Rev. Stefanie Muntzel

Let's Chat

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Dear FPCE Friends and Members,

In 2019 I am making a resolution to visit with each of you. If you could, would you help me

make this goal a reality? I’d love to meet with you in downtown Easton for coffee or come to

your home for a cup of tea or lemonade. In January, I will begin to take my calendar to Fellowship Hour

to schedule these “chats”. Then I’ll be reaching out to make sure everyone who is willing is scheduled.

I look forward to getting to know you all (even better) in this my second year in ministry with you.

Your Pastor,
Stefanie

The Color of Christmas

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What are the colors of Christmas? Red and green, you might think. Why then, do we at the First Presbyterian Church of Easton decorate our sanctuary with purple in December?

The use of colors to differentiate “seasons” in a church year became a common practice in the Western (European) church in about the fourth century. The Reformation movement lifted up a great deal of criticism against many practices and teachings of the Church, including critique of the distracting ornate décor of worship spaces. Protestant churches which were born from the Reformation not only embraced certain Bible based teachings (grace, not works) but the new churches also sought a more simplified worship style.

Of course this reforming of worship happened in differing degrees; Lutherans emerged from the Reformation following a “liturgical” calendar and using colors to represent certain celebrations. But for Reformed churches (including Presbyterian) embellishments in the worship space were purged. But then during the 20th century, the ecumenical movement prompted the rediscovery of ancient Christian ritual. The feeling was that maybe we had thrown the baby out with all the bath water- some art and ritual could actually help us focus on God. Seasonal colors once again were used to help us focus on certain Biblical stories and about who God is to us.

So, why purple in December? Purple is used during our seasons of preparation: Advent and Lent. During the four Sundays before Christmas, which we call the season of Advent, we dedicate ourselves for the preparation of our hearts and minds for welcoming Christ. Purple is the traditional color of royalty. In ancient Rome, Adventus was a technical term for the ‘glorious entry’ of the King into the capital city. This often happened when the birthday of the royal leader was commemorated. The early followers of Jesus heard him preach about the contrast between the worldly empire of Rome and the heavenly kingdom of God. Jesus was the representative of God’s peaceable kingdom on earth. So we still use purple to remind us of the coming of the kingdom of God and the coming of our God and King, Jesus Christ, into the world.

Red can, traditionally, only be found on one Sunday during the liturgical year: Pentecost, where the church celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit to the early church as tongues of fire. During most of the church year, which is commonly called "ordinary time", the color that you will see in the sanctuary is green. (Ordinary, related to ordinal or numbered.) Because green is associated with life, the use of green during the times when there are no big festivals or holidays reminds us that God is present among us, breathing life into us and into our church during ordinary times. We use white any time we are celebrating days that emphasize the divinity of Christ-- including on Christmas itself. Also, since white has come to symbolize holiness, it is also often used for the celebration of both baptism and communion.

In this season of Advent take notice of colors and the meaning we have attached to them. What do those colors tell us about who Jesus is? As your pastor, I will be asking you to think about the sacredness and stillness of blackness in a season of flashing bulbs and beeping screens as we wait for the coming of Christ. Also, please notice that we will have new paraments, fabrics with color, in our sanctuary. May the colors and symbols of these small, simple pieces of art help you in your worship.

Grace and peace,
Stefanie

Harvest

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I no longer have a garden. I have some herbs and patio tomatoes all up on my deck away from the deer that think anything that grows out in my yard is for them. If it weren’t for farmer’s markets and farm stands, I would forget this is a season of harvest. But it is.

The leaves on the trees haven’t quite turned to their beautiful Autumn colors. Trees are still full of green leaves - some are just brushed with a bit of gold. The days haven’t grown too dark, but the last few nights were cool enough for a comfy sweatshirt. It’s a sweet spot between trees growing and sleeping, between long days and long nights. These in-between times are holy times to take stock of life and to celebrate the gifts of Harvest.

Harvest is a season of plenty, abundance, fullness. Scripture is filled with themes about harvest times. Jesus called God, the Lord of the Harvest (Matthew 9:38). The riches and abundance of God’s blessings to us are both material and spiritual. When we take the time to look at our harvest—all the ways which God supports and sustains us—how can we not feel blessed?

Here at First Presbyterian Church of Easton, each of us individually can be confident in the generosity of the Lord of the Harvest.

Walt Whitman offers a “Carol of Harvest” in his famous Leaves of Grass.

Loud, O my throat, and clear, O soul!

The season of thanks, and the voice of full-yielding;

The chant of joy and power for boundless fertility.

Times of Harvest remind us that God provides—not without our hard work and input—but God provides. So often today people live from a place and a perspective of scarcity and/or fear. Instead, I invite you to adopt a harvest mentality for your living. Look with joy and thanksgiving at your life now and as you think about your life in the future – you can trust in the Lord of the Harvest. You are enough. You can expect and hope for good times and good things in your future. This is what a harvest mentality is about.

Of course, having a bountiful harvest means great opportunities for feasting!! As always, part of the way we celebrate God’s generosity here at FPCE is with food and fellowship. I so am looking forward to our Kenyan Dinner on October 13th when I can feast with you. This year we intend to direct some of the bounty of this event not only to support this church but to share with neighbors in Kenya. Look out for more information about this in the future.

May you enjoy the changing of seasons and take every chance to give praise to God for the many gifts of life.

Your Pastor,

Stefanie