MINISTER - FRAN HAYES

Last Tuesday evening, I attended the January meeting of the Presbytery of Detroit. The January meeting is when the Moderator and Vice-Moderator are installed for the new year, and we come together to celebrate the Lord's Supper. An important part of the meeting was a presentation by the Rev. Kevin Johnson and the Rev. Bryan Smith on the theme for the coming year, which is one of the Great Ends of the Church in our Book of Order: “The promotion of social righteousness.”

The Great Ends of the Church were adopted in 1910 by one the Presbyterian Church(USA)'s predecessor denominations, just two years after the Federal Council of Churches in the United States (the predecessor of the National Council of Churches, adopted the Social Creed of the Churches, in 1908. This was in an era when the main character of Charles Sheldon's best- selling novel, In His Steps challenged his congregation to ask themselves before every decision, “What would Jesus do?”

The Presbyterian Church has long been a Christian community that values both personal and public/social morality. The Great Ends of the Church is a summary of what the church is called to be: “the proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind; the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God; the maintenance of divine worship; the preservation of the truth; the promotion of social righteousness; and the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.”

The scripture lessons on the Sundays after Epiphany challenge us to live our faith in ways that promote social righteousness. We hear the prophet Micah saying our faith requires us to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God (Micah 6). We hear the prophet Isaiah saying that the fast God desires of us is about doing justice, freeing the oppressed, feeding the hungry, and housing the homeless. If we act justly in these ways, Isaiah says, we will be blessed in various ways, and we will be known as the repairer of the breach and restorer of streets to live in (Isaiah 58). In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew we hear Jesus commanding us to be salt and light for the world, and to live in the way of a righteousness that is greater than the legalism of the scribes and the Pharisees.

Presbyterians have promoted social righteousness through involvement in the Underground Railroad and working for the abolition of slavery and for women's suffrage. We have fought for basic rights for workers, to eradicate poverty, and for civil rights. They did so because they believed that those who follow Jesus should act to advance the coming of the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.

I love the way our Brief Statement of Faith puts it: “In a broken and fearful world, the Spirit gives us courage to pray without ceasing, to witness among all peoples to Christ as Lord and Savior, to unmask idolatries in Church and culture, to hear the voices of peoples long silenced, and to work with others for justice, freedom and peace.”

May it be so for us today!

Peace – Shalom – Salam.

SCRIPTURE READINGS
(Based on Revised Common Lectionary)

February 5
Hebrew Scripture-Isaiah 58:1-12
Psalm 112:1-10
Epistle Lesson-1 Corinthians 2:1-16
Gospel Lesson-Matthew 5:13-20

February 12
Hebrew Scripture-Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Psalm 119:1-8
Epistle Lesson-1 Corinthians 3:1-9
Gospel Lesson-Matthew 5:21-37

February 19
Hebrew Scripture-Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18
Psalm 119:33-40
Epistle Lesson-1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23
Gospel Lesson-Matthew 5:38-48

February 26
Hebrew Scripture-Exodus 24:12-18
Psalm 2 or Psalm 99
Epistle Lesson-2 Peter 1:16-21
Gospel Lesson-Matthew 17:1-9

PRAYER MINISTRY

What Is Life?

Life is a sojourn here on earth
Which begins the day God gives us birth,
We enter this world from the great unknown
And God gives each Spirit a form of its own
And endows this form with a heart and a soul
To spur you on to your ultimate goal;
And through the senses of feeling and seeing,
God makes you into a human being
So you may experience a mortal life
And through this period of smiles and strife
Prepare yourself to return as you came,
For birth and death are in essence the same,
For both are fashioned by God's mighty hand
And, while we cannot understand,
We know we are born to die and arise
For beyond this world in beauty lies
The purpose of living and the ultimate goal
God gives at birth to each seeking soul;
So enjoy your sojourn on earth and be glad!
That God gives you a choice between
good things and bad,
And only be sure that you heed God's voice
Whenever life asks you to make a choice.
A Woman's Daily Prayer Book


Thought For The Day
God uses us to give gifts of love to those in need.
Author Unknown


Prayer
God, You are my strength and refuge. As I journey through this day, I know that I may encounter disappointments and losses. When I am troubled, let me turn to You. Keep me steady, Lord, and renew a right spirit inside of me this day and forever. Amen
A Woman's Daily Prayer Book

TAIZE WORSHIP SERVICE & LABYRINTH WALK

February 7 @ 7:00 p.m.
Light, prayer and music are woven together in a contemplative prayer service. Short, simple songs, repeated again and again, help one enter into a meditative state. Thus, this meditative singing becomes a way of listening to God. This month, we will have a labyrinth walk following the service. Please see the Evangelism and Membership article for details.

