events

NEW CHURCH OFFICE HOURS

Monday through Friday
9:30 AM to 1:30 PM

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Sunday Worship
Please Join us every Sunday
at 10:30 AM for Worship!

Preschool and Sunday School are offered for all children
.

REGULARLY SCHEDULED WEEKLY MEETINGS:

SUNDAY ADULT BIBLE STUDY
12:00 NOON

We are proud to offer bible study twice weekly, where all are welcomed to learn more about the Bible:

FRIDAY MORNING ADULT BIBLE STUDY 10:30 AM

Wednesday 2:00 PM Pastor Fred’s Lectionary Bible Study 

YOUTH GROUP  - Youth Group Meets Sunday Evenings 7:00 PM
(see Youth Group Happenings
for specific dates)

Chancel Choir Rehearsals
Sundays 9:30 AM & Thursdays 8:00 PM

 

REGULARLY SCHEDULED MONTHLY MEETINGS:

Personnel    7:30 PM—First Tuesday /Month

Deacons  7:30 PM—First Tuesday /Month

Committees
7:30 PM—Second Tuesday/Month

Session     7:30 PM—Third Tuesday /Month

Prayer Shawl Ministry– 7:30 PM
Second & Fourth Wednesday

Women’s Circle Meetings

Grace Circle Fourth Tuesday of each month - 2:00 PM
 
Joy Circle    Second Thursday of each month
1:00 PM - Parlor

Lectionary Bible Study

Beginning on Wednesday May 4th, Pastor Fred will be hosting an afternoon Lectionary Bible Study.   In a Lectionary Bible Study, church members (and friends) gather around the biblical texts that come before the congregation each week in worship.   They discover a bit more about not only what the biblical text brings to them, but also the specific questions and concerns that they bring to the Bible.
This study will not be the forum for expert opinions delivered from on high, but a humble gathering of the faithful before the word of God.   The hope is that all the participants, including the pastor, will rediscover in communal study the transformative power of the Bible to shape Christian life.  
Lectionary studies have another recognizable benefit.  They help pastors become better preachers by helping them to better understand the congregations they serve. As Thomas Long has once remarked, “when preachers go to scripture, they must take the people with them, for what will be heard is a word for them.”  Lectionary studies help preachers take their people with them wherever
they go.
 If you think such an informal bible study might be of interest you, come and see.  Our first meeting will take place at 2 p.m., Wednesday, May 4th, in the parlor.

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Men’s Bible Study Group

A men's Bible study group is meeting every Thursday evening at 7 PM.   During this time we will discuss Bible passages as well as current issues that concern men.  Everyone is welcome and feel free to bring friends to share in our discussions.

Bible Study 

We are proud to offer bible study twice weekly, where all are welcomed
to learn more about the Bible:
• Pastor's Lectienary Bible Study-Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m. in the
Pastor's Study
• Friday Morning Bible Study- at 10:30 a.m. in the Parlor 

During this time we discuss passages in the Bible, magazine articles, devotionals, and DVDs and share our thoughts about what the article means to us.  We welcome everyone whether you are a member or a guest of the church.

 


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 Thinking of joining Boy Scouts? Tired of being bored with nothing to do? Would you like to be having fun with a group of your friends? We can make that happen!

Greenlawn/Centerport Pack 877 is inviting your son to join Cub Scouting. In Cub
Scouts, your son will have lots of fun, learn new things and make new friends. But
Cub Scouts is much more than that; it is Jun with a purpose.
Scouting is a family-oriented organization.
Scouting develops character, leadership, communications skills and good
citizenship.
Any boy in grades 1 through 5 can be a Cub Scout!

