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VOLUNTEER HERE FOR SUNDAY OPPORTUNITIES!

Every Sunday people serve the Lord by setting up altar tables, rearranging chairs, providing flower, providing bread for Holy Communion, greeting people and assisting the pastors during Holy Communion.

If you would like to help sign up by commenting on this post and indicate WHAT you are signing up for, and WHEN.

The WHAT consists of: Set-up, Flowers, Greeters, Communion Servers, Scripture Reader.

The WHEN could be: September 3, 10, 17, 24; October 15, 22, 29; November 5, 12, 19,26; December 3, 10, 17.

COMMENT below, or simply send Pastor Timothy a note at revtfmerrill@aol.com.

God bless you!

 

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Sermon Notes 2015.02.01 – Mark 1:21-28 – Jesus’ authority

From Pastor Peter:

For those of you who have asked us for sermon notes, here are the notes from February 1, 2015, and my sermon on Jesus’ authority, and cutting open the “tent.”

  1. The Gospel (Mark) portrays Jesus as one with authority, one who liberates.
    1. Is the idea of “Jesus the Liberator” still relevant today? Or have we reduced his role to “Jesus the one who gets us into heaven?”
    2. If he is still “Jesus the Liberator,” and most of us are not possessed by demons, then what does he liberate us from?
  2. Last week I had an experience that unexpectedly deepened my own understanding of “Jesus the Liberator,” and I would like to share that this morning.
    1. Couldn’t sleep, to avoid dark imaginings, I started recalling painful memories of times when I had been a real idiot and not only felt terrible, but also got roundly condemned for whatever it was. (e.g., bike & bus)
    2. This eventually led (maybe defensively) to memories of times people had hurt me, and I hadn’t really forgiven them, never really let it go.
    3. Both kinds of painful memories were the result of a lack of forgiveness—in cases where I still felt guilty for something I did 40 years ago, I hadn’t forgiven myself, and I was sure the other person hadn’t forgiven me either. In cases where I still hung onto some old hurt, I was the one not forgiving, and so the painful memory endured.
    4. As I tried to let go of both kinds of painful memories, a vision came to me that I hadn’t expected:
      1. I am inside a huge circus tent whose tent poles have crumpled, and the tent has trapped me under what has become a big, dank, dark tarp.
      2. After finding a stack of mini-tent poles (five or six feet), I began putting them up, creating little bubbles of space under the tarp. It felt like progress, so I kept doing it, putting up more and more, circling back to check on the ones already up, even though it didn’t get me out. In fact, nothing really changed.
  • Finally after so many years of this passed that I felt it was my life, one day I noticed what looked like a tear in the tarp. As I got closer I saw light coming through and heard a voice calling me, then telling me to grab hold of his hand and let him pull me out. After much trepidation I finally did, and all at once I was in the light again. It was a wonderful spring day with a breeze blowing and the AQI was ZERO!
  1. How do I understand that vision?
    1. The tent poles – we all have unhappy, painful memories that persist either because we can’t forgive ourselves or we can’t forgive the other person. In some cases we circle back to them, maybe replaying them, maybe changing the scenario, in any case refreshing our sense of guilt or righteous indignation. As we age, we add to them, and if we don’t somehow let them go, they can become a burden we just don’t need…but we think we do.
    2. To me, Jesus cutting an opening in the tent and reaching down to pull us out is a wonderful illustration of sheer grace. He does it out of love, out of concern for us that if he were not to pull us up, in our ignorance we would spend the rest of our days under the tent, working at making and preserving our little bubbles in the darkness and dankness, and thinking that is life. When, in fact, he created us for so much more than that, and came to us so that we “might have life and have it abundantly.”
    3. Being pulled up into Jesus’ world is so totally an experience of new life, that it is easy to see why Jesus called it being reborn. And once reborn from our old world into that new one, it is easy to understand the desire to spread the Word, to get others up where life can be truly lived.
  2. Conclusion: So can Jesus still be the Liberator for us in today’s world? Absolutely! I believe it is even easier to be trapped under all kinds of confusion and fear today than it was in Jesus’ time, which is all the more reason we need his liberating grace. And praise God that for any who reach out for his extended hand, he liberates us beyond anything we can even imagine!
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Christmas Eve Service of Lessons and Carols 2015 – Shanghai

AGIF – Trinity Congregation  will be holding a traditional Christmas Eve Candlelight Service of Lessons and Carols retelling the Christmas story with readings and Christmas songs at 10 pm at Abundant Grace (Hong En Tang) church.    You will recognize all your favorite carols, and be able to relax into the beauty of the Christmas story.  Children are very welcome, but there will be no church school classes or childcare available due to the late hour.

Christmas Eve Service, Trinity Congregation, Shanghai, China

Map and taxi directions

Hong En (Abundant Grace) Church, Pudong,  is in the same neighborhood as Dulwich Academy, Concordia, and the Jin Qiao Carrefour on Biyun Lu in the Pudong section of Shanghai.  The address is: 455 Hong Feng Lu, which is at the corner of Ming Yue Lu.  Be careful not to confuse it with the Catholic church, which is a long block away at Biyun Lu.  Make sure your taxi takes you to Mingyue Lu.

