Week of Jan. 10, 2021
Truth and the Duty of Citizenship for Christians
I was born and came into the world for this reason: to testify to the truth. – John 18:37

Our society is in need of truth. This is a responsibility of every Christian. The events at our nation’s Capitol this past Wednesday drive home the significance of citizenship for all. From the earliest days of Christianity, responsible citizenship that bears witness to truth has been a hallmark of Jesus’ followers. This hallmark of truth has provided a meaningful contribution from Christianity to every society and it is required of each of us today.

Lake County is a long way from the U.S. Capitol. But an otherwise educated man and leader in business who lives a short drive from our church was arrested for his participation in the riotous attack on our nation’s deliberative body. This arrest suggests to me that our own community is afflicted by misguided and destructive impulses.

I have listened to many members of our church express a sense of personal assault as the violence was wrought on our Capitol building this week. I found myself remembering words of Jesus’ lament over his capital, Jerusalem. “See, your house is left to you, desolate.” (Matthew 23:38). In that scene of lament, as Luke records it, Jesus was approached and encouraged not to threaten Herod, but Jesus sent word to him, saying, “Look, I’m throwing out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will complete my work.” (Luke 13:32)

This is the context of events that placed Jesus before Pontius Pilate, governor of the Roman Empire, when Jesus stated his duty of testifying to truth. The Apostle Paul followed in the footsteps of his Savior both in front of leadership in Jerusalem and before the Roman Empire. In one scene, “the Lord stood near Paul and said, ‘Be encouraged! Just as you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so too you must testify in Rome.’” (Acts 23:11) Testimony to truth is a responsibility of any disciple of Jesus Christ. Paul shared his truth and claimed it in the context of his citizenship in the Roman Empire when a centurion commander, “went to Paul and demanded, ‘Tell me! Are you a Roman citizen?’ He said, ‘Yes.’” (Acts 22:27)

Each of us, as citizens of the United States of America, have been offered a unique gift of self-governance. The constitution of our nation offers us the spiritual privilege of religious freedom. As Christians in this nation, we are not only called upon to speak truth, but also to sustain the constitution so that we may continue to bless our land with the benefits of our spiritual work. It is clear that as followers of Jesus, part of our work is to heal and confront the corrosion of falsehood.

I was struck by the witness of John Kelly in a television interview on Thursday. General Kelly had a distinguished career in the Marines and answered the call and was confirmed to serve in the Presidential Cabinet and as Chief of Staff for President Trump. In the interview, he said, “The behavior yesterday and in the weeks and months before … has just been outrageous from the President. What happened on Capitol Hill yesterday is a direct result of his poisoning the minds of people with the lies and the frauds …." It is possible for people of various political stripes to quote their own preferred expert on recent events. But the phrase that leapt out at me from the testimony of this man who has been a firsthand observer of events in recent years was his reference to “poisoning the minds of people with the lies and the frauds.”

As followers of Jesus Christ, I believe this moment in history is asking each of us in our own lives to take extra care when bearing witness. There are otherwise well-intentioned people who have fallen prey to a poison of falsehood in our society. Familiar political banners of 2020 were carried into the capital alongside individuals who wore clothing that celebrated the Auschwitz concentration camp or proclaimed similar heinous wishes for tomorrow. This is truly a poison which requires sincere and sacrificial truth in love for every community including our own. We are charged in the Ten Commandments not to bear false witness. Our witness as Christians must always be truth in love.

This Sunday is the annual congregational moment for the renewal of our baptismal covenant. We do need a cleansing. It is Baptism of the Lord Sunday. Bearing truth is not for the faint of heart. We know ourselves. Each of us is flawed and we all bring shadows of our own personal journeys. But a Christian is always brought back to the light of life that we discover in Jesus. That life is our testimony. It shapes our character and becomes a contribution we can offer as citizens. Let us pray for our nation and its leaders. Likewise let us look in the mirror with sincerity of heart and pray for our neighbors. Hope persists.

