March Pastor's Note

Dear Friends,

It is hard to believe that Lent is coming upon us again. Lent is a time meant for reflection and preparation. I find that in my own life, I am get so caught up in what is on my schedule and calendar, what comes in my phone messages and emails that when I do find some free time, the last thing I want to do is study Scripture or spend personal time with God. Now this might not be the words you want to hear coming from your Pastor, but they are honest words, spoken from my heart knowing where my shortfalls are. The season of Lent is a time of prayer, fasting and self-examination in preparation for the celebration of the resurrection of the Lord at Easter. In the early church, Lent was a time of preparation for the celebration of baptism at the Easter Vigil. In many communities of faith it remains a time to equip and nurture candidates for baptism and confirmation and to reflect deeply on the theme of baptismal discipleship. It has become a cultural phenomenon to “give something we like up” for Lent, to deny ourselves from our pleasures, chocolate, alcohol, Diet Dr. Pepper…pick your poison. For me this year, I want to personally refocus myself on my own discipleship, nurturing my relationship with God to better equip myself to fulfill my baptismal call. Maybe this is what you are called to do this year, maybe this means you join a Bible Study or Sunday School, maybe you attend the Lenten study or pick up your own personal devotion to read at home. Maybe God is calling you to do volunteer work, or to seek out relationships with others. My hope for you this Lent, is that it be a time of self-examination, fasting, and prayer for you, however it may manifest-so that you can deepen your relationship with the one who died and rose again for the forgiveness of our sins. I leave you with a Lenten poem by Ann Weems, found in her book From Advent’s Alleluia to Easter’s Morning Light.  It is titled, “We All Have Our Courtyards”

We all have our courtyards,

those times and places we face

like Peter

when we must decide

to stand up and say

whether we know him or not.

Those crossroads in our lives,

when we go along with things as they are,

or we say, as Luther did,

Here I stand, I can do no other.

We all have our courtyards….

Lent is the time to prepare

for our courtyards,

the time to listen to who he says he is

And he did, you know,

He did tell us who he is.

He is that one who brings good news to the poor,

freedom to the oppressed,

sight to the blind…

that Holy One who said,

Follow me.

Feed my sheep.

February Pastor's Note

photo.jpg

Dear Friends-

In the darkness of winter, I find myself craving for the days where we have had warmer weather and sunshine, even if only for a few hours! But, I have realized that I have needed to create my own brightness to combat the dreary winter blues. It has been a joy this past month to see the light come from within our church and within our community through the Saint John’s Bible exhibit at the Arts of the Albemarle. I have been overwhelmed with gratitude with the response and support from the church with the community based activities we have put together. Our Brown Bag Bible Studies moved to AOA in January and we invited the community to participate in a study with the art from the Saint John’s Bible and Scripture. We have averaged 20 participants from not only Cann, but from many of the other area churches. Our conversations and discussions have proven to be rich and fulfilling and a blessing to those who have participated.

Then on the 26th of January we participated in the community service at Evangelical Methodist Church, an evening of light and illumination for Elizabeth City. One of the area minister’s in their meditation on scripture, talked about as people, we are called to be living sacraments-the visible signs of the grace of our Lord, to our community. We are called to be the light of Christ to all who cross our paths. So as part of the worship service, we had a time of prayer where each individual took a tealight lit from the Christ candles, and laid their light onto a map of Elizabeth City, as their own personal prayer to be the light of Christ over our community. It was a wonderful moment for us, and a beautiful representation of our call to action as Christians. We closed with this prayer and this is my prayer for all of us this month, as we continue to be the light of God in the darkness of winter.

Lord we have glorified you for the grace you have given us in this community service. In the joy of being called to serve you in the one search for Christian unity, we acknowledge the work of the Holy Spirit and the admirable diversity of gifts and talents of the Spirit destined to be shared, to illuminate across Elizabeth City, across our state, in the nation and in the world. We commit ourselves to persevere in constant prayer for Christian unity, and through concrete gestures of reconciliation, to seek to bring forth perfect unity in your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Blessings-

Pastor Elizabeth

September Pastor's Page

Greetings Friends! 

