Glory in God´s holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his presence continually. 1 Chronicles 16:10-11
Happy New Year!
I love new beginnings – the first page of a new book, the first step of a new journey, the first day of a new school year. I also love the beginning of a new year. It is the perfect time to reflect on the past and to make plans for the future. I like to take this time of year to look for new opportunities for spiritual growth. How will I "seek the Lord" this year? What practices (or methods!) will I use to place myself continually in God´s presence?
If you need to "kick start" your spiritual life, consider some of these great ideas from Carol F. Krau, Ph.D., Director of Christian Formation and Discipling Ministries at the General Board of Discipleship:
• Read through the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), one chapter per day. Then read Acts of the Apostles (one chapter per day). Read through the Psalms, one per day. And finish the year rereading the four gospels. That will actually take only 356 days, so you´ll have nine days to choose your own text.
• Keep a journal. Make notes each day of ways you experienced God´s presence, joys and concerns, insights from Scripture, or other reflections.
• Find a prayer partner. Determine how often you will meet (face-to-face or online) and for how long. Pray together for one another, for your class or small group, for your congregation, and for the world.
• Show "random acts of kindness." Visit a nursing home; deliver meals to shut-ins; tutor children or youth; or work in a homeless shelter or soup kitchen.
• Join a small group for prayer and devotional Scripture reading. Meet weekly to discuss your reading and to pray for one another.
• Read a devotional book that includes Scripture reading, ideas for spiritual practices, and/or questions for reflection.
• Walk through your neighborhood, around your church, or some other local place. Pray for the people, schools, businesses, and community organizations you see as you walk.
As you consider how you might "seek the Lord" ask yourself:
1. What spiritual practices have been most meaningful for you? How can you continue to grow as you practice these spiritual disciplines?
2. With whom can you meet for spiritual support? How often would you like to meet?
3. What setting will be most beneficial for you to spend time alone with God? Is it a particular room in your home? Outside? Another place?
It´s a new year filled with new possibilities. Keep seeking God with everything you´ve got and rejoice in the blessings you discover along the way!
P.S. See you at Jazz Vespers this Saturday at 6:00 pm featuring the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra.
• January 18, 6:00 pm — Jazz Vespers: Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra
• January 20, 3:00 - 7:00 pm — Blood Drive
• January 24 - 25 — Women´s Retreat
• January 26, 12:15 pm — Chili Cookoff
• January 30, 9:00 am — Fixin´ ´n´ Fellowship
• January 31, 6:00 pm — Young Families Movie Night
• February 5, 6:00 pm — Taizé Sung Prayers
• February 9 — Coffee Can Offering
• February 11, 7:00 pm — Infertility Support Group
• February 15, 6:00 pm — Jazz Vespers: Tyler Vander Maas Sax Quartet
• February 19, 9:00 am — Caring Connection
• February 21 - March 5 — Celebration of the Arts
• February 21, 7:00 pm — Artists´ Reception
• February 22, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm — Art Gallery Opening Day
• February 23, 9:30 am — Celebration Gallery Walk
• February 23, 4:00 pm — Early Music Michigan Concert
• February 26, 12:00 pm — Celebration Gallery Walk
• March 2, 11:00 am — Celebration Sunday
• March 5, 6:00 pm — Ash Wednesday Service
• March 9 — Coffee Can Offering
SUNDAYS 9:15 AM
• Infant Nursery — 0-23 months Room 107
• Toddler Nursery — 2 yr. olds - young 3´s Room 106
• Children & Worship (toilet trained) — Older 3´s – Pre K Room 204/201
9:15 AM: Faith Travelers, Junior High, and Senior High begin in worship with their families and are then dismissed to their classes. (Children of all ages are welcome to remain in worship if their families so desire.)
