Friday, November 20, 2020 Newsletter

FOR THIS SUNDAY: COMBINED SERVICE AT 11 A.M.

** OUTDOORS IN FRONT OF CHURCH BUILDING **

AND ONLINE VIA FACEBOOK LIVE
(also available on our website and via phone)
FOR NEXT WEEK:

We will not be sending an issue of Spotlight on Tuesday.
The weekly newsletter will be sent out on Wednesday,
because of the Thanksgiving holiday.
A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN:
WITH BOTH SUPPLICATION AND THANKSGIVING

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he says, “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

There’s actually quite a bit of theological significance in that one sentence; unfortunately, people often stop with the first clause: “Do not worry about anything.” Many have read that and said, “so, that means Christians should always be calm and unconcerned about (or even detached from) what’s happening in the present or what the future holds, and if they’re not, then that’s because they have a lack of faith.” 

That interpretation has led some to a very fatalistic sort of faith, and others to simply reject the teaching out of hand as nonsense, because plenty of faithful people in the Bible worry, including Jesus!
So let me just say right up front: that is NOT what Paul is saying. There is a reason, after all, that Paul said more after “do not worry about anything.” For Paul, “worry” is basically a kind of anxiety spiral in which we turn things over and over in our mind all alone, and get no peace until what we’re worried about either happens or it doesn’t. 
What he’s saying, then, is that’s not how we should handle things when we are concerned about something. Rather, we should bring them to God in prayer, where we can be comforted in God’s presence rather than anxious and alone. And he specifically says we should do so with both supplication and thanksgiving; in other words, asking for what we need and expressing our thanks to God as we do so.

I find this passage particularly important for us as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday this year, and it will be our Scripture at our Thanksgiving Eve worship service, which will be held at 7 p.m. next Wednesday, November 25 via Zoom. As we continue to live through the challenges of the pandemic, it seems especially appropriate to turn to God in both supplication and thanksgiving, because those two modes of prayer can help center us in the midst of all these challenges.

We are using Zoom for this service rather than Facebook Live, as we did for Maundy Thursday last spring, because it allows us to see each other and be more interactive. The service, following Paul’s encouragement, will have time for prayer, for supplication, and for thanksgiving.

There will be testimonials of gratitude from several people within the congregation, and an opportunity to break into small groups and reflect on our own sense of gratitude in this season. And we will celebrate communion together interactively, sharing in the liturgy of the “Prayer of Great Thanksgiving” together in small groups so that we are serving and supporting one another in worship.

I think this will be a very meaningful experience, and I look forward to sharing it with you. I encourage you to invite friends and neighbors who may be longing for community this Thanksgiving holiday, and I hope to see your faces on Zoom when we gather.

Grace and peace,
JC
FOR THIS SUNDAY

Scripture lesson:

Click the link to read online
·   This week's sermon: Mercy Buckets by Rev. J.C. Austin

·     We post each week’s sermon
(audio and text) on our website:
TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT on 8.5" x 11" paper
If you attend the service in person, a program will be
provided for you

INFORMATION TO ACCESS SUNDAY SERVICES IS NOW LOCATED IN THE CALENDAR SECTION BELOW
THIS SUNDAY: COMBINED WORSHIP SERVICE AT 11 A.M.
We will worship in a Combined service – featuring elements of both our Contemporary and Traditional services – this Sunday at 11 a.m. It will be held outside (in front of the church building) as well as livestreamed on Facebook and on our website.
If the weather does not cooperate, we will offer the digital version only; there is no raindate. If we need to cancel, we will share that information on our website, Facebook, and on a message on the church phone (610-867-5865).
Please let us know if you are planning to attend by completing this short form. Wear your mask, bring your own chair, and be prepared to follow the protocols shared by our volunteers. 
A HEARTFELT MESSAGE ABOUT FPCB

This past Sunday we heard from Belle and John Marks, who shared what FPCB means to them, and what they consider as they contemplate their annual gift to the church.
TUESDAY EVENING PRAYER SERVICES: 'WE NEED THIS'

Weather permitting* we will gather next Tuesday evening from 6-6:25 p.m. for an Evening Prayer Service. It will include Scripture, prayer, reflection and music.

We’ll gather on the east side of the building. Wear your mask, bring your chair, and bundle up! No RSVP’s required.

* Before venturing out, please check our website, Facebook, and phone for any cancellation messages.
THANKSGIVING EVE SERVICE
All are welcome to join us for our Thanksgiving Eve Service, presented via Zoom on Wednesday, November 25 at 7 p.m.
Along with Scripture, prayer, and reflections, we will hear a virtual anthem from the Chancel Choir, and offer Communion.

To participate in Communion, prepare your elements beforehand: a bread or bread-like item (cracker, bagel, pita, muffin, etc.) and grape juice, wine or water.

