WE ANTICIPATE SUNDAY, February 14
First Sunday in Lent
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 Worship
During Lent, laypeople will lead the Confession portion of worship, confessing their own sin (what separates them from God) and telling how they resolved the issue. Carole Brzozowski will lead Sunday’s Confession.
We welcome Stephen Block to Plymouth’s organ bench while Alice Hatt is away. Stephen is assistant dean for administration at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies and a past dean of the Syracuse Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.
Our Lenten study series begins after worship. You are invited to come to Memorial Hall on Sundays through March 13, when we will take a hard look at the ancient Christian practice of confession, using Scripture and Molly Baskette’s Standing Naked Before God: The Art of Public Confession as our guides. The book will be available Sunday or through the church office at the cost of $17. (If that cost is prohibitive, please let us know.)
Focus Scripture Luke 4:1-13
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.'”
Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'” Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'”
Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'” When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.
- What are “tests” that you have faced in your journey of faith?
- What are the ways modern Christians “blend in”?
- What really “proves” our value, our effectiveness, our belovedness?
- Is there any contradiction between being a Christian and being comfortable?
- What path will you take in the Lenten season ahead?
Reflection by Kate Matthews
A spiritual fitness program
One way to think of Lent, then, might be as a spiritual fitness program. No single dimension is enough, for what is required is a whole-life effort to be more loving, more trusting, more courageous, more humble, yes, but also lighter, more hopeful, more filled with joy, even here in Lent. If we’re carrying a grudge, for example, our load will be lighter if we let it go – a very different kind of thing to give up. If we are preoccupied with material things – food, our car, our house, for example, including worry about all three – we could set our minds other things: giving an extraordinarily generous gift to another, or seeing things from another’s perspective (which really takes willlpower, and is a great spiritual practice). One particularly difficult Lenten challenge this year might be to strive to see “the other side” in our political debate during this painfully polarized election season, to find value in the views of those who disagree with us and even more, to respect them and grant them the benefit of the doubt before wondering about their intentions and vision.
And speaking of generous gifts, as a spiritual practice, what if we tithed for the six weeks of Lent? At the end of the Lenten season, would we be able to look back and see God’s hand at work in the world, through our faithful giving? Would we see something of great wonder, even in the quiet wilderness of our own humble efforts?
The Reverend Kathryn Matthews 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/weekly_seeds_wilderness_companions
In Our Church Community
Capital Campaign Surpasses $672,000
We continue to receive commitments that signify participation in our Bold Vision Bold Witness capital campaign. There is more money yet to raise to support Plymouth’s vision of a renovated Sanctuary, a building with three floors accessible by elevator and lift, other building improvements, a new website, and a mission giving project to serve our Syracuse community. You can put your commitment card in the offering plate. And join the 102 households and businesses that have made their commitments totaling $672,587 to the campaign.
Check out the Plymouth Bold Tumblr to see what the Capital Campaign Steering Committee and the Task Forces have been accomplishing. http://plymouthbold.tumblr.com/
Your Chance to Participate in the Pastoral Evaluation Review
A review process is under way to evaluate Quinn’s ministry with the Plymouth congregation. The entire congregation is invited and encouraged to participate in this process by completing a 3-question survey. The letter of invitation, including the three questions can be picked up in the back of the Sanctuary on Sundays, February 14 and February 21. Responses are due by February 28 and should be returned to Christine Richardson (contact info is included in the attached invitation.)
Covenant Community Opening
Looking for connection? Want to get to know people more deeply? The Covenant Community small group that meets on Sunday afternoons is looking for a few new members. For more information, contact Kathleen Deters-Hayes at email@example.com or 315-218-7979 by Wednesday.
Lenten Devotional Booklets
Devotional booklets for Lent are available in the back of the Sanctuary. A donation of $3 is requested.
Use Your Nametag
Wearing a nametag during worship is a sign of your hospitality here at Plymouth. Seeing your nametag helps newcomers know who you are – and will help you put a name to some of the other faces you regularly see on Sunday but aren’t quite sure of. The Board of Deacons urges everyone to reach for their nametag when they enter the Sanctuary and wear it proudly, thus ensuring the warmest possible hospitality at Plymouth. If you need a nametag, please ask an usher.
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 Barbara Forsstrom 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 Carole Brzozowski 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.
And you can raise money by shopping with GoodShop and GoodSearch:
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. 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.”
Pastor’s Call-in Hour and Out-of-Office Office Hours
Quinn Caldwell is available by phone, with a guaranteed answer, every Monday morning from 9-10 (other times, he promises to respond to any messages promptly!). He can also be found at Recess Coffee on Harvard Street from 4 to 6 p.m. on Mondays and at Café Kubal on Salina Street from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursdays. Note: Due to the Presidents’ Day holiday, Quinn will not hold call-in or office hours on Monday.
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 toothbrushes are being gathered in February. Put your donations in the box in the back of the Sanctuary. The pantry also needs large paper bags.
The Week Ahead
Mon. Feb.15 Presidents’ Day – church office closed
Tue. Feb. 16 The Plymouth Story Deadline
Church Council, 5:30 p.m., Parlor
Board of Christian Education, 7 p.m., Adult Education Room
Thur. Feb. 18 Food Pantry, 10 a.m. to noon, Parlor
Choir Rehearsal, 7 p.m., Memorial Hall
In the Wider Community
‘Colored Museum’ Performed at ArtRage
“The Colored Museum,” by Tony Award-winner George C. Wolfe, is this year’s featured play under the Project1VOICE initiative to “Strengthen African American Theater and Playwrights.” The Paul Robeson Performing Arts Company will present special preview performances on Friday and Saturday, February 19 and 20, at ArtRage Gallery, 505 Hawley Ave. In conjunction with the ArtRage exhibit “Blackout,” “The Colored Museum” will also shine a light on the perpetuation of stereotypes. The conversation on race gets a jolt from the collection of William Berry Jr.’s racist memorabilia and the symbols and imagery George C. Wolfe gives voice to in his satirical play. For high school age and older. Tickets are $10 at the door.
Blessing Bags Project Helps Homeless
At UCC church in Rockaway, New York City. http://rockawaytimes.com/2016/02/04/7514/
Obama: Religious Freedom Keeps Us Strong
President writes commentary for RNS. http://www.religionnews.com/2016/02/06/president-obama-religious-freedom-keeps-us-strong-rns-exclusive-commentary/
Pope’s Guide to Lent
What you should give up this year. http://time.com/3714056/pope-francis-lent-2015-fasting/
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
Susan Cowles, recovering from knee surgery
Rita Gabaccia, in hospice care at home in Brick, New Jersey
Thanksgiving for the new life of David Arthur Dunne, and for his parents, Jim and Christine, and his sister, Alice.
For Jim Dunne on the death of his grandmother Alice Weil, and for all who loved her
Rachelle Greczyn, and Craig and Ollie
James Rada and Laura Powers as they continue serving as foster parents to Osheeonah
Keith and Juliet Giglio as Keith receives treatment for an illness
Dottie Clark, recovering from a successful kidney transplant
Patti Brady, Chris Welch’s sister, recuperating at home in Virginia
David Mahler, Rebekah Tanner’s cousin, recovering from spinal surgery
Betsy and Don
Cath and Barbara
Lee Dreamer, continuing with cancer care