• Faith Travelers — K-6th grade Church 3rd Floor
• Junior High — 7-8th grade The Vine South
• Senior High — 9-12th grade The Vine North
• Infant Nursery — 0-23 months Room 107
• Toddler Nursery — 2-3 years Room 106
• One Room Schoolhouse — 4 years-Grade 2 Room 202 (One Room Schoolhouse children begin in worship with their parents. Following the Children´s Moments, they are dismissed to class.)
**Worship bags and Children´s Pages are available in the narthex with activities that allow for children to participate in worship at their own level.**
Please contact Annette Erbes at 451.2879 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
VOLUNTEERING AT THE HOPE CENTER (La Nueva Esperanza) Our high school youth group is meeting early on Sunday January 19 to prepare and deliver dinner to the Hope Center at La Nueva Esperanza. If you´re a high school student, you´re invited to join us! Please meet in the FUMC kitchen at 4:30 pm to help out. We hope to return by 7:00 pm.
CHILI COOKOFF Join us Sunday, January 26 at 12:15 pm for a cookoff to find the best chili at First Church. Cost is $5.00 and will be donated to the ministry groups that prepare the chili. Don´t miss your chance to sample and vote for the Best FUMC Chili!
BOX TOPS 4 EDUCATION Thanks to one and all for your great work in clipping box tops from the hundreds of products that have them. Ten cents doesn´t sound like much, BUT they add up in a hurry. The church just received a check for $450.10 for the latest six months of collections. Keep up the good work! Clipping pays off.
SUBSCRIBE! Missed church? Never go sermon-less again. Our pastors´ sermons are now available on YouTube. Simply search for GRFUMC and click the subscribe button. Printed copies are also available in the north lobby rack.
TAIZÉ SERVICE Wednesday, February 5 at 6:00 pm. Taizé is a meditative service of choruses, accompanied by instruments and vocal solos. Communion, prayers for healing, and the lighting of candles are also offered. It´s a wonderful way to connect with God in the midst of a busy week.
WEATHER POLICY Thank you for your patience during our recent closings made necessary by the weather. Please remember the following:
Generally, when Grand Rapids Public Schools close due to weather the First Church offices will be closed and church events will be cancelled. Decisions regarding closing on Sunday morning will be made by 7:00 am and on Sunday afternoon by 3:00 pm. Television stations, the church website, facebook, and church phone will be updated as soon as possible. In all instances when weather is threatening, church members should:
1. Check channels 8 or 13 on air or online.
2. For automatic updates, sign up for text alerts from channel 8 at www.woodtv.com/more/text-alerts or 13 at www.wzzm13.com/news/mobile/text/
3. Call Church
4. Check church website www.grand rapidsfumc.org or facebook page.
5. Check with staff person in charge of your activity We encourage everyone to avoid risk and stay home if weather conditions in your area are unsafe.
JAZZ VESPERS, featuring the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra, on Saturday, January 18 at 6:00 pm weaves scripture, a pastoral message and prayer into a celebration of faith, hope, and the love of God. Please join us!
COLLEGE STUDENTS, did your address change this semester? If yes, please contact the church office at 616.451.2879 or email@example.com with your new address.
CHILDREN IN GRADES K-4 "CATCH A SPARK!" On Sunday, January 19, Grades K-4 will light a fire for missions outreach when they learn about The Spark Foundation. Ali Portillo Taylor will join the K-4 Grade Faith Travelers on these two Sundays to share how solar-powered lights can change lives! Learn how to spread a little light around the world at 9:30 am on these Sundays.
IT´S TIME TO PREPARE FOR LENT! The season of Lent is approaching quickly and we need your help. As in past years, we are planning to provide a booklet of Lenten devotionals, written by members of our First Church family. We need a devotional for every day of Lent (47 in all!). We´ll be exploring the characteristics of a fruitful congregation during Lent. Consider sharing how God has touched your life in the areas of radical hospitality, passionate worship, intentional faith development, risk-taking mission, or extravagant generosity. Entries are due by February 7. Each entry is limited to 450 words. If you are interested in writing a devotional, or would like more information, please contact Laure Mieskowski at 451-2979 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also sign up using the Sunday bulletin insert.
