church building



January/February 2018

Focus on first

Happy New Year! As we look forward to the year ahead I wonder, do you take time to make resolutions or plans for how things are going to be in the coming year? Do you set goals or choose an area you want to grow? Or have you moved to a place of cynicism, “I am going to fail to keep what I resolve so why bother?” There is a certain inevitability to our resignation, when we set goals for ourselves we take things all on at once. If we set goals or plans they are often so large or daunting that we cannot figure out where to begin. Or we set goals so small that we have no motivation to bother. But there is wisdom in setting a goal, having a plan, or a dream for where you would like to go. There is spiritual wisdom in understanding that where you are is not where God wants you to be and choosing a step or two that will move you towards a better relationship with your God.
A new year is a great opportunity to pause, look around at our lives and wonder – what could or should I be doing to grow in my walk with Jesus? This is a very personal question, it is one that no one can decide for you. I am absolutely convinced that every one of us can and needs to grow deeper or move further along the path. I am also convinced that each of us needs to determine for ourselves, with the help of God what it is that we need to do next. As a body of believers, we need to grow, as individuals, we need to grow. Jesus told us that as his disciples we would be known by our fruit – living things grow – what fruit are you producing, how are you growing?
One of the areas we have chosen to emphasize as a church is prayer--growing in our life of prayer as individuals and as a congregation. What role does prayer play in your life? Do you do all of the talking or do you also listen? Do you take the time to pray? When you pray do you do so in a hurry or do you take the time to slow your heart and mind? Are you regularly praying on your own but terrified to pray with others? In the coming year I would invite you to think and pray about a goal around prayer--what might Jesus be asking of you? Maybe it is 5 minutes of your time, maybe it is a new practice or attitude around prayer?
First Church will also be participating in a Learning Community around discipleship. This means that together with about 5 other RCA churches in our area we are going to be doing some learning about how to be better disciples of Jesus, what we need to try, what we need to take on, what God might be calling us to do. This happens with a team of 5 participating in a day long learning and then bringing that learning back to the church. If you think God might be prompting you to be a part of this learning, will you come to see me? This is a great opportunity for the whole congregation to learn together how to better be disciples who make disciples.
I also have a personal invitation, if you are feeling stuck in your own faith journey, would you pray about participating in the next Faithwalking retreat? It will be here at First on February 2-3 in partnership with 4 other churches. I have all sorts of information I can share and there are several people in the congregation who have already been on a Faithwalking retreat. Personally, it is the single most impactful two days I have ever been a part of for my faith journey. I know that I am who I am today in part because of the journey of Faithwalking. You can sign up with me.
Finally, a challenge--faith is not a destination but a journey, a walk with God. No matter where you find yourself on the journey, Jesus keeps inviting you deeper into relationship with him. No matter where you find yourself on your own journey, Jesus is with you and seeks to call you further down the path. What will you take on, release, add, or subtract in your life in the coming year that will bring you closer to Jesus in that walk? Take some time in this new year to wonder – how do I need to grow? How do I need to deepen my walk with my Savior? If you are stuck – seek wise counsel from a brother or sister, come speak with me let us walk together down the road of faith laid out before us.


--Pastor Edie


        1 -      Carole Isenhart
        6  -     Joyce Hook
      11  -     Kathelyn VanderVinne
            -     Marion VanderVinne
      12  -     Jane Sissing
      13 -    Jason Zuidema
      16  -     Ron Pessman
                  Pam Vogel
      17  -    Larry Buikema
Sheila Huizenga
      18  -     Marcia Carter
      23  -     Bruce Christensen
Carol Dornbush
            -     Paul VanderVinne
      24  -     Amy Sikkema
            -     Weston Walston
      25  -     Gerald Norman
      27  -     Matt Huizenga
                  Riley & Robert Sheckler
                  Wayne Walston
      28  -     Pastor Edie Lenz
      31 -     Frank Walston


8          - Jack & Marilyn Dyke
- 61st Anniversary
17        - Harold & Ramona Renkes
- 71st Anniversary


       4   -     Randy DeWeerdt
-     Matt Plumley
7   -     Karin Bush
Lisa Whitmore
8    -     Judy Vanderploeg
10  -     Joyce Ottens
11  -     Tracie Schipper    
14  -     Kevin Dornbush
Arnie Huizenga
Paulette Walston
20 -     Maryellen Venhuizen
21  -     Amanda May
22 -     Bud Foster
23  -     Renee Mason
-     Lynn Boelkens
26 -     Trae Van Zuiden
27 -     Kara Ricklefs
Larry Shipma
29 -     Mark Krum
-     Denny Becker
-     Brittany Dykstra


