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This Sunday, we have the gift of hearing from The Rev. Stan Nabors. Stan is a chaplain for Vitas Hospice, and he serves as the Vice President of our Board. As a hospice chaplain, Stan cares for patients and their loved ones as they near the end of life. It is a vital and meaningful ministry, and we're fortunate that Stan calls First Community his church home! 

I'm looking forward to hearing Stan's sermon, and I hope you'll join us for worship as well as for our Bible Study of the Gospel of Matthew at 9:30am. Children continue their Deep Blue Kids Study.

Earlier this week, I attended an Active Shooter Response Training. While I hope that none of us ever face this, it is important to be aware and prepared. Read the "Need to Know" section below for some tips and links.

Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. A minister and community organizer, King imagined a day when every child of God would experience dignity and true equity. Stan will be preaching on Psalm 40, which reminds me of these words from The Rev. Dr. King's sermon in Montgomery, AL in 1965:

I know you are asking today, "How long will it take?" Somebody’s asking, "How long will prejudice blind the visions of men, darken their understanding, and drive bright-eyed wisdom from her sacred throne?" Somebody’s asking, "When will wounded justice, lying prostrate on the streets of Selma and Birmingham and communities all over the South, be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men?" Somebody’s asking, "When will the radiant star of hope be plunged against the nocturnal bosom of this lonely night, plucked from weary souls with chains of fear and the manacles of death? How long will justice be crucified, and truth bear it?"

I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because "truth crushed to earth will rise again."

How long? Not long, because "no lie can live forever." 

How long? Not long,because "you shall reap what you sow." 

How long? Not long:
Truth forever on the scaffold,
Wrong forever on the throne,
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow,
Keeping watch above his own.

How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. 

How long? Not long, because:
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He has loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat.
O, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! Be jubilant my feet!
Our God is marching on.
Glory, hallelujah! Glory, hallelujah!

Glory, hallelujah! Glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on. 

Blessings and peace,
Pastor Manda

We continue our study of the Gospel of Matthew at 9:30am, meeting in the Gathering Area (to your left when you enter from the parking lot). 

In preparation for this Sunday, please read chapters 3 and 4 in Matthew in a contemplative and immersive way. That is, read it slowly to yourself and immerse yourself in the story from 3 different vantage points: (1) those around Jesus who are experiencing the story as written; (2) the community for whom it was written (likely a small Jewish Christian community in or around Antioch, Syria in 80-90 CE after the fall of the Temple in 70 CE); and (3) as yourself today, in our current context.
Ask yourself the following questions:
  1. What "good news" did the story have for them then? What good news does it have for us today?
  2. What does discipleship (following the Way of Jesus) look like in the context of Matthew? What can we apply to our lives today about what it means to follow the Way of Jesus?
Plan to join us for our annual congregational meeting on Sunday, February 9. All members and visitors are welcome and encouraged to attend!

Pastor Manda recently attended an Active Shooter Response Training. While this is not something we ever want to have to worry about, it's important to be aware and prepared. We are in the midst of a security review of our building and policies. Here are some tips from The ALERRT Center at Texas State University:

During an act of violence (e.g. robbery, hostage situation, workplace violence, active shooter):
AVOID starts with your state of mind.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings.
  • Have an exit plan: There are exit doors on both sides of the Worship Center/Sanctuary: one near the piano, and one in front of the door to the audiovisual room. There is an exit door in the Social Hall as well.
  • Move away from the source of the threat as quickly as possible. 
  • The more distance and barriers between you and the threat, the better.             
DENY when getting away is difficult or maybe even impossible. 
  • Keep distance between you and the source. 
  • Create barriers to prevent or slow down a threat from getting to you.                    
  • Turn the lights off. 
  • Remain out of sight and quiet by hiding behind large objects and silence your phone.
DEFEND because you have the right to protect yourself. 
  • If you cannot Avoid or Deny, be prepared to defend yourself.
  • Aim to take the weapon away - and direct it away from yourself and others. 
CALL 911 when you are in a safe area.
When Law Enforcement arrives, SHOW YOUR HANDS AND FOLLOW COMMANDS.
Sunday, January 19
  9:30am - Spiritual Formation for All Ages
10:00am - Choir Rehearsal
10:30am - Coffee, Coloring, & Conversation
11:00am - Worship

Wednesday, January 22
12:00pm - 5:00pm - Pastor Manda's drop-in office hours (other hours by appointment)
  7:00pm - Justice and Outreach Team online meeting  

Thursday, January 23
  7:00pm - Choir Rehearsal

The church office is open 9:00am - 3:00pm Tuesday - Thursday.

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