All posts by clintonavechurch

A Saturday Night Live Christmas

Saturday Night Live did us a favor with a wonderful skit on going to church for Christmas. I was able to download it from YouTube and had watched is several times. I bet that somewhere there are Christians who are offended by this. I’m not. We can learn a lot from this video. What do we learn?

Church is a family activity. Some folks choose “family time” over church time. I remember when “church time” was “family time” and I think that we were better off because of this.

Clergy are not perfect. Didn’t know that did you? In an era when we pretended that clergy were near perfect we set up expectations that could never be achieved. Unrealistic expectations are never a good idea.

Worshippers in the pew are not perfect. Isn’t that a relief? How many folks have stayed away from church because they feel like they are not good enough? I’ve helped people deal with shame as they have begun to attend church after a hard period of life. It is a relief for them to learn that you don’t have to be perfect to worship our Lord.

I got a good laugh from this skit. That is another lesson. As Christians we can laugh at ourselves. We are not so arrogant that we don’t see our flaws.

I encourage you to view this SNL skit. I also encourage you to celebrate the love of Christ this Christmas. See our website for celebration details:

Our Daily Elder Blog

Our Daily Elder Devotional

We claim no originality for these devotions. One of our elders searches various sources and finds a daily devotion. Consider this a gift from Clinton Avenue Reformed Church:

God, You have a plan for everyone.  Better yet, You have a wonderful plan in mind for my life!  Today, help me remember and celebrate that You have designed me for a special purpose.

Jeremiah 29:11New International Version (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Our Daily Elder Blog

Our Daily Elder Devotional

We claim no originality for these devotions. One of our elders searches various sources and finds a daily devotion. Consider this a gift from Clinton Avenue Reformed Church:

Oh God, the healing of Your presence and Your peace that comes to us through Jesus Christ this season is beautiful.  Thank You, God, for coming into the world to teach the human race the most important of all behavioral lessons: When we accept God’s non-judgmental love, we receive the gifts of pardon from sin, the poise to cope with life’s difficulties, and the power to overcome, now and evermore.  What a beautiful way to live!  Amen.

John 10:10New King James Version (NKJV)

10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Political Closings of Bridges and Roads

In September of 2013 several lanes of the George Washington Bridge were closed down causing massive traffic tie-ups to our part of New Jersey. Many people believe that Governor Christie was behind this to get revenge on the mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing his election bid. For you who don’t live here, Fort Lee is the town in Jersey where the bridge is located. Others believe that it was his aids that did this without his knowledge. I don’t know how many thousands of citizens were inconvenienced by this closure. I hope that no ambulances were stuck in the traffic. Hopefully no one had endangered health because of this.

Now we have other roads and bridges closed in our area. This time protesters are angry that a grand jury did not indict a cop in the death of a man because of a chokehold administered during an arrest. Taxi drivers are complaining that they cannot maneuver the city to earn a living. One ill man was late getting to a hospital because a detour was required.

People on one end of the political spectrum are angry with Christie and/or his aids for closing a bridge for political gains. People of another political spectrum express anger at the protesters for closing roads and even the Brooklyn Bridge for political gain. No matter what political beliefs you have, can we not agree that it is wrong to harm the innocent as these protesters are doing?

The innocent are being hurt. People’s lives are being disrupted. Is this really how we wish to behave? Is the cost “just” if harm is being done to the innocent? Let us be carful how we act. Even if we do things for the right reason we might be hurting people. Is this really how we wish to act? Is disrupting the innocent really justice?

Our Daily Elder-Driven Devotion

Our Daily Elder Devotional

We claim no originality for these devotions. One of our elders searches various sources and finds a daily devotion. Consider this a gift from Clinton Avenue Reformed Church:

Be a Person of Excellence

Many people want to do as little as they possibly canned still get by.  But God did not create us to be mediocre.  He doesn’t want us to just barely get by, or to do what everybody else is doing.  God has called us to be people of excellence and integrity.  Indeed, the only way to be truly happy is to live with excellence and integrity.  Any hint of compromise will taint our greatest victories or our grandest achievements.

Remember: you represent Almighty God.  How you live, how you conduct your business and do your work, is all a reflection on our God.  If you want to live your best life now, start aiming for excellence in everything that you do.

Colossians 3:23-24New King James Version (NKJV)

23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

Christmas Pageants, St. Francis of Assisi and Home Nativities

Yesterday our Sunday school performed the annual Christmas Pageant. It was a wonderful event. As happens every year there were not quite enough rehearsals as our student’s attendance records are often not stellar. Adults fret over whether or not the pageant will come off well and parents scramble to get the younglings to the church on time for the rehearsal. Many anxious moments are spent over these plays but somehow they turn out just fine. St. Francis would be proud.

