Grace and Peace in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to our Montesano Presbyterian Church family. From the bottom of our hearts Susan, Sandy and I wish you the best in the closing down of 2020 and the hope for what can be in 2021.
Let me take just a minute and review how fast and furiously this whole thing went down and where it has led:
- February 24 San Antonio, Texas – kissed my wife and kids goodbye and headed north at 0700.
- February 25 Roswell, New Mexico – A 24-foot alien in the parking lot of a Dairy Queen across the street from NMMI (New Mexico Military Institute). I told Soren he would be going there his Sr. year in high school. He didn’t buy it.
- February 26 Flagstaff, Arizona – Not feeling well. A beautiful drive. But I don’t feel well at all. Going to bed early.
- February 27 WOW! that was the Grand Canyon. Though a wrong turn, we make it to Beaver, Utah. I am not well by any means. “Where the heck are we anyway? Who lives in Beaver?” And my truck broke down…Lord, what have I done? Pressing on.
- February 28 Twin Falls, Idaho – The snake river and some amazing scenery. I got a room at a Holiday Inn express. I slept 10 hours.
- February 29 (Leap Year) – Its 24 degrees outside. It snowed. We have 700 miles to go. I feel better, actually I feel a lot better. I guess it really makes a difference to sleep at a Holiday Inn Express. Next Stop, The Dalles, Oregon.
- March 1, 3:00PM Montesano, Washington. We made it – with 65mph head winds. 1792.6 miles later…
March brought many exciting changes didn’t it? March 12 began a quarantine and life would be forever different. Soren and I lived at the Dameron home and the Taylor home for 4 weeks, we loved that. We would move into the Church, have our food delivered and shower at the gym for the next three months. And now we come to December with Christmas and the end of 2020. This year began with “out processing” from the Army and looking with great expectation to a new ministry call, meeting new people, seeing new country and starting an adventurous call to serve the Lord and a big life change. Was I in for a huge surprise or what?
With Christmas days away, with the end of the year days away, I want to tell you all, thank you for making this transition smooth and relatively stress free. If it were not for the love and kindness of so many within our Church Oikos and those in the community who cared generously for a stranger from Texas, the Cobb’s would not have made it this far. Thank you all. Your Christ centered approach to life is evident in how you have adopted a family of five into all your homes and hearts. We have truly fallen in love with you all. From our home to yours Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
So, as I close out the COVID chapter of this year, I ask that we pray. As an Oikos church lets join in prayer daily for our community, for each other, for our country for our neighbors and for Christ to move in the hearts and minds of everyone we know and impact. Many opportunities will be coming our way to reach out, reach up and impact the world for Christ Jesus and we are the instruments of hope for the world around us. Please consider your call to ministry. Say, “Here I am Lord, use me.” And allow the Holy Spirit to show you where God is at work so we can join him for his Kingdom.
