Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Daily News Article

Below is a link to a nice article that was recently in the Batavia Daily News.  Roy & Frances Griffen were recently honored with the Tender Loving Care Award for their work and preservation of their home in Pavilion, a late Victorian-era stick-style house built in 1916.

Landmark Society honors stewards of historic homes

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Reminder: Worship in the Park

Just a reminder that our annual Worship in the Park will be this Sunday, June 3rd at 10:30 AM at the Genesee County Park (Shelter S).   The worship service will be followed by a picnic lunch.  All you need to bring is lawn chairs and a dish to pass.  There will be games for kids of all ages.  Come and plan to spend the day with your church family!  For more information contact the church office at 344-2931.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sermon from 5/20/12


7th Sunday of Easter – Psalm 1 and John 17:6-20

Rev. Michael Fry preaching
at East Bethany PC
May 20, 2012

The Psalms 

For thousands of years the Psalms have offered strength and guidance to God’s People.  Often times we think of Psalms as a book of prayers, remembering that Jesus would have read, recited, and prayed the Psalms just as we do. 

Psalm One introduces us to what will follow in the rest of the book – instructions for living, that lead to a life of prayer.

As we hear this psalm we are challenged to make a choice between two ways of living, the way of the righteous or the way of the wicked.  These two ways are sharply contrasted as they point to habit, intention, and outcome. 

The psalm begins in a similar manner to the beatitudes in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  Happy are those who… or blessed are those who… 

It is obvious by the Psalmist’s images that they would like us to choose the way of the righteous that leads to life.  Studying and spending time with scripture provides a rootedness like a tree planted beside a stream that will still bear fruit withstanding both drought and strong wind – while the wicked are like chaff or straw, the byproduct of what is gleaned from the field that gets carried away by the wind. 


Happiness  

Living a God-centered life is not a formula for being perpetually happy or for becoming rich and getting what we want when we want it.  Happiness and success meant different things to the psalmist than they do to us today. 

Happiness here is not the emotion we associate with laughter and smiling, a better translation of happy here might be fortunate or blessed– as in ‘fortunate are those who do not follow the advice of evil men and ‘blessed are those who delight in the law of the Lord’ because God is the source of true happiness and true peace. 

The happy, are those who are focused on God who trust in him – their lives center around God.  Their identity as Christian informs not just their decisions but also their actions and their thoughts.  They have a foundation upon which their lives are based that gives them strength during times that are hard.  They are happy and righteous because they rely on God. 

Happiness comes from personal and communal identity gained by being open and allowing ourselves to be instructed by God’s teaching.  True happiness comes from being God-centered instead of self-centered. 
 

The Wicked

 Throughout the psalms the righteous and the happy are contrasted with the wicked, scoffers, and sinners.

These people may not be involved in illegal behavior, they may not steal or murder, in fact some may be upstanding citizens.  But their lives are not centered on the word or the instruction of God.  They rely on themselves or the things of this world instead of God.  They set their own moral compass and because they are not rooted they have no foundation, so when adversity or trouble strike, they are like straw that is blown away in the wind. 

Others scoff saying that God is not relevant in our world today, preferring to decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong.  Self-directed and self-ruled the wicked have little consideration for others. 
 

The Way of the Righteous

The faithful person on the other hand seeks the will of God in all they do.  They are humble and compassionate.  They realize that this is the way that God wants them to live because they have spent time studying the word of God and discerned how God wants them to live. 

Some think that in order to study scripture or to mediate on the word of God day and night as the psalm suggest, we have to be a pastor or like monks who observe strict prayer time, but few are called to that lifestyle. 

What this really means is having quiet time in our day with God – time set aside to study scripture, pray, and maybe even sing.  Time to sit and ponder what it means to be child of God.  And because we do not live by bread alone, time to inwardly digest what the scriptures say to us – as we would let our Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner settle before moving on to dessert. 

To be certain this is a challenge when deadlines and other obligations compete with time set aside for us.  And while it is a challenge we are called to spend time with God simply because we are Christian. 

After all, how can we claim to be God’s people if we do not spend time trying to communicate with God?  Especially when it opens us to receive God’s instructions for our lives, giving us the rootedness that helps us face adversity. 

One way that I try to orient myself to God during my day is through using prayer cards.  When I come across a verse of scripture that stands out to me because it gives me strength, or contains a promise from God, or a prayer that is meaningful I write it out on an index card and place it in a stack of cards that sit on the windowsill above our kitchen sink.  This way when I wash my hands or the dishes I have a gentle reminder right at eye level to pray. 

Your way of spending time with God in prayer might be as you drive in your car, walk, ride a bicycle, or sitting enjoying a cup of coffee. 

