Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mosaic Community Church

Today we worshiped at Mosaic Community Church, 2801 North Charles Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15214,, Rev. Saleem Ghubril.

Bob’s thoughts:

We went back to Mosaic in part to see a dear friend. It is always uplifting to visit at Mosaic; it is great to be worshiping with an animated congregation. There were many children present, so of course I was happy. There was a young woman on drums who was excellent and added a lot to the worship experience. The enthusiasm of the congregation always makes the worship more genuine. You can’t deny your passion for Christ if you are on your feet worshiping Him.

A friend recently posed the question, “Why is it important to you that the offering is taken in response to the Word?” I believe Scripture directs us to give in response to the Word of God. I don’t believe you ever give in response to the Pastor, only to Christ. Our giving is to be in response to the Word, Jesus Christ. The Scriptures read and message given are from God. Some reference from the Book of Order: W-2.500, W-3.3202, W-3.3507. It means something to me.

I was able to visit with good people and get a jump start for my re-plumbed heart. Praise God!

Jan’s thoughts:

We have some very good friends at this church, so it was a joy and a blessing to worship with them. Mosaic is bursting at the seams with children and babies, and more are on the way! We were told that a number of the kids are from the neighborhood and come on their own…perhaps they are some of the “little children who will lead them…”

As always, the music was varied and uplifting. Songs like “Lean on Me,” (from the ‘70s, originally sung by Bill Withers) and “Siyahamba,” an African song well known by those involved in the Malawi Partnership. Music has power to bring amazing heart-feelings, and I especially felt these two songs this morning. With only a few vocalists, an acoustic guitar, and a drum, this was powerful music.

The congregation has spent this summer focusing on a different Psalm each week, and this week it was Psalm 23. The message on this Psalm was led by Elder Rick Mason, and in an attempt to get the congregation thinking about how the Psalm could apply to their individual lives, he stopped partway through and gave everyone 10 minutes to move to the tables set up around the room to draw or write something about how God has worked in those particular ways in their lives. It was interesting stuff.

Mosaic’s congregation is diverse, hospitable, comfortable, and Christ-centered; it’s a peaceful place to be on Sunday morning.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Four Mile Presbyterian Church

Today we worshiped at Four Mile Presbyterian Church, 6078 Tuscarawas Road, Beaver, PA 15009, 724.495.6520,, Rev. R. Martin Williams.

Bob’s thoughts:

We decided to go back to Four Mile to experience the second service. It surprises me sometimes what you notice on a second visit. I remember the impressive cross over the drapery, and how the back-lighting made it stand out. Today it seemed that the cross was on fire…maybe that was just for me. The congregation was more animated than our last visit, and there were a lot of children present. I was pleased that the offering was taken in response to the Word.

I had the opportunity to look at the July and August newsletters and noted more references to outward mission.

The church seems education-oriented, and of note to me was a grief-sharing class lasting 13 weeks. Much better effort than most churches offer.

The sermon started out as a good Bible-based message. Unfortunately, pain forced me to stand and I missed a good bit of the sermon. While I was standing in the narthex, I found what was for me the highlight of our visit: on the information table was a Sunday worship feedback form with questions and room for comments. I was very impressed.

Jan’s thoughts:

Today was our second visit to this church. When we attended the 9:30 service we were told the 11:00 service was livelier and well-attended, so today we were able to see that they were absolutely right about that.

It’s a nicely laid out facility with mostly good signage, except for the restrooms right off the narthex. The signs are placed on the front of the doors, which is fine when the door is closed, but I nearly walked through the open mens room door because I didn’t see the sign until I was a step through the door. (I’ve just GOT to quit walking through the first restroom door I see…) My suggestion is to place the sign so that it protrudes into the open space so that someone can tell (from across the room, if necessary) which door they are headed for.

A few of the adults greeted us by nodding to us on our way in, but as is so often the case when a church has two services, no one really knows if you attend the other service or if you’re really a visitor. For most, their comfort level decides for them that you’re probably not a visitor and therefore don’t need to be greeted.

The music at this church is really superb. The musicians are all male (why, I don’t know…) and are quite talented. I was very glad we sat in the last row because the volume must have been cranked all the way up – I could literally FEEL the bass. But their sound is excellent, the screen graphics are attention-grabbers, and one of the songs they performed today was an original composition. Obviously a very gifted group.
The message was from the current sermon series entitled “Winning the Battles for Life” and was based on I John 4:1-21. The part I heard most loudly was that our lives matter to God and that our battles matter to God also. I appreciated the note at the bottom of the sermon notes: “Whatever it takes, wherever it leads, Jesus – let You be seen in me.” Amen to that.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Message from Bob

Just realized we haven’t blogged for a while. By way of an update, on July 27 we traveled to Virginia for an appointment at Inova Hospital in Fairfax where our daughter (Brandy) works as a Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist. As I needed a heart cath, she arranged for a wonderful team to perform the procedure, which resulted in a recommendation for a multiple bypass ASAP.

The arrangements were made, necessary testing done, and I was scheduled for surgery on August 4. We returned to Pittsburgh on July 29 (the 3rd anniversary of our son’s death while traveling to Pittsburgh for another family wedding). On August 1 I was delighted to walk my baby girl (Amber) down the aisle. On August 2, while back in church at Concord, we received a text message that our other daughter (Jill) had delivered Ella Grace. We (read that: my family) noticed my symptoms were worsening so we headed to the emergency room at Allegheny General Hospital. Because of the pre-testing done in Virginia, they were able to schedule me for a bypass on the 5th.

This probably like a very hectic time, but it has been one of the more serene and tranquil episodes of my life.

Before the testing, not breathing was just an inconvenient pause after which I told myself “OK, you can breathe again, go back to work.” About from the time that I was aware there was a medical problem that needing fixing, I knew that I had the power of Christ inside me to heal whatever was wrong. The really cool thing is I came to know that this was something He wanted me to experience. It may be so I can help someone down the road, it may be just for me, it may have been just for the people that I have met and prayed with and for thoughout the experience. The “why” was not important, but I have gone through this experience about as removed as I suppose the patient can be, with no worries or even the slightest apprehension. It has been like watching a play.

I was blessed with hindsight to see His orchestration in my life to bring me here. For a year I resisted His call to write a book about losing my son, and when I got started it was easy to use the garden, etc., as an excuse to stop writing. He has my attention again.