A Bible Study on the Book of Philippians
With Pastor Lisa
Fridays, Noon-1:15 p.m., on June 5, 12, 19 and 26
 
For detailed information about what will be covered each week, click here.
 
Please register to receive a Zoom link to the class, click here.
 
 
 
Messages from our pastors and staff
 
A Message from Senior Pastor Will Robinson
May 21, 2020
 
 
Dear FPC family of faith,
 
In our daily emails, worship services, and worship bulletins, we’ve highlighted how we’re doing the Lord’s work in this pandemic (see, e.g., Monday’s email):  how we’re loving God, one another, and our neighbors; how we’re wrapping God’s love around those hit hardest by this pandemic; how we’re living our Mission, Vision, and Values (printed at the bottom of this email).  Of course, we’ve had to adapt how we do that.  It’s provided us an opportunity to pray about, think about, and re-imagine how we will be Christ’s church.
 
Indeed, even before we open the doors of FPC to worship and other ministries, we’re already building this plane as we fly it, and we’re doing that in keeping with our Mission, Vision, and Values.  With those in mind and at heart, we’ve encouraged staff members, committee chairs, and others to ask themselves:  How might we minister now?  How is the Spirit leading us in this new normal?  How might we reallocate our time, talent, and treasures to change lives and make disciples?  What does it look like to build up God’s Kingdom during this unique time?
 
As we answer questions like these, it’s timely – providential even – that we’re in the process of assembling a Mission-Based Budget Task Force.  Its purpose is to help us (guided by Session) see how our budget is based on our Mission, Vision, and Values (e.g., how much money and staff time are allocated to the value of “Sacrificial Service”).  Moreover, the task force will help us establish a vision of how we might reallocate our budget to better serve our Mission, Vision, and Values over the next three years.  It will allow us to be even more intentional and nimble in the stewardship of our resources.
 
It’s also providential that our Worship Schedule Task Force is at work.  Its purpose is “to examine and recommend to Session options for the worship schedule that will best support FPC’s Mission, Vision, and Values.”  The task force is conducting its work through research, study, creative discussion, communication with other churches, and consultation with clergy, staff, committees, and you.  You’ll hear more about and from it soon.  (Note:  This task force is not addressing when we’ll reopen the church building for worship.)  Task force members are Jack Alderman, Lindsay Bunting, Jan Cale, Charlie Curtis, Bill Kuttruff, Ann Shippy, and Debbie Wagner.
 
Finally, I thank God for our Associate Pastor Nominating Committee (APNC).  They have some stellar candidates.  How opportune is it that this pastor will help us – particularly in a pandemic – love our neighbors, especially those in need, by working with and guiding our local and global outreach ministries?  How timely is it that this pastor will help us envision and establish ministries to lead more people – of all ages – into our intergenerational family of faith to know and love the Lord?  APNC members are Mary-Stuart Alderman, Betsy Baker, Lucas DeLano, Chuck Duvall, Otto Ferrene, Mickey Price, and Jim Willard.
 
Even as you pray for an end to this scourge, those most affected by it, and those on the frontlines, please pray also for each of these groups:  for the Spirit to guide them in the crucial work that they’re doing (or will do in the case of the Mission-Based Budget Task Force) during this unprecedented time.  Each is an additional, faithful expression of how we at FPC are guided by and living our Spirit-led Mission, Vision, and Values.
 
In the risen Christ,
 
Will
Our Mission:  Changing Lives…Making Disciples
Our Vision:  Every Member in Ministry
In Christ United, Our Values of Ministry:  Joyful Worship, Gracious Invitation,
Prayerful Study, Sacrificial Service & Caring Connections
 
 
A Message from Senior Pastor Will Robinson
 
May 14, 2020
 
Dear FPC family of faith, 
As stores and businesses on the island and in our state begin to reopen, some are asking about our next steps.  The million-dollar question is:  When will the church campus reopen?  Another is:  How will we do that?  In answer to the first question, we haven’t set a date yet.  In answer to the second, we’re in the process of establishing a phased plan that would enable us to reopen safely.  As we’ve stressed before, any reopening will be done with caution, public health guidance, and prayer, with the health and well-being of you, our staff, and our visitors foremost in mind and in accordance with the Christian ideal of caritas or love.  Session, of course, would approve any plan.
 
