Wednesday, December 29, 2010

From the men's bible study, Dec. 29

                                              

Jeremiah 31: 7-14; Ephesians 1: 3-6, 15-19a; Matthew 2: 13-15, 19-23


Jeremiah was a Prophet (not an amphibian), he lived in Anathoth, two miles east of Jerusalem and was of a well-to-do family. He was called to be a prophet around 626 BC and suffered during the reign of five weak, and ineffective Judean kings. He carried on his prophetic office during the Babylonian Exile, although he remained in Judea, he was an exile none the less being away from the refuge community. He dealt with many problems and wasted no time in taking action to condemn idol worship. This passage (chapter 31) was written in the time King Zedekiah was on the throne. It is referred to as Jeremiah’s 17th prophecy; one of Hope and Comfort for the exiles. He promises the exiles that Judah and Ephraim will be restored, and they will enjoy a safe journey back to Israel from Babylon. The words evoke an image of a perfect land with prosperity, food, watered gardens, and celebrations with song and dance. My favorite phrase is near the end, “I will give the priests their fill of fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my bounty, says the LORD.” Even a lonely exile can find hope and encouragement here.

Our Gospel follows the Christmas story from Matthew’s point of view with the typical ties to the Old Testament. The reading is disconnected; it leaves out the verses that cover King Herod’s brutal slaying of the infants. The theme includes heavenly intervention (by an angel speaking to Joseph to leave the county and later to return). The exiled holy family goes to Egypt (a place where the Jewish people have strong memories and history). As Matthew says repeatedly, “so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled.” We are in the dark on how long the family remained in Egypt or what they did. We know that there were moderate populations of exiled Jewish people living in Egypt at that time, especially in Alexandria. The Herodian politics led Joseph not back to Bethlehem, but to Nazareth where they settled down. One of Matthew’s connects to the OT is from Hosea 11:1: “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”

Exiles and refugees are very common in our place and time. We see and hear of religious people being persecuted and murdered for their faith; they must move and try to find a safe place. How do we confront outrageous acts of violence and help the exiles?

Reference material includes but not limited to:
J.R. Dummelow: One Volume Bible Commentary
William Barclay: The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1
Discussion in this morning’s forum

Submitted by Walt Jaap

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas and God's Blessings on all!




                                                         Photo by Diana Leavengood


For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" ~ Luke 2:11-14

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

From the men's bible study

                                                            

                                                     Photo by Diana Leavengood

Isaiah 61:10-62:3
According to the historical-critical consensus, this portion of the book was written by disciples of Second Isaiah (chapters 40-55) after the return from exile. However, the return was not as glorious as Second Isaiah had envisioned (cf. 62:4). Therefore, Third Isaiah continues to articulate the hope of a full restoration of the people and nation, with special attention on setting things right for Jerusalem (cf. 62:1).
In a real sense, when we read Isa 61:10-62:3 during the Christmas season, we are still "looking for the redemption of Jerusalem" and the setting of things right for the nations. Even after Jesus' birth, life, death, and resurrection, we are called to live with hope, entrusting ourselves, our futures, and the future of the world to God and God's deliverance.
Thus, we live as the postexilic community lived, and as the final form of the book of Isaiah invites God's people in every generation to live. We live, entrusting ourselves to God, living in hope toward a future which is claimed and will be redeemed by God, and contributing by our words and deeds toward making the world right and life-serving, for God's sake, for our own sake, and for the sake of "all the nations".

Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7

In the previous chapter, Paul, preaching to those Galatian believers and explained that those "under the law" (that is, everyone) cannot receive the divine inheritance through obedience to the law. Instead, the law is like a task master or disciplinarian. Then Paul begins to announce the promise. Now, that faith has come, we are no longer slaves serving a tough taskmaster (the law). Instead, we are God's children through faith in Christ Jesus.
In chapter four, Paul is simply underscoring his main point. Christ has come in the flesh (born of a woman!) to free us from that old master (the law), making possible our adoption as members of God's household—with all the benefits that go with it. It is no longer our relationship to the taskmaster (the law) that determines our situation in the divine household. Instead, it is our relationship to Christ that determines our new status in the family. Consequently, as adopted sons and daughters, we do what children do (call their father Abba—"Daddy" for instance) and receive what children receive: blessing and inheritance.
Paul's overriding concern in the Galatians letter is the distinction between one's relationship to God through faith in Christ as opposed to one's relationship to God via the legal code.


