Jim Bryden, Maggie Little, Victor Recchi, Judith Youngman, Susan Kemnitz (choir)
David and Sally Craig
Fred and Alice Hauser
Alison Hopper and Dorothy Snyder
Alison Hopper and Dorothy Snyder
Young and Cathy Park
pastor’s corner I’ve always been reasonably cognizant of my responsibilities as a consumer in our complex web of globalized economy. Though it’s not always easy to turn a deaf ear to “cheap premium” products calling my name, I, like many others, have been trying to see the big picture, reminding myself that people far away, many of them children, continue to endure blood, sweat and tears just to put a smile on this shopper’s face. Coffee is one of those commodities. My recent preoccupation with finding ways to brew great tasting coffee at home has made me inattentive to the underbelly of the global coffee trade. I have long suspected foul play, but I was prepared to forego politics because, I reasoned, enjoying your daily cup of coffee shouldn’t oblige you to undergo self-flagellation, having to brave accusations of complicity in unethical, let alone criminal endeavor. I enjoy a good cup of coffee; it’s a daily ritual I cannot do without. By the time you read this, with anticipation I’ll be grinding coffee beans in my new $20 burr grinder from Amazon. The pleasure however might be cut short as Song will undoubtedly gripe about my undisciplined shopping habit on coffee products, grumbling, “You’ve bought another thing for coffee? Again?!” (In addition to my recently purchased and often used French Press, I also have a Keurig and Mr. Coffee, which, contrary to Song’s allegation, have not been abandoned but are taking an extended hiatus.) Though I was perfectly poised to allow my taste bud to override my brain, my recent surge of interest in coffee has, by accident, led me to the politics of coffee, rekindling my resolve to enjoy my cup of coffee without “the bitter taste” in my mouth. I’ve learned that coffee is the world's second most valuable traded commodity (first is oil). It was traditionally developed as a colonial cash crop, planted by serfs or wage laborers. It seems not much has changed concerning the second largest traded commodity. Coffee producers, like most agricultural workers around the world, are kept in a cycle of poverty and debt by the current global economy designed to exploit cheap labor and keep consumer prices low. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, coffee is produced with forced labor and with child labor. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that there are 250 million working children, 120 million of whom work full time (no school), in order to provide for their struggling
families. But it’s not all bad news. In 2000, the U.S. imported around 4.3 million pounds of Fair Trade Certified coffee. Ten years later, the amount increased to almost 109 million pounds. Presbyterians Today has put out a special January/February 2016 issue that focuses on human trafficking (modern slavery)--“Children of God-not for sale.” It’s a troubling expose of an interconnected mechanism that could even turn someone who might be appalled at the mere mention of slavery into an unsuspecting accomplice; think coffee. Patrick David Heery, the editor of Presbyterians Today, however, reminds us that awareness, not guilt, can be a source of empowerment: We often think of trafficking as something that someone
else does somewhere else. The truth, however, is that it’s happening in each of our communities, and we helped put
it there. I don’t say this to make us feel guilty; your guilt does little
good to anyone. Rather, by recognizing our role in the root
causes of trafficking, we are empowered to make a dent in
$32 billion industry. But we can make a difference... Whether watching Joseph at the Sight and Sound Millennium Theater or reading about him in the Bible, we are accustomed to condemning Joseph’s brothers. The hard truth, the painful truth, however, is that “we”--as Heery correctly states--“like Joseph’s brothers, sell the people we are supposed to love,” in our innocuous quest for a great tasting cup of coffee, if we’re not mindful. Surely, it’s not about guilt; it’s about awareness. Intentional lifestyle changes that stem from this awareness can alleviate the suffering of our neighbors who live thousands of miles away. Let us join our fellow Presbyterians and conscientious partners in imitating foolishness, welcoming inconvenience (search for Fair Trade commodities) and sacrifice (not exactly a bargain), to fight human trafficking and forced labor, to offer abundant life to all.
Our Beloved Hymns As promised, the hymn cycle begins anew. Hymns and melodies that we know and love resurface with the New Year. In 2015 we learned 5 new melodies. Each time we try a new hymn we evaluate whether it was an easy response. A Cheering, Chanting, Dizzying Crowd didn’t pass the muster; and not because we didn’t like it; but because, after using it on the only day it works, Palm Sunday, we decided there are too many other familiar hymns for that feast that we would rather sing.
Those that were successful selections were, All Who Hunger, Gather Gladly; Will You Come and Follow Me; Christ, be Our Light and Your Only Son. Those hymns will be used again in 2016
The other interesting success story with new hymns is the texts set to tunes we already know. There were a dozen examples throughout this last year; I shall share three of them. God, Whose Giving Knows No Ending is sung to the tune BEACH SPRING. We sang it from our old hymnal and this year sang it from the new. Often congregants will mention to me, “that hymn seemed familiar and was easy to sing, but we just don’t know it.” Sure we do! The next time you sing that melody you will be singing the text, Wash, O God, Your Sons & Daughters or Loaves Were Broken, Words Were Spoken. Do you see how appropriate text can be implemented into our service without new hymn melodies? That is what has been happening this past year.
Another example is the hymn tune LAND OF REST. Do you know the melody we use for the Holy, Holy and Christ Has Died acclamations on Communion Sunday? Did you recognize it when we sang it twice last year with the text We Come to You for Rest? And…the same tune is used for Lord, Bid Your Servant Go In Peace, a concluding hymn later this year.