A possible first step would be to reopen the church campus only for worship on Sundays.  We would ensure proper sanitation, safe entry and egress, provide masks and hand sanitizer, proper social distancing as well as limit capacity and take other necessary precautions.  We would also live stream worship for those at particular risk or who don’t feel comfortable attending in person yet.  That potential first step has been affected by recent public health recommendations, e.g., social distancing ten feet (rather than six) when people are inside for a period of time such as for a worship service (even a short one) and no singing (congregational or choral).
 
For me, the thought of worship without singing as well as our sanctuary or Fellowship Hall social distanced to that degree is odd and sad.  I think it’ll feel the same for others, especially for those who’ll be watching and worshiping via our live stream.  Perhaps the Spirit will lead us to craft a worship service that allows us to worship meaningfully even in those circumstances.  With God, of course, all things are possible.  At the same time, we may decide instead to continue (for a period of time) our pre-recorded services which the Spirit is using to unite us, despite our physical separation, and which allows us to prepare energizing, intergenerational, and musically-engaging worship to God’s glory.  We’re also exploring other options (e.g., worshiping outside at times in Hover Park).
 
We covet your prayers and patience and grace as we work to establish the best plan and timeline for FPC.  God is good and has always provided in the past for each of us and for this congregation.  God will provide for us in this unprecedented moment in history, too.
 
In the risen Christ,
 
Will
 
P.S.  Several of you have submitted Biblical, theological or ethical questions for us to address in our summer sermon series:  “Answering Your Questions!”  Thank you!  If you’d like to submit a question, there’s still time.  Just send your question via email to info@fpchhi.org.  Also, we won’t use your name!
 
 
 
 
A Message from Senior Pastor Will Robinson
April 30, 2020
 
Dear FPC family of faith,
 
By prayer and the Spirit, we’re loving one another and our neighbors on the island and beyond through daily emails and phone calls; weekly worship online; weekly Zoom small groups, Bible studies and gatherings of children, youth and adults; generous and timely financial gifts; and donations for local food pantries and hurricane relief as well as mask-making.
 
As we continue to work with governments, the health care community, churches and others to address this pandemic, saving as many lives as possible, Session voted at its meeting on April 28 that the church office and facilities remain closed through Sunday, May 31 (except church staff may work in their offices with social distancing and memorial services/committals will be permitted at the pastors’ discretion).  I’ve included below relevant details of this decision (organized under our ministry values) and other pertinent information.
 
Joyful Worship & Gracious Invitation
  • We’ll worship on Sundays at 10:00 AM through May 31 via a pre-recorded service or live stream posted on our website.  Session could alter this plan before its May meeting; however, any decision regarding worship will continue to be prayerful, deliberate and guided by government and public health officials and the Christian ideal of caritas (on the latter see my 4-23-20 email to the congregation).
  • The Easter season extends through May 24, with worship based on the theme “Living in the Light of Easter.”  On May 31 we’ll celebrate Pentecost.  On June 7 we’ll begin a summer sermon series based on your questions about the Bible (e.g., particular verses or passages) or theological topics (e.g., predestination, salvation).  You may submit your questions to me or pastor Lisa, by calling the church, or by emailing them to info@fpchhi.org.
 
Prayerful Study (via Zoom)
  • Children’s Ministry connects with families for W.O.W. (We’re On Wednesdays) worship and Sunday school.  To join them, email Jackie Wilhelm at jwilhelm@fpchhi.org.
  • To connect with our Youth Ministry, email Hannah Kreoger at hkreoger@fpchhi.org.
  • Several classes/groups for adults are meeting, including the JOY and Work In Progress Sunday school classes, pastor Will’s “In the Word” Bible study, and the Men’s Bible Study.  To learn more or join one of these, email sbrannon@fpchhi.org.
 