John 1:1-18

The Prologue of John's Gospel is described as one of the finest pieces of literature in all of the New Testament. It introduces the reader/hearer to Jesus as fully human and fully God. Jesus, the Word, is presented as a character from another realm: the logos was in the beginning and then became flesh. The logos was with God and then lived among us. There is something unique about this character. There is in this text another unique character, another one who is sent. His name is John, and he is sent by God. When one is sent by God, there is the indication of a purpose.

The Gospel writer clearly states John's mission immediately upon introducing him: John "came as a witness to testify to the light" (verse 7). John's Prologue ends by saying that no one has ever seen God, that the Son is the only one close to God, and that the Son has made God known. This begs a further question: Who makes the Son known? How do we remember the Son?

Submitted By Dick Nelson

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Harmony service

Harmony Service is a family-friendly service filled with song, sharing and smiles. Everyone is welcome! We encourage you to join us Sundays to witness the gentle atmosphere of Saint Thomas' youngest members fulfilling their spiritual growth.

                                      







Submitted by Tammy Zybura

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Be still and know that I am God (Ps 46:10), Sunday Dec.19 at 9am in the Guild room


Come and experience the “Peace that passes all understanding” this Advent season. Start your week by calming body, mind and soul with ancient prayers and meditations. Learn about these prayers/meditations, practice them and integrate them into your daily life without adding another time commitment to your day.

This Sunday we will explore and practice specific Contemplative Prayers like Breath Prayer and Prayer of the Heart.  We will also explore how to "Practice the Presence of God" in all we do.  Brother Lawrence, a monk who lived in France in the seventeenth century, described his way of living with an awareness of God's Presence at all times in sixteen letters.  Brother Lawrence made a habit of thinking about God in all things, drawing near to God at all times.  He was so disciplined in his ceaseless recollection of God that it became habitual for him.  It became a way of life.
How do we live in the Presence of God more consciously?

To explore Brother Lawrence's concept of Living in the Presence of God click on http://www.practicegodspresence.com/brotherlawrence/index.html
or to learn more about his life click on
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/lawrence

The folllowing video clip is not about Brother Lawrence, but gives a wonderful overview of how to incorporate prayer into your daily life:
(For email subscribers: to watch the 2 min video on Centering Prayer please click on http://comeseestthomas.blogspot.com/)

Friday, December 17, 2010

St Thomas' Christmas pageant 2010- short movies and pictures...

If you missed the pageant this past Sunday, here are some pictures and very short videos of this beautiful event:













Pictures by Diana Leavengood



video video video
video video
Videos by Bettina Schuller

Thursday, December 16, 2010

From the men's bible study, Dec.15


Isaiah 7: 10-16; Romans 1: 1-7; Matthew 1: 18-25

Matthew’s Gospel focus is on Jewish traditions how Jesus’ teachings are consistent with Mosaic Law “The Law, Prophets, and the Psalms are not abolished, they are fulfilled in Christ.” Matthew 1: 1-17 (just before this lesson) gives Jesus’ Genealogy, tracing his descents from Joseph back to Abraham through 42± generations. Matthew links the birth of Jesus to the Prophesy of Isaiah- 9:6: “For a child has been born for us, a son is given to us.” As well, there is a link to Isaiah 7: 10-16 (our OT lesson for today).

Saint Joseph the Carpenter is the betrothed husband to be of Mary. He was not Jesus’ biological father, but acted as his foster-father and as head of the Holy Family. There is not much information in the gospels about Joseph, but he went against the traditions of his religion and culture in staying the course with Mary and bringing up a son. By the Law he could have walked away. It helped that the angel gave him assurance that all would be right.

The angel gave Joseph courage as well as the name for his adopted son: Jesus (Greek form of Joshua, meaning God is Salvation). At the time of Jesus’ birth, the Holy Spirit was thought of as the force that brought the truth. As an example, a prophet would be inspired or taught by the Holy Spirit. It is in Jesus that the true nature of God is revealed in Love, Goodness, and Charity. Jesus enables us to see God with clarity.


Read this Gospel passage as if you had never set eyes on it; what do you come away with? What is Matthew conveying that is important?
Submitted by Walt Jaap

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Don't forget to purchase your pecans before Christmas!

They are great for baking and make awesome gifts! Proceeds go to the totally epic Saint Thomas Youth Ministry!