If you'd like to learn more about Cub Scouts, please contact:
Rob Butler
Pack 877 Cubmaster
(516) 359-8116
Rbutler1@optonline.net

Scott Cohen
Pack 877 Committee Chair
(516) 987-7878
sdsuser@yahoo.com

CELL PHONES FOR SOLDIERS

Since starting Cell Phones for Soldiers  
in 2004, teens Brittany and
Robbie Bergquist
have raised millions of dollars to help our heroes call home.
Proceeds from donated cell phones are used to purchase prepaid calling cards
for American soldiers. Please donate
your newer cell Phones, BlackBerries, iPhones & iPods and join the millions of Americans who have already answered the call to:
“ Help Our Heroes Call Home.”
(CellPhones For Soldiers.com)

A box for your donations can be found
in the Narthex.
With thanks the Missions Committee.

 

 Recovery Zone

The First Presbyterian Church of Greenlawn is a recovery zone for those in and outside the church who are seeking healing.  If you, or anyone you know, would be benefited by a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Al-Anon, or Nar-Anon, please contact the church office, or 12-Step websites, for meeting times.

  One way to start such a conversation is to ask:

  • Who goes to 12-Step meetings and in what condition?
  • What happens when they get there?
  • What is sponsorship and why is it so important?

(1) Twelve-Step members go to meetings because they’re a necessity; their very lives depend on them.  Most 12-Steppers attend meetings not because they want to, but because they realize they must.   They need the meetings, the steps, the program and the fellowship for their very survival.
Wouldn’t our church community be stronger if our members had a better sense of how our very lives depend on our continuing participation in Christian faith practices and traditions?   Wouldn’t our commitment levels deepen if we saw ourselves drawn to or compelled by a larger reality than our passing likes and preferences?  Wouldn’t our discipleship become more faithful if we engaged in Christian disciplines out of some inner sense of necessity?
Twelve Step members have a clear sense of what they need saving from (addictive processes), and what they are being saved for (abstinence, sobriety and service).
Wouldn’t our church community be stronger if its members had a better sense of what they are being saved from and for?  Wouldn’t our witness be more effective if every one of us could state in a few words what it is that is we still need saving from and what it is that is saving our lives right now?
Twelve Step members have been sufficiently humbled by the mess they have made of their lives that they don’t see much point in putting on a show anymore that everything’s fine when it’s not.  
Wouldn’t our church community be stronger if its members achieved a similar honesty regarding the actual condition of their lives rather than how they come across to others?  Wouldn’t the church attract a wider audience if it were recognized as the site where costly truth was regularly spoken?
(2) At their meetings, Twelve-Step members talk not so much about their feelings about things, but about their experience, strength and hope.   They share stories about what they were like, how they are now, and what happened that changed everything around for them.
Wouldn’t our church community be stronger if our own words, before, during and after worship had that same shape and character?
(3) Twelve Step members are encouraged to get sponsors and, when they are ready, to sponsor others; they learn that their helping others who are sick and suffering helps their own sobriety and abstinence.  
Wouldn’t our church community be strengthened if members engaged in more intentional mentoring practices, remembering, of course, that Christ did not come to create spiritual hierarchies among us, but to form inclusive communities characterized by love, service and mutual forbearance?
Diana Butler Bass recently suggested (“The Future of Faith”) that those of us who care about our churches’ survival may need to hear what is being said on the street about conventional religiosity and church life, and to make some appropriate changes. She dared to suggest that “Right now, the church does not need to convert the world.  Rather, the world needs to convert the church.”
Perhaps our 12-Step guests who make use of our buildings for meetings, and who may or may not join us for worship (after all, anonymity is a central 12-Step tradition!), can help our church in its own conversion.  Maybe they can help us to celebrate our distinctive sacrament of defeat, and to discover again at the Cross a Power for life that becomes available only in utter surrender, “not my will, but thine.”

