The Session has voted to resume in-person worship beginning Sunday morning, January 24, 2021 at 11:00AM. The following guidelines must be observed for those attending:
In the midst of the present turmoil and anxious state of mind the world population is living, there is a reassuring word for the people of God. A word God's people can rest upon and grab hold of because of Who it is speaking about. Leaders fail, governments fail, monetary security is fleeting; God remains faithful and immovable. Because He is Who He is, He is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
God the Refuge of His People.
For the choir director. A Psalm of the sons of Korah, set to Alamoth. A Song.
1 God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
3 Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered;
He raised His voice, the earth melted.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has wrought desolations in the earth.
9 He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.
ANNUAL CONGREGATIONAL MEETING:
January 31, 1:30pm (via Zoom)
A PDF copy of the report will be emailed on 1/27, along with a link to join the Zoom Annual Congregational Meeting. Should not be required to log in. Just follow directions in email to join Zoom meeting.
I take this moment to briefly address the present landscape of our country and the events that took everyone by surprise on the afternoon of January 6, 2021. Yes, our country is in a precarious state – one which God alone can fix.
The event witnessed on the U. S. Capitol building looked like a scene from a Hollywood film; people storming through barricades, guards pushing back or being overtaken, people running for cover, government officials being taken to safe locations. Apart from it being torched by the British in 1814, and a shooting in 1954, the Capitol has never been breached to the extent seen yesterday.
For most of 2020 a wave of violence swept across the country, finally making its way to the place where the laws of our land are approved and legislated. Our country is divided, killings are no longer appalling, justice is broken, inordinate and perverse lifestyles are glamorized, and the loss of respect for people are the call of the day. Our country’s crisis is not an institutional or governmental one – it is a heart-centered one. Genesis 6.5 states that, “the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” When addressing the matter of eating with impure hands, Jesus explained to his disciples, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated? That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man,” (Mark 7.17-23). A true end to violence, hatred, and the beginning of real change, healing, peace, and unity in our country can only occur when a humbled and repented heart is before the presence of God! Our nation, our world will never change unless men and women are changed, first and foremost, by the Triune God! All else is superficial and ineffective.
As the Church, this is our message to neighbors, the community, city, state, and country. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek,” said the apostle Paul (Romans 1.16). We do not back down from that statement. In addition, we are called “that entreaties and prayers, petitions, and thanksgiving, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires that all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” (1 Timothy 2.1-4). Finally, the Christian – the Church – is called to be both salt and light – salt of the earth – light of the world – now and always. “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven,” (Matthew 5.13-16).
If you are able please join me on Friday evening, January 8, 2021, at 7:30 pm for a time of prayer before the presence of God: prayer for our country, our Church, our walk with God. The same will be conducted via Zoom; an invite will be email to you that afternoon.
In closing, may we be ever mindful that only a turn to God will turn things around in the United States. That applies to every nation that has ever existed in the past, in the present, and in the future.
God’s peace be with you.
Pastor Tony Rivera
A pastor's New Year wish for his congregation:
"I wish, my brothers and sisters, that during this year you may live nearer to
Christ than you have ever done before. Depend upon it, it is when we think
much of Christ that we think little of ourselves, little of our troubles, and
little of the doubts and fears that surround us. Begin from this day, and may
God help you. Never let a single day pass over your head without a visit to
the garden of Gethsemane, and the cross on Calvary."
C. H. SPURGEON
May you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord in 2021.
We stand before a new year – 2021! On January 1, millions of individuals around the world will have started the new year with resolutions which they will walk away from in a matter of days. The difficulty of holding on to these self-made promises can exasperate an individual resulting in a life of regrets; long hours sitting in front of the television; reading “success” stories on Facebook; watching endless hours of YouTube videos; always being a follower on Twitter, but never leading a fulfilled life. What a waste indeed! Consider the following: each new year offers 365 days; each day has 24 hours; each hour has 60 minutes; each minute has 60 seconds. Thus, an individual has 8,760 hours; 525,600 minutes, and 31,536,000 seconds in their hands to work with!