Address in Chinese:     Pudong, Jinqiao, 455 Hongfeng Lu  —  浦东新区,金桥。 红枫路455号  At the corner of Hongfeng Lu and Mingyue Lu.  红枫路 和 明月路 的十字 路口

Hong En Tang Church

 

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Christmas Eve Service 2013

Christmas Eve service shanghaiFor more information and a map, click on the Christmas Eve Service tab in the menu bar.

 

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Baking for the Sichuan Earthquake

Here in China we have a good idea how difficult everything is after an earthquake.  So many things are needed in an earthquake zone.

So our congregation rallied our bakers, and our youth did a great job selling, and we had a big bake sale to send to people we know who are working to help those who have been affected by the earthquake in Lushan.

With the funds from the sale we helped buy a lot of sports equipment and cupboards and shelves, tables and chairs/stools for the tent librairies, and some plastic tarps because it rains a lot and everything is wet.

With our donations comes prayers for drier weather, for peace and comfort, a feeling of safety, and the good will of all our congregation.

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Christmas Eve Service of Lessons and Carols

This gallery contains 2 photos.

At 8 pm on December 24, 2012, at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Pudong, in the Jin Qiao district, Trinity Congregation will be holding a traditional Christmas Eve Candlelight Service of Lessons and Carols retelling the Christmas story with readings … Continue reading

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Green Court 1 Clubhouse Address and Map

Green Court One Clubhouse and Map

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Where to find Christmas in Shanghai… 2011

Christmas Eve 2011 Traditional Service of Lessons and Carols
Saturday December 24, 2011, 8:00 p.m.

Trinity at Abundant Grace will be holding a traditional Christmas Eve Candlelight Service of Lessons and Carols retelling the Christmas story with readings and hymns, and end the service with the lighting of Christmas candles.  Children are welcome.

Location: In Pudong, in the Jin Qiao area.
Willowbrook – Greenhills Clubhouse (Community Center Building)
418 Jin Xiu East Rd (near intersection of Bai Hua Rd)
Jin Qiao, Pudong, Shanghai 200135

The closest subway station is Yunshan Lu Station, Line 6.
The address in Chinese is:
上海 浦东 金桥  锦绣东路418弄  云间绿大地会所 (靠近白桦路)

最近的地铁站是6号线云山路站

Map to show you where the clubhouse is:

It is very simple to find the clubhouse.  When you go in the big double gates to Willowbrook and have the rotary in front of you, there is a building on your left with a small shop.  Next to the shop are some doors that go into a big front entry hall with “Mrs. Brown’s Coffee Shop” at the back of the hall.  The service will be held through the doors to the right of the coffee shop.

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Some early Autumn Church Festivals

First of all, welcome back from your holidays.  The Board is busy trying to get the necessary permissions for us to worship in a new venue.  Stay tuned for further information.

Those of us from Western countries may think of “summer” as June, July and August.  Or we may think of “summer” as whenever there is hot weather.  In China, the season is set not by the weather, but by the positions of the stars and planets.

Autumn in China begins halfway between the summer solstice and the fall equinox, on August 7 or 8th and is called “li qiu,”  which means “the beginning of fall.”  So in China, Autumn is already here.  I am in Rhode Island at the moment, grateful for the cooler weather and the racket of the geese honking as they fly south in V-formation.

We have just passed August 15, one of the early church’s autumn holidays with a long history dating back to the 300s.  This is the day the church celebrates the assumption of Mary into heaven.  The “assumption” of Mary into heaven means that Mary was “taken” into heaven both in body and in soul.    Whether she was really taken into heaven in body as well as soul or not, it can also be taken in a more abstract way, that the mother of Jesus was special and blessed.

The celebration of the festival of the Assumption in the early church was fascinating.  The people would bring their herbs and fruits to the church to be blessed.   Also called “Our Lady’s Herb Day”, central European Christians would bring medicinal herbs, periwinkle, verbena, thyme, to be blessed at the church.  Then they would be wound into a sheaf which was thought to bring them protection for their health for the coming year.

The assumption was the start of what people then called “Our Lady’s Thirty Days,” which begins on the feast day and goes until September 15.  According to custom, nature is very benign during this period, snakes and wild animals do not attack or bite, and the harvested food and fruits will be especially nourishing and wholesome.

I read that this period of benevolence falls in the same period as the Jewish month of Av, and had the name of the “Weeks of Comfort.”  During this time the community is comforted over the destruction and loss of the Temple in Jerusalem, and are focused on the future, when they will have rebirth and renewal in the upcoming Jewish New Year which comes in September.

So there are many spiritual ideas for us to contemplate at this point in the early autumn.  We could think about the things we find are comforting, and make a list of them.   Or we could focus on our blessings in harvest food and fruits.  Even putting a simple basket of fruit on the table or giving a basket of fruit to someone who is sick would be a wonderful reminder of the fruit of good work.  In Ireland and parts of England people observe something they called “Our Lady’s Health Bathing,” when bathing in lakes, rivers, or the ocean was considered especially blessed.  For those of us with swimming pools, now would be a good time to go swimming!  Or you could go for a walk with your children and gather some grasses to put in a vase in the house as a reminder of customs of the past.

Whatever your church traditions are, a deepening happens when we study the history of our tradition and enjoy the parts that are appealing and will give us a spiritual lift.  Perhaps some of these ideas will resonate with you and you can enjoy a custom that dates back through the centuries in the Christian tradition, as many have before you.

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