Are You All In?

One of my early heroes, Senator Bob Dole of Kansas, was honored with the Congressional Gold Medal by the US Congress on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.  A lawyer and politician from a small town in western Kansas, Dole represented Kansas in Congress from 1961 to 1966.  He served as the Republican Leader of the US Senate from 1985 until 1996.  He previously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton in 1997.  The Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom are the highest civilian awards in the United States. 
 
As a junior in college, I chaired a committee in my social fraternity called the Beta Forum Committee.  I was responsible for inviting distinguished guests to the fraternity house to engage the brothers in conversations of special interest.  I invited Senator Dole to be one of our speakers.  I remember reaching out to shake his hand, only to discover that his right hand was paralyzed from a life-threatening injury that he sustained on the front lines in Italy in World War II.  Although I can’t remember the specifics of our discussion that evening, I do remember that he said nothing about his war injury or his struggle with a disability.  I do remember taking note that his disability did not define who he was.  I was thus not surprised when he later became a co-sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act that was enacted in 1990.   As person after person spoke in his honor on Wednesday, I was once again struck by how his leadership was marked by a willingness to achieve legislative goals that required bi-partisanship and a willingness to engage the tough issues with civil discourse.  Along with so many others, I admire Senator Dole for his character, integrity, honesty, and respect for all persons.
 
Yes, character, integrity, honesty, and respect for all persons.  Although there is debate about what words were used in the recent White House discussion of immigration reform, I feel compelled to re-state North Avenue’s deep Christian belief in the love of God in Jesus Christ that shines on every single person, each of whom is created in the image of God.  “For God so love the WORLD that he gave his only son....” (John 3:16). Words that disparage any people group are deeply felt within our own community—members of North Avenue represent nationalities from around the world (including the countries specifically mentioned in that White House discussion). These beloved brothers and sisters enrich our lives, our church family, and our country every single day.  Even in this divisive political climate, may this church continue to be a place of love, welcome, kindness, character, integrity, honesty, and respect for all persons. I draw your attention to a letter from the Office of the General Assembly of the PC(USA) to the church’s mission partners in Africa.
 
We are blessed to have among us leaders who embody the values such as the ones exhibited by Senator Dole.  For the first time ever, we will observe the Ordination and Installation of our newest class of deacons and elders in each of the three worship services.  We have officers who normally attend each of the services, so they will be ordained and installed in the service they normally attend.  This is an important occasion of praying over those whom God has raised up in our midst to share in guiding the direction of our congregation. 
 
Also this Sunday, I encourage you to consider attending an important Parenting Conversation on how to speak with our children about sex in this challenging time in our cultural history.  The conversation will be co-led by long-time NAPC member and elder, Bill McClatchey, MD, and his daughter, Christy Gituku, also a NAPC member and a respected therapist in the Atlanta area.  Anyone and everyone is invited to attend. 
 
See you Sunday!

Scott

Grow Deep

Last Sunday in all three worship services, we invited each family to pick up a small green heart that contains a variety of tiny seeds.  Along with the heart of seeds is a green note card with instructions for planting these seeds at home.  As we continue with the new year sermon series Rooted: Grow Deep, Live Strong, we want you to watch the seeds grow as you plant them in rich soil, water them, and place them in sunlight.  Each day, we are asking you to consider the seeds of grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love that God has planted in our hearts, as we place our faith in Jesus.  May we tend to the nurture of these spiritual seeds in our souls by daily drinking deeply from the living waters of God’s grace in Christ, by sitting quietly in the nourishing power of God’s Word, and by allowing these spiritual seeds to bear the fruit of God’s coming kingdom in and through our lives.  No one can nurture our souls for us; we must carefully nurture our own souls, even as we acknowledge that all good gifts come ultimately from God.  Our responsibility is to receive and to believe. 
 
This new year brings much anticipation of God’s abundant blessings in and through our congregation, by God’s grace.   We will complete the SHINE Building Project, move back into our renovated ministry spaces, and engage a brand-new day of ministry and mission from the corner of North Avenue and Peachtree Street.  The church leadership has adopted a new strategic plan that calls for our congregation to SHINE more brightly than ever before with the Good News of God’s love, grace, mercy, and justice in Jesus Christ.  The world around us is all too often spiritually broken and is crying out for hope, love, community, and reconciliation.  We have the answer to these deepest needs of the human condition, and it all begins and ends in Jesus Christ, the Light of the World. 
 
May this new year be filled with the light of Jesus Christ in your life, within your closest circle of relationships, throughout our congregation, and out into the community around us!
 
With much anticipation, 

Scott


P.S.  If you haven't planted your green heart of seeds yet, remember that it’s never too late to plant your seeds!  It’s never too late to receive the seeds of God’s grace in your own hearts and to nurture them by daily believing in the promises of God!

Rooted: Grow Deep. Live Strong.

Oh, my, it is sooooo cold!  I hope and trust that you are finding a way to stay warm!   I’ve never heard of what some meteorologists are calling this most recent blast of cold and snow that is hitting the east coast of the US—a “bomb cyclone.”  The term refers to the storm’s sharp drop in atmospheric pressure and accompanying blizzard conditions.  Despite the current temperatures, I’m pleased to inform you that the forecast for Sunday is a warming trend that will take the temperature all the way to 40° F! 
 
In anticipation of this Sunday’s return to our normal worship schedule of 9 a.m., 11 a.m., and 5:45 p.m., I’m excited to announce a new sermon series called Rooted: Grow Deep, Live Strong.  The series will focus on the call of Jesus to grow deeply rooted in our relationship with the living God, so that we can face every challenge of life with spiritual depth and strength.  While God is always the One who gives the seed to the sower and the resources to nurture the growth of the seed, followers of Jesus are responsible for putting themselves in a posture to receive the seed and nurture its growth. 
 
