Plymouth Congregational Church

God for All


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Resurrection Sunday (part 1) – Video

Sometimes words alone cannot bring together the important of a message, or embody the actual experience of participating in a Sunday service. Yet, there are those times we just cannot find the ability to get to church whether it be a lack of mobility, illness, or exhaustion from a week of living. So for the next two spots I would like to bring service to you. The first video, attached, is approximately 24 minutes in length. The energy of Pastor Bill and the congregation will hopefully move your toes to heart to conscience in the welcoming back of our Savior.


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Events coming…

Though we have missed a couple of months this year, I wanted to take a moment to share all that is coming for the remainder of 2013. So many wonderful opportunities to participate in our family. If you are unable to attend regularly than maybe you can come on those days that are a little more special.

March:

  • 3rd – Are You Smarter Than a Sunday Schooler? – Tough competition as a few chosen adults take on the Sunday Schoolers in this game much like Jeopardy. Who do you think will win this year? My count – kids 2 and adults 0!

  • 10th – Race, Car and Season Blessing – Come out to celebrate our own local race car heros and bless their upcoming season

  • 17th – Irish Parade, Downtown Plainfield (after worship) – PCC will be hosting a bake sale on the front lawn – your donations of goodies will make all the difference in our success!!! or just buy some for the ride home 🙂

  • 24th – Palm Sunday

  • 28th – Maundy Thursday – Special service @ 7pm

  • 29th – Good Friday service @ 7pm

  • 31st – Easter Sunday Services (8am and 10:30am) – There will be a potluck breakfast between services (9 – 10:30). Please bring a favorite item to share and enjoy this time of fellowship.

April:

  • 14th – Youth Services and quarterly meeting with potluck lunch afterward – This Youth service is not going to be like any other you have experienced. All stops are being removed, and the green light says floor it to this service. You will be knocked out of your seats!! Plus who can pass up a wonderful opportunity to share in a potluck lunch.

  • 21st – Plymouth Congregation 50th Anniversary Worship Celebration – the first in a line of opportunities to look back at the PCC congregation, and how we have evolved as a family. All members – current, former, and perspective are asked to join us for this one special day in celebration of you and our joint passion for God.

May:

  • 12th – Mother’s Dy – Every year something special is scheduled to honor Mom’s. From amazing readings filled with laughter to tears, to special songs, and much more.

  • 19th – Music Sunday – Learning to play a new instrument, or an old pro? See Jan Stack to learn how you too can participate in sending out the message of God through instruments and voice.

  • 26th – Memorial Day Service – For all those who have served, who are, and will, join us this very special day to send tribute to God’s soldiers and our heros.

June:

  • 16th – Father’s Day – Father’s are just as special and important as Mother’s so join us today as we give our thanks to Dads!

July:

  • 14th – Youth Services and Quarterly meeting with another delicious potluck lunch!

  • 21st – Worship on the front lawn – A special day of gathering in God’s first building – the green grass and blue sky. Join us, please.

  • 22nd – 26th – Vacation Bible School (please stay tuned for more information)

August:

  • 25th – Church in the Woods @ Village Green Park – immediately following is a potluck fellowship, activities for the young and not so young

October:

  • 5th – Homecoming Parade which means another opportunity to show of your baking powers by donating goodies to the PCC bake sale. Not a baker? No worries, pick up Saturday night dessert 🙂

  • 13th – Youth Services and Quarterly meeting with a potluck immediately afterward

November:

  • TBD – Harvest Home Dinner – If you have not had the opportunity to attend this evening event please add it to your list of musts this year. A wonderful opportunity to share in the celebration of the season – family and friends – with a bountiful of delicious food and conversation. An experience you will not soon forget.

  • 30th – The Christmas Shoppe is open! This annual celebration of local vendors and craftspeople to help kick your shopping into high gear. Prices are unbeatable, the atmosphere warm and inviting, and you are sure to find something for everyone. Are you a vendor (or crafts person) looking for an opportunity to sell your product? Please contact Stella Beagle for more information. A shopper? I assure you leaving empty handed will be a difficult task at best. Last year we had many homemade items such as mittens, jewelry, baked goodies, as well as vendors such as Anderson’s Books.

  • 30th – Creche Lighting @ 7pm – Filled your day with shopping, now come and fill your night with God. Join us for this amazing evening of song, scripture, and company. Many local artists and organizations help fill the church to standing room only in celebration of this holy time of year.

