MINISTER – FRAN HAYES

Does it feel to you, as it does to me, that we just celebrated Christmas? In this season after Epiphany, we've been hearing gospel stories about how Jesus was baptized and began calling disciples to work with him to carry out his mission in the world. Jesus called them together to form a new community that was the beginning of the church. I love this season, because it focuses on what it means to be a “called out” community whose purpose is to exhibit the kingdom of God to the world, and I don't feel ready to leave it.

However, this year, Easter is early, so Ash Wednesday and Lent are early. Honestly, I'm not sure I feel ready for Lent. It isn't a season many would say is their favorite. There are no Lenten parties or gifts or carols. The themes and customs of the season include fasting, giving up things, and repentance.

So why do we observe Lent? Do we need it?

I think we do. For many of us, there always seems to be so much to do. Sometimes, in the midst of all the busy-ness, we might forget that we were created as “human beings,” and not as “human doings.” The gospel stories make it clear that Jesus struggled with busyness too. The crowds kept coming, making demands on his time and energy. Yet throughout the time of his earthly ministry, Jesus was very intentional in setting time apart for prayer and to have his spirit refreshed and renewed.

I think Jesus' first followers must have followed his example, because historians tell us that in the earliest centuries of the movement, People would look at the Christian community and marvel, “See how they love one another! See how joyful they are!” Followers of the risen Christ were living as joyful Easter people and tending to their relationships with God and one another, and people outside the church could see it.

Over the centuries, Christians' passionate devotion and joy seemed to fade. In response, the church announced a season of Lent. The roots of the word used to describe the season of preparation for Easter are related to “spring,” which suggests that Lent is an invitation to a spring time for our souls.

The season of Lent can be a real gift to us when we see it as an opportunity to pay attention to our spiritual hungers and a time to find hope in the story of God's saving, transforming love for us. If we commit ourselves to the spiritual disciplines of Lent, they can refresh and teach and strengthen us, so that we are empowered to live more fully as God's Easter people.

My hope and prayer for us this Lent is that we will make time to nurture our spirits. May we be refreshed and strengthened, so that our Easter faith will overflow into how we live out our mission, carrying God's love and peace and justice out into the world.

Peace…Shalom…Salam.

SCRIPTURE READINGS
(Based on Revised Common Lectionary)

February 4
Hebrew Scripture-Isaiah 40:21-31
Psalm 147:1-11, 20c
Epistle Lesson-1 Corinthians 9:16-23
Gospel Lesson-Mark 1:29-39

February 11
Hebrew Scripture-2 Kings 2:1-12
Psalm 50:1-6
Epistle Lesson-2 Corinthians 4:3-6
Gospel Lesson-Mark 9:2-9

February 14 Ash Wednesday
Hebrew Scripture-Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 or Isaiah 58:1-12
Psalm 51:1-17
Epistle Lesson-2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10
Gospel Lesson-Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

February 18
Hebrew Scripture-Genesis 9:8-17
Psalm 25:1-10
Epistle Lesson-1 Peter 3:18-22
Gospel Lesson-Mark 1:9-15

February 25
Hebrew Scripture-Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
Psalm 22:23-31
Epistle Lesson-Romans 4:13-25
Gospel Lesson-Mark 8:31-38

PRAYER MINISTRY

BIBLE VERSE
Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
John 13:34 (NIV)


VALENTINE STORY
Last night I helped my grandsons get valentines ready for their preschool party. The cards, which featured a variety of bright characters, had to be pulled apart at perforated seams. Small heart stickers were included to hold the folded cards together.

We were pushing the bedtime limit, sitting at the kitchen table in a circle of overhead light. Drake, five, laboriously printed his name over and over. His brother, three, attached heart stickers while his daddy wrote BROCK on all of his cards. My job was licking all sixty-eight envelopes.