The tune HOLY MANNA is a hymn text in itself; Presbyterians have sung it for a hundred years. In the past we used it as the hymn God, Who Stretched the Spangled Heavens. This year we used the tune with the text, Brethren, We Have Met to Worship. This next season prepare for the return of: Great Is Thy Faithfulness; Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing; O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing; Arise, Your Light Has Come; We Are One in the Spirit (You know, that old campfire song); Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above; Here I Am, Lord; Will You Come and Follow Me; Jesus, Take Us To the Mountain; Be Thou My Vision; To God be the Glory.
Organ News Uh oh! Did you hear the chime melody on O Come, O Come, Emmanuel miss a note? That was because the E above middle C played correctly on the 1st Sunday of Advent; but on the 2nd Sunday it failed to play. So part way through the solo line, the organist ‘changed the melody!’ That’s one of those pesky things with a pipe organ. One never knows when something is going to pop; and it’s never at a good time; it happened the weekend our violin guests were here. I hope it won’t be a big event in the spring when the organ tuner comes because not having one note for a particular rank of solo pipes ruins the entire rank, leaving it unusable.
This same problem exists with solo ranks on the Swell-Oboe and Cornopean as well as the Great-Trumpet; interestingly, all on the same pitch. David Craig and I sat down and pounded (sort of) on the blank notes and suddenly they came back. These issues aren’t as pressing as the chime note, but someday we will need to remove the entire 3 ranks and have then cleaned. This was what we did with the wooden pipes last year. Fear not! There is no current need to anticipate organ expense for a while; but it’s always good to keep issues in the back of our minds to be ready for future problems.
And of course, we always need new choir members!!! Submitted by Phil Krepps
D E A C O N S’ D O I N ’S Love Letters As we glance through the announcements section of the Sunday bulletin, we can note that day's recipient of a Love Letter.
The Deacons encourage you to find the Love Letter on the lectern next to the piano and take a quick moment to write a note or simply sign with 'thinking of you' on the letter. This is one way that we as a caring congregation can personally connect who those who need a meaningful note to brighten their day.
DEACONS’ GREETING CARD COLLECTION Each month the Deacons forward a variety of greeting cards to members and friends of First Church.
And in December, the Presbyterian Women bundled and wrapped cards from your donations as gifts to the Presbyterian Home residents during our annual Christmas party there. This year, many expressed how lovely the cards were as well as their sincere appreciation.
Thank you and continue to fill the basket in the Lounge so we can build another great collection this year.
SOUPer BOWL OF CARING SOUPer Bowl Sunday is one way to help our area Food Pantry and Family Promise to assist people in need. It is an effort to glorify God and care for “the least of these” by giving nonperishable food items for Super Bowl Sunday, February 7.
Food focus is chunky soups, saltines, healthy snacks, and canned fruit.
Donations can be placed in the soup pots in the church lounge beginning January 10. Our collection totals will be tallied during the Super Bowl game and then distributed locally. Reporting your collection enables the full impact of this simple act of caring to be determined and announced.
DEACONS’ ONGOING EYEGLASSES COLLECTION We are so encouraged to see a continual supply of eyewear that we can forward to the Lions Club for recycling.
Please continue to place your used prescription or non-prescription eyeglasses, sunglasses, clip-ons, and cases in the designated basket that is back in the Lounge.
SHEPHERD OF THE STREETS Clients at the Shepherd of the Streets need 2016 calendars to keep track of their appointments. If you have any type or size (even pocket size) of calendars that you can donate, a drop-off box is now in the Lounge for your convenience. Let's put to good use all of those extra calendars we often receive from various charities or businesses.
And of course, the hallway bin is available for your donations of personal hygiene items as well as bedding.
PAPER RECYCLING Please find the basket as you exit the Sanctuary into the Lounge for Coffee and Fellowship to recycle today’s bulletins unless you want yours to take home. Also, Karen graciously receives any type of paper for recycling in the church office.
CHANCEL FLOWERS We begin the new year with so many opportunities for providing Chancel flowers.
Please consider looking over your new calendars to highlight special times throughout the year when you might want to honor family and friends or just to enhance worship services in praise of our Heavenly Father.
Remember that each Sunday someone from the congregation, a shut-in, or at a local nursing home receives your flower offering to brighten their days ahead.
Available Dates: January 17 & 31
February 7, 21 & 28
For more information or to reserve a date, contact Ann Recchi at 832-816-5885.
WOMEN OF FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH A story, caroling, and refreshments with our friends at the Presbyterian Home was a lovely evening and enjoyed by all. It is always nice to renew old friendships and make new friends. The Angel Tree gifts for the children at Sojourner Truth Ministries were delivered and greatly appreciated. Thank you for participating in this project. Also, thanks to everyone who helped with placing the poinsettias in the sanctuary and with the Christmas Dinner. Our church and the Fellowship Hall looked most festive. The Presbyterian Women will meet for a 2016 planning meeting on Wednesday, January 6 at 1:30 p.m. in the church nursery. Bring your 2016 calendars. Women of the church come and join us. Peace, Joy, and Love in the New Year
TIME WITH YOUNG DISCIPLES Our first children’s sermon of 2016 is January 17, when we will discuss new beginnings. How wonderful it would be to start off the year by filling our chancel steps with young people!
Our church, along with St. Mark’s Lutheran, will be serving Family Promise, February 7 - 14. Please mark your calendars.