Meeting ID: 847 9130 0832

To listen on the phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 847 9130 0832, followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID; press the # key again.
BIG THANKSGIVING SERVICE

If you did not see last Sunday's Thanksgiving service of healing and unity presented by the Bethlehem Interfaith Group, you can view this PBS39 news story, or watch the entire service here.
LOOKING AHEAD: ILLUMINATED ADVENT SPIRAL WALK

On the four Sundays of Advent – beginning on Sunday, November 29 - from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. in the FPCB Memorial Garden, the Discipleship Committee invites you to balance the outward excitement of Christmas with the calm, quiet sense of presence created during the walking of the Illuminated Advent Spiral.

Your walk will be supplemented by scripture, meditation resources and questions that center on a weekly theme of Hope, Love, Joy and Peace. These materials will additionally appear in the weekly newsletter for weekly Advent devotions. Guides will be present to assist walkers, if desired, during the two hour period. Rain dates will be on Monday of each week.

Beginning Sunday, November 29 through Christmas, the Memorial Garden will be open during daylight hours for anyone seeking to simply appreciate a meditative walk through the garden, considering the celebration of the birth of Christ. There will be no guides available except during the stated times on Sundays.

Hold these dates. Prepare ye the way. Return to your church home, experiencing Advent with both contemplation and wonder.
Did you miss the Covid - Part 2 session, offered by Lehigh Presbytery?

You can listen to the recording at youtu.be/NEC1vNa-P-0. Elder Rich Hjorth, a virologist, was one of the guest presenters.
THIS YEAR’S GIVING OPPORTUNITIES

Thanks again to all who so generously donated to the recent collection of personal care items. The Congregational Life Team was overwhelmed with dozens of full grocery totes’ worth of shampoo, deodorant, toothbrushes and much else! The items were shared with our neighbors being served by Northeast Community Center, Victory House, and the Salvation Army.

Building on that, the team asks you to consider making these additional donations that will be shared with organizations in our community. Each week will feature a different category; we ask that you help as you are able – you can make one delivery with any of these items, or make them during their designated week.

The weeks will begin on Sundays, so the first collection will begin on Sunday, November 29. If you are attending the Advent Spiral Walk (see above), there will be collection bins available near the Memorial Garden. You can also deliver to collection bins that will be outside the South Entrance of the building; please do not come into the building with your donations.

For health and safety reasons, we ask that all items be new and in their original packaging:
Week #1: November 29 – December 5
Baby items (supplies like diapers, wipes, baby wash, etc.)

Week #2: December 6-12
Socks (kids and adults), underwear (kids)
Week #3: December 13-19
Hats, gloves and hand warmers (kids and adults)

Week #4: December 20-24
Pet items (small packages of food, and supplies like toys, chews, leashes, etc.)

As another option, you may purchase and mail gift cards and/or bus passes to the church at any time: Congregational Life, First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, 2344 Center Street, Bethlehem, PA 18017. Suggested merchants include grocery stores like Giant, Weis or Wegmans, and retailers like Target, Walmart, CVS and Walgreens.
Another suggestion is for bus passes. You can go online to store.lantabus.com/ and purchase them; your order will be mailed to you. NOTE: LANtaBus is currently offering a special $5 emergency pass for 31 days; these are normally $60 – you can order a maximum of three at any one time.
You can also order by phone with a credit card. Call 888-253-8333 Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. through 4:00 p.m. Your order will be mailed to you.

Again, any gift cards or bus passes should be mailed to the church building; do not drop them in the donation bins or leave at the South Entrance.

Thank you for considering this opportunity to support our neighbors!
MORE OPPORTUNITIES TO SERVE

The Congregational Life Team offers these opportunities to serve, as you are able. Both of these are outdoors so please dress accordingly; let us know if you plan to help by sending us an email to info@fpc-bethlehem.org or leave us a message at
610-867-5865. Thank you for considering!

  • Saturday, Nov. 28 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.: Meet at the front of the church building (west side) to assist with putting lights on decorative trees, in the front portico area. May involve some work on ladders.

  • Saturday, Dec. 12 from 4-5 p.m.: Meet at the front entrance to the building grounds to help put out prepared luminarias along the church property, fronting on Center Street. FPCB is participating in the city’s 23rd Annual Luminaria Night.
SUNDAY SCHOOL: NOT JUST FOR SUNDAYS!

You can make our Sunday School program work for your family’s schedule with our two options: attend a Sunday morning Zoom gathering from 10:15-10:45 a.m. - or - each week we provide a prerecorded series of videos and related resources that you can access when convenient.
This week’s story is from Matthew, Chapter 20: 1-15 - The Story of the Workers in the Vineyard.

Consider joining us for the Sunday morning Zoom session; to access the prerecorded videos look for the Sunday School logo on the homepage.
To join the Zoom meeting from 10:15-10:45 a.m.: bit.ly/3luYu7l
Meeting ID: 928 9221 9682 
Password: 369116
HEARTS N MINDS UPDATE: ADULT EDUCATION AT FPC

NOTE: If the 11 a.m. service this Sunday is held outdoors, Hearts N Minds will NOT meet. If it is not held outdoors, we will meet. We will also not meet on Sunday, November 29.

