Hope in this Season
A major story of this past month has been the fires in California. As we enter the Advent season, here are some thoughts about that story and the need for hope.
One of the politicians I have admired from afar is a former mayor of Fort Lee named Burt Ross. In 1974 he was a 31 year old mayor who was offered a bribe of $500,000 to support an unpopular construction development which include the property of Fort Lee Gospel Church. Mayor Ross wore an FBI wire tap which led to the developer going to jail.
This year Burt Ross was living in Malibu California where a fire destroyed his whole house and a lifetime of memories. To read columnist Mike Kelly’s interview with Burt Ross was very sad.
Another story from California which I learned about this month is that we have a sister church called Paradise Alliance Church. Paradise California is a community of 27,000 people which was almost completely destroyed by the Camp Fire this past month. I have come to learn that Paradise Alliance church is a congregation of 3000 with a staff of 21 people. 18 of the 21 staff and most of the congregation lost their homes. Remarkably, the church building survived the fire and is one of only two large buildings standing in addition to the local high school.
I have read a few story about Paradise Alliance Church and the challenges they face. They do not know what the church will become and they face an unprecedented rebuilding process. One theme that comes from the stories about the church is they have ‘hope.’ The church is focused on being the light and love of Jesus to a community with great needs. I believe the words of Esther fit their situation, “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Est. 4:14) Esther became a queen so she could be positioned to save her people. Paradise Alliance Church building and congregation are in a position to offer hope, healing and good news in their burnt out community.
What about us? How would we respond to the loss of all out earthly possessions? I would not wish the devastation of a fire on any one of us, but it is a good question to consider. How tied are we to the things we collect, buy, and value?
Jesus taught, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt 6:19-21)
Just over 2000 years ago Jesus was born in Bethlehem to bring hope to a hurting world. Matthew 1:23 says, “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Jesus is still ‘God with us’ in the problems of life. In addition, Jesus offers ‘us with God’ for eternity for those who place their faith in Jesus.
My prayer for you and your family is that you enjoy a hope and faith filled Christmas season as we remember the birth of our Savior!
December Events at Fort Lee Gospel Church
11:00 AM Worship Service Our weekly service including worship through singing, prayer, preaching and fellowship. Nursery and three children’s classes are available.
9:00 AM Chinese Worship Service The Chinese worship service is led by Pastor William Cheung. He can be reached at 914-282-3399.
1:30 PM Korean Worship Service Contact Pastor Jaedoo Lee for further details at (646)464-2448.
5:30 PM Spanish Worship Service Contact Rev. Esteban Canales at 973-510-8834 for more details.
7:00 PM, Dec 2 & 16 Evening Service Our Sunday evening service usually meets on the first and third Sunday of the month.
1:30 PM, Dec 9 & 23 NYC Nursing Home Ministry A group leads a service twice a month at a nursing home in NYC.
12:30 PM, Dec 23 Church Dinner Our monthly meal will take place on the Sunday before Christmas.
1:15 PM, Dec 16 Seniors Ministry A group leads a service at an assisted living facility in Teaneck.
12:30 PM, Tuesdays Men’s Lunch & Bible Study We meet for a meal before we study the Bible and pray together.
7:30 PM, Tuesdays Bible Study The group is going through the “Purpose Driven Life” study.
6:00 AM, Wednesdays Morning Prayer Morning prayer meeting on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
7:30 PM, Monday, Dec 24 Christmas Eve Service See page 3 for details.
9:00 PM—Midnight, Dec 31 New Year’s Eve Services See page 3 for details.
6:00 AM Morning Prayer Morning prayer meeting combining personal and group prayer meets every Saturday.
2:00 PM, Dec 1 & 15 Women’s Bible Study This group meets on alternating Saturdays.
5:00 PM, Dec 1 & 15 Couple’s Bible Study An 8 study session looking at what the Bible says about marriage.
6:30 PM, Dec 8 Women’s Christmas Tea See page 3 for details.