  5        -  Howard & Gertrude Huizenga
– 73rd Anniversary
21        -  Brian & Karin Bush
- 20th Anniversary
24        -  Lawrence & Edna Mae Tegeler
- 68th Anniversary
25        -  Gordon & Jane Sissing

– 57th Anniversary

Narthex                       Chapel
Jan. 7               Ron Pessman               Val Bush
Jan. 14             Ken Vanderploeg        Arnie Vogel
Jan. 21             Randy Dykstra             Paul VanderVinne
Jan. 28             Bruce Christensen       Nancy Dykstra
Feb. 4              Garry Medema           Candie Schipper
Feb. 11             Larry Shipma               Dave Sheckler
Feb. 18             Val Bush                      Ron Pessman
Feb. 25             Arnie Vogel                 Ken Vanderploeg

                        Ramp Door
Jan. 7               Larry Shipma
Jan. 14             Ron Pessman
Jan. 21             Ken Vanderploeg
Jan. 28             Allen Dykstra
Feb. 4              Dave Sheckler
Feb. 11             Ken Vanderploeg
Feb. 18             Larry Shipma
Feb. 25             Ron Pessman

Jan. 7               Arnie Huizenga
Jan. 14             Paul VanderVinne
Jan. 21             Charlie Carter
Jan. 28             Arnie Huizenga
Feb. 4              Paul VanderVinne
Feb. 11             Charlie Carter
Feb. 18             Arnie Huizenga
Feb. 25             Paul VanderVinne

Scripture Readers
Jan. 7               Rick Mason
Jan. 14             Brenda Sheckler
Jan. 21             Nancy Dykstra
Jan. 28             Ron Pessman
Feb. 4              Carol Janvrin
Feb. 11             Larry Senior
Feb. 18             Rick Mason
Feb. 25             Brenda Sheckler

Children’s Sermon
Jan. 7               Janvrin’s
Jan. 14             Michelle Snyder
Jan. 21             Larry Senior
Jan. 28             Pastor Edie
Feb. 4              Nancy Dykstra
Feb. 11             Janvrin’s
Feb. 18             Michelle Snyder
Feb. 25             Larry Senior

Jan. 7               Chris Krum & Mary Gowan
Jan. 14             Maxine Whistler & Lori Neighbour
Jan. 21             Matt & Sarah Plumley
Jan. 28             Renee & Brody Mason
Feb. 4              Chris Krum & Mary Gowan
Feb. 11             Maxine Whistler & Lori Neighbour
Feb. 18             Matt & Sarah Plumley
Feb. 25             Renee & Brody Mason

Sound System
Jan. 7               Ken Vanderploeg
Jan. 14             Brian Lenz
Jan. 21             Dave Sheckler
Jan. 28             Brian Bush
Feb. 4              Brian Lenz
Feb. 11             Ken Vanderploeg
Feb. 18             Dave Sheckler
Feb. 25             Brian Bush

Jan. 7               Candie Schipper
Jan. 14             Rick Mason
Jan. 21             Brian Bush
Jan. 28             Karin Bush
Feb. 4              Jerry Bush
Feb. 11             Val Bush
Feb. 18             Brian Bush
Feb. 25             Karin Bush

Fire Department On-Call Schedule
Dec. 31-Jan. 6 – Chuck & LeAnn Smith
Jan. 7-13 – Larry & Sandy Senior
Jan. 14-20 – Kathy Barsema
Jan. 21-27 – Brian & Karin Bush
Jan. 28-Feb. 3 – Chuck & LeAnn Smith
Feb. 4-10 – Larry & Sandy Senior
Feb. 11-17 – Kathy Barsema
Feb. 18-24 – Brian & Karin Bush
Feb. 25-Mar. 3 – Chuck & LeAnn Smith

Food Pantry
Bar Soap or Detergent
Helper: Jim & Kathy Van Zuiden
Toothpaste or Shampoo
Helper: Elsie Foster


Security and safety are on the minds of many in churches these days. How do we balance being a welcoming community of faith with the security concerns of the congregation? One simple way that the Consistory plans to address this is to limit the number of doors that are unlocked at the church during worship.
Beginning in January, the doors will be opened and unlocked as usual. When the service begins at 9:00 A.M. all of the doors except the main front doors will be locked. If you happen to be running late that morning, you will still be able to enter the building through the front doors. This will allow us to know who is coming into the building while we are gathered in worship.
Again, we will be locking all but the main doors beginning Sunday, January 7. We will work to remind you and there will be signs posted that morning directing people where to go.

