God’s Perfect Gift – Advent Devotion 2015

2015 Advent Devotional SlideA time of reflection and devotion during the season of Advent is a Christian tradition that the Westminster community takes to a unique and personal level with the annual Advent Devotion Book. The devotional book is made up of daily readings that are written by our members, friends and staff that helps us as we approach the time of celebrating Jesus’ birth with anticipation. Each year we choose a theme, and this year the book is titled, “The Heart of Christmas.”

We hope that you will find joy in this the time leading up to Christmas and beyond. It is a season of celebration, suspense, and wonder. Spending a little time each day with the devotion book will draw you closer to the Savior through the diverse voices that make up Christ’s Church.

 

There are two ways you can enjoy the 2015 Advent Devotional Book.

1. Download a Copy of it in either PDF or as a Microsoft Word Document. (Past books also available)

2. Call the Westminster Church office and request a hard copy. Contact information can be found HERE.

Session Notes June 15, 2015

June Session Notes:

The number of children to attend our Reading Readiness program is increasing. Thank you to

those who have volunteered to help with this program: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 to

noon from July 7 through August 6. Any members who have yet to respond to this need may

contact Nancy Craig or Susan Green.

July 14 through 17 is the Youth “Staycation”! Adults to accompany these events are still

needed. Please contact Geraldine Parish or CE Administrator Jennifer Dawson.

Please remember that Jennifer Dawson has completed her term as Minister-in-Training and is no

longer available for many of her previous duties.

Personnel Committee is still searching for a part-time Youth Leader. Any referrals for this

position can be sent by telephone, e-mail or note to Office Administrator Vandee DeLeon, who

will forward the information to the Personnel Committee.

Generous donations totaled almost $1,000 for the “Bus and Boots” funds for Christian

Community Assistance. Thank you Westminster for your big hearts which will provide work

boots and bus passes to the clients.

The chair lift to Fellowship Hall has been repaired! Thanks to Building and Grounds very costly

replacement and building modifications were avoided!

Garage Sale funds will be used to defray the costs for needed tree trimming and repairs to the

gutters.

Look for improvements to our internal and external signage, and then thank the Media and

Marketing sub-committee of Outreach and Mission.

The Holiday Gift Market will be November 14, 2015. Please add this to your calendar.

Please continue prayers for the work of the 2015 Nominating Committee in its work of

discernment and call for new elders to the Class of 2018.

Please be in prayer as Session and its committees continue to discern God’s will for

Westminster, its mission and ministries.

Please continue to join us in daily prayer at noon – or as close to then as possible – as we continue

to lift our collective prayer for God’s Will for church.

Reminder: Session minutes are available, upon request, through the church office.

 

March 16, 2015 Session Notes

MARCH Session Notes

  • Session is in the process of review and discussion of the compiled results from the cluster meetings.  Work on this will resume at the April 20 session meeting.  Please remember this special work of discernment and plans as session continues this work and pray for God’s guidance in this process.
  • A Youth Leader position is being developed and will be advertised in the near future.  Please be in prayer that this process will attract God’s choice for our youth at this time.
  • Session has paramount concern for the safety of our congregation.  After extensive discussion regarding how to avoid, if possible, future occurrences of the safety issue that occurred on Sunday, March 15, options are being explored for additional steps to protect our congregation as fully as legally possible.
  • Please continue prayers for the work of the 2015 Nominating Committee in its work of discernment and call for new elders to the Class of 2018.
  • Please be in prayer as Session and its committees continue to work toward building our ministries, missions and church to the glory of God.
  • Please continue to join us in daily prayer at noon – or as close to then as possible – as we continue to lift our collective prayer for God’s Will for church.
  • Reminder: Session minutes are available, upon request, through the church office.

 

Giving back at the heart of Holiday Gift Market

WPC’s Holiday Gift Market is not just a great way to get into the holiday spirit it is a means for providing mission support, both locally and internationally. This year’s Holiday Gift Market, through the sale of booths, ornaments, raffle tickets and food, raised more than $3,500. Your Outreach & Mission Committee has decided to allocate $500 each to the following missions. Thanks again for your support of our Gift Market and for your help in doing God’s work for those in need.