Our adult ed class, Hearts N Minds, continues its weekly discussion about social justice, what the Bible says to us, and thoughtful, meditative readings. Everyone is welcome and you can join at any time. We meet every Sunday at 9 a.m. via Zoom. The first book is Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans.
 
Reading for this week: pages 165-189 in Inspired; Matthew 14:22–33; Mark 1:40–45 and 5:21–43

Meeting ID: 811 8422 0450

To listen on the phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 811 8422 0450, followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again.
HI NEIGHBORS RETURNS ON MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30

Our popular speakers program returns on Monday, November 30 at 10 a.m. via Zoom. We will explore the topic of “Close to Home – A Human Trafficking Story”, by Emmy-award documentary winner Laura Shelton.

Most people think that sex trafficking is something that happens in big cities or foreign countries. This documentary brings to light the fact that this horrifying crime happens right here in the Lehigh Valley.

NOTE: If you received a postcard mailing for both the October and November programs, the Zoom info is incorrect. Use this information instead:

To join Zoom online: https://bit.ly/38BHA3y Meeting ID: 889 4647 5793

To listen on the phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 889 4647 5793, followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – press the # key again.
IF YOU ARE HOSPITALIZED…
We would like to know when our members are entering the hospital. Please tell the hospital that your church ID is 724 and they will contact us. You can also contact Phil
Fair at prayer@fpc-bethlehem.org to keep us up to date.

PRAYER REQUESTS...
Send any prayer requests to prayer@fpc-bethlehem.org or call 610-867-5865 and leave a message.
Send us your news and photos to share:
**Deadline for next week's newsletter: Tuesday at noon**
* * *
And follow us on Facebook: @FirstPresBethlehem
Your likes / comments / shares help us spread the word about First Pres!
CALENDAR

THIS SUNDAY
  • 9:00 a.m.: Hearts N Minds adult education class (see more information above – may or not meet, depending on whether outdoor service is held)
  • 10:15 a.m.: Sunday School for K-5, via Zoom (see more information above)
  • 11:00 a.m.: Traditional Worship Service - see instructions in blue box, below, to join us online, and in the yellow box to join us via phone 
FOR THIS SUNDAY: : Combined Worship “Live” on Facebook at 11 a.m.
To watch “live”- as it happens:
  • Visit our Facebook page and look for the post with our live feed
  • If you don’t have a Facebook account, go to our website to view the service
  • Please check in with a comment so we know you’ve joined us!
  • NEW: Captions will now be available on our livestream, for those who would like to use that feature
To watch a video – available after the services have aired: Visit our website
IF YOU DO NOT HAVE INTERNET ACCESS – OR PREFER TO “LISTEN IN” ON SUNDAY ON YOUR PHONE.

We will offer the COMBINED WORSHIP SERVICE (at 11 a.m. on Sunday) with an ‘audio-only’ option so you can listen to it on your phone. 

Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 955 325 387 followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again.
TUESDAYS (NOVEMBER 24 – DECEMBER 1)
  • 6:00-6:25 p.m.: Evening Prayer Service, east side of church building (no sign up; bring your own chairs and wear masks) In-person only; not livestreamed

WEDNESDAY
  • 7 p.m.: Thanksgiving Eve Service, via Zoom (see information above)
  • 7 p.m.: Overcomer’s Outreach Christian 12 Step Recovery Group weekly meeting, via Zoom (Meeting # 380 435 9056 / Password: overcomer)

ALL OTHER PUBLIC EVENTS AND GATHERINGS ARE CANCELLED AT THIS TIME unless offered online (see listings on our Facebook page under “Events”)

CHURCH OFFICE AND BUILDING INFO: The office staff is working remotely and checking email and voicemail daily. The answering service (610-778-7003) can take your urgent pastoral concerns, 24 hours a day. NOTE: The office staff will not be working on Thursday, November 26 because of the Thanksgiving holiday.
 
CARE CONCERNS AND HOSPITAL VISITS: If members of the FPCB congregation are hospitalized and would welcome pastoral and hospital ministrant visitors and/or prayers, please contact: Phil Fair, Prayer Ministrant (prayer@fpc-bethlehem.org).
FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF BETHLEHEM
First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, 2344 Center Street, Bethlehem, PA 18017 610-867-5865 | info@fpc-bethlehem.org

The Rev. J.C. Austin, Pastor/Head of Staff: ext. 213, JAustin@fpc-bethlehem.org

The Rev. Sue Bennetch, Pastoral Associate: ext. 209; SBennetch@fpc-bethlehem.org

David Macbeth, Music Director: ext. 202; DMacbeth@fpc-bethlehem.org

Cristy Mette, Administrative Operations Manager: ext. 228;

Rebecca Angione, Facilities Manager: ext. 210; RAngione@fpc-bethlehem.org

Marianne Zarillo, Business Manager: email: MZarillo@fpc-bethlehem.org

Cindy Matthews, Bookkeeper: email: CMatthews@fpc-bethlehem.org

Carol Burns, Communications Manager; ext. 248; CBurns@fpc-bethlehem.org

Andrea Barbehenn, Preschool Director; phone: 610-867-2956;

Website:  www.fpc-bethlehem.org