                It is hard to believe summer is drawing to an end, school is starting back for many and we return to some of our regular programs here at Cann.  I came across an article the other day on Christian Century, on American Christian’s biblical literacy. The article noted that, “a 2007 Kelton Research survey revealed that people know more about what goes into a Big Mac than they do about the Bible; they can name members of the Brady Bunch better than they can name the Ten Commandments. Twelve percent of adults think that Noah’s wife was Joan of Ark, and about half don’t know that the book of Isaiah is in the Old Testament.”

                After reading this article, it brought memories as a child attending my church’s Wednesday night programming where we memorized the books of the Bible as well as select verses and Sundays in Sunday School where my friends and I would race to see who could open our Bible to the correct passage. (Yes, your Pastor  was a nerdy church girl even at a young age! J) Though when I began seminary, I realized how shallow the depth of my biblical knowledge was. I spent most of my education becoming acquainted with various texts, themes, characters, historical significance an order of the 66 books of the Bible. Presbyterian candidates for ministry are even required to take a multiple choice exam on the Bible before ordination (Take a shot with some questions below).

I believe it is our call as Christians to know what we believe, why we believe it and where do our beliefs come from, which includes knowing the Bible, scriptures we hold in high regard. With that in mind, this month I am beginning a sermon series in September called, “Little Known People of the Bible, with Big Time Stories of Faith.” My hope is to shed some light on a few characters of the Bible, allowing us to become more familiar with stories in our faith tradition. So join us for worship, to learn about some rebellious midwives, a man and his talking donkey, a woman judge, an excessive king, and a brave prostitute. You can also improve your biblical literacy by coming to the Brown Bag Bible Studies, Thursdays at Noon or to our Sunday School at 10:00am on Sunday mornings!

Blessings- 

Elizabeth  

 PCUSA Bible Content Exam Questions:  

1. In Which book is the following benediction: "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace."

a. Genesis,  b. Exodus,  c. Leviticus, d. Numbers

 

2. Which of the following familiar phrases is NOT taken from the Bible?

a. "Doctor, cure yourself!"  b. "Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown."

c. "Relax, eat, drink, be merry."   d. "To thine own self be true."

 

3. What is Paul's situation at the end of the book of Acts?

a.He is in jail in Corinth.  b. He is on his way to Spain. 

c. He is on trial for his life.  d. He is under house arrest in Rome.

 

4. According to Genesis 1, on the fifth day God created:

a.the great sea monster and birds,  b. the tree of life, 

c. human beings,  d. the sun and the moon

 

Answers: 1. D, 2. D (see Mk 6:4 Lk 4:23, Lk: 12:9), 3. D,  4. A

July Newsletter Article

Greetings Friends! 

                I do believe it is summer now!! As I avoid the heat (and humidity), in the comfort of the church’s AC. I send prayers to those who are not as fortunate to have homes and buildings to retreat to. This Summer is a busy one for the life of the congregation! We wanted to celebrate the beginning of summer at Nancy and Ed Eadie’s home with a worship on the River and a BBQ picnic lunch following, however the rain forced us inside the fellowship hall. Nevertheless it was absolutely wonderful to see familiar and new faces while worshiping together and fellowshiping with some tasty tasty food! I have to thank Kathleen and ALL of her helpers (food, decoration, set up, clean up) it was so much fun!

                One of the comments I have heard from folks, is that they can’t always remember the name and faces of fellow members. So during the month of July, while our wonderful choir is off, we will be combing worship services and will be held at 10:00am in the fellowship hall. This will give us a chance to see familiar faces and worship together with one another. These services will be a blending of both services, with worship leadership from both services. I am excited for the opportunity to worship together. We will end the combined services on Aug. 4th with an all-church hymn sing! If you have a favorite hymn you want heard sung, let the office know by using the tear off sheet in the bulletin to put the title or first line of your favorite hymn.