  • The World Food Program is the food assistance branch of the United Nations and the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security. On average, the WFP provides food to 90 million people per year, of whom 58 million are children. In 2015, WFP will keep focusing on life-saving food assistance inside Syria by providing monthly food rations for 4.25 million people, mainly displaced families.
  • The mission of the Haiti Education Foundation is to provide educational opportunities to children in the mountains of southern Haiti — the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Private schools are the only schools and very few families can afford even the most modest tuition. Education is the one gift that multiplies in the sharing.
  • Heifer International empowers families to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity – but more than just by giving them a handout. Heifer links communities and helps bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty. The animals they purchase provide both food and reliable income, as agricultural products such as milk, eggs and honey can be traded or sold at market. WPC purchased a heifer for this program with the Holiday Gift Market proceeds.
  • The largest provider of homeless services in the area, Presbyterian Night Shelter is the only area emergency shelter without length-of-stay restrictions. Along with basics like food, shelter and clothing, PNS also provides counseling and resources for obtaining proper identification, permanent housing, employment, financial assistance and more.
  • Union Gospel Mission of Tarrant County is a united Christian organization and ministry dedicated to providing love, hope, respect and a new beginning for the homeless in Tarrant County. The Mission provides emergency care, a residents program, spiritual development, children’s enrichment programs and more.
  • Christian Community Assistance (CCA) functions as a bridge between the local church and the families coming for assistance.  WPC has been a long-time support of CCA through food donations and Thanksgiving baskets.
  • The Ladder Alliance is one of our newest missions that O&M supports. Its mission is to provide women victims of domestic violence or low-income women with the tools to lead self-reliant, independent, and successful lives. Ladder Alliance offers a GED preparation course, a computer skills program, childcare for those in training and a Success Store, where clients receive two professional outfits and a pair of shoes so they are ready for the workforce.

A Message for All

It is a common question. Why were the Israelites God’s choice for the avenue of the salvation story that culminated in Jesus Christ? It might be disheartening to you to hear an idea that says the God of all things is only interested in loving, caring for, and ultimately saving one group of people.That is, sometimes, the banner that some people carry with them on their religious quest. But is that really God’s ultimate plan?

Chronological BibleOver the past three years, the Westminster community has been invited to be a part of reading scripture. One of the main goals of these scripture readings has been to help people gain a better understanding of the whole story of scripture. Many of us know the main stories, but sometimes there are things that connect one story to another that help clarify the greater story. When someone looks at a small part of scripture outside of the greater context that is God’s whole plan for humanity, it can sometimes get distorted or misunderstood.

So what happens and what can be found when we begin to see how the plan for salvation has been enacted by God throughout all of history, rather than just looking at a few events? We discover tidbits of God’s character that some people might miss.

So that brings back the question, is salvation only for some or is it for all people? Did God only love the Hebrew people or did God always have a plan to save both Jew and Gentile? As Christians we might be familiar with the Hebrews text that states:

23 Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. 26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of Godthrough faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:23-29 NIV

Our faith in Jesus Christ blurs any and all lines that we have created for ourselves and makes us all the same – children of the one true God. If this true now then why did God seem so picky before? Why did God claim only Israel during the Old Testament times?

A member of Westminster that is reading through the Chronological Bible noticed something early on in Genesis that he had not recognized in scripture ever before. Sure, it is evident that God chose Israel and claimed them to be God’s people, but did that mean God didn’t love, care for, or have a plan for the many, many other people in the world?

1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
2 “I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
Genesis 12:1-3 NIV

Right there tucked in what might be a familiar story God tells Abram that his family will be made into a great nation, a nation we now know as Israel and the path that leads to Jesus. But do the words suggest that God has a plan only for this one chosen nation? Re-read verse three again. God says that all nations will be blessed through Abram.

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is a polarizing one. The drama of the interaction between God and Abraham is worthy of the silver screen. But does this story help us understand the greater narrative that God is enacting?

16 When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. 17 Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”
Genesis 18:16-9

The text here does clearly state that Abraham will become a great nation, but it is directly followed by the words “all nations on earth will be blessed through him.” If we keep reading we here God speaking once again to Abraham saying,

17 I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, 18 and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessings for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.”

