Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Presbyterian Church of Sewickley

Today we worshiped at The Presbyterian Church of Sewickley, 414 Grant Street, Sewickley, PA 15143, 412.741.4550,, Rev. Kevin J. Long, Senior Pastor.

Scripture – Genesis 29:15-30 NASB

Then Laban said to Jacob, "Because you are my relative, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?" Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. And Leah's eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful of form and face. Now Jacob loved Rachel, so he said, "I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel." Laban said, "It is better that I give her to you than to give her to another man; stay with me." So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.

Then Jacob said to Laban, "Give me my wife, for my time is completed, that I may go in to her." Laban gathered all the men of the place and made a feast. Now in the evening he took his daughter Leah, and brought her to him; and Jacob went in to her. Laban also gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah as a maid. So it came about in the morning that, behold, it was Leah! And he said to Laban, "What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served with you? Why then have you deceived me?" But Laban said, "It is not the practice in our place to marry off the younger before the firstborn. Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also for the service which you shall serve with me for another seven years." Jacob did so and completed her week, and he gave him his daughter Rachel as his wife. Laban also gave his maid Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maid. So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and indeed he loved Rachel more than Leah, and he served with Laban for another seven years.

Bob’s thoughts:

We were looking for a church where we could be sure the 500th anniversary of the Reformation would be celebrated, and our welcome included bagpipes and plaid kilts.

The moment for stewardship was interesting: a young man talked of the church’s investment in him as a boy and his need to continue to return that investment to the youth of the church. We are easily caught up in stewardship of our dollars and forget the importance of investing our time.

The message was based on Genesis and Jacob’s plan to secure Rachel as his wife. Even Laban’s deceit could not derail God’s plan. The story from Jacob’s receiving his father’s blessing, or maybe back to his birth, offers a myriad of possibilities, from the interwoven deceits to Jacob’s marriage to Rachel, God was in control. I believe God puts a plan in motion but watches to see how we do on our own. When I reflect on the people used in Christ’s earthly lineage, He may just be able to use us broken sinners.

Maybe as we learn to love the Leah in ourselves we can love the Leah in others, and come to accept that Christ can love the Leah in us too.

I could write a lot more about this sermon but this was what God put on my heart. Sometimes He gets old people like me to think about the deeper message.

I also enjoyed the Associate Pastor, Sarah. She was as easy to hear and understand as the lead pastor, though we were sitting closer to the front, a rarity especially in a Presbyterian church. She spoke well and I appreciated her eloquent prayer.

Another joy was the music, especially Siyahamba, and the horn was a special addition. As always, I loved watching the children.

This was a blessed worship service; thank You Jesus for allowing us Rachels and Leahs to come before You.

Jan’s thoughts:

We wanted to attend a Presbyterian church for this special Reformation Sunday and this felt like the right one. We weren’t sure exactly what to expect, but we knew it would not be ignored.

We unexpectedly entered at the rear of the sanctuary which provided an up-close view of the incredibly intricate stained-glass windows. We found seats right away, so did not get to wander around the building at all.

Several people stopped to introduce themselves, and in a church with three services, that is impressive.

I’ve always loved bagpipes, so I was thrilled they were part of this worship celebration. Musical accompaniment included a saxophone, an acoustic guitar, and six vocalists. The organ and the bagpipe sounded superb together.

A member presented Sixty Seconds for Stewardship, and I expected a talk about monetary giving, this being the season. Instead he spoke of the promises made by this congregation at his baptism, that the members promised to teach him about God, and how they had done just that. They invested their time and energy in him, helping him learn that he was loved by God, and teaching him about faith in Christ. He assured them their investment in him was paying dividends as he was teaching the current communicant class, of which his daughter is a member. His talk was both enthusiastic and emotional, and this visitor appreciated his reminder.

The sermon was entitled “Family Matters: Sister Wives” and was based on the story of sisters Leah and Rachel, both of whom were married to Jacob. But the message went deeper, touching on how in every marriage, “we marry the person we love and are joined by an unwanted stranger…there is a beloved Rachel and a surprising Leah in every person, and there is no Rachel without Leah.” Only when we discover the love of Christ can we accept others as they are and see their beauty.

One fascinating point was that the term for Leah’s eyes could have been translated either “weak” or “lovely,” and the Leah in each of us can be viewed either way as well. He said everyone has both a Rachel and a Leah inside us, Jesus died for both, and His love redeemed both. He pointed out that Leah, though she was not loved well by Jacob, gave birth to six of Jacob’s sons…half of the 12 Tribes of Israel, including Judah, placing her in the lineage of Christ.