Submitted by Judy Vanderploeg

October 11, 2017 - After a parade of unseasonably warm, gorgeous days had marched through the month, fall suddenly stepped in, and our fireplace was needed to displace the heavy chill. With 12 of us working up a storm in the room besides, it didn’t take long to both warm and liven things up! That morning, Ramona had arrived with two rectangles of sturdy fabric that portrayed a bucolic country scene in green, rust and browns. She asked Donna if they could be used to create pockets for the walker bags she designs. Donna thought so, and set them aside for someday use. Well, I doubt more than 20 minutes had passed, when Harry Schaver entered our doorway with a “Ho-ho-ho!” and a “Mer-ry Christmas!” Like Santa, he was toting a large sack too-filled with goodies for us from the lllowa Thrift Store. Oh, we can never wait to dive into such packages, and this time Donna had the honors. In short order, she called for our attention. “Look at this!" In the bag was a piece of sturdy brown fabric-the perfect foil for that “pocket” fabric of Ramona’s. As usual, God was W-A-Y ahead of us! We marveled at how He works.

That wasn’t the end of such occurrences that morning either. Recently, Linda had been crocheting granny squares from donated yarn remnants, and had arrived with a large bag so burgeoning with squares, they almost tumbled out of the bag. So, when Helen and Mary began sorting much yarn just received from our dear benefactor, Thelma Dykstra, Linda was tickled to be handed a whole caboodle of leftovers to create even more squares. God’s perfect timing again!

Come mid-morning, one member was suddenly struck by the fact that almost everyone there was working on something different! She was amazed at how God was using us—all with different abilities, and yet working as a unit. It WAS amazing. It was also a reminder—God does not call us all to be the president of our country, governor of our state, local mayor, or even head of a company or small group. But—He has called us to be whom He meant us to be. We have all been placed on this earth for a reason. Just as Joshua was called upon to fill some BIG shoes as leader of the children of Israel after Moses had died, so we, somewhere in our lives, will be called upon to take a step that may make us quake too. But, like Joshua (and the Israelites, too, crossing the raging Jordan by faith during flood season!), God wants us to be strong and courageous. That does not mean all will be perfect or go smooth as glass, but our Father promises to NEVER leave us or give up on us. We just need to trust HIM.

Well, for 3/4ths of the year, it’s hard to drag me out of the garden, except when it rains. All summer I promised to clean out the shed on the next rainy day, but-the extended drought kept that from happening (who'd think something beneficial would come out of a drought? Ha!) Well, the next day, we were imprisoned by rain, so (looking to put off that shed cleaning...again) Ken and I toted 3 garbage-sized bags containing 17 little pillows to the Dialysis Unit at Mercy South. The gal receiving them was pleased as punch, and remarked that the dialysis patients really love them. On closer inspection, she did have one objection, though, and that was over a lone Green Bay Packers pillow found lurking among the flock-like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Ha! Well, the Unit had run out of the pillows again, and I learned that we are their only source for them. Now, if you should have old (but clean, lighter-weight) textiles, such as toweling, flannel, battings, fiberfill (or a garment not pristine enough to donate), we can cut and use the good sections as stuffing for these little pillows. You may place such items in the “Grocery Bag box" in the east entry. Heavy or denim-type fabrics are not used for this project. THANK YOU for helping to comfort many who must remain stationary for long hours during the dialysis process-and for several times a week.

October 25th -11 came or dropped in that day—even if just to touch base with the team for a bit. Donna arrived with that afore-mentioned walker bag idea now realized from one of Ramona’s two remnants and that from the Thrift Store. It turned out great! Later, Mary sorta wobbled on in, as she was borne down by two thick new plarn mats and a beautiful, striped prayer shawl designed from Thelma Dykstra’s yarn donations. Boy, did we “ooh” and “ahh" over that! Mary said the color credit all belonged to Thelma, who had chosen those yarns in the first place. Everything that had been wrought by these gals revealed what good can come about when we collaborate together- through God’s leading and provision!

That morning, our “show & tell” walls had been quite miserably bare, so we were glad when Irma arrived with her projects too-a sweet Panda-bear blanket and a flannel blanket with 2 matching burp cloths. When all were displayed, they brought much life and color back to our space! The latter of those had been made from a set of patterned, like-new flannel sheets bought second­hand for the Crew long ago. They’d been utilized in so many quilted projects, that we thought they’d surely been used up by now! Apparently not. That kinda reminded us of the widow of Zarephath in Prophet Elijah’s time-when her remaining bit of oil and flour did not run out either in a time of great drought and famine. No, God blessed her greatly because she had put someone else’s needs ahead of her own and those of her family. The many projects made from those flannel sheets (and from SO much else others have donated to us) have likely brought much comfort to little children, those who are homeless, our Veterans, and many others too.

