After resisting it for more than a year, we gave in and obeyed God's call to this ministry of visitation. We are privileged to worship God where He sends us each Sunday and this is where we try to provide a snapshot from a visitor's perspective.
Please leave a comment if you wish. If you'd like to contact us, Bob is at MarineForJesus@aol.com and Jan is at Jlynnchess@aol.com. Thank you!
were wondering if we would make it to church today as we are the designated
babysitters for our daughter who was due to deliver a few days ago. Then this
morning Jan stepped out onto our porch and broke her foot somehow, so a portion
of the day was spent at the hospital. Therefore I thought today might be an
opportunity to express some thoughts without attaching them to a particular church.
are always looking for ways to build up the Body of Christ. We work to voice
our experience as first-time visitors. How we are welcomed or not is never
intended to be a statement about us, but simply an example of how visitors were
greeted at that particular church on that particular day.
once greeted us in a different language; they apparently thought it an
impressive way to make conversation with a visitor. At times this may be the
only person a visitor talks to…would that be the impression you want them to
have of your church?
we are both given a visitor bag and one might be well supplied and the other
has a worn out pencil, out of date literature, no pastor card, and the like.
These are good things to do but you will likely see more response if it is
should take notice of those who might be carrying a visitor gift or even just
looking lost. The value of personal contact cannot be overstated. A visitor may
be suffering and in need and you may be the person God has put in that person’s
path to speak to that need…or vice versa.
is everyone’s job to greet visitors.
your visitor packet bulky? Could it be considered awkward to carry? Sometimes
it is given only at the end of the service. Does it contain information a
visitor might find helpful during the service such as the location of the restrooms,
nursery, or cry room? You need to decide if it contains information that is
useful during the service or a distraction during worship, like a mother with small
children trying to protect a coffee cup.
have occasionally needed help finding our way out of the larger complexes. I
suggest you ask someone you know who is not a member to come visit, find their
way around and hear them out how they were welcomed.
was moved to write the following one day after visiting a church. It was one of
those days when I asked God about the purpose of that particular church:
have visited some huge churches with ornate stained glass, where every detail
was considered and resources available to accommodate every conceivable wish.
We have worshiped in churches that could be called humble and plain and even
all-but-forgotten, and occasionally one that makes me hope God will someday
call us to become part of a congregation again.
occasionally I find myself wondering how regular attendees are fed at a
particular church…”why do they keep coming back here?”
is when I hear the Spirit telling my heart, “Don’t judge what is not yours,”
reminding me that God is equally delighted by the contemporary worship that
originates from a stage, by the traditional worship from a chancel, and by a
few people in a room that was half-demolished (or half rebuilt, I don’t recall
which). The point was that it is not my place to conclude whether worship is
indeed in “Spirit and in Truth” and a humbling reminder that all churches belong
prayer for the Church: Dear
Heavenly Father, We pray that all churches develop a welcoming presence. Help
them to be attentive to the needs of strangers. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Today we worshiped
at Carnegie Presbyterian Church, 219 Ewing Road, Carnegie, PA 15106,
Rev. Jeff Tindall, Pastor.
the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named
Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of
David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.
he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”
she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of
greeting this might be.
the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with
God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall
call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most
High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he
will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no
Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
the angel answered her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of
the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be
called holy – the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old
age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was
called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold,
I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the
angel departed from her.
church is one I have wanted to visit for a long time because my family was
connected to one or both of the Carnegie churches that merged to form Carnegie
seemed to have weathered the inevitable storms of the merger very well and now
are one church. Some items were used from each church in the new building,
which has a bright airy feel. The round stained glass window and ornate wooden
cross on the wall below add a great deal.
were greeted at the door and enjoyed a more extensive conversation with a young
man who turned out to be the pastor’s son. A few people asked me about or
thanked me for my service.
organ was strong during the introit but we were able to hear the choir for the
rest of the service. There was one beautiful voice that could have carried over
people responsible for the Sunday School program were recognized and some
students were promoted. We got to see some of their handiwork after the
this was Youth Sunday we didn’t get to hear the pastor deliver a sermon. The
young man who did the message is the Youth Director, son of friends of ours,
and just graduated from seminary.
message “Mission: Impossible?” has been a recurring theme for us of late. We
are not sure just what He is calling us to do but we know it’s not impossible. The
sermon was introduced as “Advent in June.” The Scripture was Mary learning that
she would be mother to Jesus and her acceptance in faith of her call. Mary, no
doubt, questioned how God could do this within her expectations.
thought the song “Mary, Did You Know?” was hard to hear sung, but even to hear
the beautiful words read is painful to someone who lost a son.
church supports some of the ministries that are dear to us and we look forward
to returning to hear the minister.