Brock finished his task first, and as he was leaving to go up to bed, he came over to Drake and stuck a red heart sticker on his brother's shirt. Drake stopped his printing and looked at the small bright spot of color on his sleeve. “Look, Nina,” he said, “Brock gave me this. He must love me.”

Sometimes we grown-ups make love way more complicated than it needs to be. A simple gesture, a kind touch, an unexpected card can all say, “I care about you.” And, of course, so can a bright red heart sticker.
Daily Guideposts 2011


PRAYER
God, thank You for loving me unconditionally.
Help me pass that love along today to someone who needs it.
Mary Lou Carney


FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Doing something positive toward another
person is a practical approach to feeling
good about yourself.
Barbara Johnson

BLESSINGS IN A BACKPACK FUNDRAISER!

Friday, February 2, 2018
5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.

Spaghetti Dinner @ Good Shepherd United Methodist Church
(1570 Mason, Dearborn)
Adults: $8
Children 6 to 12: $3
Children 5 and under: free

Dinner includes: spaghetti (choice of meat or vegetarian sauce), salad bar, bread, various homemade desserts, and choice of beverage.
ALL ticket sales plus donations will go to the Blessings in a Backpack program in Dearborn.

MARY CIRCLE

February 5 @ 7:30 p.m.

The study will be over Lesson 5 in Cloud of Witnesses, the Horizons Bible Study.

This circle normally meets the first Monday of every month and shares a devotional, study and dessert. If you have an interest in this Women's Circle, please contact the church office. All women are welcome!

TAIZE WORSHIP SERVICE

February 6 @ 7:00 p.m.

Light, prayer and music are woven together in a contemplative prayer service. Short, simple songs, repeated again and again, help one enter into a meditative state. Thus, this meditative singing becomes a way of listening to God. All are invited, regardless of faith background and age, to come and renew your spirit. You are invited to dress comfortably and casually. Invite a friend!

EVANGELISM & MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE

On Wednesday, January 10, the Engage! Book Group viewed the Netflix documentary “13th”, a very powerful piece on race and mass incarceration. If you have a Netflix subscription, I urge you to take 90 minutes to watch it if you have not done so all ready.

The next Engage! Book Group meeting is on Wednesday, February 7, to discuss Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison by Shaka Senghor. We will gather at 6:15 p.m. for a pizza and salad dinner. The book discussion will follow at 7:00 p.m. Writing My Wrongs is available in Kindle, hard cover and paperback. Amazon.com states: “Writing My Wrongs is a page-turning portrait of life in the shadow of poverty, violence, and fear; an unforgettable story of redemption and a compelling witness to our country's need for rethinking its approach to crime, prison, and the men and women sent there.” Shaka Senghor is a native Detroiter who grew up on the east side.

Trip to The Arab-American National Museum on Sunday, February 11, at 3:00 p.m. The Arab-American National Museum has a special, temporary exhibit “Them: Objects of Separation, Hatred and Violence.” As described by the museum: “This temporary exhibition explores artifacts and images from the early 20th century to present day that reflect and encourage separation, hate and violence. These items, even those sometimes excused as “harmless fun,” foster prejudice and discrimination. Created by the Jim Crow Museum for Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University and expanded in conjunction with AANM, this exhibition exposes the prevalence of stereotyping in our society and helps visitors resist these messages.” The museum is located on Michigan Avenue one block west of Schaeffer Rd. Please go to the museum website arabamericanmuseum.org for admission fees. Afterwards, we will gather for dinner at a local restaurant. We hope you will come and join us!

Finding Peace in Lent: Reflections on the Saint Francis Peace Prayer by James E. Adams is our Lenten devotional. The publisher states: “Finding Peace in Lent gives readers the opportunity to enliven their prayer life by reflecting upon and praying the St. Francis Peace Prayer. Readers will also be prepared to put their prayer into action each day of Lent, bringing themselves and others closer to the peace of Christ.” Each day during Lent you will be presented with a scripture passage and a brief devotional followed by challenging questions.