Stewardship

 A Message from the Stewardship Committee

We choose to join churches because we are inescapably drawn to our Creator. We want to learn, understand, and share the love of God. If you've chosen the First Presbyterian Church of Greenlawn, you're part of Christ's body in this place.
As Martin Luther said, "Anyone who is to find Christ must first find the church. How could anyone know where Christ is and what faith in him is unless he knew where his believers are?"
When you receive your Stewardship letter this year, please consider pledging your financial support, but also think about what action you'd like to take in gratitude for the love God has for you.
Your Finance Committee
“I’m Glad My Church Needs Money”
I’m glad my church needs money! If it didn’t, it would mean it wasn’t supporting missionaries and preaching the Gospel in other places and had no missionary zeal.
I’m glad my church needs money! If it didn’t, it would mean it wasn’t doing anything to support the homeless and needy and had no compassion.
I’m glad my church needs money! If it didn’t, it would mean it wasn’t interested in expanding into other areas of service and had no vision.
I’m glad the church needs money! If it didn’t, it would mean it wasn’t interested in providing wholesome activities for our teenagers and had no concern.
I’m glad the church needs money! If it didn’t, it would mean it wasn’t interested in teaching children in those impressionable years and had no future.
Yes, I’m glad my church needs money! The fact that it does means that it has not forfeited its zeal, compassion, expansion, vision, concern, evangelism, and future.
My church needs my gifts and I’m glad. I wouldn’t want to be a member of any other kind.
[Source: The Varyldea Magazine] Submitted by Pastor Fred

Thoughts on Stewardship
“As followers of Jesus today, we cannot keep our money and our faith in separate compartments. By putting our money where our faith is, we tell the world what we really believe.” (Eva Stimson, editor of Presbyterians Today).…
People give money not because the church has needs but because the church meets needs.

Send Somebody

  There was once a little church that had only four members named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.  
            One day there was a really important job to be done in that little church and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.  Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.  Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job.  Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.  It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

 This is Your Church
As Christians, we are called to serve God by serving others. Here at Greenlawn, many members respond to that call by
volunteering their time and talents in one or more of the activities that support our church and community.  Volunteers care for our church and facilities, participate in our worship and music services, nurture each other in times of need, and reach out to lend a helping hand in communities near and far. 

Ask yourself :
“How is God calling Me to His Service?”

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Click here to view photos of Living Nativity

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Have You Named the First Presbyterian Church of Greenlawn in Your Will?

A properly executed will permits you to accomplish goals even after your passing.  One of those goals may be to create a legacy for the First Presbyterian Church of Greenlawn.  A bequest in your will might be a specified amount, a percentage of your estate, or a residual amount (after expenses and other bequests have been deducted).
Speak with your attorney about how best to include the First Presbyterian Church of Greenlawn in your will given your special circumstances.  Although your attorney can assist you with specific language, here is some typical language that might help you get the conversation started with your attorney.
General Bequest.   A general bequest is among the most popular ways to make a planned gift.  In a general bequest, you leave a specified dollar amount: “I give _________ (insert dollar amount) to the First Presbyterian Church of Greenlawn, 497 Pulaski Rd, Greenlawn, NY 11740 as an unrestricted gift.
Percentage of Estate: You can also designate some portion or percentage of your estate: “I give______ % (insert specific percentage) of my estate to the First Presbyterian Church of Greenlawn, 497 Pulaski Rd., Greenlawn, NY 11740, after all debts, taxes, expenses, and all other bequests have been paid as an
unrestricted gift.”
 
Residuary Bequest.  You can also designate what some describe as a residuary bequest: “I give the remainder of the property I own at death to the First Presbyterian Church of Greenlawn, 497 Pulaski Rd, Greenlawn, NY 11740, after all debts, taxes, expenses and all other bequests have been paid as an
unrestricted gift.”

The First Presbyterian Church of Greenlawn has a proud heritage, and your gifts and bequests can assure its continuance into the future.  Thank you for keeping the promise of that future in your prayers.

Have You Named the First Presbyterian Church of Greenlawn in Your Will?
Click here to view article

Where There’s A Will There’s A Way

Although the idea of inheriting the kingdom of God comes up only a few times in the letters of Paul (1 Cor 6:9-10, 15:50; Gal 5:21), it was his way of describing the future that is in store for those who are in Christ.  In Paul’s theology, “inheriting the kingdom of God” refers to our final heavenly existence when believers inherit the heavenly likeness of Christ himself, when the Son hands over the kingdom to the Father, and God is “all in all” (1 Cor. 15:24-25).
One of the things we do when we gather for worship is read God’s will so that all God’s children may know what their inheritance is.  In our time, as in Paul’s, there are lots of folk who don’t expect to hear their names read out loud, and so they never show up for the reading.  As Christ’s evangelists, we share with all God’s children God’s invitation to come, hear and celebrate as all of our names are called. 