See you in 2021 ><>
Three Kings came riding on camel back, three kings came riding, on a journey far from home in God’s love abiding. Hark, the herald angel sing, “Glory to the newborn King; Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinner reconciled. The first noel the angels did say, was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay. Said the night wind to the to the little lamb, do you see what I see? Songs that make our hearts experience the joy of Christmas. Songs that we hear only during the month of December but songs that truly change the way we think and feel about life and our faith. These are Christmas Carols and they make Christmas special; the truth is, Christmas wouldn’t be the same with out them. Christmas carols date back to medieval Europe and pagan habits of the winter solstice. These tribes of people believed that every change of season rituals were needed to help survive the winter, assist with hunting and gathering to sustain them through the winter. These ceremonies would include the reading of a script and of course singing and dancing; thus the word carole in French means to sing and dance. Once Christianity began to spread through Europe, pagan traditions were replaced by Christian observances; the church or the priesthood began to recognize many of the practices as taboo. One of the earliest carols was a song titled the Hymn of the Angels or Gloria in Excelsis. The song details the words of the angels after the announcement of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds. One Roman bishop, Telesphorus, firmly believed that the song should be used during a Christmas service in Rome in AD 129. In 1223 Francis of Assis began creating and recreating the scenes of Christ’s birth with drawings, of animals and he even coordinated and directed what he called nativity scenes to reenact the scriptures to make them a “real experience” for all to witness. As popularity of the scenes grew, villagers came from all around to watch and take in the experience. Soon they would incorporate lessons and carols, lessons to teach the people of the nativity story and carols to sing and rejoice to as they watched. This idea quickly spread to France, Spain, and Germany before spreading further afield in Europe then on to America and the new world. Today our nativity and our Christmas Eve service is filled with the same creativity of the nativity, we will close with the tradition of Silent Night and the lighting of candles and singing outside the church the carole of Silent Night which was written by Father Joseph Mohr who arguably wrote the words to the best-known Christmas carol of all time. In 1818, Franz Xavier Gruber, a local schoolteacher, and Mohr’s friend provided the music for his lyrics. This collaboration arrived just in time for the Church’s Christmas service in the Austrian town of Oberndorf. The arrangement was originally meant for the guitar, but after several years of effort, someone created another version for the church organ. However, legend has it that during rehearsals, the organ suffered damage and was unable to produce a single note. Mohr agreed to perform the carol by guitar. Isn’t it funny how the best laid out plans can return to simple things that produce the most memorable events in history? This tradition of a nativity and the singing of carols has been done throughout the church for 1500 years. I hope you all get to come out and see and experience the wonder of Christmas and the joy of the child King. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Patrick
Thanksgiving is a very important holiday. Ours was the first country in the world to make a national holiday to give thanks. –Linus
We have a lot to be thankful for this season. I am thankful for my family, that we are together and we are cared for and healthy. I think that’s enough. I am thankful for time well spent in the Army as a Chaplain. I am thankful to reflect on men and women I have served with and I am grateful for that time, and I am thankful that I have been called to move on and serve the people of God here in Montesano, WA. I am even thankful for the clouds that bring the rains. The gray clouds and sheesh there is a freaking lot of it!!!
I am thankful for many blessings and I know with certainty that this is part of preparation for Advent, its preparation for servanthood. Revelation 1:7, “Behold, He is coming in the clouds and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the tribes of the earth will wale on account of Him. Even so. Amen.”
It is through the clouds that we experience God, it is through the gray that we truly come to know who God is for our lives. If life was always like Florida, I am afraid I would forget about all the true graces of God and find only the beach as a place of escape from the reality of life and its struggles. Jesus knew the gray of the seasons and he called the clouds in his last breath. Every cloud and every raindrop God creates, makes something new and beautiful. The connection is whether or not we are listening to what Christ is telling us in our experience and whether or not we are tuned to listen. Are we tuned? Are we listening? Are we heeding his call on our lives with obedience or are we trying as hard as we can to chase the sun and find the beach? I am certain that Jesus was on the beach when it was cloudy and he found the silver lining of God waiting for him. Come face to face with Jesus in those moments and discover grace and thanksgiving like you have never found before. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
A Note from Session:
Yes, we WILL meet to Worship the Lord this Sunday & following Sundays in the Sanctuary and we Will wear masks. You may not sing, but as we hear music shared by video, you may Praise God and hum along! We will pray silently and we will hear the word of God preached by Pastor Patrick!
Please join us for Worship on Sunday at 10 AM.
We are studying the gospel of John as we close out 2020. It seems appropriate that we dive deep into waters of a gospel that flexes and stretches our spiritual muscles and forces us to pause and reflect on the beauty of God’s word and the gravity of theological themes and Jesus’ power to do the incredible all the time. It really asks us, who is Jesus for our lives? As we face an election year, a global pandemic and disorder among cultures and neighbors across the country, I want to know where God is at work in all this after all. And John leaves me asking good questions of my life, my faith and our world.