All are invited, regardless of faith background and age, to come and renew your spirit. You are invited to dress comfortably and casually. Invite a friend!

EVANGELISM & MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE

The Engage! Book Group met in the evening of January 25 to discuss “The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement” by Rev Dr. William J. Barber. Discussion centered on how fusion politics works to bring diverse groups together in order to seek common ground on social justice issues. If you have not read Dr. Barber's book, we highly recommend it. Fusion politics is being pursued in many areas of the country in order to give voice to the marginalized.

The Taize Worship Service on February 7 at 7:00 p.m. will be followed by a labyrinth walk in the Fellowship Hall. Beth Delaney, who guided us last May as we discussed our core values, has kindly allowed us to use a labyrinth that she has created. The labyrinth provides a guided walk toward a center point and back. Many experience calm and peace as they journey in and out of the labyrinth's path.

We have scheduled a tour of the Islamic Center of America (on Ford Rd near Evergreen) on Sunday, February 19, at 2:30 p.m. This is a great opportunity to see the mosque and to learn more about our Muslim neighbors. We also plan to gather together for dinner in a local restaurant after the tour. We hope you can join us.

For our Lenten Study, we will be using materials published by The Thoughtful Christian. Specifically, we will be exploring the series Seeing Ourselves in Those Confronted by Jesus by Marianne Blickenstaff. During this study, we will explore the groups that were active during the life of Jesus. These groups include the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Zealots. We will look not only at who they were, but also, as the publisher states, we will “be challenged to consider who in the twenty-first-century church is like the members of these groups.” There are no book fees for this study. Participant handouts will be provided at each session. This five-week Lenten Study will meet in the Church lounge on the following Tuesday evenings: March 7, 14, 21, 28 and April 4. We will meet for a soup and salad dinner at 6:15 p.m. followed by our discussion groups. We will be finished by 8:00 p.m. Please note that Tuesday, March 7, and Tuesday, April 4, is our Taize Worship Service. Therefore, on March 7 and April 4, we will meet at 6:15 p.m. for our light dinner, then go to the Taize Service. After the service, we will meet in our discussion groups.

Our Lenten Devotional Booklet this year will be Moving Toward the Cross by Martin E. Marty. “Each day of Lent, thought- provoking quotes from [Frederick] Beuchner's beloved works are paired with insightful reflections by preeminent religious commentator and biblical scholar Martin E. Marty, accompanied by Bible readings and prayers. Let this depth of wisdom draw you ever closer to the very heart of Christ the crucified.” (quote from the publisher, Creative Communications)

We will be making our Annual Feather Bowling trip to the Cadieux Cafe in Detroit on Sunday, April 2. We will feather bowl from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. and then gather for dinner in the cafe. Feather bowling is a uniquely Detroit experience and great fun. Mark your calendars now. All are welcome.

It has been a year since we issued our new Church directory. During the past year, we have had some changes and additions to the directory. We are currently working on an update. If any of your information in the current directory has changed, please let the office know.

CENTS-ABILITY HUNGER OFFERING:

Our next collection will be Sunday, February 12. It will be 154 days (22 weeks) since our last collection on September 11. At 3 meals/day x $.02/meal we should have collected $9.24 in our containers. Realizing that many of us eat more than 3 times/day and that food prices have increased, donations of any size are always welcome. This offering will be split between Detroit Presbytery Hunger Program (75%) and Fort Street Open Door Program (25%). Please give generously!

SAVE THE DATE:
ASH WEDNESDAY POTLUCK & WORSHIP SERVICE
March 1

Our Presbyterian Women will be hosting our annual potluck at 6:00 p.m. with a Worship Service to follow at 7:00 p.m. A sign-up sheet will be in the library, closer to the dinner, for those of you who would like to enjoy some home cooking!

