Word from the Pastor:
Word to the Wise
A scoffer who is rebuked will only hate you; the wise, when rebuked, will love you. Give instruction to the wise, and they will become wiser still; teach the righteous and they will gain in learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
I’m quite sure that many of us have tired of the stream of “information” about the world’s problems that inundates us daily. Whereas I might have been looking for cute pictures of a nephew or niece, a quick scroll through Facebook now brings me all sorts of tidbits of life advice, opinion, and “facts” parading about as if they were something more than the imaginings of fevered brains on TikTok. In one video, I recently “learned” that the COVID vaccine, as a result of the body’s inflammatory response attacking mRNA, would eventually lead to swelling in the brain, and in some cases, even death.
Of course, the person on TikTok pontificating on all this lacked a medical degree or advanced course of study in molecular biology or any number of other disciplines that might shed light on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. Put simply, the social media phenom starseedteacher, who had managed to garner nearly 57,000 TikTok followers and hundreds of thousands of likes and millions of views, just googled it, I suppose. I mean, Justin Bieber has liked her page and posts, so that must make it real, right?
No. No it doesn’t. As one teacher once shared with our class, “You can’t have all the gifts.” No one gets to decide medical facts based on whether you can assemble an assortment of data points on Google to support a position you’re inclined towards for other reasons. You can’t be a pastor and an epidemiologist working for NIH at the same time (well, that’s true for most of us mere mortals), just as you can’t be simultaneously a doctor in the ER treating major illnesses and a history teacher in the local school system. Human society, at a minimum, requires a tacit agreement that each member will contribute their insights and abilities to make the whole stronger, and the society must be willing to accept those insights. In short, societies must be built on minimum levels of trust.
All this is part of a larger trend within our society, I think. I am increasingly convinced that we live in a society that fundamentally lacks trust. We no longer accept the concept of authority, specialized insights resulting from education, and certainly not wisdom. To make matters worse, this wayward tendency has us pit wisdom against itself. Many insist that faith is necessarily opposed to reason: you can’t trust God and place any trust in your fallible neighbor. As a result, our larger society has become one of scoffers and opinion hucksters who turn from wisdom for the sake of affirmation, popularity, fame, and profile. Our viewership numbers or followers or likes are the measure of truth, and this is just as true of larger church culture as it is of society in general.
What then are we to do? I would suggest that the first thing we not do is join the fray. Having open ears and hearts goes a long way to solving some of our problems. In fact, wisdom itself, expressed in the lordship of Jesus, has us realize that we are but parts of the whole, members of a body that were meant to cooperate with God’s self-giving, life-affirming love. To that end, while I would say we must always trust in the Lord, we must also acknowledge God’s generosity in putting us together with a lot of other folks who are talented and have insights and gifts to share. As Christians, we are wise when we desire instruction, rebuke, and righteousness. Followers of Jesus need not be so fragile when our sacred oxen are gored. Most of the time, those things were idols to begin with.
I also suggest that we all calm down. As the Heidelberg Catechism puts it, our greatest comfort in life and in death is that we are not our own, but belong body and soul, in life and in death, to our faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. If he is our ground, our foundation of trust and hope, he can never fail. In him, we have adequate ground to hear our neighbor out, even disagree, but also learn. In short, in his presence, we learn deep calm.
14th Sunday after Pentecost
Last Sunday’s Attendance
9:00: In person: 95;
Livestream: 34; Playback: 83
11:00: In person: 53;
Livestream: 14; Playback: 41
All worship services are also livestreamed.
Sunday, August 29
Tuesday, August 31
Boy Scout Troop 3
Wednesday, September 1
Praise Band Practice
Sanctuary Choir Practice
Thursday, September 2
Men’s Bible Study
New Security Measures
for Children’s Ministries
Children’s Ministries is adopting a new, simple system for signing children in and out. When parents sign a child in each Sunday, they will be given a ticket with the child’s assigned number for the week. Parents must present this ticket when they collect their child after services or Sunday School.
No Wednesday Night Programming before Sept. 8
In response to the rapid spread of COVID-19 in our area, we have suspended Wednesday night fellowship dinners, adult Bible study, and activities for children and teens, until at least September 8. The Sanctuary Choir and the Praise Band will continue to practice as usual.
When our fellowship dinners resume, we will need drivers to deliver meals on Wednesday evenings to those in our congregation who cannot come to the church. Anyone interested in helping in this way can email Justin Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Out through Juvenile Jail Ministry
We are reaching out to FPC folks who might be interested in doing evangelism and outreach at Highlands Juvenile Detention Center (HJDC), a prison in Bristol for young men and women ages 12 to 17. This is a wonderful opportunity to influence the life of a young person with the transforming love and power of Jesus Christ and make the difference between a fruitful and productive life for the Lord or a life of repeated incarceration.
Before the pandemic, several members of FPC and other churches led a Bible study at HJDC from 12:40 to 1:30 p.m. every Sunday on a six-week rotation. Ideally, we would like each week’s team to have two men and one woman to help lead studies on their assigned Sunday. We need enough volunteers to create a viable, six-week rotational schedule. If you are being called by the Lord to participate in this exciting ministry opportunity, please contact Pastor Sam or Elder Han Ong.
