WE ANTICIPATE SUNDAY, November 23
A weekly e-mail from
Plymouth Congregational Church
UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST
232 E. Onondaga Street, Syracuse NY | 13202 | 315 474 4836
Welcoming All, Growing in Faith, Working for Justice and Peace
Preparing for Sunday’s Worship
Our service touches on several themes – Thanksgiving, the Reign of Christ, and Compassion.
We will celebrate the baptism of Sierra Rose Titus, daughter of Alicia and Jared Titus, and sister of Brayden Titus.
Sunday Morning Bible Study follows worship. This is a weekly examination of the following week’s preaching text(s). Grab a cup of coffee (but don’t worry about a Bible, we’ll provide those!) and join us downstairs in the Scout Room at 11:15 a.m.
The Plymouth Bells perform Douglas Wagner’s Thanksgiving Proclamation and Bach’s Now Thank We All Our God (from Cantata 79.) The choir sings two anthems of compassion: You the Christ and A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief.
Focus Scripture Matthew 25:31-46
[Jesus said:] “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
- 1. How is judgment part of your faith?
2. What’s the difference between “freedom,” and “freedom with responsibility”?
3. Why do you think the “sheep” were surprised that they were rewarded?
4. How would things change if we read this text as a judgment of nations more than individuals?
5. Is it possible to be an “anonymous Christian”?
Reflection by Kate Huey
Where can you find Christians?
We’re reminded of the Beatitudes, earlier in Matthew’s Gospel, when we read Thomas G. Long’s description of where Christians ought to be found, for they’re “not the power elite or the moral majority, forcing their will on the nations: they are identified with the weak of the earth and are more likely to be found in hospitals and prisons than in palaces.” That’s where this text challenges us, not to define ourselves as religious or spiritual because we go to church and pray and occasionally make a contribution to a worthy cause or volunteer some of our time to help others. The words of Jesus illustrate true religion that transforms our lives, opening our eyes to encounter the sacred in our everyday lives, including the sacred within our brothers and sisters. Isn’t it sometimes easier to build beautiful houses of worship, to sing glorious hymns, or even to appreciate the beauty of nature, than it is to see the image of God in one another?
However, it’s ironic that neither the sheep nor the goats saw Jesus in the suffering and needy; it’s just that the sheep responded as Jesus would, because they grasped, as Charles Cousar writes, “the essence of discipleship,” and “what it means to be a Christian.” Or, as Beverly Zink-Sawyer writes, “The king implies that the goats should not have needed neon signs directing them to the right thing to do.” Clarifying that this is not works righteousness or a way to secure our place in heaven, Zink-Sawyer writes that the followers of Jesus continue today to respond to the needs of others “because we know no other way to respond to God’s amazing love.”
- The Reverend Kathryn Matthews Huey serves as Dean of the Amistad Chapel at the national offices of the United Church of Christ in Cleveland, Ohio. To read her entire reflection, go to http://www.ucc.org/feed-your-spirit/weekly-seeds/reign-of-christ-1.html
In Our Church Community
We give thanks for the 11 households that offered pledges last week. We have received 69 pledges for $163,582. Your gifts will be used to support Plymouth’s many ministries of love, justice, and peace in 2015. We will be blessed to receive additional pledges. You may place your pledge card in the offering plate on Sunday or mail it to the church office. Pledge cards are available on the table in the back of the Sanctuary.
Advent and Christmas
Here is the Plymouth calendar for Advent and Christmas:
November 30, first Sunday of Advent, Communion Sunday and lighting of the first Advent candle.
December 7, second Sunday of Advent, Communion Sunday, with the Advent Workshop after worship.
December 14, third Sunday of Advent, service of lessons and carols, with Christmas potluck luncheon after worship and the Las Posadas caroling event for youth in late afternoon.
December 21, fourth Sunday of Advent; after worship, children will create gingerbread houses for their own homes and decorate Christmas cookies to deliver to Rescue Mission.
December 24, Christmas Eve, 5:30 p.m., family candlelight service and unrehearsed Christmas pageant; 11 p.m., candlelight service with Communion.
Toiletry Bags for Holidays
Plymouth Women will be assembling 75 toiletry bags for distribution during Food Pantry times in December. During the summer, the women will gladly accept financial donations to purchase shampoo, deodorant, soap, toothpaste and lotion. They are planning to buy the needed items in bulk. If you have any questions, contact Peggy Kinner at 492-0556 or 729-9470.
Ushers, Greeters, Liturgists and Community Time
Consider signing up! We’ll give you all the training you need, and great partners as well. To sign up as a greeter, email Craig Greczyn at firstname.lastname@example.org. To be an usher, email Jared Titus at email@example.com. To proclaim the word and share your voice as a Liturgist, call Jackie Manier at 760-3177 and leave a message. To host Community Time, email Linda Milosky at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Plymouth on YouTube
Did you know that Plymouth Church has a YouTube channel? You can find recordings of sermons given at Plymouth on it, along with some of the choir’s anthems. Our YouTube channel is one way that Plymouth is reaching out to folks who missed a Sunday or who want to listen again to a sermon or anthem, and letting the wider community and world know about us. You can search YouTube for Plymouth Church Syracuse or use this link: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCu4UIrL4OR_uGDy8EkopF_A.
