Amber Congregational Church - My God and King, listen to my prayer.  Psalm 5:2
The ShoreLight - Amber Church Newsletter
March 2018

Prayer, The Heart of the Christian Life
   Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Christianity lives and dies with prayer, for prayer is the heart of the Christian life.”  I was struck with those words this past week although they express nothing that I haven’t heard before or even said before.  Still, it is good to be reminded periodically of basic essentials.

   So if prayer is the heart of our faith what exactly is prayer?  Simply put it is the open heart of the individual poured out before the open heart of God.  Prayer is conversation, the intimate, nothing-held-back kind of open communication.  It is as vital to the maintenance of our relationship with God as communication is in maintaining proper relationships with each other.  When real talking stops then relationships weaken, distance develops, estrangement occurs, and faith and trust die. 

   This being true what are we do to when we don’t have words to pray, when we don’t know what to pray for, or when we just don’t feel like praying?  The answer is not surprising.  The answer is to pray.  But we might need some help.  Yes, so Jesus taught his disciples how to pray.  He gave them words, the Lord’s Prayer.  And knowing how fickle all of us are God inspired a book of 150 prayers to give us words.  It is the book of Psalms.  No matter what you are thinking and feeling you can find it expressed in the prayers of the Psalms.

   But don’t the words of others still seem somehow artificial in our mouths?  Isn’t prayer my open heart to God not someone else’s open heart?  Yes, that is true, but using another’s words can aid us in learning to use our own.  I have a good friend who encourages others to not only read and pray the Psalms but to use them to write their own prayers and psalms. 

   An illustration of that kind of writing was given to me this past month.  Someone left on my desk for possible inclusion in the church library a copy of the book “Talking with God in Old Age: Meditations and Psalms” by Missy Buchanan.  I opened it and saw that the first poem was entitled “Cornflakes.”  I like cornflakes and I also noted that the poem was based on Psalm 112:7, which reads in the New Living Translation:

     Godly people do not fear bad news;
     they confidently trust the LORD to care for them.
   Well certainly there has been a good bit of bad news of late.  The nation has mourned the seventeen killed in the Florida school shooting.  And we here in Amber have grieved over the death of Loren Torrance and been shocked at the death of Rodger Conway.  Bad news is all around us.  How do we pray about it?  What should we say?  How can we regain our confidence that God is good and watches over us?  How can we return to the normal and routine of eating a bowl of cornflakes with a heart of thanksgiving?  I read Missy Buchanan’s prayer.  And then I read the next one and the next one and the next one; poems and prayers that flowed out of her as she pondered the words of the Psalms and prayed them from her own heart. 

   After reading the entire book I went online and ordered several more to give away.  I took one with me this past week to the Brookdale Senior Living at Summerfield.  I sent one to my sister.  And of course there are two copies now available in our church library.  To give you a sample, just a “taste” of her writing, here is the first poem “Cornflakes.”
        Not so long ago, this old life was pretty good.
        A bowl of cornflakes on a familiar table. 
        A comfortable routine. 
        Then came the words that turned my ordinary life into a wilderness. 
        An unwanted diagnosis. A health crisis. A hasty series of appointments. 
        At my age, who wants one more doctor, one more test,
               one more form to fill out? 
        I’m worn out by worry and waiting. 
        I yearn to do simple tasks like making coffee or opening the mail. 
        But in this timeworn wasteland, my energy is spent with just a few steps.
         I need a grade-A miracle. A slam-dunk kind of miracle. 
        O God, rescue me from bad news. 
        Though I cannot see you, I trust that I am not alone. 
        You are here. 
        Let me feel the simple wonder of cornflake mornings once again.
   Read and pray your open heart to God.  See you in worship.

 Amber Congregational Church Church Officers (2018)

Board of Elders   (3 year terms)
     term expiring 2019 - Cathy Smith, Sherry Persad, Deb O’Brien
     term expiring 2020 - Carl Barber, Mark Henderson, Sally Wilson
     term expiring 2021 - James Frary

Board of Trustees   (3 year terms)
    term expiring 2019 - Cheryl Curtis, Jeff Southard, Terry Wheeler
    term expiring 2020 - David Heath, Jack Seymour, Matt Henderson,
                                      Chuck Harris
    term expiring 2021 - Mike Curtis, Teal Trendowski

Ministry Directors   (3 year terms)
     Christian Education Director (2019) - Sue Ellen Harris
     Outreach Director (2020) - Cathy Smith
     Worship Director (2021) - Nancy Barber

Nominating Committee  (2 year terms)
     term expiring 2019 - David Angelo, Mark Henderson (Chairperson)
     term expiring 2020 - Deb O’Brien, Teal Trendowski, Cindy Casler

Other Officers  (1 year terms expiring 2019)
    Clerk - Cheryl Curtis
    Treasurer - Gail Frary
    Financial Secretary - Faith Stopyro
    Financial Assistant – Jenn Schultz
    Ministerial Relations Chairman - Mike Curtis

Samaritan Fund Committee  (2 year terms)
     term expiring 2019 - Jim Frary, Matt Henderson  (appointed from the
                                       Elders and Trustees)
     term expiring 2020 - Faith Stopyro  (elected by congregation),  Sally
                                       Wilson, Cheryl Curtis  (appointed from the Elders and
     permanent members - Rick Chaffee, Cathy Smith  (Minister and Outreach

Other 1 Year Appointed Positions (1 year terms expiring in 2019)
    Overseer of Greeters - Deb O’Brien  (appointed by the Worship Director)
    Overseer of Acolytes and Nursery – Nancy Barber  (appointed by the
                                       Worship Director)
    Librarian – Cheryl Curtis  (appointed by the Education Director)
    Historian – Sally Wilson  (appointed by the Clerk)

Appointed Positions by the Trustees  (indefinite term)
    Janitor - Rich McVicar
    Music Director - Lois Chaffee


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