CENTS-ABILITY HUNGER OFFERING:

On Sunday, February 11, we will be collecting our first Cents-ability (Two Cents a Meal) offering for 2018. It will have been 154 days (22 weeks) since our last collection on September 10. At 3 meals/day x $.02/meal we should have collected $9.24 in our containers. Since we all have more than enough to eat, this is an opportunity help others who struggle with food insecurity. Our portion of this offering will go to help support Blessings in a Backpack.

ANNUAL MEETING

On Sunday, February 11, we will have our Annual Ecclesiastical and Corporate meeting as required in our by-laws. Please plan to attend.

SAVE THE DATE:
ASH WEDNESDAY POTLUCK & WORSHIP SERVICE - FEBRUARY 14

Our Presbyterian Women will be hosting our annual potluck in the Lounge at 6:00 p.m. with a Worship Service to follow at 7:00 p.m. A sign-up sheet will be in the library, closer to the dinner, for those of you who would like to enjoy some home cooking!

LENTEN BOOK STUDY

Our Lenten Book Study will begin on Tuesday, February 20, and will meet weekly until March 20. We will begin with a simple soup and salad meal at 6:15 p.m. followed by the book discussion at 7:00 p.m. This year we are reading Always with Us? What Jesus Really Said about the Poor by Liz Theoharis, an ordained PC(USA) minister. In light of the fact that this is the 50th anniversary of the Poor People's Campaign, our PC(USA) Moderators are recommending the whole church should read this book in 2018. We have a copy of the book available for you to see. The book is available on Kindle, as well as, through book stores. Since this book costs $18.50, we will have a few copies available on a “pay as able” basis. Please contact the church office for more details.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR!
Friday, February 23

Movie Night at Littlefield! Looking for a night of food, fellowship, film, and fun? If so, at 6:00 p.m. we will start with a pot luck dinner and then watch Hidden Figures, a movie about the black female mathematicians who worked for NASA in the early days of the race to the moon. This is a great way to celebrate Black History Month. We look forward to seeing you, family, and friends joining us in the church Lounge!

MEN'S BIBLE STUDY GROUP
February 26 @ 6:30 p.m.

The group will continue the study of Theology for Presbyterians, Session Three, Jesus Christ for Presbyterians. This group normally meets the fourth Monday of every month. If you have any questions, please contact the church office. All men are invited.

PRESBYTERIAN WOMEN

The PWPD (Presbyterian Women of the Presbytery of Detroit) will hold its annual retreat on Saturday, March 24. It will be held at First Presbyterian Church in Dearborn. The keynote speaker will be Renee Warman who is known for being a motivational speaker, involved in GLOW women's ministries, and has recorded many Christian songs with her family and choir. More details will follow.

If you haven't already done so, please consider making a pledge to the Presbyterian Women. This Mission Pledge touches every aspect of PW at all levels ñ leadership development training, justice and peace advocacy, mission projects and partnerships, and publishing ministries that make possible Bible Study materials that we use each month.

SAVE THE DATE
Feather Bowling
at The Cadieux Cafe
Sunday, April 15

Bowling at 4:00 p.m.
Dinner at 6:00 p.m.

FLOWERS FOR WORSHIP SERVICES

Would you like to decorate the church on Sunday? For 2018, we will not be placing a flower chart in the library. If you are interested in providing flowers, you may call the church office to make those arrangements. The cost for two vases is $46.00, but if you wish to purchase one arrangement and no one else is signed up that week, the cost is $28.00. However, if two families purchase the two arrangements, then the cost is $23.00 per family. We will use silk arrangements for the open Sundays.

A BRIEF STATEMENT OF FAITH BANNER

When we rehung the banner in the front of the church after Christmas, I wondered how many people in the congregation look at it every Sunday and wonder about the symbolism it expresses. Our banner was made in 2010 and is from a design copyrighted in 1996 by The First Presbyterian Church of Port Charlotte, Florida. It incorporates the images from the Brief Statement of Faith and the song “He's Got the Whole World in His Hands.”