How to Join Us Online
Subscribe to our YouTube
channel to watch the livestream of our early worship service and other activities. Just click here
and hit “Subscribe.” You will receive notifications of new videos. To connect to us on Facebook
, type in “FPC Bristol,” and several accounts will show up. “Like” the page, or ask to join a group.
During the pandemic, we encourage you to use text, mail, or our website for your continued, faithful support of our ministries. You can give online by going to fpcbristol.org and clicking on “Give” in the upper right corner. You can send your pledge, offering, or special gift by texting fpcbristol to 73256. You can also mail your checks directly to the church.
Home Groups Start Sept. 6
We are inviting individuals and families to form Home Groups for fellowship and Bible discussion. On September 6 we will begin a 12-week Home Group study of the parables of Jesus, and we pray that you will commit to it. The parables study will be available on the church website and in the Home Groups Facebook group. Home Groups are open to all, and they can meet at any time and in any place. If you want to join, lead, host, or register a Home Group, please sign up here. Join the Home Groups Facebook group for resources and sharing.
Mowing inside the Lines
Invisible lines separate calendric months, but lived months run together. Having long since mastered his motor skills, Fred Harkleroad (August 25–28) rides close to the next invisible line as he mows the lawn for the final Sunday of August. Roger Sikorski (September 1–4) takes off from the line itself as he makes a run for the first Sunday in September. That is the day, so the PCUSA planning calendar tells us, when the Season of Peace begins. But peace is like beauty: unless we are children, we must labor for it. Therefore, accompanying the Season of Peace are World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation on September 1 and Labor Day on September 6.
Gifts to the Church
Memorials and honoraria are published in the newsletter only after the family has been personally notified by our business office. Today we gratefully acknowledge the following gifts in memory of:
David Akard Jr.: to the Local Missions Fund from Michael & Linda Browder
Bonnie Haskins: to the Memorial Fund from John & Karen Vann
Bill Wade: to the Church Library Fund from Mr. & Mrs. Michael Boatright; to the Minister’s Discretionary Fund from George Huber & Frances Emerson
Marilyn Mason (1925–2019) was an American concert organist, recording artist, and the longest-serving faculty member at the University of Michigan, retiring after 67 years. She was a model of selflessness, giving of her financial resources and time, and imparting knowledge to generations of organists and composers. I once had the privilege of playing for Dr. Mason in an organ masterclass. And when I was fortunate enough to win first prize in a composition contest (for Danza del Espiritu Santo), along with the check for $1,000 came the information that “funding for the first prize award was generously donated by Dr. Marilyn Mason, in support of new organ music.” The dedication to Larry Visser’s composition, Canonic Variations on SLANE, reads, “For Dr. Marilyn Mason, whose extraordinary career, endless energy, and passionate spirit continue to brighten the vision of all who know, respect, and admire her.” Visser’s composition appears in The Marilyn Mason Music Library: Volume 5, published in 2010. Each volume contains a collection of new works for organ, all of which Dr. Mason personally commissioned.
Larry Visser (b. 1962) is a very talented composer of organ and choral music who specializes in composing works based on hymn tunes. He has degrees from Calvin College and the University of Michigan. He is organist at LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids Michigan. This quote from him resonates with me completely: “Spending much of my time in a beautiful sanctuary playing an equally awe-inspiring pipe organ, I am often reminded that my life, too, is a sanctuary, a vacant space desiring to be filled with the power of the Spirit and overflowing with gratitude for the ways God uses my musical gifts—not for personal gain, but for his glory—to minister to all those who seek to meet God in worship.”
I have worked out a way to include all seven of the short variations in Visser’s Canonic Variations on SLANE without adding to the service time. The term canonic means the theme is repeated one or two measures apart, like a slow echo. SLANE is the name of the Irish tune associated with the hymn, “Be Thou My Vision.” We will sing this hymn near the end of Sunday’s service.
Ron Grubbs Memorial Service
On Saturday, August 28, at 2:30 p.m., we will gather at the church with the family to remember our beloved brother in Christ, Ron Grubbs, and to dwell on the good promises and hope we have in Jesus Christ. Following the service, we will gather in the Fellowship Hall for a time of fellowship.
In Our Prayers
Please also include in your prayers the members of our community who wish to remain anonymous.
Bill & Betty Bingham
Bristol Tennessee City Schools
Bud & Marg Branscomb
Edivânia (Cidade Nova)
Garrett Foster & family
John Graham Sr.
Emma & Gina Grubbs
Davan & Kristi Johnson
Kaduna State, Nigeria
Jim & Joan Keith
Marty & Kara Keys
Morgan & Josh King & family
National & international leadership
Palestine & Israel
Jessie Pennington & family
Cora Lee Raccioppo
Teachers & school administrators
Birth in the Burt Family
We rejoice with Jackie Burt and her family in the birth of her granddaughter, Elianah Jacquelyn Burt, August 21. Elianah’s parents are Christina and Rees Burt.
Birthday Prayer Fellowship
Mary Ellis Rice
Torey Bates Samuel
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701 Florida Avenue | Bristol, TN 37620 | 423-764-7176 | fpcbristol.org