden of our family, she believed in me when I needed it most. Do you know how powerful that is? Grateful doesn’t even scratch the surface.
I am also thankful for this church. You have warmly welcomed me, my family and my extended family. It’s very difficult to leave a church you grewup in and have tremendous ties and thirty plus years of memories and friendships. However, Newport has been a true blessing and has made that difficult transition seem effortless. This congregation and staff are beyond welcoming and genuine.
I cherish the fact that Newport is progressive in its beliefs and theology. We accept and love everyone, as Jesus did. We are all God’s children – not just some of us – and for that . . . I am grateful.
Tuesday, December 20 – 24th Day of Advent
Sometimes it feels like hard work to be grateful for all we have, instead of wondering or worrying about what we lack. I’ve struggled with this recently. Suddenly, a stray remark by a struggling single mum – “you’re so lucky to have it all, a child and a husband, as well as a good career” – put it into perspective. Sometimes we can only see what we have through the eyes of those who do not. As Christmas approaches, we have the opportunity to put aside our longings and wants, and meditate about the message of the manger. The humble birth of baby Jesus is a multifaceted reminder of all our riches. I have much to be grateful for: my faith, my loyal spouse, my precious little boy, my stimulating career, my supportive friends and our wonderful faith community at Newport. And that only starts the list. This year, as I look forward to celebrating the hope brought by the birth of baby Jesus, I will pray that I am open to both giving and receiving a priceless Christmas gift: genuine gratitude.
Monday December 19 – 23 Day of Advent
There is so much in my life that I am grateful for … but first and foremost I am grateful for the ability to feel gratitude. The world around me tends to call me to envy and thoughts of what I don’t have. Here at Newport Presbyterian I am blessed with a community which constantly reminds me that I must ignore the calls from my dark side to list what I don’t have, to fret about getting more … and that I must heed the call of my light side and be grateful for what I do have, sharing with others, not hoarding the bounty that I have been given. We are human, and have both light and dark sides, but we can choose the light rather than the dark. I constantly hear that message from the pulpit and see it in the people around me at Newport Presbyterian. The message is a reflection of the teachings of Jesus for me … more reason to celebrate his birth, not just in this season, but every day of the year. These thoughts bring to mind words from a Shakespeare sonnet:
“….Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.”
Aren’t we asked to love God, and love each other?
Saturday, December 17 – 21st Day of Advent
The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year and can also be one of the most frantic. In this time is the anticipation of time together with family and friends, but also memories of family long gone and a sense of loneliness. All wrapped up into one season of waiting for Christmas is joy and sorrow, darkness and light. So intentionally traveling each day of Advent can be a gift. As I layer into already busy days, the preparations for Christmas, it helps me to take time each day to notice and be grateful for God’s love in my life. The word Emmanuel –
God with us – whispers in my ear. Through this one word I experience the anticipation and the celebration of the birth of Jesus as it begins anew. It starts with warming my heart by falling in love all over again with a beautiful baby who will grow up and along the way teach me to be human. Emmanuel – God with us. God is already here, I just need to take time to notice. I am grateful for this season of Advent that is all about taking the time to notice God with us
Friday, December 16 – 20th day of Advent
Christmas is great! In addition to the presents, every year we get to celebrate that God came to earth to walk among us and show us how to really live while further revealing God’s true nature.
Jesus showed us that relationships, all kinds of relationships, are where it’s at. And He didn’t seem to spend a minute worrying about appearances. All sorts of people were worth the Lord’s attention as he walked among us. Fishermen, prostitutes, tax men, children and members of the church elite each got his or her time with Jesus. And every personal interaction explained more to us about God.
I think there are three lessons for us:
1) God did send Jesus into the world because His relationship with us is so important to Him. It certainly should be that for each of us as well.
2) Jesus didn’t turn away anyone, even the least in his society. We need to be always open to new relationships without respect to shared personal traits like income, appearance, job or phase of life, which sometimes define our friendships.
3) When all of those personal, worldly traits are stripped away and when relationships fade, due to circumstance or the passage of time, we will always be God’s children – the best Christmas present and the one for which I am most grateful.