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For such a time as this...

For such a time as this...it seems we could say that for so many reasons these days. News reports of shootings, endless political wranglings, border disputes, financial concerns...and, well,now COVID-19. The list can go on....and on. It's difficult to avoid the stress and angst of these days, but certainly not impossible. What was it Fred Roger's mother used to say, in a criss to look for the people doing good things? I have personally experienced the kindness of strangers and people looking out for each other. Sharing of where to find things and reports of local stores shared with strangers in parking lots. Offers of help and true kindess extended. It is enough to melt any fears.

Who we are in the midst of difficult times says a lot about our character and what we truly believe. It is hard to believe that someone can hold to an understanding of a God who provides when they hoard cases of toilet paper. We all have our fears and I am not advocating not taking appropriate precautions and acting responsibly...but I would also encourage us to act kindly as well.Remember our neighbors, remember those in need, remember not everyone has the resources we might have to weather this storm, so taking opportunities to reach out during these days is of increased importance.

We all need to make our own decisions based on the best information we have. Listenng to those in office and those working to protect our safety is very important. But taking time to turn off the news and tune into God's Spirit is of great importance as well. In Christ we find our peace and can give voice to our concerns. In Christ we can hear His word to us, words of comfort and hope, words of challenge and calls to courage. In Christ we can find our center and will journey through these days together as disciples in Christ.

At CAPC we are working to offer a variety of ways to worship and serve, mindful of the ways outlined to protect our health. We hope that if you have questions, you will reach out to us. Please know I hold you all in prayer as together (in Christ) we face the challenges before us. 

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ~ Isaiah 41:10

 “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you."  ~ Psalm 56:3

 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:6-7

“Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” ~ John 14:27

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” ~ 2 Timothy 1:7


Exercising Your Faith

Okay, I admit it. I don't like to exercise. Well, let me put it this way, I would prefer to exercise my right to choose than my right to lose. I am more apt to wander the aisles of my local supermarket looking for something new to try, something to nibble on while I am watching a favored show, something that promises an immediate, empty pleasure than I am to wander over to my treadmmill and journey to a healthier me. So there it is, I admit it and own the problem. So what is a body to do?

I am reminded that our faith life is no different in some ways than our body life. If we don't exerccise our body, things start to roll over in places you didn't even know could roll. The burden of weight isn't flattering, but neither is flabby faith. I mean, think about it, that body you are investing in will eventually go the way of all the earth (no, I am no advocating adopting my kind of lifestyle), but it is't eternal. Our bodies all have an expiration date. Faith, however, is an element of the eternal. Why then would we wish to invest all of our time and energy into looking good in lieu of investing time in toning what ultimately will bring us good?  TAlk about return on investment!

There is a balance to be struck here, of course, but I hope during this Thanksgiving and Advent season we don't just say thanks (although that is a good start), but we stretch and live our thanks, making it a practice of our daily lives. How do we do that? One way is making it part of our daily routine.  Here are some suggestions, and you may have others to add as well:

1.  Take a few minutes each morning and take some deep breaths, stretch and allow yourself to be in the moment and reflect on the blessings in your life. What are you ultimately getting up for? That can be a very good question. Is it for love of family? A belief that your life can make a beautiful and lasting difference in the world around you? Connect your life with a higher purpose than just 'getting through another day.' It helps bring perspective and reminds you that our lives are mysterious, wondrous gifts to be embraced. Yes, no matter the challenges and aches and pains we face. 

2.  Be thankful to the people you meet. If someone holds a door open for you, say thank you (I am often amazed at how many people don't do this!). If someone gets your coffee for you, thank them and wish them well on their day. This doesn't have to be a long or ponderous exchange (better if it is not, frankly, but keep it moving and keep it honest). Recognize if someone has gone th extra mile for you or is working to help you solve a problem. Be mindful of treating everyone with respect and dignity. We never know the challenges another is facing. Living thankfully brings benefits to you and to others as well.

