SMALL GROUP: SPIRITUAL PRACTICES

[Image Contents: A photograph of a person walking within a Christian Prayer Labyrinth made of rocks. They are on a cliff, overlooking the ocean.]

A new small group will study spiritual practices that help create intimacy with God. Tayler Necoechea will lead “Selah: Prayer Practices,” a six-week series, starting Tuesday, January 26 at 6 pm. Additionally, they will also use Mighty Networks for mid-week individual prayer practices to reflect on each week. To take this opportunity to explore your discipleship journey, email tayler@princetonumc.org  

Hymns & Music for Second Sunday After Epiphany

“Give Me Jesus,” “I Have a Dream,” “In Unity, We Lift Our Song.” | Hymns & Music for Second Sunday After Epiphany

COME SING WITH US THIS SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY  

Come to a church that’s refreshing, inspiring, and fun!

At Princeton United Methodist Church, we play beautiful classical and sacred music during worship, which refreshes the spirit. We also sing new or well-known hymns and “gospel and folk songs.” PUMC music ministry includes a handbell choir, children, youth, and adult choirs. We pray that our music will inspire everyone, old and young, and help them find faith and hope

This Sunday, we commission the elected leaders of our beloved PUMC (virtually) in worship.  God has blessed us enormously with the incredible and many leaders we have among us! You can find a list of the elected leaders here. The hymns that we sing at this worship service go perfectly with our scripture passages Acts 2:41-47 and 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 and are in line with Pastor Jenny Smith Walz’s sermon, “Weave Us Together with Compassion.” Pastor Jenny is inviting us to look at OUR PUMC community. “How can WE be more of a beloved community for one another and those beyond our church family?” she asks. To survive these challenging times we live in, Ephesians 2:14 reminds us, “Christ himself is our peace. He has made Jews and Gentiles into one group of people. He has destroyed the hatred that was like a wall between us.” 

  Video: “Give Me Jesus.” 

 During worship, watch our two music interns Christina Griffin, soprano, and Emily McDonald, piano, perform Mark Hayes’ arrangement of the traditional spiritual, “Give Me Jesus,” for the Music Ministry.

  Video: I Have a Dream”

Pamela J. Pettitta Methodist minister in Britain, wrote the hymn “I Have a Dream” and published it in 2005 to the tune  REPTON. “The hymn’s title, “I have a dream,” stems from Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech delivered to over 200,000 civil rights supporters on 28 August 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. In his speech, King called for racial equality and an end to racial discrimination.” Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday, will be observed tomorrow Monday, January 18, 2021.

                            Video: “In Unity, We Lift Our Song” 

Ken Medema, blind from birth, is a songwriter, composer, recording artist, and storyteller through music and is the author of the hymn “In Unity, We Lift Our Song.” It is set to the tune EIN’ FESTE BURG. This hymn teaches us that we are all welcome in God’s kingdom. It refers to Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Click here to watch the PUMC worship service, listen to the beautiful music, the children’s story time, the scripture readings, the sermon, the prayers, and the story sharing.

Letter To The Congregation: GNJ Leadership

Dear Clergy and Congregational Leaders,

Blessings for the new year. Thank you for your ministry and service to God, the church, and the world as we celebrate the Epiphany.

The following are essential actions and information for this week.

1. Small Groups for Epiphany on Wednesday – All
As we transition to a new year, God will be revealed to us anew. All are invited to share in small group sessions on Wednesday, Jan. 6 at 9:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. to explore how God is speaking to us through observing, quieting and curiosity. Please share this invitation with your congregation.
Zoom link for small groups   Webpage for more information

2.  January 10 Epiphany Services – Pastors, SPRC, Worship Leaders
The second Epiphany service created to provide renewal time for our clergy is available for download and will be broadcast live on GNJ’s YouTube and Facebook pages at 9:00 a.m. on January 10. All congregations are encouraged to provide a time of renewal for your pastors by using this service on January 10 and inviting worshipers to join in a small group session on January 13. For more information.

3.  Special Annual Conference Session – All Clergy and Lay Members to the Annual Conference
A special annual conference session will be held remotely from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Friday, January 22 to review a shared billing plan and adopt any necessary budget changes. The session will be conducted over Zoom and registration for the session will be open later this week. Look for an email on January 8 with a report outlining recommendations. Two information sessions will be held on January 12.  For more information.

4. Second Round of PPP Funding – Pastors, Treasurers and Finance Chairperson  
Congress has passed additional funding for PPP loans which includes forgivable loans for churches and nonprofits whose income was 25% less in at least one quarter in 2020 as compared to 2019. Last year, GNJ, its congregations and ministries received more than $8 million in PPP funding. The Small Business Administration will be issuing guidance on the application process this week and GNJ will inform and resource you as details become available, but you should prepare to act quickly as soon as the application process is open. All congregations, including those who received funding last year, are strongly encouraged to apply. For information on key provisions of this new funding, visit our web pages here.

