Central Presbyterian Church

Massillon, Ohio

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Pastor Larry Sunday March 29
The Lord be with you........ This morning, we consider Jesus' words recorded in John's Gospel as He sat at table with His disciples. Among the many things He discussed with them was the true meaning of love, and its purest expression. In fact, He puts it in the form of a mandate: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." John in his first letter reiterates this as he recalls Jesus' ultimate sacrifice of love when he writes: "We know love by this, that (Jesus) laid down his life for us -- and we ought to lay down our lives for one another." In the midst of this global health crisis, we are seeing in real time the living out of this commandment as thousands of our "friends," most of whose names and faces we'll never know, place their health, their comfort, their well-being, their very lives on the line as they care for the sick and dying all over the world. Doctors, nurses, researchers, caretakers are sacrificing themselves on the front lines to extend healing, comfort, compassion and hope. Just this past week, we learned of the death of New York City nurse Kious Kelly from COVID which he surely contracted in his caring for others. He made the ultimate sacrifice, as I'm sure many others have made and will make.. The last time we saw such a degree of selfless service was after the 9/11 tragedy. While we tend to talk a lot about the meaning of love, love comes to life in the actions of women and men who respond to need. And love is only real in its actions. Some have suggested that the word love is not a noun, but a verb. And as much as some Christians like to claim that love is a Christian thing, while love is indeed at the heart of our Christian faith, love is a HUMAN thing, implanted in our hearts, minds and spirits by the Almighy, Creative Force of life, however we understand that in terms of our religious senibilities and practices. That is to say, there are folks of any number of religious beliefs, or no religious beliefs at all, who are making sacrifices which are pleasing to God, and demonstrate the very best of humanity, and of the human spirit. And they must all be lauded and appreciated for their selfless services. Perhaps as an act of our worship this morning, we could name aloud those we know who battle on the front lines, for us; for the world. Several are members of our congregation. Others are family members and friends. Most we don't know, and never will. ALL are beloved children of Almighty God, and all will be rewarded and recompensed for what they've done, and are continuing to do. If there is unity to be found in this world, it is in this: that love transcends all which seeks to divide us, and is the ultimate demonstration that God's love dwells at the very heart of our human race. For this, we are created; to love as we have been loved, even to the extent of sacrificinig ourselves for the good of others. Let's pray: Lord our God, thank You for Your love which lives at the very heart of us. May we recognize love in one another, and praise You for those who demonstrate that love in their selfless and humanitarian acts, putting their lives on the line for us. In them, we most clearly see You. Amen.  repost from Facebook 3/29/2020 

 

From Pastor Larry on Sunday 3/22/2020

It is a beautiful Sunday morning! The sun is shining. The skies are blue. This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. I sit alone this Lord's Day in our warm and wonderful worship space at Central Presbyterian Church. This is not unusual for a Sunday morning as I generally arrive early, disarm the security system, and have quiet devotions in the sanctuary before Leigh arrives to ready himself to lead worship, and before Dave and Logan arrive
to unlock, set the thermostats, and generally prepare our building to open its arms to our worshiping community. This morning is different. It is still the Lord's Day. The sun still streams through our beautiful stained glass windows. But Leigh will not be arriving to rehearse. Dave and Logan will not be in to unlock and make ready. And you all will not be here........ While I know that this is a temporary state of affairs, and that we will as a nation and global community overcome and heal from this enemy of our mortal bodies, and that we will again fill this space with our worship and praise of Almighty God, my heart is heavy. In my devotions, I came across that wonderful passage from Isaiah 43 wherein the prophet assures the people that the present, painful state of affairs will ultimately be "pass(ed) through," and that the enemy would not overcome. That assurance is not that God will magically evaporate the waters that threaten to drown, or quench the flames that threaten to scorch. No. The assurance is that God will accompany us in the midst of it all. So often, our reaction to things like we're going through right now is to get control; to gain the upper hand; to develop solutions and develop strategies; to return to normalcy. Those reactions are normal, sensible and healthy. But at times, we find we do not have control, and that the upper hand -- at least for the time being -- is not ours. Perhaps we might learn, and in that knowledge, find hope. There IS an upper hand, who ultimately DOES have control, and that is our Lord who loves us with a love which nothing can quench. While we lament things as they are, we can rejoice in what is to be. This morning, imagine God, like a protective and caring Father, like a soothing and comforting Mother, holding us close and stroking our cheeks, assuring us that everything is going to be okay. As I sit here alone, I need that reminder. I need my furry cheek stroked. Maybe you do too. At this very moment, I hear in my mind and feel in my heart words we receive each Sunday: "Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place." Wherever you are, whoever you're with, I pray you hear and feel those words. Know that we will never be swept over, never burned, for our sure faith is in the One who is forever the Upper Hand! Grace and peace my friends.
reposted 3/23/2020 from facebook. 

 

 

Greeting Central Presbyterian Members! 
As we face this mounting COVID19 crisis and the actions being taken at all levels to respond, know that Central Presbyterian is enacting the following  mitigation procedures:  Need-A-Lunch beginning with tomorrow's serving will be bagging meals which was distributed at the door.  The Clothing closet will be closed.  The church's Door Ministry has been suspended.  The Potluck Dinner and game day scheduled for Sunday March 15 is postponed.  We will continue to gather for Sunday worship, but will act in accordance with mandates which may come down from our state or federal government prohibiting such gatherings.  At this point, the Ohio governor's policy is still allowing religious groups the freedom to assemble. We will, however refrain from "passing the Peace" before worship, and greeting the Pastor after.  If, of course, you are having symptoms of cold or flu, please rest at home.  I will be in my office, available to any who need to speak to me.  We continue to have hand sanitizers in all pew racks for you use.  I have personally ceased nursing home and hospital visitation for the protection of residents/patients, as well as my own.  Small ministry, study, and social groups will continue to meet for the time being.  As we have already been swept up in the panic which seems to be every bit as endemic as the Coronavirus, my counsel would simply be this:  Be careful in public places and interactions.  Use common sense and practice good hygiene.  Spend time with loved ones.  Commit to your Lenten practices of prayer, study and contemplation.  Keep TV and social media exposure to a minimum as this is where the contagion of fear is spreading like a wildfire.  Finally Trust.  The Lord is always and ultimately in control, and we will praise God on the other side of this pandemic.  Meanwhile, Grace and Peace to all !!!

 

 

repost from his facebook post on 3/13/2020

Central Presbyterian Church

47 Second Street NE
Massillon, Ohio 44646

Telephone: 330-832-7455
Fax: 330-832-7102