                We will also be hosting in July, our weekend VBS: Everywhere Fun Fair  July 12th-14th. We are looking forward to reaching out to the young people in our communities. See more details in the heart of this month’s newsletter or on our website: www.cmpchurch.org

                Many of us will be travelling or have friends and family travel to see us this summer, (including myself at the end of July) and so I leave you all with a travelling prayer from www.prayergoddess.com:

I am grateful, Dear Lord, for the opportunity to travel. You have provided us with a lush and lavish world, full of wonder, and delightful in its diversity. Bless me as I embark on this journey.
As my travels unfold, I ask your blessing God, upon all those that I may encounter. Bless the people I am traveling with, the service workers along the way, the strangers, the new friends, and those that make my travel possible. Bless every vehicle that I am carried in; may it be safe and in good repair. May it be protected and enveloped in your secure light as I go on my way. Bless my baggage and my things; may they arrive safely with me everywhere I go. Bless every driver, pilot, maintenance worker, cook, server, and hospitality worker – they serve me well. I am grateful for their attention and expertise.
Bless all my actions, keep me safe and alert. May I be fully aware and present everywhere I go. May I go in peace and walk in your heavenly Light, dear God. And may I return home happy, well, and with many memories of my journey. I rejoice in this opportunity and I go with the confidence of your loved and precious child. Amen.

May God’s joy be in your heart and God’s love surround your journey-

Pastor Elizabeth

June Newsletter Article

As Paul tells in his letter to the Philippians, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer with joy.” On my wall in my office, I have a board that I created with the word on it: Pray. Hung to the board are photos, and names of people in my life I want to pray for...family, friends, photos from church events, etc. I also have on there, a notecard that someone gave me that is a photos of our sanctuary. It is my visual reminder to pray for our congregation, for each and every individual who enter into our doors. Many of us live lives where we are constantly bombarded with information, from the newspapers, websites, and books we read and the TV and movies we watch we often forget to be still and listen for God’s Word. We also live in a place where so many tragic things happen to us, our loved ones and in our world, the pains of grief tug at our hearts. In times of trial, in times of joy, in times of discernment, and

times of clarity, we are called to pray. We are called to pray on behalf of others who are not able to pray, to pray with one another, and to pray for ourselves. Fredrick Buechner wrote in his book, “Now and Then” this amazing quote on our call to prayer:

“BECAUSE THE WORD that God speaks to us is always an incarnate word — a word spelled out to us not alphabetically, in syllables, but enigmatically, in events, even in the books we read and the movies we see — the chances are we will never get it just right. We are so used to hearing what we want to hear and remaining deaf to what it would be well for us to hear that it is hard to break the habit. But if we keep our hearts and minds open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize, beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear him, he is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, his word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling. In that sense autobiography becomes a way of praying. “

My prayer for you today is that we are able to be still amidst the chaos of live, to hear the Word of God present and alive in the center of our lives.

Blessings-

Pastor Elizabeth 

May Newsletter Article

I have been reading recently a wonderful little book entitled Letters to a Young Doubter, by Rev. William Sloane Coffin, social justice activist and progressive religious thinker in the 1960s. This week, I came across a little quote that has been on my mind in light of recent events in our country and in the world. Calvinists are animated by hope…Hope reflects the state of your soul rather than the circumstances surrounding your days. Praise God and your soul gets stronger.” In the midst of darkness, turmoil, and despair in our lives, as Christians we are called to cling to hope. The Psalmist tells us, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of dark, I shall fear no evil. For you are with me. Your rod and your staff comfort me.” We live with the Good news that God is with us. The scripture brings us comfort that our Lord knows his own flock. We go through the journey of life with the joyful  truth, that God guides us on our paths supporting us through the treacherous roads. In the midst of fear, we have hope because of the glorious act of Christ. Suffering is not the final word about our human condition. God is with us in suffering and is able to inspirit us with faith, hope and courage, even in our darkest hour. Despite the challenges that might arise in our future, our Good Shepherd gently uses His staff to guide us and his rod to protect us. As we await Christ coming again, may we our souls be strong in hope, praising God in our worship, serving God, in our daily activities and loving God by loving our neighbors.

Blessings-

Pastor Elizabeth