Year of the Bible: January 18-24

Still no more books, so here are the readings for this week:

January 18: Genesis 37, 38; Psalm 9

January 19: Genesis 39, 40; Matthew 14

January 20: Genesis 41, 42; Matthew 15

January 21: Genesis 43, 44; Psalm 10

January 22: Genesis 45, 46; Matthew 16

January 23: Genesis 47, 48; Matthew 17

January 24: Genesis 49, 50; Matthew 18

 

Year of the Bible: January 11-17

Our books haven’t come in yet, so here are the readings for this week.

January 11: Genesis 22, 23; Psalms 5, 6
January 12: Genesis 24, 25; Matthew 9
January 13: Genesis 26, 27; Matthew 10
January 14: Genesis 28, 29; Psalms 7, 8
January 15: Genesis 30, 31; Matthew 11
January 16: Genesis 32, 33; Matthew 12
January 17: Genesis 34-36; Matthew 13

Pastoral Message: January 6, 2021

Beloved people of God:

Today has been an extraordinary day. Some have called it “unprecedented;” I am not enough of a student of history to know whether that is so, but you and I have certainly never seen anything quite like it. Many of you have seen what I wrote as an individual and as a citizen on my personal Facebook page, but I feel compelled to write you now as your Pastor.

We watched violent men, intent on subverting our peaceful constitutional processes, storm the United States Capitol and disrupt Congress at its work. By late afternoon order within had been restored and by evening Congress is to be back at work. I have said over the last few years that I believe the institutions of our Republic are strong; I never envisioned they would face a violent assault such as this one, but I continue to believe in their strength. We will see a peaceful transition to the next Administration, even though mobs may continue to try to subvert our institutions by threatening Congress, attacking the news media, and repeating falsehoods and empty accusations.

I have also said that, in the long-term will of God, the fate of individual nations, including our own, is of little importance. I continue to believe that. Still, this is our home; this is where you and I live and work and love and play, and so it is important to us. As people of Jesus, our calling is to respond as Jesus does. That is not my instinct; my instinctive reaction is to fight back, to hope for terrible things to happen to these White nationalists, but if I am going to be loyal to Jesus, I need to seek His way.

Today is Epiphany, that wonderful day that celebrates that God is shown to the world in Jesus. Those of us committed to that truth would do well to ponder how we can best honor Jesus in our response to today’s violence. I don’t know what that is, but I remember that when the mob came for Jesus, he surrendered to it and allowed himself to be crucified, confident in the Resurrection God had promised.

I certainly hope that the people of the United States have today learned that words matter. The things that the President has said for years and especially since November 3 have an effect; the mob that attacked Congress today believed it was doing the right thing, that it was acting to preserve freedom. They had been led to that thinking by a man they believed in. I hope that you will scrutinize carefully the words you hear, whether from a political leader, from me, or from anyone who claims authority to speak, to try to discern truth. Truth is not easily come by, but it is also not so elusive as conspiracy theorists claim. It is always grounded on facts, on generally agreed-upon reality.

For you and me, the foundational truth is that God loves us, loves us all so much as to send Christ to us, and that this love for everyone, including for those who were misguided enough to storm the Capitol today, is the light by which we live. Epiphany is traditionally a celebration that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not, could not, and cannot overcome it. Please claim that truth and live by that truth in the days before us.

Pastor Bob

 

Year of the Bible Update

I’m excited that so many are participating in our adventure of reading the Bible this year! That means we have given out all the books we had, but I have ordered more. I’ll let you know when they’re in.
You may order it yourself from Amazon, if you wish, and they have a Kindle edition that you can have immediately. The book is by James E Davison, it is called “The Year of the Bible,” and be sure you get the 2019 edition.
Until more come in, I will continue to post here the week’s readings. This week’s readings are:
January 4: Genesis 7, 8; Psalms 1, 2
January 5: Genesis 9-11: Matthew 4
January 6: Genesis 12, 13; Matthew 5
January 7: Genesis 14, 15; Psalms 3, 4
January 8: Genesis 16, 17; Matthew 6
January 9: Genesis 18, 19; Matthew 7
January 10: Genesis 20, 21; Matthew 8

A Note About the Year of the Bible

The Year of the Bible begins this Friday (Jan. 1). Look for a video introduction from me Wednesday or Thursday. Thereafter, there will be a video from me every Monday, discussing the Old Testament readings for the week.
On Sunday I’ll preach on the New Testament reading of the day.
And later in January at my Wednesday evening Adult Education Zoom class we’ll discuss the New Testament readings of the week (after we finish Revelation!).
So watch our website, Facebook, or our YouTube channel for weekly video helps, beginning later this week.
Pastor Bob

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve this year will feature two online services of worship, caroling at the Church, and the opportunity to have communion with one of the ministers.