YOUNG FAMILIES MOVIE NIGHT Join us on Friday, January 31 at 6:00 pm. Meet us for a family-friendly movie in The Vine (first floor of First Place; enter by the basketball hoop door from the lower parking lot). We´ll have the popcorn and cocoa. Please eat dinner before you arrive. Friends (and dads) invited! Please RSVP to Marj Timmerman at email@example.com or 901.9224.
SHOWING IN OUR FIRST CHURCH ART GALLERY through February 11 is an exhibit by collaborating artists, K.W. Bell and Cindy Evans. Both artists, who live in the Lansing area, became acquainted with First Church through the Celebration of the Arts. Both artists endeavor to express their Christian faith through their art and poetry.
WOMEN´S RETREAT All the women of First United Methodist Church and friends are invited to join us for a time away for relaxation, friendship and encouragement! Date: January 24, 4:00 pm - January 25, 4:00 pm at Geneva Retreat Center, Holland, MI. The cost is $75.00 per person. Our special speaker is Christian author and speaker, Shelly Beach (shellybeachonline.com). Reserve your spot by sending a check to Sharon Sorenson.
CELEBRATION OF THE ARTS
FEBRUARY 21 - MARCH 5, 2014
41ST ANNUAL JURIED SPRITUAL ART COMPETION, Art Exhibit Hours: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm daily through March 4 and 10:00 am to 4:00 pm; March 5, Ash Wednesday. For more information visit www.theCelebrationoftheArts.com
Special Guest Exhibit: The Spectrum Health Expressive Arts Program Under the direction of professional staff, the residents and patients in this therapeutic program express themselves as individuals, gaining independence and the motivation to be artistically creative. Visit our main floor gallery to view this inspiring exhibit.
Special Events: • Artists´ Reception, Friday, February 21 from 7:00 - 9:00 pm in Wesley Hall. Presentation of awards, jazz, and special desserts! Open to the public. • Gallery Walk-through Celebration of the Arts, Sunday, February 23 at 9:30 am and Wednesday, February 26 at 12:00 pm in Wesley Hall. Experience this year´s show through the special insight of Nancy Clouse, artist and faculty member from Grand Rapids Community College. • Early Music Michigan, Sunday, February 23 at 4:00 pm in the sanctuary. Early Music Michigan is devoted to the lively interpretation of music from earlier eras. • Celebration Sunday, Sunday, March 2 at 11:00 am in the sanctuary. A festive morning service on the last Sunday before Lent, featuring a Dixieland band, led by Bob Nixon. • Ash Wednesday Service, Wednesday, March 5, 6:00 pm in the sanctuary. The service features music of Taizé in a reflective and solemn setting.
Concerns & Prayers for:
• Lynne Beals
• Don Chisnall (outpatient surgery 1/16)
• Sherry Gates
• Brenda Heerdt
• Ken McCaw
• Robert Newell
• Alan Norton (outpatient surgery 1/14)
• Mike Olman (rehab at Heartland)
• Ken Peirce
• Sue Rowe
• Carol Ryan (St Mary´s)
• Devin Tryon (surgery 1/20)
• Chris Bolhouse
• Scott Grifhorst
• Stephan Mathos
• Jesse Mounts
• Trevor Norton
• Shawn Seher
• Peter Taylor, Jr
The love and prayers of the congregation are extended to Janet Carter and family on the death of Janet´s mother, Eugenia Carter, on January 11. Arrangements are pending.
The memorial service for Albert Hoff who died on November 28 will be held this Saturday, January 18, at 3pm in our chapel.
As faithful Christians, we are taught that everything we have is a gift from God. God provides us talents and resources, and simply requests that we use these gifts to help share God´s love with a hurting world. In addition to a life of service, we are taught to tithe - to return one-tenth of our abundance back to God through our giving.
