First News
July 20, 2022
God’s Light Will Shine
One of my favorite things about preaching is the unexpected reactions you often receive from the folks listening. Sometimes I preach a sermon that I really like and I do not hear much about it. Other times, I will preach a sermon I do not think is particularly good and it will resonate deeply with people. Other times, it is just a surprise to hear what people have heard in the sermon and I am left thinking, that is not at all what I was trying to say. When this happens, and it often does, I believe it is proof that the Holy Spirit is at work. It is the Spirit’s answer to the Prayer for Illumination that typically says something along the lines of, “God, whatever is from you, whatever we need to hear, whatever truth there is in this sermon, let us hear it.” In other words, let us hear your Word, through or even in spite of this preacher, however inadequate an instrument she or he may be.

This past Sunday, many of you seemed to resonate with my sermon on Martha and Mary. Some just needed a reminder that being a Martha is not a bad thing. Afterall, where would the church be and what would we do without the Marthas, both female and male. Others needed to be reminded that the burdens of this troubled world and the burdens we deal with in our day to day lives are not meant to be borne alone. Jesus asks us to give them to him and oftentimes it is those around us, sent by God to be helpful hands, feet, and shoulders, that help us carry that which weighs too heavily on our souls. Still others needed to be reminded that the many tasks we have to accomplish cannot be properly managed without perspective. Specifically, the perspective we are given by sitting at the feet of Jesus in prayer and grounding ourselves and our lives in him. And, in doing so, being reminded that in God’s eyes we are never judged, loved, or valued by how much we accomplish. God’s love is steadfast, God loves us completely and fully…no matter what.

The fact that a sermon on Martha and Mary resonated with so many of you in so many different ways, points to the deeply anxious lives we all live. It seems that everyday there are new difficulties that arise in the world that seem tailor-made to drive us to despair. Something has got to give, our hearts cry out. For us, that something is Jesus, as inadequate as saying simply that may seem. Jesus was the embodiment of all that is right and loving and compassionate and as John reminds us in his prologue, he was with God in the beginning when all things were being created in love. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”

My practice when the thought of God making right all that is wrong with the world seems utterly impossible, is to look up to the sky for perspective. This past week, the world was given images from a new telescope capable of looking deeper and more clearly into space than ever before. The images are stunning. Hundreds and thousands of galaxies stretching infinitely into space boggles the mind and stirs the heart to a place of humility and reverence. Our faith says, “all things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.” All things came into being through him and “what has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.” We proclaim that both the light of each new day from our sun and the light from a galaxy 13.5 billion light years away, are the same light of God. And this light “shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” Our faith says the darkness shall not ever overcome it. The power of our God to redeem, to comfort us, to lift us up, to help carry our burdens, and to love us is not rooted in what we see, know, and experience in this unfathomably tiny piece of creation we inhabit, but is the very substance of an infinite universe. And I don’t know about you, but I need that reminder when the world seems like it is shaking and when I start to believe that everything depends on the state of my to-do list. God’s light shines, it will always shine, and the darkness shall not overcome it. It shall never overcome it. Thanks be to God! 

Grace and peace,
Will
We have 55 children registered for Vacation Bible School and are so excited to welcome them to our “Food Truck Party" where we will learn about the ways that we are fed by the love of God. 
Thank you to all of the volunteers who have signed up to help! Please lift up our children and volunteers in prayer as we go through this fun and spirit filled week. 
July 24th - both services in the sanctuary.
July 31st - one service at 11:00 a.m. in the fellowship hall.
The Officer Nominating Committee invites the congregation to submit names of individuals you believe God might be calling to serve as elders and deacons. You may do this by filling out the form found in the pew racks and dropping it in the offering plate. You can also email your suggestions to Lisa Johnson in the church office at lisaj@fpcgreer.org or call her at 864-877-3612. Suggestions should be submitted by August 7th.
Interested in joining First Greer or learning more about the church? We are offering new member classes on August 21st and 28th at 10:00 a.m. in the fellowship hall. On August 21st, our Clerk of Session, Nick Nicholson, will lead a discussion on church polity. And, on August 28th, Elder Elizabeth Clayton will offer a history of First Greer. We'll also share ways to get involved with the church's mission and ministry. Those wishing to join the church will meet with the Session on August 28th and will then be welcomed into membership during the 11:00 a.m. worship service. If you have questions of would like more information, please contact Patty White.
Reflections from Al - Internet Fast

As I write this, it’s 6pm on July 13th and I’m waiting for the AT&T tech to fix my U-verse connection—supposedly sometime between 4-8 pm. I’ve been without internet for 9 days! I even played the clergy card—“I work most of the time from home”…but no help.

