Pastor’s Blog

 
November 21, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
 
Thanksgiving greetings! The Bible has an awful lot to say about food: where to find it, how to prepare it, when to eat it. But above all: how to be thankful for it. We need to be fed every day, and because of that our meals are never far from our minds. So the Bible grabs our attention by talking about our food, and then turns our thoughts to God. When we eat each day, we are to think about God. When we harvest each year, we are to think about God. When we recognize the gifts of strength and health throughout our lives, we are to think about God.
 
And how do we think about God? With thanksgiving. To give thanks is to remember that all that we have is a gift of things we cannot make for ourselves, and it is to remember that without those gifts, we would perish. Although we rely on God for everything, there is nothing at all which God needs from us. And yet we fill him with joy when we give our thanks. His joy then warms our hearts and lifts up our lives. Of course food is only the beginning of the things we receive from God. But that is where God’s generosity first catches our imagination. That’s why a day of thanksgiving is focused on the feast. As we share the glory of God’s good creation, how can our hearts help but overflow with appreciation?
 
For Thanksgiving this year, may our tables be full, may our loved ones be close, and may our lists of God’s blessings grow until be can hardly believe our eyes. That is what the Bible envisions, and that is what I wish for all of us.
 
Blessings, Elliott
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November 7, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
 
In our Presbyterian Church, the idea of being a church member is the cornerstone of a congregation. Church members have the sacred responsibility to support God’s work with gifts of time and money, to elect church leaders, to study and learn God’s word, and to be Christian brothers and sisters to one another through all life’s ups and down. But even more importantly than all that, church members take a stand and proclaim to all the world that Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior of our lives and that we will follow him in everything we do. In some times and places is has been dangerous to make those statements – but even when it is not dangerous, it is still necessary because the world needs our example (sometimes called “testimony” or “witness”) to see which way to go.
 
Here at Paw Creek, we want all people to feel welcome, and we will never pressure anyone to move from being a “regular visitor” to a “confirmed member”. But we also want everyone to know that we would value your membership. If this is something you have considered, now is a great time to find out more. On Sunday, November 18, the session will be meeting with at least two folks who have decided to join the congregation. Although we can arrange to have new members at any time, I would love to see more people join us on that day. If you are interested, or just want to ask some questions, please get in touch with me soon so that we can help you make the best decision. Don’t forget, you can reach me at 704-502-2143 or deh46@columbia.edu. I hope we can have a chance to talk!
 
Blessings, Elliott
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October 24, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
 
Every year on the first Sunday of November, Christians around the world celebrate All Saints Day. This is a time to remember the saints who have been meaningful in our lives and who are now at rest with God, celebrating them by giving thanks for all the ways that God has blessed us through their lives, their memories and their examples. At Paw Creek each year, we make a special effort to recognize the names and lives of those members of our church who have died during the past year, and to invite their families to join us in worship on that day. Those invitations are going out this week, and I hope everyone will help encourage those family members to join us. We also allow time for all of us to name and remember our own saints, including those who have died in years past, and those who were not specifically members of our church – so the invitation is really for all of us to make a special effort to join in worship.
 
All Saints Day will be special significance for Paw Creek this year. As you all know, we have said good-bye to an unusually large number of Christian brothers and sisters – 15 in the past 12 months. At times during the year, the persistent announcement of deaths and funerals has felt overwhelming, as if it is something that is too hard for the community to bear. Yet, with Paul, we must be ready to proclaim that “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (II Corinthians 4: 8-9). Following Paul, we have the courage to believe that our sorrow and pain are not the final word, because the sorrow that we see is temporary, but the resurrection that we cannot yet see is eternal.
 
All Saints Day is our chance to stand with Jesus and claim the resurrection as our own. Please, please join us on Sunday, November 4. We need to be together with our hope and our tears.
 
Blessings, Elliott
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October 10, 2018
Dear Friends,
Homecoming Sunday is just around the corner. On October 14 we will gather with friends and family from near and far to share memories, renew acquaintances and rejoice in the joy of being people who have journeyed side by side in God’s service over the years. There will be an “alumni” choir and a great feast afterwards. EVERYONE ought to be there!
As a congregation of God’s people – the body of Christ in the world – we have good reason to pause and look to the past. Every Bible story we read is an example of examining the evidence of God’s blessings long ago, so that we can recognize and anticipate God’s new blessings in our time. If we can learn from stories 1000s of years old, then think how much we can learn from the stories in our own lives and from recent generations! Every time we share our memories, it is as if God is reaching out to nudge us forward: “Look what I did before – just imagine what I will do for you!”
After 209 years, Paw Creek church has a wonderful story to tell. More important, we have a wonderful new story to look forward to. I hope everyone who reads this today will plan to join us on Sunday. And why not make a few phone calls and put out some invitations to those we haven’t seen in a while? We need their stories too. And of course we are always adding new stories to the great narrative, so new friends are part of the celebration as well. Let’s make this a great party, and see where God will take us next.
See you Sunday, Elliott

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September 26, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
It is hard, sitting here in Charlotte with the rain and wind of last weekend almost forgotten, to imagine the disruption, devastation and heartache that is still taking place not many miles away from here. But those scenes from eastern North Carolina are real, and I know that many of us have close family and dear friends who have faced and will continue to face the worst of Hurricane Florence – in some cases the flood waters are only now reaching their peak.
 
As God’s family in this world, we constantly confront problems that we cannot explain. Although it makes no sense in worldly terms, our response has been the same throughout the years: prayers to God for protection, and practical help to those who are suffering, whether in a hospital room, in a homeless shelter or in the flood plane of a hurricane. These actions, seemingly so meager, have been proven time and time again to have been transformed by God’s grace into real and lasting hope that makes all the difference to a hurting world.
 
There are countless ways for us to reach a helping hand to the victims of Hurricane Florence. But as Presbyterians we can take great satisfaction in knowing that our own Presbyterian Disaster Assistance organization has a national reputation for doing excellent work. Our crews have years of experience, and they arrive immediately, often working with local congregations to identify needs quickly and thoroughly. And PDA also has a reputation for wise use of volunteers so that the largest portion of the gifts they receive goes directly to aiding the victims. Our own Presbytery of Charlotte has a long history of partnering with PDA to provide volunteers and support.
As you will see in this week’s newsletter, the Session has authorized a special offering for next Sunday, September 30, to support the work of PDA. Let us all prayerfully consider how we can help, so that the work of spreading God’s love continues once again.
 
Blessings, Elliott
 
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September 12, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
 
On behalf of the Session, I am delighted to announce that Elder Jerry Smith has been selected to receive a 2018 Legacy Award from the Presbytery of Charlotte. The Legacy Award (known in previous years as the Outstanding Older Adult Award) is presented each year to church members from around the Presbytery who exemplify a life-long commitment to Christian service, and who continue in their later years to serve as examples and mentors to people of all ages.  
 
Jerry’s leadership at Paw Creek has been evident to our congregation for many years, and the Session is honored to be able to recognize his contributions in this way. As the Session wrote in its letter of nomination to the Presbytery: “the core of Jerry’s faith has been lived in his relationships, his encouragement of others, and the quiet deeds of kindness that he constantly performs. In these ways, he is as active today as he has been throughout his life and throughout the years of his ministry as a member of Paw Creek Church.” These words are clear and true, and we send our sincere congratulations to Jerry, along with his wife Judy, daughter Gerri Ann, and their whole family.
 
The award ceremony this year will take place at Cooks Memorial Church on Thursday, September 27 (there are some space limitations for the ceremony; we have reached out to Presbytery to determine how many people will be able to attend that day, and will share that information as soon as it is available.) In addition, the Congregational Care Committee plans to honor Jerry in worship on Sunday, September 30. I hope you can join us that day as we honor Jerry for all that he does for us and for Christ’s church.
 
Blessings, Elliott

 
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August 29, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
As we come to the end of summer and see the busy year spreading out ahead of us, I want to highlight two new additions to our Sunday morning routine, both courtesy of the Congregational Care Committee (they, at least, have not been lazy over the summer months!)
 
First – Sunday Morning Prayer Time. You may know that a group of church members meets regularly at the beginning of the day on Sundays to share reports of prayer needs from within our church and beyond. At about the same time, for many years, the Session has met to gather prayer concerns, which are then reported to the congregation doing worship. Beginning this coming Sunday, September 2, these two efforts will combine. (At one time, the Session had used these meetings to take care of short business items, but that is no longer the case, so it really makes sense to have all of our praying folks together in the same group).
 
Here’s how it will work. Anyone and Everyone is invited to meet in the sanctuary each Sunday at 9:30, for 15 minutes prior to the beginning of Sunday School. We will share all of the concerns and celebrations we know of throughout the congregation and community, including updates on folks who have been on the prayer chain requests during the week. As we close, we will pray for all the needs and joys – and those will also be recorded and shared with the congregation prior to the pastoral prayer. Some prayer team members also choose to stay in the sanctuary for a few minutes afterwards to pray quietly for God’s blessings on the sanctuary and on all who will gather to worship later in the morning.
 
Prayer time is quiet, powerful, and a source of strength to bind us together and to God. Please consider coming a few minutes early for Sunday School each week so you can join us.
 
Second – Monthly Celebration of Birthdays and Anniversaries. Starting in September, we will take time during worship on the second Sunday of each month to invite forward everyone who will celebrate a birthday or anniversary during that calendar month (or, if you prefer, to be recognized as you remain seated). Once recognized, we will share prayers of thanksgiving for these milestones, and prayers of blessing for God’s continued grace in the years to come. The passing of the years turns our thoughts to God’s role in our lives – please allow the church family to celebrate with you as we give thanks to God for the gifts of life and holy companionship.
 
The first Celebration will be Sunday, September 9 for everyone during the month of September. Look for a reminder each month in the Birthday listings of the newsletter.
 
See you in September! Elliott
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August 15, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
 
I can’t believe that we are facing the end of summer! But the calendar does not lie. School starts, days get shorter, temperatures fall (we hope!). I am especially looking forward to the events of August 26. Rally Day is a time to honor our Sunday School students and teachers, but also a time to show our strong support for students and teachers in the community. Please remember that we will be offering school supplies to area families, and let’s all be generous in donating to this project. Many thanks to the Fellowship Committee for pulling this together, as always. 
 
After that, Fall is here. There’s lots coming up, with special times this year to celebrate with Woodland Church on their 150th Anniversary, and the beginning of our joint mission outreach with them (there’s a planning meeting on that next week, and more information as details get pinned down.)
 
Please check the Newsletter and Bulletin in the coming weeks, and look for ways to participate and contribute, as you are able. The lifeblood of every church is the things we do together, and the people that we serve. I’m grateful to be planted here with you, and all the things we do!
 
Blessings, Elliott
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August 1, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
 
Thunderstorms are a mainstay of summer weather, especially the unexpected kind that and come barreling through in the middle of the night. And firecrackers are a mainstay of the first half of July. Put those two together, and add our dog Hartley, who panics when he hears loud noises, and you have a recipe for many weeks of interrupted sleep. (The little dog Walter is fearless and oblivious, but that’s another story!) As soon as the distant thunder begins, or the first firecracker pops, Hartley begins to shake and pant, and then he comes and curls up as close to us as he can get. We can’t stop the noises, but he needs to know that we are holding him tight, and after awhile the shaking slows down. He never settles until its over, but he gains assurance from having us near.
 
How often it seems like our lives are full of thunder, lightning and loud frightening noises. The peace and quiet that we crave is constantly being disturbed by the unexpected events that happen every day, every week, every year. And when they do, we want to become like scared puppies, to shake and whimper, and find strong arms to hold us tight until the fears go away. That’s when we turn to God, and God never fails us, never gets grumpy over lost sleep, never lets us go until the loud noises go away. But, unfortunately, even then we are like puppies, because we scamper away, forgetting that God was all we needed, destined to have to relearn that lesson the next time, never able to calm ourselves with the assurance that God will protect us in days to come just as he has done before. Maybe that’s the secret to growing in faith, when we finally learn once and for all that God is enough and there’s no need to be frightened again. May God bless us with that gift as well – the rock solid assurance the he is always there!
 
Blessings, Elliott
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July 18, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
As I write this, we have just wrapped up a very successful week of Vacation Bible School here at Paw Creek. Thank you! to the Christian Education Committee and their many volunteers who made the program work. For five nights we filled the CFC and West Wing with food, laughter, song, crafts, stories and most of all good learning about the very Biblical and very current topic of “Peace”. The turnout was great, for both children and adults, and the enthusiasm was contagious.  And my special thanks to all the adult participants for sharing memories and personal perspectives that led us all to a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the way that Jesus has called us to live.
 
So now, we head into the quieter part of summer, when God’s plan for us is relaxation and renewal. Like many of you, my family and I are looking forward to getting away. In our case we are headed to the mountains, where we are counting on some cooler temperatures and a slower pace. I’ll be back at church on Monday, July 30. Until then, I leave you in the good hands of our ruling elders. Please be sure to call on them if any needs arise, and of course they will be able to stay in touch with me if needed. But more than anything else, whether you are traveling or staying put, I wish us all a quiet and restful second half of the summer. We’ll have plenty to keep us busy when we all get back!
 
Blessings, Elliott
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July 4, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
 
You will receive this newsletter on July 4th, so let’s start with a rousing “Happy Independence Day” to us all! I’m looking forward to my very first Coulwood community Fourth of July parade, and send many thanks to those who have worked this week to prepare our church float. The parade will be starting by the time you read this, but I hope to see many of you there!
 
As we celebrate the holiday, it seems a good idea to reflect for a minute on the role of our Presbyterian ancestors in the cause of Independence 242 years ago. Of course, we are all familiar with our own Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, which was a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian document through and through. But the longer Declaration written in Philadelphia the following year had strong Presbyterian connections as well. In fact, King George himself was so aware of the work of our forebears that he was often heard to refer to the War of Revolution as “that Presbyterian insurrection”.
 
The primary Presbyterian voice in Philadelphia came from John Witherspoon, a minister, president of the College of New Jersey (later renamed Princeton University) and the only member of the clergy to serve in the Continental Congress. Thomas Jefferson is credited with writing the Declaration, but Witherspoon provided much of the intellectual framework. He was drawn into the fray as a champion for freedom of religious observance against the tyranny of the established Church of England. But from that starting point he helped make the case for freedom and self- determination in all areas of public life. He continued to be active in the Continental Congress and was also instrumental in establishing our republican form of representative government (it’s no coincidence that our government today is structured so much like the government of the Presbyterian Church!)
 
Of course, the work of self-government did not stop 242 years ago, and John Calvin himself insisted that it is our Christian duty to be active and informed citizens in every time and place. As we celebrate the work of John Witherspoon and his colleagues, we must continue to do our part by following their example by staying informed and making our voices heard. That is the Presbyterian way – and we have a long, honorable heritage to uphold.
 
Happy Fourth of July! Elliott
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June 20, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
 
When I lived in New England, I learned that many churches there (none of them Presbyterian, to my knowledge) had a long-standing custom of closing down for the summer. That’s right – closing the church completely, and don’t come back until September! It was apparently a left-over habit from the early 20th century when so many people left town to flee to the mountains or the shore for the season, there weren’t enough folks left to make it worth holding church services in town. (In their defense, I will note that each of those picturesque seaside towns had a pretty chapel on the village green and 100 years ago those chapels were full on Sunday mornings throughout the summer.)
Well, we don’t do things like that around here, but with the temperature rising, we can feel a difference the last few Sundays. Every week in church some familiar faces are missing as vacations roll around, and the rest of us enjoy a slower pace with fewer of those after-church meetings to rush off to! Rest and relaxation are good things (God said so – see the creation story in the book of Genesis) and I wish for all of us, at home or far away, some time to slow down and the leisure to read a book, play a game, or simply take a nap.
Of course we don’t come to a complete stop. Some of our best work is done in the summer, including the Youth Mission Week in June (join the youth group for supper on their last day, Wednesday, June 27) and Vacation Bible School in July (classes for everyone and supper every night). So if you are in town, please plan to support and participate in those events.
Here’s wishing everyone a good summer. If you go away, bring back great stories and if not, we’ll see you in church. Wherever you are, give thanks for the marvelous blessings of God!
Elliott
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June 6, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
 
I want to remind everybody one more time that we will have a Congregational Meeting this coming Sunday, June 10, after worship. At that time we will have the chance to consider and vote on changes to the Manual of Operations for the church. I described those changes and the process that got us here in the last newsletter – I hope in the meantime everyone has had a chance to review the proposed document (you can download a copy on our website) and I still encourage you to call me or any session member with questions and comments.
This week I would like to focus on a change that has already taken place through session’s adoption of its own Manual of Operations. We now have a new group called the “Ministry and Coordination Team” (“MAC Team”) that is up and running and will have its first meeting later in June. Session has elected elder Amy McGee to chair the MAC Team, and its members will be the chairs of our other program committees along with representatives of the Presbyterian Women and Men.
I am hopeful that the MAC Team will be instrumental in helping Paw Creek respond to God’s plans for us with energy and enthusiasm. Some of the Team’s work will be very practical (synchronizing calendars for all our activities, encouraging committees to support each others’ projects, etc.). But beyond that, this will be a group that has the job of dreaming big, of praying hard, and of listening intently. As I’ve told you before, I am convinced that God has already seen the future for our church and its vital place in the kingdom. It is not up to us to come up with creative new programs. Rather, we need to respond to where God will lead us. Perhaps more importantly, we need to get out of the way and make sure we do not throw up resistance because we are afraid or unfamiliar with where God is taking us. The MAC Team will be leading session and all of us on this journey.
As the team prepares to start its work, I ask everyone to raise some prayers for them and for our church. And be all means, share ideas, thoughts and brainstorms with Amy or with me. You can be sure that we will keep everyone posted on the work they do. I think we will see some exciting things on the horizon very soon!
Blessings, Elliott
 
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May 23, 2018
 
Dear Friends, I want to mention two things in today’s Newsletter. First, a major “thank you” to everyone involved in our Pentecost celebration to bring us music, decorations, food, logistics and so much more. As you know, this was my first time to experience an authentic Woodland-Paw Creek Pentecost, and it far exceeded what I was hoping for. Cheers to everyone! Plus, with our special guests, our partnership is now visible to the Presbytery, Synod and General Assembly as well, and we are in a position to really be leaders for all Presbyterians on how to follow the Spirit’s leading.
 
Now, on a more mundane but still very important note, you will find the official notice in this newsletter that the Session has called a Congregational Meeting for Sunday, June 10 after worship. The purpose of this meeting will be to discuss and act upon a revision (a major revision) of our church’s Manual of Operations. The current Manual directs the session each year to review the Manual and determine if any changes are needed to keep it up to date. In January Session appointed a task force of three elders – Beth Joy, Amy McGee and Melissa Mullis – to take on this task. That group called in Debbie Taylor and Peggy Harrington from the congregation to help as well. Their recommendations were approved by the Session, and copies will be available during the next two Sundays (or from the Church Office) for you to take and carefully examine prior to the meeting.
 
As the task force began to meet in the early spring, we all agreed that the time had come to rethink the format of our Manual, which had become over-heavy with much detailed information that needs to be remembered but doesn’t need to be set in stone. In particular, the descriptions of each committee had become the place for detailed descriptions of every project the committee had ever done. Our committees need that information for reference, but they also need the freedom to act in new and creative ways without having to amend the Manual of Operations every time!
 