You can also listen to any sermon since November 28, 2012, on Plymouth’s website at http://plymouthuccsyracuse.org/sermons-from-plymouth/.
Plymouth Is on Facebook
If you are on Facebook and you haven’t “liked” the church yet, please do! http://www.facebook.com/#1/groups/109573419061867
Help Plymouth When You Shop
Want to help Plymouth when you’re shopping? Here are two ways.
Staples office supply store has a Rewards Program that allows Plymouth to benefit. When you purchase anything at Staples, tell the checkout person the church’s phone number (474-4836) to activate a reward and Staples will direct 5 percent of that sale to Plymouth. Joan Fogarty has copies of the church’s Rewards card if you would like to present that at Staples. Ask her for one.
And you can raise money by shopping with GoodShop and GoodSearch:
GoodSearch.com has added a new feature to expand the ways you can shop and donate a percentage of each purchase to Plymouth. You can use Goodswipe, a credit card rewards program. By linking your card with one signup, you can earn donations to Plymouth for every in-store purchase at 50,000 stores. Goodswipe uses bank-level encryption to keep your information safe. To learn more about Goodswipe, go to http://www.goodsearch.com/
When shopping online, you can use GoodShop.com and benefit Plymouth. For more information on that, go to www.goodshop.com, enter Plymouth Congregational UCC in the box labeled “Who do you GoodShop for.”
The Rev. Quinn Caldwell is available to respond to emergencies, to visit those with special needs, or for conversation and prayer about whatever’s on your mind or heart. You can reach him at 315-474-4836 or email@example.com. In an emergency, you can reach him at 617-851-0158.
Food Pantry Offerings
The Food Pantry requests your participation is its “toiletries of the month” collection. Contributions of lotion are being gathered in November. Please put your donations in the box in the back of the Sanctuary. Do you ever go outside in the winter without gloves? Of course not. You wouldn’t think of it. But many of our clients come to the Food Pantry without them. Men’s XL gloves are especially needed. Please help.
The Week Ahead
Mon. Nov. 24 Senior Conversation, 10:30 a.m., home of Polly Cadwell
Tue. Nov. 25 Food Pantry, 10 a.m. to noon
Thur. Nov. 27 Thanksgiving Day – church office closed
Fri. Nov. 28 Church office closed
Sun. Nov. 30 First Sunday of Advent
Worship – Communion and Learning Community Chapel Time, 10 a.m.
Bible Study, Scout Room, 11:15 a.m.
In the Wider Community
Hearing on Single-Payer Health Care
The New York State Assembly Health Committee will hold a public hearing to receive testimony from New Yorkers about the need for a universal, single-payer health care system. The hearing will be 10 a.m. Thursday, December 4, at Weiskotten Hall Auditorium, Upstate Medical University, 766 Irving Avenue, Syracuse.
The Syracuse Peace Council’s 44th Annual Plowshares Craftsfair and Peace Festival will be held Saturday, December 6, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, December 7, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Nottingham High School, 3100 E. Genesee St., Syracuse. Admission is on a scale from $2 to $5, with people under 16 and over 65 admitted free. With 130 craftspeople and community groups, it is a marketplace of ideas and diverse, handmade items, music, food and a spirit of fellowship.
Jim Smucker Remembered
The former New York Conference Minister and Plymouth member died last week.
Tag Sale Marks Closing of Ohio Church
First Grace United Church of Christ in Akron is closing its doors at its current location because it cannot afford the overhead costs of the building, which is for sale.
Pope Francis to Build Showers for Homeless in St. Peter’s Square
Showers will be built into refurbished public restrooms.
How to take care of your spirit the six days of each week you don’t go to worship? The UCC has launched a new area of its web site designed to support people in their individual spiritual journeys: Feed Your Spirit. Daily prayers, a biblical personality test, advice column from God-lovers, and magic 8-ball await. Check it out at www.ucc.org/feed-your-spirit.
God in Your Inbox
The Stillspeaking Daily Devotional is written by UCC pastors and leaders, including Quinn Caldwell. Subscribers are sent a daily email containing a Scripture passage, short reflection, and a prayer. Sign up at http://www.ucc.org/feed-your-spirit/daily-devotional/.
Joys and Concerns
In the week ahead, you are invited to pray for ….
Alice Allen, in Crouse Hospital with pneumonia, and Jack Allen …
The repose of Ruth McMahon’s soul. The longtime Plymouth member died November 4 at 96. Read her obituary here: http://obits.syracuse.com/obituaries/syracuse/obituary.aspx?n=ruth-m-mcmahon&pid=173067288 …
Kathy and Keith Ciarpelli and family …
Linda Milosky, recovering from back surgery …
Mack Richardson, recovering from hip surgery …
Nancy Black, recovering from knee surgery …
Ellen Wright, undergoing treatment for breast cancer …
Betsy and Don …
Noni and Harold Bristol …
Stan Reeves …
Dorothy, a dear friend of Joan Fogarty …
Jamie Shavers …
Cath and Barbara …
Lee Dreamer, continuing with cancer care …
Michelle Diegoli …
Pat Partridge and her husband, Kent, as he cares for her at home …