I grew up in a church where no one would ever think of clapping. Applause was fine for a concert or a sporting event, but certainly not forworship. Clappingin church, whether keeping time to the music or responding to a sermon, was just simply not the done thing. I remember being shocked the first time I attended worship with a friend and discovered there was a whole lot of clapping going on in her church. When I commented on that, she reminded me that the Bible itself encourages applause. Psalm 47:1 says, “Clap your hands, all you peoples; shout to God with loud songs of joy.”
Applause has become a common practice in many churches and is not unheard of in our own congregation. And from time to time the subject has come up in our Worship Committee meetings, with choir members, and in other arenas of discussion. Is applause appropriate or not? Does it enrich our worship or does it distract from it?
Some folks have commented to me that we should always clap for the choir to show our appreciation for their performance. I believe the first thing to consider in this regard is this: who is the “audience” in worship? The audience is always God. Whatever we do in worship is meant to be an offering to honor God. While we certainly want to offer God our very best, nothing we do in worship is meant to be a performance to entertain the congregation. In the one place where scripture mentions clapping our hands, it is clear that the applause is meant as an act of worship and praise to the Lord, not as an expression of approval for what the choir has sung or what the pastor has said.
There are times when clapping along with a piece of music is an expression of joy and enables us to enter into a richer worship experience. There are occasions when the congregation spontaneously breaks into applause because an answer to prayer has been announced or new members have been welcomed into the church or a newly married couple has been introduced to the congregation—and what a wonderful way that is to express our gratitudetoGod! There well may be times when the music is so uplifting and so encourages our souls to praise the Lord that the only fitting response is to raise our hands in applause and thanks to God.
But applause can become an awkward thing in worship. Do we applaud only for the children’s choir? Or only for a particularly “good” anthem? And if we applaud the music of the choir or the soloist, why not the pastor’s sermon? And if we applaud only the music, what about those pieces of music that are reverential in tone and prayerful in nature? Applause can be distracting and seem out of place when the music itself calls for a reflective, silent response.
I encourage us all to think about clapping in church as carefully as we consider any other act of worship. Trying to develop some hard-and-fast rule will only lead to legalism, and that is never good for God’s people. But it is always good for us to think about how we can best honor the Lord with our worship. When we are overwhelmed by the goodness and greatness of our God, we might respond with either joyous applause or reverential silence. Either can be an appropriate expression of our gratitude. Thanks be to God!
Blessings, Mary Saylor
Happy Easter! Easter Sunday may be past as you read this, but Easter is far from over. According to the church calendar, Easter is not just a day, it is a season—Eastertide. (“Tide” is an old English word meaning “time” or “season.”) For fifty days, until Pentecost (which falls on Memorial Day weekend this year), the church celebrates Easter.
I carry out a sort of personal crusade every year to reclaim the twelve days of Christmas (December 25 through January 5) as a proper celebration of Christmas. But I have been largely unsuccessful! Most people I know put their decorations away by New Year’s Day and are really sort of relieved to be done with Christmas— perhaps because we are encouraged to be in “Christmas mode” even before Halloween rolls around!
In keeping with my efforts to observe Christmas as a twelve-day season following Advent, this year I’ve decided to try to be more intentional about celebrating Easter as a season for the seven weeks following Resurrection Sunday. While every Sunday is a “little Easter” in that we celebrate our Lord’s resurrection each time we gather for Sunday worship, this year I am planning on focusing our worship services on the basic truth of Easter: Christisrisen! Heis risen indeed!
So again, Happy Easter! I invite you to join me in making the next several weeks a time of rediscovering the life- changing implications of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Eastertide gives us an opportunity to think and pray about what that great good news means to us and to the world. May your Eastertide be a season of new life, new hope, and new understanding of Christ’s undying love for us.
Blessings, Mary Saylor
Shoebox Ministry’s special event to assist the Valley’s homeless and provide them with an Easter
gift. Be creative – feel free to decorate your box using the graphics from the flier or your
own. Include a note of cheer and/or some Easter
candy. Completed kits should be delivered to Shoebox one week before Easter so they can be delivered in time for Easter.
This Easter Box-et is a gift to you. It is given as freely as His love is given to all of us.
For the past several years Emmanuel Presbyterian Church has designated March as “March for Missions.” On each of the five Sundays in March we will take a few moments to focus on a particular outreach opportunity and hear how we can support the work of Jesus Christ in our own church family and beyond.
On March 1 we will hear about the behind-the-scenes ministry of our Board of Deacons as they care for people within our church family and in the larger community.
Our worship service on March 8 will include photos and testimonies from the 2015 Amor mission trip to Rocky Point, Mexico, where our missionaries built a home for Sara and her daughterMelanny.
On March 15 Sonja Blea speak about and share photos of her ministry with orphaned children in Honduras through Thin Blue Line Ministries.