Worship: We are recording a jazz service, much like those we have enjoyed in recent years; it will be edited and up on YouTube at 5:00 pm on Christmas Eve. We will do an 11:00 pm service webcast live on our YouTube channel. Both services will include the Lord’s Supper. Both services will be recorded so you can access them any time afterward, should you wish.

Caroling: CAROL SING CANCELED

Communion: In addition to the celebration during worship, both Bob and Cindy will be available in the evening for household groups to come to read Scripture, pray, and have communion. One household at a time, by appointment. Call the church office (402-498-0871, 9-4 weekdays) or email me (robert.keefer@pcmwindow.org) to make an appointment.

And from my heart to yours: Merry Christmas!

Pastor Bob

Canceling in-person worship

CIRCUMSTANCES CHANGE

In-person worship is canceled for the near future.

The Douglas County Health Department reports that tests for COVID-19 for the week ending October 17 have increased above 15% (by specimen collection date, they are 17.2%). Thus, the Session has ordered that starting October 25 worship will be ONLINE ONLY.

Please tune in to Youtube.com/presbyterianchurchofthemaster Sundays at 10:30 am for the live webcast or later to see it recorded.

When the rate begins a downward trend and continues downward below 15% for at least two weeks in a row, we will consider resuming in-person worship.

Please address any questions to me at 402-498-0871 extension 500 or robert.keefer@pcmwindow.org.

Note: I will open the church building about 9:00 am Sundays for drop-in hours. Sunday School will continue via Zoom at 9:00 am.

Pastor Bob

 

Worship Changes October 18

The weather has continued beautiful and as long as we bundle up we can worship outside a little longer. But it is soon time to make a change.

On Sunday, October 18 we will worship in the Sanctuary at 8:00 and 10:30. 9:30 Courtyard service continues October 4 and 11, with webcast at 10:30. After that we will have services at 8:00 and 10:30; the 10:30 service will be webcast.

REMEMBER: If you don’t feel well, stay home. If you cannot or will not wear a mask, stay home. There will be no fellowship gathering after the service. You must sit separated from anyone not in your household, wear a mask, and not sing. The service will continue to be abbreviated. We ask you to fill from the front of the sanctuary, and to exit beginning from the back. Head straight out to the Commons without stopping in the aisle. Use hand sanitizer as you arrive and as you leave. All the usual doors will be unlocked for entrance.

Webcasting will continue at 10:30. Since Bill Norton tells me that he can make it happen even from his house, that means there will no longer be snow cancellations. I’ll still preach a sermon, at least, and you can watch from the comfort of your home.

SPECIAL DAY OCTOBER 18: The day we are making this change we will also be welcoming new members into our family at the 10:30 service. Please either join us in person or tune in to the webcast to greet these new sisters and brothers in Christ.

We will remember a lot of things from this strange year. One thing I hope we will remember is, “Oh, yeah! That was the summer we had church in the courtyard!”

Pastor Bob

Worship this Fall

It has been customary at Presbyterian Church of the Master to change our worship schedule the Sunday following Labor Day; ordinarily we go from one service at 9:30 to two services, 8:00 and 10:30. The latter part of this summer we have been doing two services: in-person at 9:30 in the Courtyard and webcast at 10:30 in the Sanctuary. The plans following are for some Sunday this fall: no earlier than September 13, but possibly later. PLEASE LISTEN TO SUNDAY ANNOUNCEMENTS AND WATCH OUR WEBSITE AND FAMILY & FRIENDS GROUP (FACEBOOK) FOR FURTHER INFORMATION.

