First Presbyterian Church In
Volume LXVII No. 7 August 2009
The Glory that God Intends
...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life... From Philippians 2:12-16
have only to look as far as our local newspaper to come to the realization that
we live in a world very far from the
What of our church? What of God’s Church -- the whole Christian Church on earth? I’ve heard sentiments like this too many times. Perhaps you have also:
If the church is so great, why are there so many [hypocrites, insincere, angry, bigoted -- fill in the negative quality of your choice] people there?
or worse yet:
If there’s really a God, why does He allow so many bad things to happen -- especially in the Church? Why do so many churches seem to be struggling? Even dying?
As I think about it, I would go so far as to suggest that you may have had and may continue to have thoughts like these. At least I suspect you do if you are anything like me. Indeed, as one who teaches and preaches the Gospel, and maybe even more so because of it, I find these doubts cropping up, generally when they are least welcome. Mind you, if this is the case, you -- we -- are not alone, for many men and women of faith have, while recognizing their ultimate trust in God, still wrestle with their nagging doubts: “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)
If you find yourself right now doubting God, doubting God’s sovereignty over our seemingly chaotic world, or moreover doubting the often all human church to which we have been called, perhaps this story which I recently heard will help illustrate the point:
There was a certain minister of a small, struggling congregation. He worked very hard to preach the Gospel and tend to the needs of his flock. This minister was most delighted to discover one Sunday morning a new face in his congregation. The newcomer continued to attend faithfully for several weeks and then one Sunday he simply wasn’t there. And then he wasn’t there the following Sunday and the Sunday after that. The minister wondered what had transpired. Was it something he had said? The type of worship music? The time of service?
Deciding to pay a call on the now absent newcomer, the minister was warmly welcomed into the man’s home, “Oh no, it’s nothing you’ve done, Reverend,” said the man, “I like your sermons well enough and the music is okay. It’s just that... well...” the man hesitated for a moment, as if he were waiting for permission from the minister to continue, which he got in the form of an encouraging of weak smile, “You see, I’m not really sure about God, and Jesus, and the whole Christian thing. At least I wasn’t. But something told me I should try it out, so I came to your church. And things were going along fine until I entered into a business arrangement with one of your church members. The fellow turned out to be a complete crook! Utterly dishonest! If that’s what church and Christianity are all about, well, I’m sorry, but I want no part of it.”
The minister, at a loss for words, thought for a moment, then, noticing a piano in the corner of the living room said, “Well I’m so sorry to hear that. Not to change the topic, but... who plays the piano in your household?”
The man was surprised at the question, but probably glad to talk about something else and most definitely glad to brag a little about one of his children, “My daughter has been taking lessons. Only for a couple of years now, but she’s really pretty good for a little child.” The man was clearly beaming with pride.
“That’s wonderful,” the minister replied, “do you think I could hear her play?”
The man called his daughter and she, perhaps a bit shyly appeared in the room. Not the first time she had been called upon to play for guests, she dutifully sat down at the piano.
The minister walked over to the piano and picked up a thick book of music. Paging through it for a moment, found a nocturne by Chopin, “Here. Would you play this one?”
“Oh no sir, that piece is much too hard for me,” said the little girl.
“Would you try anyway?” asked the minister, smiling warmly.
“Okay, I’ll try,” said the little girl. And try she did. Valiantly. Though in truth, she likely played more wrong notes than correct notes. The tempo and rhythm bore no resemblance to the composer’s intentions. The piece was simply many years beyond her state of development. Perhaps, with continued guidance from her teacher, and diligent practice, she would one day play Chopin’s elegant music beautifully. But not today.
After the little girl ceased her efforts and retired to her room, the minister exclaimed, “Well now, who wrote that? Chopin was it? Clearly not a ve ry good composer was he? What a poor excuse for music...”
No further explanation was required. The man realized the minister’s point: Much as his little girl, while certainly a pianist, was still very much in the process of perfecting her art. The fact that she could not execute the most advanced of repertoire did nothing to diminish his fatherly love and pride. In the same way, whereas we have been redeemed by Christ, we are all very much in the process of sanctification -- the process of being made more and more like Jesus. We, and the whole church, may be said to be a work in progress. Just as the little girl’s faltering attempts are not truly a negative reflection on the great composer, so too our faltering attempts as seek to learn to hear the Master’s voice, as we endeavor to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit are not negative reflections on God or on God’s intent for the Church.