This message contained deep truth, and I’m so glad I was here today to hear it.

The recitation of the Apostles’ Creed was not in the order of worship, but it felt wonderfully appropriate.

We appreciated the pastor’s time in conversation.

Our prayer for this church:

Lord, we are grateful to visit You in Your church and pray You continue to bless and grow this growth in You. Amen.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Southminster Presbyterian Church

Today we worshiped at Southminster Presbyterian Church, 799 Washington Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15228, 412.343.8900,, Rev. Dr. Daniel B. Merry, Senior Pastor.

Scripture – Genesis 27:1-29 NASB
Now it came about, when Isaac was old and his eyes were too dim to see, that he called his older son Esau and said to him, "My son." And he said to him, "Here I am." Isaac said, "Behold now, I am old and I do not know the day of my death. Now then, please take your gear, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me; and prepare a savory dish for me such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, so that my soul may bless you before I die."
Rebekah was listening while Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game to bring home, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, "Behold, I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, saying, 'Bring me some game and prepare a savory dish for me, that I may eat, and bless you in the presence of the LORD before my death.' Now therefore, my son, listen to me as I command you. Go now to the flock and bring me two choice young goats from there, that I may prepare them as a savory dish for your father, such as he loves. Then you shall bring it to your father, that he may eat, so that he may bless you before his death." Jacob answered his mother Rebekah, "Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man and I am a smooth man. Perhaps my father will feel me, then I will be as a deceiver in his sight, and I will bring upon myself a curse and not a blessing." But his mother said to him, "Your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, get them for me." So he went and got them, and brought them to his mother; and his mother made savory food such as his father loved. Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her elder son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. And she put the skins of the young goats on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. She also gave the savory food and the bread, which she had made, to her son Jacob.
Then he came to his father and said, "My father." And he said, "Here I am. Who are you, my son?" Jacob said to his father, "I am Esau your firstborn; I have done as you told me. Get up, please, sit and eat of my game, that you may bless me." Isaac said to his son, "How is it that you have it so quickly, my son?" And he said, "Because the LORD your God caused it to happen to me." Then Isaac said to Jacob, "Please come close, that I may feel you, my son, whether you are really my son Esau or not." So Jacob came close to Isaac his father, and he felt him and said, "The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau." He did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau's hands; so he blessed him. And he said, "Are you really my son Esau?" And he said, "I am." So he said, "Bring it to me, and I will eat of my son's game, that I may bless you." And he brought it to him, and he ate; he also brought him wine and he drank. Then his father Isaac said to him, "Please come close and kiss me, my son."
So he came close and kissed him; and when he smelled the smell of his garments, he blessed him and said, "See, the smell of my son Is like the smell of a field which the LORD has blessed; Now may God give you of the dew of heaven, And of the fatness of the earth, And an abundance of grain and new wine; May peoples serve you, And nations bow down to you; Be master of your brothers, And may your mother's sons bow down to you. Cursed be those who curse you, And blessed be those who bless you."

Bob’s thoughts:
We thought it was worth the travel to Southminster to worship with Silas Ncozana, and we were welcomed even more cordially than usual. This was the 9 a.m. Crossings service which is usually a bit relaxed, but today there was an extra enthusiasm.
I was afraid the female lead of the praise team had changed until she sang a solo at the offering, a great rendition of “Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful.”
Pastor Merry and Abusa Silas presented a dialog sermon of Jacob and Esau arguing in the modern style over the stolen (divinely redirected) birthright blessing of Genesis 27 They were able to ham it up and get the message across.
Silas told how, during this visit to the States he was able to see his son whom he hasn’t seen in 10 years and welcome his 7-month-old grandson.
It was a joy to feel part of worship today at Southminster and reunite with friends.

Jan’s thoughts:
It’s only been four months since our last visit here, but today was special and we could not resist the opportunity to worship with Rev. Silas Ncozana. Silas is one of the founding members of the Partnership between Pittsburgh Presbytery and the Synod of Blantyre in Malawi. Following a period as Malawi’s Ambassador to Western Europe and the Vatican, he has returned to serving God within the church.
We were welcomed before we even made it into the building, again as we walked through the doors and yet again as we entered the worship area. The Passing of the Peace was a time of extended friendliness.
I enjoy the music at this contemporary service called “Crossings”…the leadership is excellent and the volume is perfect.
The message was in the form of a dialog between Silas and Dan, with Silas playing the part of Esau and Dan imagining the words of Jacob. The lesson was that God has abundant blessings for everyone, including those who are part of broken families, those with whom we disagree, and even each of us in spite of ourselves.
As always, I was blessed to worship here, even beyond our brief visit with Silas, as the Holy Spirit is abundantly present.