Submitted by Tammy Zybura

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Be still and know that I am God (Ps 46:10), Sunday Dec.12 at 9am in the Guild room


Come and experience the “Peace that passes all understanding” this Advent season. Start your week by calming body, mind and soul with ancient prayers and meditations. Learn about these prayers/meditations, practice them and integrate them into your daily life without adding another time commitment to your day. This Sunday we will explore and practice Centering Prayer.
Centering Prayer is a form of Contemplative Prayer teaching us to enter into communion with God through silence. When we practice Centering Prayer, we move eventually beyond our normal thoughts and feelings, which often block our connection with God. During Centering Prayer we usually sit in silence for 20 minutes (not this Sunday though) and use a prayer word to stay in the Presence of God.
If you would like to learn more about Contemplative Prayer/Centering Prayer click on the following links:

http://www.centeringprayer.com/

http://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/

(For email subscribers: to watch the 4 min video on Centering Prayer please click on http://comeseestthomas.blogspot.com/)








Friday, December 10, 2010

Did you miss out on the Resurrection House Angel Tree? Can you help us help a family in need?

Jack Day and your Outreach Committee encourage you to make Christmas a bit brighter for two families of children “adopted” by the Juvenile Services Program. There are 6 children ranging in age from 1-7 years old. Jack has offered to coordinate getting gifts to these children and you can contact him at JDay@jud6.org or at his home phone 823-3735. Gifts can be wrapped or unwrapped with the name attached. They must be in Santa Jack’s hands by Dec. 15th. Here is the information you will need: Family #1 =
1) Ke’Myia (Female) Age 1 – clothing size 24 mos; shoe size 5 infants (loves musical toys)
2) Samuel (Male) Age 4 – clothing size 7; shoe size 13 (loves trucks and Super Heroes)
3) Yakenna (Female) Age 7 – clothing size 16 – shoe size 5 (loves Hannah Montana)
Family #2 =
1) Jhade (Female) Age 7 – Clothing 10½, shoe Size 1 (loves to read, write, and draw)
2) Amyah (Female) Age 4 – Clothing 5/6; Shoe 10 or 11 (very girlie – loves Princess ‘stuff’)
3) Joziah (Male) Age 3 – Clothing Size 5/6; Shoe 11 (loves Super Heroes)

Thank you so much for sharing God’s Love and opening your hearts to those in need.
Submitted by Toni Calabrese

2010 Cookies and Caroling was a huge success!

The smallest members of St Thomas had a fun-filled time making, baking and decorating Christmas cookies as well as spreading their Christmas joy while singing Christmas carols at a nearby Retirement Home.   A HUGE thank you to Elaine Patrick and Louise Yardumian as well as the parents and St Thomas “big” kids (Walt that’s you) who supported the event.  We hope you enjoy the photos below and most importantly, MERRY CHRISTMAS from the Children's ministry and choir! 












Photographed and submitted by Tammy Zybura

Thursday, December 9, 2010

From the men's bible study, Dec. 8





Isaiah 35:1-10

In this oracle of restoration, the prophet promises restoration of the land to fertility, the end of human suffering and infirmity, restoration of hope and justice, and the joyful return of the exiles from captivity.

The prophet has predicted the destruction of the nations and the devastation of their lands. The other lands will be laid waste, rendered unproductive and given over to wild beasts (in Chapter 34). Now, in contrast, exiled Israel will be restored. The “desert shall ... blossom” (v. 1), the fertility of “Lebanon” (v. 2), “Carmel and Sharon”, which has been taken from them (33:9) will be given to Israel as a sign of God’s favor and glory. The land which had once been given over to wild beasts (“jackals”, v. 7, “lion”, v. 9) will once again be cultivated, and barren land will bloom.

Not only the land will be restored, but human life will also be transformed, with the end of infirmity (“make firm ... feeble knees”, v. 3, “blind”, “deaf”, “lame”, “speechless” vv. 4-6), and with the restoration of justice (“vengeance” and “recompense” v. 4) and hope. “Waters” (v. 6) and “streams” will make the land fertile again. Finally, the exiles, those taken captive to Babylon, will return on a “Holy Way” (v. 8), a “highway” in safety (v. 9) to “Zion” (v. 10), the holy city, and once again will worship God in the Temple. All of these will be signs that God’s rule is restored and that his favor rests on his people.

James 5:7-10

Early Christians expected the return of Jesus, the second coming, almost immediately. This was connected with expectations about the Kingdom of God. The apparent delay of this event caused some difficulties and even some disputes among the faithful. James warns his readers not to be impatient (vv. 8-9), lest this impatience lead to grumbling and division within the church (v. 9), which will bring judgement. For with the second coming of Christ comes also the judgement of God. The second coming is a two-edged sword: its arrival is both of comfort and of warning to Christians!