A while back, we’d been asked if we could make more clothing protectors for our Harbor Crest residents. It had been quite some time since we had done that. Made from purchased towels, the project is a costly one, but after some discussion, we agreed to take it on. Towels also cost more from local vendors, so Flo took the bull by the horns and did much on-line detective work to find the best price and product with the least cost for shipping. Pretty much, if the product cost is low, shipping is exorbitant; OR, if there is no charge for shipping, then the product cost is far greater. After an exhaustive search and Crew consultation, she ordered two packages of 24, at a cost of nearly $100. We had no clue that this, too, would turn into a saga. Okay. The towels arrived in a timely manner, and, although ordered sight unseen, they looked pretty good. One towel, however, was found to have a hole in it. S-o-o, Flo did some bird-dogging again—contacting the company. Well, first the company asked for a photo of the holey towel, and wanted that sent via email, which took some doing to figure out. My dad’s Dutch word for that would be “knoein” (k-noo-y-in). Finally, with that accomplished, the company was satisfied that the towel was indeed damaged, and they wondered if we wanted reimbursement for the towel, or a replacement. Well, we really wanted the towel so that the amount donated would be a nice, even number. ”Okay.” And so we waited for the replacement towel. In the meantime, Ramona chose some cheery fabrics for ties, and in short order, she and Harold had cut out and sewn up 94 ties, which Ramona then carefully stitched onto the 47 towels. Having put the “pedal to the metal” as usual, all were swiftly produced. The finished products were then nicely folded and boxed up, everything put away, and the shirt protectors brought along to this Crew meeting. We all enjoyed a peek at them, but unfortunately, did not get to display them for the congregation. Since Pastor Edie was headed to Harbor Crest that morning anyway, we’d sent them straightaway with her. So NOW, we could cross that project off our list! Yeah... that’s what we thought. Shortly afterward, a package arrived from the towel company again-a LARGE package. And, lounging within it were?? Another 24 towels! Twenty- four?! Was there a mistake? Had we been charged tor 24 more?! More bird-dogging by Flo. Nope, there were no extra charges. Apparently the company didn’t want to tap into a whole package for one miserable towel, so they gave us the whole package. Wow! T-H-E-N, you should have seen Harold & Ramona’s faces when we spilled the news: “So, guess what?” “What?” “You’ve got another 24 towels to do.” (Blink) “Twenty-FOUR?!" Ha! Haul out all the tools, fabric, and sewing machine again.... That’s ok. Harold wanted something to do anyway. Tee-hee! God had unexpectedly blessed all of us once again. Quite marvelous! Later on, we received a lovely thank-you card from Harbor Crest for the shirt protectors already sent.

November 8th - A new low of 20° sounded a death knell for loads of leaves otherwise arraying the trees—many still in green. Bammo! Down they came-dripping like rain all over town.

Found on our big table that morning were two large bags of goodies for the Crew. They were from another generous benefactor—Dody, from Camanche. Now, Flo and I usually arrive well before 8:00 to set up for the day, so—we were supposed to be making coffee and hauling out all our equipment; BUT we sure had a tough time staying on course because pretty colors kept peeking through the bag and calling us astray (like the tempting sirens of old, irresistibly calling sailors in toward shore). “Oh!” “Ooh, what is THAT?” Yeah, we had no self-restraint at all—we had to dive in. Immediately I spied a fabric design that definitely resembled colors of a “deer” panel that Sue’s been diligently working her magic on for some time to enlarge into a quilt. I pulled this fabric out, and yep—another of the very same thing. We couldn’t resist. We laid it out on the table where Sue sits, and waited for her reaction on arrival. (It was hilarious)! Then we spied beautiful yarns, so we parceled them out to greet our “crocheters.” Now, talk about God's perfect timing for that gift. After receiving some yarn at the previous meeting, the gals who’d been diligently making plastic mats really wondered what outlet we would have for using up those smaller yarn amounts. Well! On this very day, our “plarn mat” door suddenly slammed shut when we learned that The Canticle & hospital now had plenty. We were a bit dejected. What would the crochet/knitting gals do now, we wondered? Well, that lasted about one day because The Canticle nuns advised that they DID need scarves and hats. So, now the yarn door had opened up! Two gals had been test-knitting that day anyway, to see if scarves could be made from Dody’s yarn, and all were now a-dither about making hats too. Quite humorous. THEN, among those latest receipts were some heavier fabrics that were perfect for Donna’s walker bag ministry-a couple of pretty pinks, and one plain brown. Now-remember the walker bag Donna had designed with one of Ramona’s two country- scene fabrics? Well, this new brown piece was a perfect partner for that remaining “pocket” piece. Amazing! (Later, a couple of new outlets for our Plarn Mats opened up after all too).