Genesis 22:17-18

It is easy to recognize how God is claiming one people as the avenue for the plan of salvation to be enacted. It is through Abraham and his descendants. Some may call this a blessing, but for Abraham and his people, there was more to it than just receiving God’s favor. The pressure and accountability that comes with the follow through is easy for us to forget, but if we are familiar with the history of the Jewish people we know that God never forgot. God surely blessed the people of Israel but that blessing came with the responsibility of the being the avenue through which the rest of the world was to be blessed. Even Paul recognized this in his letter to the Galatians:

7 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. 8 Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”9 So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Galatians 3:7-9

The question was, why was Israel the only nation chosen to be the avenue of God’s plan of salvation? We may not know the answer to that question, and is it possible that it is not the best question to ask? Maybe the question should be, did God have a plan for the salvation of all people from the very beginning? It sure seems that way if you look at the story of Abraham and how Paul reminds us in Galatians. If you rely on faith, then you are blessed right along with Abraham and his family.

Holiday Gift Market: It’s a Wrap!

 

gift market

The time change and the cooler weather finally made it feel a little bit like the holiday season. Maybe that helped in making Westminster’s Holiday Gift Market on Saturday, November 15 such a success. Shoppers found their way to Westminster where vendors filled the narthex, hallways, and fellowship hall full of color, creativity, and most of all the joy of the coming season.

2014 Holiday Gift Market Photo Gallery

The Holiday Gift Market offered something for everyone. Children, adults, women, men, the sophisticated and the young at heart all had something to grab their attention. If the vendors didn’t grab your attention, the raffle booth highlighted by a giant 50 inch HDTV was sure to catch your eye.

Volunteers were seen everywhere, and the friendly and welcoming nature of Westminster was noticed and graciously stated by many vendors.  Between raffle tickets, food and ornament sales, and proceeds from the vendor booth sales, the 2014 Holiday Gift market raised close to $3,500 that will be shared with various mission and outreach programs.

The committee wishes to thank all who shopped and to everyone who stepped up to help. The Building and Grounds committee and all the Outreach & Mission Committee members deserve a special thank you for their extra effort in making this event a success for everyone involved.

Westminster Ornaments Still for Sale

If you pre-ordered a Westminster ornament (that looks like the stained glass dome in the church) or if you didn’t have a chance to come shop at the Holiday Gift Market, ornaments will be available on Sundays after services up until December 21. Ornaments are $10 each. Contact Lisa Francis if you have questions.

The Holiday Gift Market is a ministry of the Mission & Outreach Committee. The goal of the event is to raise money for causes such as Tarrant Area Food Bank, Presbyterian Night Shelter, Union Gospel Mission, Bread of the World and Haiti Education Fund, among others.

November 17th Session Notes

Highlights from the November 17th Session Meeting

Many thanks to the Outreach and Mission Committee and all those who supported our very successful Holiday Gift Market on November 15. Receipts in excess of cost currently stand at approximately $3,400.

“Not a Silent Night” by Adam Hamilton and published by Abdington Press was approved and this five-week study will be presented in the Friendship Class on Sunday mornings at 9:45 a.m. for the Advent period.

Samaritan’s Purse shoeboxes and Christian Community Assistance Thanksgiving baskets are due on Sunday, November 23.

Elected commissioners Judy Ewald and Linda Puckett will accompany Rev. Hogg to the Grace Presbytery meeting on November 15 and 16 at Canyon Creek Presbyterian Church in Richardson.

Your current elders and the incoming elders to the Class of 2017 will be in Retreat the evening of December 5 and all day December 6, 2014. Please be in prayer for them, their discernment and their work which will take us forward into the new year.

Joys and concerns were shared, and we are in prayer for all.

Please be in prayer as Session and its committees continue to work toward building our ministries, missions and church to the glory of God.

Please continue to join our Session in Daily prayer – at noon or as close to then as possible – as they continue to lift collective prayer for God’s will for our church.

Reminder:  Session minutes are available through the church office upon request.