In the eighteenth century, Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) compiled a list of 70 resolutions that he kept throughout his lifetime. He knew that in his own strength he would not be able to keep them; as such he prefaced his resolutions with these words: “Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ's sake,”; Edwards depended on God’s strength. Of his list, the following are worth mentioning:
“1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad's of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.
2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the aforementioned things.
3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.
4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.
5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.
6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.
17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
18. Resolved, to live so at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world.
19. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.
22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power; might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.
28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.”
These are but a few of Edwards’ resolve to live to the glory of God.
I am looking forward to a year of resolve to seek God, to know God, to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3.18). Throughout 2021 may we devote time to seeking God in prayer, studying the Scriptures, building up one another in the faith (Ephesians 4.11-16), and sharing the message of the gospel with the community of Edgewood. May we be “careful how [we] walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most the most of [our] time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5.15-17). Lord, “teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90.12).
God’s grace and peace be with you in the New Year.
Christmas Eve 2020
We are told that the night in which Jesus was born, shepherds were out in the fields keeping watch over their flock. It was a duty not highly viewed by many during that time for it was, indeed, a smelly and dirty job. To add insult to injury, it did not pay much; no one could ever dream of becoming wealthy by caring for sheep. Yet, it was to these men that an angel of the Lord appeared with an announcement directly from the throne of God; “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2.10-11; italics added). It was a specific announcement for a specific people; and the shepherds were the privileged ones to hear it first! For centuries, the people of Israel had been at odds with God, the One who took them out of Egypt, called them His people, and cared for them. In return, they despised Him, rebelled against Him, cursed Him, and defied Him in ways too numerous to name, to the extent of killing the prophets who proclaimed a word from God. Consequently, they were always under political oppression from neighboring countries, always wondering why they were suffering hardships; they ended up as exiles for 70 years. What Israel refused to see was that their ways had caused a rift between them and God; and God was calling them to “get their act” together. For four hundred years, between the closing of the Old Testament and the opening of the New Testament, God was silent. But now, the silence is broken! God speaks! A Savior is born! For the shepherds, for Israel, for all people!
This is what Christmas is all about; God sending His Son in the form of a baby to be Savior of all humanity which has been at odds with Him for centuries. Yet, in His compassion and mercy, He provides a way to make us right with Him – through Jesus the Christ. While the humanity, presently, searches for quick remedies to its numerous problems, the Light of the world shines in the Person of the baby born in Bethlehem two thousand years ago (John 8.12). As we celebrate His birth, let us remember that the good news of great joy is for us – a Savior has been born, Christ the Lord!
God’s peace be with you.
Pastor Tony Rivera
Dear honorable members of First Presbyterian Church of Edgewood,
God’s grace and peace be with you.
The congregation gathers annually for a congregational meeting to present and discuss the church’s operating budget for the following year.
This note serves as the official call and invitation to the congregational meeting to be held the evening of December 22, 2020 starting at 7:00 pm. The same will be held via Zoom, due to the COVID 19 national pandemic. An announcement was made Sunday, December 13, 2020 from the pulpit, and another one will be made December 20, 2020 informing you of the meeting, per the FPCE’s bylaws and the PCUSA’s Book of Order.
Instructions on how to log into the Zoom meeting will be sent Monday, December 21, 2020, prior to the meeting itself. Should you have any questions, please contact the office during normal business hours (M-F, 9 am – 2 pm).
May the grace and peace of God surround you and embrace you and your family this Christmas season.
As was announced last week, our sister Kathy Clevenger lost her battle with cancer and went to be with our Lord on December 5. This week, husband Scott Leatherbery put together a beautiful tribute. We met at the church to record his remarks, Sunny and Shaun provided music, and an edited video including many photos from the life of this incredibly resilient woman is now available as an unlisted link on the church YouTube channel. Please take a few moments to watch and remember Kathy.