Our prayer for this church:
Lord, we pray You use Silas’ message to reunite Your Church and guide us to what You want us to be. Amen.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church

Today we worshiped at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, 557 Perry Highway, Harmony, PA 16037, 724.452.8886,

Scripture – NASB

Isaiah 25:1-9 –

O LORD, You are my God;

I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name;

For You have worked wonders,

Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.

For You have made a city into a heap,

A fortified city into a ruin;

A palace of strangers is a city no more,

It will never be rebuilt.

Therefore a strong people will glorify You;

Cities of ruthless nations will revere You.

For You have been a defense for the helpless,

A defense for the needy in his distress,

A refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat;

For the breath of the ruthless

Is like a rain storm against a wall.

Like heat in drought, You subdue the uproar of aliens;

Like heat by the shadow of a cloud, the song of the ruthless is silenced.

The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain;

A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow,

And refined, aged wine.

And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples,

Even the veil which is stretched over all nations.

He will swallow up death for all time,

And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces,

And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth;

For the LORD has spoken.

And it will be said in that day,

"Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us.

This is the LORD for whom we have waited;

Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation."

Psalm 23 –

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Philippians 4:1-9 –

Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.

I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Matthew 22:1-14 –

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. Again he sent out other slaves saying, 'Tell those who have been invited, "Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast."' But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire. Then he said to his slaves, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.' Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.

"But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?' And the man was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' For many are called, but few are chosen."

Bob’s thoughts:

We were welcomed by a number of people and it made me wonder what prompts folks to say hello. In a church of 50 or so worshipers, visitors often stand out. I frequently seek someone who looks busy to ask how to get my shut-in prayer information letter to the right person. Today a woman took the time to engage us in conversation, and in the course of it I learned she has a ministry to their shut-in members. If God orchestrates something as simple as that for us, I wonder what else He is doing in our lives every day.

She also stopped by during the Passing of Christ’s Peace to let us know we would be welcome to partake of Communion.

I noted a cross on the chancel and an interesting pattern of the painted wood paneled ceiling.

There was a prayer of dedication for the new cross on the steeple.

The congregation is searching for a new pastor and Pastor Susie was filling in. Her message today was from the Parable of the Wedding Feast in Matthew 22. The sermon developed easily and included application. To God’s glory, believers’ names are now on the guest list.

She interjected a story of a woman’s troubles with her VW Beetle and I was reminded of a prank when I was young. VWs were still new to Pittsburgh when two women in my church both bought one. There were few options then so they were the same color but parked on opposite sides of the street. The challenge was too much for some teenaged boys: we switched them and waited for the service to end. The concept that a couple of teens could move their car was beyond comprehension. Wish I could remember how it ended.

The pastor told the congregation how she prays her way through the church directory. What a powerful thing, to have the pastor praying for the individuals of the church.

We were addressed by name when we went up for Communion, a most friendly gesture.

We had a great few minutes with the pastor and others after the service. I wish we could have stayed for the social time after.

Jan’s thoughts:

This is one of the Lutheran churches that has been on our list for some time. It’s a lovely building, but the treasure is its people.

We were warmly greeted from the moment we entered the building, and a couple of gentlemen struck up a conversation with Bob about military service. By the time we entered the sanctuary, eight or 10 people had introduced themselves and welcomed us. During the Passing of the Peace more folks greeted us, and this continued even after worship ended.

Occasionally when we visit a church we encounter someone who is especially welcoming, someone with whom we just seem to click. Today we met a friend we had not met before who was warm and gracious. She stopped prior to worship to introduce herself and chat, and then again before Communion to let us know that theirs is an open table and we were welcome to partake. This sort of hospitality can make all the difference for first-time visitors, and we deeply appreciated her kindness.

The church is between pastors at the moment, but as this is a Communion Sunday here, Pastor Susie, who lives nearby and serves part-time, preached and administered Communion. Physically Pastor Susie has several challenges, but her voice and faith are strong, along with her sense of gratitude.