St. Francis? What does he have to do with these pageants?

It is believed that St. Francis was the first person to have a nativity play. In a mostly non-literate time he wanted to find a way to deliver the nativity message on Christmas Eve to people who did not read. He used parishioners to act the story out and in effect developed the first Christmas pageant and possibly even the first liturgical drama. He was quite a man.

As a fundraiser, and as a means of enabling families to re-tell the story in their homes, Franciscans sold small nativity sets to families throughout Europe and thus home nativity sets were born. Any of us who have home nativity sets during this time owe a debt of gratitude to St. Francis.

Our children, our teachers, those who transported our students all honored Jesus yesterday. And we owe a debt of gratitude to St. Francis of Assisi for giving us this wonderful idea. Happy Birthday, Jesus. Thank you, St. Francis.

Seven Troubadours of Christmas

Blog Number Fifty-Two

Seven of us traveled in five hours through seven communities and visited eight people. We brought songs of Christmas with us as well as Christmas cards designed by our Sunday school. We hope that we were a blessing to all those that we met.

I know that we were all blessed by taking this trip. There were times that tears came to our eyes as we watched the reactions of our homebound friends as we sang Christmas carols to them. Their faces were filled with gratitude and joy as we sang of God’s love in coming to earth.

During one stop at a rehabilitation facility, we had to sing our carols twice; once for the lady we came to see and then again for the other residents and a family member who heard the music and wanted to be a part of it. I’m glad we had extra songbooks for these new comers who sang along. At another, a roommate’s family joined in.

What seeds of faith might we have planted? One woman who was visiting her mother asked who we were and seemed delighted to receive my business card. Might we have reawakened faith in her? Might she explore faith?

Every one of us was happy to have done this but more than that, we felt blessed by doing it. We made a positive difference in the lives of others. Is there a better way to spend a day?

Our Daily Elder Devotional

Our Daily Elder Devotional

We claim no originality for these devotions. One of our elders searches various sources and finds a daily devotion. Consider this a gift from Clinton Avenue Reformed Church:

Dear Jesus, use my hands to be instruments of Your love and grace today, first to my loved ones and then to anyone You bring across my path.

Isaiah 35:3

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.

Cookies and Sewing Machines

Blog Number Fifty-One

What do cookies and sewing machines have to do with one another? At CARC they have everything to do with one another. On Sunday we will be holding a “cookie walk” to raise money for a sewing machine for one of the Reformed Church In America missions in India. Somehow this idea, envisioned and designed by our Wednesday’s Women, seems to fit the spirit of Christmas.

On a holiday that features cookies, we will be selling cookies from many different donors, many different types, but all a representative of the abundant joy that we know from Christmas.

On a holiday that is known for the giving of gifts beginning with the Magi bringing gifts to the Holy Family, we will be giving a gift to people in India looking to establish cottage industries for self-sustenance.

I encourage everyone who reads this to come, participate, and donate to this program. If you are unable to attend, please donate to this worthy cause. Above every gift that you will give this Christmas, this gift will be a gift that really will bless.

Daily Elder Devotion

Our Daily Elder Devotional

We claim no originality for these devotions. One of our elders searches various sources and finds a daily devotion. Consider this a gift from Clinton Avenue Reformed Church:

Joy Is Your Strength

You need to understand that the enemy is not really after your dreams, your health, or your finances.  He’s not primarily after your family.  He’s after your joy.  The Bible says that “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10 NKJV), and your enemy knows if he can deceive you into living down in the dumps and depressed, you are not going to have the necessary strength—physically, emotionally, or spiritually—-to withstand his attacks.

When you rejoice in the midst of your difficulties, you are giving the enemy a black eye.  He doesn’t know what to do with people who keep giving God praise despite their circumstances.  Learn how to smile and laugh.  Quit being so uptight and stressed out.  Make your choice to enjoy your life to the fullest today, and to make each moment count!

Proverbs 17:22New International Version (NIV)

22 A cheerful heart is good medicine,

but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Psalm 68:3New International Version (NIV)

But may the righteous be glad

and rejoice before God;

may they be happy and joyful.

Psalm 86:4New International Version (NIV)

Bring joy to your servant, Lord,

for I put my trust in you.

John 15:10-11New King James Version (NKJV)

10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. My heart and my portion forever.