Then there were several cuddly fabrics, including nice flannels that Irma was excited to use in making baby blankets for the Pregnancy Center. Even some very small pieces of flannel were JUST the ticket for Ramona & Harold to use in making port pads for 2 children with serious health issues (over 15,000 made so far)! At our previous meeting, a couple gals had given Ramona some very small flannel scraps. Inconsequential? Maybe, but from those little leftovers, she and Harold were able to cut tops for 189 little 3” port covers. We couldn't believe it! Any snippets left from that were used as the fluff inside the dialysis pillows. Yup, like that old-time saying about butchering hogs: "We'd used everything but the squeal. ” Ha!

November 29th - After a month of much gloom, we’d been enjoying a string of nice, sunny days, but morning temps were usually around freezing. It wasn’t exactly warm upon arrival in the church this morning either. Then, in descending the stairs, my ears were met with a weird rattley noise. “What is that?" Reaching the bottom of the stairs, I quickly surmised that it was coming from the furnace room. Flo met up with me, and our consensus was that we didn’t know what was wrong, but we knew it wasn't good. It sounded like the motor was clanging and banging around-an awful sound that made one nearly cringe. Now, Flo and I may have been savvy enough to cajole the Trinity furnace into running upon occasion, but this was way beyond our limited expertise. So, what do we often do in such situations? Once again it was, “Oh, Lar-ry!” So, dutiful Larry Shipma arrived in short order, and then Ken was called upon to weigh in with electrical knowledge too, and although they surmised where the problem was, both agreed—call in the “big guns.” This complex boiler system looks like an octopus on steroids with water pipes running here, there, and everywhere. With such things, it’s best to call in the experts right off the bat, instead of that time- wasting “knoein” around. Meanwhile, we shut our Crew doors, and our dear fireplace came to the rescue again. It didn’t warm to 70° in there, but it did take the chill off, and we were thankful.

Ten arrived that day, and it seemed crazy busy, with much activity and sharing conversations going on. For quite some time now, Brenda had been busy shopping for goodies to fill many Christmas ditty bags that Flo, Ramona & Harold had made for our church members who are more home-bound. Diane had also hand-embroidered 22 wonderful Christmas designs on gift tags for the bags, AND (while a-waiting-new-hip joint) Sandy had written lovely greetings on the Christmas cards too. Then, several enjoyed filling those cute bags that day. Together, their joint efforts combined to let our shut-ins know they most definitely remain in our hearts and our prayers.

Mary arrived with a new gray, white & orange plarn mat made by using a beefier crochet hook and wider plarn. It really looked great! Then-Brenda had made a pretty scarf and a gorgeous prayer shawl out of those yarn leftovers just received; Mary had made several hats and scarves too— some for our Giving Tree; and Helen had made much progress on a lovely chenille scarf from the just-received yarn too. We learned that chenille yarn is the latest thing in the yarn shops. Ramona had tatted a lovely heart for our inclusion in a greeting card, plus a few extra to share; Linda was working on a new quilt idea; Sue was on the down-hill run on that “deer” quilt; Donna had made a new walker bag from those pink fabrics just received; Diane was working on cards for St. Jude’s Ranch for Children; and Flo was sewing up a storm when not busy fielding questions-as usual. Oh, we had much to “ooh" and “aah" over all morning!

Meanwhile, the repairman from Domestic had quickly scooted “over the river and through the woods,” and it didn’t take him long to discover the source of that racket from the boiler. Ken &
Larry had to leave before his arrival, but Flo happened to pass by at the point of the problem’s discovery, and she snapped a photo to send Larry. Wow! It looked like the boiler had chewed up a slew of metal parts, and then spewed them back out. Actually-the impeller in the circulation pump had come off its shaft—annihilating the coupling between the electric motor and the pump. Now, the Educational Unit is heated via a hot water, closed-loop system, and to remove the pump for repair, that system first had to be partially drained. So... after taking care of that issue, the technician was able to reinstall the impeller back onto the pump, and then replace the coupling with a new one already on-hand in his truck. Meanwhile, we had been holed up behind closed doors in the Crew room, and our fireplace was now barely keeping us comfortable. With the circulation pump now fixed, we hoped we’d soon have heat! Well, hold your horses. FIRST, the whole loop had to be refilled with water, but...the system had other ideas about that, and stubbornly refused to refill. So now, gears shifted into more of a plumbing job. During that time, I’d been changing our rooms' seasonal decor-going back and forth past there to reach the storage room. During one such trip, the technician was trying to figure out why it would not refill, and out of all those “octopus” pipes, exactly where the problem was. By tapping different pipes with a wrench, he could sorta tell which contained water. He was pretty sure water had reached the main pipe leading into the room, but to be dead sure, he used a couple of huge ol’ pipe wrenches and much muscle to unscrew the connections. The water came flying on out. Yup, NO problem there! A defective valve was suspected, but before much more detective work, water to the whole church needed to be shut off. Surprisingly, he was really keeping his cool over this turn of events, but he did look a bit harried as he zipped up and down the halls several times in search of that shut-off valve. I think Larry may have been called in to assist in finding that. (That main water shut-off for the entire church is hidden in the West Tunnel—underneath the sanctuary on the west side of the fellowship Hall. There is a tunnel on the east side too. Did you know that)? Well, by that time, it was nearing noon, and getting downright cold downstairs. We could depart for the day, but the repairman continued on, finally somehow deducing which valve in which pipe was defective. To repair it, the pipe had to be cut apart. Then a new valve was installed, and threaded unions were used to reconnect the pipes. Using those connections will insure that the pipe won’t need to be cut again if future repairs are needed. By early afternoon, all was up and working once again. Yay!