3.  Do something for people in need. Donate. Serve. Give. Do. Help. It will bring joy to your soul as well as make the world a better place. Those who volunteer and work for the good of others are reported as being happier and at a better peace with themselves. Who doesn't want more of that? 

4.  Try to reframe negative thoughts. Ask yourself the question as to why you are feeling angry or a little low? Are you tired and need to give yourself a rest? Exercising is also remembering to relax those muscles in between. We need to relax a bit between our faith exercises as well. Schedule some time for you so you can be in a good place. You cannot draw from an empty well. God calls us to times as rest and we can be thankful in finding rest in those times. 

5.  If you suspect that there is something more going on in your life, seek help. Don't try to go it alone. Reach out to your pastor or doctor, to a friend or someone you can trust. Definitely be praying about it and be open to how God answers. There is a phone number for people who are willing to listen and will not, nor cannot, share your story with others. Give them a call...and remember to say 'thank you' for their ministry as well.

6.  Nurture your mind as well as your soul. Don't starve your soul because life is demanding too much. Take a few minutes to read an article, listen to a moving piece of music, read your Bible (which if you read daily will truly bring strength and set the tone for your day). Fill your soul with good things (like empty calories that bring no lasting value, reach for the richer, deeper experiences that will nurture your spirit in healthy ways that will bring lasting benefit).

7.  Worship. Readjust your mindset so that worship is not something you have to do but something you want to do, are priviledged to do and see it as the blessing it is designed to be. Sit back and enter worship with a time of silence, breathing deeply, and practice presence. This is your time to be with God in a place that is surrounded by others who are also seeking God's peace. Listen to the music and allow it to flow into your soul. Follow the flow of the service. It is like a good coach who can lead you from flab to fav! Enter with an open heart, asking God to speak to your heart even as you give thanks for God's presence in your life. Nope, being at home and turning on the TV or popping in a CD will never replace the beauty and mysterious presence of Christ in the midst of His church as they gather. Be a regular part of that gift.

8.  Sing. Go ahead and sing your thanks. Make up your own song (being in your car by yourself may be a good place to practice this exercise!). If you cannot make up your own song or write your own lyrics to a tune you know, sing along to your favorite hymn or song (remember to keep it positive). However you do it, make a joyful noise to the Lord It is a sign of thanksgiving and praise and lifts your soul.

There are many other things you can do, but the number eight is a holy number. It is the sign of God's new creation and the world in all its freshness.  It is what I hope we can all experience this season. So be thankful. Be inspiried. Be reminded. Be worshipful. Live the joy that Christ has promised. Exercise the right way to grow in faith and understanding and you will be blessed.

In Christ,
Pastor Lynn

A Turning Point

When I was a little girl I took dance lessons. My mother wanted to ensure my sister and I did not 'walk like horses' so we dutifully donned our tutus and ballet shoes (and later tap shoes) to begin refining our sense of balance and poise. I was doomed from the start, my hopes of ever being a ballerina were slim and secretly I longed to walk like the majestic animals I loved so much. But still, the idea of balancing my whole (at that time) little body on my toes while I learned the various positions reminds me of how even today I (like so many others) struggle to balance so many things on the toes of limited time frames, accelerated deadlines, unexpected projects that pile up, and well, that thing called life. All of this balancing, of course, while struggling to make it look easy (sure I can do everything) and performing with fluid grace (ladies don't lose their cool).  Frankly some of that training and life experience HAS taught e to balance a lot of things effficiently and with grace that's sincere. Taking on more just means shifting some thing around, and that's okay. So when am I coming to a spiriitual point?  It is this. Here at CAPC we have a LOT of things we are juggling and handling and are excited about what is happening in our midst. Our dance is one with the Spirit who, when allowed to lead, lifts us to our toes with expectation and admiration for all the Spirit can achieve.  We head into summer and changes in staff and 175th plans and reopening of food missions and so much more, but we seem to be doing it all with grace and aplumb.  Well, perhaps those dance lessns really helped after all!