One of the things that focusing our lives on God does is that it takes the focus off of ourselves – instead of worrying about pleasing ourselves we are working on pleasing God.  Anglican Priest Fr. Gilbert Shaw writes that, “the purpose of living is not to learn to make prayer, but to become prayer; to live in and for God.’[1] 

When we live for God and follow the Lord’s instruction we are blessed and lead blessed lives, but they may not have the measure of success or happiness that we see around us.  This is because of the tension between ‘the world’ in which we live opposing the reign of God.  This is the opposition that we face as the people of God as we seek to live faithful lives. 

And again this is not easy, Jesus realized that it would not be easy and so he prays to God asking God to sustain, strengthen, and protect his disciples so that they can remain faithful after he is gone.  Jesus offered this prayer after he had celebrated the Last Supper with his disciples and right before he was arrested. 

It is amazing that he prayed for them as he himself was preparing to die.  But the really striking thing is that he prays not just for them, but for us, we are the people who believe in him because of the disciples’ message.  Jesus realized that leading lives that are faithful to God would not get any easier in the future and so he prays for you and for me that we may be dedicated to God. 

So let us be thankful and lead lives that are faithful, lives that are focused on Christ, and lives that are based on the love of God for all people. 

Amen. 



[1] Quote found in a prayer book entitled, Celtic Daily Prayer. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Graduation Sunday



On June 24th during our worship service we will be celebrating the graduates of our congregation.  If you know of anyone who is graduating from high school or college, please contact Reverend Fry or a member of the Worship & Music Committee.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Worship in the Park

Please join us on Sunday, June 3rd for our annual Worship in the Park.  We will be meeting at our regular worship time of 10:30 AM at the Genesee County Park.  This will also be Children's Day and the kids will be taking part in the worship service. 

We have reserved Shelter S (the same location as last year) for the day.   To find Shelter S, enter the park through the main entrance on Raymond Road.  Take your first right.  You will cross over a little bridge and curve around to the right.  You will see Shelter S on your left on a small hill.  You will probably want to bring along some lawn chairs to sit in during the service.

Following the worship service there will be games and activities for kids of all ages.  If you have games you would like to bring please feel free to do so.

We will be having a picnic lunch. The Christian Education Committee is providing hotdogs and hamburgers, drinks, chips and cookies.  Just bring a dish to pass and anything extra you might want.

This is a great opportunity to bring along friends and family that you have been wanting to introduce to the EBPC church family!  The  shelter is reserved for the whole day so plan to stay and enjoy a day of fun and fellowship!

See you at the park!

Spring Clean-Up: June 6th


Our annual church spring clean-up day will be Wednesday, June 6th at 6 PM.  There is much that needs to be done to keep our church well maintained and there are jobs that everyone can do--even the kids!  We will be working both inside and outside the church.  Even though we will be working this is a fun night of fellowship and we hope everyone will decide to come!  For more information please contact Mark Barie.

Remember:  Many hands make light work!

EBPC needs your help!

Dear Friends,

You may have noticed that the steeple is missing its siding on one side due to strong wind.   The Buildings and Grounds Committee is working on addressing this project.  We hope you will consider contributing to the maintenance reserve fund to cover the expense.  Church members and friends should have received a letter and stamped envelope in the mail that they can send back to contribute.  If you did not receive one, contributions can be sent to the church at 5735 Ellicott Street Road, East Bethany NY 14054.  Please specify that your donation is for the maintenance fund.

The past year we have had some unexpected costs such as repairing water damage in the basement and replacing the furnace for the sanctuary.  To pay for these improvements we have had to use a good amount of the reserve fund.

The session is also looking toward 2017 when East Bethany Presbyterian Church will celebrate its 200th anniversary.  In preparing for this celebration there will be other projects we need to plan for such as painting the interior and exterior of the church building.

Please keep in mind that the first thing people see when looking at the church is the outside--the steeple, the building, the grounds, and the sign out front.  While appearances are not everything, the appearance of our church building is important in creating a welcoming atmosphere for those who come to worship.

Last summer I was at a wedding talking with a couple who seemed to be very active in their church.  I asked them what drew them to participating in that particular congregation.  They answered that they saw people working in the church flowerbeds one weekend as they drove by and that the building looked obviously well cared for.  They decided to stop in and see what the church was like and ended up joining it.

We are blessed with a church building that is in really good physical shape for its age.  We hope you will choose to help keep our facilities in good shape by working to make them even better and by contributing beyond your regular tithe or weekly offering.

God's Peace,

Rev. Michael Fry


PS:  Come join the fun on June 6th at 6 pm for our annual Spring Clean-Up!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Session Meeting: May 9th



The next meeting of the Session will be Wednesday, March 9th at 6:30 PM.  Any Session member who is unable to attend is asked to let Reverend Fry know.

Christmas Cantata--December 17th

The date for this year's Christmas Cantata is Sunday, December 17th.  It will take place during our regular 10:30 AM worship service...