With all the faculties of human nature, one of the most powerful is that of attention. What we choose to attend to, to a great degree, shapes our experience of the world for good or for evil.However, our intellectual faculties are limited, and we simply cannot pay attention to all the visual or auditory stimuli we experience every day. And so, our minds are constantly filtering out the noise and looking for what we desire to see.
For example, if you are at a store looking for a specific product, in a very real sense you will not see the thousands of other products that are not what you are looking for. Your eyes may register them at some level, but because you are looking for a specific pattern, like a product label, your mind will filter out everything that is not that pattern. You see, and yet you do not see, because you are not paying attention.
Likewise, if we choose to attend to what is good and true and beautiful in life, to look for it intentionally, that is what we will see. But if we choose to see and attend to all that is flawed and broken and evil in the world, we will inevitably find it.
You get what you expect; you see what you look for. This is what our Lord meant when he talked about the eye being the lamp of the body: “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness” (Luke 11:34). There is an intentionality to our gaze. Our Lord was telling us that what we choose to attend to will either fill us with light or darkness.
St. Paul likewise acknowledges the power of attention that it has to shape us when he admonishes us to attend to what is good: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8).
Despite the power of attention to fill us with light or darkness, we rarely pay attention to what we are paying attention to. Our minds are ceaselessly fluttering from one thing to the next, and at times, it can feel like we have little to no control over them. Media, too, captures our attention and overwhelms us with thousands of impressions, all of which subtly shape us in ways we hardly realize.
While it may at times feel like the problem of fragmented attention is a uniquely modern problem, it is not. Caught in this web of distractions that fragments our attention, we feel a longing for peace. At times, a desire for union with God or prayer may even well up within us, but how can we possibly seek Him when we can hardly hold our focus for more than a few seconds?
The saints propose many ways to recollect ourselves, but I want to focus today on one of them: The present moment. This practice begins with the realization that God is not “out there” somewhere else. He is not up in heaven, nor is His presence limited to a geographic location. The heaven of heavens cannot contain Him. On the contrary, He contains everything within Himself, and as St. Paul tells us, “for in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:8).
God is here. Now. In this moment. He is closer to us than we are to ourselves. Indeed, if He ceased to be present, we would cease to exist. How rarely we feel or experience this truth! Yet, we must train ourselves to see and perceive God’s presence.Just as we can intentionally set our gaze to look for something specific in a store, we can choose to look for God’s presence. We can awaken to His reality here and now, in this very moment. This takes effort, distracted as we are, but it is an effort that will bear eternal fruit.
So, pay attention to what you are paying attention to. If you desire God’s presence, begin to realize that He is already there and begin to attend to this presence. And He will begin to reveal Himself to you in ways large and small; you will begin to see Him everywhere.
If at times, caught in the chaos of distractions that is the modern world, you feel a stirring, a longing for God, realize that you do not have to go far to find Him. He is here and now in your midst. We only have to have eyes to see, and if our eye is sound, we will be filled with light, His light. And thanks be to God for that.
Stewardship News– Becky Beardsley
My term as Stewardship chairperson is almost at an end. I have decided to resign that position. Thank you to the members of the Finance Committee throughout these past few years for your help.
The proposed budget for 2020 will be presented at the Voters’ Meeting on November 10th. There was one last copy of this in your boxes in October. The goal of the Council is to get the budget approved with minimal discussion. That doesn’t mean you can’t ask questions or express any concerns. It is sometimes difficult to answer last minute questions. I hope you have thoroughly reviewed the 2020 budget and expressed your concerns, so they have already been addressed.
If you are checking our weekly giving each week, you can see we still have a significant deficit in what is needed to support our weekly financial needs. Please continue to give regularly.
Thank you for all you do.
The Church Year– Larry Beardsley
The last two months have been fairly routine in our church year as we moved through the Time of the Church, the Sundays after Pentecost. But, as we enter November, we enter into the Festival Season of the church. Friday, November 1st is All Saints Day. Sunday, November 3rd marks the observation of the Feast of All Saints’ Day, a day on which the church remembers all of the Saints who have departed this life in the past year.
In November our Gospel readings come from the 5th Chapter of Matthew, the Beatitudes (a designated reading for The Feast of All Saints) and from Luke where Jesus debates with the Sadducees and foretells the destruction of Jerusalem. On November 29th, the last Sunday of the church year, we read the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus – a reminder of our last days and the End Times, the time when Christ returns and makes His Final Judgment.
For ordinary Sundays in November, altar paraments and vestments are green for the Season after Pentecost. For Friday, November 1st (All Saints Day) and Sunday November 3rd, our observation of All Saints Day, paraments and vestments will be white.
Please plan to attend the Voters’ meeting on Sunday, November 10.
Scrip – Becky Beardsley
Thank you for your orders in September. There will be a scrip order on December 1st . Order forms will be in your boxes prior to that date. This is an easy way to check off all those names on your Christmas list! The following order will probably not be until March. So,think ahead! Thank you for supporting Ladies Aid!
MISSION BOARD/CHURCH PRESIDENT– Charles Martz
As we wrap up Pastor Appreciation Month, we give thanks to Pastor Koziol for doing a fine job. I think things are going well in the Church. We are looking forward to the November 10th Voters Meeting and hope all will attend. The Mission Board will be supplying new Catechism Books for the Church. The present ones we have are outdated.