As you begin to review the draft Manual, you will notice immediately that it is much shorter than before. The document is divided into three parts: Part I is the Manual of Operations for the Congregation; Part II is the By-laws for the legal corporation that owns our property. These two parts were endorsed by the Session and they will be up for a vote of the congregation on June 10. Any changes to these parts down the road will come back to the congregation for further voting. Part III is the Manual of Operations for the Session, which describes our committees and their work. The Session also voted to adopt this section (certain portions that need congregational approval will not go into effect until after the Congregational vote). Future changes to Part III can be made by the Session as needed, and will be communicated to the Congregation as they occur.
 
I hope you will have time to read the entire Manual before the meeting, but here are some highlights of changes you will find:
 

  1. The size of the Session is now set at 12 members (this was adopted by the  Congregation previously but the Manual was never rewritten to reflect the change); there is also a provision to automatically phase in any changes that take place in the future;
  2. The Nominating committee is directed to bring a slate of names the number of which is “at least equal” to the number of empty slots;
  3. The Endowment and Cemetery committees are changed from Congregational committees (elected by the Congregation) to Session sub-committees (chair and one member selected by session and chair recruits other members) that will report to Finance and Property committees, respectively; current elected members of these committees will be allowed and encouraged to continue their service in these areas for as long as they are interested; the current committee chairs and members have had a chance to become familiar with these changes;
  4. The title of Treasurer is changed to “General Treasurer” and Session will elect an Endowment Treasurer and a Cemetery Treasurer to work in parallel with the General Treasurer and under the direction of the new Endowment and Cemetery sub-committees, respectively;
  5. Session has created a MAC Team (“Ministry and Coordination”) to integrate all church programs for coordination of calendar, elimination of overlapping responsibilities, and to develop a master plan for the church’s mission and outreach; the team will consist of the the chairs of the program committees along with representatives of Presbyterian Women and Presbyterian Men, plus a team chair elected by Session; after adopting Part III of the Manual, Session elected elder Amy McGee as the first chair of the MAC Team;
  6. Detailed records of committee duties and organization will now be gathered in a folder or file of “Best Practices” that can be updated regularly by the committees without formal amendment of the Manual of Operations, and made available to session and committee members and others as they do their work throughout the year.
 
We will have plenty of time for questions and discussion at the meeting on June 10, but in the meantime, please do not hesitate to raise questions with me or any member of the Session, especially those who served on the Task Force. We all appreciate your time and attention.
 
Blessings, Elliott
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May 2, 2018
 
Dear Friends, Last fall, many of you heard the saga of the palm tree. How my wife Nell, when we moved to Charlotte, announced that since she now lived in the south she wanted a palm tree(!) How no amount of reasoning would convince her that palm trees are not native to the Piedmont. How every winter she would fret about her palm. How the previous winter, with a sleet storm approaching, she sent me on a wild trip to fetch bales of straw in the back seat of my two-door convertible to pack around the palm tree’s roots.
Well, the saga is over. This year, we didn’t have any dramatic storms, and the palm seemed to have been healthy through the bouts of cold weather that did come along. But then with the warm days of early March we noticed a few branches turning brown, and then some more, until soon the entire tree was dry and brittle. This weekend we sawed it down and went to the nursery to buy a replacement, not a palm tree this time, but a corkscrew weeping willow – still different and interesting, but more suited to Mecklenburg County. According to Google, this is a tree that is even known for looking good when covered in snow!
I suppose it is tempting to see all kinds of parables in this tale. How fragile life is. The folly of not paying attention to prevailing conditions. The wisdom of cutting our losses and moving on. The further wisdom of learning from our mistakes rather than repeating them. But you know, sometimes a tale is just a tale, a story with ups and downs and no ending in sight. It’s just a good story and we will be telling it for years. We will tell it when the willow towers over the back yard, and our children will tell it after us. We could do a lot worse in life than just making stories and sharing them. What stories to you have to share?
Blessings, Elliott
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April 18, 2018
 
Dear Friends, I’ve been on the move a lot the last couple of weeks, with a piece of bread, a bottle of juice, and two or three church members in tow. For each trip, our destination is the home of one of our “stay-at-home” families, and our purpose is to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. 
 
And celebrate we do, in the fullest meaning of Christ’s sacrament. As we follow his instructions (“every time you do this . . .”) our eyes are open to his presence in our midst. But perhaps more startlingly, our eyes are open to our presence with each other. The church exists by being together. Even if we all believed the Gospel message perfectly, we would not be Christians if we stayed alone and never met one another. The power of the church is our togetherness, for that is where Jesus joins us. 
 
Because of that, it is so important for us to go out and be together with brothers and sisters who can no longer travel and be with us. When we gather we renew the ties that bind, catching up and sharing the news. And soon the four or five or six of us have created a little church family right then and there. From that point it’s a short and easy step to break out the bread and juice, to pray and say the words, and to share the meal. We always remind each other that those at home have never been far from our thoughts or far from our community, so that even when we celebrate without their physical presence, the Spirit makes them part of us anyway. But the opposite is true also – when a little group celebrates in a home, each of you who are part of the church is present in that home too. The Spirit brings you there and we feel your presence. 
 
That’s the power of Jesus. Across time and the intervening miles, we can never lose him, and never lose one another. Jesus is real, and so is the joy.
Blessings, Elliott
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April 4, 2018
 
Dear Friends, The busy preparations of recent weeks are behind us – Easter has been celebrated, the quiet of Lent is over, and the joy of Resurrection has been proclaimed. Many, many thanks to all who labored long to bring us the experiences of Holy Week, especially the choir, along with Mark and Sherry, and our Youth Group readers. And don’t forget the behind-the-scenes efforts of the Worship Committee, and all the extra bulletins for Kim!
It feels right to breathe a sigh and perhaps take a few weeks of rest. But that is not Jesus’s plan, or the plan of the Gospel. Our church calendar has it high points. But the real meat of Christian life comes in between, when we have the opportunity and obligation to live out the truth that we have proclaimed. As we discovered on Easter, Jesus has already gone ahead of us and expects us to meet him in “Galilee”, ready to show off all the work we have done on the way. And this coming Sunday, with the story of doubting Thomas, the resurrected Jesus has a challenge meant directly for you and me.
As Easter recedes behind us, what lies ahead is nothing but the privilege of serving Jesus day in and day out. May we reach out and embrace his Good News every step of the way!
Blessings, Elliott
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March 21, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
 
We are fast approaching the solemn drama of Holy Week, which is the most sacred time of our entire Christian year. In the ancient church it was Easter, the day of Jesus’s resurrection, that was the center around which all worship and piety revolved. It has been that way ever since, and it is still that way today.
I hope everyone in our church family will be able to join us for many or all of our special services in the coming days. As we retell the stories about Jesus in that final week, we have a chance to share in the full range of emotions that he and his followers experienced – the premature excitement of Palm Sunday; the sense of gathering calamity as the authorities circled their nets; the bewilderment of the disciples at the last supper and in the garden; Jesus’s own apprehension of what was to come; the whirlwind of fabricated charges; the growing anger of the crowds; the agony of crucifixion leading to Jesus’s cry of abandonment.
Of course, at the end there is the glory of resurrection – indescribable joy, slack-jawed wonder, shouts of praise – which becomes all the more real in contrast to the despair of the previous week. Only as we have walked with Jesus up to Friday can we fully celebrate the emotions of Sunday. That is why I pray that each of us (as we are able) will be with the church family from beginning to end. This is what it means to be Christians, and it is the joy of Easter that gives us the inspiration for everything else we do throughout the year as we care for God’s world and cherish God’s word.
For all of us, may God bless us with a holy Easter, and blessings throughout the year.
 
Godspeed, Elliott
 
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March 7, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
The ties that bind us together as God’s family and the Body of Christ are strong. We share each other’s burdens and rejoice in our blessings. That is why we feel so strongly when we are not together week in and week out. If a familiar face is missing from the pews or we hear about illness and trouble, our instinct is to reach out and bridge the gap, to let our friends know that our worship feels empty when they are not with us.
 
One way we can reach out, besides personal cards, calls and visits, is to literally take the church to our sick and homebound friends. We can go to the places where they live or receive care and celebrate the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper together with them, to include them in the worship and praise of the church even when they cannot be present in the sanctuary. This can be especially meaningful for us as Presbyterians, since the Book of Order directs that we go out together – at least a pastor and an elder, but even better if other members of the church can go as well. That way, those who have to miss church can see that the whole community misses them and wishes them well.
 
I want to begin scheduling times to bring the communion service to our shut-ins during the coming spring months. I would appreciate your help in a couple of ways. If you would like to schedule a communion visit, for yourself or a special friend, please share that information with me so that we can plan a day and time. And, if you are able to join me on one or more of these visits, please let me know that as well. Elders (whether currently active or inactive on the Session) and all church members are welcome to be a part of this ministry.
 
I look forward to seeing many of you in the weeks ahead as we focus on this important part of the church’s life that will continue to bind us all in the Body of Christ.
Blessings, Elliott
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February 21, 2018
 
Dear Friends, The season of Lent snuck in through the back door last Wednesday. Most of us cradle Presbyterians have had to learn about Lent as something “new”. While growing up we didn’t “give up” anything for Lent and we didn’t see much difference even in church during those early spring weeks before Easter. In recent decades we have learned that Lent is not “new” but is very old, going back to the earliest centuries of Christianity. And we have come to appreciate some new traditions during Lent and Holy Week.
 
But all the same, Lent sneaks in through the back door. It makes hardly a peep in a world where politics, social media and violence scream for our attention – not to mention more personal concerns like family, work and health. Lent whispers with the Word of God. The same way that Jesus, who is the Word of God, whispered his message of peace and love and forgiveness. We have to make a conscious decision to attend to Jesus, not just to scooch over and make room for him, but to tune eyes, ears and hearts to him alone. Jesus will not raise his voice or coerce us in any way. But he is endlessly patient. The quietness of Lent can help teach us to attend to Jesus. In the ancient words of the Ash Wednesday service, “We are invited, in the name of Christ, to observe a holy Lent by self-examination and penitence, by prayer and fasting, by works of love, and by reading and meditating on the Word of God.” In others words, to be quiet, quiet enough for the soft voice of Jesus to speak and be heard.
 
Blessings on us all for holy Lent. Elliott
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February 7, 2018
 
Dear Friends, This coming Saturday, February 10, the Presbytery of Charlotte will hold its regular quarterly meeting here at Paw Creek. If you have been around the Presbyterian Church for awhile, I am sure you have seen many of these Presbytery meetings. You probably know that the Presbytery is made up of all the churches and ministers in a specific geographic area – in our case that is over 100 churches in Mecklenburg County and six other counties to our east. Historically Presbyterians didn’t want to have just a few people making all the decisions, so everything important must be decided by the whole Presbytery. Voting members of the meeting are elders (commissioned to represent their churches) and ministers. At the Presbytery meeting we approve new ministers, supervise seminary students, set up and supervise mission projects, elect Presbytery officers, and approve a budget for each year, among many other things. For every meeting, our Session here at Paw Creek elects two elders to be commissioners and attend the meeting. On February 10 we have commissioned Vickie Joy and Victoria Krebs. This week’s meeting will be special and important in several ways. First, we will be co-hosts of the meeting with our sisters and brothers from Woodland Presbyterian Church, recognizing that this is the beginning of the 150th anniversary year for their church. Second, the worship service will focus on celebrating a group of eleven churches that are all celebrating 150th anniversaries between 2016 and 2020. These churches were all founded by newly freed slaves in the years immediately after the end of the Civil War. Because of these churches and their example, even today Charlotte Presbytery has more African-American members than any other Presbytery in the country. And then finally, at this meeting we will elect a new General Presbyter to be the leader and head of the Presbytery, setting our direction and tone for years to come. It is an honor for our church to be a part of these significant events. Thanks to everyone who has already volunteered to help on Presbytery day. If you want to help, or just stop by and sit in on the meeting to learn how we do things, please join us on Saturday. The meeting begins at 9:30; volunteers can sign up with Amy McGee or Beth Joy. Blessings, Elliott __________________________________________________________________________________
January 24, 2018
 
Dear Friends, Many thanks to everyone who took part in the candlelight vigil in Coulwood last Sunday evening.  As most of you know, we were there to remember the lives of a mother and her two young children who had died the previous week under tragic circumstances. Although the family did not have direct ties to our church, they were our neighbors, and we came out in force to show our love and respect for their family and friends. This happened spontaneously through word of mouth (and social media) and a great ministry took place that evening.
It is tempting to try to draw some lessons from this experience, but I would caution that we not try too hard to analyze it. When the lawyer asked Jesus “who is my neighbor?”, Jesus gently but firmly taught him what a horrible question that is. If we have to ask, then we have already failed the test. In the same way, it’s best not to think too hard about the prayer vigil. There were neighbors who needed love and we tried to give it in a quiet, bumbling way. Our efforts were small, but God multiplied them greatly.
The most important word for would-be neighbors to remember is “yes”. After that, everything else becomes obvious.
Blessings, Elliott
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January 10, 2018
 
Dear Friends, The holidays are behind us and winter weather will still be around for a while. But there are still many great things going on here at Paw Creek.
 
This coming Sunday, January 14, we will have a special service after worship to dedicate the new Gary Bryant Memorial Prayer Garden at the front entrance to the sanctuary. This is such a wonderful project in so many ways. The engraved bricks offer a permanent record of people and groups that have been important in our lives and the life of our church. The garden itself provides a beautiful welcoming vista to those arriving for worship in every season. And of course the donations to the project have helped us fund the new children’s playground.
 
But perhaps more than anything else, the garden gives Paw Creek a chance to make a permanent monument to the life and ministry of Gary Bryant. Gary’s years of service at this church will always stand out as a milestone period in the history of the congregation, a time of love and service that shaped so many lives for the better. Gary was truly a dedicated servant of the Lord. Although I never had the privilege of knowing him, I follow in his footsteps and am grateful for his witness every day.
Please be sure to join us on Sunday as we give thanks for Gary, surround his family with love, and rejoice together in all that God has done and continues to do in this place.
Blessings, Elliott
 
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December 20, 2017
 
Dear Friends, I heard the comment from many of you this past weekend that 2017 has been a year that seems to have been marked by loss for our church family. For many of you, it has been your own dear loved ones whose lives we have remembered with appreciation, and whose passing we have marked with sadness. We can remind ourselves of Paul’s words: “death has been swallowed up in victory,” but even the Gospel rings hollow in the emptiness that we feel.
 
For those who mourn, this Christmas season can seem to be the final insult that a cruel year has to offer; an expectation to be “merry” no matter the cost. But of course there is nothing “merry” about the Christmas stories. If we can read from Matthew and Luke with unclouded eyes, what we see instead is so many other emotions. The anxiety of Mary and Joseph as they travel long distances towards the birth of a child whose future is unclear. The befuddlement of the shepherds over the meaning of the message they are given. The determination of the Magi to make their trip, no matter the cost, only to be met on arrival by the sheer evil they see on the face of King Herod. For them, there is are no reasons to be jolly, and yet as the stories end, each one is gripped by the awe of God’s glory that overpowers their fear and confusion.
 
The truth that runs through these stories has nothing to do with a jollity that we conjure up by the force of our own determination. Rather, that truth that runs through these stories points to God, for he is the one who transforms fear into courage, and confusion into strength. 
If this has been a year of mourning for you, or if past losses seem to return in this season, then I urge you to embrace the story of Christmas. The God who becomes flesh with us does so for the very purpose of transformation. That is his plan for our sorrow, and surely it will come to pass.
Bless you throughout these days, Elliott
 
 
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December 6, 2017
 
Dear Friends, Next time you find yourself near the intersection of Providence and Queens Roads, keep an eye out for a shiny statue of a winsome little man with one arm in the air and a violin case under the other. It’s a tribute to the memory of a true neighborhood eccentric, a man named Hugh McMannaway. That’s near my childhood home, and I met Hugh many times. An only child, he lived alone in the large, rambling house left him by his parents, a prosperous doctor and his wife. Hugh was known for standing at that very intersection to direct traffic (whether it needed directing or not), using his arms, his loud voice, and his violin case as a baton – hence the statue. When we kids would meet him, he would often ask one of us to state his or her name, and then make up a poem using the name, right on the spot. 
 
One summer day when we ran into Hugh near his house, about block from the intersection, he pointed to the front window. In it there burned a single red light bulb. He told us that the light bulb was his Christmas decoration, and explained his theory that any decorations that were put up for Christmas needed to remain in place for the entire year. At the time, it seemed that whatever else you might want to say about Hugh, his theory of Christmas was surely incorrect. I’ve thought about it many times, and after awhile began to figure out what was wrong.
 
If Christmas is symbolically present throughout the year, then the miracle of incarnation becomes a part of the background noise – one of the facts that is always present and never needs to be thought about. But of course that is exactly what the miracle of the incarnation is not! Everything else is the background noise and the arrival of the Christ child is the one extraordinary fact that doesn’t fit, the fact that redefines everything else. It is good to put the decorations up and take them away, to make them gaudy and loud and bright – not just something that is so small and dim that having it around all year is no inconvenience at all. It’s all symbolic, but symbols are important. In this case, the point of incarnation is to shake up and inconvenience the world. Oddly enough, that is exactly what Hugh McMannaway did. His theology of decorating was wanting, but his exuberance of life was real. It was to such as him that Jesus came first, the fools, the cripples and the outcast. Maybe Hugh knew something the rest of us missed. Maybe Jesus did too.
Blessings, Elliott
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November 22, 2017
 
Dear Friends, If you were able to join us for the Installation service earlier this month, I’m sure you cannot forget our guests from Smallwood Presbyterian Church. The choir sang with gospel fervor, Pastor Darryl Gaston kept posing people for group photos, and many other friends were in attendance. As I said that day, Smallwood is the “home church” in our neighborhood that allowed Nell and me to be part of the family when I was an itinerant interim pastor, and we know that they will always welcome us with open arms. As part of the Smallwood family, we have come to cherish one of their best annual traditions. On Thanksgiving Day they gather early in the morning to begin laying out the biggest meal you can imagine – turkey AND ham, beau coups of vegetables, and more pies than you can count. Then around 11:00 they open the doors and people start streaming in. Church members, certainly, and friends of the congregation who come every year. But also neighbors who otherwise would not have a Thanksgiving dinner to go to. They bring their families, and some go home and send more folks back. Our friend Joe is the master chef, and his feast is never-to-be-forgotten. Since Joe and the ladies have the food under control, my job the last couple of years has been to stand out on the corner in front of the church, calling out to everyone who comes along West Trade Street – by foot, car, bike or anything else. “Free Thanksgiving meal! Everyone welcome!” People stop, do a double take, then begin to smile – and most of them come in to serve a plate. As I stood there the first year, I noticed a couple of guys coming up the hill from the little store a few blocks away. They both carried paper bags with what had to be beer bottles sticking out of the top. I hesitated for a second, and turned to one of the elders standing near by. “Is it ok to invite them?” I whispered. She answered “Of course! That’s what we’re here for.” Well, that just made my day. What better example of the spirit of Thanksgiving can you get? Thanking God by serving his children, whoever they are. This is the day when everyone deserves turkey and all the fixings. Everyone. Thanks be to God!
 