PRESBYTERIAN WOMEN

The PWPD (Presbyterian Women of the Presbytery of Detroit) will hold its annual retreat on Saturday, March 4. It will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Allen Park Presbyterian Church in Allen Park. The theme of this year's retreat is “Casting Stones, Casting Crowns – A Time for Reflection, Reconciliation and Transformation.” The keynote speaker will be Rev. Dr. Elizabeth L Downs. Details will follow.

If you haven't already done so, please consider making a pledge to the Presbyterian Women. This Mission Pledge touches every aspect of PW at all levels ñ leadership development training, justice and peace advocacy, mission projects and partnerships, and publishing ministries that make possible Bible Study materials that we use each month.

SAVE THE DATE
Feather Bowling at The Cadieux Cafe
Sunday, April 2

Bowling at 4:00 p.m.
Dinner at 6:00 p.m.

ONE GREAT HOUR OF SHARING

“Is this not the fast I chose?” is the theme for this year's One Great Hour of Sharing offering. This offering is the first of four special yearly offerings collected by the Presbyterian Church. It is collected during Lent through Easter Sunday. The Presbyterian Hunger Program receives 36% of the money collected, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and Self-Development of People each receive 32% of the revenue.

The Christian season of Lent is historically marked with fasting, a traditional practice of giving up food and devoting yourself to prayer. This isn't the only type of fasting the Bible talks about. Isaiah 58 calls us to “loose the bonds of injustice,” to “let the oppressed go free,” to “share bread with the hungry,” and to “invite the homeless and poor into our homes.” One way we can answer this call is through our gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing.

When you give to this offering you are supporting the Self- Development of people by helping those looking for jobs after a prison sentence, and investing in communities responding to experiences of racism, oppression, and injustice. The Presbyterian Hunger program is part of our response to environmental degradation and climate change. The Presbyterian Disaster Assistance program has provided education for refugee children, emergency supplies for refugees traveling to new lands, and assistance for U.S. congregations receiving refugees into their communities.

Your help gives hope!

MARK YOUR CALENDARS
PEACE CAMP 2017

JULY 18 - 20 TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY & THURSDAY

FINANCE & STEWARDSHIP COMMITTEE

Each year in January we are offered the opportunity to pay our fair share toward continuing the administration and missions of the Presbytery, Synod, and General Assembly. This year Littlefield's denominational assessment is $1,530. That is, $26 per member based on a registered membership of 59 as of January 1, 2016. We would appreciate any help you may see fit to provide in funding this assessment. If you have received 2017 offering envelopes, you will find a special envelope for this purpose. You may either use this envelope for your contribution, or just designate “per capita” on your check or pew envelope. Any help you can provide will be appreciated.

WORSHIP & CHRISTIAN EDUCATION COMMITTEE

The Adult Sunday School Class that meets at 9:00 a.m. in the lounge is currently studying Proverbs. They welcome new members at any time. Just drop in.

We have always had a strong music program at Littlefield and have encouraged everyone to share their gifts. Perhaps you can provide that special prelude, postlude or offertory selection. If you like to sing and want to join our choir, we welcome you. We meet for rehearsal from noon to 1:00 p.m. after worship on Sundays and warm up each Sunday morning at 9:45 a.m. before worship.

If you know anyone who would appreciate hearing our entire service on CD, let the office know, or one of our Deacons, and they can arrange to have the CD's delivered. The sermons are posted on the Littlefield Church website, usually within a day, so if you aren't able to be present at the service, you can still listen to Pastor Fran's message.

We have had a number of visitors to our Worship service in recent months and, as always, we encourage our regular attendees to practice the hospitality that Littlefield has always been known for. Everyone is welcome at Littlefield!

A WARM FUZZY THANK YOU!

Thank you to everyone who donated hats, gloves and scarves to our baskets in December. They were split between Vista Maria, Fort Street Open Door Program, and the children's tutoring program at Calvin East Church, Detroit. The total value came to approximately $732. As we experience the cold days of winter, we can know that our gifts are keeping someone else a little bit warmer. Thank you!

FEED MY SHEEP

Do you have questions, suggestions, or possible resources for a food pantry at Littlefield? If so, please contact the church office. Your prayers and encouragement will be appreciated.