Pastor Susie’s untitled message was a strong warning not to make excuses or put off accepting the invitation of the King of Kings. I appreciated her reminder that “because Jesus was snubbed, our names are on the guest list.”

We were delighted to take part in Communion and I was touched when Pastor Susie handed me the Bread, spoke to me and called me by name.

We appreciated the time taken by these new friends to chat after worship and we were overjoyed for the opportunity to lay hands on and pray for Pastor Susie.

Our prayer for this church:

Lord, we pray for this church as well as the spiritual leader You are preparing for them. We trust Your care in this time of preparation and Your timing in bringing them together. Amen.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Lifeway Baptist Church

Today we worshiped at Lifeway Baptist Church, Physical Address: 20630 Route 19, Suite 102, Cranberry Township, PA 16066, Mailing Address: P.O. Box 2551, Cranberry Township, PA 16066, 724.591.0625,, Pastor Nathan Snode.

Scripture – KJV

Ezekiel 31 –

And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the third month, in the first day of the month, that the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,

Son of man, speak unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, and to his multitude; Whom art thou like in thy greatness?

Behold, the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon with fair branches, and with a shadowing shroud, and of an high stature; and his top was among the thick boughs.

The waters made him great, the deep set him up on high with her rivers running round about his plants, and sent out her little rivers unto all the trees of the field.

Therefore his height was exalted above all the trees of the field, and his boughs were multiplied, and his branches became long because of the multitude of waters, when he shot forth.

All the fowls of heaven made their nests in his boughs, and under his branches did all the beasts of the field bring forth their young, and under his shadow dwelt all great nations.

Thus was he fair in his greatness, in the length of his branches: for his root was by great waters.

The cedars in the garden of God could not hide him: the fir trees were not like his boughs, and the chesnut trees were not like his branches; nor any tree in the garden of God was like unto him in his beauty.

I have made him fair by the multitude of his branches: so that all the trees of Eden, that were in the garden of God, envied him.

Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Because thou hast lifted up thyself in height, and he hath shot up his top among the thick boughs, and his heart is lifted up in his height;

I have therefore delivered him into the hand of the mighty one of the heathen; he shall surely deal with him: I have driven him out for his wickedness.

And strangers, the terrible of the nations, have cut him off, and have left him: upon the mountains and in all the valleys his branches are fallen, and his boughs are broken by all the rivers of the land; and all the people of the earth are gone down from his shadow, and have left him.

Upon his ruin shall all the fowls of the heaven remain, and all the beasts of the field shall be upon his branches:

To the end that none of all the trees by the waters exalt themselves for their height, neither shoot up their top among the thick boughs, neither their trees stand up in their height, all that drink water: for they are all delivered unto death, to the nether parts of the earth, in the midst of the children of men, with them that go down to the pit.

Thus saith the Lord God; In the day when he went down to the grave I caused a mourning: I covered the deep for him, and I restrained the floods thereof, and the great waters were stayed: and I caused Lebanon to mourn for him, and all the trees of the field fainted for him.

I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to hell with them that descend into the pit: and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, shall be comforted in the nether parts of the earth.

They also went down into hell with him unto them that be slain with the sword; and they that were his arm, that dwelt under his shadow in the midst of the heathen.

To whom art thou thus like in glory and in greatness among the trees of Eden? yet shalt thou be brought down with the trees of Eden unto the nether parts of the earth: thou shalt lie in the midst of the uncircumcised with them that be slain by the sword. This is Pharaoh and all his multitude, saith the Lord God.”

Bob’s thoughts:

We were warmly welcomed. The only cross I could find was on the flag staff, though I hope there were others.

The pastor opened the service with a prayer for God’s Presence, which I found refreshing.

The church is raising a large sum, though God has not told them for what. Last week’s offering, except for the monies designated for mission, was put entirely toward this fund. They have almost reached their goal and are looking forward to God’s direction…an obedient congregation of His Church.

The volume was good and I could hear most of the service from the back.

Space is limited and God is growing this church. They have been blessed to avoid the encumbrance of a building but are feeling growing pains. This facility could benefit by signage.

A member who had gone on mission trips to South America made a presentation about how God had blessed their efforts. I wish we could have talked to him after the service.

I was impressed with the mission numbers of this small church.

I believe the sermon, “A Cedar in Lebanon,” was explained well to the congregation with ample Scripture references. The gathering was attentive and I observed a number taking notes.

I think we both sensed Christ delivering a personal message for us through this pastor.

