“Christianity is a world that is a great sculptor’s shop. We are the statues and there is a rumor going around the shop that some of us are some day going to come to life.” — C. S. Lewis
The sculptor starts out with a block of stone or clay, and an idea in his head of what he wants to create. The process of creation is a matter of stripping away everything that doesn’t match that image in the sculptor’s head.
If this is the sculptor’s workshop and we are the statues then the Christian life should be easy for us. The model of perfection is Jesus Christ, so all we have to do is get rid of everything in our lives that doesn’t conform to that example.
What C.S. Lewis didn’t mention was the mess that took up such a large portion of the sculptor’s workshop. That mess is made up of the scraps and rubble of imperfect works. The Christian life, like the sculptor’s shop full of messes. This church is a warehouse of messes. Each of us is a walking talking mess trying to conform ourselves to that perfect image.
That person that invited you to church today was probably thinking that by having you here they wouldn’t be considered the biggest mess anymore. Or maybe they were thinking that the path they are on is one worth sharing with others.
After a while we get addicted to the messes. When we think we’re winning the war against our own we involve ourselves in the mess that’s sitting next to us. Church like that shop is messy. Loving the people in our life is messy. Just as Christ chose to hang out with the undesirables, the tax collectors, and the sinners. We choose to hang out with others that are just like us. Imperfect messes who are better at sinning than living like Jesus Christ.
Unlike the sculptor who has to keep stripping material away or continue with hammer and chisel beating on his creation, God chose to send his son. That perfect example willingly humbled himself to become like the creation, human. God demonstrated divine love by doing for us what we could not do ourselves. He makes us perfect, or righteous, in his eyes because his Son served as a perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins. God takes that righteousness of Christ and places it on us so that we can have a relationship with him.
The sculptor sees a flawed stone and chooses another stone. God sees a flawed person who has accepted Jesus Christ and says, “My Son died for them, so no matter how flawed or messy they are, I choose them.” -Matt
Winter weather, snow, ice, cold – Time to curl up with a good book. We have so many donated books, come see. We now have three more books by Sheila Walsh: Life is Tough But God is Faithful, Living Fearlessly and Bring Back the Joy. We also have When Women Long for Rest by Cindi McMenamin. This one may be good right now, since we just finished with the holiday festivities. We also have been given a special donation of the Thompson’s Chain-Reference Holy Bible. Pleasant reading & stay warm. -Kristy
Everyone can now go to the BLFC website and click on the youth tab to see the youth newsletter and contact information. Go to blfchurch.org, click on BLF youth or at blfyouth.weebly.org. Breanne
The youth have made a Mission Wall O’ Money that is in the entry way. Please consider stopping to grab an envelope with a special verse or prayer request from them but also to give the amount that is on the front of the envelope then drop it in the drop box! Thank You!
“Youth Group Looking Ahead”
Winter Jam is Jan
22 in Des Moines! This year there is a great lineup of Christian musical
artists! For King and Country, Crowder, Matthew West, and Lauren Daigle just
to name a few!
Cupcake Wars! Pork Loin Meal!
Bring a dozen cupcakes to be tasted and judged as BLFC BEST tasting cupcakes.
Donations go to youth for missions.
HOC MEAL REPORT
On December 31, 23 people were involved in the meal for 33 guests. Our menu included hot roast beef sandwich, macaroni & cheese, baby carrots, buttered corn, mixed fruit cup, blueberry dump cake w/whipped topping or chocolate cupcakes, milk and coffee. Ask Vi about a way to frost cupcakes and Matt why he’s so good with the aerosol whipped topping. J Our next meal is January 28.
Thanks to our great volunteers: Bill & Rosalee, James & Sharon, Diane R, Blake & Alicia, Nick & Kathi, Scott & Mary, Brad & Marci who provided food or funds; Vi, Chuck & Ann who prepared; Robin, Matt, Kellen, Nate & Vi who served and stayed to clean up with Rick, Jo & Tom. Next HOC meal Jan 28
9 family units or church groups adopted individuals or families on their own or with friends for a total of 20 individuals adopted plus 7 individuals in the shared families. A total of 18 families or individuals from BLFC help provide gifts, food or funds for our shared families.
Plans have stared for Vacation Bible School. Dates: July 17-21. Program on July 22, 2016 There will be more information as we get closer to the date.
The Thank Offering given in November totaled $10,690.00. This was shared between the four suggested projects and four other ministries or projects designated by individuals.
The White Gift Offering collected at the Christmas Eve program totaled $730 and was shared between the Quakerdale Prep School & Basketball Program and Jonathan’s House Ministry in Sierra Leone. Thanks to all who gave so generous
Our January mission emphasis will be Nathan & Brianna Martin in Cambodia. God has rooted Nathan and Brianna’s hearts in Snoul, Cambodia so that it truly feels like home to them. Snoul is close to the Vietnamese border and on the road from Phnom Pen. It is centered around a market area. Many work in rubber plantations which provide the main source of income.
The team has been warmly received into the community. Their work consists of friendship building and basic gospel sharing along with the literacy and library projects. Above all they need people praying with them for a spiritual awakening among the Khmer people; that they would have a desire to seek and know the true and living God.
Pray for those striving to be saved through offerings and ceremonies to find the freedom of grace in Jesus. Pray for their two sons, Caleb and Jonah. Please be generous in your support of their ministry to the Cambodian people.
Food Box Support
BLFC collects food items for the Union Food Pantry located at the Community Church the last Sunday 10 months during the year. For the last Sunday of January you are encourage to bring the following nonfood items which are in need: toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap, hand soap, laundry detergent and tissues. The people living in Hardin County will appreciate these donations.
Old Buildings, Us, and the Future
Depending on how you count and what list you follow, I am either the 47th or the 51st individual to serve as the Pastor of Bangor Liberty Friends Church. That really means nothing at all, I just thought it was an interesting fact. I have been studying some of the history of Bangor and Liberty churches over the last few months and wanted to share some thoughts. Also, it seems necessary to discuss some of the intent, planning, and hopes for the 100th Anniversary of the building this year.
I am a lover of history. Whether it is studying American history, world history, architectural history, biblical history or the genealogy of my own family; I am fascinated by all of it. Worldwide there are approximately 400,000 Quakers. When you consider that there are almost 3 billion Christians total that doesn’t seem like a significant number. However, Friends, or Quakers, since arriving in the New World have been disproportionately influential in their social and religious endeavors. Whether we discuss criminal justice reform in the 18th and 19th century, the abolition of the slave trade and the Underground Railroad in the 19th century or the missionary work undertaken in South America, Africa and Asia that continues to this day, Quakers have always been on the leading edge of impacting the world for His Kingdom. But you don’t have to travel a world away to see this. It is obvious in the small world of Bangor and Liberty Township of Iowa.
In 1853 a group of Friends having recently moved from Southeast Iowa to the Bangor area formed what would be referred to over time as Western Plains, then Bangor Friends and eventually Bangor Liberty Friends Church. In 1855, the land to the present location of the church was deeded over to the Trustees of Bangor Meeting. A log building served as meeting house until 1858 when a frame structure was begun. This would serve as the meeting house for nearly the next sixty years. In 1916 the cornerstone was laid for the current building that houses our Sanctuary and most classrooms. In those days buildings were meant to invoke a certain level of awe and wonder from those who entered. Today we build for convenience and keeping costs down. We squeeze as much as possible into a budget that we can live with. If that all looks inviting then that’s all the better.
With that in mind, the intent and hope of celebrating the 100th anniversary of the building is to instill in the people here a true ownership and pride in their church. There are families attending who trace their roots back to the beginning of Bangor meeting. There are also those of us who are new to this church or new to the Friends Church. We don’t have a history in this building. By returning the building to what it was in the beginning we bring these old families and the new together. They can all be happy with the environment we have created to welcome new people into our church. We should not walk into a church and see piles of magazines on tables or paneling covering walls that craftsmen created a century ago. Likewise, the stained glass should not be covered by a false ceiling of fiberboard ceiling tiles and aluminum frames.
In the last ten years a large movement has begun in church architecture and building known as evangelism architecture. The idea is that the appearance and environment created in the building can do as much to bring people to church as the invitation of a friend.
So here is what we would like to accomplish for the 100th anniversary. As technology has advanced we can remove the paneling, false ceilings that were put in place to conserve energy as they are now unnecessary and unsightly. We can remove the sink and cabinets in the backroom of the sanctuary as they are unused and unnecessary. The idea is to have the back of the sanctuary as appealing and nicely finished as the front of the sanctuary. I am attaching a list of other items we are considering for you to look through. The committee is gathering bids from contractors on many of these items. With the bids collected we can then evaluate what we can do and what is necessary. We hope in a few months to have an idea of what we can accomplish for the least amount of financial pain.
The intent is not to spend money for the sake of spending. The goal is to get the greatest benefit for the money we do spend. The great focus should be on restoring the building to the original look, while keeping in mind future upkeep, use of new materials and convenience. In the early 20th century we built churches as a place to worship and glorify God, but we also built them as a testament to our faith. The effort, the craftsmanship, the materials and the environment created were meant to glorify God as well. Bangor Liberty Friends has been a faithful church over the years that has continually appealed to young and old alike. We have always been a church that reached out to the community and drew people because of who we are and because they see, feel and hear the Gospel when they visit. This endeavor for the building is an effort to position ourselves and this church to draw the next generation of believers that will call Bangor Liberty Friends their spiritual home.
Possible tasks to be undertaken:
· Remove false ceilings
· Remove paneling
· New storm window on large stained glass window
· Reconstruct woodwork around windows that was altered for drop ceiling
· Paint fellowship hall
· New light fixtures and ceiling fan in overflow of sanctuary
· Remove sink and counter in overflow
· Relocate bathroom door in old pastor’s study to the overflow room
· Move library to old pastor’s study—no books on walls in overflow
· New carpet, tile or wood in entry way and stairs leading to sanctuary
· New glass doors leading to fellowship hall from entry way
· Good padded chairs to replace folding chairs in overflow
· Refinish, repair and reupholster Liberty pews
· Redo padding and upholstery on all pews
· New carpet in entry way and stairs
· New carpet in classroom areas and hall way
· Good solid fire doors on hall way and stairs leading to classrooms
· Lights mounted on stained glass interior and exterior
· Bell or electronic carillon in bell tower
· Glass in bell tower instead of white painted wood
· New sign at cemetery
· Plant shrubs at cemetery
· Redo cemetery plat in church entryway
· Construct a “History” wall in entryway—beginning with earliest photos and moving through years as one moves toward the sanctuary
· Lights in the parking lot
Commemoratives for Members:
· Bangor Liberty Cookbook, update and re-issue by September 2016
· Written history of Bangor Liberty Church
· CD available to all members with photos of Bangor Liberty through the years
These are not all that we could possibly do. These are projects that we examined as being worth at least investigating. Each one improves the appearance, comfort and usability of the church building or assets. If you have questions, concerns or suggestions please share them with me or other members of the committee. The committee is made up of the following individuals: Matt Bishop, Kay Feltz, Bill Patten, Scott Davis, Emma Macy, Leah Higgins and Rick Hoover.