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The May edition of Our Joyful Noise, the Lake Park First Presbyterian Church newsletter, is now available for download in .PDF format.
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“Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone because they were afraid.” -Mark 16:8
This is the traditional and original ending of Mark’s gospel. It is a telling thing. After the women went to the tomb and found an angel telling them that Jesus had risen, what was their reaction? Fear, bewilderment, and silence. Not knowing what to do and being confronted with the power of God in Jesus, they fell silent. Many Bible writers over the centuries have said that this is Mark’s asking us—what do you do with this information? What will you do confronted by this unpredictable God in Jesus on the loose? I ask that of us. What do we do with the real meaning of Easter—that God is not dead, God is not far off, God is alive and powerful and calling us. Jesus is not a “safe in the sky isn’t it wonderful” calm presence. He is instead to Mark a force to contend with and a power beyond all we could imagine set loose in our lives and our world. Things are going change!
So how do you handle Easter? Is it a day of baskets and Spring, a day to dress up and go to church? Is Easter a distant story or a reminder of Jesus having victory in the end? Or is it different? Does it demand a response? The Session and Deacons met together on March 12 and we discussed one of the Great Ends of the Church (look it up in your Book of Order under F-1.0304 and if you don’t have one look online on our webpage or call the office), that is one of the purposes of Jesus in making the church—the proclamation of the Gospel for the salvation of humankind. How do we at First Presbyterian or wherever God has placed us tell the gospel? A better question might be DO we tell the gospel? Of course to tell it means to know it. And to know it means we have heard it. (Paul says all of that in Romans 10: 9-17) How do you tell the Good News that even though we are sinners, Jesus died for us to free us from sin and to give us new life in Him? How do you tell others that nothing in heaven or on earth can ever separate you from the love of God?
How do you personally handle the story, the reality of Easter? Do you shout it from the hilltops, proclaim it in your daily life by what you do and how you act, by the purity of your words and the compassion you show even to those who are strangers or enemies? Do you proclaim and tell the truth of Jesus whenever you have the opportunity? Do you prayer WITH others, say grace at dinner even in public, act decently and equitably? Do you shout Jesus? Or do act in bewilderment? Do you stay silent so as to not make waves or cause trouble? Do you stand in awe of God and then just shut down? All of us, every age of us, every level of Bible knowledge or practical skills or other gifts—all of us are called to respond.
Hear the angel—“Do not be afraid! You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. HE IS RISEN! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples…” (Mark 16: 6-7) Did you hear-- But go and tell! He is Risen!
Ruling Elder Heath Rada, the current moderator of the General Assembly reminded the church in a letter dated Dec. 14, 2014 that “The PC(USA) believes in taking the Good News to all the world. Ninety-four million Christians around the world attribute the PC(USA) with being the source of their knowing Jesus Christ! Though we may have fewer full-time missionaries throughout the world today than we did 50 years ago, we now send thousands of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) members (more than ever in our history) to serve in international missions—work missions, teaching missions, medical missions, etc. We all share in this role in ways and numbers that we never have before, and we model the Good News as we deliver needed services with our talents and gifts.” That got me wondering just what we have done that could be called mission this past year. So my end of the year report this year focuses on that.
We had many different opportunities for fellowship and outreach this year. The opportunities sometimes looked like fundraisers, other times like programs, but they all brought fellowship and community support. Our Souper Bowl Soup Supper was a good time last February not only to bring new folks into the kitchen, but also a time when community folks commented on the good hot soup, the chance to relax together, and the rest from the bustle of December and January. Our Merrymacs group brought pie over to the residents at the Lake Park Care Center. Our efforts at Ragbrai were appreciated by many riders as a quiet place to rest in the shade, have good comfort food and water, and “feel loved” as one rider commented. PW’s Mac and Cheese dinner, the Membership Team’s Father’s Day Grill out, the Easter Sunrise Breakfast, and the Turkey Supper all not only raised funds but more importantly brought folks both inside and outside the church together for fun and fellowship.
There were other ongoing ministries of mission—the youth group went on an mission trip to New York to help rebuild, that is true. But some of our members helped build the Habitat House right here in town too. Several of our members called on shut- ins over the course of the year. Others visited and cared for those who had lost a loved one. Others provided yard work, clean up, babysitting, and other “handyman” jobs to folks over the year. We took food to the food pantry, gave away 4 Turkey dinners to folks in need, Contributed to the continued employment of a Chaplain at the Lakes Regional Hospital through our membership in the Dickinson County Ministerial Association, sent 27 Shoeboxes to Operation Christmas Child, gave scholarships to camp, and sent blankets around the world with CWS.
Our church through the Deacons, some members, and myself directly helped 12 people in medical emergencies (not to mention the mission of those who are EMTs, nurses, and other emergency personnel). The Deacons took part in Adopt-A-Family in our name. We intervened and got help with several who had violent encounters in their home, with some that lost work, and with others who needed a meal. I helped several contact police or medical services due to mental health or assault situations. We provided clothing to 3 families out of what was left from our Trash to Treasures Garage sale in June. We gave apples, potatoes, grapes, hamburger, popcorn, squash, beets, tomatoes, and other food over the year to 28 different families in Harris, Lake Park, Round Lake, and Hartley. There were 3 folks that I am aware that through members and/or myself came to know and accept Jesus and began attending churches. We had members donate time and wedding gowns to make angel dresses. We provided family fun through the Family Game Night, the Easter Egg Hunt, and the Summer Painting in the park.
Our webpage has provided prayers and outreach to over 35 folks this year who have left prayer requests. Several more service men and women have contacted us about placing them in a congregation when they return home after listening to our worship services online. We have sent cards to servicemen through the Presbyterian Chaplains (PCCM). We have helped kids at risk, disaster services, sustainability services, justice and freedom advocacy, and assistance to retired church workers through our national offerings. And we have helped kids in our own school district with school supplies, coats, hats, gloves, boots, shoes, and books that have been donated directly by parishioners to families or provided through PIE or other organizations.
And we sent $100 in coins the Sunday School kids collected to our missionary from PCUSA in South Sudan to help build schools.
That is an abbreviated list only of the “mission activities” of which I am aware in this congregation. We may only be about 150 folk, but through Christ we are actively engaged throughout the world. Our call for the next year is to not only continue but to grow in our ability to listen to and heed Christ’s call. We are to bring Christ to the world, not wait for the world to discover Him. Let’s do that hand in hand in Christ’s leading.
Empowered through the Holy Spirit, we seek to embrace all people with the loving arms of Jesus Christ; by providing worship, fellowship and encouragement.
Welcome to First Presbyterian Church's website. We pray that you find God's blessings in your life and God's grace on your heart. I invite you to search our pages and find out a little about us and God's call to us here in Lake Park. If you can, join us in worship on Sunday or if that doesn't work, join us in prayer and praise to our Creator God and to our Savior Jesus Christ in your heart.
We are a community that seeks God's call to us, that gathers around the Gospel in prayer and fellowship, that strives together to be fed and hear God's story in Word and Sacrament, and that engages in God's mission of love and ministry in our community and our world.
We hope that you find a little about what we believe, what we do, and who we are in these pages. We are a congregation of the Presbyterian Church (USA), a small part of the Universal Body of Christ called the church. If you are searching for a church family to better hear God's call on your life, we invite you to follow the Spirit's lead and join in fellowship. To God be the glory!
Rev. Tim Harmon, Pastor
First Presbyterian Church, Lake Park