Amber Congregational Church - To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose.

The ShoreLight – November 2019
Amber Congregational Church Newsletter

Loving relationships that are committed to God, accountable to each other, involved in Christ’s transforming work in our world.  

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The Spiritual Discipline of Fasting
 
   Every month this year we have been drawing attention to one of a variety of Spiritual Disciplines. This focus came from the Elders desire to place before all of us the need for routine attention to the practical matters of the Christian faith.  So we have encouraged you to study and meditate and pray. We have written about worship, confession and service. This month our attention is on the discipline of fasting.
 
   Now I know that you may think that the month of November is about eating not fasting.  It is the month when we hold our annual Pork Supper and of course it is the season of Thanksgiving.  These are both big meals and in fact, some of us will probably be having more than one Thanksgiving meal.  This is surely the wrong time to be encouraging people to fast.
 
   Well although fasting from food is a good and healthy practice for our physical condition, yet Biblical fasting is far more serious than any diet we might come up with, and far more costly to actually do.  Fasting is not about depriving ourselves of a tasty treat, but is rather the discipline which seeks to enable us to focus on the things in life that really matter.  This will involve far more than outward appearances. 
 
   During the time of Isaiah the prophet the people used fasting as a symbol of their godliness.  They thought that if they fasted on certain days and at certain times then God would be impressed with their spirituality and grant whatever wishes or prayers they requested of him.  They were upset when this didn’t happen.  “‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it?’” (Isaiah 58:3)  In other words, “If we aren’t going to get anything out of it why bother depriving ourselves?”
 
   God’s response is to let them know that they have misunderstood not only what fasting is about, but what the whole life of faith means.  He responded,
 
     Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in
     striking each other with wicked fists.  You cannot
     fast as you do today and expect your voice to be
     heard on high…. Is not this the kind of fasting I
     have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and
     untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed
     free and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your
     food with the hungry and to provide the poor
     wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked,
     to clothe him, and not to turn away from your
     own flesh and blood?  (Isaiah 58:4,6-7)   
 
   Now can you see why fasting is the fitting discipline to focus on in the month of November?  This is the month of elections, of thinking and acting in our world for social justice, for equality, for the compassionate care of the poor and disadvantaged.  In order to do this we will need far more than a diet or a simple prayer before mealtime.  We will need to rethink what we do with all that we have been given.  How much should we give away to others?  How can we raise our voices for the needy?  Who are the ones who are under the yoke of oppression that we need to aid in breaking free?  Fasting is a social, political, and economic discipline not merely a pious attempt to gain God’s blessing on our own health and wealth.
 
   Every November we collect a special Thanksgiving Offering to be given to some project or ministry that seeks to aid folks in crisis.  This year the Elders have designated that this offering be given to the Syracuse Teen Challenge.  They provide a wonderful ministry to alcohol and drug addicted youth who are seeking to break free from that lifestyle but will need help in doing so.  They are learning to fast from that which destroys them.  In our giving we can also fast from the self-centered focus which is equally addicting and equally destructive. 
 
   The Outreach Committee is also providing gift bags of snacks, toiletries and Christian literature to be handed out to those on the street corners who identify themselves as homeless.  These are available at the church so do pick up a couple and give them away in the name of Jesus.  This November let fasting become for us an inner self-denial that enables us to better practice an outward shared-giving.   With this kind of fasting God is pleased.   

   See you in Worship.
                                   Rick

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The Church as a Safe Place 
Points of Emphasis for Discussion

It cannot be denied that the culture of our day increasingly finds itself divided on practically every issue.  This is evident politically, socially, and morally. In our current culture, every sentence someone utters could threaten someone else’s existing belief. In the public arena a clear definition of what is true is no longer accepted, preventing us from holding civil conversations. Even within the Christian denominations there are opposing sides debating many of these same issues from differing biblical and theological perspectives.  It is a confusing time for many both within and without the church.  We at the Amber Congregational Church desire to provide a safe place for all people, regardless of their identity or belief, to question, to discuss, to wrestle with the complexities of divisive issues. We seek to do so in an environment that respects everyone. 

Although we are not necessarily planning to hold any public forums on any specific topics, we do want to encourage open and free conversations between individuals and small groups.  We hope all discussions can be approached with respect and without fear or prejudice, putting aside personal preferences in order to clearly hear and learn from others with a different perspective.   We believe we can engage in this kind of dialogue because we live in the reality of Christ’s love.  We feel secure in his love and can therefore freely offer that love to others without fear (1 John 4:15-21).  We desire to be a safe place for all people because of our understanding that the role of the church is to not legally dictate truth but to focus people’s trust on God’s Word.  It is this love of the truth that has brothers and sisters walking with each other to assist and clarify our beliefs.  We can then aid each other in faithfully living them out to the glory of God as each individual  “works out his/her own salvation” under the authority of Christ.   (Philippians 2:12-13, Galatians 6:1-8, 1 John 4:18)
The following six points are what we believe should be the foundation of all discussions pertaining to how people see themselves and how they should determine their moral, social and political views. 