Sacrificial Service
  • Donate items for local food pantries:  canned soup, tuna or chicken, Chef Boyardee, canned fruit, peanut butter, jelly, pasta, pasta sauce, cereal, breakfast bars, soap, shampoo, lotion and toothpaste.  Bag your items and place them in the blue plastic bin outside the double doors to the church office.  We’ll exercise appropriate safety precautions before distributing them.
  • Make masks to help protect people during this pandemic.  If you can sew or have fabric to donate, email asiebold@fpchhi.org.
  • We provide funds to charitable organizations from our Outreach budget.  In light of this crisis, we’ve disbursed funds to organizations that desperately need it.  We’ve also provided $2,000 from our Outreach budget for disaster relief after the tornadoes in SC.  (You’ll learn more about our outreach efforts in Saturday’s email to the congregation.)
  • We appreciate your tithes, pledges and gifts to help us do God’s work in this crisis.  You can give via the GIVE button at the top of our website, mailing a check to the church, or texting “FPCHHI” to 77977 (NOTE:  message and data rates may apply; for terms and conditions, visit pushpay.com/terms; for its privacy policy, visit pushpay.com/privacy.)
 
Caring Connections
  • If you’re a member or visitor, send your contact info to info@fpchhi.org so you can stay connected during this time.
  • Through our Prayer Project, we’re praying for our entire church family.  To include a specific prayer request, email pastor Lisa at lschrott@fpchhi.org or info@fpchhi.org.
  • You’re also welcome to call the church or email confidential prayer requests to the pastors.
Leaning on God’s everlasting arms, we pray “without ceasing” for one another, our community and our world, especially for leaders, first responders, health care and other front-line workers, the unemployed, and those most affected by this pandemic.  We’ve seen the risen Lord in this crisis, and we’ll continue to witness to his presence in our words and by our actions.
 
God is with us in the risen Christ,
 
Will
 
 
A Message from Associate Pastor Lisa Schrott
April 21, 2020
 
Finding the Sacred in the Ordinary
 
Luke 15:1-8  The Lost Coin
“Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
 
 
Jesus taught his disciples using parables about common elements and situations of their lives. In these stories, the ordinary is transformed into the sacred, and we get glimpses of how we can bring God’s kingdom to earth. 
 
The shepherd looking for the sheep; the woman searching for a lost coin; conversation around the preparation of a meal; the solitude of a few minutes in the warm sun; the unexpected joy when hearing good news from an old friend. 
 
During this staying at home time, I have been doing some cleaning out of accumulated stuff, as I imagine many of you are doing. In addition to the pleasure of an organized and tidy space, there is also the joy of finding that “lost coin.” That earring that I had searched and searched for popped up in the back of the sock drawer. That bill I thought I paid had slid behind the desk. And phone chargers. Don’t get me started on the ones I have now accumulated (mostly for phones I no longer own).  
 
Like the woman searching for the lost coin, I needed to light a lamp and sweep the house. And not just in my literal house, but also in all of my figurative houses. We are in a season right now when we can open our eyes wide, shine a light around the dusty rooms of our soul, clean out the cobwebs and find something we have been searching for or maybe find something unexpected. 
 
Let us take time to do some intentional searching for things we might have lost during past seasons of busyness in the important houses of our lives – in our relationships with each other and in our relationship with God. We might just stumble across the sacred in the ordinary!
 
Grace and peace,
 
Lisa
 
 
Click here to see Pastor Will’s message from Monday, April 20
 
 
 
A Message from Senior Pastor Will Robinson 
 
April 9, 2020
 
Dear FPC family of faith,
 
As we prepare to commemorate the suffering and death of the Lord tonight and tomorrow night, I want to address a question some have asked and that I’ve seen asked in the news/online:  Is the coronavirus/COVID-19 God’s punishment for sin/s?  Here’s how I would address that question:  I don’t believe this virus/pandemic is God’s punishment for sin/s.  While there are texts in the Bible where God appears to/threatens to/does punish people for their sins, I believe Jesus willingly accepted that punishment “in his body on the cross” once and for all!  Also, the apostle Paul emphasizes that evils like this virus are lingering effects of sin and evil in our world (like cancer).  It’s an example of the brokenness of our world.  Jesus began fixing this brokenness (we see evidence of this, e.g., in his healings and raising of Lazarus), and he’ll fix it for good when he comes again.  That’s how much God loves us!  Paul writes that even “creation” itself longs to be freed from its “bondage” to these lingering effects.  Finally, I believe God laments this pandemic with us and leads us to work with him however we can to prevent/stop this particular expression of the lingering effects of sin and evil in our world.
 