We are only on chapter six and the questions coming from both our men’s breakfast and our women’s lunch are deep, thoughtful, and motivating. I am determined to read ahead, search for answers to questions, study more and be the best my little Army boy can be, “Be all you can be…for Jesus!” But the truth of the matter is, I feel more and more inadequate, unprepared and lacking in many different areas of my academic and philosophical realms of thought and abilities than I ever did before. I love to read about it, I love to think about it, but answering some questions is so hard and intimidating, I just freeze up and panic almost. Honestly, I don’t want to get the answer wrong, look stupid or make anyone angry. That’s about as human as one can get, I suppose. Afterall, I am the SME (subject matter expert). But truth be known, I do not have all the answers and I would be foolish to think or pretend that I do. I have to say, “I don’t know” at times.
I took this idea to a pastor friend. My friend from seminary reminded me that we are all orphans in the sense that we long to be known by God and experience the love of the Father as accepted and made whole, complete. Complete with knowledge, understanding and wisdom; complete without blemish or fault, complete and whole as the man who received healing from Jesus at the pool of Bethesda. I too, wish I understood scripture in such a way as that, but I don’t and I am ok with that. The real question that I pose to myself and others as we search for meaning within God’s Word together is, what does it mean for you? And how does it bring me closer to Christ today?
As a Christian and a pastor, biblical authority means, on the one hand, that God directs the belief and behavior of His people through, “revealed truth set forth in Scripture.” (WMCF 6.005) and on the other hand, it means that all our ideas about God and Holy Scripture should be measured, tested, and confirmed and if necessary corrected, by Scripture as well. “Let scripture interpret scritprue” my friend said to me. He is right. The authority in Christianity belongs to God alone. From a human standpoint, the Bible was made to introduce us to Jesus and it does that from beginning to end, so we take it from beginning to the end in order to understand who God is in the end. Scripture is an instrument of the Lord. So, let the Lord ring truth into our ears as we read His Scripture, earnestly, with a pure heart and an open mind to Christ. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” So, like Jeremiah, I can’t boast about knowing Greek or Hebrew, or understanding the writings of Barth or Tertullian (a bunch of dead guys) but I can boast about this: Jeremiah 9:24 “Let him boast…that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.” This is the Word of the Lord, thanks be to God.
Click the Announcement & Coming Event tab on the task bar above, to see what’s happening here at Monte Pres!
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his first chapter of Life Together, shares how Christians never meet one-on-one; he reminds us that we always meet in the presence of Jesus. Recognizing this will help us escape the traps of the devil and the dreadful habits that human beings engage in like gossip and sizing each other up spiritually and self absorbed piety.
This was a problem in the Chaplains corp. I even engaged in it from time to time with other chaplains and I am ashamed of myself. Criticism and thinking we are better than others, for our opinions and personal ideas; is wrong and only wounds us from the inside out. Does this identify anything that you have experienced or participated in? Have you felt the eyes upon you as you have tried so hard to speak or share personally and found that others just didn’t get you? Then, they express thoughts and feelings that only shoot you down? I know that must have been hard to hear and may still open wounds that should be healed. People can be cruel and thoughtless. Jesus knows how you feel and sits with you in your hurt. Know that only the love of Christ and the Holy Spirit can bring us beyond those hurts and allowing yourself to embrace those who don’t embrace you shows the love that Jesus calls us to share.
Through Christ we will meet that person, a stranger, a new member of the community, or maybe someone we have sat next to in church for years but never asked poignant questions that build a relationship. Believe in this, when Jesus is with us, that initial meeting is a blessing from God, no matter who it may be, no matter where they are from, no matter any and all differences in the person or you, in that moment Jesus is introducing you to a child of God. Don’t hinder the Spirit from working a miracle. Remember, we are always in a face to face relationship with Jesus and he just introduced you to someone new, whom you are called to love.
I met Kevin this week and was offered two chances to see and experience Christ in his life…It was awesome. I can’t wait to see him again. I hope you all are presented such opportunities with everyone you meet. Blessings in Christ our Lord. <><
Don’t Let your Hearts Be Troubled. Trust in God, and Trust in me. John 14:1
Our minds are so consumed with everything we are bombarded with each new day. I have to say, it’s exhausting to be alive some days. I chuckle at how much we are all taking in and honestly, how well we as a church family are doing. Kudos to you all. Many of you have needs and worries that are so legit and burdensome that my heart goes out to you everyday. So, if you don’t hear it from the rest of the world, hear it from me. Well done good and faithful servant. well done.