In Christ,

GNJ Leadership

Quick links to information in this email:
Small Groups Zoom link
Info on Small Groups
Download for January 10 Renewal Service
Special Annual Conference Session
Info on PPP Funding

Unwrapping Advent: December 2020

Brighten the month of December by participating in a small group study led by Rev. Skitch Matson and Tayler Necoechea on Zoom. Their four-week series starts on the first Tuesday in Advent, December 1, 7 to 8 p.m.

They will base the study on a book, Light of the World, by Amy-Jill Levine. “While the subtitle is ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Advent,’ Dr. Levine goes a few layers deeper,” says Skitch. “It will be good for anyone.”

Dr. Levine teaches New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University, and her book is available on Kindle, as a paperback, and as an audiobook on Amazon here 

“As we trace the Christmas narrative through the Gospel stories of Jesus’ birth,” says Tayler, “we will study the role of women in first-century Jewish culture and be amazed at the revolutionary implications of Mary’s Magnificat, the census, the star of Bethlehem, and the flight to Egypt.” 

To sign up, email tayler@princetonUMC.org

                           or

skitch@PrincetonUMC.org. 

 

Resolving Conflict: Paul and Appiah Agree

Screenshot from The Bible Project’s animated video about Philippians

This week, the women in Monday Morning Group studied how Paul in chapter 4 of Philippians, advises how to resolve conflict.

  • get to a good emotional place yourself (i.e. gratitude, praise)
  • then focus ONLY on what’s good.

Recently the New York Times ethicist, Kwame Anthony Appiah, gave similar advice when he addressed the Friends of the Princeton University Library. To speak with someone with whom you disagree:  ‘first find what you agree on.’  It also helps, he added if you are engaged in some kind of community activity, like coaching a Little League team.

Details: Paul begins by pleading with two contentious women to “be of the same mind” and calls on others in the group to help them. He continues: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Steve Harper in the lectionary study of the Upper Room book,  Disciplines, explains: “Paul counsels the believers to work for emotional stability. He commends a renewal of gladness and gentleness and an elimination of anxiety brought about through earnest prayer. He knows that very little is changed when we live in the whirlwind of negativity. We don’t think straight. We don’t respond well when we are engulfed by deformative feelings. Paul points to the big Bible word ‘peace’ as the goal for which to aim in reconciliation.”

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Harper continues: “Second, he exhorts the Christians at Philippi to seek edifying soundness… to think of things that are excellent and admirable. Often, reconciliation occurs not by coming to complete agreement but by deciding that the things that unite us are more important than those that divide us. We come together along the lines of common commitments. When we get it wrong through disagreements, we are often reunited through our core convictions and common pursuits.”

DOES THIS MEAN we need more “common pursuits, sports teams, work teams, common projects” Maybe!

For a link to this very informative animated video about the book of Philippians, click here 

 Sunday, August 9, 2020: Children’s Book

At Children’s Time, Pastor Skitch will read aloud the children’s book “When God Made You” by Matthew Paul Turner and Illustrated by David Catrow. This book will make a good gift for children of all ages.  The story is inspiring and the illustrations are awesome.

The message from this book is that every child is uniquely made and God loves each one as they are, for they are all special to him. They must continue to learn and grow into the person they are created to be.

To follow the worship service and listen to Pastor Skitch read Click here

 

Outreach Initiatives—an opportunity to make a difference

 

Since March, our nation has been impacted by a series of stunning events and traumas. In less than four months our world has been turned upside down. Who would have expected that over 110,000 Americans would have died from the coronavirus, a pandemic which has swept the world, with New Jersey and New York the worst-hit areas? Who would have expected 40,000,000 Americans would be out of work? On top of this, the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police proved to be the fuel to ignite an explosion of protests, demonstrations and calls for the end of racial discrimination sweeping our nation. 

So many lives have been shattered, broken almost beyond recognition. The need for healing and reconciliation is everywhere. 

The Outreach Committee welcomes ideas on a program you could begin! 

As we hope to move toward recovery in the months ahead, Princeton UMC has funds earmarked as seed money to start new programs to serve the community. From seeds, a mighty forest grows. We – you actually – are invited to help shape events, find a new normal, and build toward a better future. John Wesley’s rule rings truer than ever: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, as long as you can.” 