Thanksgiving blessings, Elliott
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November 8 ,2017
 
Dear Friends, Believe it or not, it is already November! And that means the next eight weeks are going to be BUSY. As I write this, Thanksgiving is only two weeks away, and of course the Advent and Christmas seasons are not far behind. During this time of year, it can seem that Sunday worship is just a time to come to church and find another special cause or event. But of course what is most important in worship is that we focus on God and Christ. Our special events, even at holiday time, should be seen through the eyes of the Gospel. And we should ask ourselves – how is God glorified in the things we do this day? I want to pledge to you that I, along with the choir, music staff, and worship committee, are working hard to be sure that the plans we make for the coming weeks will live up to the standards of the Gospel. In return, I hope that you will make it a point to be part of our worship each week. We look forward to seeing you!
 
Our schedule for the next few weeks includes: Veterans’ Recognition – Sunday, November 12 Stewardship and Thanksgiving – Sunday, November 19 Thanksgiving Day – Thursday, November 23 at 8:00 am Christ the King Sunday – Sunday, November 26.
 
Blessings, Elliott
 
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October 25, 2017
Dear Friends, Just two weeks ago, we put out an invitation to Adult weekday Bible Study. One week later, the response was fantastic. We had a class of 8 on Wednesday at 10:00 am, and a class of 13 on Thursday at 5:30. I am THRILLED and I can’t wait to see what happens this week! Remembering that Jesus challenged us to love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind, we must always be asking ourselves how well we are living up to his challenge. Each part (heart, soul and mind) is difficult yet vital. But to love God with our minds is especially important to those of us in the historic Presbyterian tradition. We are the one who have kept the study of scripture alive from generation to generation. We must never give up. At our Bible Studies, the format is simple. We focus on the scripture reading that will be sermon text for the following Sunday. By pooling our knowledge and sharing our personal experiences, we come closer to understanding the message that God wants us to hear, in both the Old and New Testaments. And we are able to come to worship each Sunday better prepared to receive what scripture has to offer. I hope that many more of our congregation will want to come join us in study. We need you – and you need God’s word! A list of upcoming readings will be published in the newsletter, or you can ask me for a list. See you in the parlor, Elliott
 
 
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October 11, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek,

  I have been looking forward to meeting you for a long time! And now that time is here. It will be exciting for me to begin to learn your names and faces, and especially your stories. I appreciate your enthusiasm, the basket of goodies, the visits I have already had this week, and the work of the Property Committee as they paint and prepare the study for me to move in.   During these first few weeks, I will also appreciate your help in a number of ways. Most importantly, tell me what I need to know. Is there someone in the church family who needs a special visit? Do you have a cherished memory of the church that you want to share with me? Is there a church program or activity that needs some attention? I need to know all those things, so please don’t be shy. Beyond that, please help me get to know you: if you suggest a time for me to stop by, or schedule a visit over coffee or lunch, that’s the best way to help me reach the most people quickly as I can. Or simply stop by the church..  I plan to be in the office or out among the church family every day except Tuesday.  Any time I’m there, the door will be open, so please come on by.   Our first time to worship together will be this Sunday, October 15. I’m looking forward to it, and we will have some light refreshments on the porch so that we can stay and visit. It’s a great time for everyone to be together in worship and fellowship. But I want to put out a special invitation to those who may not have been in church so much in recent years. If you are still on the list to receive this newsletter, then we need you at Paw Creek (AND you need your church family!) I hope our new beginning this week will be a good time for you to come and have a look. We are starting a new and exciting chapter in our service to the Lord. Come join us!   Blessings, Elliott   deh46@columbia.edu 704-502-2143 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

September 13, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family, Well, these are exciting times for both of us. You have called your next pastor in Elliott Hipp, who I have found to be very kind and thoughtful and will be good for the church. I have also been asked to serve as Transitional pastor in this next phase of ministry for Avondale Presbyterian Church. I am excited to begin my ministry with them and from all indications, they are excited too. I will miss you, but you will be in great hands. I will miss you, but God has planned out paths for both us to follow. I will be with you for just a while longer. My final day at Paw Creek will be October 8, 2017. Elliott will be on board October 9, 2017. I will begin at Avondale October 16, 2017. God is great and greatly to be praised! God is blessing all around. I will remember you fondly and pray your strength in the Lord as God moves mightily in your lives. May our final weeks together be filled with joy and peace!
 
In Christ, Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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August 30, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Church Family,
We celebrate the movement of the Holy Spirit in this church. You have voted in your next minister, The Reverend Elliott Hipp. This is a time of great joy for our church. This has been a long journey, I know. But God has been with us every step of the way, guiding our every footstep throughout this process. And now we are ready to welcome your next pastor. You have been faithful and you have remained steadfast. You stood together and remained united in your efforts to find Rev. Elliott and he comes with many gifts and talents and a love for God’s people that will soon find its way into your hearts. My prayer is that you will have a long and lasting relationship with him that bears much fruit. If all goes well and as planned, he should be in place sometime around mid October. Begin praying for him now; his transition, his goodbyes to the church he currently pastors, his family, his strength and well-being. Pray for Paw Creek as you continue your readiness to receive him. Pray for unity in the body, the willingness to serve, an uplifted spirit, and pray for encouragement to step out on faith. Trust and believe that Paw Creek is truly in God’s hands and know you are blessed. I am excited with you. Your partnership with Rev. Elliott is bound to be a good one…a great one. God brought you together. All praise, honor and glory to God for what God has done is doing and will continue to do in you.
 
With Jesus joy, Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
 
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August 16, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Church Family, What an exciting time in the life of our church! By now, most of you, if not all of you are aware that on the 27th of August, there is a congregational meeting for the stated purpose of calling your next pastor. This has been the awaited time and it is now upon us. I want to encourage you to come to the meeting so that you can be introduced to your next pastor and have the opportunity to vote on his/her coming. No, he or she will not be present that Sunday, but there will be a video or a flyer containing information about him/her. You will have the opportunity to ask questions and then VOTE!
 
I, for one am very excited. This is the moment for which we have all been waiting. God is great and greatly to be praised! So, we give God glory for the things God has done, is doing, and will continue to do through you, the members of Paw Creek Presbyterian Church.
 
This is a time of celebration, expectation and soon…a big WELCOME!
 
Even as we wait for the month’s end to approach, remember to keep the Pastor Nominating Committee in your prayers and thank them for the hard work they have accomplished. They have done wondrous work for the Lord and for you!
 
In Christ, Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
 
 
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August 2, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church family,
This past week we bid farewell to a man beloved by God and by us. The Reverend Gary Lee Bryant. He was a man of God who loved his family, his friends and his church. In tribute to a life well lived in service to God for forty four years, of which thirty four were spent at Paw Creek, I want to honor Gary’s name through Scripture.
 
God’s grace is sufficient Acknowledge Jesus before men and Jesus will acknowledge you before His Father Righteousness guards the man of integrity Your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams
 
Blessed is the man who finds wisdom Run in such a way as to get the prize You, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High Accept the word planted in you, which can save you Nothing is too hard for you Taste and see that the Lord is good
 
Isaiah 40:31 (NRSV) 31 but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
 
Rest well friend. You have run the race of the Lord and you have finished it. All praise be to God.
 
In Christ, Veronica Cannon
 
 
 
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July 19, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Church Family,
Summer is now well into full swing. Many of you have been on vacation. Others of you can’t wait to get on your way. Still others of you may have no desire to travel this summer. Whatever your circumstance, know that Paw Creek Presbyterian Church is still here, still praying for you, still worshipping with you and still seeking, still serving, still praising and still loving Christ, our neighbors, our community and you. As you take your leave this summer and forget about the worries of home, job, and stress, as you remember to get your much needed rest, please remember your church in its need of your support financially. We still have ministries to support, lights to keep on, and people to help. Please consider giving to Paw Creek, even in your absence. The work of the church is never done and we need your continued support. Make the most of what is giving to you and enjoy your summer!
In Christ, Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
 
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July 5, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family,
A friend was in front of me as we were walking out of the church one Sunday. The preacher was shaking hands as usual. When my friend reached him, he grabbed my friend by the arm and pulled him aside. The pastor said, “You need to join the Army of the Lord.” The friend replied, “I’m already in the Army of the Lord Pastor.” The pastor said, “How come I don’t see you except at Christmas and Easter?” He whispered back, “I’m in the secret service.” This week we celebrate the 4th of July, Independence Day. It is a when America celebrates its independence from Britain. There was an army during the American Revolution that fought long and hard for freedom. But there is an army that exists that is still fighting for freedom, freedom from sin, freedom from evil, freedom for all people to live eternally for God…that’s right the Army of the Lord. If you have not joined this army, it is never too late to do so. Come on board, you are welcomed.
Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
 
 
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June 21, 2017
 
Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NRSV) 11 For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 12 Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13 When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart.
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family, Jeremiah the prophet delivered a message to the people of Israel when they were exiled into Babylon. Because of their sinfulness the Lord told them they were to be subjugated under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar and they would be so for seventy years. It was the beginning of the rule Babylon would have over those who were exiled. Things looked really bleak for them. They were subjected to mistreatment, pagan gods, a foreign land, and new rule. But God loved the Israelites even though they were sinful and God prophesied to them through Jeremiah. Yes, the people were to endure tough times ahead. Seventy years of separation from their homes, friends, family, familiar surroundings. Yes, they would have to live out their punishment, but God promised them that when the time was over, and if the people sought Him out with all of their hearts, open and true, God would bring them back. God had a plan for them, but they had to have a change of heart and a change of behavior, and God would hear them. This is good news for us. When we find ourselves in the bleakest moment, days, weeks or even years in our lives, if we have led sinful lives or done sinful things, God is never far from us. All God asks is for us to repent, turn to Him, ask forgiveness truly, and God will answer us and deliver us from all that holds us captive. Change your heart and change your character. Then seek God’s favor and God will deliver you, free you up from all unrighteousness. God has a plan for you! Trust and believe.
 
Love in Christ, Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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June 7, 2017
Dear Paw Creek Church Family, Pentecost is upon us. We celebrate and commemorate the Jewish feast wherein the disciples of Christ received the Holy Spirit. It is time of great joy. Jesus was now seated at the right hand of God and now the promised Holy Spirit , the third person of the Trinity would reign in the hearts and minds of human-kind. We who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior, are recipients of the power and with joy and boldness are called forth to do great works. May the spirit of the season bring you into new and exciting spaces, open you up to bright futures in Christ and fill you anew with joy and great love. In Christ,
Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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May 24, 2017
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family,
Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. This past week has been a doozy. In the world, a bomb exploded in Manchester England at the end of a concert and around twenty teenagers were killed and many more injured. In our country, there is much discussion on the interference of another country’s engagement in our election and the possible collusion of some of our government officials being involved with them. There is way too much partisan political unrest. There is much violence happening in our state, in our city. There is unrest in our citizenry because of racism and sexism. We cannot turn on the television without being confronted by disturbing or sad news. In our church, we have had loved ones hospitalized or still recovering at home. Even I personally feel despair at times deep within. I wonder will there be no end to this needless noise of pain and discontent. Our people, O God are suffering. Is there joy anywhere? Sometimes it feels like there is none. That is until I am reminded of Jesus. How he suffered, not just physically on the cross at the end of His earthly life, but the suffering he had because of us. God’s creation. How we squander the gifts of God and use them for evil or to hurt others. God incarnate witnessed the absolute worst in us. How He must have despaired seeing us wasting our potential on bickering and backstabbing and fighting and positioning ourselves against one another. That is not what God intends for us. God intends joy for us. But where do we find it? Begin by looking in the playroom of your souls.
 
Rev. Tony Evans tells this story: Someone came up with a great concept—putting playrooms in doctors’ offices. Many parents bring their kids to the doctor because they are sick and they need the doctor to see them. The playrooms are designed to distract the children from the pain of their problem until their problem gets fixed. The playroom gives them joy in a bad situation. That’s the way God works. Even though things may not be going the way we want them to be on the outside, God has designed a “playroom” in our soul. In the midst of our circumstances, His joy can distract us from our pain or discomfort, until He makes provision for our change or healing.
 
Isn’t that good news? Look inward, to your soul’s playground. Commune with God for a time. Let your cares melt away for a time in God’s playroom. Find your joy, find your peace. And may God bless you as you serve in His name.
 
I live for the cross,
Rev. Veronica Cannon
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May 10, 2017
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family,

Greetings to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I am taking a week of vacation this week.  I am not doing anything special, not going anywhere in particular.  I am really going to take this week to rest some.  As I reflect upon this week and upon the message I wish to share with you, it revolves around the theme and importance of rest.  One of the Ten Commandments speaks of keeping Sabbath.  This is the type of rest I plan to have this week.  A Sabbath week.  It is not a time to sit and do nothing, to lay in bed or sit and watch TV.  No, it is a time of communing with God, being with family and friends and doing what one enjoys.  It is a time of singing and dancing, a time of praying, a time of listening and for me, discerning.  It is as active rest.  I encourage all of you to find Sabbath moments, to enjoy family and friends and time with God.  To break bread together and sing together and to find those moments alone to reflect and discern God’s leading. May God walk with you and carry you when needed.  May you find joy and much laughter for your souls.  May you seek and find the peace that God provides and enjoy one another.  May you find rest in your weariness.  May the love of God surround you. I live for the cross, Rev. Veronica E. Cannon

 
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April 26, 2017
 
Psalm 84:1-12 (NRSV) 1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! 2 My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. 3 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. 4 Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise. Selah 5 Happy are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. 6 As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength; the God of gods will be seen in Zion. 8 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah 9 Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed. 10 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live in the tents of wickedness. 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor. No good thing does the LORD withhold from those who walk uprightly. 12 O LORD of hosts, happy is everyone who trusts in you.
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church family, I love Psalms. They are prayers that always bring comfort or joy or peace. This Psalm is one that brings joy. It gives to God what is due: praise and honor. In God’s presence is where we find joy. In God we gain strength. In God, the upright, the faithful find favor and honor. The Lord gives good things (not material things) to those who trust in God. God is great and greatly to be praised. May you find comfort in this Psalm, joy in your heart and peace in your faithfulness to the Creator. Amen and Amen.
 
Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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April 12, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church,
I read the following poem on a friend’s Facebook page this past week: “later that night i held an atlas in my lap ran my fingers across the whole world and whispered where does it hurt? it answered everywhere everywhere everywhere.” I could not help thinking how appropriate this poem by Warsan Shire is for Holy Week. We live in a world that is hurting and broken. War is breaking in many parts of the universe. Men are dying, children are starving, women are being abused, parents are unable to support families, jobs are being lost, houses are being foreclosed, our enemies are gaining strength, fear is at an all-time high. If I could borrow from her poem and add to it, this is what my spirit hears: God whispers, “where does it hurt?” Creation cries, “Everywhere, everywhere, everywhere.” Then God says “Remember” Creation cries “Remember what?” God says “Not what but who. Remember my Son, Jesus the Christ.” Creation says, “What has he done?” God says “He died to save.” Creation shouts, “Who did he save?” God cries, “Everyone, everyone, everyone.” This week we remember Jesus Christ and His saving grace. By His stripes we are healed. By His blood we are redeemed. By His power over sin and death, we are made free. By His sacrifice, we have life eternal. Praise be to God, Son and Holy Spirit.
I live for the cross, Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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March 29, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church,
 
I was reading the Lectionary for today, and one of the readings came from the Old Testament book of Ezekiel. It was the story where an angel of the Lord brought Ezekiel to the Temple of God and showed him a trickle of water that flowed from the temple east toward the Arabah Sea. The angel took Ezekiel on a walk along the bank of the river to the Arabah. As they walked the water went from ankle deep to waist high depth to the point where Ezekiel would have to swim to cross. The angel pulled his attention to all of the growth and life that teemed all around them. Water of life flowed from the temple and became a great well spring of life. It is all due to the source of the water; God. God is the source of our lives. From our God source flows the river of life that runs through each of us. When we are open, receptive to the source of this water, we too teem with life and growth abounds, surrounding us with we need to survive and thrive. And when we walk along the banks of life, we will admire the new landscape that God carves out and gives to us for our enjoyment. All praise be to God for God’s life giving source of water and power. Amen.
 
I live for the cross,
 
Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
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March 15, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family,

Blessing.  It is a word that means happy or helped by God.  It could also mean approval or that which is said over food.  I have often used this word of blessing myself, usually as it pertains to being helped by God or even as that which is said over food before eating.   I have also understood a blessing to be something you never keep to yourself, but that you share with others around you and beyond you.  If God has helped me, that it is important for me to use that help to help others.  Interestingly enough, I recently read an article on line from a man who teaches leadership skills to corporations and make a decent living doing so.  The article is entitled “The One Thing Christians Should Stop Saying: Let’s retire this phrase immediately, and say what we really mean to say instead.”  He is referring to the use of the word blessing in relationship to material belongings.  He said people should not say “I just bought a house, I am blessed.  I just got a new car, I am blessed.”  We should rather say “I am grateful.”  He believes that when people say I am blessed because I have this job or some material thing, we reduce God to heavenly fairy who grants our every wish.  It is also plain wrong.  God does not prosper people because they have done some great or wonderful thing.  That would be prosperity theology: God blesses you because of something you have done and if others would just do likewise they would receive these blessings. I also do not believe in prosperity theology.  God does not bless us more because we give to the church or we treat others with kindness or sow seed into a particular ministry.  But I do believe that God blesses us to be blessings to others.  God helps us to help others.  So, God may bless us with a house or a car or a job.  But we are to use them to glorify God and help someone else.  Use your car to take someone to the doctor, or shopping for groceries.  Use your house to hold Bible studies or mission stations.  Use the income from your job to help those less fortunate or use your job to help others get work.  Material blessings should not be used for personal consumption or personal good alone.  Be a blessing to someone else.  Use the blessing of your body to help others who may need you.  Your eyes to help a blind person get around, your hands to reach out to someone who needs comfort, your feet to take you to places to carry out ministry, your ears to listen to the concerns of your fellow people.  But if you really want to know who Jesus considers the blessed among us, read Matthew 5: 3-12. Jesus, in Matthew 5, also gives us some instruction on who the blessed are.  God helps, blesses us, when we are poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and those who are persecuted.  In this life we may be torn asunder, but we will receive the blessings of God in the life everlasting.  Our reward will come, so in the meantime just rejoice and be glad. Matthew 5:3-12 (MSG) 3  “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. 4  “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. 5  “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. 6  “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat. 7  “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘careful,’ you find yourselves cared for. 8  “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. 9  “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. 10  “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. 11  “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. 12  You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble. Daily we receive blessings from God.  Accept them and use them to God’s glory. I live for the cross! Rev. Veronica E. Cannon

 
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February 15, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church, Isaiah 43:18-19 (NRSV) 18 Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. 19 I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Being held captive is never a good thing. Being unable to leave a situation or a place can be devastating. We think of captivity as being imprisoned behind bars or captivity as being captured by an enemy of war and held in a prison camp. In the passage of Scripture from Isaiah, the chil-dren of Israel had been taken captive by the Babylonians, and God, through the prophet Isaiah, told the people to hold on. God was about to do a new thing. God was going to move and re-deem the people from captivity and free them to go out. The people had suffered long enough due to their sin and God was going to deliver on God’s promise to them. It is no different with us today. We may not be under the heavy hand of oppression by another nation, but many of us held captive. Some of us are held captive in unproductive jobs, in un-loving relationships or marriages, in life circumstances, in bad health, in our minds, to drugs or alcohol. To you, God is saying, hold on. God is about to do a new thing. God is going to free you from whatever holds you captive. Only turn to God. Stop turning to others who have no power to free you; moving to stop turning to idols that do nothing. Give your attention to God. God is doing a new thing. Do you not perceive it? God is leading us into a bright and joyous future. God is opening pathways of communication and pathways of hope and pathways of ser-vice. Do you not perceive it? The river of God’s life flowing stream is running through the veins of our church. Through God’s life we are given life. Do you not perceive it? In our church, the children are singing and getting active. The youth are growing deeper in faith and remain active in the community. The Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) is working hard in ward your next called pastor, the mission committee is seeking and providing more op-portunities for you to serve, the Fellowship committee is gearing up for opportunities for you to spend time together, the Congregational Care Committee is developing more precise ways to engage with and communicate with you. The session and staff will be having a retreat, focused upon church growth. The music program in our church continues to provide uplifting and meaningful music. God is breathing new life in Paw Creek, the church on the hill, a light to the community, a spiritual haven for lost souls. God is moving in your life, in your homes, and in your church. God never stopped moving. Do you not perceive it? No more captivity. You are being freed indeed. I live for the cross! Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
 
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February 1, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church, Over the past few weeks, our country and indeed the world has undergone and or been affected by a great deal of change. Some of us are jubilant over the changes that have come upon us, and others of us are absolutely afraid. This is not the time to gloat nor is it the time to fear. Listen, we are all brothers and sisters, creat-ed by God. We are one in the same, part of the human family, yet we are different based on where we live, how we are raised, what we believe or don’t believe and the list goes on. It is easy to fear what we do not understand or refuse to try to understand. This has caused a great ripple in the world. But fear is not of God. Scripture offers many examples and states many times to FEAR NOT. Fear is an instrument of the evil one and Satan will use fear to turn brother against brother and sister against sister. We fear what we do not understand or what we do not agree with. But we cannot let fear rule our lives. From Isaiah 35:4 (NRSV) “4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.” From the Gospel of John, Jesus says “27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” From Joshua 1:9 (NRSV) “9 I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” And from Psalm 23:4 (NRSV) “4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me.” There are many other Scriptures that speak to the notion of having no fear. We should all heed these words. Fear causes people to turn on other people, to turn their backs on people and to hate people. You can look at our political climate and see fear coming out of this administration, fear coming out of our country, fear coming out of the people protesting in the streets and it is tearing us apart. Families are divided over fear, friendships are stressed over fear, actions are taken out of fear. But our God whom we serve says FEAR NOT. For I AM with you. God is with us. Rejoice if you feel the desire to rejoice, it is your choice. Fight for what you think is right, that is also your choice, but do not fear. God is with us. So, no matter what, NO MATTER WHAT, the circum-stance, your feelings or misgivings or jubilance, GOD IS WITH US. Believe that! God will be the One who rights the wrongs, who makes the everlasting change that really counts. So trust that if nothing else. Peace be with you all! I live for the cross! Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
 
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January 18, 2017
 
In times of uncertainty, anxiety builds and people can become dismayed. This can be exasperated even more when we take our eyes off of God and spend more time focused on problems and issues. We see this in our world, where war rages and families are torn asunder because of it. We see this in our nation, where the political climate is distressed and people are uncertain about the future. We at Paw Creek see it here as the search for your next pastor is underway.
 