ALL heating issues still weren’t up to snuff though. When Ken turned up the sanctuary thermostat at 6:00 A.M. the next Tuesday (preceding memorial services for our dear sister, Joetta Erickson), THAT boiler refused to rev up. More of that “knoein” around had to be done to finally persuade it to get a move-on and heat up before the repairman arrived to deduce the under-lying problem. Little do most of us know what ALL goes on to keep things operational, tidy and running smoothly around a church! Thankfully, God didn’t create ALL of us to be a plumber (or whatever). No, He gave each of us our own special gifts—not to be buried away and stifled, but to be used in ways that will grow in “interest," and continue to compound in use. We are charged with using those special gifts to bring assistance, help, hope and joy to the world, and most of all—to spread abroad the message of salvation through our Lord, Jesus Christ. No act of kindness is too small either. Remember—“The smallest deed is better than the greatest intention."


by Brenda Medema

Three brand new titles have been added to our video library during the last 2 months.  We hope you will check them out and enjoy them.   All can be found on the DRAMA shelf, in alphabetical order by title.


The first, “CHRISTMAS IN THE SMOKIES”, is an inspiring modern-day Christmas classic which joins our large collection of Christmas DVDs.  This heartwarming movie set in the picturesque Smoky Mountains tells the story of a family’s journey to save their historic berry farm against all odds during one fateful holiday season.  It runs 88 minutes, is unrated and has special features.


The second, “A RETURN TO GRACE: LUTHER’S LIFE AND LEGACY”, has been added since we have observed the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation this year.  The great drama of Martin Luther’s life comes alive in this vivid portrayal of the penniless monk’s quest for truth--a quest that would re-shape the church, and the world.  This film is narrated by Hugh Bonneville, stars Padraic Delaney, and runs 105 minutes. 


The third DVD which will soon be ready for checkout is “ALL SAINTS”.  “After accepting his new position, salesman-turned-pastor Michael Spurlock is ordered to shut down his dilapidated country church, which boasts a dozen members and a mortgage that’s well beyond its means.  Instead, he challenges his parishioners to risk it all to welcome a group of refugees and revive their community!”  This movie is based on a true story.  It is rated PG, is Dove approved, and runs about 108 minutes.  This DVD is a 2017 Christmas memorial from Garry & Brenda Medema in memory of their loved ones.

We are also very appreciative of 2 other Christmas memorial gifts for the video library this year, one from Ray & Thelma Dykstra in memory of their loved ones, and one from Steve & Mary Gowan in memory of Marv & Beulah Hook.  These gifts will be used in the coming year to purchase more new DVDs for the library.


New to the Church Library


“High As the Heavens” by Kate Breslin
Nurse Evelyn Marche is a war widow in occupied Belgium with a secret life as a British spy. When a plane crashes nearby, she recognizes the badly injured pilot and risks everything to hide him from the Germans. Even if they both survive, is the truth of what lies between them more than love can overcome? 


“Hidden Falls” by Olivia Newport
Quinn is a beloved teacher who is a pillar of the community by encouraging everyone that he interacts with. He never leaves town. When he suddenly disappears, friends and family try to track him down.  Their lives were so intertwined with him more than they thought.  Even while he is missing, he left them with lessons to learn.  Will they find him in time to thank him?


“Love Story” by Karen Kingsbury
From the day they met, John and Elizabeth were destined to fall in love. Their whirlwind romance started when they were young college students and lasted nearly thirty years.
So when John Baxter is asked to relive his long-ago love story with Elizabeth for his grandson Cole’s heritage project, he’s not sure he can do it. The sadness might simply be too great. But he agrees and allows his heart and soul to go places they haven’t gone in decades. Back to the breathless first moments, but also to the secret heartbreak that brought John and Elizabeth together.
At the same time, Baxter family friend Cody Coleman is working through the breakup of his complicated relationship with Andi Ellison. He is determined to move on when a chance sighting changes his plans—and heart. Can Cody convince Andi to give their love another try, or is it time for them to say goodbye for good?