I’m missing ESPN, Netflix, Prime, Apple, movies, news, public TV— and realize I’m addicted, a user of social media. I’m feeling disconnected without the usual distractions and a bit lonely.

It turns out the problem was the cable being crushed by aeration from the HOA lawn service. The tech was a really good guy, Hank, who arrived at 8:45, replaced old and left unburied new cable at 9:30-a long day!

On the positive side—I pulled old writing files of articles and sermons in process, re-read parts of bookcase keepers, even dug out CD’s (I still have a mini boom-box with radio, cassette, CD player!). I did a brief yoga practice to Sarah Brightman’s “Time To Say Goodbye” and listened to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers “The Waiting” on Pandora. Indeed, waiting is the hardest part!

Truth be told, life is richer, deeper sans U-verse. Our devices are not necessities for a fulfilled, abundant life—yet we have made them consumer requirements for work and play.

I decided to make a covenant with myself for more silence, meditation, nature hikes but I celebrated the return of internet service with popcorn and a movie.

The gospels remind us that Jesus often went away by himself—both to escape the crowds and to focus on the reign of God on earth. Less tethering to bandwidth is good for the soul and spirit.
The Faith Formation Ministry Team is sponsoring an “all church book read” this summer to
continue our conversation about issues of justice. We have selected “Just Mercy” by human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson. Join us in reading this powerful story about the redeeming potential of mercy. Copies are available in the church office for $10.00. We will gather for discussion on August 28th at 4:00 p.m. in the fellowship hall.

Thank you to everyone who donated school supplies to support the hundreds of families served by our mission partners at Greer Community Ministires. GCM will distribute your donations of backpacks and supplies at two separate events in August.

Thanks to our soup kitchen volunteers - youth and adults - who served together on July 18th. The youth will be serving again on July 20th and 21st.
Summer Songbirds is Back! Both Services! 
July 24 & August 7-14: Come join the Praise Team or the Chancel Choir for one-week-at-a-time this summer. All ages are welcome (intergenerational music is the best part!) and no experience or commitment is required. Early service rehearsal begins at 8:25am in the fellowship hall. Please email Wendi 4 days ahead to let her know you’re coming. Late service rehearsal is at 10:30 in the choir room. 
 
Click here to check out photos of FPCG youth at Camp Fellowship and the Montreat Youth Conference!
Upcoming Youth Events

July 20th & 21st Serving at Greer Soup Kitchen

July 25th - 29th Volunteer for VBS and join Pastors Will & Al for a morning youth devotion.

July 29th - Pool Party at the Keller's House at 12:30 p.m.

August 14th - Blessing of the Backpacks in 11:00 a.m. worship

August 21st - Youth Kick Off Pool Party
The Helping Hands Committee needs volunteers to assist church members with yard work, small home repairs, etc. If you are interested in helping with this ministry, please contact Buddy Carter at 864-809-8272.
Congregational Potluck Lunch following 11:00 a.m. worship
on August 14th

Rally Day on September 11, 2022

Prayers for the FPC Family

Luanne Baker
Dick & B.J. Baldwin
John Cuturilo
Rob Hughes
Joe & June Johns
Abbie McWilliams
Rita Moseley
Tripp Smith
Phil Thompson


We extend Christian sympathy to Billie Coker and family as they mourn the death of Roy who entered the Church Triumphant on July 13th.
Thank you very much for all the emails, texts, phone calls, visits and food-but especially prayers during my recent incidents. It’s a great feeling to be a part of such a caring congregation. Thank you again! - Cecile Orr
The next issue of First News is August 17th. If you have content for the newsletter, please email it to Lisa Johnson at lisaj@fpcgreer.org by Friday, August 12th.
864-877-3612   www.fpcgreer.org