This is a pretty simple concept. We all know what we earn, and determining 1/10th of this is easy math. Yet, as easy as this is, many of us are not yet giving a tithe back to God. The reason is that church giving is not simply a financial calculation - like a tax. If that were the case, we wouldn´t even need to talk about stewardship. We´d just expect everyone to "pay up."
Stewardship is a question of faith - not math! Giving a tithe is a joyful response to having surrendered to God - including our fears about resources. Many in our congregation have made the faith journey to the tithe - and even beyond! They are joyful, involved, committed disciples of Jesus Christ, and as a result, it shows in their giving. First Church is a vibrant Christian community because of the faith and generosity of our congregation.
So let 2014 be the year where you seek God´s presence. Get involved in First Church! Find your passion for ministry. Take time to listen, to study, and to spend quiet time in prayer. If we are all intentional about growing our faith, then our collective giving can become automatic! Stewardship is a faith journey- not a financial discussion. This year, let your faith in God and your active commitment to the ministry of First Church become the cornerstone of your giving.
MEALS NEEDED In addition to our love and prayers, we would like to help Lynne Beals by providing meals for her and her two kids twice a week while she is going through chemo. They have no food allergies, but do not like lasagna! Thank you so very much for your prayers and care for Lynne! If you are able to help, please sign up at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/meals. Questions, please call Marj Timmerman at 901-9224.
VALENTINE´S DAY HOE DOWN to benefit the FUMC Adoption Ministry! Wondering what to do that is fun and new for Valentine´s Day? Come to the Hoe Down in The Vine on Friday February 14th from 6:30 - 9:30 pm! Music will be provided by "Gooder n´ Grits" whose members are our own Julie and Glenn Warners and Bob and Shelley Hudson. You can´t dance? Our band and caller will teach you. And light refreshments will be provided! Suggested donation of $14 per person or family max of $28 (or whatever your heart feels good donating) will go into our Adoption Fund, which helps orphaned children find their forever families. Come and bring your spouse, date, whole family, and friends!
SAVE A LIFE and enter to win two nights in Traverse City PLUS two $50 gift cards just by signing up to donate at our January 20 Blood Drive! Donate quickly and conveniently in Wesley Hall from 3:00 - 7:00 pm. Please use the Sunday sign-up sheet or email Marj Timmerman at firstname.lastname@example.org so she can reserve a time for you! Let´s start 2014 off right with a great turn-out.
NEW YEAR ADULT SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES
• A Gift of Love is a study based on the classic collection of sixteen sermons preached and compiled by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Collectively they present King´s fusion of Christian teachings and social consciousness, and promote his prescient vision of love as a social and political force for change. Being held at 9:30 am in room 3107 through Februay 23, the leader is Deanna Mitchell. Books will be available in the classroom. You can indicate your interest by using the sign-up sheet in Sunday´s bulletin.
• Have a New Kid By Friday Want a kid without an attitude? Without the behavior that makes you want to slink away in the grocery store and pretend you´re not the parent? Anyone can do it. All it takes is you deciding to stand up and take charge. Want a great kid? Want to be a great parent? Then take the 5-day challenge. Some day your kid will thank you for it. Led by Paula and Richard Gibson and Ivy Quaye and Gabriel Aquah on Sundays at 9:30 am in room 3109 starting January 12. Use the Sunday bulletin sign-up sheet if you plan to attend.
FIRST AID STATION
INFERTILITY SUPPORT GROUP All who have experienced infertility issues, including miscarriage and secondary infertility, are invited to attend our next meeting on Tuesday, January 14 at 7:00 pm in The Vine. Please RSVP by using the bulletin sign-up sheet or by calling Marj Timmerman at 901.9224.
HEARTBROKEN? A divorce? Infertility issues? Loss of a beloved pet? Significant losses in life can be crippling. Call your Church Assistance Program (CAP) for help in mending your heart. Just dial 455-6210 and make a CAP appointment today. As a member or friend of First Church, you will receive 2 one-hour sessions with a counselor at no charge to you. Confidential and safe, call CAP!