“A Baxter Family Christmas” by Karen Kingsbury
Two years have passed since the terrible car accident that took the life of John Baxter’s daughter, Erin, her husband and three of their four daughters. Prompted by grief, and missing his daughter, John has invited a stranger for Christmas Eve dinner—Kendra Bryant, the transplant recipient who now has Erin’s heart.
In light of their father’s idea, Ashley and her brother Luke don’t think it’s right. They want to protect their ten-year-old niece, Amy—the only surviving member of the accident. But John is determined and believes meeting this woman is something his deceased daughter would want.
At the same time, Maddie West, the eighteen-year-old daughter of Brooke Baxter West, is praying for meaning this Christmas. Could she find it in a newfound friendship with a boy she never expected to see again? Maddie believes in miracles, especially at Christmastime, but this is a stretch even she can’t imagine.
Meanwhile, Kendra Bryant has been struggling these past few years to find purpose in the tragedy that gave her a second chance. She believes the invitation to see the Baxters and witness their unwavering faith in God can instill peace and happiness back into her life.
Heartwarming and touching, filled with love and redemption, A Baxter Family Christmas brings together two families in the aftermath of loss and in the midst of an unfolding love story, all with the help of one very special child.


“Twisted Innocence” by Terri Blackstock (#3 in Moonlighter Series)
Holly Cramer has worked hard to keep the identity of her daughter's father a secret, shamed and embarrassed by the one-night stand. But when the police knock on her door searching for Creed Kershaw, she realizes his identity isn't as hidden as she thought. The fact that Creed is a person of interest in a recent drug-related murder only increases her humiliation.
When Holly's path crosses with Creed's, she is unsure whether to be terrified of him or trust him. His tenderness with their daughter makes her want to believe his story, that he had nothing to do with the murder. But then she discovers that Creed has a connection to Leonard Miller - the man who killed several members of her family and kidnapped her nephews - and things only become more complicated.


“Catching the Wind” by Melanie Dobson
Today Daniel Knight is a wealthy old man who requests the help of an American journalist known for finding missing persons along with his lawyer to find his missing friend Brigitte Berthold. When the two were children, during World War II, they had escaped the German secret police that had arrested both their parents and were then separated after they arrived in England. Daniel has spent his entire life searching for her. Will this new team finally bring her back to him?


Our new home
A preacher who had always feared death felt powerless to comfort others who were facing it. Toward the end of his life, he moved to another house. When all the furniture had been packed, he lingered in the home where he’d raised his children and prepared many sermons. An assistant interrupted those reflections by saying, “Everything’s gone, sir, but the new house is better than this one. Come away.”
The preacher never forgot this lesson. God has prepared for his children a home infinitely better than earth — “an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” (2 Corinthians 5:1, NIV).

Christian Symbol


This set of letters spells “Christ” in Greek. It may be written using the Roman alphabet (from which the English alphabet descended), but is also often presented in Greek characters, as shown here.


Birds became prominent in Christian art during the Medieval and Renaissance eras. The lark came to symbolize the humility of the priesthood because it flies high and sings only when flying upward.

10 biblical ways to love
1. Listen without interrupting. “To answer before listening — that is folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13).
2. Speak without accusing. “Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).
3. Give without selfishness. “The righteous give without sparing” (Proverbs 21:26).
4. Pray without ceasing. “We have not stopped praying for you” (Colossians 1:9).
5. Answer without arguing. “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife” (Proverbs 17:1).
6. Share without pretending. “Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of … Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).
7. Enjoy without complaining. “Do everything without grumbling or arguing” (Philippians 2:14).
8. Trust without wavering. “[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:7).
9. Forgive without punishing. “Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13).
10. Promise without forgetting. “A longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12).
—From various websites; all Scriptures NIV


“What Do I Have?”
What do I have, Lord, that you would need me as a servant?
Eyes, he said,
to see the beauty in all that I’ve made —
and my children as they travel life’s highway.
Hands, he said,
to reach out and touch hurting souls,
to give a hug or encouraging pat on the back.
Feet, he said,
to lead my children through this world of strife
and to help them run from sin and follow me.
Mouth, he said,
to lift up your voice and sing praises to me
so others may hear the joy in your heart.
Ears, he said,
to listen to my still, small voice of love
and to hear my children when they cry for help.
Heart, he said,
so you may know the full love of my Spirit
and love my children as I have loved you.
—Thomas Butler