My Missionary Online will be featured in our worship service on March 22 and we will hear about their “ministry of technology” to missionaries around the world for whom they provide internet and website support.
On March 29 (Palm Sunday) our focus will be One Great Hour of Sharing, an ecumenical mission outreach supported by our denomination and extending around the world in the name of Jesus Christ.Missions is an integral part of our Christian faith.
Jesus told us to go into all the world with the good news of the Gospel, and we have the privilege of participating in the Great Commission in a variety of ways. Lent is an especially good time to think about how God has called us to be missional people, and I hope we will all make a special effort to be in worship every Sunday in March to hear about the good things God is doing through these wonderful outreach ministries.
Over the years, the congregation of Emmanuel Presbyterian Church has adopted and supported the mission of the Shoebox Ministry. The Shoebox Ministry helps homeless men, women and families in the greater Phoenix area by providing financial support and donating toiletry items or shoebox kits. An enlightening visit to one of the donation locations made me realize there are additional ways EPC can support this ministry. Much of the information provided here is directly from the Shoebox Ministry website.
The Shoebox Ministry is always in need of toiletries, and our EPC family graciously provides full-size, travel or hotel-sized items, including shampoo, deodorant, shaving cream, toothpaste, toothbrushes and disposable razors. What I hadn’t realized is that the ministry is also in need of the boxes themselves.
Here is a recipe for assembling items into a shoebox.
- 1 regular-size bottle shampoo (or 14 hotel/travel size)
- 1 regular-size bottle conditioner (or several travel size)
- 1 can shaving cream*
- 1 tube toothpaste
- 1 adult toothbrush
- 1 washcloth (new or clean used)
- 1 month supply woman’s sanitary products*
- 1 deodorant*
- 1 large bar soap (individually wrapped or in bag)
- 1 comb or hair brush
- 2 individual band-aids
- 2 disposable razors
- 1 body lotion (or several travel size)
- 1 pocket-size packet of tissues
- 1 pair of socks (new or clean used)
- 1 mending/sewing kit
- 1 magazine/reading material
Optional ingredients if available:
- 1 small packet laundry soap
- 1 shower cap*
- 1 bath/shower gel
- 1 hair spray
- 1 small notebook and pen
- stationery with stamped
- other misc grooming items for
men or women
*Please vary items accordingly for a woman or man. If making a “family kit” include socks for a man and a woman, and include 2 adult toothbrushes, 2 children’s toothbrushes, 2 deodorants and 5 disposable razors.
Beginning on February 24 and continuing on Tuesday evenings in Lent through March 24, we will be meeting in the fellowship hall for a simple but hearty soup supper and a special Lenten Bible study based on the CBR Bible journal readings from Isaiah. At 6:30 we will share a meal together, followed by time for study and reflection, and we will be on our way
home by 8PM. Look for further details in the weekly worship bulletin.
Lent always seems to arrive before I’m ready for it. But then, Lent is for unprepared people; Lent is all about getting prepared. The forty days before Easter remind us of the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for his ministry. Lent harkens back to the tradition of the church when converts to Christianity spent the forty days before Easter preparing themselves to undertake the new joys and responsibilities of their Christian faith.
When I was a child, growing up in a church in which observing Lent was not part of our tradition, my only notion of what Lent was all about came from my Roman Catholic friends who didn’t eat chocolate or go to the movies for a month before Easter. So in my young mind, when I gave it any thought at all, Lent was all about “giving up” something. While there is certainly much to recommend such spiritual disciplines of selfdenial, in recent years I have come to find that a “discipline of giving” can be just as helpful as a “discipline of giving up” in preparing for Easter.
Hundreds of years ago Teresa of Avila wrote these words:
- Christ has no body now but yours.
- No hands, no feet on earth, but yours.
- Yours are the eyes through which he moves compassion on the world.
- Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
- Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.
- Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
I offer these words for your reflection as we anticipate the season of Lent. Finding new ways to give our hands and feet and eyes to the service of others in Christ’s name is not only a wonderful Lenten discipline, but a model for Christian living every day of the year. May God bless you in these days of preparation and bring you to a joyous Easter.
Want to help support our trip to Mexico to build a house for those in need?
On January 11th after service join us for our fundraiser luncheon! The menu will include Cheese enchiladas, rice, beans, and home made salsa!
All donations will go toward the $3,000 we need for the housing materials to provide a brand new house for a family in Mexico. And if you want to do more than give money, you can join us! You can ask around at the luncheon for more information, or read more about Amor.
Chili Cook Off, Bake Sale, Hot Dogs, Chips and Drinks!
Holiday Craft Fair!
Free Kid’s Activities!
Sunday, November 16th: 11:30am – 2pm Emmanuel Presbyterian Chruch 3839 E. Shea Blvd.