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For such a time as this…

Over the next five weeks, we will take a look at the book of Esther.  If you haven’t read Esther, I’d encourage you to read it! It reads like a thriller or even a romance novel. And yet, we can learn much about what it means to live a life committed to God and to one another as the body of Christ during difficult times. Do you ever feel like your swimming upstream? That the choices you make and your commitment to faith seems so foreign to others that you find it difficult to stay the course? Perhaps you feel discouraged and insignificant or unable to change things anyway? These are some of the very things that we read about in the book of Esther.

As part of our study, we will look at the different characters in the story and the choices that each of them make in their own times; some in faithfulness to God and some quite faithless at all. we’ll be challenged to reevaluate our own choices. We will be reminded that each of us have been given gifts and passions for God to use to effect change and bring about justice in our own communities. Together, we’ll ask ourselves the famous question Mordecai asked Esther:”Who knows if you have not become royal for such a time as this?”

Join us for worship Sundays at 10:30!

Pastor Beth

hPork Tenderloin Dinner

Pork Tenderloin Dinner to Benefit Mercy Children’s Home in Nepal is this Friday, April 29

This Friday, April 29, Harrisonburg First Church of the Brethren will be hosting a Pork Tenderloin Dinner from 4:00pm-8:00pm in the Church Multi-Purpose Area.  Proceeds from the meal will benefit the Mercy Children’s Home in Kathmandu, Nepal.  Members of First Church visited Mercy Children’s Home during a mission trip to Nepal in 2012.  

The menu for the dinner includes: Pork Tenderloin, Macaroni & Cheese, Green Beans, Mashed Potatoes, Salad, Rolls and Assorted Desserts.

Cost:  Adults $10 Kids (6-11) $5, Kids (Under 6) Free.

For more information contact the church office at (540)434-8288.

hPork Tenderloin Dinner

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Multiply

Multiply  

4 x 5 = 20

6 x 8 = 48

 9 x 7 = ?

Those of us old enough to remember [before the “new math” etc.] had the multiplication tables drummed into us and we still know them.

But “multiply” at First Church is a new thing just now.

Starting this Sunday, September 27, it will become an effort at reNEWal at First Church. We hope it can move our whole church nearer to the potential God sees in us.

Imagine all of us, each of us, growing together in our faith, moving deeper into our connection with the God who loves us.

Two thousand years ago twelve disciples, witnessing to what they had learned from Jesus, changed the world. We hope Multiply can renew us, make us better disciples of Jesus. Who knows where that could take us!

We need everyone to sign up and participate in a Multiply group to be a part of this exciting process. This Sunday it all starts. If you are signed up, Welcome Aboard! If not, Sunday is your last chance to be in on this new thing that God is doing at First Church.

And, don’t worry. We will not be testing you on the multiplication tables.

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Vacation Bible School is More Than Just a Week

Annually, Vacation Bible School is one of the best attended events that our church hosts.  VBS, is about more than just a week together, it is a foundation of learning, not only for the kids that attend, but for the adults that lead them.

For the kids, VBS is a fun, exciting way to learn about God, enjoy the company of other kids and it’s a way to have fun.  VBS is a great way for us, as adults, to teach kids that learning about God’s wonders and Jesus’ journey isn’t just sitting listening to Bible stories, but that God really can be exciting!  Through music, scripture, arts and crafts, and recreation (even the water balloon nights), God really wants all of us to have fun as we worship him.

For Adults, sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in the mundane, everyday life of work and the rut in which we can often find ourselves trapped.  But VBS is a way to climb out of that rut and see the faces of kids that are excited about hearing stories from the Bible and watching them come to life over the course of five days.  This is a chance, for the adult leaders, to look back, and recapture just a small piece of our childhood as well.

I have had the privilege to assist with VBS for over 15 years, most of the time leading or helping with recreation. Over the years, I have seen a lot of kids that have had their lives changed because of the time that the adults of the church put into VBS, and believe it or not, I have seen a lot of adults who had their eyes opened as well.

