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Valley Church News

January 31, 2013

     "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will send you out to fish for people." At once they left their nets and followed him.
     ~ Mark 1:17-18
      This Sunday we will have one final look at Mark's good news about Jesus before we begin our Lenten sermon series and study on Christian hope. This Sunday's scripture reading is Mark 1:26-20, the calling of Jesus' first disciples. To prepare for the service, I encourage you to read the passage a few times in the remainder of the week, and contemplate the call of Jesus on your own life, and what you might be invited to leave behind as you follow him.
     Next Sunday we will begin our Surprised by Hope series (Tom Wright gets credit for the title and theme - see below). We will start by laying the groundwork for understanding the questions and issues that will arise over the following six Sundays. Our scripture for February 17 will be Revelation 21:1-4.

Ash Wednesday Service:

     The observance of Ash Wednesday is a relatively recent phenomenon within most Protestant circles. As such, it might not hurt to give a brief introduction to the day and its meaning. Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, the season in which the Church prepares to remember and honor the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus. In the first few centuries, the Church connected the forty days that preceded Easter with the forty days of Jesus' fasting in the wilderness. (The Sundays are considered celebration days, so there are actually more than 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter). Lent became a time of fasting, repentance, and conscious focus on spiritual renewal. Ash Wednesday is the day of entry into that season. On Ash Wednesday Christians have historically contemplated their mortality ("remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return"), their sinfulness, their need for repentance, and their need for a savior. Contemplation of sin and its consequences, which is death, is part of the beginning of commitment to focused renewal and growth, and a celebration of God's grace to us in Jesus.
     On Ash Wednesday (February 13) we will be holding a service at 7:00 PM. The service will give us opportunity to contemplate our broken human condition of frailty, mortality, and sinfulness. It will also provide opportunity to think about specific sins of which we need to repent in Lent and in all of life and to celebrate Jesus' victory over those sins and death itself.
     The service will marked by quiet reflection and meditation, along with scripture reading, songs, and the imposition of ashes. I hope you will join us!

Lenten Series and Study:

    A week from Sunday marks the beginning of Lent, and with it the beginning of our Lenten study, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. We will be offering the study, which includes a 15 minute video with Tom Wright and a discussion centered around the video and biblical passages, on Sunday mornings at 9:15. We will also have a sign-up by the coffee on Sunday for those interested in meeting at some other point during the week (or you can call or email me sometime in the next few days).
     Each week I will be preaching on a Bible text that comes up in the study session during the previous week.

Disability Advocate Volunteer Position

     The Christian Reformed Church encourages local congregations to have one person in the congregation who takes it upon themselves to be an advocate for those with disabilities - someone who simply watches out for those with disabilities and assesses how the church might be able to meet their needs in ever better ways. This position does not take much time or energy; it takes eyes to see and ears to hear and a heart moved by the needs of the disabled. This job could be filled by an adult, young adult, or even a family working together. If interested in talking about this, contact me. A job description from the denomination follows:
     The Church Advocate is a volunteer who seeks to promote the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in the life of the local congregation.
     As time, talents, and opportunities permit, this task is done by
1. Identifying the needs of church members affected by disabilities and informing appropriate church leaders of those needs
2. Encouraging the inclusion of those members in the life of the church so that their God-given abilities are utilized fully
3. Being in communication with the Regional Advocate who in turn is supported by the staff of Disability Concerns
4. Helping people with disabilities and their families find resources for counseling, advocacy, and other agencies that provide information and legal and financial support, including support from governmental sources at all levels
5. Offering Disability Concerns resources to the congregation, including the distribution of “Breaking Barriers”
6. Participating in the Disability Concerns network, especially training opportunities 
If you would like to volunteer to fill this important position, please let me know!
Sunday Service Times:
Sunday School: 9:15 a.m.
Worship: 10:30 a.m.


In the Life of Valley Church:

     We continue to pray for Marcus, Florence, Natalie, and Daniela as they mourn the passing of Marcus' father.

     We pray for Holly, Trent, Rusty, and Melanie Nelson. Holly's father has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, has suffered a hemorrhage in the tumor, and a small stroke. Today he goes in for a biopsy, and we pray for freedom from excessive bleeding, seizures, and damaged speech and comprehension. We give thanks for the last few days in which Holly's dad has been well enough to share good conversations and memories with his family. Pray, too, for Trent, Rusty, and Melanie while they are separated from their wife/mother during this difficult time.

     We pray for Vivian Keller as doctors treat her for lung cancer, giving thanks for the optimism Vivian and the doctors have for her recovery.

Upcoming events and opportunities:

    Parent's Night Out is this Saturday evening from 5:30 to 8:30PM!

     Adult education will conclude its DVD study based on Tim Kellor's book called The Reason for God: Conversations on Faith and Life at 9:15 on Sunday morning. You are invited to join even if you haven't been to the previous sessions.

    We will have an Ash Wednesday service on February 13 at 7:00PM (more about this on the left).

     Remember to fill up those baby bottles with coins, bills, and/or checks for Life Choices Center. If you didn't pick up a bottle, there are still some available by the coffee pot. You can learn more about Life Choices Center here.

Recommended Reading:


     N.T. (Tom) Wright's Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church does just that; it looks at what our Christian hope is, what it is based on, and what it means for the life of the Church and for individual Christians. Wright helps us think clearly about what the Bible really says about heaven and earth, Jesus' resurrection, our resurrections, and how carefully listening to biblical teachings on these issues will impact the way we live for Christ and his kingdom here and now.
Church Telephone: (607) 648-8224
 Pastor Kurt's email:
Church email:
Church website:

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Valley Church
1452 River Road
Binghamton, New York 13901

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