THE CROSS: A rainbow of colors representing the celebration of unity with the diversity of cultures and races living in Christ. THE BLUE BACKGROUND: Symbolizes the universe as the light of the Word of God bringing us together. THE EARTH: Shows cracks symbolizing our divisiveness, yet the faith we confess unites us with the one universal Church. THE SECURE HANDS OF GOD: Remind us that God holds our world together in the turmoil and will unite us in the grace of Jesus Christ. This is the foundation of our knowledge of God's sovereign love and our living together in the Holy Spirit.

THE WHITE SYMBOL: The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) symbol has a prominent position on this banner. This symbol represents the descending dove of peace and the baptism of Christ. The open Bible symbol is the Word of God. The Font recalls the Sacrament of Baptism, while the table image recalls the Sacrament of Communion, the Last Supper, and the pulpit as the preaching of the Word. The flames represent the burning bush and the flames of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The overall image suggests a human figure with stretched out arms.

How many other places in the church building can you find this PCUSA symbol? Hint: start with the books in the pew rack.

ONE GREAT HOUR OF SHARING

You shall be called repairers of the breach” (Isaiah 58:12). The “One Great Hour of Sharing” offering is the first of four special yearly offerings collected by the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. We will be collecting this offering, between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. The Presbyterian Hunger Program receives 36% of the money collected, and the Disaster Assistance and Self Development of People programs each will receive 32% of the revenue.

Around the world, millions of people lack access to sustainable food sources, clean water, sanitation, education and opportunity. This offering provides us a way to share God's love with our neighbors who have these needs.

Please read the Sunday bulletin inserts during Lent, which will give specific information and examples about the distribution of this offering, both in our country and internationally. IF WE ALL DO A LITTLE, IT ADDS UP TO A LOT!

A WARM FUZZY THANK YOU!

Thank you to everyone who donated hats, gloves and scarves to our baskets in December. They were split between Fort Street Open Door Program and the children's tutoring program at Calvin East Church, Detroit. The total value came to approximately $600. As we experience the cold days of winter, we can know that our gifts are keeping someone else a little bit warmer. Thank you!

MISSION AND OUTREACH TEAM

Have you ever noticed Fran's final bidding words, or charge, at the end of service each Sunday? We hear it every week, so maybe it seems routine, but it's profound: “Now go out into the world in peace. Love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.”

I love this. “Go out” and “serve.” It is a call to put our faith into action. A call – not just to feel filled with God's message – but to live it and practice it.

The former Church and Society Committee is adopting a name-change to better reflect the call to action in our community. I'm humbled to have felt God call me to be chairperson of what is now the Mission & Outreach Team. Some of my primary goals for this team are:

  • to be active in directly serving and working alongside the community
  • to collaborate with existing organizations and groups/churches/mosques
  • to provide varied opportunities of service (to allow for family participation, as well as those not as physically able)
  • to choose service opportunities that reflect Littlefield's mission and core values

We are so fortunate to already have the Blessings in a Backpack program up and running. We'll keep you apprised of ways you can help keep this program thriving for the next scholastic year. In case you didn't know, we also have a little food pantry in the library that serves the needs of several in our community. Please consider bringing some “ready to eat” microwaveable meals to help keep it stocked for the winter.

Part of Littlefield's Mission Statement is “to show God's love in our work for peace and justice.” I am eager to see how God guides us to go forth and do his work this coming year. If you too, feel that strong call to “go out” and put your faith in action ñ we'd love to have you on our team.

CHURCH MISSION STATEMENT

Who we are:
We are a community of ordinary people
committed to growing together as disciples of Jesus Christ
through worship, fellowship, learning, prayer, and mission.

Why we exist:
To love God, one another, and all people.
To show God's love in our work for peace and justice.