had hoped to stay after to lay hands in prayer for a young woman from the
congregation but she needed to go home.
church is a success story, the result of the merger of two churches whose buildings
in Carnegie were in close proximity to each other. The congregations made the
decision to merge and both buildings were sold. After a time the current property
was purchased and this new building built.
congregational mergers seem to take place in name only, but all we observed was
one big happy church family.
large, attractive marquees at the bottom of the hill assured us we had the
right place, and at the top of the hill we found three large wooden crosses at
the entrance to the parking lot.
arrived early and were engaged in conversation almost immediately. Members graciously
took time to give us some history and details about the merger, the building,
and the grounds.
turns out we chose to visit on Youth Sunday, so we were blessed to experience
several special events we would not have otherwise witnessed, namely the
participation of much youth talent, the Promotion/Appreciation of the Sunday
School, and a sermon from the Youth Director, Alex White.
choir was inspiring; I particularly enjoyed the inclusion of the descant in “Holy,
Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty.” It was beautifully done.
especially encouraging idea: a note in the bulletin indicating that anyone who
has experienced an answered prayer should take a flower from the sanctuary
entrance and place it in a vase in the front, thus reminding others that God
mentioned, the sermon, “Mission: Impossible?” was presented by Alex White, the
Youth Director at this church and, as of just over a week ago, a graduate of
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. The message was a reminder of Mary’s incredible
faith in submitting to God’s plan as presented by the angel Gabriel. It is easy
for us to take it calmly…we know how the story ends. But Mary had no idea what
she was in for; she was young, inexperienced, and unmarried, and she trusted
God with all her heart.
think Alex was right on when he pointed out that no woman is ever truly ready
for motherhood, nor does she know what she is in for. (I know I didn’t. I was
totally clueless.) But it is a process, a journey, and no one is ever really
ready for God’s plan and Jesus is full of surprises. The important thing to God
is our faith, and like Mary, we are called to carry Jesus out into the world.
look forward to returning to CPC to experience the contemporary service.
prayer for this church: Lord,
we pray Your continued blessings on this church. When You call, may they answer
as Mary: “May it be to me as You have said.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Today we worshiped
at Community Presbyterian Church of Ben Avon, 7501 Church Avenue, Pittsburgh,
PA 15202, 412.761.1233, www.cpcba.com, Rev. Dr.
Donald R. Ewing, Interim Pastor.
to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord,
praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among
the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and
strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and
come into his courts. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble
before him, all the earth. Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.” The world
is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with
the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that
is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees
of the forest sing for joy. Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he
comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples in his faithfulness.
Kings 18:20, 21, 30-39 –
Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount
Carmel. Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver
between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God,
the people said nothing.
Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he
repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. Elijah took twelve
stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of
the Lord had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” With the stones he
built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large
enough to hold two seahs of seed. He arranged the wood, cut the bull into
pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars
with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”
it again,” he said, and they did it again.
it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran
down around the altar and even filled the trench.
the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord,
the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in
Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your
command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord,
are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and
the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord – he is God!
The Lord – he is God!”
Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered
Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick
and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews
to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they
pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he
loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them.
was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord,
don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.
That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the
word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority,
with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’
and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him,
he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Then
the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.
is special to get an invite to return to a church just to enjoy worship. God
knows when we need recharging and provides the opportunity.
was a real treat to be greeted by not only those that we know but quite a few
of the members, some who remembered our names. It is very welcoming to be
greeted by so many in Christian love.
were invited for the music program, which was simply great, but also witnessed
ordination and partook of Communion. The amazing adult anthem was without
instruments and needed none, and I also really enjoyed the children’s anthem,
especially the enthusiasm of some of the children. Worship for me could easily
have consisted of the music program, but there was so much more.
sermon was based on some of my favorite passages of Scripture. The message
started with reference to a commercial referring to the Most Interesting Man in
the World. I got a kick out of not having a clue to whom he could be referring…I
can’t remember the last time we watched TV or a commercial. I wonder if Christ-followers
in the day thought of Him as the Most Interesting Man in the World.
was stressed that we are in the faith business and that we need more “Wow! Look
what God has done!” We are called to nurture that faith in others as we grow in
slate of Elders and Deacons seemed full. It is exciting to see good things like
this going on as this church continues to heal.
were honored to be invited to worship at Ben Avon for the choir’s musical culmination
of the season. The music was amazing, ranging from African American Spirituals
to Mozart to Taize, along with the Junior Choir, which was a real joy to both
hear and watch. We were blessed to witness the recognition of teachers and mentors,
the ordination and installation of Elders and Deacons as well as to participate
in the Sacrament of Communion. It was a full, rich, meaningful service of
worship to our God.