Jan’s thoughts:

We have driven by this storefront church countless times, and today we chose to attend worship.

We arrived during the Sunday School hour, and the adult class was in the worship area so we waited in the foyer while we listened.

The decorations provided an appealing ambience, and I appreciated the imaginative embellishments.

Many people greeted us warmly and introduced themselves before, during, and after worship, and I appreciated the coffee beforehand.

Singing was led by the pastor, who was accompanied only by the piano.

Judging by the Offering Report in the worship folder, I this church takes its Mission offering seriously. They budget a weekly amount, give more than that on average, and last week gave approximately 50% more. They are taking part in a Missions Conference at the end of this month and one member spoke at length about his missions experiences and how they impacted his life. It was a powerful personal testimony.

I was touched by the humility of the pastor’s prayer before he began the message, which was entitled “A Cedar in Lebanon” and focused on the issue of pride. He urged the congregation to stay close to the Word of God and work to avoid allowing pride to gain a foothold in our mind and heart. He advised us to remember that God will not bless a prideful person, and He can humble a person in the blink of an eye.

He summarized with four points:

1 – Stay close to the Source;

2 – Don’t compare yourself with others;

3 – Don’t take credit for what God has done;

4 – Humble yourself or God will humble you.

We appreciated our conversation with the pastor following worship.

Our prayer for this church:

Father, we pray Your continued blessings on this church, that You bless each of them individually and corporately, and that You guide and direct their every effort. Amen.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Baden United Methodist Church

Today we worshiped at Baden United Methodist Church, 420 Dippold Avenue, Baden, PA 15005, 724.869.2720,, Rev. James Young, Pastor.

Scripture – NIV

Psalm 19:7-10 –

The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous.

They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.

James 1:22-25 –

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

Matthew 7:24-27 –

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Bob’s thoughts:

We were looking to worship today where we could participate in World Communion Sunday. To me, it was special to partake of the elements in front of an impressive cross. The large wooden beams of the arched ceiling gave a dome-like effect. There are lovely fall banners and striking, brightly colored glass windows. There is a wholesome age mix, a good sign of a healthy church.

We were greeted by a few people nearby in the pews and by one woman before the service who intentionally stopped to welcome us.

The praise team sounded wonderful; I especially appreciated the lead female voice. There must have been a mic problem with the Scripture reading, but the best font size on the screens I’ve ever seen, and from the very back pew. I think the facility would benefit from a new look at signage. I was happy with the time allotted for personal prayer and confession.

Everyone had to have loved the children’s choir presentation, it was a joy.

The message started with photos depicting a perspective of the earth to the sun and then outward into the universe with each entity spinning in their own right. When the pastor asked what the one constant was, I’m sure he didn’t hear the child near us answer “God,” but there is someone teaching their children well.

A line I liked had to do with our lives being built on top of the Rock, the Word of God. The sermon ended with two points: God is holy and God is love.

The congregation seemed attentive to the pastor’s message.

We were grateful to have had a few minutes to talk to the pastor after the service and the privilege to lay hands and pray for him. I wish we could have served him Communion.

Jan’s thoughts:

Because today is World Communion Sunday, we decided to attend a more traditional church where we knew the occasion would be celebrated. It has been almost 8 years since our last visit here.

The sanctuary is lovely, with intensely colorful and unique stained glass-effect windows and banners down both side walls. The sun shone through the windows and all I could see were colors. The front wall had a gold-colored, filigree-type ironwork backlit in green with a gold-colored cross hung in front of it and the traditional wooden pews were set at a bit of an angle.

The only person I had trouble hearing for some reason was the liturgist. And hearing the children sing is always a joy.

The two screens used to display the song lyrics were mounted high and the font was the largest I’ve ever seen, so even from the very back pew, it was easy to see and follow.

The untitled sermon focused on God’s unchanging nature. The pastor emphasized two major points: God is holy, He has the right to be Master and Judge; and God is love and condescends to be our Friend and Companion. When God sent Jesus, it served to both satisfy His holiness and show His infinite love. This is the centerpiece of our faith.

Communion was celebrated as several rows at a time went forward and kneeled at the rail where a small bowl contained the bread and the juice was in individual cups sitting in cutouts on top of the rail.

Our prayer for this church:

Lord, we pray for Your continued guidance for this church, thanking You for the blessings You have poured out. Please encourage them and grow their faith, let the joy of serving You increase. Amen.