Holy Week at CAPC

Holy Week Offerings at CAPC
Holy Week is taken very seriously at CAPC and we invite you to journey with us.  Following are the highlights of the week:
Palm Sunday - joyous chaos yields to palm waving, soaring hymns as we celebrate Jesus' entry into Jerusalem (and our hearts).  Sunday, April 14 at 10:30 am.
Maundy Thursday - Thursday, April 18 at 7:30 pm - Christ instituted the sacrament of Communion as a commandment at the Last Supper, we honor that sacrament and offer the ritual of washing of the feet (voluntary) and at the end of service we strip the chancel.  
Good Friday/Tenebrae Service - the Service of Shadows or Tenebrae is the retelling of the last hours of Jesus' life on earth through readings and music. In the soaring sanctuary of CAPC, this retelling is especially powerful. Friday, April 19 at 7:30 pm. 

And of course we joyously celebrate Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, April 21 at 10:30 am! Congregation is invited to sing portions of Handel's Messiah at the end of service (always a favorite) and children and families are invited to a special coffee fellowship which includes games for the children and special treats for all.  

Come, let us worship our God!

Lent 2019

What an exciting time it is to be at CAPC. We are preparing to celebrate the church's 175th year of ministry, are making plans for an incredible season of Lent, preparing to reopen our Soup Kitchen after an outstanding renovation of our kitchen--the list goes on and on. CAPC is a community of faith that is open, inviting, warm and friendly. Our congregation is small, but our involvement is huge and it is wonderful to watch people gather on Sunday mornings and at other times and catch up on the news of each other's lives, spend time having fun in our fellowship events, work shoulder to shoulder in work that makes this world truly a better place. It is a wonder to see God's Holy Spirit at work and we would like to invite you to come and join us. If you have questions about your faith, we'd love to explore them with you. If you are hurting and need some place that is safe to heal, we have lots of room. If you are seeking a way to bring greater meaning and significance to your life, well, we have opportunities for that as well. Come check us out on Sunday mornings. We'd love to meet you! But be ready to jump in to a place that you may find changes your life--forever!

Pastor's Blog

Well-meaning people, lovely people, caring people just get this season all wrong. I hear people wanting to fight off 'Christmas' at least until the turkey grows cold, but as well meaning as they might be...they are wrong. We aren't guilty of jumping from turkeys to jingle bells with a nod and a flash, but rather of forgetting outright what season truly comes after Thanksgiving, and that is Advent.  You probably won't even have heard of this strange season unless you have atended a church. It's not that we want to keep it secret, but rather that we want to keep this season sacred. Advent doesn't lend itself to screaming jingles, flashing lights, painfully tacky glitter, it is way too deep for that. Advent is about something that is real, meaningful, sacred, Truthfull wih a capital 'T' (and yes, I meant to spell it that way).

Advent for people whose hearts are tuned to someting more lasting than the passing fad is a season to prepare for what I feel is the penultimate holy day (I still hold Easter as a holier day). It is celebatory in nature not because of what parties we get invited to, but rather because we recognize that Christ is the true gift of love in our lives that nothing else could ever replace. Advent is a journey of discovery--taking stock of where we are, making a plan to move forward, opening ourselves so that the sacred can be revealed. 

We hope that you will want something more out of life as well, something eternal and deep and lasting. We hope that you will want to come and join us on this amazing journey. Come to church. Take a devotional (and actually use it). Attend the three-part class 'Who Needs Christmas" or even just join us for a concert, a Journey to  Bethlehem or a service of Lessons and Carols. It's up to you.

We know its difficult. Life can be challenging, Christmas can overtake us and overwhelm our agendas. It just doesn't have to be that way. There is another road and we hope to see  you there.