6:00 PM, Dec 15 Youth Group For those in 7th grade through their teens. Special Christmas Event
Read Through the Bible in 2019
Joshua 1:8 says, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
One way to get to know God’s Word better is to read it through in a year. If that seems too big a challenge, you can read the New Testament through in a year.
The church has made available a reading guide which is divided between Old Testament, Proverbs, Psalms and New Testament. If you do the four daily readings, you will have read every verse in the Bible in 365 days.
The reading guide is available through the month of December and can be started at any time. You can adapt it to include family readings or morning and evening readings. There is also instruction on journaling with the SOAP method.
Plan to grow in your faith this year by investing time in reading God’s Word.
Christmas Eve Service
Fort Lee Gospel Church will have a Christmas Eve Candle and Carol Service at 7:30 PM on Sunday, December 24th. We will be joined by some of our sister churches for a combined worship service.
The service includes a number of traditional Christmas Carols, special music, Scripture readings, Christmas poems, and a brief Christmas message. The service is expected to be about 75 minutes in length and is suitable for the whole family. You will find that this is one of the most uplifting services of the year. You will want to plan your Christmas events to include this time of worship.
Plan to make our church’s Christmas Eve service a special part of your Christmas celebration.
New Year’s Eve Service
The New Year’s Eve Service on Monday, December 31 will begin at 9:00 PM and run through Midnight. We welcome you to join us for this special event.
The schedule for New Year’s Eve will include a service reflecting on the past year from 9:00—10:00 PM. This will include a time to give God thanks for His blessings. Then we will have an hour for refreshments and fellowship. Our final service will be from 11:00 PM—Midnight, including a communion service to bring in the new year. We will be joined by our sister churches.
Our Christian faith reminds us that we are made new through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. As every year starts as a new slate, so we start 2019 filled with new possibilities and opportunities.
Women’s Christmas Tea: December 8
On Saturday, December 8th, the women will meet at church for a Christmas Tea from 6:30—8:30 PM. This annual event will include singing Christmas carols, fellowship, a Christmas devotional, and various Christmas foods will be shared. The theme this year is “River Dwellers: Staying Close with Jesus”
Women are encouraged to bring an appetizer or dessert to share with the group. All women should plan to be a part of this encouraging time of fellowship and worship.
The Saturday Women’s Bible Study will meet on December 1st and 15th. This study meets at 2:00 PM and the topic continues to be Christ in the Old Testament.
Ladies, plan to be a part of these Bible Studies and the Christmas Tea.
Crèche Lighting Dedication
On Sunday, December 9th at 6:00 PM some Fort Lee churches will combine to dedicate the crèche and sing Christmas Carols. The figures of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus have been on display every Christmas season on the corner of Lemoine and Main St. for the past 20 years.
Recently the crèche was repainted and lights were added to the display which stands along side a Hanukah menorah.
Pastor Rick along with clergy from at First Reformed Church and Church of the Madonna have made plans to dedicate the crèche this Christmas along with a time for singing Carols.
This is our third year participating in this event and we were blessed in the past. Plan to join with others from the community to says some prayers and sing Carols and dedicate this testimony to the real meaning of Christmas.
One Solitary Life
How do you explain the greatness of the Man whose birthday we celebrate on Christmas.
He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village, where He worked in a carpenter’s shop until He was 30. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never had a family or owned a home. He never set foot inside a big city. He never traveled 200 miles from the place where He was born. He never wrote a book or held an office. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself.
Although He walked the land over, curing the sick, giving sight to the blind, healing the lame, and raising people from the dead, the top established religious leaders turned against Him. His friends ran away. He was turned over to enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was spat upon, flogged, and ridiculed. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While He was dying, the executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth, and that was His robe. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave though the pity of a friend.
Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone, and today He is the central Figure for much of the human race. All the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever sailed, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as this One Solitary Life.
– by George Clarke Peck