we have friends here we were welcomed by some folks we did not know, and
appreciated the time they took for conversation. Since we had arrived early we
looked around the building; it was heartwarming to again meet a friend with
whom I had traveled to Malawi as well as to see reminders of Ben Avon’s
involvement in the Partnership between Pittsburgh Presbytery and the Synod of
interesting note: next Sunday will be this church’s sixth annual “Faith in
Action Day.” Instead of meeting for worship in the morning, the congregation
will serve in and with the community on a variety of service projects in order
to reflect Christ’s love to others in the community. Everyone joins together at
the close of the day for dinner, reflection, and evening vespers.
the sermon, entitled “Surprising Faith,” the pastor spoke of Jesus’ unexpectedly
finding faith in the centurion and pointed out that we sometimes find faith in
some unexpected people. We have the obligation to display our faith openly and
show hospitality, to demonstrate less doubt and more faith, in order to nurture
faith wherever it may be.
think this is a struggle for most believers, and I appreciated the
prayer for this church: Dear
Lord, we pray You will continue to bless and guide this congregation. Continue
to open their hearts to encourage and nurture the faith that grows around them.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Today we worshiped
at First Presbyterian Church, 252 College Avenue, Beaver, PA 15009,
724.774.6398, www.fpcbeaver.com, Jeff Arnold,
the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud
voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me,
as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By
this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.
Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been
hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.”
said, “He is the Messiah.”
others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee? Does not Scripture say
that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the
town where David lived?”
the people were divided because of Jesus. Some wanted to seize him, but no one
laid a hand on him.
were a little early for the service and were reminded again of the importance
of signage. We found a door to the rear of the sanctuary and were about to
enter when we realized it was the end of the earlier service, so we took the
stair down to explore. We ended up in the choir area, through a storage space
and kitchen and on to the newer-looking space that had signage. From the size
of the facility some entry signage would have helped.
woman next to Jan said hello and thanked me for my service. I thought no one
spoke thinking we were from one of the other services, so I got us both visitor
bags and we carried them around a bit, but nobody noticed.
the sun shining in the window directly above us, a window shade would help the
tech see the sound mix board.
was mention that this was Memorial Day weekend and it was tied to the image of
Biblical remembering the past for the present and future. The most powerful
point from the message was that as Christ poured out the Living Water for you
and me, we also pour out for those to whom we minister.
we approached the building I wondered, did we want door number 1, 2, 3, or 4?
My first guess was not helpful (leading to a single door toward the front of
the sanctuary). Door number 2 led to a similar spot but there were stairs, so
we took a tour of the lower floor. In the course of conversation with a
gentleman in the kitchen we learned that remodeling is scheduled to begin this
this week in many areas of the building.
appreciated the large maps that were posted in various locations showing the
layout of all three floors. In a facility this size, it was very helpful.
worship area was large, and by the time the service started there were few if
any empty seats. The woman sitting next to me welcomed us and thanked Bob for
music was phenomenal, and sounded (to me, at least) good enough to be
sermon was called “Jesus: Seeing, Believing, Knowing God.” The pastor started
out talking about the sacrificial leaf of the Mangrove plant and its obvious
connection to Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf.
then explained some of the details of the Feast of Tabernacles as it was
celebrated in the Old Testament. If I have it right, on the 8th day
of the Feast the priest took a pitcher of pure gold (representing Jesus Christ)
and, walking under a shroud of palm branches, walked from the temple to the
Pool of Siloam, filled the pitcher from the pool, returned to the temple, and
poured the water (symbolizing the Holy Spirit) over the altar. He did this
seven times, signifying the totality of God’s provision for His people.
was on this the greatest day of the Feast that Jesus issued His invitation for “anyone
who is thirsty,” (i.e., anyone – ANYONE – who wants to know God) to come to
Him. The pastor emphasized several vital points involved in this transaction
including that Christ’s promise is that Living Water will flow FROM you, not
INTO you. The progression is: first we thirst, we go to Him, He fills us with
the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit causes Living Water to flow from us thus
nourishing others and giving us a life of purpose and meaning.
I just say how much I loved this sermon? I have often read the story of Jesus’
invitation to come to Him and be filled with Living Water, but knowing the Old
Testament background and symbolism deepens the meaning so much more.
also pointed out that when we are thirsty the human response is usually to try
to treat it with one (or more) of the countless remedies offered by the world,
but the only real cure is to take it to Jesus. Only He can fill the voids in
our lives…we never could, we never will…the only solution is to come to Him
just as we are.
prayer for this church: Lord,
we pray You encourage this church to continue to seek Your Living Water. Guide
their mission efforts and lead them as a church to where You wish them to
serve. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.