We will make that invitation to our family, friends, and neighbors because we know firsthand how wonderful it is to hear our own names on the lips of our Lord. We will make that invitation because we know the energy and purpose that is ours when we hear the words, “Dear child of God, this is yours.  Now go do something with it to bring blessing to my broken world.”    We will make that invitation because we know that when there’s a will there’s a way.

Click Here to read about our
Church's History
  

The First Presbyterian Church of Greenlawn

On August 30, 1872 The First Presbyterian Church of Greenlawn was incorporated.  The original, “little white church,” was dedicated in November 1878 and served the community until 1960; when it was torn down to make way for the current sanctuary.  Ground was broken for the new church in November 1960, the cornerstone ceremony was held in May 1961, and the dedication service was held on December 2, 1962.
We would like to recognize and thank the following members of the church who have faithfully served our church and the Lord for 50 years and longer.  
(Call the church office if you would like to celebrate with and for them).

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Joint Worship with the
Ebenezer Wesleyan Church
 

On October 2, 2011, members of the First Presbyterian Church of Greenlawn joined with members of the Ebenezer Wesleyan Church up in the C.E. hall to celebrate World Communion Sunday.  What a worship-full experience we had in each other’s company.   And what amazing hospitality!
As I later wrote Pastor Rochemond, the coffee hour fellowship our Haitian brothers and sisters hosted for us would have put most Presbyterian churches to shame.    But the hospitality we experienced exemplified a generosity of the Spirit, further testimony to the will of our Lord who prayed that we may all be one.
And so we discovered, as we often do in our mission relationships, that although we sometimes suppose ourselves to be the benefactors, we are really the ones on the receiving end, recipients of the triune love
of God in the neighbors God has given
us to love. 

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45 LIFE LESSONS
~Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio.

  "To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I've ever written.
My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more”:

1.  Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2.  When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3.  Life is too short – enjoy it.
4.  Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.
5.  Pay off your credit cards every month.
6.  You don't have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.
7.  Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8.  It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9.  Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye, but don't worry, God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative of dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you need
42. The best is yet to come...
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

 

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Christmas Season
Worship Scheduling

Our Living Nativity is scheduled for Sunday, December 10th at 5 p.m. followed by our community dinner.   We will join together for regular worship at 10:30 AM on Sunday, December 24th, and will celebrate Christmas Eve with a candlelight service at
8 PM that evening.

December 31st is Pajama Sunday.  Don’t dress up for church, dress down. Come to church the last day of the year in your PJs; your warm fuzzy fleeces; or those comfy clothes that you would wear in the company of those you love and trust, those with whom you feel safe and comfortable.

ANNUAL LIVING NATIVITY
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 10TH
5:00 PM
CHRISTMAS DINNER
6:00 PM

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Thank you to all who participated!

Spotlights - Andrew Infranco & Matthew Polcer
Sound - Mark Polcer
Narrator - Pastor Fred Woodward
Directors - Dawn Polcer & Debbie Eitel
Chef - Gary Prentiss

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Advent

The season of Advent expresses the anticipation and prayer that the Risen Christ, come to us first as a baby, shall come again to establish his rule over everything.  Advent is what we look to when we pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Every year we hear talk about “putting Christ back into Christmas” as if it were up to us to redeem Jesus from irrelevance.  And we hear ominous talk about “the War on Christmas” as if the battle were being fought in our shopping malls rather than in our own hearts.   Let us pray to encounter Christ at Christmas, but also throughout the season of Advent. Let us pray that God might shake off all the lies that have been piling up all around us and in us; that God might free us from our false gods, false certainties, false hopes and false dreams. Remembering that the One who has come shall come yet again- not as an enemy, but with healing in His wings- let us pray that God may turn us around, and surprise us with joy.  This Advent, may we rise up in praise, wonder and hope. Let us live into the blessing of Advent, the end of fear.

