From the Pastor’s Desk

Unto Us a Child - December 2021

by Pastor Kenn Curren

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Luke 2:4-7

This time of year causes us to pause and celebrate together the glory of heaven ringing out and proclaiming the wonder of God in this world. Christ came into this world to offer redemption and hope as Emmanuel – God with us! The promised Messiah came into this world as a child, wrapped in cloths and placed in a manger. He came to set the captives free, to offer the hope of eternal salvation.

During the busyness of the season, take time to stop, reflect, and listen. Listen for the sound of salvation and grace. Marvel at the wonder, beauty, and majesty of Jesus. Remember and rejoice that “Unto us a child is born, unto us a child is given, his name shall be called wonderful counselor, mighty God, the Prince of Peace, the Savior of the world; Christ.”

Let this be our prayer throughout the Advent Season as we prepare for the coming of our Lord: O God, as we hear once more the message of the angels, and we journey in heart and mind to Bethlehem, let us make this house of prayer glad with our carols of praise. We pray this night for the needs of the whole world, and all your people; for peace, for love, for unity, and for goodwill among all peoples. We pray for the poor, the cold, the hungry, the oppressed; the sick, those who mourn, the lonely; the aged, and the children. This we humbly offer up to the throne of heaven, through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen

 Peace, Pastor Kenn

Thanksgiving - November 2021

by Pastor Kenn Curren

“Let us come before him with thanksgiving.”

(Psalm 95:2)

   History tells us that Thanksgiving has always struggled to enjoy a place of prominence in our lives. We can’t even agree on when we celebrated our first Thanksgiving. Most of us were taught in school that the Pilgrims first celebrated Thanksgiving in 1621 in Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts. Originally 102 of them sailed here from England on the Mayflower, but only 56 of them survived the first year. They realized when their first harvest was so bountiful that they could not have made it without their Indian friends and decided to celebrate with a feast. The problem was it lasted for three days and resembled a traditional English harvest festival more than a true “thanksgiving”. Nonetheless, these early Americans were grateful just to be alive. 

    Today, many historians argue that the first “Thanksgiving Day” was not celebrated in 1621, but two years later in 1623. Massachusetts was experiencing a severe drought, prompting then Governor William Bradford to plea for the Pilgrims to pray. They did and it rained the very next day, insuring another good harvest. An appreciative Bradford immediately ordered a day of thanksgiving. Strangely enough, Thanksgiving was not celebrated again for fifty-three years. 

    When George Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789, the celebration had its share of detractors. Many did not believe that a national day of thanksgiving should be set aside just because of the hardships of a few Pilgrims. 

     Actually it was a woman who had more to do with our country’s decision to celebrate what we recognize today as Thanksgiving. However, it wasn’t George Washington she had to convince, but Abraham Lincoln, who in 1863, 74 years and 15 presidents later, decided to declare a day of Thanksgiving. Even then, it took Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor, forty years to write enough letters and editorials to convince a sitting American President to set aside the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.

     Every American President since Lincoln has signed proclamations commemorating Thanksgiving. Interestingly, the holiday has been celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November every year since 1941 even though President Franklin Roosevelt did agree on one occasion to move the day from the last Thursday in the month of November to the next-to-last Thursday. Any guesses why? To create a longer Christmas shopping season. 

    So while Thanksgiving as a holiday has struggled to get where it is today, don’t let thanksgiving as a state of mind struggle for any prominence in your life. It’s more than a season. It’s an attitude.

    I am grateful for life, family, good health, and friends. They are much more important than all of the material things that have come my way. Time has taught me that if I lost everything tomorrow, I would still have all that was truly important. So this year, not just on Thanksgiving Day, take a moment and thank God for the things that no one can take from you. After all is said and done, it really is Him to whom we should pause and give thanksgiving. 

Peace, Pastor Kenn

Simple Things - October 2021

by Pastor Kenn Curren

As we enter October, we come into what has to be my favorite season – fall. Driving around town and through the state park, I have already spotted a few trees whose leaves are just starting to change color. As I ponder what to write for this edition of the newsletter, I find myself thumbing through some of the daily devotional books that I have used in the past. In doing so, I keep finding myself drawn back to a book, “A Cherokee Feast Of Days” by Joyce Sequichie Hifler. I think her entry for October 2 captures the essence of this time of year and how our attitude should be year-round.
  “The simple things of life are best. An hour of sweet solitude, a cluster of bright yellow mums, the call of quail in the meadow. It doesn’t take much to please us. One elusive goal after another makes us hurry by some beautiful times. It seems autumn will stand still while we do other things. The trees lose their colorful leaves and they are no less pretty, but to see them in all their phases is even better. Certain things are required of us because to give and receive is the order of life – but it is the quiet, timeless, natural activity that rests us and glows in our faces. Everything is not duty. Some of it is reward, rewards we don’t remember earning.”
  I hope that you take the time to enjoy the simple things of God’s creation during this season. As Betty and I ride around on the back roads, kayak on the lake, or hike through the woods, we constantly wonder about all that God has made for our enjoyment. 
Peace, Pastor Kenn

“Rain and snow fall from the sky and don’t return until they have watered the ground. Then the ground causes the plants to sprout and grow, and they produce seeds for the farmer and food for people to eat. In the same way, my words leave my mouth, and they don’t come back without results. My words make the things happen that I want to happen. They succeed in doing what I send them to do. “So you will go out from there with joy. You will be led out in peace. When you come to the mountains and hills, they will begin singing. All the trees in the fields will clap their hands.” (Isaiah 55:10-12 ERV)

New Beginnings - September 2021

by Pastor Kenn Curren

“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” ​–Deuteronomy 11:18-19 (NIV)

As you read this newsletter, we have entered September, and the children are back in school. As Christians, we understand that we must continue learning about God and putting our knowledge into practice. The author of Deuteronomy says that we need to keep God’s Word close to us and pass along that wisdom to our children. The world tries to throw all kinds of obstacles at us, and if we are not prepared, we will have difficulties navigating around the pitfalls as we strive to follow Jesus.

You probably grew up hearing stories of how bad your parents had it going to school if you are like me. We have heard the tales of having to walk through four feet of snow barefoot and uphill. But, let’s face it, school today is so much more complicated than what we experienced. They face peer pressure, drugs, alcohol, trying to fit in, and on top of these things – COVID. So I want to encourage you to pray for the children, the teachers, bus drivers, and all associated with our educational system. As we begin the 2021/2022 school year, I share the prayer found in our Book of Worship, number 535:

“At the beginning of a new school year, O God of wisdom, we offer thanks and praise for the gift of new beginnings and for the opportunity to learn and wonder. We pray for teachers, students, and staff that this year might be rewarding for all. Be with us as we face the challenge of new tasks, the fear of failure, the expectations of parents, friends, and self. In our learning and our teaching, may we grow in service to others and in love for your world, through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.”
(U.S.A., 20th CENT., ALT.)

Peace, Pastor Kenn

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