TREASURER’S REPORT – Larry Beardsley
As we come to the close of the year (there are only nine Sundays left) it is apparent that we will not meet the giving goals that we expected when we adopted last year’s budget. Through the first 42 weeks of 2019, our average giving per week has been $2,875 against the $3,287 per week required to meet the budget. Over these 42 weeks, this $412 per week shortfall has amounted to a shortfall in expected giving of $17,300 dollars.
Fortunately our expenses have not been quite as high as we expected, but much of this deficit in our giving has been funded by a slow draw down in our checking account. If you have fallen behind in your giving this year, please consider adopting a catch-up plan as we bring the year to a close.
LADIES AID – LINDA HOFFMAN
Ladies Aid is selling pie crusts! Zion ladies labored to make pie crusts so you wouldn’t have to! Please see Michelle, Lori, or Linda to buy pre-rolled, ready to thaw and bake crusts for only $3.00! Or, get a crust already in a pie tin for $5.00 each. Imagine pumpkin pie, pecan pie, banana cream, apple, peanut butter…or use it to top chicken pot pie…or fill it with eggs and cheese for quiche! You will want several in the freezer for when the baking urge strikes.
Get ready to Journey to Bethlehem! Songs and rehearsals for the Children’s Christmas Service will begin this month. Songs are practiced during Sunday school, and all children ages 3 yrs. and older are welcome. We currently have four classes for children: pre-K and Kindergarten, 1st & 2nd grade, 3rd & 4th grade, and 5th grade through confirmation. Let the children learn the Word on their terms and gather with other young believers. Sunday school is held from 9:00 – 9:45 am each Sunday.
SLATE OF CANDIDATES FOR THE 11/10 ELECTION:
Board of Elders – Lance Hoffman
With Reformation now behind us, we look ahead to both the Church and secular holiday season. Thanksgiving is not officially a bible story, but the tradition in America dates to the early 1600’s and the Pilgrims… When it became the official kick-off of the shopping season I do not know! Black Friday, I believe, is now bigger than Thanksgiving (to God for his Blessings to us) seeing how the shopping is now pretty much all week long, even on Thanksgiving Day itself.
The Christmas Season is a time that can bring out the best or the worst in all of us. Is this a season of “what can I get” and all of the materialism that runs rampant in our society…. OR …. Is this a season of God’s Love and the birth of our Savior! Will you/we go to church on Christmas (Eve or Day) or will we open presents and feast on turkey or ham and pumpkin pie? Will we attend Advent Services on Wednesday evenings in preparation of our Lord’s birth? Or will we be too busy, tired, distracted to bother? Will we be more about Frosty or Santa or Rudolph… or about Angels in the sky, lowly mangers in Bethlehem, or a star in the night sky and three wise men from the east??
It is clearly my hope and prayer that all of you (myself included) will anchor yourself to what is truly and should always be our first priority… Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior! Let gift giving and the cultural festivities of secular Christmas be a sideshow to the main event! The Birth of the Son of God.
Zion Lutheran Church Cemetery Association
It was at one time common to see a roadside sign that asked “Where Will You Spend Eternity?” addressing the question of heaven or hell. But, have you considered where your earthly remains will rest until Christ’s return?
Zion West Fairfield is your church home where you have lived out your faith in the company of fellow saints. What better place to wait for Christ to return than in Zion’s Cemetery. Your presence there is a witness to those who remain, still awaiting Christ.If you would like to discuss a burial plot in Zion’s Cemetery, contact Dave Swogger, Heath Eshelman or Larry Beardsley for details.
Building Committee – Lance Hoffman
The Church Office has a new roof on it. I will not share the entire story here…. You will have to attend the voters’ meeting to get the whole story. The short version is we had enough roof left over from the main project, so we decided to put it on now. Many sub-plots to this story however… see you at the voters’ meeting to get the rest of the story…!
CALENDAR NOTES /EVENTS FOR NOVEMBER
NOVEMBER 3 – CHURCH COUNCIL – 11:00 AM
NOVEMBER 10 – VOTER’S MEETING – 11:00 AM
NOVEMBER 23 – CALENDAR PLANNING 10:00 AM
NOVEMBER 24 – ELDERS MEET – 11:00 AM
NOVEMBER 27 – Wednesday Evening Worship Service – 7:00 P
Campaign Committee – Lance Hoffman Support for the Next Generation Campaign continues to come in almost weekly. For those who made a pledge and want to make payments every 6 months (quarterly), the next payment will be due at the end of November or the first of December. Overall, we are just below $100,000 to date. When the campaign ends in December of 2020 we should be over $220,000. If you would like to contribute, but did not make a pledge, you can either place a contribution in the Sunday offering plate (with a note of direction) or mail it to the Church Office. Thank You to everyone for this successful campaign!
ALTAR FLOWERS: A SERVICE TO CHURCH AND FAMILY
Do you ever stop to appreciate the fact that there are flowers on the altar each week? Have you ever considered how they came to be there? Zion’s members [as well as giving non-members] sponsor a week’s flowers in honor, memory, celebration, or simple recognition of someone or something significant in their lives. There is a Flower Calendar on the bulletin board in the Fellowship Hall where you can sign up to do so. Through an arrangement with Baker’s Flowers in Kendallville – for $30.00 per Sunday they provide us with an arrangement of fresh altar flowers and FREE DELIVERY. There is a form on the calendar to note details about flower dedications, so the information can be included in the church bulletins. Please consider being part of this process.