 

CHRISTMAS POINSETTIA
MEMORIALS 
$20.00 EACH 
ORDERS BEING TAKEN THROUGH
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 17TH

Contact The Church Office

poinsettia

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Theotokos

The title theotokos (“the bearer (or mother) of God”) became a popular term of devotion for the Blessed Virgin Mary in the first centuries after Christ.  But the title theotokos was not without controversy.  Some thought that to call Mary the mother of God undermined Jesus’ full humanity; others thought it elevated Mary to a too exalted status.
 A millennium later, Meister Eckhart (1260-1328), the German mystic and theologian, was bold to suggest that “We are all meant to be mothers of God.   What good is it to me if this eternal birth of the divine Son takes place unceasingly but does not take place within myself?  And what good is it to me if Mary is full of grace if I am not also full of grace?  What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to his Son if I do not give birth to him in my time and culture?  This then is the fullness of time: When the Son of God is begotten in us.”
As we enter into Advent, may we all be bearers of God in a world some would dismiss as godforsaken.  May our news about our God be the good news for which our broken world so much longs!  May we be bearers of God for the world that God simply loves to death.

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Thursday Walkers

Are you interested in walking the talk? 
Some of our members
have formed  a walkers group. 
Weather permitting, we meet
at the church Thursdays at 1:30 pm,
and stroll through the
neighborhood together, getting exercise
and making connection
with one another and with our God who
loves human bodies
so much he became one Himself.  Speak
with Pastor Fred for further details.

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Stewardship Campaign 2017

It is not too late to make a pledge of giving to our church for 2017.  Our church is facing difficult financial decisions for next year and the years ahead.  Some of these decisions will be made in the next few days and weeks.  Knowing what we can count on through your pledge will help us to make those decisions in the clearest way. If you have not already pledged, or would like to amend the pledge you’ve already made, please contact Linda in the Church’s Office (631-261-2150 or fpcgoffice@gmail.com), and she will mail you a new Pledge Card.

Thank You!
The Finance Committee

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" Matthew 6:21

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FOOD PANTRY NEWS

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PLEASE REMEMBER OUR FOOD PANTRY AS YOU SHOP  FOR GROCERIES OVER THE SUMMER.  OUR  PANTRY IS USED YEAR-ROUND BY MEMBERS OF OUR
COMMUNITY.
THE BOARD OF DEACONS APPRECIATES THE  GENEROSITY OF THE CONGREGATION!

NEW FOOD PANTRY HOURS!

The Board of Deacons has established
hours of operation
 for our Food Pantry since the number of visits to the pantry
has increased over the past year.  
The new hours are Monday-Wednesday-Friday from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm.   
There is an ongoing need for cereal
and pasta.
  
Thanks to all of you who remember our pantry each week as you shop for your family.

The number of visitors to our Food Pantry has been on the rise over the past year

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The Nursery Room

CE is proud to announce that this year we will once again have a nursery available for babies through 2 years old.  The Nursery Room will be appropriately equipped for this age group.  With your help this project will help us serve the needs of all our parishioners.
Please prayerfully consider donating one Sunday to help care for our little ones. 
Wouldn’t it be fun to play Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt or Uncle for an hour or so on Sunday?

There will be three other Sunday School classes each week:
• Children from preschool to second grade will meet in the room next to the Nursery on the lower level.
• Children from 3rd grade through 6th grade will meet in the Sunday School room next to the church Parlor.
• Seventh through 12th graders will meet in the Parlor.
We will be using the Gospel Light curriculum and young peoples literature written by Jack Crabtree and other noted authors.  Help the CE Committee have another successful year.  Volunteer to teach and/or share your faith with our young people.