In Christ,
Pastor Lynn

Pastor's Blog

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ here at Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church
Grace and Peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 
2 Corinthians 1:2
As I write this I have just returned from a few days up in the Adirondack Mountains, Lake Placid to be specific, complete with scenic tours, mountain lake vistas, a visit to John Brown's grave, and some time just reading. This last was my favorite part. This  trip was meant specifically to be a retreat, a time away not just to vacation and relax (although we all need to do a little of that!), but to read some material I had been wanting to explore and reflect on where we are as a church in this season of CAPC's ministry and mission.
What mountain are we called to climb and in what rivers will we find refreshment for our souls? Armed with the materials from our recent officer's retreat and echoes of the Global Leadership Summit still ringing in my ears, many things came into focus like they had not before. Important things for this church, for each of us and for this community.
The Church, capital 'C,' is struggling mightily. Attendance numbers are declining and many churches are making the difficult decision to close. Articles flash across my screen about the dire need to impress upon millennials that they truly do need God otherwise the Church (and they) will be in trouble. But it isn't only the millennials that aren't understanding why God is important (and might even be asking whose God, anyway?), it is much of our world. And yet, even in the midst of this reality, we still gather and worship, our doors remain wide open, and we continue to see God at work in our ministries and missions. Perhaps it is time for the Church to rethink its self understanding and role in God's Kingdom building. Perhaps it is time to shake out the skirts of her teaching and discover that the Holy Spirit is calling us to community and to church in a fresh way. The old wasn't bad, it just isn't meant for this time and for the time to come.
One of the issues that has been the topic of our goal setting during our officer's retreat has been one of adding to our numbers. church growth is seen as critical, and yet for all of the things we are doing, no significant growth has occurred. This has perplexed me some and I began looking for answers, but didn't find any that I thought truly captured why that is, until now.  Over the past several months I have been reading about developing and growing multi-ethnic churches. The basic advice from church growth experts has been, 'don't even try it.' Statistics have shown that church growth occurs in churches that are monochromatic far faster than in churches that are racially and ethnically diverse. In addition, as we are an open and affirming congregation and you have called a woman pastor, you can just imagine where we might fall in the statistics.  But that dynamic is changing in churches. There has been an increase in the number of churches that are choosing to be multi-ethnic and have demonstrated that growth is not only possible, but just may be the first sprigs of hope for future church.  
I encountered a quote that said, 'If the kingdom of heaven is not segregated, why on earth is the church?' Or, as TD Jakes said in a talk at the GLS, why do we act like a tribe when we worship a God that is global? Perhaps this is part of difficulty churches are facing today. We in America are built upon the idea of freedom for all people's and that nations will come together here, on this soil, more reflective of God's love of all peoples than perhaps anywhere else on earth. How can we, who live in a diverse community, not reflect that Kingdom truth? God calls us to love and serve Him as a people united by faith, not by skin color or balance sheet. And as we come together as such a community we will be incredibly blessed because God will be here, in our midst, moving to draw us together as His people.
One of the books I read this past week was the history of this church. Innovation and forward thinking has been part of this church's DNA from the very beginning. Perhaps that has been one of its greatest treasures. CAPC is not bound by what has been but is enriched by the past to be prepared to meet the future head on. Dr. Moment referred to this church as the beacon of light and hope, and our message of hope, love, inclusion and faith is a light that shines through everything that we do or will seek to do here in this wonderful edifice. We can do nothing else, the seeds of courage were planted early on and continue to bear fruit.
We will grow as a community of faith as we clarify and build on this vision of Christ's call upon this church to be a sanctuary for all peoples who are united by their love of Christ and dedication to serve, and their willingness to see Christ in each other. We will grow as we break down walls that divide us because we do not understand each other's culture enough to communicate really effectively. We will get better at that as we intentionally learn that God's love is not bound by a particular culture, no one person has all the answers, and that we can all learn more about each other and discover God's depth of love for His people in the diversity of His creation.
This season, as we once again turn towards the fall and another program year here at CAPC, I do so with an open heart and assurance that God is calling THIS church in THIS time to an amazing journey of discovery and once again setting the bar higher for understanding what church, Christ's church truly is in this world. We are not afraid, but take courage from the great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us that whisper in our hearts, 'It can be done if it is God's will. And just wait to see what He can do!' 
It's time. Our time to shine. Our time to invest ourselves in a work that is truly valuable and has deep meaning. Our time to live as Christ's church as brothers and sisters in Christ, bound by our love of Christ and for each other. I hope to see you on campus this year.
In His service,
Pastor Lynn