We live in uncertain times and many are filled with apprehension. But thanks be to God, because the One who created the world and formed it and gave us life, God has never forgotten us. God is still in control calls us to a sense of calm and reassurance.
 
From the Book of Isaiah 51:3 (NRSV) Scripture reads: 3 For the LORD will comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places, and will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song. The children of Israel were in captivity. They were full of despair, uncertain about the future. The Jews had withstood great hardship and crushing suffering. But through the prophet Isaiah, God sent them a message of hope. God told them to remain steadfast in their faith and to continue to follow. God wanted them to know that their captivity would be turned to freedom, that their suffering would end and they would be comforted.
 
Whatever stress, anxiety you are experience today, listen to the Lord and follow God’s guidance. Whatever holds you captive, be it circumstance or sin or life lessons, turn it over to God and God will be your comfort during times of distress, your anchor in the storm. Joy and gladness will be found in you and thanksgiving in your voice as you sing your song. Thanks be to God. And may it be so.
 
Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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January 4, 2017
Dear Paw Creek, Here’s to you and wishing you the happiest in this new year! Wow, it is 2017 and what an exciting year this will be. On January 11, 2017 we will begin Bible study again. Please come. It is a time to learn more about Christ and understand who God is an what God plans for those who follow and love Him. The youth and children have excited things planned for the Wednesday evening programming to teach them the Bible and to learn more of what it means to be a Christian, how to serve the people of God and how to do it with joy. Please know that the youth pro-gram and the children program are growing and getting stronger. If you have an opportunity to come out and volunteer your services to God to these ministries, you can always contact Evie Landrau the youth director and Victoria Krebs, the children’s director. There are a few changes this year as well. We have added to the session a new committee, the Fellowship committee. It will be chaired by Beth Joy and you will hear more about it and the work her committee will do in the coming weeks. You will also have ample opportunity to step up and help out as well, both individually and collectively. Opportunities abound to use your God given talents throughout the church. If you love Christian Education, consider becoming part of the Christian Ed committee. If you love planning for worship, consider your gifts and join the Worship Committee. If you love dealing with finance, consider joining the finance committee. If you have a passion for mission ( the heart of the church) then please join up with the Mission Committee. There are so many opportunities for YOU to live into the talents that God has given you. Your church needs you and God is calling you as you are part of this body to step up and step into God’s Work here at Paw Creek. Paw Creek Presbyterian Church is the church you love, the church you want to see grow and prosper. Well, YOU are Paw Creek and its sustainability lies within each and everyone of you. So, as you make your New Year Resolutions, resolve to support your church, Paw Creek, with time, your talent, and your money. Your church needs you to survive and prosper. 2 Chronicles 7:14-15 (NRSV) 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. Let us pray that God will open God’s eyes and ears and be attentive to our prayers. Happy New Year. This promises to be a good one. Rev. Veronica Cannon
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December 21, 2016
 
Merry Christmas to you. The birth of Christ is highly celebrated throughout the Christian community at this time of year. It should be. The birth of Christ, God becoming flesh is a really big deal. We have all heard the Christmas story. Mary and Joseph travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem in order to be counted in the consensus. When they arrive there is no room in the inn. Mary goes into labor and the only place to give birth is in a stable with smelly animals and the only clothing, swaddling or binding cloths. The bed for our Savior, a trough. But I want us to appreciate how special and difficult this was for the mother of the Christ child. Again, you know the story, but do you appreciate how special this story really is? In the year of our Lord 1990, I traveled from Maryland to Los Angeles, California with my husband and two young sons to attend my youngest sister’s wedding. We traveled by air. I had a comfortable seat, food services, a bathroom, if needed and the ability to lay back and rest if I desired. When we arrived, we were picked up in a car and taken to my oldest sisters house where other family had also gathered. We were going to be there for only a few days. I was Vera’s ma-tron of honor. Did I mention I was also pregnant? Yep…nearly eight months. My doctor would not let me stay for even a week because this was my third child, and they had a tendency to come early by about a week and they came quickly. He did not want me to be away from home for too long. But we traveled there and back safely and my daughter Rosalynn was born six weeks later. So why did I tell you that story? To really appreciate what Mary endured to give birth to Jesus.
From Nazareth to Bethlehem is about 70 miles. Over mountainous terrain you could add another twenty miles. Mary traveled by donkey back, not an airline. She was nine months pregnant with her first child. Her husband led the donkey by foot over some pretty rough and ragged terrain. That journey took about a week to make. Think about the toll this had on Mary. With constant bathroom breaks and needs to rest, to get off that donkey to walk a bit only to climb back upon its back to continue the journey. She is ready to give birth at any time and then they finally arrive in Bethlehem. I am certain she looked forward to a bed to rest upon, an opportunity to have a hot meal perhaps, to be away from that animal. Then they find there are no rooms available and Mary goes into labor. The only place available? A stable? More animals? No comfortable bed? Exactly. A very tired Mary and Joseph arrive to register for the consensus, and the only place to rest was a stable among cows and lambs and sheep and maybe a camel or two. And it is there that she lays on straw and gives birth to a King, the Savior of the world, the Messiah, anointed by God to be our salvation. Christ was born after a long strenuous journey, under very humble conditions, and became the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. What a gift to Mary. What a gift to us all. If never there was a reason to celebrate, this one was and is. What a metaphor for life right? We may have a tough journey, and the road to salvation may not always be smooth flying, but the gift of salvation is well worth it all.
Merry Christmas to you all. Rev. Veronica Cannon
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December 7, 2016
 
Merry Christmas! This is a greeting that you will hear and deliver to many people you meet both stranger and friend alike. And for most people, it is a merry time of year when we remember the Christ Child’s birth. There will be worship services and sing-a-longs. There will be dinner parties and the joy of breaking bread together. There will be baking and shopping and visiting with fam-ily and friends far and near. There will be traveling and staying put. All sorts of wonderment will accompany this most wonderful time of the year. I say rejoice and be glad in it. Remember those also for whom this time of year is most difficult, who do not get enjoyment or pleasure from this season. Remember those for whom this season is wrought with stress and worry and concern. Remember those families for whom Christmas will not mean gifts under a tree or a nice turkey dinner at the table. Remember to pray for all of God’s children for whom this day means sadness and if you are able spread a little joy in their direction. Let them know of the joy of the Christ child and that his birth brings unspeakable joy because of Emmanuel, God with us!
 
Luke 2:8-14 (NRSV)
8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:
11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
 
My all your days be merry and filled with the light of Christ. Merry Christmas!
Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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November 23, 2016
Happy Thanksgiving! This week people all around the United States will be gathering together to break bread and share time. Men and women, boys and girls will say that for which they are thankful. Some will have turkey, dressing, macaroni and cheese, beans, sweet potatoes, pies, cakes, hot buttered rolls, tea or lemonade. Some will watch football, others will play family tag football. Some will play games, others will tell stories, share memories and spend laughter. These are indeed things for which to be grateful. I will spend time with my husband and chil-dren. We will share a less traditional meal (it’s what they want), play games, and I am sure laugh a lot. I will worship at Paw Creek giving praise to God and thanking God along with many of you for God’s great bounty. It is all good. But there will be many for whom Thanksgiving will not be a time of thankfulness. Some will spend the day alone and treat it like every other day; nothing special. Some will be in a restaurant eating alone. Some will just be lonely. There will be no laughter, no games, no fun, no good memories to share. So, I am asking, if you know someone who may not have family or friends, who may spend the day alone, think of inviting them to your home, give them space to be a part of your life and make memories with you. Share your meal, share your laughter, share your fun. Give someone the opportunity to be thankful for you and your kindness. It may not mean a lot to you, but may make the world of difference to someone. My desire for you is to be grateful all your days and to share your love and life with as many other people as you can. Happy Thanksgiving! I live for the cross. Rev. Veronica Cannon
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November 9, 2016
 
Be happy people. God has enriched our lives and gives us meaning. He has provided us
with the best families, the best friends, the best that life has to offer. Do you see it? Be happy
people. God has stretched out God’s hand and covers us with love and grace and peace.
When we have been unlovable, God loved, when we have been unkind, God’s grace
abounds, when we were in turmoil, God granted us peace. Do you feel it? Be happy people.
God has moved hearts and minds to bend to His Will and allows us to discover the best in
ourselves. When we direct our thoughts and actions to doing our own thing to benefit ourselves,
God moves in mighty ways through us. Do you conceive it? Be happy people.
Life is way too short to be otherwise.
Peace in Christ,
Veronica
 
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October 26, 2016
Don’t focus on what was. Look forward to what can be, and then do all you can to make it a reality. Life is what you make of it, and the challenges that come your way are just opportunities to right what is wrong. Don’t get discouraged, and don’t give up. You have it all inside yourself, and you can overcome anything if you put your mind to it. – Paula Michele Adams
I read this reading from the book entitled A Daybook of Gratitude. How to Live Each Day with a Thankful Heart. Living each day with a thankful heart is a beautiful thing to do. It helps us to recognize that which is in our circle, our space, and to see how God is blessing and continues to bless us. It helps us to see the people around us and value them for the gifts of God they share with us. It helps us to appreciate all that God is. But I will admit, that there are days when this seems an impossibility. When ugliness in someone’s attitude darkens your lighted path, it is hard to see the light for the shadow. But seek the light anyway. Hard, but keep trying. When people disappoint you because they claim a love of God and yet spew hate toward you, it is hard to hold on to love. But love anyway. When people gossip about you behind your back, spreading un- truths, it is hard to stand in the midst of them. Stand anyway. Nothing worth having is ever easy. And when you can live thankfully for the ugliness, the disappointments, the gossip and untruths, your character is built and your resolve is strengthened. Turn a challenge into a possibility. And when things still do not pan out, pray for God to show you new opportunities for which to be thankful. Ask God to bring people into your life whom you can appreciate and who appreciate you. Find the joy and keep it in your life. If it’s not your circus, don’t take their monkeys. Learn the lessons that life is teaching you and move on. Put God in the center of your life, and God will lead your path. Just be thankful for the path. Everywhere that God leads you and brings you is a place in which to be thankful. In Christ, Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
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October 12, 2016
 
As I reflect upon this life of ours as members of the body of Christ, and I think upon all of the ill will that plagues our world, our country, our community, our church, I can easily despair. But I choose a different path. I ask you to join me as we each, individually find ways to widen our circle of influence in positive and decisive ways. Each of us has an opportunity to influence good, to influence well-being, to influence love and joy. It is done by our words and actions. IN moments when we are unable to find the strength to do change our words and actions to reflect the grace of God, I encourage you to pray. I recently came upon a familiar prayer that reminds me again of the power of prayer and how that which we ask of God can be made manifest in our lives. It is a prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. I share this prayer with you now. May it be so.
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is dark- ness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be under- stood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life. In Christ, Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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September 28, 2016
 
I would like to give you another update on things that are happening in the church.
First, congratulations to the newly elected Elders of Paw Creek Presbyterian Church for the class of
2019. Please extend your words of affirmation to Jon Kenley, Victoria Krebs, Amy McGee, Melissa
Mullis, David Padgett, Joy Tyler, and Barbara Ullem. We will begin our twelve hours of training
beginning in October and finishing in November. After a written examination at the end of the
training, the newly elected officers will be ordained (if not previously ordained) and installed to of-
fice. The newly elected officers will be ready to hit the ground running in January.
 
Please remember to thank the Nominating Committee (Eddie McArver, Donna Hall, Peggy Harring-
ton, Grady Cathey, Ken Scott – Chair, and Robin Wodarski for all of their hard work in getting this
important work done. But they are not quite done yet.
 
Second, the Nominating Committee is still hard at work for you Paw Creek. They are beginning the
second charge of their work in getting a slate of names together of individuals to sit on the Pastor
Nominating Committee. During the month of September, they have been receiving names from the
congregation of those individuals who would like to sit on the Pastor Nominating Committee. The
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) will need to consist of a cross section of the congregation as
to be representative of the congregation. There will be a committee of five. The same process will
be followed as it was for the class of Elder. The committee will confirm with individuals their desire
to serve on the PNC, perform interviews with each agreed participant, develop a slate of names and
will present the congregation with that slate of names on which to vote.
 
We have sent letters out to all members who have not been active here in the last year to confirm
their membership as to meet that requirement from Presbytery. This information needs to be as
accurate as possible as this will go on the Mission Information Form (MIF) that the PNC will fill out
about the church.
 
You will hear more in the coming future as we move further in this process. You may be called up-
on to help out with the mission study that needs to be completed; I hope you will consider volun-
teering to do this work. Some has already been done.
 
We are moving ever forward in finding the next man or woman of God to lead this congregation.
Stay in prayer through this process. We are getting there.
 
In the name of Jesus Christ,
Veronica Cannon
 
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
September 14, 2016
 
2 Corinthians 5:6-9 (NRSV)
6
So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are
away from the Lord
7
for we walk by faith, not by sight.
8
Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the
Lord.
9
So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
 
Live the Christian life. Okay. So what exactly is living the Christian life? If we look at this passage
of Scripture from 2nd Corinthians verse 7, it gives us the prescription for doing so. Walk by faith and
not by sight. In so doing we please the Lord. Our aim in life should be pleasing the Lord. Walking
in faith is the way to accomplish this aim. But what does that mean? It means different things to
different people, because walking in faith is individual. However, walking in faith does require us to
move with confidence in this world, relying upon God for guidance and leadership. It means not
relying upon what we see before us as an absolute for right living. We are human and therefore falli-
ble. And what we see can always be changed or moved by the power of God. You see a brick wall
before you and think there is no way I can get through that wall. It is brick, it is high, it is impenetra-
ble. That is what you see. But God says approach the wall anyway. Move toward it, you will get
through. We see a brick wall, God sees a way through. So you approach the wall and realize there is
a spot that is crumbling, weak. You push on the weak spot and it crumbles to the ground. You walk
through to the other side. That is walking by faith and not by sight. Put your trust in God first and
God will remove obstacles from your path. That includes doubts, fears, people, strongholds, and
even sin. Walk with the confidence of God and watch God remove earthly strongholds and make a
way for you.
 
Blessings,
Veronica Cannon
 
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
August 31, 2016
In my daily devotional reading, I came across one that really speaks to me. It deals with having time of solitude. Slices of solitude allow us to renew and reflect and transform as we enter into ourselves and do the necessary work of gunk removal so that God can fill us with internal peace and joy. Slic-es of solitude allow us to enter into prayer without distraction. We can focus our attention upon God. Spend time listening as God reveals to us The Almighty’s plan. From Charles Swindoll’s book
Wisdom for the Way, one of the readings from Intimacy with the Almighty
says solitude is “an oasis of the soul where we see ourselves, others, and especially our God in new ways. It is where much of the clutter of life is identified and exterminated, thanks to the merciless heat of the furnace. Soul surgery transpires as serenity replaces anxiety”. This speaks to my soul and I hope to yours as well. You know, even Jesus took times of solitude and prayer to spend with God. We all need our tanks refu-eled. I encourage you to find your solitude. If you cannot get away for a time of quiet solitude, look for a time in your day or night to spend with God alone. Just you and our Creator talking things over and seeking direction for you. May you be blessed in that journey.
 
In Christ,
Veronica Cannon
 
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
August 17, 2016
 

In my efforts to be forthcoming and transparent with you, I am giving you an update today on where we

currently stand in the process of calling your next pastor. We have held four town hall meetings held by

me and then I requested the Presbytery of Charlotte to come for a fifth town hall meeting to answer

questions and hear concerns that some of you still have. I have completed the report from the four town

hall meetings I conducted and that information is now available to give to the PNC when it is formed. I

would want to express my thanks to all who participated in the town hall meetings. Your voice was heard

and is included in the report. As far as a timeline for where we stand in the process, it is recorded below.

The timeline is also part of my report from the town hall meetings. You will note that in September, the

Nominating Committee will begin taking names of members who desire to serve on the Pastor Nominating

Committee. (With go ahead from Presbytery. I do not anticipate a problem with this) If you desire

to serve on the committee or someone gives your name to serve, the nominating committee will contact

you to confirm your desire to serve in that capacity. The nominating committee will come up with a slate

of names representative of the entire congregation. When that slate of names is complete, the session

will call a meeting of the congregation to vote on said slate. The Presbytery of Charlotte will send someone

in to train the PNC on its scope of work and the newly formed PNC will begin its work. I would

ask that you begin praying now that God will act in the hearts and minds of those who will serve on the

PNC to be discerning and faithful in this work as it is serious business in considering who will next lead

Paw Creek Presbyterian Church. The work is a time commitment and will require full participation from

all involved. So begin praying now. As I have said before, and believe in my heart, God has already chosen

your next pastor. He or she does not yet know it. But in God’s timing they will know and so will

you and you will together form a long and lasting relationship. I pray you God speed.