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
Proverbs 22:6

VOLUNTEERING

Here is what some mighty fine people have said about VOLUNTEERING. 
They can’t all be wrong.

“Everyone can be great because everyone can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t even have to make your subject and verb agree to serve . . .you only need a heart full of grace.” 
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.  
1John 3:18

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.  1Peter 4:10

Volunteers are not paid -- not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless. ~Anon

If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else. ~ Booker T. Washington   

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. ~Ghandi  

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” ~Albert Schweitzer

“The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.” ~Mark Twain

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” ~William James

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” ~Edward Everett Hale

“Not only must we be good, but we must also be good for something.” ~Henry David Thoreau

Volunteering is not a choice, it's a responsibility.   ~Anon

 

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Reminder: Please return your 2017 Pledge Card to the church as
soon as possible so the Finance Committee can begin budget
planning for next year.  Thank you.

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FLOWERS FOR THE CHANCEL
Each Sunday flowers beautify the Chancel of ourchurch. We would encourage any and all to donate flowers for birthdays, anniversaries, "in memory of', etc. A check for $35 should be made to Greenlawn Presbyterian Church.
To order flowers, please call
the church office (631-261-2150)
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PRAYER CORNER
December 2017

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PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Your prayers make a difference! 
Please lift up the following in prayer:
(Contact the church office or pastor for more information, or if you would like to be added to the e-mail distribution of prayer partner) 
        

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For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  ~Isaiah 9:6


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MY PRAYER
~Kathryn Myers

May these be yours this joyous
Christmas season—
Such hope as shepherds harbored long ago,
Such gratitude as wise men felt within them
That prompted each his present to bestow,
Such knowledge as the humble
mother pondered,
That He will come to all who will accept,
Such peace as knew the beasts with
in the stable
Who mid the town’s confusion calmly slept,
Such joy as filled the mighty angel chorus
Whose anthem through the star-pierced heaven rang.
May these be yours this joyous
Christmas season,
And your heart sing the song the angels sang!

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GIVING
~Norman Vincent Peale

True fulfillment comes through giving.  If you think only of yourself,
your life will stagnate, for what really makes life worthwhile is giving
yourself to others in Christ’s name.  Take risks, lose yourself in people
and causes outside yourself, and you will find deep inner joy.
The more you give to life, the more you receive from it.

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“Christmas is a golden chain that binds a family in faith, hope,
And love…drawing each to the open hearth of togetherness.”

~Juanita Johnson

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AN ALPHABET OF CHRISTMAS
~Anon

A is for Animals who shared the stable.
B for the Babe with their manger for cradle.
C for the Carols so blithe and so gay.
D for December, the twenty-fifth day.
E for the Eve when we’re all so excited.
F for the Fun when the tree’s at last lighted.
G is the Goose which you all know is fat.
H is the Holly you stick in your hat.
I for the Ivy that clings to the wall.
J is for Jesus, the cause of it all.
K for the Kindness begot by this feast.
L is the Light shining way in the east.
M for the Mistletoe, all green and white.
N for the Noels we sing Christmas night.
O for the Oxen, the first to adore Him.
P for the Presents Wise Men laid before Him.
Q for the Queerness that this should have been
    Near two thousand years before you were seen.
R for the Reindeer leaping the roofs.
S for the Stockings that Santa Claus stuffs.
T for the Toys, the Tinsel, the Tree.
U is for Us—the whole family.
V is for Visitors bringing us cheer.
W is Welcome to the happy New Year.
X Y Z bother me!  All I can say,
    Is this is the end of my Christmas day.
    So now to you all, wherever you be,
    A merry, merry Christmas, and many may you see

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A SISTERHOOD APART
~Nina Stiles

I often think that had a mother been
The hostess there that evening at the inn,
There would have been no question of a stall.
She would have found some place within her hall
For Mary to lay down her tired head,
Perhaps she would have given her own bed.
And in the cradle of her own wee son,
She might have placed that night the Holy One;
Not with the thought of harboring a King,
Or any hope of gain her act might bring,
But from the simple goodness of her heart,
For mothers are a sisterhood apart.

