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Please consider sending in short news items as Aaron suggested for a "News from the Flock" column in our paper newsletter.  His email is: aaron@ukulele.church

The Bulletin for Sunday, September 20th is included in the paper newsletter that will be mailed today.  It will also be included in our e-mail later in the week.

The link for Sunday's live streamed service (beginning Sunday, 9/20 at 10am) will be:  https://youtu.be/lQg0Micz4gc

Find the rest of our September Worship Schedule at the bottom of this email.
 
Devotion for Tuesday, September 15th

Counting Sheep
Luke 15:1-7 (NRSV)
 

15   Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’

3 So he told them this parable: 4‘Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” 7Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.

(Yes, I know this cute little fellow is actually a goat.  It seems that I don't have any sheep photos on my computer - only goats.  This either has something to do with my status re:Matthew 25 - or it could be that goats are far more likely to be found in the petting zoos for children which we frequent.  Does this say something about sheep and their temperament relative to goats? 
Anyone know?  I don't! )
I believe that caring about each of God's children in our midst is not limited to but definitely includes making sure that our community is adequately resourced to support people of all ages.  At present our Census is seeking to count the people of New Hanover County - and reports are that they are missing quite a few people.   Please consider responding to the Census if you have not already done so - and encourage others to do so as well at http://www.2020census.gov/
 
Dear Friends,

The three parables of Luke 15 are each a powerful testament to God's faithfulness and God's love.

In one of my first devotions in March I shared a curious "Lessons and Carols" service around the Parable of the Prodigal Son.  It can still be viewed here:   https://mailchi.mp/961d77f2af88/wppc-devotion-for-monday-march-23rd-the-prodigal-an-unusual-service-of-lessons-and-carols

While the Prodigal Son - with its engaging characters - attracts most of our attention in Luke 15, we should not overlook the two parables which precede it.  Today we will consider the lost sheep and tomorrow the lost coin.

 
Go back and look at the first verses: (Luke 15:1-2   Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’)   

Jesus is addressing the situation where (again) the Good-Religious-People of the day are griping that he is welcoming sinners and eating with them.   The "eating with them" underlines the fact that Jesus is not just keeping them at arm's length but is in fact sharing a meal with them - an act with great significance in our time but far greater in his.  It's almost as if he... loves them or something.

(And there is a real cause he to recognize that one of the concerns those Good-Religious-People have is that they not be seen to approve the sinful behavior.  And, of course, there are actions that truly are harmful to yourself or others, but Jesus seems markedly less concerned about whether or not he might accidentally be perceived of as approving of something which should not be approved of and is instead much more concerned that he is seen as welcoming, loving, and approachable to those people who are all-too-often unwelcome, unloved, and unapproached.)

So, Jesus tells this curious parable:   4‘Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?

Which one of you?
   Which one of you, indeed!   
Just a reminder:  We don't know terribly much about the husbandry practices of 1st Century Palestinian Shepherds.   Shepherds tended to be country folk of little interest to the relatively few people who could and did write things down.  

So, if a preacher tells you that any shepherd would of course go out and seek one lost sheep...

Or a preacher tells you that no sane shepherd would abandon 99 sheep in search of only one...

Or if a shepherd tells you that actually good shepherds lovingly seek that one lost sheep, find it, and then lovingly break its leg to teach it not to run off again... (yes, this is an actual thing shared in sermons in the US - first attested in the 1950s and seemingly without any basis in any real events, and yes is a fairly horrible illustration and idea of what love is)

If a preacher tells you any of these things in confidence, be wary, because we may not actually know.

We may not know all about being a shepherd in Jesus' day, but from the Gospel we can see that Jesus is speaking to these griping Good-Religious-People, to the welcomed sinners, and (perhaps) to his own disciples.

And the point of the parable is to underline the dramatic action of the Shepherd.

Whether or not it is completely expected or completely unexpected, this Good Shepherd does go out and seek the one lost sheep, finds it, and rejoices.

This Good Shepherd, the one sitting at a table full of lost sheep;  This Good Shepherd, the one telling a story to another group of just-as-lost-just-don't-know-it-because-we're-too-full-of-ourselves lost sheep;

This Good Shepherd.  This Jesus.   He absolutely goes off in search of the one lost sheep because that one lost sheep matters.