Friends, never forget. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it.” (John 1:5) 

-Pastor Brian Paulson
Worship on Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021
Join us on Sunday at 10 a.m. for online worship. The Rev. Dr. Brian R. Paulson is preaching. The video will premiere on YouTube. You may also access the link on our website. Please sign the Fellowship Pad so we know you've join us in worship!
Sunday Fellowship
We miss seeing you in the Social Hall after worship on Sunday, but we do have an online alternative. Join us at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 10 for 30 Good Minutes of fellowship, prayer and conversation.
Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi
This is a six-week Bible study for adults focused on the parables of Jesus.
In addition to group discussion, there will be a teaching video each week led by renowned biblical scholar, Dr. Amy Jill Levine. Dr. Levine interweaves history and spiritual analysis to explore Jesus' most popular teaching parables, exposing their misinterpretations and making them lively and relevant for modern readers.

Groups will begin the week of January 11, and we will attempt to form groups at different days/times throughout the week based on participants' preferences.
New Breakfast & Bible Study Begins on Wednesday, Jan. 13
Join Rev. Amy Heinrich for a new Wednesday Breakfast and Bible study as we “walk” towards Lent, beginning on Jan 13 and ending on Ash Wednesday, February 17. We will be discussing “The Walk: Five Essential Practices of the Christian Life,” by Adam Hamilton.

Grab your breakfast and join us at 7:30–9:00 a.m, on Zoom. We will watch videos from Rev. Adam Hamilton and break into small groups to discuss how we walk with Christ— daily follow him, grow in him, and faithfully serve him. We will explore the five essential spiritual practices rooted in Jesus and his own walk with God. - Pastor Amy
Inquirers Class coming in February
Explore what Presbyterians believe, what is distinctive about our Reformed heritage, and why our church is governed the way it is. This is a wonderful way to get to know our staff better and gain a deeper understanding for our priorities and passions, our ministries and missions. If you are curious, this class is for you!

Our classes are designed for those who are seriously considering joining the church as active members, those who need a refresher course, and those who are searching and discovering God’s leading in their lives.

This four-week online class will begin on Tuesday, Feb. 16 (7-8 p.m.) and continue for four weeks, through Tuesday, March 9. Prospective new members would meet with Session on Monday, March 15 and new members would be presented to the congregation on Sunday, March 21.

Interested? Email Michelle Groenke for more information.
Be the Bridge 101
This is a 5-week guided small group discussion for adults to learn and grow together in our understanding of white identity and to prepare ourselves to engage in the work of racial reconciliation in our community. Small groups will begin the week of January 18 and meet weekly for 75 minutes.
Raising Anti-Racist Kids begins Saturday Jan. 16
This 3-part online series for parents will explore big questions about how to raise our kids with anti-racist values. Participants will receive resources to engage on their own (e.g. a podcast, a short article, or a YouTube video) and then we will have a live Zoom meeting that includes some teaching, some facilitated discussion, and some time to practice strategies for talking to our kids about race. No worries if you have to join late or jump in and out to attend to your kids' needs! We get it, we're parents.
New Book Study begins Sunday, Jan. 10 at 8:30 a.m.
The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism is both enlightening and compelling, telling a history we either ignore or just don't know. Equal parts painful and inspirational, it details how the American church has helped create and maintain racist ideas and practices. Jemar Tisby takes us to the root of injustice in the American church.

This study: 
  • Takes you on a historical, sociological, and religious journey: from America's early colonial days through slavery and the Civil War 
  • Covers the tragedy of Jim Crow laws, the victories of the Civil Rights era, and the strides of today's Black Lives Matter movement 
  • Reveals the cultural and institutional tables we have to flip in order to bring about progress between black and white people 
  • Charts a path forward to replace established patterns and systems of complicity with bold, courageous, immediate action 