Peace in Christ,

Veronica Cannon
 
Tentative Timeline:
 

May 21st

Nominating Committee training – complete
 

June – July

Begin taking names for candidate for nomination for office of elder – in process
 

August

Begin interviews of candidates.

Consider needs of the session.

Period of prayer and discernment of candidates.
 

September

Present slate of names to Session.

Session calls a congregational meeting

Congregation votes on slate of names

Nominating Committee begins taking names for members interested in serving on Pastor Nominating

Committee (upon approval of Committee on Ministry – COM)
 

October

Officer Training for newly elected Elders – 6 weeks

Examination of newly elected Elders

If the nominating committee has completed taking names of members to serve on the Pastor Nominating

Committee, Session will call a congregational meeting.
 

November or December

Ordination and Installation of newly elected Elders

Congregation votes on slate of names for Pastor Nominating Committee

Pastor Nominating Committee receives training from Committee on Ministry and begins their work

as outlined above.
 
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
August 3, 2016
 

Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family,

Last week as I was taking my morning walk/run, I looked up at the sky and saw the sun’s rays coming through the clouds. I then began to take in the beauty that was all around me. The flowering trees, the flowers, the green grass, the stillness that was this morning. People were not yet up and about, and things were quiet and still. I wanted to cry. I began to think about God and how awesome are God’s great wonders. And this passage of Scripture came to mind,

“Psalm 46:10 (NRSV)

10 “Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.”

Be still. Be silent. Be quiet. Be stationary. And know that I am God. God, Creator, Sustainer, Ruler, Our Defense. Know God, the Great I Am.

I thought of God and great and wonderful God is. To know God is to know stillness, peace, silence. And if God is to be exalted among the nations and in the earth, then there is much work to be done. But, I don’t need to rush ahead of God, I need to wait on God to speak and move and be ready always to lift the name of God through Jesus Christ His Son. God is to be exalted above the nations and in the earth. God has this. God has me. God has you. God has this nation. God has this world.

In the ever shifting sands of this world, our nation, our communities, our churches and our homes, it becomes really easy to get caught up in the winds that blow to and fro and the ground that shakes back and forth. We so easily lose sight of what is most important. God.

In our world, we are asked and called to remember that we are at war with a force of evil by the name of ISIS. And we are afraid and running wild. In our nation, we are asked and called to remember that there is a divide between races of people and creeds and ethnic groups. In our communities, we are asked and called to look upon the divide between blue/black/white. In our church, we are asked and called to remember that we STILL do not have a called pastor in place, and time is ever fleeting. In our homes, we are asked and called to remember that for some of us we are lonely or sad or unhealthy or divorced or troubled by family members or circumstance. Such doom and gloom; fear and unease.

When I got home from my walk/run, I looked at the Psalm 46 in its entirety. And I read these wonderful words.

Psalm 46:1-11 (NRSV) 1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. Selah 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns. 6 The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. 7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah 8 Come, behold the works of the LORD; see what desolations he has brought on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. 10 “Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” 11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Yes, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, I will not fear. I will not worry. God is in control. I will be still and know God. There is room here for you to join me. Be still. No fear, no worries. Know God.

In Christ,

Veronica

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
July 20, 2016
 

Psalm 67:1-7 (NRSV)

1 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah

2 that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations.

3 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon

earth. Selah

5 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

6 The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us.

7 May God continue to bless us; let all the ends of the earth revere him.
 

Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved the Psalms. They are so poetic and beautiful and have always been

a source of comfort for me. Whether I am distressed or confident, in need of deliverance or in need to

praise God, the Psalms always have something upon which to lean. In the past weeks, there has been much

distress in our country and indeed the world. Today, I needed to hear a Word from the Lord that could be

my offering of praise to God. So, I share Psalm 67 with you that you may also offer praise and ask God’s

blessings to reign and rain upon you.
 

As one commentator puts it:

Whatever the circumstances of our lives, God is God and He is worthy of our praise. He loves us and has

made a covenant with us through the blood of His only Son, whom He gave to die for our sins. May we

learn to praise Him at all times, in trials and triumphs, in burdens and blessings, in gains and losses, in good

and bad!
 

Praise be to our God who reigns forever!

In Christ,

Veronica Cannon

 
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
July 6, 2016
 
I received an e-mail today, Tuesday July 5, from a book publisher. One of the books being promoted is a book by William H. Willimon entitled
Fear of the Other: No Fear In Love
.
 
In this no non-sense book, reliable spiritual guide, Will Willimon, invites readers to consider the gospel command to love (and not merely tolerate) those considered to be Other or outside mainstream Christian culture. Rooted in the faith of Israel and the Christian story and vision, Willimon brings a Wesleyan perspective to bear on what may be the hardest thing for people of faith to do: keeping and loving the “Other” as they are – without any need for them to become like us.
 

Emphasizing biblical teaching to receive Others for who they are and their differences as gifts and mysteries bearing the grace of God, Willimon also offers a strong critique of the privileged who all too often rush to speak of reconciliation and evade the injustice of huge inequalities faced by foreigners and strangers – as well as the antagonism the stranger experiences. He identifies concrete, everyday ways persons are formed in welcoming others without annihilating their differences.

This is of course a book that I am likely to read. But that is not the point of this article from me.

I am intrigued by this thought of “other”. Who is “other” among us, and how do we treat “other” in our context. The more I thought about this, the more I began to realize that WE are “other”. Look, here is the definition of other. 1)used to refer to a person or thing that is different or distinct from one already mentioned or known about. 2) view or treat (a person or group of people) as intrinsically different from and alien to oneself. The second definite is “other” as a verb…interesting.

We often think of “other” as someone of a different race, different socio-economic background, different culture, different accent, different theology, different country, different “whatever” (Thanks Karen Cathey). We look at others who are different from us in whatever way we see them and for some reason, those differences bring about fear in many of us. So often in our context, we look at difference as deficient instead of difference as just that…difference. For this, and a myriad other reasons, we are instilled with fear. But God does not give us a spirit of fear. So where does this come from? And more importantly, how do we begin to overcome it?

When I worked for Bank of America some years ago, the bank recognized that there were some pretty big divides among many people who worked in the bank. They began an initiative where bank employees were strongly encouraged to have lunch with someone “other” than themselves. The results for many were staggering. People actually began to communicate and got to know each other in new and exciting ways and for some, lasting friendships were born.

Is it possible that getting over the FEAR of knowing “other” might be as simple as conversation, spending time together, listening, sharing the common bond of humanity? Is it possible that our differences might actually be sufficient, abounding in abundance? Is it possible that we might learn from others as they learn from us? Is it possible to love others as God loves us? After all we are “other” to someone too.

In Christ,

Veronica Cannon

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
June 22, 2016
 
In her devotional book Jesus Calling, Sarah Young for June 21 wrote:
 
Wait patiently with me while I bless you.  Don’t rush into My Presence with time-consciousness gnawing at your mind.  I dwell in timelessness: I Am, I was and I will always be.  For you, time is a protection; you’re a frail creature who can handle only twenty four hour segments of life.  Time can also be a tyrant, ticking away relentlessly in your mind.  Learn to master time, or it will be your master.  Though you are a time bound creature, seek to meet Me in timelessness.  As you focus on My Presence, the demands of time and tasks will diminish.  I will bless you and keep you, making My Face shine upon you graciously, giving you peace.  Micah 7:7; Revelation 1:8; Numbers 6:24-26 
 
In a day and age amid much going and coming, amid much running around, take some of your busy time and spend it with God.  We fill our lives with doing THINGS, and forget to just BE.  Be present with God, be present friends, be present with family.  Master that time and you will be master over your life with God’s help.  We live this life we have one time.  We can spend it on a hamster’s wheel going nowhere, being with no one; or we can jump off, take time to take in the beauty that is God’s and share it with others.  Take time to observe your surroundings, talk with God and just see what the Lord will show you.  You will find more time, more time in peace and joy!  What a gift that is from our Lord.  Take time with God and God will bless you in His timelessness.  Now is the time.
 
Rev. Veronica Cannon
_____________________________________________________________________________________
May 2, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
Last fall, many of you heard the saga of the palm tree. How my wife Nell, when we moved to Charlotte, announced that since she now lived in the south she wanted a palm tree(!) How no amount of reasoning would convince her that palm trees are not native to the Piedmont. How every winter she would fret about her palm. How the previous winter, with a sleet storm approaching, she sent me on a wild trip to fetch bales of straw in the back seat of my two-door convertible to pack around the palm tree’s roots.
 
Well, the saga is over. This year, we didn’t have any dramatic storms, and the palm seemed to have been healthy through the bouts of cold weather that did come along. But then with the warm days of early March we noticed a few branches turning brown, and then some more, until soon the entire tree was dry and brittle. This weekend we sawed it down and went to the nursery to buy a replacement, not a palm tree this time, but a corkscrew weeping willow – still different and interesting, but more suited to Mecklenburg County. According to Google, this is a tree that is even known for looking good when covered in snow!
 
I suppose it is tempting to see all kinds of parables in this tale. How fragile life is. The folly of not paying attention to prevailing conditions. The wisdom of cutting our losses and moving on. The further wisdom of learning from our mistakes rather than repeating them. But you know, sometimes a tale is just a tale, a story with ups and downs and no ending in sight. It’s just a good story and we will be telling it for years. We will tell it when the willow towers over the back yard, and our children will tell it after us. We could do a lot worse in life than just making stories and sharing them. What stories to you have to share?
 
Blessings, Elliott
____________________________________________________________________________________
April 18, 2018
 
Dear Friends, I’ve been on the move a lot the last couple of weeks, with a piece of bread, a bottle of juice, and two or three church members in tow. For each trip, our destination is the home of one of our “stay-at-home” families, and our purpose is to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. 
 
And celebrate we do, in the fullest meaning of Christ’s sacrament. As we follow his instructions (“every time you do this . . .”) our eyes are open to his presence in our midst. But perhaps more startlingly, our eyes are open to our presence with each other. The church exists by being together. Even if we all believed the Gospel message perfectly, we would not be Christians if we stayed alone and never met one another. The power of the church is our togetherness, for that is where Jesus joins us. 
 
Because of that, it is so important for us to go out and be together with brothers and sisters who can no longer travel and be with us. When we gather we renew the ties that bind, catching up and sharing the news. And soon the four or five or six of us have created a little church family right then and there. From that point it’s a short and easy step to break out the bread and juice, to pray and say the words, and to share the meal. We always remind each other that those at home have never been far from our thoughts or far from our community, so that even when we celebrate without their physical presence, the Spirit makes them part of us anyway. But the opposite is true also – when a little group celebrates in a home, each of you who are part of the church is present in that home too. The Spirit brings you there and we feel your presence. 
 
That’s the power of Jesus. Across time and the intervening miles, we can never lose him, and never lose one another. Jesus is real, and so is the joy.
 
Blessings, Elliott
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April 4, 2018
 
Dear Friends, The busy preparations of recent weeks are behind us – Easter has been celebrated, the quiet of Lent is over, and the joy of Resurrection has been proclaimed. Many, many thanks to all who labored long to bring us the experiences of Holy Week, especially the choir, along with Mark and Sherry, and our Youth Group readers. And don’t forget the behind-the-scenes efforts of the Worship Committee, and all the extra bulletins for Kim!
 
It feels right to breathe a sigh and perhaps take a few weeks of rest. But that is not Jesus’s plan, or the plan of the Gospel. Our church calendar has it high points. But the real meat of Christian life comes in between, when we have the opportunity and obligation to live out the truth that we have proclaimed. As we discovered on Easter, Jesus has already gone ahead of us and expects us to meet him in “Galilee”, ready to show off all the work we have done on the way. And this coming Sunday, with the story of doubting Thomas, the resurrected Jesus has a challenge meant directly for you and me.
 
As Easter recedes behind us, what lies ahead is nothing but the privilege of serving Jesus day in and day out. May we reach out and embrace his Good News every step of the way!
 
Blessings, Elliott
 
____________________________________________________________________________________
March 21, 2018
Dear Friends,
 
We are fast approaching the solemn drama of Holy Week, which is the most sacred time of our entire Christian year. In the ancient church it was Easter, the day of Jesus’s resurrection, that was the center around which all worship and piety revolved. It has been that way ever since, and it is still that way today.
I hope everyone in our church family will be able to join us for many or all of our special services in the coming days. As we retell the stories about Jesus in that final week, we have a chance to share in the full range of emotions that he and his followers experienced – the premature excitement of Palm Sunday; the sense of gathering calamity as the authorities circled their nets; the bewilderment of the disciples at the last supper and in the garden; Jesus’s own apprehension of what was to come; the whirlwind of fabricated charges; the growing anger of the crowds; the agony of crucifixion leading to Jesus’s cry of abandonment.
Of course, at the end there is the glory of resurrection – indescribable joy, slack-jawed wonder, shouts of praise – which becomes all the more real in contrast to the despair of the previous week. Only as we have walked with Jesus up to Friday can we fully celebrate the emotions of Sunday. That is why I pray that each of us (as we are able) will be with the church family from beginning to end. This is what it means to be Christians, and it is the joy of Easter that gives us the inspiration for everything else we do throughout the year as we care for God’s world and cherish God’s word.
For all of us, may God bless us with a holy Easter, and blessings throughout the year.
 
Godspeed, Elliott
 
____________________________________________________________________________________
March 7, 2018
 
Dear Friends, The ties that bind us together as God’s family and the Body of Christ are strong. We share each other’s burdens and rejoice in our blessings. That is why we feel so strongly when we are not together week in and week out. If a familiar face is missing from the pews or we hear about illness and trouble, our instinct is to reach out and bridge the gap, to let our friends know that our worship feels empty when they are not with us.
 
One way we can reach out, besides personal cards, calls and visits, is to literally take the church to our sick and homebound friends. We can go to the places where they live or receive care and celebrate the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper together with them, to include them in the worship and praise of the church even when they cannot be present in the sanctuary. This can be especially meaningful for us as Presbyterians, since the Book of Order directs that we go out together – at least a pastor and an elder, but even better if other members of the church can go as well. That way, those who have to miss church can see that the whole community misses them and wishes them well.
I want to begin scheduling times to bring the communion service to our shut-ins during the coming spring months. I would appreciate your help in a couple of ways. If you would like to schedule a communion visit, for yourself or a special friend, please share that information with me so that we can plan a day and time. And, if you are able to join me on one or more of these visits, please let me know that as well. Elders (whether currently active or inactive on the Session) and all church members are welcome to be a part of this ministry.
I look forward to seeing many of you in the weeks ahead as we focus on this important part of the church’s life that will continue to bind us all in the Body of Christ.  
 
Blessings, Elliott
 
____________________________________________________________________________________
February 21, 2018
 
Dear Friends, The season of Lent snuck in through the back door last Wednesday. Most of us cradle Presbyterians have had to learn about Lent as something “new”. While growing up we didn’t “give up” anything for Lent and we didn’t see much difference even in church during those early spring weeks before Easter. In recent decades we have learned that Lent is not “new” but is very old, going back to the earliest centuries of Christianity. And we have come to appreciate some new traditions during Lent and Holy Week.
 
But all the same, Lent sneaks in through the back door. It makes hardly a peep in a world where politics, social media and violence scream for our attention – not to mention more personal concerns like family, work and health. Lent whispers with the Word of God. The same way that Jesus, who is the Word of God, whispered his message of peace and love and forgiveness. We have to make a conscious decision to attend to Jesus, not just to scooch over and make room for him, but to tune eyes, ears and hearts to him alone. Jesus will not raise his voice or coerce us in any way. But he is endlessly patient. The quietness of Lent can help teach us to attend to Jesus. In the ancient words of the Ash Wednesday service, “We are invited, in the name of Christ, to observe a holy Lent by self-examination and penitence, by prayer and fasting, by works of love, and by reading and meditating on the Word of God.” In others words, to be quiet, quiet enough for the soft voice of Jesus to speak and be heard.
 
Blessings on us all for holy Lent. Elliott
__________________________________________________________________________________
February 7, 2018
 
Dear Friends, This coming Saturday, February 10, the Presbytery of Charlotte will hold its regular quarterly meeting here at Paw Creek. If you have been around the Presbyterian Church for awhile, I am sure you have seen many of these Presbytery meetings. You probably know that the Presbytery is made up of all the churches and ministers in a specific geographic area – in our case that is over 100 churches in Mecklenburg County and six other counties to our east. Historically Presbyterians didn’t want to have just a few people making all the decisions, so everything important must be decided by the whole Presbytery. Voting members of the meeting are elders (commissioned to represent their churches) and ministers. At the Presbytery meeting we approve new ministers, supervise seminary students, set up and supervise mission projects, elect Presbytery officers, and approve a budget for each year, among many other things. For every meeting, our Session here at Paw Creek elects two elders to be commissioners and attend the meeting. On February 10 we have commissioned Vickie Joy and Victoria Krebs. This week’s meeting will be special and important in several ways. First, we will be co-hosts of the meeting with our sisters and brothers from Woodland Presbyterian Church, recognizing that this is the beginning of the 150th anniversary year for their church. Second, the worship service will focus on celebrating a group of eleven churches that are all celebrating 150th anniversaries between 2016 and 2020. These churches were all founded by newly freed slaves in the years immediately after the end of the Civil War. Because of these churches and their example, even today Charlotte Presbytery has more African-American members than any other Presbytery in the country. And then finally, at this meeting we will elect a new General Presbyter to be the leader and head of the Presbytery, setting our direction and tone for years to come. It is an honor for our church to be a part of these significant events. Thanks to everyone who has already volunteered to help on Presbytery day. If you want to help, or just stop by and sit in on the meeting to learn how we do things, please join us on Saturday. The meeting begins at 9:30; volunteers can sign up with Amy McGee or Beth Joy. Blessings, Elliott
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January 24, 2018
 
Dear Friends, Many thanks to everyone who took part in the candlelight vigil in Coulwood last Sunday evening.  As most of you know, we were there to remember the lives of a mother and her two young children who had died the previous week under tragic circumstances. Although the family did not have direct ties to our church, they were our neighbors, and we came out in force to show our love and respect for their family and friends. This happened spontaneously through word of mouth (and social media) and a great ministry took place that evening.
 
It is tempting to try to draw some lessons from this experience, but I would caution that we not try too hard to analyze it. When the lawyer asked Jesus “who is my neighbor?”, Jesus gently but firmly taught him what a horrible question that is. If we have to ask, then we have already failed the test. In the same way, it’s best not to think too hard about the prayer vigil. There were neighbors who needed love and we tried to give it in a quiet, bumbling way. Our efforts were small, but God multiplied them greatly.
 
The most important word for would-be neighbors to remember is “yes”. After that, everything else becomes obvious.
Blessings, Elliott
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January 10, 2018
 
Dear Friends, The holidays are behind us and winter weather will still be around for a while. But there are still many great things going on here at Paw Creek.
 
This coming Sunday, January 14, we will have a special service after worship to dedicate the new Gary Bryant Memorial Prayer Garden at the front entrance to the sanctuary. This is such a wonderful project in so many ways. The engraved bricks offer a permanent record of people and groups that have been important in our lives and the life of our church. The garden itself provides a beautiful welcoming vista to those arriving for worship in every season. And of course the donations to the project have helped us fund the new children’s playground.
 
But perhaps more than anything else, the garden gives Paw Creek a chance to make a permanent monument to the life and ministry of Gary Bryant. Gary’s years of service at this church will always stand out as a milestone period in the history of the congregation, a time of love and service that shaped so many lives for the better. Gary was truly a dedicated servant of the Lord. Although I never had the privilege of knowing him, I follow in his footsteps and am grateful for his witness every day.
Please be sure to join us on Sunday as we give thanks for Gary, surround his family with love, and rejoice together in all that God has done and continues to do in this place.
Blessings, Elliott
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December 20, 2017
 
Dear Friends, I heard the comment from many of you this past weekend that 2017 has been a year that seems to have been marked by loss for our church family. For many of you, it has been your own dear loved ones whose lives we have remembered with appreciation, and whose passing we have marked with sadness. We can remind ourselves of Paul’s words: “death has been swallowed up in victory,” but even the Gospel rings hollow in the emptiness that we feel. 
 
For those who mourn, this Christmas season can seem to be the final insult that a cruel year has to offer; an expectation to be “merry” no matter the cost. But of course there is nothing “merry” about the Christmas stories. If we can read from Matthew and Luke with unclouded eyes, what we see instead is so many other emotions. The anxiety of Mary and Joseph as they travel long distances towards the birth of a child whose future is unclear. The befuddlement of the shepherds over the meaning of the message they are given. The determination of the Magi to make their trip, no matter the cost, only to be met on arrival by the sheer evil they see on the face of King Herod. For them, there is are no reasons to be jolly, and yet as the stories end, each one is gripped by the awe of God’s glory that overpowers their fear and confusion. 
 
The truth that runs through these stories has nothing to do with a jollity that we conjure up by the force of our own determination. Rather, that truth that runs through these stories points to God, for he is the one who transforms fear into courage, and confusion into strength. 
 
If this has been a year of mourning for you, or if past losses seem to return in this season, then I urge you to embrace the story of Christmas. The God who becomes flesh with us does so for the very purpose of transformation. That is his plan for our sorrow, and surely it will come to pass.
Bless you throughout these days, Elliott
 
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December 6, 2017
Dear Friends, Next time you find yourself near the intersection of Providence and Queens Roads, keep an eye out for a shiny statue of a winsome little man with one arm in the air and a violin case under the other. It’s a tribute to the memory of a true neighborhood eccentric, a man named Hugh McMannaway. That’s near my childhood home, and I met Hugh many times. An only child, he lived alone in the large, rambling house left him by his parents, a prosperous doctor and his wife. Hugh was known for standing at that very intersection to direct traffic (whether it needed directing or not), using his arms, his loud voice, and his violin case as a baton – hence the statue. When we kids would meet him, he would often ask one of us to state his or her name, and then make up a poem using the name, right on the spot.
 
One summer day when we ran into Hugh near his house, about block from the intersection, he pointed to the front window. In it there burned a single red light bulb. He told us that the light bulb was his Christmas decoration, and explained his theory that any decorations that were put up for Christmas needed to remain in place for the entire year. At the time, it seemed that whatever else you might want to say about Hugh, his theory of Christmas was surely incorrect. I’ve thought about it many times, and after awhile began to figure out what was wrong.
 
If Christmas is symbolically present throughout the year, then the miracle of incarnation becomes a part of the background noise – one of the facts that is always present and never needs to be thought about. But of course that is exactly what the miracle of the incarnation is not! Everything else is the background noise and the arrival of the Christ child is the one extraordinary fact that doesn’t fit, the fact that redefines everything else. It is good to put the decorations up and take them away, to make them gaudy and loud and bright – not just something that is so small and dim that having it around all year is no inconvenience at all. It’s all symbolic, but symbols are important. In this case, the point of incarnation is to shake up and inconvenience the world. Oddly enough, that is exactly what Hugh McMannaway did. His theology of decorating was wanting, but his exuberance of life was real. It was to such as him that Jesus came first, the fools, the cripples and the outcast. Maybe Hugh knew something the rest of us missed.  Maybe Jesus did too.
Blessings, Elliott
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November 22, 2017
 
Dear Friends, If you were able to join us for the Installation service earlier this month, I’m sure you cannot forget our guests from Smallwood Presbyterian Church. The choir sang with gospel fervor, Pastor Darryl Gaston kept posing people for group photos, and many other friends were in attendance. As I said that day, Smallwood is the “home church” in our neighborhood that allowed Nell and me to be part of the family when I was an itinerant interim pastor, and we know that they will always welcome us with open arms. As part of the Smallwood family, we have come to cherish one of their best annual traditions. On Thanksgiving Day they gather early in the morning to begin laying out the biggest meal you can imagine – turkey AND ham, beau coups of vegetables, and more pies than you can count. Then around 11:00 they open the doors and people start streaming in. Church members, ertainly, and friends of the congregation who come every year. But also neighbors who otherwise would not have a Thanksgiving dinner to go to. They bring their families, and some go home and send more folks back. Our friend Joe is the master chef, and his feast is never-to-be-forgotten. Since Joe and the ladies have the food under control, my job the last couple of years has been to stand out on the corner in front of the church, calling out to everyone who comes along West Trade Street – by foot, car, bike or anything else. “Free Thanksgiving meal! Everyone welcome!”  People stop, do a double take, then begin to smile – and most of them come in to serve a plate. As I stood there the first year, I noticed a couple of guys coming up the hill from the little store a few blocks away. They both carried paper bags with what had to be beer bottles sticking out of the top. I hesitated for a second, and turned to one of the elders standing near by. “Is it ok to invite them?” I whispered. She answered “Of course! That’s what we’re here for.” Well, that just made my day. What better example of the spirit of Thanksgiving can you get? Thanking God by serving his children, whoever they are. This is the day when everyone deserves turkey and all the fixings. Everyone. Thanks be to God!
Thanksgiving blessings, Elliott
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November 8 ,2017
 
Dear Friends, Believe it or not, it is already November! And that means the next eight weeks are going to be BUSY. As I write this, Thanksgiving is only two weeks away, and of course the Advent and Christmas seasons are not far behind. During this time of year, it can seem that Sunday worship is just a time to come to church and find another special cause or event. But of course what is most important in worship is that we focus on God and Christ. Our special events, even at holiday time, should be seen through the eyes of the Gospel. And we should ask ourselves – how is God glorified in the things we do this day? I want to pledge to you that I, along with the choir, music staff, and worship committee, are working hard to be sure that the plans we make for the coming weeks will live up to the standards of the Gospel. In return, I hope that you will make it a point to be part of our worship each week. We look forward to seeing you!
 
Our schedule for the next few weeks includes: Veterans’ Recognition – Sunday, November 12 Stewardship and Thanksgiving – Sunday, November 19 Thanksgiving Day – Thursday, November 23 at 8:00 am Christ the King Sunday – Sunday, November 26.
 
Blessings, Elliott
 
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October 25, 2017
Dear Friends, Just two weeks ago, we put out an invitation to Adult weekday Bible Study. One week later, the response was fantastic. We had a class of 8 on Wednesday at 10:00 am, and a class of 13 on Thursday at 5:30. I am THRILLED and I can’t wait to see what happens this week! Remembering that Jesus challenged us to love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind, we must always be asking ourselves how well we are living up to his challenge. Each part (heart, soul and mind) is difficult yet vital. But to love God with our minds is especially important to those of us in the historic Presbyterian tradition. We are the one who have kept the study of scripture alive from generation to generation. We must never give up. At our Bible Studies, the format is simple. We focus on the scripture reading that will be sermon text for the following Sunday. By pooling our knowledge and sharing our personal experiences, we come closer to understanding the message that God wants us to hear, in both the Old and New Testaments. And we are able to come to worship each Sunday better prepared to receive what scripture has to offer. I hope that many more of our congregation will want to come join us in study. We need you – and you need God’s word! A list of upcoming readings will be published in the newsletter, or you can ask me for a list. See you in the parlor, Elliott
 
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October 11, 2017
 
 
Dear Paw Creek,   I have been looking forward to meeting you for a long time! And now that time is here. It will be exciting for me to begin to learn your names and faces, and especially your stories. I appreciate your enthusiasm, the basket of goodies, the visits I have already had this week, and the work of the Property Committee as they paint and prepare the study for me to move in.   During these first few weeks, I will also appreciate your help in a number of ways. Most importantly, tell me what I need to know. Is there someone in the church family who needs a special visit? Do you have a cherished memory of the church that you want to share with me? Is there a church program or activity that needs some attention? I need to know all those things, so please don’t be shy. Beyond that, please help me get to know you: if you suggest a time for me to stop by, or schedule a visit over coffee or lunch, that’s the best way to help me reach the most people quickly as I can. Or simply stop by the church..  I plan to be in the office or out among the church family every day except Tuesday.  Any time I’m there, the door will be open, so please come on by.   Our first time to worship together will be this Sunday, October 15. I’m looking forward to it, and we will have some light refreshments on the porch so that we can stay and visit. It’s a great time for everyone to be together in worship and fellowship. But I want to put out a special invitation to those who may not have been in church so much in recent years. If you are still on the list to receive this newsletter, then we need you at Paw Creek (AND you need your church family!) I hope our new beginning this week will be a good time for you to come and have a look. We are starting a new and exciting chapter in our service to the Lord. Come join us!   Blessings, Elliott   deh46@columbia.edu 704-502-2143  
 
 
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September 13, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family, Well, these are exciting times for both of us. You have called your next pastor in Elliott Hipp, who I have found to be very kind and thoughtful and will be good for the church. I have also been asked to serve as Transitional pastor in this next phase of ministry for Avondale Presbyterian Church. I am excited to begin my ministry with them and from all indications, they are excited too. I will miss you, but you will be in great hands. I will miss you, but God has planned out paths for both us to follow. I will be with you for just a while longer. My final day at Paw Creek will be October 8, 2017. Elliott will be on board October 9, 2017. I will begin at Avondale October 16, 2017. God is great and greatly to be praised! God is blessing all around. I will remember you fondly and pray your strength in the Lord as God moves mightily in your lives. May our final weeks together be filled with joy and peace!
 
In Christ, Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
 
 
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August 30, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Church Family,
We celebrate the movement of the Holy Spirit in this church. You have voted in your next minister, The Reverend Elliott Hipp. This is a time of great joy for our church. This has been a long journey, I know. But God has been with us every step of the way, guiding our every footstep throughout this process. And now we are ready to welcome your next pastor. You have been faithful and you have remained steadfast. You stood together and remained united in your efforts to find Rev. Elliott and he comes with many gifts and talents and a love for God’s people that will soon find its way into your hearts. My prayer is that you will have a long and lasting relationship with him that bears much fruit. If all goes well and as planned, he should be in place sometime around mid October. Begin praying for him now; his transition, his goodbyes to the church he currently pastors, his family, his strength and well-being. Pray for Paw Creek as you continue your readiness to receive him. Pray for unity in the body, the willingness to serve, an uplifted spirit, and pray for encouragement to step out on faith. Trust and believe that Paw Creek is truly in God’s hands and know you are blessed. I am excited with you. Your partnership with Rev. Elliott is bound to be a good one…a great one. God brought you together. All praise, honor and glory to God for what God has done is doing and will continue to do in you.
With Jesus joy, Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
 
 
 
 
 
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August 16, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Church Family,
 
What an exciting time in the life of our church! By now, most of you, if not all of you are aware that on the 27th of August, there is a congregational meeting for the stated purpose of calling your next pastor. This has been the awaited time and it is now upon us. I want to encourage you to come to the meeting so that you can be introduced to your next pastor and have the opportunity to vote on his/her coming. No, he or she will not be present that Sunday, but there will be a video or a flyer containing information about him/her. You will have the opportunity to ask questions and then VOTE!
 
I, for one am very excited. This is the moment for which we have all been waiting. God is great and greatly to be praised! So, we give God glory for the things God has done, is doing, and will continue to do through you, the members of Paw Creek Presbyterian Church.
 
This is a time of celebration, expectation and soon…a big WELCOME!
 
Even as we wait for the month’s end to approach, remember to keep the Pastor Nominating Committee in your prayers and thank them for the hard work they have accomplished. They have done wondrous work for the Lord and for you!
 
In Christ, Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
 
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August 2, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church family,
 
This past week we bid farewell to a man beloved by God and by us. The Reverend Gary Lee Bryant. He was a man of God who loved his family, his friends and his church. In tribute to a life well lived in service to God for forty four years, of which thirty four were spent at Paw Creek, I want to honor Gary’s name through Scripture.
 
God’s grace is sufficient Acknowledge Jesus before men and Jesus will acknowledge you before His Father Righteousness guards the man of integrity Your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams
 
Blessed is the man who finds wisdom Run in such a way as to get the prize You, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High Accept the word planted in you, which can save you Nothing is too hard for you Taste and see that the Lord is good
 
Isaiah 40:31 (NRSV) 31 but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
 
Rest well friend. You have run the race of the Lord and you have finished it. All praise be to God.
 
In Christ, Veronica Cannon
 
 
 
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July 19, 2017
 
 
Dear Paw Creek Church Family,
Summer is now well into full swing. Many of you have been on vacation. Others of you can’t wait to get on your way. Still others of you may have no desire to travel this summer. Whatever your circumstance, know that Paw Creek Presbyterian Church is still here, still praying for you, still worshiping with you and still seeking, still serving, still praising and still loving Christ, our neighbors, our community and you. As you take your leave this summer and forget about the worries of home, job, and stress, as you remember to get your much needed rest, please remember your church in its need of your support financially. We still have ministries to support, lights to keep on, and people to help. Please consider giving to Paw Creek, even in your absence. The work of the church is never done and we need your continued support. Make the most of what is giving to you and enjoy your summer!
In Christ, Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
 
 
 
 
 
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July 5, 2017
 
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family,
A friend was in front of me as we were walking out of the church one Sunday. The preacher was shaking hands as usual. When my friend reached him, he grabbed my friend by the arm and pulled him aside. The pastor said, “You need to join the Army of the Lord.” The friend replied, “I’m already in the Army of the Lord Pastor.” The pastor said, “How come I don’t see you except at Christmas and Easter?” He whispered back, “I’m in the secret service.” 
This week we celebrate the 4th of July, Independence Day. It is a when America celebrates its independence from Britain. There was an army during the American Revolution that fought long and hard for freedom. But there is an army that exists that is still fighting for freedom, freedom from sin, freedom from evil, freedom for all people to live eternally for God…that’s right the Army of the Lord. If you have not joined this army, it is never too late to do so. Come on board, you are welcomed.
Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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June 21, 2017
 
Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NRSV) 11 For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 12 Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13 When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart.
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family,
 
Jeremiah the prophet delivered a message to the people of Israel when they were exiled into Babylon.  Because of their sinfulness the Lord told them they were to be subjugated under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar and they would be so for seventy years. It was the beginning of the rule Babylon would have over those who were exiled. Things looked really bleak for them. They were subjected to mistreatment, pagan gods, a foreign land, and new rule. But God loved the Israelites even though they were sinful and God prophesied to them through Jeremiah.  Yes, the people were to endure tough times ahead. Seventy years of separation from their homes, friends, family, familiar surroundings. Yes, they would have to live out their punishment, but God promised them that when the time was over, and if the people sought Him out with all of their hearts, open and true, God would bring them back. God had a plan for them, but they had to have a change of heart and a change of behavior, and God would hear them.  This is good news for us. When we find ourselves in the bleakest moment, days, weeks or even years in our lives, if we have led sinful lives or done sinful things, God is never far from us. All God asks is for us to repent, turn to Him, ask forgiveness truly, and God will answer us and deliver us from all that holds us captive. Change your heart and change your character. Then seek God’s favor and God will deliver you, free you up from all unrighteousness. God has a plan for you! Trust and believe.
 
Love in Christ, Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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June 7, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Church Family, Pentecost is upon us. We celebrate and commemorate the Jewish feast wherein the disciples of Christ received the Holy Spirit. It is time of great joy. Jesus was now seated at the right hand of God and now the promised Holy Spirit , the third person of the Trinity would reign in the hearts and minds of human-kind. We who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior, are recipients of the power and with joy and boldness are called forth to do great works. May the spirit of the season bring you into new and exciting spaces, open you up to bright futures in Christ and fill you anew with joy and great love.
In Christ,
Rev. Veronica Cannon
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May 24, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family, Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. This past week has been a doozy. In the world, a bomb exploded in Manchester England at the end of a concert and around twenty teenagers were killed and many more injured. In our country, there is much discussion on the interference of another country’s engagement in our election and the possible collusion of some of our government officials being involved with them. There is way too much partisan political unrest. There is much violence happening in our state, in our city. There is unrest in our citizenry because of racism and sexism. We cannot turn on the television without being confronted by disturbing or sad news. In our church, we have had loved ones hospitalized or still recovering at home. Even I personally feel despair at times deep within. I wonder will there be no end to this needless noise of pain and discontent. Our people, O God are suffering. Is there joy anywhere? Sometimes it feels like there is none. That is until I am reminded of Jesus. How he suffered, not just physically on the cross at the end of His earthly life, but the suffering he had because of us. God’s creation. How we squander the gifts of God and use them for evil or to hurt others. God incarnate witnessed the absolute worst in us. How He must have despaired seeing us wasting our potential on bickering and backstabbing and fighting and positioning ourselves against one another. That is not what God intends for us. God intends joy for us. But where do we find it? Begin by looking in the playroom of your souls.
 
Rev. Tony Evans tells this story: Someone came up with a great concept—putting playrooms in doctors’ offices. Many parents bring their kids to the doctor because they are sick and they need the doctor to see them. The playrooms are designed to distract the children from the pain of their problem until their problem gets fixed. The playroom gives them joy in a bad situation. That’s the way God works. Even though things may not be going the way we want them to be on the outside, God has designed a “playroom” in our soul. In the midst of our circumstances, His joy can distract us from our pain or discomfort, until He makes provision for our change or healing.
 
Isn’t that good news? Look inward, to your soul’s playground. Commune with God for a time. Let your cares melt away for a time in God’s playroom. Find your joy, find your peace. And may God bless you as you serve in His name.
 
I live for the cross,
Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
 
 
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May 10, 2017
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family, Greetings to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I am taking a week of vacation this week.  I am not doing anything special, not going anywhere in particular.  I am really going to take this week to rest some.  As I reflect upon this week and upon the message I wish to share with you, it revolves around the theme and importance of rest.  One of the Ten Commandments speaks of keeping Sabbath.  This is the type of rest I plan to have this week.  A Sabbath week.  It is not a time to sit and do nothing, to lay in bed or sit and watch TV.  No, it is a time of communing with God, being with family and friends and doing what one enjoys.  It is a time of singing and dancing, a time of praying, a time of listening and for me, discerning.  It is as active rest.  I encourage all of you to find Sabbath moments, to enjoy family and friends and time with God.  To break bread together and sing together and to find those moments alone to reflect and discern God’s leading. May God walk with you and carry you when needed.  May you find joy and much laughter for your souls.  May you seek and find the peace that God provides and enjoy one another.  May you find rest in your weariness.  May the love of God surround you. I live for the cross, Rev. Veronica E. Cannon

 
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April 26, 2017
 
Psalm 84:1-12 (NRSV) 1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! 2 My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. 3 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. 4 Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise. Selah 5 Happy are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. 6 As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength; the God of gods will be seen in Zion. 8 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah 9 Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed. 10 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live in the tents of wickedness. 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor. No good thing does the LORD withhold from those who walk uprightly. 12 O LORD of hosts, happy is everyone who trusts in you.
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church family, I love Psalms. They are prayers that always bring comfort or joy or peace. This Psalm is one that brings joy. It gives to God what is due: praise and honor. In God’s presence is where we find joy. In God we gain strength. In God, the upright, the faithful find favor and honor. The Lord gives good things (not material things) to those who trust in God. God is great and greatly to be praised. May you find comfort in this Psalm, joy in your heart and peace in your faithfulness to the Creator. Amen and Amen.
 
Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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April 12, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church,
I read the following poem on a friend’s Facebook page this past week: “later that night i held an atlas in my lap ran my fingers across the whole world and whispered where does it hurt? it answered everywhere everywhere everywhere.” I could not help thinking how appropriate this poem by Warsan Shire is for Holy Week. We live in a world that is hurting and broken. War is breaking in many parts of the universe. Men are dying, children are starving, women are being abused, parents are unable to support families, jobs are being lost, houses are being foreclosed, our enemies are gaining strength, fear is at an all-time high. If I could borrow from her poem and add to it, this is what my spirit hears: God whispers, “where does it hurt?” Creation cries, “Everywhere, everywhere, everywhere.” Then God says “Remember” Creation cries “Remember what?” God says “Not what but who. Remember my Son, Jesus the Christ.” Creation says, “What has he done?” God says “He died to save.” Creation shouts, “Who did he save?” God cries, “Everyone, everyone, everyone.” This week we remember Jesus Christ and His saving grace. By His stripes we are healed. By His blood we are redeemed. By His power over sin and death, we are made free. By His sacrifice, we have life eternal. Praise be to God, Son and Holy Spirit.
 
I live for the cross, Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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March 29, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church,
 
I was reading the Lectionary for today, and one of the readings came from the Old Testament book of Ezekiel. It was the story where an angel of the Lord brought Ezekiel to the Temple of God and showed him a trickle of water that flowed from the temple east toward the Arabah Sea. The angel took Ezekiel on a walk along the bank of the river to the Arabah. As they walked the water went from ankle deep to waist high depth to the point where Ezekiel would have to swim to cross. The angel pulled his attention to all of the growth and life that teemed all around them. Water of life flowed from the temple and became a great well spring of life. It is all due to the source of the water; God. God is the source of our lives. From our God source flows the river of life that runs through each of us. When we are open, receptive to the source of this water, we too teem with life and growth abounds, surrounding us with we need to survive and thrive. And when we walk along the banks of life, we will admire the new landscape that God carves out and gives to us for our enjoyment. All praise be to God for God’s life giving source of water and power. Amen.
 
I live for the cross,
 
Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
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March 15, 2017

 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family,

  Blessing.  It is a word that means happy or helped by God.  It could also mean approval or that which is said over food.  I have often used this word of blessing myself, usually as it pertains to being helped by God or even as that which is said over food before eating.   I have also understood a blessing to be something you never keep to yourself, but that you share with others around you and beyond you.  If God has helped me, that it is important for me to use that help to help others.    Interestingly enough, I recently read an article on line from a man who teaches leadership skills to corporations and make a decent living doing so.  The article is entitled “The One Thing Christians Should Stop Saying: Let’s retire this phrase immediately, and say what we really mean to say instead.”  He is referring to the use of the word blessing in relationship to material belongings.  He said people should not say “I just bought a house, I am blessed.  I just got a new car, I am blessed.”  We should rather say “I am grateful.”  He believes that when people say I am blessed because I have this job or some material thing, we reduce God to heavenly fairy who grants our every wish.  It is also plain wrong.  God does not prosper people because they have done some great or wonderful thing.  That would be prosperity theology: God blesses you because of something you have done and if others would just do likewise they would receive these blessings.   I also do not believe in prosperity theology.  God does not bless us more because we give to the church or we treat others with kindness or sow seed into a particular ministry.  But I do believe that God blesses us to be blessings to others.  God helps us to help others.  So, God may bless us with a house or a car or a job.  But we are to use them to glorify God and help someone else.  Use your car to take someone to the doctor, or shopping for groceries.  Use your house to hold Bible studies or mission stations.  Use the income from your job to help those less fortunate or use your job to help others get work.  Material blessings should not be used for personal consumption or personal good alone.  Be a blessing to someone else.    Use the blessing of your body to help others who may need you.  Your eyes to help a blind person get around, your hands to reach out to someone who needs comfort, your feet to take you to places to carry out ministry, your ears to listen to the concerns of your fellow people.  But if you really want to know who Jesus considers the blessed among us, read Matthew 5: 3-12.   Jesus, in Matthew 5, also gives us some instruction on who the blessed are.  God helps, blesses us, when we are poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and those who are persecuted.  In this life we may be torn asunder, but we will receive the blessings of God in the life everlasting.  Our reward will come, so in the meantime just rejoice and be glad.   Matthew 5:3-12 (MSG) 3  “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. 4  “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. 5  “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. 6  “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat. 7  “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘careful,’ you find yourselves cared for. 8  “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. 9  “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. 10  “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. 11  “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. 12  You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.   Daily we receive blessings from God.  Accept them and use them to God’s glory.   I live for the cross! Rev. Veronica E. Cannon  

 
 
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February 15, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church, Isaiah 43:18-19 (NRSV) 18 Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. 19 I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Being held captive is never a good thing. Being unable to leave a situation or a place can be devastating. We think of captivity as being imprisoned behind bars or captivity as being captured by an enemy of war and held in a prison camp. In the passage of Scripture from Isaiah, the chil-dren of Israel had been taken captive by the Babylonians, and God, through the prophet Isaiah, told the people to hold on. God was about to do a new thing. God was going to move and re-deem the people from captivity and free them to go out. The people had suffered long enough due to their sin and God was going to deliver on God’s promise to them. It is no different with us today. We may not be under the heavy hand of oppression by another nation, but many of us held captive. Some of us are held captive in unproductive jobs, in un-loving relationships or marriages, in life circumstances, in bad health, in our minds, to drugs or alcohol. To you, God is saying, hold on. God is about to do a new thing. God is going to free you from whatever holds you captive. Only turn to God. Stop turning to others who have no power to free you; moving to stop turning to idols that do nothing. Give your attention to God. God is doing a new thing. Do you not perceive it? God is leading us into a bright and joyous future. God is opening pathways of communication and pathways of hope and pathways of ser-vice. Do you not perceive it? The river of God’s life flowing stream is running through the veins of our church. Through God’s life we are given life. Do you not perceive it? In our church, the children are singing and getting active. The youth are growing deeper in faith and remain active in the community. The Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) is working hard in ward your next called pastor, the mission committee is seeking and providing more op-portunities for you to serve, the Fellowship committee is gearing up for opportunities for you to spend time together, the Congregational Care Committee is developing more precise ways to engage with and communicate with you. The session and staff will be having a retreat, focused upon church growth. The music program in our church continues to provide uplifting and meaningful music. God is breathing new life in Paw Creek, the church on the hill, a light to the community, a spiritual haven for lost souls. God is moving in your life, in your homes, and in your church. God never stopped moving. Do you not perceive it? No more captivity. You are being freed indeed. I live for the cross! Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
 
 
 
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February 1, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church, Over the past few weeks, our country and indeed the world has undergone and or been affected by a great deal of change. Some of us are jubilant over the changes that have come upon us, and others of us are absolutely afraid. This is not the time to gloat nor is it the time to fear. Listen, we are all brothers and sisters, creat-ed by God. We are one in the same, part of the human family, yet we are different based on where we live, how we are raised, what we believe or don’t believe and the list goes on. It is easy to fear what we do not understand or refuse to try to understand. This has caused a great ripple in the world. But fear is not of God. Scripture offers many examples and states many times to FEAR NOT. Fear is an instrument of the evil one and Satan will use fear to turn brother against brother and sister against sister. We fear what we do not understand or what we do not agree with. But we cannot let fear rule our lives. From Isaiah 35:4 (NRSV) “4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.” From the Gospel of John, Jesus says “27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” From Joshua 1:9 (NRSV) “9 I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” And from Psalm 23:4 (NRSV) “4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me.” There are many other Scriptures that speak to the notion of having no fear. We should all heed these words. Fear causes people to turn on other people, to turn their backs on people and to hate people. You can look at our political climate and see fear coming out of this administration, fear coming out of our country, fear coming out of the people protesting in the streets and it is tearing us apart. Families are divided over fear, friendships are stressed over fear, actions are taken out of fear. But our God whom we serve says FEAR NOT. For I AM with you. God is with us. Rejoice if you feel the desire to rejoice, it is your choice. Fight for what you think is right, that is also your choice, but do not fear. God is with us. So, no matter what, NO MATTER WHAT, the circum-stance, your feelings or misgivings or jubilance, GOD IS WITH US. Believe that! God will be the One who rights the wrongs, who makes the everlasting change that really counts. So trust that if nothing else. Peace be with you all! I live for the cross! Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
 
 
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January 18, 2017
 
In times of uncertainty, anxiety builds and people can become dismayed. This can be exasperated even more when we take our eyes off of God and spend more time focused on problems and issues. We see this in our world, where war rages and families are torn asunder because of it. We see this in our nation, where the political climate is distressed and people are uncertain about the future. We at Paw Creek see it here as the search for your next pastor is underway.
We live in uncertain times and many are filled with apprehension. But thanks be to God, because the One who created the world and formed it and gave us life, God has never forgotten us. God is still in control calls us to a sense of calm and reassurance.
From the Book of Isaiah 51:3 (NRSV) Scripture reads: 3 For the LORD will comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places, and will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song. The children of Israel were in captivity. They were full of despair, uncertain about the future. The Jews had withstood great hardship and crushing suffering. But through the prophet Isaiah, God sent them a message of hope. God told them to remain steadfast in their faith and to continue to follow. God wanted them to know that their captivity would be turned to freedom, that their suffering would end and they would be comforted.
Whatever stress, anxiety you are experience today, listen to the Lord and follow God’s guidance. Whatever holds you captive, be it circumstance or sin or life lessons, turn it over to God and God will be your comfort during times of distress, your anchor in the storm. Joy and gladness will be found in you and thanksgiving in your voice as you sing your song. Thanks be to God. And may it be so.
Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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January 4, 2017
Dear Paw Creek, Here’s to you and wishing you the happiest in this new year! Wow, it is 2017 and what an exciting year this will be. On January 11, 2017 we will begin Bible study again. Please come. It is a time to learn more about Christ and understand who God is an what God plans for those who follow and love Him. The youth and children have excited things planned for the Wednesday evening programming to teach them the Bible and to learn more of what it means to be a Christian, how to serve the people of God and how to do it with joy. Please know that the youth pro-gram and the children program are growing and getting stronger. If you have an opportunity to come out and volunteer your services to God to these ministries, you can always contact Evie Landrau the youth director and Victoria Krebs, the children’s director. There are a few changes this year as well. We have added to the session a new committee, the Fellowship committee. It will be chaired by Beth Joy and you will hear more about it and the work her committee will do in the coming weeks. You will also have ample opportunity to step up and help out as well, both individually and collectively. Opportunities abound to use your God given talents throughout the church. If you love Christian Education, consider becoming part of the Christian Ed committee. If you love planning for worship, consider your gifts and join the Worship Committee. If you love dealing with finance, consider joining the finance committee. If you have a passion for mission ( the heart of the church) then please join up with the Mission Committee. There are so many opportunities for YOU to live into the talents that God has given you. Your church needs you and God is calling you as you are part of this body to step up and step into God’s Work here at Paw Creek. Paw Creek Presbyterian Church is the church you love, the church you want to see grow and prosper. Well, YOU are Paw Creek and its sustainability lies within each and everyone of you. So, as you make your New Year Resolutions, resolve to support your church, Paw Creek, with time, your talent, and your money. Your church needs you to survive and prosper. 2 Chronicles 7:14-15 (NRSV) 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. Let us pray that God will open God’s eyes and ears and be attentive to our prayers. Happy New Year. This promises to be a good one. Rev. Veronica Cannon
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December 21, 2016
 
Merry Christmas to you. The birth of Christ is highly celebrated throughout the Christian community at this time of year. It should be. The birth of Christ, God becoming flesh is a really big deal. We have all heard the Christmas story. Mary and Joseph travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem in order to be counted in the consensus. When they arrive there is no room in the inn. Mary goes into labor and the only place to give birth is in a stable with smelly animals and the only clothing, swaddling or binding cloths. The bed for our Savior, a trough. But I want us to appreciate how special and difficult this was for the mother of the Christ child. Again, you know the story, but do you appreciate how special this story really is? In the year of our Lord 1990, I traveled from Maryland to Los Angeles, California with my husband and two young sons to attend my youngest sister’s wedding. We traveled by air. I had a comfortable seat, food services, a bathroom, if needed and the ability to lay back and rest if I desired. When we arrived, we were picked up in a car and taken to my oldest sisters house where other family had also gathered. We were going to be there for only a few days. I was Vera’s ma-tron of honor. Did I mention I was also pregnant? Yep…nearly eight months. My doctor would not let me stay for even a week because this was my third child, and they had a tendency to come early by about a week and they came quickly. He did not want me to be away from home for too long. But we traveled there and back safely and my daughter Rosalynn was born six weeks later. So why did I tell you that story? To really appreciate what Mary endured to give birth to Jesus.
From Nazareth to Bethlehem is about 70 miles. Over mountainous terrain you could add another twenty miles. Mary traveled by donkey back, not an airline. She was nine months pregnant with her first child. Her husband led the donkey by foot over some pretty rough and ragged terrain. That journey took about a week to make. Think about the toll this had on Mary. With constant bathroom breaks and needs to rest, to get off that donkey to walk a bit only to climb back upon its back to continue the journey. She is ready to give birth at any time and then they finally arrive in Bethlehem. I am certain she looked forward to a bed to rest upon, an opportunity to have a hot meal perhaps, to be away from that animal. Then they find there are no rooms available and Mary goes into labor. The only place available? A stable? More animals? No comfortable bed? Exactly. A very tired Mary and Joseph arrive to register for the consensus, and the only place to rest was a stable among cows and lambs and sheep and maybe a camel or two. And it is there that she lays on straw and gives birth to a King, the Savior of the world, the Messiah, anointed by God to be our salvation. Christ was born after a long strenuous journey, under very humble conditions, and became the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. What a gift to Mary. What a gift to us all. If never there was a reason to celebrate, this one was and is. What a metaphor for life right? We may have a tough journey, and the road to salvation may not always be smooth flying, but the gift of salvation is well worth it all.
Merry Christmas to you all. Rev. Veronica Cannon
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December 7, 2016
 
Merry Christmas! This is a greeting that you will hear and deliver to many people you meet both stranger and friend alike. And for most people, it is a merry time of year when we remember the Christ Child’s birth. There will be worship services and sing-a-longs. There will be dinner parties and the joy of breaking bread together. There will be baking and shopping and visiting with fam-ily and friends far and near. There will be traveling and staying put. All sorts of wonderment will accompany this most wonderful time of the year. I say rejoice and be glad in it. Remember those also for whom this time of year is most difficult, who do not get enjoyment or pleasure from this season. Remember those for whom this season is wrought with stress and worry and concern. Remember those families for whom Christmas will not mean gifts under a tree or a nice turkey dinner at the table. Remember to pray for all of God’s children for whom this day means sadness and if you are able spread a little joy in their direction. Let them know of the joy of the Christ child and that his birth brings unspeakable joy because of Emmanuel, God with us!
 
Luke 2:8-14 (NRSV)
8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:
11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
 
My all your days be merry and filled with the light of Christ. Merry Christmas. Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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November 23, 2016
 
Happy Thanksgiving! This week people all around the United States will be gathering together to break bread and share time. Men and women, boys and girls will say that for which they are thankful. Some will have turkey, dressing, macaroni and cheese, beans, sweet potatoes, pies, cakes, hot buttered rolls, tea or lemonade. Some will watch football, others will play family tag football. Some will play games, others will tell stories, share memories and spend laughter. These are indeed things for which to be grateful. I will spend time with my husband and chil-dren. We will share a less traditional meal (it’s what they want), play games, and I am sure laugh a lot. I will worship at Paw Creek giving praise to God and thanking God along with many of you for God’s great bounty. It is all good.

But there will be many for whom Thanksgiving will not be a time of thankfulness. Some will spend the day alone and treat it like every other day; nothing special. Some will be in a restaurant eating alone. Some will just be lonely. There will be no laughter, no games, no fun, no good memories to share. So, I am asking, if you know someone who may not have family or friends, who may spend the day alone, think of inviting them to your home, give them space to be a part of your life and make memories with you. Share your meal, share your laughter, share your fun. Give someone the opportunity to be thankful for you and your kindness. It may not mean a lot to you, but may make the world of difference to someone. My desire for you is to be grateful all your days and to share your love and life with as many other people as you can. Happy Thanksgiving! I live for the cross. Rev. Veronica Cannon

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November 9, 2016
 
Be happy people. God has enriched our lives and gives us meaning. He has provided us with the best families, the best friends, the best that life has to offer. Do you see it? Be happy people. God has stretched out God’s hand and covers us with love and grace and peace. When we have been unlovable, God loved, when we have been unkind, God’s grace abounds, when we were in turmoil, God granted us peace. Do you feel it? Be happy people. God has moved hearts and minds to bend to His Will and allows us to discover the best in ourselves. When we direct our thoughts and actions to doing our own thing to benefit ourselves, God moves in mighty ways through us. Do you conceive it? Be happy people.
 
Life is way too short to be otherwise.
 
Peace in Christ, Veronica
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October 26, 2016
 
Don’t focus on what was. Look forward to what can be, and then do all you can to make it a reality. Life is what you make of it, and the challenges that come your way are just opportunities to right what is wrong. Don’t get discouraged, and don’t give up. You have it all inside yourself, and you can overcome anything if you put your mind to it. – Paula Michele Adams
 

I read this reading from the book entitled A Daybook of Gratitude. How to Live Each Day with a Thankful Heart. Living each day with a thankful heart is a beautiful thing to do. It helps us to recognize that which is in our circle, our space, and to see how God is blessing and continues to bless us. It helps us to see the people around us and value them for the gifts of God they share with us. It helps us to appreciate all that God is. But I will admit, that there are days when this seems an impossibility. When ugliness in someone’s attitude darkens your lighted path, it is hard to see the light for the shadow. But seek the light anyway. Hard, but keep trying. When people disappoint you because they claim a love of God and yet spew hate toward you, it is hard to hold on to love. But love anyway. When people gossip about you behind your back, spreading un- truths, it is hard to stand in the midst of them. Stand anyway. Nothing worth having is ever easy. And when you can live thankfully for the ugliness, the disappointments, the gossip and untruths, your character is built and your resolve is strengthened. Turn a challenge into a possibility. And when things still do not pan out, pray for God to show you new opportunities for which to be thankful. Ask God to bring people into your life whom you can appreciate and who appreciate you. Find the joy and keep it in your life. If it’s not your circus, don’t take their monkeys. Learn the lessons that life is teaching you and move on. Put God in the center of your life, and God will lead your path. Just be thankful for the path. Everywhere that God leads you and brings you is a place in which to be thankful.