Note carefully: we are continuing to worship at 9:30 in the Courtyard and 10:30 via webcast. The following applies to a not-yet-specified date this Fall.

Beginning sometime this Fall, we plan to offer worship in the Sanctuary at 8:00 and 10:30 am. We will carefully monitor how it is going, what attendance is like, and be ready to make a change as needed. The number of people allowed in the Sanctuary is limited to about seventy, so it is best that those who can come at 8:00 do so. Please note:
• If you feel sick, if you live with someone who is sick, if you have recently returned from a COVID-19 hot spot, or you have any hesitation about attendance, DO NOT COME. Plan to watch the webcast.
• Everyone must wear a mask. If you have a respiratory ailment or do not wish to wear a mask, DO NOT COME. Plan to watch the webcast.
• We will take attendance for the sake of contact tracing, in case we learn of a positive case among us.
• The order of worship will continue to include limited singing and congregational participation. Singing and unison speaking must be gentle and in a mask.
• We will not share coffee and cookies; we will not congregate at the doors.
• Seating will be restricted; you must remain at least six feet from people you do not live with. If the Sanctuary reaches capacity, then it will be necessary to be seated in the Commons.

We will not have in-person Sunday School; it is impossible to force children to stay apart from each other. The Christian Education Committee will provide study materials for Sunday School @ Home and teachers will stay in touch with the children. Adult Education will continue on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 via Google Meet.

The 10:30 service will be webcast, so you can continue to watch live from home at that hour or tune in the recording later. This is now a permanent part of our programming.

I wish I could predict how long we will live and worship under these restrictions; much depends on medical science. We will be guided by the scientific consensus and by the responsibility to love one another that our Faith demands.

It strikes me that my final comment should be a positive one: worship is the community’s conversation with God. God is here; that is the important thing. That the people praise and pray to God and that the pastor proclaim the word of God are what matters. As long as we are doing those two things, we are faithful in what we do.

Pastor Bob

Pastor’s Message – July 23, 2020

Dear people of God:

I want to tell you about a decision your Session made this week and, in light of that, assure you of my readiness to listen to your concerns, questions, and ideas.

After a process of discernment that began more than two years ago (May 2018), involving prayer, conversation, reading, teaching, preaching, and lots of listening, your Session voted unanimously that we are a More Light Church. My experience of the wonderful elders on our Session is that not everyone is comfortable with it, not everyone is happy about it, but everyone believes that it is the right thing to do.

A bit on what that does and does not mean. It does mean that we are committed to full inclusiveness in our welcome and in our ministry. All who wish to follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are welcome. In a society in which the loudest voices say, “We are Christians and therefore we reject gay people,” our voice will consistently say, “Gay people, Lesbian people, transgender people, non-binary people are welcome here. Come seek Jesus Christ every day, everywhere, in everyone.”

The experience of other Presbyterian churches is that this will not change us a great deal, even if you were hoping it would. Don’t expect LGBTQIA+ people from throughout Omaha to come flocking to our church. We didn’t do this as a church-growth ploy; we did this because it is true to our nature as an open, welcoming community. More Light Presbyterians will help us get the word out, but the primary means of evangelism will still be for you, the people of the Church, to invite others to know Jesus Christ within our community.

If we welcome all people, why make a point of welcoming LGBTQIA+ people? Because these are the people who are pointedly excluded by much of the Christian community. An analogy: some ask, “Why say that Black Lives Matter? Don’t all lives matter?” The best response I have seen is, “All lives won’t matter until Black lives matter.” Likewise, all people are not welcome in the Church until LGBTQIA+ people are welcome in the Church.

If you are concerned, troubled, or afraid of what this may mean for our Church, please know that I am ready to listen to you. I do not judge others; I will answer questions honestly and as faithfully to the Gospel as I know how. But as your pastor I care about you, so I will listen to you. And for those who celebrate this decision, I implore you not to judge your siblings who are troubled by it. Our mission statement says that we seek Jesus Christ every day, everywhere, in everyone, and that includes especially everyone who sees and understands things differently from ourselves.

After all, in the words of the Puritan preacher John Robinson, the Lord has yet more light to break forth from the Holy Word.

Pastor Bob