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Pastor’s Message: Nov. 1, 2019

As you know, this year our annual stewardship campaign is focused on the mission priorities the Session has identified for our congregation over the next few years, and on an ambitious and exciting plan to help us answer God’s call to us through those priorities.

If you haven’t already received the letter detailing this remarkable initiative, you will shortly, and I urge you to read it carefully and consider how you can respond.

To accompany this campaign, then, I am preaching a stewardship sermon series to consider those mission priorities and how we are called to respond. In addition, we have members offering testimonials about their own experiences in those priority areas so far, and how their own faith has grown as a result.

So far, we have explored the mission priorities of sharing the gospel in ministries of engagement and discipleship, and ministries with children and youth. This week, November 3, we are focusing on the priority of a diverse and engaging worship life here at First Pres.

It’s a particularly appropriate Sunday to explore that priority, because the first Sunday in November is also the traditional Sunday observance of All Saints’ Day. In the Reformed theological tradition, from which Presbyterians come, a “saint” is not someone who is especially holy and virtuous in their faith.

For us, a saint is everyone who lived out their faith in the very everyday-ness of a normal life and has now died and been welcomed into the fullness of eternal life in God’s presence. That’s why it is the day in which we remember all those from our congregation who have died in the past year; it is a recognition that each and every one of those people is a Christian saint by virtue of their baptism and the life of faith that they lived.

So we will have a special Liturgy of Remembrance in the worship services this Sunday, in which we remember by name each saint who was part of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem in their life on this earth. And we will then take Communion together “with all the faithful of every time and place,” as the Eucharistic Prayer says, bound with those whom we have just named and all those who went before them in faith through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I hope that you will be able to join in worship this Sunday as we remember and give thanks for the saints whose lives we shared. See you on Sunday!

Grace and Peace,
JC

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