Bible Quiz


At the start of a new year, we remember that God continually gives us new chances. What does Jesus say to a woman caught in adultery?
A. “Go, and from now on sin no more.”
B. “Not even in Israel have I found such great faith.”
C. “Peace be with you.”
D. “Tell no one what I have done for you.”
Answer: See John 8:11

Paul declares that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Which of the following does Paul specify as unable to block God’s love?
A. death; life
B. angels; demons
C. present; future
D. height; depth
E. all of the above
Answer: See Romans 8:38-39


Meaning of Scripture
What is your favorite scripture verse? Do you have several verses that are especially meaningful to you? In the coming year, the Consistory would like to challenge you (all of you) to think about one meaningful verse and share with us why. Email Karin at or give Karin the verse and a paragraph on why the passage is important to you—we will gather these and share them in the newsletter, a few at a time. It is our hope to learn more about one another, our faith, and to grow deeper together.

Favorite Verse-Nancy Dykstra
“The Lord will guide you continually, watering your life when you are dry and keeping you healthy, too! You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever flowing stream.”
Isaiah 58:11
This verse has meant much to me. As most of you know I love flowers and watering your garden is a huge part of having beautiful flowers. God is saying to me, I will take care of you no matter what is happening in your dry spells of your life. Our bodies cannot survive without water. God will provide a well-watered garden, not just a small drink-an ever flowing stream to make us grow and bring others to Christ. He wants us to grow deep roots in our faith-so when the storms come we can still stand. The storms will bend us but we have our faith to help us carry through. He will keep us healthy-he will give us what we need-dry spells to help us grow in Christ and an ever flowing stream of his “Word” right in front of us to shine. God has given this promise to everyone.


Epiphany wonder
Today the Magi gaze in deep wonder at what they see: heaven on earth, earth in heaven, humanity in God, God in humanity, one whom the whole universe cannot contain now enclosed in a tiny body. As they look ... their symbolic gifts bear witness: incense for God, gold for a king, myrrh for one who is to die.
—Peter Chrysologus (5th century)

Winter Gift
“God … does great things beyond our knowing. He says to the snow, ‘Fall to the earth’; likewise to his heavy, drenching rain. He shuts up all humankind indoors, so that all people may know his work” (Job 37:5-7).
Snow, ice and cold can make winter a hassle. “Snow days” due to a blizzard may thrill students but usually inconvenience parents. But now and then, winter blankets the earth so heavily that it seems to quiet everything. We’re granted permission to hunker down at home, snuggle close with family or pets, enjoy a book or movie, make cocoa or cookies, and rest. It’s like a surprise sabbath — the gift of grace-time — when no one’s expected to get out the door or the driveway.
Perhaps indeed, as Job declared, God sees fit on such days to put our busyness on hold and shut us all indoors so we pause and remember his work — his place — in our lives. Praise God for snow days!
—Heidi Mann


A penguin “parable”
During storms, emperor penguins huddle for warmth, taking turns at the center and on the perimeter of the group. While incubating eggs, up to 6,000 male penguins have been observed clustering for shelter against the harsh Antarctic winter. Partially grown chicks gather in protective “crèches” (French for “cribs”); often surrounded by a colony of adults, these groupings ward off predators and cold.
In stormy times, humans also need supportive groups; we can’t survive alone. A church family allows us to take turns giving and receiving care. Amid social upheaval, injustice, illness, natural disaster and any loss or crisis, God invites us to gather for protection and warmth. In the church community, we support and strengthen one another and are empowered to go out again into the less-sheltered world.

A new you
The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.
—G.K. Chesterton

From the correct perspective
A child sat at his grandmother’s feet as she embroidered. Looking up, he saw a mishmash of threads and ugly knots but no discernible picture or words. “Nana,” he said with concern, “that’s not very pretty.”
“Come up here,” Grandma invited, “and look at it from this side. You have to see it from my perspective.”
“Oh!” the boy exclaimed then. “It’s beautiful!”
Seeing the world from our human, earthly viewpoint, we can’t grasp the masterpiece that God is completing. But when we finally see it from his perspective, we’ll discover that the threads and knots all contribute to a beautiful work of art. That work won’t be finished until Jesus returns, but in the meantime, may God grant us an occasional glimpse of the work in progress — from God’s side!


Ash Wednesday Prayer
Merciful God, you called us forth from the dust of the earth; you claimed us for Christ in the waters of baptism. Look upon us as we enter these Forty Days bearing the mark of ashes, and bless our journey through the desert of Lent to the font of rebirth. May our fasting be hunger for justice; our alms, a making of peace; our prayer, the chant of humble and grateful hearts.
Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers