First Presbyterian Church Blog

A Personal Invitation to Attend Our Evensong Service on Oct. 30

by John G. West
The day was October 29 three years ago. Our family had just arrived in Cambridge, England after an all-night flight from Seattle to London, followed by a very long taxi ride. I was supposed to deliver a talk on C.S. Lewis in a couple of days for the annual Cambridge University Festival of Ideas. But at the moment, we were all exhausted and ready to crash.
Then I learned that King’s College in Cambridge would be holding a Choral Evensong service that very evening. So I convinced Sonja, Katherine, and Garrett to come along with me for the service. Despite our tiredness, it was a not-to-be-missed experience. The singing and scripture readings and prayers calmed my heart, focused my mind, and gave me a sense that I was somehow linked not only to Christians around the world, but to Christians past, present, and future.
I have loved the Anglican Evensong service ever since the first time I experienced it after my junior year in college, when I spent several weeks one summer traveling around the UK. Evensong is a formal service, but even if you don’t usually like formality, it can touch your heart, especially if you are experiencing anxiety or stress or are simply overloaded by everything that is going on in your life. In the quiet darkness of a soaring sanctuary filled with stained glass, the Holy Spirit works through the music and the readings and the prayers.
If you have never experienced Choral Evensong, I have good news for you: You don’t need to fly to Cambridge, England to experience it! You can come to the FPC Sanctuary at 6:00 pm on Sunday night, October 30. The service will be under an hour, so it won’t take a lot of your time. But if you want to experience a peaceful oasis of reflection and renewal and restoration, please come join us!
Many thanks to Daniel Perrin, Jesús Gomez, Annie Lockwood, and our chamber singers for making this special event possible.

40-Day Prayer Challenge Week 8 Begins on October 31—Printed and Electronic Versions of the Book

The associated topics and Bible passages for Week 8 for the printed and electronic versions of the book are shown below:
Oct. 31: Prayer Releases God’s Power (James 5:16)
Nov. 1: The Key to Great Works (John 14:12-14)
Nov. 2: The Strength to Stand (Ephesians 6:18)
Nov. 3: Prayer Defeats Satan (Luke 22:31-32)
Nov. 4: Prayer Shapes History (Revelation 8:3-5)

Differing Perspectives of Week 8’s Verses—Printed and Electronic Versions of the Book

Here are the links for Week 8’s verses (for the printed and electronic versions of the book) as presented in six alternate versions of the Bible. Hopefully, these reference sources will enhance your understanding of each devotion’s scriptural foundation.
Date Oct. 31 Nov. 1 Nov. 2 Nov. 3 Nov. 4
Passage James 5:16 John 14:12-14 Ephesians 6:18 Luke 22:31-32 Revelation 8:3-5
English Standard (ESV) Link Link Link Link Link
New International (NIV) Link Link Link Link Link
King James (KJV) Link Link Link Link Link
Contemporary English (CEV) Link Link Link Link Link
The Message (MSG) Link Link Link Link Link
New Revised Standard (NRSV) Link Link Link Link Link


Reformation Sunday Resources

This Sunday (October 30) is Reformation Sunday, which commemorates the day (Oct. 31) when Martin Luther nailed his 99 Theses on the door of Wittenberg Church, helping initiate the Protestant Reformation and its focus on the Bible’s message that we are saved by Christ’s death on the cross for us, not by our own good works. If you want to learn more about the Reformation, FPC’s Library in Fellowship Hall has a high-quality dramatic film on the life of Luther starring Joseph Fiennes and Academy Award-winner Peter Ustinov. We also have a biography of Luther, Martin Luther: A Man Who Changed the World by historian Paul Maier, formerly a professor at Western Michigan University. And for kids, we have Spy for the Night Riders, a work of historical fiction that can introduce your kids to what Luther did. Finally, if you want to explore some of the later impacts of the Reformation on society, you can learn about the life of British anti-slavery reformer William Wilberforce in the book William Wilberforce by Lon Fendall and the film Amazing Grace about Wilberforce’s efforts to end slavery in the British Empire.

New Doorbell/Camera Security System Installed

For added security we have installed a new security system on the back door of the south building. Now you just  press the button with the red light and whoever is working at the reception desk during office hours will be able to see your face and buzz you in! Key cards will still be in use.


November Is Stewardship Month

Beginning Sunday, October 30th and continuing each Sunday through November, we will be highlighting specific ministries and will be asking you to bring your donations forward during the service as an offering. For a complete list of donation needs, see insert for details.

October 30th – Thanksgiving Food Baskets

November 6th – CareNet: Bring in disposable diapers and wipes.

November 13th – Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

November 20th – Love Inc Personal Care Pantry

Operation Christmas Child

Send a message of hope and love by gifting a shoebox with new toys, school supplies and hygiene items to a child in need! Operation Christmas Child shares the Good News of Jesus Christ with every child who receives a shoebox. Be a part of God’s mission and pack a box! More information is available in Fellowship Hall.

Collection dates are: Nov 6th, 13th and 20th.

2016 FPC Kids Christmas Pageant Practice

Welcoming all children ages 4 years-5th grade. Join us for practices each Sunday beginning

November 6th – December 11th from 9:15am-10:15am in Middleton Parlor.

 Dress Rehearsal on Wednesday, December 7th at 6:00pm.

Performance on Sunday, December 11th at 10:30am


National Speaker Series Rev. Earl Palmer Explains Paul

National Speaker Series 


The Fulfillment of an Old Promise: St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans

Class Begins This Sunday 10/30 at 9:15am in South Chapel/South Building


A Prayer Story From Tim Trussler

What do we do when we see someone who we believe is a true enemy of us? Not just a person who takes a parking spot, but a person who is truly desiring to harm you (or your family, your friends, the church, etc.) First off, let’s be clear. The Bible makes quite clear that praying for the destruction of your enemies is, at a minimum, acceptable. There are a robust selection of imprecatory Psalms with such language as “Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favor his fatherless children.” and “Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!” Something tells me we won’t be hearing those Psalms next week as a choral offertory.


However, the life of Christ, and specifically the Sermon on the Mount, makes clear that we are called to do sacrificial good, not just acceptable levels of good. Matthew 5:44 says quite clearly, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Ok, but why are we commanded to do this? It seems near-impossible and honestly, a bit self-defeating. I seem to recall Saul losing his kingship over not slaughtering all of the Amalekites, not because he didn’t pray for their salvation robustly enough.


In order to give you my answer to this question, I need to tell you my prayer story about a time at Bates Technical College (all together–finally!). I had a boss who was out to get me. I know many of you say “my boss is out to get me too” but in this case, it was quite true. I’ll spare you the details, but believe that my anger and bitterness at her were COMPLETELY justified. This was a person attempting to do harm to me and my family.


This is where the challenge came in. I was well within my “rights” as a Christian to hold on to my “She done did me wrong” blues. I could have gone (and did go) to God in prayer and ask for His protection, for her plans to be thwarted, even for her to be removed from her position. But that’s not what God calls us to. God calls us to pray for our enemies. And not some lame, half-muttered, insincere, “God bless so-and-so. Good, done with that. Now on to the stuff I really care about.” God calls us to INTERCESSORY prayer for our enemies. God wants us to come before him and truly pray for them. Pray for their salvation if necessary, pray for the Holy Spirit to guide their paths, pray that God will give them the desires of their heart and make all their plans succeed (yikes!), pray that, as the Aaronic blessing says, God will “Look them full in the face and make them prosper (MSG)”


*SHUDDER* He wants me to pray what???!!!


Fortunately, I was challenged by several Christians (including my wife) to truly pray for my boss. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. But in being obedient to God (and my wife), I caught a glimpse into the heart of God. I think there are two reasons God calls us to pray for our enemies, one obvious and one possibly not-so-obvious. First, God loves everyone. We learn John 3:16 at an early age for a good reason. I Timothy 2:1 says that God wants to bless all people and give them what they need. Additionally, I Timothy 2:4 says that God wants all people to be saved. That was lesson one: I am to pray for my enemies because God still loves them and wants to bless them. The second lesson was more dramatic. As I attempted to pray for my boss, I found out something critically important. It is impossible to truly approach the throne of God and intercede for others while there is still bitterness in our heart towards them. We cannot wish ill towards others and truly beseech God to bless them. Ain’t gonna happen. While God gives us permission to have human emotions within reason (i.e. be angry and sin not), he understands that the end results of these emotions are spiritual harm and eventually death. That’s why he wants us to discard them on the way to the throne. It’s actually for our benefit that he asks us to do this. Release our grudges, no matter how justified, and trust God and God only to protect us and bless us.

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