December:

  • 24th – Christmas Eve service @ 8pm – Come and remember what makes this time of year so special by bringing in Christmas with God, song, and friendship

Throughout the year:

  • Wednesday night prayer time @ 6:30pm

  • Wednesday night bible study group

  • Youth art classes – please contact Melissa for more information

  • PCC Choir is always looking for members. Whether you can sing or not, join us and fill our church with song

  • PCC Youth Choir is looking to do have a more regular presence; if interested please contact John Riley

  • Confirmation – Are you interested in becoming Confirmed? Please contact Pastor Bill for more information

Themed fellowship – Every so often we have fun with our fellowship (potluck) time. Following are two examples but please know that there are many, many more!

  • Chili Cookoff – Who will take home the Golden Ladle this year?

  • Souptastic – Bring in a favorite soup, salad or dessert


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Wearing My “Funeral Face” on Youth Sunday

(Special thanks to Jan Stack for sharing her thoughts for the blog this week!)

I am sure that when you read the title of this blog, you will wonder if on this warm sunny autumn afternoon, I have gotten into my bottle of pain pills leftover from my knee surgery. I haven’t. I will explain:

When I have to play the organ for any event which promises to be emotionally moving and cause me to either cry or have tears in my eyes, I put on what’s known as my “funeral face.” Call it a game face, a stone face, a stiff upper lip, a Scarlett O’Hara way of thinking, whatever – it just means that you focus away from what’s going on so it doesn’t affect you.

I have to do this – not because I am ashamed or afraid to cry; but because if I do, I can’t see to play the music for the service. I’ve been doing this for 40-plus years.

This morning, for Plymouth’s worship service, I had to do it again. Any time my grandson Brendan plays the cornet or participates in the youth service at church, it makes me cry. I am so proud of him – proud of the young man he is turning out to be and proud of his talents and that he is willing to share them. I send up a prayer of thanks to God every time he does this. So today, I had on my “funeral face” as he played for the praise hymn, served as lay leader, and participated in one of the skits. But out of every pore of my skin came smiles of pride, and gratitude to God.

But then came the unexpected. My granddaughter, Jenna, who perpetually does the “deer in the headlights” imitation for every school program since daycare, calmly walked to the podium and read, flawlessly, the call to worship.

I realize Jenna is almost five years younger, and has yet to “bloom” with her talents (although she shows a lot of promise!), but it blew me away. The reading had a lot of difficult words in it, and she too is growing up and choosing to share her talents in church. I had to bite my lip nearly in half to keep my “funeral face” intact. My pride doubled in that moment. I praised God not once, but twice.

Both of my grandchildren, participating willingly in the youth service. What more could a grandmother ask for?

These children, knowingly or unknowingly, are preparing for their time of serving the Lord as adults. They have seen their grandfather (Rick) and me both play the organ in church for many years. They have seen their other set of grandparents (Doug’s mom and dad) serve the Lord in their church in Joliet. They have seen their mother and father praising the Lord by singing in the choir, participating in worship, and being members of committees. Beth and Doug are faithful about bringing them to church. Whether they know it or not, they are acquiring a thirst for being a part of the body of Christ. They have attended other churches, but as Brendan has always said, “I’d rather be at Plymouth.” They have grown up here from tiny babies. Plymouth is their second home.

Guided by their parents, by Pastor Bill, by their Sunday School teachers and by the example of the members of Plymouth, their faith will grow as they learn of God and Jesus Christ. Eventually they will be confirmed, and even as they go off to college and their adult lives, it is my prayer that the experiences they have had at Plymouth and the Holy Spirit in their hearts and minds will cause them to want to be a part of a church family wherever they are. That is and always will be part of my prayers for Brendan and Jenna.

And then one day, when I am too old to play the organ, I will be able to sit in a pew and hear a great-grandchild say: “Welcome to our church! This is Youth Sunday, and I will be your lay leader today.”

And on that day, I won’t have to wear my “funeral face.” Pass the Kleenex, please.


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Coveting the ickies

So we missed church for the first time in a long time last Sunday. I was sorry about that too. Consequently that means I am unable to paint my verbal portrait of Pastor Bill this week. In truth, my post is so long overdue because the ickies have attached themselves to me like a babysitter to a precocious 2 year old. Multiply that by the three children and you have one household that is on quarantine. Alas, things are looking up as I am off the couch and trying to be productive this week. Too much play time on the computer is my weakness, thus creating a distraction. Would that be considered coveting?

Well, in truth, yes it would. I play for fun, these silly little one minute games, but also to compete (friendly but still with the desire to hold first place) against friends. So I covet despite what is written in Exodus 20:17 (“You shall not covet.”).

Before I continue on with the idea of coveting let me give you my reference point. I started reading a fascinating book (and yes, Bill, expect it as a gift on Sunday!) “The Year of Living Biblically” by A.J. Jacobs. This man decided he needed to understand religion, especially since he was agnostic, so he recounts his year of trying to follow the bible literally. On page 25 he begins to look at the idea of coveting, and that sparked my own insight.