Instead, James tells his readers that they are to be patient in suffering like the prophets (v. 10). They are to bide their time like the farmer who plants his crop in the knowledge that the rains will come in their own time (v. 7). So it is with the Kingdom. It is on its way, it is “near”, (v. 8) but will come in its own time. Our impatience will not hasten its coming, but we can expect it with the confidence of faith.

Matthew 11:2-11

John the Baptist has been arrested and imprisoned. Discouraged and in doubt, he sends messengers to ask Jesus: “Are you the one ...?” (v. 3) But Jesus does not simply say yes. Instead, he points John (and the crowd) to the signs of the Kingdom (v. 5). Echoing Isaiah, he points out that the blind, the deaf, the lame and the lepers are being healed and good news is given to the poor. Anyone can claim to be a herald of the kingdom, but only in the presence of the Messiah will the true signs of the Kingdom be evident. These are not mere claims, but incontrovertible proof. Yet apparently there are some who take offense at Jesus (v. 6). Perhaps even John himself has been disappointed because his expectations of the Messiah do not seem to be fulfilled by Jesus, e.g. he does not “wear soft robes” (v. 8). Perhaps this has given rise to doubts. Jesus refers to the signs of the Kingdom in Isaiah. John is “more than a prophet” (v. 9) for he heralds the dawn of the final era of history and announces the coming of the Kingdom. Now Jesus validates John’s ministry as a true prophet going on even to identify John as Elijah, returned (v. 14). Jesus criticizes the people who went out to see John the Baptist in the wilderness with a variety of incorrect expectations. What they actually saw was greater than they could have imagined. Yet even John, as great as he was, only pointed the way to an even greater reality (v. 11). Up to and including John the Baptist was the time of prophetic promise; now this promise is starting to be fulfilled (v. 13). When we are disappointed, or our expectations of God’s Kingdom are dashed, perhaps it is because we are not looking for the signs of the Kingdom that are all around us.




THE FESTIVAL OF NINE LESSONS AND CAROLS, Sunday Dec.5



Pictures by Walt Jaap, Dick Nelson, Tammy Zybura

(For email subscribers, please click on the blog link http://comeseestthomas.blogspot.com/ to see the slide show)

This glorious and beautiful service began with ‘The Bells of St. Thomas’. Then came the angelic voices of the Celestial Choir singing, 'Once in Royal David’s City' joined in the second verse by the Chancel Choir. The church was hushed with the atmosphere of the lighted candles at the end of every pew and the afternoon sun lighted the beautiful stained glass window above the altar.

Each of the Readers telling the story with a brief reading beginning at Genesis, through faithful Abraham, and Christ’s birth followed by the kingdom as foretold by Isaiah. Then Luke tells of Gabriel saluting Blessed Virgin Mary and Matthew tells of the birth of Christ.

The Acolytes lit the candles of all the people in the congregation representing the Light of the World, Jesus Christ.
It was beautifully presented and we thank Louise Yardumian for the great work she does with our choir.
Following the Festival of 'Lessons and Carols' a reception was held in the Parish Hall. In keeping with the beginning of the Christmas season the tables were beautifully laid and Keith Tulloch served coffee and hot chocolate while Ed and Marilyn Lanctot served a refreshing punch with a fresh cranberry mold float.

The table was laden with all goodies from baked brie to sweets for every taste baked by an all volunteer bake staff.   A group of many volunteers helped with this glorious event:
-set up: Ruth Piper, Elaine Patrick, Sean Patrick, Katherine Snow Smith, Vonnah Hollands and Chris and Bettina Schuller.
-kitchen: Pam Hamby, Glenn Mosby, Betty Bowley and Keith Tulloch.
-clean up: Pam Hamby, Glenn Mosby, Marilyn Lanctot and Ed Lanctot, Betty Bowley and Liz Stiles.
We thank all of the volunteers for making this a lovely festive event.

Submitted by Mary Hochadel

St. Thomas’ 2010 Christmas Pageant will be performed on Sunday, Dec.12

Be sure to support the youngest members of St Thomas during the 10 am Harmony Service in the Parish Hall! You are sure to feel the true meaning of Christmas and the presence of Christ through the children’s precious spirits.
                                      
















Submitted by Tammy Zybura

Pictures by Diana Leavengood and Tammy Zybura