As we begin a new calendar year together at North Avenue Presbyterian Church, let me invite you—who are able—to join us for worship services each Sunday and allow the seed of God’s Word to penetrate our hearts. May the Holy Spirit nurture each seed by the refreshing waters of God’s grace, mercy, and love.  At the conclusion of the worship services this Sunday, each family will be invited to take a heart-shaped packet of seeds to plant at home.  Then as the sermon series continues, take time to nurture these seeds so that they can grow into something truly beautiful. As we care for these tender seeds, let us also care for and nurture our own souls.  Together, by God’s grace, we will be firmly Rooted in spiritual depth and strength for the glory of God!
 
With joy,

Scott

Merry Christmas!

Join us for worship on Sunday, December 24 at 11 a.m. for the Fourth Sunday of Advent or at any of our Christmas Eve services: 3 and 5 p.m. Family Worship, 7 p.m. Acoustic Worship, or 11 p.m. Candlelight Communion Worship. All Christmas Eve services conclude with the lighting of candles.

As 2017 comes to a close, we ask you to remember NAPC in your year-end giving. You can give at any time at www.napc.org/give. See more information about ways to give and year-end FAQ here. Thank you!

Third Sunday in Advent

Dear North Avenue Family & Friends,

On Sunday, we will be offering identical services of Lessons and Carols, with choirs and orchestra, at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. in the Broyles Ministry Center Auditorium. The prelude at each service will begin a few minutes before the hour, and we expect that the services will last a few minutes more than a typical worship service.  Since we anticipate a large attendance at each service, we encourage you to arrive early to make sure that you find a place to sit. These services are beautifully planned and will be a true inspiration as we hear again the message of the Good News of God’s love in Jesus Christ through nine lessons of Scripture, glorious music, prayers, liturgy, and our fellowship with one another. This is a wonderful service for you to invite a neighbor or friend to join us in our worship. Please note that there will be no 5:45 p.m. service this Sunday. 
 
On Christmas Eve, you will notice below that we will offer five services of worship that day, beginning with 11 a.m. worship (Fourth Sunday of Advent), followed by two family friendly Christmas Eve services at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., and concluding with 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. candlelight Christmas Eve communion services. 
 
Finally, I ask you very sincerely to prayerfully consider giving a year-end financial gift to help the church end the year in the black. If we all could fulfill our annual pledges and then give an additional gift, as we are able, North Avenue can fulfill all of the financial commitments we have made to one another and to our mission partners around the city and around the world. This is not a responsibility for someone else; rather, it is a joyful opportunity for every member to give according to our means, so that all can benefit from North Avenue’s dynamic ministry and mission to the glory of Jesus Christ! 
 
With eager anticipation,

Scott Weimer

Second Sunday in Advent

I want you to know that this Sunday’s 5:45 p.m. worship service is a special service we are calling, “A Broken-Hearted Christmas.” This is the second year we have presented this service that includes special scriptures, prayers, a homily, and Holy Communion. The intention behind this service is to create space in the midst of worship for North Avenue members and friends to express loss, sadness, and grief that are often accentuated at this time of year—a time that yields much joy for so many of us, but brings sorrow for others. The service will be quiet and reflective. Opportunities will be available to pray quietly by yourself, along with an invitation to allow one or two trusted staff and church members to pray specifically over you. The entire service will point to the hope that God gives us in Jesus Christ—hope that heals us and enables us to persevere in the strength of the Holy Spirit.  Keep in mind the words of Jesus, when he said, “In this world you will have tribulation; but, be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” 
 
Notice also the Christmas Communion Service on Tuesday morning, December 12 at 11 a.m. in the Broyles Ministry Center Auditorium.  All are invited. 
 
Then on Sunday, December 17, we will offer two identical services of Lessons and Carols at 9 a.m. and at 11 a.m., featuring the Chancel Choir, guest musicians, and both children’s choirs.  Each service will begin with a prelude, a few minutes before the hour.  A fellowship hour with refreshments will be held between services in the Gym. In order to allow an unhurried morning of worship and fellowship, there will be no Sunday School classes for any age during the discipleship hour, although childcare for young children will be available in the children’s area, The Lil Sphere.
 
Finally, please know that the church is very much in need of a strong December of financial giving in order to end the year in the black—and in order to fulfill the commitments to ministry and mission envisioned at the beginning of last January. Thank you in advance for your generous support.
 
With anticipation and joy,

Scott Weimer

First Sunday in Advent

As we head into this coming weekend, I want to remind you of the memorial service for Elder Cynthia Holt on Saturday, December 2 at 11:30 a.m. in the Broyles Ministry Center Auditorium. Cindy was much beloved by her family and friends, and by our church family. She was a respected elder, who reflected the love of God in her every encounter with the people who were fortunate enough to cross her path. She will be greatly missed, even as she will always be close to our hearts in loving memory.

On Sunday, we will observe the First Sunday of Advent in the 9 a.m. and 11a.m. worship services. When you arrive, you will see that the Broyles Auditorium is beautifully decorated for the seasons of Advent and Christmas. Special thanks to all of the staff and volunteers who worked hard this past week to help create such a lovely setting for all of the worship services in the weeks to come.

On Sunday evening, please note that there will not be a 5:45 p.m. worship service. Instead, the entire church family is invited a festive time of an Advent Children’s Musical at 4 p.m. in the Broyles Auditorium, followed by the annual Advent Festival and dinner in the Gym. All are welcome!

With hope, peace, love, and joy,

Scott Weimer, Senior Pastor