1. Created in the Image of God – The first thing to be stated with regard to human identity is that all people are made in the image of God.  The Creator designed and made us and as a result we are all people of sacred, eternal value.  We are this to God and consequently we should recognize both our own value and that of all others.  The fact that all of us are sinners by condition and by choice does not change this basic truth about us although it does color our ability to accurately understand both ourselves and our world.   (Genesis 1:26-28) 

2. Loved and Redeemed by Christ – We are Christ’s and should be raised to know that who we are primarily and relationally is found in our identity as those loved and redeemed by Jesus.  His love and grace is demonstrated in His death and resurrection for every one of us. This assures each person that they can find the ultimate joy, peace and wholeness that God intended for each one to experience.  We cannot earn this redemption but it must be accepted by each person individually.  Relationship with God through Christ is where true human identity resides.   (2 Corinthians 5:15-21, 1 John 4:9-10)

3. Sinners and Servants of God – Each person stands before God as a sinner and a servant.  We are not the masters of our souls, our selves, or our place in the world.  We belong to another, to God, and we are not gods ourselves.  Our attempt to put ourselves first is evidence of our own sinfulness.  Before we are able to correctly and adequately identity ourselves in the world we must understand and acknowledge our place as subordinate to our Lord; we are servants before the Master.   (Matthew 10:24-25, Matthew 25:14-30, Luke 17:1-10)

4. Obedient Subjects of God’s Order – As people who belong to God by creation and bought by Christ in redemption, we are not in the place of authority.  The standards and morals by which we are to live are not those of our own making.  Our best hope for the sustained joy of life is found in obedience to the moral standards set by our wise and loving Creator.  God has revealed His moral and ethical expectations for humankind in Scripture.   (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

5. Morality and Ethics Determined by Behavior – Morality and ethics are not defined by identity but by behavior.  This is true in the areas of work, speech, appetite, and social interactions, just as it is in all areas of human sexuality.  All of us are born with self-centered sinful perspectives and all express these in their behaviors.  Moral ethics does not seek to change the heart, something only God can do through Christ, but rather morality seeks to declare what is right and wrong behavior in the social community.   (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Ephesians 4:17-32)

6. Support and Accountability in the Community – The church is God’s designed support and accountability community to enable each individual to live faithfully and for God’s glory.  Here is where each person is to find and experience his/her full place in life and relationships, with God, with others and with oneself.  The church should not seek to be the world’s policeman but neither must we accept the flip-flopping moral standards of our sinful culture and society.  At all times we must remember that the church’s first responsibility is to demonstrate to everyone the affirming love God has for all people.  (John 3:16-21, 1 Corinthians 5:9-13)
 

 Amber Congregational Church Church Officers (2019)


Board of Elders   (3 year terms)
     term expiring 2020 - Carl Barber, Mark Henderson, Sally Wilson
     term expiring 2021 - James Frary
     term expiring 2022 - Cathy Smith, Sherry Persad, Deb O’Brien

Board of Trustees   (3 year terms)
    term expiring 2020 - David Heath, Jack Seymour, Matt Henderson,
                                      Chuck Harris
    term expiring 2021 - Mike Curtis, Teal Trendowski
    term expiring 2022 - Cheryl Curtis, Jeff Southard, Terry Wheeler

Ministry Directors   (3 year terms)
     Outreach Director (2020) - Cathy Smith
     Worship Director (2021) - Nancy Barber
     Christian Education Director (2022) - Sue Ellen Harris

Nominating Committee  (2 year terms)
     term expiring 2020 - Deb O’Brien, Teal Trendowski, Cindy Casler
     term expiring 2021 - David Angelo, Mark Henderson (Chairperson)

Other Officers  (1 year terms expiring 2020)
    Clerk - Cheryl Curtis
    Treasurer - Gail Frary
    Financial Secretary - Faith Stopyro
    Assistant to the Treasurer and Finacial Secretary - Jenn Schultz
    Ministerial Relations Chairman - Mike Curtis

Samaritan Fund Committee  (2 year terms)
     term expiring 2020 - Sally Wilson, Cheryl Curtis
                                       (appointed from the Elders and Trustees)
     term expiring 2021 - Faith Stopyro  (elected by congregation), 
                                       Jim Frary, Matt Henderson 
                                       (appointed from the Elders and Trustees)
     permanent members - Rick Chaffee, Cathy Smith 
                                        (Minister and Outreach Director)

Other 1 Year Appointed Positions (1 year terms expiring in 2020)
    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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