That one lost sheep is just as loved and yearned for as all the other.

This parable is really perhaps less about sheep than it is about the people at that table and the people who are griping and the disciples who are listening in and maybe worried about this confrontation that their teacher has gotten into with the distinguished scholars of the Galilean Ministers Association.

Because it turns out that Jesus is not talking to one lost sheep.   He is talking to a flock of them.

He is talking to a flock that includes us as we wander and stray.

Those sheep.  We lost ones.  Us.   He is talking to us.

Friends, I still remember a sermon that I heard as an early teenager.  Our pastor observed - perhaps from another preacher or teacher - that in some Christian communities the emphasis is not on going out to bring the one in, but the emphasis is the idea that without the one lost sheep, the flock (the church) will not be whole.

When I was working as a camp counselor, we always began the week with a dozen or so children who did not know each other and did not know to care about each other.   I always loved watching - as Christian Community was built within the group - when the campers started to actively include others and notice when someone else was being left behind.

Some of the most touching moments I have seen in church families are when people notice that the group is not whole, someone is missing, someone needs to be sought.   Sometimes the shepherd (or pastor - which is just Latin for shepherd) is not the one who notices.  Sometimes it is a member of the flock.



In the Gospel, those griping distinguished scholars are worried to bits that they will let the wrong people in.   Jesus is worried that they will keep the right people out.

6And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” 

Jesus wants to rejoice when they are found.  Jesus wants to call the neighbors over for a party when they are found.   Sometimes we don't want to draw attention to the fact we've lost something or someone.  Sometimes we want to welcome the lost sheep or lost person back without making a fuss.   This is not what Jesus does.

And who do we inivte?  These are the same neighbors who may be expressing doubt about the lost.  Who may think its best that they stay away.   They get invited to the party.    Ever notice that there are at least three "welcome back" parties in Luke 15?   Think maybe Jesus was trying to make a point?



Jesus' parable should give us both pause and hope.

Pause when we take the path of the griping church people.  We shouldn't do that.

Hope when we realize that we are a lost - and loved - child of God, sought by Jesus.  Today.

And it should give us a challenge to help count and care for others.   We should work to make sure that others are not left behind.   I would again suggest that part of doing that this day involves encouraging others to respond to the Census.   Schools and other resources for people in our community - especially our children - matter quite a great deal.

But of course other parts of counting others are much more the work of the church as we seek to nurture our fellow children of God in Spirit and in life.  We have work to do.

There is reason to rejoice in doing that work.

Grace and Peace - and thanks be to God!

Emile
 
"My Shepherd Will Supply My Need"
arr. Virgil Thomson-Holy Cross College Choir
Dear Friends, please note that advertisements may appear in front of YouTube videos.  Given the season, these may be political ads, but please know that WPPC has no control over what ads are shown to you.  

For videos that we create, we never enable ads.  There is a small chance that the copyright holder of a given piece of music might choose to put an ad in front of our video (to create revenue for the copyright holder).  
Worship at WPPC in September 

Livestreaming on Sunday Mornings at 10am - Beginning Sunday, September 20th

Link for Sunday, September 20th at 10am:  https://youtu.be/lQg0Micz4gc

Wednesday, September 23rd at 7pm -  Online Communion Worship Service on Zoom.

Wednesday, September 30th at 6pm -  Outdoor "Parking Lot" Worship Service.
Please consider bringing diapers for a collection for the North Carolina Diaper Bank to this service.
 

Friends, as always, please wear a mask, bring your own chair - if possible, and exercise caution when deciding whether an in person service makes sense for you and the members of your household.
Sunday, September 13th was rainy!  However we met and worshiped on the "back porch" of Chadbourn Hall.

Sunday Morning Worship:   We need A/V volunteers!

 Watch the video below for more information.
Operating our A/V System
If you might be interested in being one of our volunteers, please let us know!
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Our mailing address is:
4501 Wrightsville Avenue, Wilmington, NC

Contact Us by Email:

Emile: emile@winterparkpres.org
Rachel:  rachel@winterparkpres.org
Aaron: aaron@winterparkpres.org
Sharon:  sharon@winterparkpres.org
Dorothy: dorothy@winterparkpres.org
Ruth: ruth@winterparkpres.org

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