A.J. covets all kinds of wonderful things, other’s salaries, front yards, screenplays. I covet friendships, popularity, financial freedom, those perfect 10 bodies on beach blonde babes, I am being honest here. What do you covet? Is it small things? Big things? Does it really make a difference?

Back to Exodus 20:17. The full passage reads, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” I suppose that when this was written into the bible there was a lot of promiscuous coveting happening since so much revolves around relations with another person. The ox and ass raise an eyebrow to how that came to pass. Maybe the lacking of fences had something to do with this portion. All in all, it is summed up with the one words “anything”.

A.J. gave a brief lesson on the word “covet”. It is a translation of the Hebrew root “hamad”, which roughly means to “desire” or “want”.  With this understanding he went on to explain that there are two groups of opinions on how this applies to our present day society. One group is of the opinion that to desire things is fine as long as they are not your neighbor’s. A more literal approach that grants permission to your desire to want that mansion on the hill regardless of your ability to actually have that item of desire; with the understanding that if your neighbor already has a mansion on the hill you are forbidden from wanting it.

The other group, which is more a bit more cut and dry, states that you cannot desire anything regardless if your neighbor has it or not. A moderate interest in a particular item is acceptable but you cannot exert ample amounts of energy seeking the said item. Your time should not be spent in ample quantity focused on the item. For example, my nearly 12 year old, is obsessed with owning a Lamborghini. He even knows the model and color. You say car and he says Lamborghini. He would be considered in violation of the Bible’s law/rule about coveting.

What is the problem with coveting? Coveting creates a lack of respect and appreciation for what God has given you, the life you have, tossing it to the side to find something better. Why would that be a problem? Aren’t we suppose to strive to be better? Of course we are all asked to be better and carry God’s words with us. This is not about spiritual growth or coveting but materialistic. It is in our societies competitive nature against each other to have something bigger, better, newer that we find ourselves in heaps of debt as well as disappointed with that new DSi SXL that is only 2 months old because there is a new 3DSi available. So regardless of functionality, and the fact that the other “toy” is nearly new, the focus to have the newest is where we forget to appreciate what we already have, and that is where you will have problems biblically.

Coveting can also create jealousy. Growing up my Mom used to tell me that jealousy would get you nowhere. It is an evil little monster that sits on my shoulder and creates dissension. This from my good Catholic mother. As I matured I finally understood what she was trying to say. If I was coveting my friend’s boyfriend, body, clothes I acted like a silly jealous girl, and through this walls were built and friendships lost. I didn’t appreciate what I had, so I lost on many levels. Once I understood that it was me who was the problem based on my jealousy I decided to change.

I like the way A.J. talks about jealousy in his book, “Jealousy is useless, time-wasting emotion that’s eating me alive. I should focus on my family and, nowadays, God.” Jealousy and coveting are both useless. Appreciating what we have, and keeping what we have in perspective is a way to honor the bible and our relationship with God. I think if society had kept this humbleness in mind we may have been able to avoid some of the economic nightmares we are facing, and this would include my own family (I shamefully admit).

So can my family change? I intend to make it a fruitful effort. But I think we will have to take a pass on the Genesis 14:20, at least for several more years.


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Love/Hate, Win/Lose, Belt Buckles/Ties

Pastor Bill was dressed in his typical all black attire today. A look that is hard to pull off but he does it so well. There was a slightly noticeable difference in his attire today, though. I got the impression I was in the presence of a sheriff  right off the screen of Walker, Texas Ranger, with his cowboy boots, his “rock solid” button down shirt, and belt buckle that would make most cowboys swoon, all the way down to its high luster gleam that would blind a 747 pilot.

Before you take this description as a negative I will quickly, and most definitely am off topic here, say that I really love his style and casual appearance. His style offers the presence of warmth and welcoming, comfort of talking with a good friend. I hope Bill never feels the need to change his clothes to suit the congregation. I would hate to see him change anything.

When we walked in the church to a solid attendance of 100 (+) people all talking race cars as well as looking at the weekly bulletin, you knew what was happening. Yesterday’s sermon was geared toward those who participate in the NHRA. So when he talked about winning and losing I was not surprised, but there was something amiss.

The overall feeling I walked away with, which my husband and nearly 12 year old son concurred, was a bit of a hodge-podge of messages. Personally I think Bill had so much he wanted to say, and to such a large group of diverse people, he lost his point several times until the very end. That, for all of us in my family, was the highlight of the sermon. When he spoke from his heart, his “personal message” to everyone about always being in his prayers, was where he should have started, stayed, and stopped.

Of course this blog is a parishioner’s perspective on our weekly sermon, so maybe I’ll miss the mark on this one and someone else will have walked away with a whole different perspective. For me, though, I think Bill’s message was best left with love. God’s love – a human emotion taken to a non-human level which brings peace to our hearts and helps create a path of better choices.

Bill in simplified form:

His first message was to the children about love. Then, after their departure, he turned and talked NHRA statistics for a bit showing his ample knowledge and passion for the sport. He talked about winning and why these families risked everything in each race. He talked about eternity using 1 John 5:13. He talked belt buckles and cowboy boots. He talked friendship and support system. In the end he wrapped us up with the only thing I could walk away recalling, God’s love, and his prayers.

His personal message came from a place of love, and had the most sincerity I had heard all morning, aside from his message to the children. Not that his message to the congregation was false in nature, as he is honest without doubt. Sometimes the presence of trying to send a message, trying to bring people home, can get so lost in convoluted words that it becomes confusing and overwhelming as we try to unravel the puzzle laid before us. His first message, his last message, was the ear marks of clarity and simple communication. Those were not convoluted.

Looking at love and eternity:

Human love ebbs. It flows like the waters of the ocean. It will rise high in the tide and then it can run back out to sea. Hate will replace that love in our hearts like a sea monster. It can grow big with enough negative food, or shrink away when we remember the positive, the hopefulness, the dreams and ambitions that God feeds our soul.

I think herein lies where Bill should have remained in his talk. About love. About letting hate, the Devil, ebb from our veins and replace it with love in our hearts, our minds. Life is not a race to be won or lost, nor are all of us NHRA participants.  That is the fluffy stuff of selected lives.

The race of life is less about fun and more about spiritual well being. The sports we participate in is because it is fun. It is a profession of choice. Humanly endeavor. We lose because there was another person who had the luck or skill. Again, a humanly function. Winning is not about love and losing is not about hate. In the race it is about how we handle our love for the sport, for our fellow participant, and the honor with which we participate. Honor is God’s love in human form.

Love can be so much greater than the downplayed human usage. Overly used, and under appreciated – love. God gave us the ability to love while the Devil gave our hearts the ability to hate. My Mom, God rest her soul, said to me as a child, “You use love and hate to much. It has lost all its meaning with you.” My Mother, being the good Orthodox Catholic that she was, didn’t use the words love and hate even when addressing her children. She reserved such words for her relationship with God.

Can there be a good mixture of the two? Can we, as humans, use the word “love” toward another human without abusing the deeper meaning? I believe we can. I also believe we can eradicate hate from the dictionary of our vocabulary. We can love another; we can be welcoming to one another, in a way that would make God smile (yet another human trait).

In that we can show love by being gracious losers and humble winners in all that we do. Share our glory with those that supported us, those that won against us or lost. Celebrate your victory while remembering that your victory could have been something more dramatic. Say your thanks to God by showing him your love and appreciation, and in return accept his love in your time of joy, as well as your time of sorrow. Instead of casting anger and doubt when in time of loss, say thank you to God for allowing a safe passage through the race.

Does this apply only to NHRA drivers? No. Love and humbleness can be seen in a daily life. I can take these actions when I put my son on the school bus – he made it to school and home safely an opportunity to celebrate in the graciousness of God’s love. My husband had a successful business trip and he made it home without harm – praise to God for his love. To see Joyce, Jan, Pastor Bill each week in our communal home (with everyone else) – we’ve won the race from Sunday to Sunday while carrying the graciousness of God’s love in our footsteps.

What happens when the race is over? When we have humanly lost? We will carry God’s love and Bill’s belt buckle with us to our eternal resting place. It’s about love, not winning or losing and really not about belt buckles and cowboy boots. It’s all about the glory of eternal love.

Eternity (1 John 5:13):

13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

His excerpt and interpretation about eternal life, eternal love, and our eternal home was poignant when looking in our audience and wondering who will be the next to visit such a place. I know he selected this because of the high risk nature for the NHRA drivers, but it is fitting for everyone in the congregation, from the young to the elderly. In our prayer requests we hear about the struggles of the world, those ailing and then we discuss the wonderful miracles in the praise reports.

We must ask ourselves about when the time comes will we be prepared to leave? Will we have done enough in our lives to let go easily? Will we be secure enough in our foundation to know what we are leaving will be okay? Will we have done enough to survive being left?

The ambition to win or detesting of loss; the glory in loving words and the spitefulness of hateful words are the icing on the cake, the whip cream on the strawberries of our life. Through the glory of God we can eat sweetly everyday.