If you find yourself discouraged by the world, by the Church, by your fellow Christians, perhaps that is the best opportunity to ask God to help you become a part of the ongoing process of transforming the church into the Glory which God intends.
Wishing you peace in Christ and every good blessing,
Anthony Mark LaMort - Minister of Music
News from the Missions Committee
the summer draws to a close, we look ahead to the
(Interfaith Hospitality Network for the homeless of
Although our next scheduled week of hosting homeless families is not until October, we find ourselves hosting more and more weeks as well, when there are “gaps” in the 2009 schedule. In fact, we are presently hosting three families for August 23rd through September 6th because there are no other congregations available to take this group of people. Can you help in any way? Between now and Labor Day Weekend, can you provide food, help with the children, or stay overnight and fix breakfast? Can you take home linens at the end of each of the two weeks, ready for our October week?
annual CROP Walk for hunger will be in October – can you be a “walker” to earn money which will help
with hunger-related programs around the world?
If walking is not an option, the walkers would appreciate any and all donations to this cause.
have not been contacted recently about helping with this outreach program,
feeding people in the greater Orange area each Saturday at Holy Trinity
Episcopal Church in
do thank so many of you who regularly contribute to the support of our various
mission projects, and to the work of our missionaries. Your financial support throughout the year
with your giving to Benevolences is invaluable.
To date, we have forwarded $7,430 of your Benevolence
giving to the Missionaries and
If you have never gone a step further with “hands on” service, try it! Interacting with the people we help in programs like IHN and Christine’s Kitchen puts real meaning to the words of Jesus Christ, spoken many centuries ago. They are found in Matthew 25:31- 46, with our Lord blessing people who gave food, water, clothing, and care to those in need:
“Truly, I say to you, just as you did it to the least of these, who are members of my family, you did it to me”
These words came down through the centuries, to show us a pathway to follow. Let’s follow it together!
First Presbyterian Church Concert Series begins second season
First Presbyterian Church of Orange
has a long history of great musical performance in conjunction with its worship
services and community outreach. A comprehensive list of artists who have
contributed to First Presbyterian’s musical life would read much like a ‘who’s
who’ of great
As is true for so many houses of worship and other not-for-profit organizations in today’s world, difficult economic times have resulted in dwindling resources, shrinking budgets and vanishing programs. Musical outreach at First Presbyterian had become all but a thing of the past.
A thing of the past that is, until
the congregation’s leadership voted to reinstate a concert series last year.
Now in it’s second season, the First Presbyterian
Concert series, while operating on a marginal budget, offers programs of true
musical excellence in styles ranging from classical instrumental and choral
music to Blues, Jazz, and Rock. The church generally hosts one or two concerts
a month. Added to the line-up this season is a monthly feature called ‘Poet’s
Corner’ featuring the poetic offerings of a featured reader and an ‘open mic’ for audience participants. In addition to the formal
concerts the church also offers a series of ‘Drop-by Recitals’ on the second
and fourth Sunday’s of each month at 12:30 pm. These brief programs feature the church’s 4 manual
Poet's Corner Featured Performers
Friday July 17, 2009 –
I can’t believe it was time to go so we all packed up and headed to the dining hall for breakfast – I didn’t eat because I was too sad to go home that I started to “cry.” All of us decided to get each other’s phone numbers and email addresses so of course I joined in. I made a lot of new friends that I will never forget. I tried new things that in all my life I wouldn’t think of doing so I am proud for trying it. So after the whole thing I met some new people and learned new things and the Bible. It was an amazing week.
Thank you First Presbyterian Church for letting me experience the wonderful things the camp has to offer. Thank you so much!!!
Love – Chiemezie Okobi
Below are the names of the other children who went to Johnsonburg camp:
Asher Marie Coates
Abiding Peace Throughout the World.
This month we seem to have a need for special
Phil Lindquist (nephew of Rev. Dr. Raymond
Lindquist who served as Pastor at
1934 – 1953) recently underwent major heart
Phoebe Nwangw (mother of Elizabeth Achebe)
The Pierce Family
Roosevelt Jr. and family –Toni’s son
Emmanuel Shu (Joan Shu-Osobo’s brother)