Particularly in light of my response to that question above, I encourage you to experience anew the power of Holy Week through the following worship services and to invite others to join us:
  • Maundy Thursday:  On fpchhi.org by 6:30 PM with communion (please have your own bread and juice available)
  • Good Friday:  On fpchhi.org by 6:30 PM with a time to lament what we’ve lost in this crisis
  • Easter Sunday:  “He is risen!  He is risen indeed!” 
    • Sunrise service on fpchhi.org by 7 AM 
    • Easter service with special music on fpchhi.org by 10 AM  
As the Spirit leads and you’re able, I also encourage you to be God’s helpers through one of these opportunities:
  • Donate canned goods to our People In Need ministry. click here
  • Make masks for various institutions that need them. click here
  • Join our Prayer Project. click here
Also, if you or someone you know needs prayer, call the church (843-681-3696) or email your request/s to info@fpchhi.org.  To help you as you pray during this crisis, I’m including the Prayers of the People that we prayed in our Palm Sunday worship service on April 5. click here
 
God is with us,
 
Will
 
NOTE:  On Easter Monday, April 13, we won’t email a message to you from a member of the staff.  Instead, we encourage you to enjoy the Easter Sunday worship services again or to use any of the devotional materials that we’ve provided in previous emails that are on our website and YouTube channel.
 
 
A Message from Associate Pastor Lisa Schrott 
 
April 7, 2020
 

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.'” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. Matthew 26:17-19

As we prepare to celebrate Maundy Thursday with the commemoration of the Last Supper, it is helpful to remember why Jesus had gathered with his disciples around the table that night. They were gathered to celebrate the Passover. This Wednesday, April 8, Jewish people around the world will be gathering around tables to retell the story from Exodus, the story of deliverance and freedom from slavery. 

Like Christian communities, Jewish communities are revisioning how to celebrate the Passover Seder. Much like virtual church services, advice on hosting an Online Seder speaks particularly to community and resilience: it’s the annual feast that outlines a message of shared history and collective action regardless of the mechanics of the celebration. We had planned to host a Seder meal this year to help us better understand the roots of our celebration of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday. 

At the heart of the Seder is a retelling of the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. Traditionally, families and friends gather in the evening to read the text of the Haggadah, which contains the narrative of the Israelite exodus from Egypt, special blessings and rituals, commentaries from the Talmud, and special Passover songs. A Seder plate features foods that symbolize the journey from slavery to freedom.

I invite you to read the Passover story in the book of Exodus Chapter 12. A great resource on learning more about the traditions of Passover can be found at this site from Reform Judaism. As we follow Jesus on his journey to the cross, let us be mindful of the traditions that form the roots of our Holy Week celebrations. 

Join us for our Holy Week celebrations:

  • Maundy Thursday: On fpchhi.org by 6:30 PM with communion (please have your own bread and juice available)
  • Good Friday: On fpchhi.org by 6:30 PM with a time to lament what we’ve lost in this crisis
  • Easter Sunday:  “He is risen! He is risen indeed!”
    • 7:00 AM  Sunrise service on fpchhi.org by 7 AM
    • 10:00 AM  On fpchhi.org by 10 AM. 

Let us pray: O Lord, we know that this Holy Week will be unlike any other. Like those celebrating freedom from bondage and slavery at the Passover feast, we too, celebrate the freedom we receive from the grace bestowed by Jesus’ death on the cross. Let us turn our hearts to this journey of commemoration, lament, and rejoicing. Amen.

 
 
 
A Message from Senior Pastor Will Robinson 
 
March 30, 2020
Dear FPC family of faith,
 
Paul urges us to “give thanks in all circumstances.”  I give thanks that we don’t know of any cases of the coronavirus/COVID-19 in our staff or our congregation. By now, however, all of us probably know someone who’s been affected by it. So, let’s “pray without ceasing” for one another, for our community, for our world and for an end to this scourge.
 
We also know the financial toll of this crisis.  While we’ve encouraged “fearless generosity,” we understand that some of you have been hit especially hard.  We pray for you to weather this economic tsunami, and we’re here for you.  Please let me or pastor Lisa know if we or the church can do anything to help you or your family.
 