2015 - A Lenten Season to Know Worship

Worship & Reflect During Lent at CAPC in Plainfield, NJ

Ash Wednesday is February 18, 2015. Join us 5 p.m. at Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Churh in Plainfield, NJ, as we host an evening of quiet mediation though our lighted labarinth, worship, and a simple soup & bread supper to note the beginning of the Lentan Season. Lent is a period of preparation as we encounter the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ, our Savior. Here at Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church you will find numerous opportunities to journey through Lent in a way that not only meets the demands of your schedule, but (and we think even more importantly) deepens your faith and understanding.  Through worship that is authentic, warm and uplifting, educational experiences that challenge and inform, devotions that encourage and so much more, you are invited to join us on the journey of Lent and grow.

Lent at CAPC

View a complete list of our Lentan worship and study services by way of the image below. Our journey will include an online Lenten study of the Gospel of Mark , Lenten devotionals, Crescent Concerts' Festival of Organists, a retracing of the last 24 hours of Jesus earthbound life prior to the cruxifiction, the joy of Palm Sunday, communion on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday Tenebrae Worship with musical lead from Crescent Concerts, and the joy of Easter Sunday worship. Also, in the document, is information on our Soup Kitchen if you wish to serve the community during the season.

2015 Lent at New Jersey church

And Where Are You Off To?

Oftentimes as I was getting on my shoes to head out the back door, my mother would ask me, "And where are you off to?" It could have been almost anywhere...but mostly it was 'out' to play. I loved being outdoors and playing with the other neighborhood kids. We explored, and talked, swam, rode bicycles and pushed the  limits. We were out there having fun and living the life. 

It is an image that came to mind as we begin this new year. Where are we off to? Will our year ahead be filled with exploration and challenge? Will we push the limits, our limits, and realize that we can be so much more? How will we grow as a community of faith and who will we meet along the way?

CAPC is a church on the move. We are 'out there' in ministry and mission, especially our Soup Kitchen that continues to attract new volunteers who share how they enjoy their time together, making a difference in the world. They share how they almost feel guilty because they are having so much fun ministering. But why can't it be that way? 

People come to worship and are moved not only by being in this space with which we are blessed to worship, but are touched by the incredible level of music, by the prayers and words that are shared. Some are surprised that they feel so immediately 'at home' and some sit silently with tears welling up and express gratitude for 'just being here and being so welcomed.' One woman shared that she had been in a lot of different churches, and each one taught her something different, but this church, she said, taught her about love. I cannot think of a better testimony for a church that seeks to live the Gospel.

We have all the other ministries that you will find at other churches, Sunday School and adult education opportunities, book groups and Bible studies, but you will find something more here as well. Outstanding music offerings by very talented and professional musicians and singers. You will find opportunities to serve and learn and grow. You will find a chance to leave your mark here in this place as you answer where God is calling you to make a difference. 

Who knows what the future holds, but we know who holds the future. We might ask you the same question, 'Where are you off to today?" We'd love to hear your response.

Glimpse of Life at Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church

Reflecting on some of our recent worship services, community service, church building renovations, and celebrations, here is a video of Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church (CAPC) life.

Find yourself or a friend in this video montage or be inspired and come to service or worship at CAPC in Plainfield, New Jersey, to join our life of faith, worship, study, celebration, and service.

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