Our minds have a hard enough time with CNN so asking you to think about things of eternity may be the “straw that breaks the camels back”. But when it comes to a world with no boundaries of space and time, we must sit for a moment and embrace the idea that God is in control, that God is watching closely, and how, the Lord is standing with you in everything you face, I face and what we face together as a church body of Christ. “Trust me”…he says. “don’t allow your hearts to be troubled”. Don’t let the evil one tease you or taunt you. Don’t give heed to the things that don’t make a difference in my kingdom Jesus says to us all. Don’t be anxious about what is God’s responsibility. For the Christian is faithful and to be a follower of Jesus doesn’t require us to be rocket scientists (thank you Lord I would fail that test). No code breaking, though you may have to suffer through a sermon of mine that had to many rabbits in it (sorry). Nevertheless, you can anticipate what God has in store for you as you wait patiently for him to answer prayers. The Almighty Lord our God loves you, wants what is best for you, and eagerly awaits your prayers and requests. Jeremiah says, “I know the plans I have for you.” Plans of blessings not for harm. Rest easy beloved in Christ, Amen. <>< P. COBB
THURSDAY SEPT. 17, 2020
Proverbs 18:10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
2 Corinthians 6:4 But as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, beatings, calamities, riots, sleepless nights, hunger, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love, by truthful speech, and the power of God; with weapons if righteousness for the right hand and the left…punished, yet not killed…always rejoicing…possessing everything.
When you are confused and frustrated with life, if you are worried about the future, if you are uncertain about all the things you see on T.V. and through the media, take a moment and listen for God to speak through scripture and His Holy Spirit. Do it now! – What did you hear? What still small and gentle voice whispered in your ear? Do it again. This time ask for Jesus our Lord to share his Holy Spirit with you as you wait patiently for his peace. Take a moment and rest in his presence.
Paul in his letter to the Corinthians reminds them that the world is going to do everything in its power to take your peace away from you. But its not there for the taking, it’s there for the giving. We are instruments of grace and peace for the world around us. Share your peace. John 14:27 was Rev. Louis Zbinden’s favorite offering to those he met as he offered them the peace he had through Christ; “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled; neither let them be afraid.” I am always amazed at how the Lord works in my life. I feel the peace of Christ and the love of his grace even more today then I did before COVID. This crazy world doesn’t bother me because I know the Lord is in control. So, I offer you this peace that fills my heart. Run to his high tower and allow him to shepherd you in his love and mercy. May the Lord bless you and Keep you. Amen <><
“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God the Father encourage you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16
Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me alone to do all the work? Luke 11:40…Martha lived a clutter life. I have a clutter desk. I have a cluttered mind. She needed a break, well I need a break! She was worried and upset about many things. I too am worried about many things. I am worried about my kids education, I am worried about the older members of our congregation, I am worried about my parents and I am worried about our country. Sheesh! Somethings gonna give!
“Patrick, Patrick, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is important and Mary chose [it]” Luke 11:41.
Mary chose to sit at the foot of Jesus and listen to the gospel of grace and love. She sat at the foot of the Lord and was blessed by His presence. She sat at the foot of Jesus and allowed the Lord God Almighty to smile upon her and gaze at her love for him, and in turn receive his love for her. What an amazing opportunity it is to sit at the foot of Jesus.
Max Lucado says, “God is more pleased with the quiet attention of a sincere servant than the noisy service of a sour one.”
I am still worried. But what matters more than my worry is my love for Christ, may gratitude for his blessings, the grace offered to those I love and the hope that I express and share in everything I do. A bad attitude spoils the gift that God offers in each new day. Problems will come and go, as will the good and the bad, and Jesus will always be there for you and for me. the sign behind my desk says, “it is what it is” and Jesus is [it]. Jesus take my worry and replace it with peace, amen.
Therefore, rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice. <><