Many of you have asked how you might be God’s helpers.  As emphasized in worship, we encourage you to call those who sit near you in worship and check on them or on anybody you think might be isolated at this time.  Also, click here to learn about how you can help people in our community by bringing canned goods/food to the church.  
 
The sermon yesterday urged us to stay connected to God so that we’d experience God’s presence during this very trying hour.  To hear the sermon or to worship with us, click here.  
 
In yesterday’s sermon, I named some things that we can do to help us stay connected to God in this uncertain and unnerving time.  We’ve provided those as well as other spiritual practices in our daily emails that are posted on our website. (If you have trouble finding them, please call the church at 843.681.3696, and we’ll help you.)
 
Today, I’ll briefly explain another spiritual practice – the so-called “Jesus Prayer” – that you can pray to help you stay connected to God and thereby enable you to experience his presence with you.  Click here to access a short video in which I demonstrate how to pray this ancient prayer.
 
God is with us,
 
Will
 
P.S. Many of you have asked about my family.  They’re in Salem right now, and everyone is safe and well.  Your expressions of care and concern and your prayers for us are appreciated very much.
 
 
 
A Message from Senior Pastor Will Robinson 
 
3-26-2020
 
Dear FPC family of faith,
 
At its stated meeting on Tuesday, March 24, the Session of FPC unanimously approved the following motion with the paragraph before and after it serving as the rationale and the Session’s spiritual disposition amid this pandemic.  (The motion coincides with the governor’s executive order on Tuesday to extend the closure of South Carolina’s public schools through the month of April.  While not based on that executive order, when the public schools have closed in the past – e.g., due to hurricanes – FPC’s practice was to close as well.)
 
At that meeting, the Session also unanimously approved a motion of the Personnel Committee to pay all of our staff members through May 8. Personnel is working with the Finance Committee to ascertain how we might pay all staff members during this crisis, however long it lasts.  We have an exceptional staff team, and as I said in my emailed message on Monday your “fearless generosity” will enable us to do that as well as to minister in this unprecedented time.  To help, you may contact the church or click here to give.
 
Pope Francis invited all Christians to pray the Lord’s Prayer yesterday at noon. Whether you prayed it at that time or not, I encourage us to “pray without ceasing.”  Times like these highlight just how necessary prayer is.  The Protestant Reformer Martin Luther allegedly said:  “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours [of the day] in prayer.”  As Christians, we believe in the power of prayer, so let’s be on our knees, praying in particular for those battling this virus, including health care professionals and researchers and others on the front lines.  I and the staff would also appreciate your prayers as we navigate these uncharted waters.
 
God is with us,
 
Will
+ + +
 
The Session of FPC recognizes that Christian community – worship, study, fellowship and prayer – is crucial, giving strength and joy and deepening our faith in God.  We also recognize the continued need to address proactively the coronavirus pandemic, working with governments, those in the health care community, churches and others to prevent its transmission and “flatten the curve,” saving as many lives as possible.  To help us do that, we propose the following motion:
 
That First Presbyterian Church will remain closed from Sunday, March 29, through Thursday, April 30, as prescribed:
  • The church office and facilities will remain closed.
  • All worship services will remain suspended.   We will offer Joyful Worship on Sunday mornings via live stream or a pre-recorded service posted on our website.
  • All business in the church facility will remain suspended, including Christian education classes, small groups and committee meetings.
    • Church staff may continue to work in their offices or remotely.  Any physical meetings of church staff will remain limited and observe social distancing practices.
    • Church staff will work with members and committees to establish alternative means of offering Gracious Invitation, Prayerful Study, Sacrificial Service and Caring Connections (e.g., a Bible study class via Zoom, Youth Group meeting via Zoom, and phone calls to members).
  • Memorial Services and committals will be permitted at the pastors’ discretion. 
  • All use of the church facilities by non-church organizations will remain suspended.
  • The pastors, Executive Assistant to the Senior Pastor, Church Administrator, and Clerk of Session will review the situation and report any changes or recommendations to the Session, by email if necessary.
Especially at this time of heightened anxiety and fear, we remember the lyrics of “This Is My Father’s World”:  “Though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.”  We place our trust in God, and we pray for one another, our community and our world.  We pray especially for leaders, governments, the health care community, researchers and others battling this and especially for those who are most affected by this.  With God’s help, we will be light in the darkness during this crisis.
 