This online study is being hosted by First Presbyterian Church of Deerfield. Email office@firstpresdf.org to get the Zoom link.
Sunday School: Faith at Home Together
Each week, we're providing a short, simple, interactive lesson that will help you engage your kids in meaningful conversations and activities that connect to our faith. The links are posted in our Facebook group and sent to families via email. Contact Mrs. Boyce to sign up.
Elementary School: Gather Round
Calling all Kindergartners - 2nd graders (or anyone who likes a good story). Mrs. Boyce will be reading bedtime stories on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. Sign up for the Children and Family Newsletter to receive the Zoom links.
Young Children: Family Tunes & Tales
Join us Thursdays at 9 a.m. for Tunes & Tales. This program is appropriate for young children between the ages of 3 and 5. Older children are welcome as well. Sign up for the Children & Family Newsletter to receive the Zoom links.
Junior High & Senior High Fellowship
Are you following our Advent posts on Instagram? If not, click the link below. Also, our Covenant Groups of JHF & SHF students are now meeting and we would love for you to join us! Email Rev. Kara Smith-Laubenstein for more information.
Your Giving Matters
A note from the Stewardship Committee: As the new year arrived many turned the calendar to 2021 with joyful hope of change. We make plans and then life happens. The undesired chaos that arrived in our nation’s capital a few days into the new year was not the change anticipated. It provoked an acute “knowing” of the importance of our relationship with God and the essential ballast our church provides during periods of fractious uncertainty. The treasures you share with First Presbyterian Church enables us to “Be the Bridge” in these unmoored times. Thank you. 
Help Needed at the Soup Kitchen
During this season of Advent, come shine God's love to those in need. Each month, First Presbyterian Church of Libertyville supports the Most Blessed Trinity Soup Kitchen in serving hot meals with a healthy helping of hope. Won't you join us?
 
The soup kitchen has adjusted how it operates and distributes meals to protect the safety of its volunteers and guests. It's operating much like a take-out restaurant where we prepare to-go meals and safely distribute through a walk-up window. We're looking for 5-7 volunteers for the January 14 service. Please let us know if you're able to serve.

Meal Prep  3:30 – 5:30 p.m. 
Take-Out Distribution  5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Clean-Up  6:30 - 7:00 p.m. 

Most Blessed Trinity Soup Kitchen 
914 8th Street
Waukegan, Illinois 60085
Volunteer Opportunity
Love INC, one of current mission partners in conjunction with Community Partners for Affordable Housing (CPAH) is starting a ministry supporting a re-entry program from the department of corrections.

They are looking for help delivering furniture within Lake County to furnish affordable housing units for these individuals ahead of their arrival. The work can be done either on weekdays or weekends. Love INC will provide the driver and the truck and the majority of the furniture. We would be making a commitment to help once a month. If you have an interest in learning more or volunteering please reach out to Dave Marsden at dgmarsden@gmail.com.
PADS Food Collection
PADS Lake County is collecting non-perishable food items that can be distributed to clients on a weekly basis. Please bring your donations to the First Pres sanctuary doors on Douglas Ave. on Tuesday afternoons between 3-5 p.m. We will have an outside drop off set up in front of the Narthex by the benches. Ideally, please email dgmarsden@gmail.com to let us know you are coming.

PADS Lake County is a community-based organization that provides trauma-informed support, resources, and shelter to individuals and families experiencing a housing crisis.
Examples of items that are needed include:
Peanut Butter
Easy Mac
Oatmeal Packets
Microwavable meals
Canned chicken/tuna
Chef Boyardee (pop top cans)
Soup (pop top cans)
Granola Bars
$5-$10 fast food gift cards
Update your Realm account

Realm is our church information management system and every adult member has their own log in and password. Log into your account using the email address we have on file for you to manage your online giving, update your contact information, and access information about groups. If you've forgotten your password or you're having issues getting access, please email office@boxp.net. Our administrative and program staff will be happy to help you!
How to contact us:
Phone: Call 847-362-2174 and leave a message. Your call will be returned between 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Please note that the office will close early on Thursday, Dec. 31 and will be closed Friday, Jan. 1.

Email: Office@boxp.net (emails go to a member of the administrative team and will be forwarded to the appropriate person).

Pastoral Emergencies: Please call 847-367-6460 and leave a message. A pastor will return your call as soon as they are able.