In Christ, Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
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October 12, 2016
 
As I reflect upon this life of ours as members of the body of Christ, and I think upon all of the ill will that plagues our world, our country, our community, our church, I can easily despair. But I choose a different path. I ask you to join me as we each, individually find ways to widen our circle of influence in positive and decisive ways. Each of us has an opportunity to influence good, to influence well-being, to influence love and joy. It is done by our words and actions. IN moments when we are unable to find the strength to do change our words and actions to reflect the grace of God, I encourage you to pray. I recently came upon a familiar prayer that reminds me again of the power of prayer and how that which we ask of God can be made manifest in our lives. It is a prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. I share this prayer with you now. May it be so.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is dark- ness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be under- stood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life. In Christ, Rev. Veronica Cannon

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September 28, 2016
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church,
 
I would like to give you another update on things that are happening in the church.
First, congratulations to the newly elected Elders of Paw Creek Presbyterian Church for the class of
2019. Please extend your words of affirmation to Jon Kenley, Victoria Krebs, Amy McGee, Melissa
Mullis, David Padgett, Joy Tyler, and Barbara Ullem. We will begin our twelve hours of training
beginning in October and finishing in November. After a written examination at the end of the
training, the newly elected officers will be ordained (if not previously ordained) and installed to of-
fice. The newly elected officers will be ready to hit the ground running in January.
Please remember to thank the Nominating Committee (Eddie McArver, Donna Hall, Peggy Harring-
ton, Grady Cathey, Ken Scott – Chair, and Robin Wodarski for all of their hard work in getting this
important work done. But they are not quite done yet.
 
Second, the Nominating Committee is still hard at work for you Paw Creek. They are beginning the
second charge of their work in getting a slate of names together of individuals to sit on the Pastor
Nominating Committee. During the month of September, they have been receiving names from the
congregation of those individuals who would like to sit on the Pastor Nominating Committee. The
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) will need to consist of a cross section of the congregation as
to be representative of the congregation. There will be a committee of five. The same process will
be followed as it was for the class of Elder. The committee will confirm with individuals their desire
to serve on the PNC, perform interviews with each agreed participant, develop a slate of names and
will present the congregation with that slate of names on which to vote.
 
We have sent letters out to all members who have not been active here in the last year to confirm
their membership as to meet that requirement from Presbytery. This information needs to be as
accurate as possible as this will go on the Mission Information Form (MIF) that the PNC will fill out
about the church.
 
You will hear more in the coming future as we move further in this process. You may be called up-
on to help out with the mission study that needs to be completed; I hope you will consider volun-
teering to do this work. Some has already been done.
 
We are moving ever forward in finding the next man or woman of God to lead this congregation.
Stay in prayer through this process. We are getting there.
 
In the name of Jesus Christ,
Veronica Cannon
 
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September 14, 2016
 
2 Corinthians 5:6-9 (NRSV)
6
So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are
away from the Lord
7
for we walk by faith, not by sight.
8
Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the
Lord.
9
So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
 
Live the Christian life. Okay. So what exactly is living the Christian life? If we look at this passage
of Scripture from 2nd Corinthians verse 7, it gives us the prescription for doing so. Walk by faith and
not by sight. In so doing we please the Lord. Our aim in life should be pleasing the Lord. Walking
in faith is the way to accomplish this aim. But what does that mean? It means different things to
different people, because walking in faith is individual. However, walking in faith does require us to
move with confidence in this world, relying upon God for guidance and leadership. It means not
relying upon what we see before us as an absolute for right living. We are human and therefore falli-
ble. And what we see can always be changed or moved by the power of God. You see a brick wall
before you and think there is no way I can get through that wall. It is brick, it is high, it is impenetra-
ble. That is what you see. But God says approach the wall anyway. Move toward it, you will get
through. We see a brick wall, God sees a way through. So you approach the wall and realize there is
a spot that is crumbling, weak. You push on the weak spot and it crumbles to the ground. You walk
through to the other side. That is walking by faith and not by sight. Put your trust in God first and
God will remove obstacles from your path. That includes doubts, fears, people, strongholds, and
even sin. Walk with the confidence of God and watch God remove earthly strongholds and make a
way for you.
 
Blessings,
Veronica Cannon
 
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August 31, 2016
 
In my daily devotional reading, I came across one that really speaks to me. It deals with having time of solitude. Slices of solitude allow us to renew and reflect and transform as we enter into ourselves and do the necessary work of gunk removal so that God can fill us with internal peace and joy. Slic-es of solitude allow us to enter into prayer without distraction. We can focus our attention upon God. Spend time listening as God reveals to us The Almighty’s plan. From Charles Swindoll’s book
Wisdom for the Way, one of the readings from Intimacy with the Almighty
says solitude is “an oasis of the soul where we see ourselves, others, and especially our God in new ways. It is where much of the clutter of life is identified and exterminated, thanks to the merciless heat of the furnace. Soul surgery transpires as serenity replaces anxiety”. This speaks to my soul and I hope to yours as well. You know, even Jesus took times of solitude and prayer to spend with God. We all need our tanks refu-eled. I encourage you to find your solitude. If you cannot get away for a time of quiet solitude, look for a time in your day or night to spend with God alone. Just you and our Creator talking things over and seeking direction for you. May you be blessed in that journey.
 
In Christ,
Veronica Cannon
 
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August 17, 2016
 

In my efforts to be forthcoming and transparent with you, I am giving you an update today on where we

currently stand in the process of calling your next pastor. We have held four town hall meetings held by

me and then I requested the Presbytery of Charlotte to come for a fifth town hall meeting to answer

questions and hear concerns that some of you still have. I have completed the report from the four town

hall meetings I conducted and that information is now available to give to the PNC when it is formed. I

would want to express my thanks to all who participated in the town hall meetings. Your voice was heard

and is included in the report. As far as a timeline for where we stand in the process, it is recorded below.

The timeline is also part of my report from the town hall meetings. You will note that in September, the

Nominating Committee will begin taking names of members who desire to serve on the Pastor Nominating

Committee. (With go ahead from Presbytery. I do not anticipate a problem with this) If you desire

to serve on the committee or someone gives your name to serve, the nominating committee will contact

you to confirm your desire to serve in that capacity. The nominating committee will come up with a slate

of names representative of the entire congregation. When that slate of names is complete, the session

will call a meeting of the congregation to vote on said slate. The Presbytery of Charlotte will send someone

in to train the PNC on its scope of work and the newly formed PNC will begin its work. I would

ask that you begin praying now that God will act in the hearts and minds of those who will serve on the

PNC to be discerning and faithful in this work as it is serious business in considering who will next lead

Paw Creek Presbyterian Church. The work is a time commitment and will require full participation from

all involved. So begin praying now. As I have said before, and believe in my heart, God has already chosen

your next pastor. He or she does not yet know it. But in God’s timing they will know and so will

you and you will together form a long and lasting relationship. I pray you God speed.

Peace in Christ,

Veronica Cannon
 
Tentative Timeline:
 

May 21st

Nominating Committee training – complete
 

June – July

Begin taking names for candidate for nomination for office of elder – in process
 

August

Begin interviews of candidates.

Consider needs of the session.

Period of prayer and discernment of candidates.
 

September

Present slate of names to Session.

Session calls a congregational meeting

Congregation votes on slate of names

Nominating Committee begins taking names for members interested in serving on Pastor Nominating

Committee (upon approval of Committee on Ministry – COM)
 

October

Officer Training for newly elected Elders – 6 weeks

Examination of newly elected Elders

If the nominating committee has completed taking names of members to serve on the Pastor Nominating

Committee, Session will call a congregational meeting.
 

November or December

Ordination and Installation of newly elected Elders

Congregation votes on slate of names for Pastor Nominating Committee

Pastor Nominating Committee receives training from Committee on Ministry and begins their work

as outlined above.
 
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August 3, 2016
 

Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family,

Last week as I was taking my morning walk/run, I looked up at the sky and saw the sun’s rays coming through the clouds. I then began to take in the beauty that was all around me. The flowering trees, the flowers, the green grass, the stillness that was this morning. People were not yet up and about, and things were quiet and still. I wanted to cry. I began to think about God and how awesome are God’s great wonders. And this passage of Scripture came to mind,

“Psalm 46:10 (NRSV)

10 “Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.”

Be still. Be silent. Be quiet. Be stationary. And know that I am God. God, Creator, Sustainer, Ruler, Our Defense. Know God, the Great I Am.

I thought of God and great and wonderful God is. To know God is to know stillness, peace, silence. And if God is to be exalted among the nations and in the earth, then there is much work to be done. But, I don’t need to rush ahead of God, I need to wait on God to speak and move and be ready always to lift the name of God through Jesus Christ His Son. God is to be exalted above the nations and in the earth. God has this. God has me. God has you. God has this nation. God has this world.

In the ever shifting sands of this world, our nation, our communities, our churches and our homes, it becomes really easy to get caught up in the winds that blow to and fro and the ground that shakes back and forth. We so easily lose sight of what is most important. God.

In our world, we are asked and called to remember that we are at war with a force of evil by the name of ISIS. And we are afraid and running wild. In our nation, we are asked and called to remember that there is a divide between races of people and creeds and ethnic groups. In our communities, we are asked and called to look upon the divide between blue/black/white. In our church, we are asked and called to remember that we STILL do not have a called pastor in place, and time is ever fleeting. In our homes, we are asked and called to remember that for some of us we are lonely or sad or unhealthy or divorced or troubled by family members or circumstance. Such doom and gloom; fear and unease.

When I got home from my walk/run, I looked at the Psalm 46 in its entirety. And I read these wonderful words.

Psalm 46:1-11 (NRSV) 1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. Selah 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns. 6 The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. 7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah 8 Come, behold the works of the LORD; see what desolations he has brought on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. 10 “Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” 11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Yes, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, I will not fear. I will not worry. God is in control. I will be still and know God. There is room here for you to join me. Be still. No fear, no worries. Know God.

In Christ,

Veronica

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July 20, 2016
 

Psalm 67:1-7 (NRSV)

1 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah

2 that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations.

3 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon

earth. Selah

5 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

6 The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us.

7 May God continue to bless us; let all the ends of the earth revere him.
 

Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved the Psalms. They are so poetic and beautiful and have always been

a source of comfort for me. Whether I am distressed or confident, in need of deliverance or in need to

praise God, the Psalms always have something upon which to lean. In the past weeks, there has been much

distress in our country and indeed the world. Today, I needed to hear a Word from the Lord that could be

my offering of praise to God. So, I share Psalm 67 with you that you may also offer praise and ask God’s

blessings to reign and rain upon you.
 

As one commentator puts it:

Whatever the circumstances of our lives, God is God and He is worthy of our praise. He loves us and has

made a covenant with us through the blood of His only Son, whom He gave to die for our sins. May we

learn to praise Him at all times, in trials and triumphs, in burdens and blessings, in gains and losses, in good

and bad!
 

Praise be to our God who reigns forever!

In Christ,

Veronica Cannon

 
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July 6, 2016
I received an e-mail today, Tuesday July 5, from a book publisher. One of the books being promoted is a book by William H. Willimon entitled
Fear of the Other: No Fear In Love
.
In this no non-sense book, reliable spiritual guide, Will Willimon, invites readers to consider the gospel command to love (and not merely tolerate) those considered to be Other or outside mainstream Christian culture. Rooted in the faith of Israel and the Christian story and vision, Willimon brings a Wesleyan perspective to bear on what may be the hardest thing for people of faith to do: keeping and loving the “Other” as they are – without any need for them to become like us.

Emphasizing biblical teaching to receive Others for who they are and their differences as gifts and mysteries bearing the grace of God, Willimon also offers a strong critique of the privileged who all too often rush to speak of reconciliation and evade the injustice of huge inequalities faced by foreigners and strangers – as well as the antagonism the stranger experiences. He identifies concrete, everyday ways persons are formed in welcoming others without annihilating their differences.

This is of course a book that I am likely to read. But that is not the point of this article from me.

I am intrigued by this thought of “other”. Who is “other” among us, and how do we treat “other” in our context. The more I thought about this, the more I began to realize that WE are “other”. Look, here is the definition of other. 1)used to refer to a person or thing that is different or distinct from one already mentioned or known about. 2) view or treat (a person or group of people) as intrinsically different from and alien to oneself. The second definite is “other” as a verb…interesting.

We often think of “other” as someone of a different race, different socio-economic background, different culture, different accent, different theology, different country, different “whatever” (Thanks Karen Cathey). We look at others who are different from us in whatever way we see them and for some reason, those differences bring about fear in many of us. So often in our context, we look at difference as deficient instead of difference as just that…difference. For this, and a myriad other reasons, we are instilled with fear. But God does not give us a spirit of fear. So where does this come from? And more importantly, how do we begin to overcome it?

When I worked for Bank of America some years ago, the bank recognized that there were some pretty big divides among many people who worked in the bank. They began an initiative where bank employees were strongly encouraged to have lunch with someone “other” than themselves. The results for many were staggering. People actually began to communicate and got to know each other in new and exciting ways and for some, lasting friendships were born.

Is it possible that getting over the FEAR of knowing “other” might be as simple as conversation, spending time together, listening, sharing the common bond of humanity? Is it possible that our differences might actually be sufficient, abounding in abundance? Is it possible that we might learn from others as they learn from us? Is it possible to love others as God loves us? After all we are “other” to someone too.

In Christ,

Veronica Cannon

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June 22, 2016
 
In her devotional book Jesus Calling, Sarah Young for June 21 wrote:
 
Wait patiently with me while I bless you.  Don’t rush into My Presence with time-consciousness gnawing at your mind.  I dwell in timelessness: I Am, I was and I will always be.  For you, time is a protection; you’re a frail creature who can handle only twenty four hour segments of life.  Time can also be a tyrant, ticking away relentlessly in your mind.  Learn to master time, or it will be your master.  Though you are a time bound creature, seek to meet Me in timelessness.  As you focus on My Presence, the demands of time and tasks will diminish.  I will bless you and keep you, making My Face shine upon you graciously, giving you peace.  Micah 7:7; Revelation 1:8; Numbers 6:24-26 
 
In a day and age amid much going and coming, amid much running around, take some of your busy time and spend it with God.  We fill our lives with doing THINGS, and forget to just BE.  Be present with God, be present friends, be present with family.  Master that time and you will be master over your life with God’s help.  We live this life we have one time.  We can spend it on a hamster’s wheel going nowhere, being with no one; or we can jump off, take time to take in the beauty that is God’s and share it with others.  Take time to observe your surroundings, talk with God and just see what the Lord will show you.  You will find more time, more time in peace and joy!  What a gift that is from our Lord.  Take time with God and God will bless you in His timelessness.  Now is the time.
 
Rev. Veronica Cannon
December 7, 2016
 
Merry Christmas! This is a greeting that you will hear and deliver to many people you meet both stranger and friend alike. And for most people, it is a merry time of year when we remember the Christ Child’s birth. There will be worship services and sing-a-longs. There will be dinner parties and the joy of breaking bread together. There will be baking and shopping and visiting with fam-ily and friends far and near. There will be traveling and staying put. All sorts of wonderment will accompany this most wonderful time of the year. I say rejoice and be glad in it. Remember those also for whom this time of year is most difficult, who do not get enjoyment or pleasure from this season. Remember those for whom this season is wrought with stress and worry and concern. Remember those families for whom Christmas will not mean gifts under a tree or a nice turkey dinner at the table. Remember to pray for all of God’s children for whom this day means sadness and if you are able spread a little joy in their direction. Let them know of the joy of the Christ child and that his birth brings unspeakable joy because of Emmanuel, God with us!
 
Luke 2:8-14 (NRSV)
8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:
11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
 
My all your days be merry and filled with the light of Christ. Merry Christmas!
Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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December 7, 2016
 
Merry Christmas! This is a greeting that you will hear and deliver to many people you meet both stranger and friend alike. And for most people, it is a merry time of year when we remember the Christ Child’s birth. There will be worship services and sing-a-longs. There will be dinner parties and the joy of breaking bread together. There will be baking and shopping and visiting with fam-ily and friends far and near. There will be traveling and staying put. All sorts of wonderment will accompany this most wonderful time of the year. I say rejoice and be glad in it. Remember those also for whom this time of year is most difficult, who do not get enjoyment or pleasure from this season. Remember those for whom this season is wrought with stress and worry and concern. Remember those families for whom Christmas will not mean gifts under a tree or a nice turkey dinner at the table. Remember to pray for all of God’s children for whom this day means sadness and if you are able spread a little joy in their direction. Let them know of the joy of the Christ child and that his birth brings unspeakable joy because of Emmanuel, God with us!
 
Luke 2:8-14 (NRSV)
8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:
11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
 
My all your days be merry and filled with the light of Christ. Merry Christmas!
Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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December 7, 2016
 
Merry Christmas! This is a greeting that you will hear and deliver to many people you meet both stranger and friend alike. And for most people, it is a merry time of year when we remember the Christ Child’s birth. There will be worship services and sing-a-longs. There will be dinner parties and the joy of breaking bread together. There will be baking and shopping and visiting with fam-ily and friends far and near. There will be traveling and staying put. All sorts of wonderment will accompany this most wonderful time of the year. I say rejoice and be glad in it. Remember those also for whom this time of year is most difficult, who do not get enjoyment or pleasure from this season. Remember those for whom this season is wrought with stress and worry and concern. Remember those families for whom Christmas will not mean gifts under a tree or a nice turkey dinner at the table. Remember to pray for all of God’s children for whom this day means sadness and if you are able spread a little joy in their direction. Let them know of the joy of the Christ child and that his birth brings unspeakable joy because of Emmanuel, God with us!
 
Luke 2:8-14 (NRSV)
8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:
11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
 
My all your days be merry and filled with the light of Christ. Merry Christmas!
Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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October 12, 2016
 
As I reflect upon this life of ours as members of the body of Christ, and I think upon all of the ill will that plagues our world, our country, our community, our church, I can easily despair. But I choose a different path. I ask you to join me as we each, individually find ways to widen our circle of influence in positive and decisive ways. Each of us has an opportunity to influence good, to influence well-being, to influence love and joy. It is done by our words and actions. IN moments when we are unable to find the strength to do change our words and actions to reflect the grace of God, I encourage you to pray. I recently came upon a familiar prayer that reminds me again of the power of prayer and how that which we ask of God can be made manifest in our lives. It is a prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. I share this prayer with you now. May it be so.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is dark- ness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be under- stood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

In Christ,
Rev. Veronica Cannon

 
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October 12, 2016
 
As I reflect upon this life of ours as members of the body of Christ, and I think upon all of the ill will that plagues our world, our country, our community, our church, I can easily despair. But I choose a different path. I ask you to join me as we each, individually find ways to widen our circle of influence in positive and decisive ways. Each of us has an opportunity to influence good, to influence well-being, to influence love and joy. It is done by our words and actions. IN moments when we are unable to find the strength to do change our words and actions to reflect the grace of God, I encourage you to pray. I recently came upon a familiar prayer that reminds me again of the power of prayer and how that which we ask of God can be made manifest in our lives. It is a prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. I share this prayer with you now. May it be so.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is dark- ness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be under- stood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

In Christ,
Rev. Veronica Cannon

 
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
 
October 12, 2016
 
As I reflect upon this life of ours as members of the body of Christ, and I think upon all of the ill will that plagues our world, our country, our community, our church, I can easily despair. But I choose a different path. I ask you to join me as we each, individually find ways to widen our circle of influence in positive and decisive ways. Each of us has an opportunity to influence good, to influence well-being, to influence love and joy. It is done by our words and actions. IN moments when we are unable to find the strength to do change our words and actions to reflect the grace of God, I encourage you to pray. I recently came upon a familiar prayer that reminds me again of the power of prayer and how that which we ask of God can be made manifest in our lives. It is a prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. I share this prayer with you now. May it be so.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is dark- ness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be under- stood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

In Christ,
Rev. Veronica Cannon

 
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