As we approach Vacation Bible School 2015, considers registering your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, neighbors or any other kids that you may know.  While you’re at it, think about helping out with VBS as well.  It just may open your eyes and change your life!

Harrisonburg First Church of the Brethren Vacation Bible School is set for July 13-17 and will run from 6:00pm-8:30pm each evening.  To register, contact Heidi Bunn at the Church Office.

https://www.facebook.com/events/846299115407169/

Thoughts on Philippians 2: what I shared at Annual conference 2014

Picture2Greetings as Dan Ulrich said, I am Beth Jarrett and I am currently serving as the Pastor of First Church of the Brethren in Harrisonburg Virginia. Dan said I had 5 minutes to share my faith background and my perspective on this passage so I think the most efficient thing to say is that I am a southern Presbaptiscopalmennothren. Let’s just say I have a very broad faith experience but I found my spiritual home in the Anabaptist tradition as a young adult.

When I pondered this letter to the church in Philippi, it immediately touched my church planting/missionary heart. Having served as a church planter in Sicily for 10 years, I am keenly aware of some of the anxiety that Paul is grappling with.

I remember what it is like to have invested years into building a small community of believers only to come back from our furlough to find them divided, angry and the center of the town’s gossip vine. And Paul wasn’t even on a furlough!

Believe me, when two Sicilian women fight it involves everyone! It can divide a church right down the middle. Each woman aligning their entire household against another… and believe me that’s a BIG household. If they see each other walking down the street, they will literally change their path to avoid having to see one another.

Paul is speaking to a very similar issue in this letter as two strong women, Euodeia and Syntyche are fighting and causing a division in the little church that is struggling to survive without adequate leadership, in the midst of cultural and ethnic diversity, persecution, and surrounding pagan traditions.

If we are honest with each other, we face similar struggles in our churches today as some of us experience great diversity in our theological perspectives and worship styles while at the same time we see decreased attendance, lower giving, and I am sure you can name a few others. And yet we are still faced with the challenge to shine like stars as we extend the good news of the Gospel in the midst of massive technological, social and economic change.

Paul desperately wants the church to understand that how we work out our salvation together matters.

I recently had the benefit of hearing Juana Bordas a vibrant Latino leader and author of salsa soul and leadership share how she successfully transitioned the Girls Scouts of America from a dying all white organization to a vibrant flourishing multi-cultural and ethnically diverse organization. She believes that the viability of the church and church related agencies over the next 50 years depends on how well we do the work of becoming culturally and ethnically diverse without damaging one another or the church’s witness. If ever there was a time to accept Paul’s challenge to do everything without complaining and arguing… this is the time. We need all of our creative energy focused on this business of working out our salvation in our own generation.

How do we do that in practice? According to Philippians 2: 13, we must trust that God’s Spirit is at work in each of us to will and to act according to his good purpose. We need to take seriously what it means for us both individually and corporately to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. It is a call to courageous discipleship. We must figure out what it means to live out the deep claims of the Gospel in our lives with an attitude of humility and respect while at the same time navigating through an age of technological, environmental, and social change.

But with such diversity among us, how do we do that? Paul encourages us earlier in chapter 2, to let our experience of Christ’s mercy, love and compassion be the glue that holds us together. Not our like theologies, not our correct Biblical interpretation, not even our worship styles and practices. Instead, it should be our encounter with Jesus and all of the grace we have experienced in that encounter that holds us together and invites others to join us.

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Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina is a Latin term that is used to describe an ancient Christian practice of reading the Bible. It actually means “spiritual reading”. It is different from our usual linear and intellectual approach to reading scripture in that we listen for the Spirit’s revelation in the verse rather than relying on our own intellectual understanding of it.

Some liken the practice to enjoying a meal. It involves four movements: Read more