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littlelamb

O, Little Lamb, Who Made Thee? 
A Christmas Tale
By Karen Zauytk

It was cold in the stable that night, and the animals were huddled together for warmth. The cows and the oxen and the donkeys.
And one little lamb.
   Sad, scrawny little lamb, born lame and frail.  Too frail to be out with the flock in the fields.  The shepherds had carried it into the stable, where it would be safe from the wind and the wolves, for both the wolves and the wind came down from the hills with a fierceness
in wintertime.
The lamb had food and shelter, but that was not enough.  It was lonely.  Separated from its mother, it felt unloved.  The other animals tried to be kind, but they had no time.  During the day, they were busy working: The cows had milk to make, the oxen had earth to plow, and the donkeys had carts to pull.
At night they were all very tired.  They’d feed upon the fodder, and then go right to bed.  None would talk, none would play.  None would even sing a lullaby to a lamb that needed comfort.  Every night the lamb would cry, and be told to hush, for its bleats disturbed their sleep.
Thus, that night, the lamb cried without making a sound, as it had learned to do.  And it looked at the strangers who were sharing the stable.  At the man, who held the woman’s hand and spoke to her so softly.  And especially at the woman, who spoke not at all.
  Huddled together, the animals slept, and eventually the lamb slept, too.  And the
night was silent.
But then, in the darkest hour, there was no more darkness and no more silence.  There was the cry of a baby.  And the stable shone with the brightness of lights and there were voices ringing in the air.
The animals, shaken from their dreams, were frightened.  They stamped their hooves and tossed their heads and made their frightened-animal noises, but the light was so lovely and the voices so beautiful, it wasn’t long before they quieted and began to lose their fear.
And when the light had dimmed to a glow, and the voices were only an echo, there in their manger, they saw the baby, and their eyes went wide with wonder.
The animals murmured but would not approach until the woman beckoned.  Then, one by one, the beasts came forward.  All, that is, except the lamb, which was only a baby itself and still terribly afraid.  Forgotten by the others, it trembled in a corner and tried to hide beneath the hay.
But the baby in the manger was trembling, too.  The cold of the night had returned, and the baby had started to shiver.  When the animals saw this, they huddled closer about the crib.
The man took off his cloak and made a blanket of it, but the cloak was thin and threadbare and provided little warmth.
The woman held the baby to her breast.  He shivered still, and she began to weep.
And the lamb, which knew what weeping meant, lifted itself from the hay.  Though it was still afraid, it left its hiding place.  It made its way among the legs of the bigger beasts, until it stood beside the woman, and it laid its head against her knee.
  And the softest of hands reached down and stroked its wool.
  And the gentlest of hands picked it up and tucked it into the manger straw, and tucked the baby in beside it, and covered them both with the cloak.  The baby snuggled near, and smiled, and closed his eyes.
   And the lamb was very glad it had learned to cry without making a sound.  Because it was crying now and didn’t want to wake the child.
            But the lamb wasn’t crying because it was sad.  It was crying because, at last, it didn’t feel alone.  Or afraid.  Or unloved.
            Then the lamb closed its eyes, too.  And the woman sang a lullaby.

 

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Anxiety: The Primary Diagnosis

It is helpful to notice how anxiety presents itself not only in our own lives, but also in our congregations: sometimes as anger, sometimes as grief, and sometimes simply as stuckness.
When we are anxious:
• we demand certainty while
sacrificing curiosity;
• we engage in black/white (yes/no; either/or), all or nothing thinking
• we look for quick fixes and, when they are unavailable, our defensive behavior
can create gridlock;
• we stiffen our positions over and against others and tighten our perspective;
• we lose our ability to hear without distortion, and our capacity to respond
clearly and graciously
When we are anxious about some circumstance, that something has happened or may happen, our primary problem is often not that circumstance, but our anxiety about that circumstance.   It is that anxiety bars us from full life in the present.

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