Countless issues face us on the way to healing and recovery. For instance, how do we: 

  • help our church, community, and nation heal the brokenness revealed by racial inequalities?
  • assist people whose jobs are no longer there?
  • assist students with new remote learning challenges?
  • strengthen our outreach to a shell-shocked community forced to hide and shelter?
  • address and cure deep-seated prejudices and racial and other inequalities?
  • help the healing process for a community that has gone through these savage crises?

Do you have ideas for sustainable solutions that will help?

We welcome your specific proposals in writing on how you might use funds to begin new initiatives for recovery. Please submit your ideas or refer any questions to:

Karen Longo-Baldwin (klongobaldwin@gmail.com)

or

Jeff Sayre (Jeffcsayre@verizon.net).

We invite your ideas and your personal involvement!
Your Outreach Committee

 

Happy National Day of Prayer! Evangeline Burgers

To honor this National Day of Prayer, here are some great resources:

For our younger ones (and young at heart!),  ‘Friends With God: Discover How to Pray by Jeff White and David Harrington, contains prayer activities and stories from friends in the Bible. Consider taking a walk around the house with your child, looking at photos of family and friends. Use these photos as an opportunity for prayer. You might say, “God bless Grandpa.” or “I pray for peace for my friends from school.”

 

For our older kids and families, here’s a great family prayer activity from  Faithful Families by Traci Smith.

Smartphone Prayers:

1. For this practice, one family member will act as the leader, and others will be participants. Rotate who serves as the leader, to give everyone a chance to participate in the prayer.

2. The leader will call everyone together and explain ‘Smartphone Prayer.’  Say, “This prayer moves through five different activities on our smartphones. Each is one minute long. I will tell you what to do for each activity and then start my timer. When the timer rings, look up at me and listen for the next mission.”

3. Go through the five missions as follows, making sure the leader sets his/her timer after each instruction and calls everyone back together before presenting the next mission:

Minute One: Go to your text messages and take a look at the last five people in the recent messages, whether they are people you text regularly or people you don’t know at all. Take this minute to pray for each of the five people listed there.

– Minute Two: Go to a news app or website and take a minute to scroll through the headlines. Pray for what jumps out at you as a prayer need this day.

– Minute Three: Go to the notepad and spend this minute typing out whatever comes to mind: praise, gratitude, confession, or requests to God.

– Minute Four: Go to your favorite social media site and spend this minute praying for the people who come up on your feed during this minute.

– Minute Five: Go to your photos. Take this moment to scroll through the most recent twenty or so photos. What prayers come to mind? Lift them up to God now.

4. Follow up: After the five-minute prayer is over, take a couple of minutes to talk about the activity together using one or more of the following questions:

Was there anything surprising or unusual that you heard from God when you were using your cell phone to pray today? What was the most important prayer that came through today? How can we incorporate this attitude of prayer as we use our smartphones throughout the week? In your opinion, does technology draw us closer to God or farther away? Talk a little about your opinion.

 

Nurturing Community During Quarantine

 

Catherine Williams led the first Love Lives On group. This photo shows her farewell party.

by Kate Lasko

It is not a group people clamor to join, yet once in you can’t imagine leaving.  Love Lives On is a group where church members who have lost loved ones meet two or three times a month for support and fellowship. The original group is five-plus years strong.  Last year, Pastor Ginny Cetuk and LaVerna reached out to those of us whose losses are newer and rawer  to form a smaller group within the established Love Lives On. Here we share stories of loved ones and in sharing, help each other process loss, cope with loneliness, and, most importantly, understand that grief does not disappear.

When Covid-19 made it clear that our meetings had to occur virtually, I wondered how distance would affect the closeness that our meetings have nurtured.  When life was “normal,” we met in the youth room, sat on comfortable couches and chairs, the only adornments a table supporting a simple wooden cross, a candle, a Bible, and always, a comforting touch at the ready. At 3 p.m. I logged on and one by one familiar faces appeared. Yes the voices were a little tinny and the vocal delays a bit challenging, but Zoom had its advantages. It brought Ginny and Chris from Florida and allowed all of us to meet LaVerna’s cat, who made a guest appearance.

Of course, the most valuable advantage of technology during this quarantine is the ability to connect with others and share joys, concerns, and coping strategies.  Duncan finds joy in cooking, LaVerna rereads a favorite collection of essays on the seven last words of Christ, Ida walks her beloved golden retriever, someone else blasts Beethoven, another journals, and everyone makes phone calls, no texts. As often happens in our meetings, the talking meandered down a variety of paths, and too soon, Pastor Ginny moved us to a closing prayer. As she spoke, I realized my concerns about closeness in distance were silly; only the setting had changed; the people were the same.  Ginny was so right: “Through Christ, miles don’t matter.”