A Message from Senior Pastor Will Robinson 
 
3-21-2020
 

Dear FPC family of faith,

We’re glad so many of you were able to worship with us remotely yesterday.
We regret the volume of traffic to our website temporarily overloaded it.
We’ll address that before this Sunday’s service, which we’ll pre-record or 
live-stream.  If you missed the service or would like see it again, the 
following link will take you right to it on our YouTube channel: click here.
(I’ve heard it ministered to a number of non-members as well.)
 
Because this pandemic will be measured in months, the staff is already
thinking and working creatively to minister to you and the community.
For example, the Youth Group met via Zoom last week, and you can click 
on the following link to see a video prepared specially for our children:
click here.  Lisa plans to hold her last Lent class on the book Being Mortal,
via Zoom, and I plan to have a Bible study via Zoom that explores texts
which will help us address this crisis, including those that give you
comfort and hope. 
(We may even record or live-stream devotionals from Lisa and me.)
We’re also looking at how we can be God’s helpers to those on the island
most affected by this crisis.
 
To help us be the church in this unprecedented time, your giving is
crucial.  In the words of our Stewardship Committee, our giving to
God’s work through FPC during this crisis expresses “our complete
confidence in and dependence on our Lord.  Jesus urged us over and
over again to act from a place of love, unafraid.  He invites us to face
challenging times with fearless generosity.”  Your fearless generosity
will enable us to continue paying every member of our very gifted,
committed and diligent staff.  To read the rest of the Committee’s 
statement, click here.  To help by giving, you may contact the church
or click on the following link: fpchhi.org/give.
 
In his message emailed to you on Saturday, our organist Charlie Frost
encouraged us to read the lyrics of hymns during this time because
they, too, provide comfort and reassurance.  I would suggest that
reading or singing them (aloud or in your head) can be an act of
prayer.  I would encourage you to do just that with the lyrics of the
final hymn we sang in worship yesterday:  “What a Fellowship, What a Joy
Divine (Leaning on the Everlasting Arms)”:
 
What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
leaning on the everlasting arms;
what a blessedness, what a peace is mine,

leaning on the everlasting arms.

Refrain:
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;

leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,

leaning on the everlasting arms. (Refrain)

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,

leaning on the everlasting arms. (Refrain)

In this hour of heightened uncertainty, fear, and anxiety, I pray that
all of us will lean even more on God’s everlasting arms, trusting that
God will provide–his grace is all-sufficient to supply our every need–
and knowing that some of God’s provision will be expressed through
us, God’s helpers (e.g, through calls and prayers for those in health

care on the front lines.)  Let your light shine.

God is with us,

Will
 
________________________________________________________________
 
 
A Message from FPC Organist Charlie Frost 
 
3-21-2020
 
The Faith We Sing
 
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing. Psalm 100
 
We are reminded throughout the Psalms that we, as Christians, are to be a singing people through the use of Psalms, hymns, or spiritual songs. In this message I would like to focus on hymn singing.
 
I have found the use of hymns to be a very important part of my Christian journey. Yes, singing them is a most uplifting experience, one which I encountered recently at a Choral Conductors’ Convention. And, I have also found it beneficial to read the texts as poetry. It gives me a different perspective sometimes than when I sing them.
 
There are many benefits to hymns. They express a variety of emotions including joy and sorrow. They can serve as prayers of confession, thanksgiving, intercession, and adoration to God. When we sing them in worship, we are building community. They help unite us as a worshiping body. They connect us with Christians throughout the centuries. We are able to share in the faith journeys and experiences of others. They become a history lesson.
 
The stories behind the writing of hymns are fascinating and give strong meaning and understanding to them. I share with you a very popular hymn and its story, “It is Well with my Soul.”
 
Horatio Spafford, a 43 year old businessman, and his wife were grieving the loss of their son when the Great Chicago Fire struck and devastated them financially. Following this tragedy, he sent his wife and four daughters on a ship to England with plans to join them later. While the ship was enroute, it was struck by another ship killing more than two hundred people including all four of their daughters. When it arrived in Cardiff, Wales, Mrs. Spafford cabled her husband with the news and these words, “Saved alone.” He then booked a trip on the next ship. While crossing the Atlantic, he wrote this hymn.
 
When Peace Like a River
(It Is Well With My Soul)
 
When peace like a river attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll,
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
it is well, it is well with my soul.
 
Refrain: It is well with my soul; it is well; it is well with my soul.
 
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
let this blest assurance control,
that Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
and hath shed his own blood for my soul. [Refrain]
 
He lives: O the bliss of this glorious thought.
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul! [Refrain]
 
Lord, hasten the day when our faith shall be sight,
the clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
the trumpet shall sound and the Lord shall descend;
even so it is well with my soul. [Refrain]
 
I know that we are facing a lot of uncertainty these days. It is easy to be discouraged, feel hopeless, have much anxiety, and fill the days with worry. I remind us all that as God’s people, we are to rely on him. He is faithful. He is with us, even when we think we are alone. I speak from personal experience.
 
May I suggest that in addition to reading scripture, praying, staying in touch with others, that you read the texts of hymns. You will find much comfort and reassurance in them. I suggest this become a way of life for you, not only during hard times. In your home, be sure to always have a Bible. Add to that another important resource for growing as a Christian, a hymnal. For it is “The Faith we sing” that will help sustain us.
 
Colossians 3:16-“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God.”

 

Charlie Frost
Organist
 
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A Message from Senior Pastor Will Robinson
 
3-19-2020
 
Dear member of the FPC family of faith,
 
How are you doing?  How are you weathering the social distancing, the empty shelves of paper products, and the economic uncertainty?  I’ve had contact with some of you, and I pray the rest of you are doing well or hanging in there in the middle of this unnerving crisis.  I also hope you’re seeing signs of God’s presence and redemptive work during this pandemic because God is with us, for God will never leave us and never forsake us.
You are part of that redemptive work when you ask your own loved ones questions like those above.  Or when you check on a neighbor.  Or when you let us know you want to help however possible, as many of you have.  You’ll hear how you might help us minister to our congregation in a worship service we’ll post on our YouTube channel at 10 AM this Sunday.  (We’ll also send you an email with a bulletin of that service and post it on our website.)  Already this week deacons are calling members, especially the most isolated, and are arranging to bring meals to those who need or would like them.
 
Michael Gerson, a Washington Post columnist, and Peter Wehner, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, write:  “Those who believe in a sovereign God should be the least angry, the least anxious, and the least fearful.  One of the most frequently repeated commands in the Bible is, ‘Fear not.’  God is the author and finisher of our stories, both individually and collectively.  He invites us to a calm trust.”
 
As Christians, we accept that invitation, particularly now.  We calmly trust that – in the words of a Presbyterian confession – “in life and in death we belong to God.”  We calmly trust that – in the words of Saint Paul – nothing in all of creation, including this invisible coronavirus, can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  We calmly trust that – in the words of Saint John – “perfect love casts out fear.”
 
Let’s pray for the Spirit to fill us with that love, God’s love, so that we think of others, try to help people where we can, and pray for those most affected by this, for those who’ve lost loved ones to this, and for governments and researchers as they battle this.  Let’s pray for the Spirit to fill us with God’s love so much that it casts out any fear that would disturb our calm trust in the God who is the author and finisher of our stories, both individually and collectively.
 
The hymn “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace” expresses well this calm trust and our prayer to be living expressions of God’s love at this time and always.  You can listen to it by clicking on the following link or by cutting and pasting the following link into your web browser window: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2svZhZT6ProI’ve included the hymn’s lyrics below.
 
In Christ,
Will Robinson
Senior Pastor
Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring your love.
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord,
and where there’s doubt, true faith in you.

 

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, only light,
and where there’s sadness, ever joy.

 

O, Master, grant that I may never seek
so much to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand, 
to be loved as to love with all my soul.

 

Make me a channel of your peace.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
in giving of ourselves that we receive,
and in dying that we’re born to eternal life.
 
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A Message from Associate Pastor Lisa Schrott
 
3-17-2020
 
Last Wednesday night at our Lenten service we sang music from the Taizé Community in France. It seems so long ago that our concern was for those in other places who had been affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Our anxieties were tempered by distance. What a difference four days make, as our day to day reality has been altered in ways it is sometimes hard to wrap our minds around. 
 
Taizé worship music is simple, with a few sentences that are repeated over and over, becoming a meditation that dwells in your heart and soul and mind. 
 
One of the songs we sang last Wednesday was In God Alone. I find myself repeating these words throughout the day, as I hear the news, check in on emails and messages, and have conversations with family and friends. 
 
In God alone my soul can find rest and peace
In God my peace and joy
Only in God my soul can find its rest.
Find its rest and peace.
 
These words remind me of the words Jesus spoke in John 14, scripture where Jesus assures his disciples that when they feel lost and alone, they are not. Words that remind them and us that Jesus is leaving us a path home – a path of peace that is different from the peace of the world. A peace that surpasses all understanding, because only in God can our soul find its rest and peace. 
 
Finding rest and peace for our souls may seem a bit more challenging this week than last week, although the reality is that the peace Jesus left his disciples so many years ago, when the world around him was closing in, is the same peace he leaves with each one of us. Let us strive to dwell in the peace. Music, prayer, and scripture are great places to start!
 
Grace and Peace,

 

Lisa Schrott
Associate Pastor
 
Here are links to some Taizé music on YouTube to get you started. 
 
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A Message from Pastor Will Robinson
 
3-16-2020
 
In 1 Corinthians 1:18 the apostle Paul writes:  “For the message about the cross is foolishness
to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
 
God knows how to take a cross and make it redemptive.  That sounds foolish to some:  How is it possible to take an instrument of torture and death andmake it redemptive?!  But we know that “with God all things are possible” and believe God did in fact redeem us through the death of His Son on the cross.  It has saving power for us personally and for the whole world.  We believe, then, that God knows how to take the cross of COVID-19 and make it redemptive, too.  So we need to pay particular attention to the signs of God’s redemptive work during this time:  when people are kind and thoughtful, prayerful and helpful, hopeful and comforting, patient and encouraging.  And of course God will work especially through us to help Him do that.  We’ll do that by extending God’s love and grace through calls, emails, and other connecting that doesn’t put others at risk of infection.  We’ll do that at FPC through our PIN (People In Need) ministry, which will still minister to those who may need PIN even more now.  Let us pray for the Spirit to guide and enable us to make this crisis redemptive for others.
 
To help you be more attuned to God’s redemptive work in the world and in yourself, I encourage you to practice a spiritual discipline called the “breath prayer.”  We prayed it at our Wednesday Night Lent service last week.  You can pray it now and at any time throughout the day.  I hope it reminds you that-in the words of the beloved hymn “This Is My Father’s World”-“Though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.”  So God has the power to take the cross of the coronavirus and make it redemptive, particularly in and through us and our actions.
Breath prayer:

 

Breathe in slowly: When I am afraid, God,
Breathe out slowly: I will trust in You.

 

In Christ,
Will Robinson
Senior Pastor
 
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Mailed to FPC Members on 3-15-2020

                                                                                    Christian Community and the COVID-19 Pandemic                                                                                                            Session of First Presbyterian Church
Third Sunday of Lent
 
The Session of FPC recognizes that Christian community—worship, study, fellowship and prayer—is crucial, giving strength and joy and deepening our faith in God.  We also recognize the need to address proactively the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, working with governments, those in the health care community, churches and others to prevent its transmission.  To help us do the latter, First Presbyterian Church is closed through Sunday, March 29, and:

  • The church office and facilities are closed.
  • All worship services are suspended.   Alternative means of worship will be implemented if possible.
  • All business of the church is suspended, including Christian education classes, committee meetings and small groups. 
  • Memorial services and committals will be permitted at the discretion of the pastoral staff.
  • All use of the church facilities by non-church organizations are suspended.
  • Pastors will work with appropriate FPC groups to minister to the congregation virtually (e.g., emails, phone calls, e-cards)
  • We will continue to monitor the latest developments and implement additional precautions and measures as needed.  
 
Especially at time of anxiety and fear, we remember the lyrics of “This Is My Father’s World”: “Though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.”  We place our trust in God, and we pray:  for one another, our community, and our world.  Pray for leaders, governments, the health care community, researchers and others battling this and especially for those who are most affected by this.
 
Will Robinson                           Lisa Schrott
Senior Past                               Associate Pastor
 
 
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