Author Archives: Anita Errickson

About Anita Errickson

I have been an ordained Elder in the PC (USA) since 1996 serving at least three terms as a Ruling Elder. I have taught Sunday School for children and adults, and served on numerous church committees including the Pastor Search Committee. I sing in the chancel choir and currently serve as the Moderator at the Presbytery level for Presbyterian Women. My husband and I have raised three children in the church and we share with our church family a special bond of love and caring.

Don’t Worry-Choise Hope Instead

Life can be hard, it can be full of difficult choices and uncomfortable situations.  We can try our best and work our very hardest yet in spite of our best efforts things might not work out the way we planned. Really often they don’t. So what do we do then?  Give up? Wallow in self pity? I don’t think so. 

A better choice would be to ponder these words carefully and see where thay take you. 

  • Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?     Luke 12:25-26
        Instead Paul has this to say about choosing hope.
  • May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Peace, Joy and overflowing Hope versus frustration, worry and anger.  I think I know what I’d choose.  How about you?

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Don’t Block the View

March 24, 2015

Romans 14:13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister”. NIV

Sometimes children will chide the “bossy” one in the group with the question, “Who died and left you in charge?” It is a pretty good zinger that usually leaves the one to whom it is addressed with not much to say. We deserve to hear that when we think we have all the answers. Living in the world of adults soon teaches us there are lots of effective ways to solve a problem and a quick rush to judgment might mean that we miss something useful. Wise Paul tells us not to judge others – we’re just not qualified! Then he tells us what we should be spending our time doing. We need to make sure that our lives reflect God’s love. We need to remember that others watch our lives to see if our faith really makes any difference on a day to day basis. Does faith mean more to us than just going to church on Sunday? A hymn I learned in childhood sums it up:

Let others see Jesus in you,

Let others see Jesus in you.

Keep telling the story, be faithful and true;

Let others see Jesus in you.

Your life’s a book before their eyes,

They’re reading it thro’ and thro’

Say, does it point them to the skies, Do others see Jesus in you?

Baylus Benjamin McKinney, 1924

Prayer: Oh Lord, May I never do anything that blocks the view of You. Amen.

You decide – then take action!

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Comments from the Moderator, Cherokee Presbytery, March 14, 2015

1 John 3:16-19

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

 As Presbyterian Women at this Gathering today we are part of a much larger and much more diverse band of women involved in action in our communities and around the world. Those actions ARE driven by the love of God that John mentions in the words I just read.   There is no other power that can effect change and empower ministry like the power found in the love of God.

 As you know the work of Cherokee Presbytery PW is also diverse and full. Projects large and small are detailed throughout the pages of this booklet.   I invite you to look it over at your convenience and my prayer is that it will give you a sense of the larger picture of PW. As you read it, remember John’s words: …let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

I want to focus a few remarks on our actions today, because clearly what we do in truth and in God’s love matters greatly to Presbyterian women. We remind ourselves of this fact every time we say together the PW purpose. Mission both near and far is how we take Christ into the world as Presbyterian Women. It is one of the major ways we show that the love of God is in us. For generations, Presbyterian women have responded to God’s love by sharing that love with the world in tangible ways. We love by being His hands, His feet, His voice, and His love made tangible—new mattresses, Maringa Trees, bicycles for transportation, books, paper and pencils for education, cleaning supplies, little dresses made from your old pillow cases…Support for these projects and so much more is a vital thread that binds us together in common cause.

We have been gifted with a variety of talents, resources and a sincere desire to help others, which alone makes us one of the most generous of charitable organizations.  But we are even more blessed than most charitable organizations because we agree that what holds us together is showing the love of God by our actions. In places of darkness and misunderstanding, areas at war or in poverty, confusion and hopelessness – Presbyterian Women –you– decided to shine the light of God’s love by your actions. And you have made a profound impact.

Ask the mom who doesn’t have to worry anymore about the threat of a little mosquito whose tiny bite can rob her of the joy of raising her child.   You gave $10.00 to buy her a mosquito net. You decided it was important and in your compassion and desire to obey God’s call through your actions, you gave the gift of life to a mom and baby in a third world country.

Ask the missionary who is tired and stressed and needs respite for a while to recharge the batteries and return to the field. Someone like you saw that need and acted to show God’s love. We have Mission Haven to offer that place of respite because someone just like you decided it was important to show God’s love with action.

You also decided that it was important to offer emotional and financial support to mission workers and projects around the world. You make and purchase hospital supplies for Malawi, Congo and Haiti. You give your dollars to special offerings, such as the Fellowship of the Least Coin and the Presbyterian Hunger Fund along with our Birthday and Thank Offerings.

You provide much-needed assistance to projects in your own communities. Because you decided it was important to let your actions show God’s love.

Ask the child who attended Camp Cherokee due to your generosity. Maybe you helped on workdays to get the place ready to open. Maybe you taught Bible lessons or music, or you directed craft time or helped a child make s’mores over the campfire, maybe you hugged a homesick child. Maybe you couldn’t be there yourself so you sent a child to camp, and prayed for the spiritual growth of those who attended and wisdom for those who led the camp. How can you measure the investment you have made in the lives of children and youth through this ministry alone? These kids are our future and the way we nurture them now speaks volumes about what you and I think is important. You decided.

You are on the forefront. Every time you put your pennies in the least coin offering, donate your time in service to others, or contribute financially to any of the things we’ve talked about today you are making a decision to speak for Christ with your actions. If you support back pack buddies, a day care in your home church or lead a spiritual retreat you decide again what is important. You need to keep deciding because without you, people suffer even more in this world than they would without you.

Is PW relevant? What do we want to pass along to those coming behind us?

Any organization needs leadership, those who are willing to prioritize their lives so that they can and will answer the call to service. As we navigate this busy life, we are often called to choose not necessarily between what is bad and good, but even harder than that, we must choose between good things and other good things. Then the discernment process gets a bit more difficult. At those times we need to be still before God so that we can hear His voice nudging us in the direction He wants us to go. It may not be where we wanted to go, it may not be what we thought we were equipped to do. We may not think we have the time to do even one more thing. But ladies, God prepares those He calls. He gives us everything we need to succeed if we will just let Him. You would be hard pressed to find someone in leadership in PW that had all the answers when they took their first office. It’s more like learning and growing together, being supported and lending support, listening to the voices of others and planning together with God’s love guiding the action.

I know that God is going to provide for Cherokee Presbytery’s PW. I am excitedly waiting to see who He brings forward. It’s not too late for action. If you have the slightest inkling that God wants you on the Coordinating Team, I urge you not to wait. We need district facilitators, spiritual retreat coordinators, a newsletter editor, a moderator–elect (I would love to work with someone!) There is no better way to speak through action than to offer to God the use of your voice and your hands in a new way. Rich blessings await you. But that’s not why you need to do it; you need to do it because it’s right, because it furthers His Kingdom on this earth and mostly because it pleases God.

Is PW still relevant in today’s world? You have to decide. Then you need to take action.

Those who went before you made their decision and they made their sacrifices. Now it’s your turn. You need to tell people why PW is relevant. Take the word from here and tell everyone what we do near and far, but even more importantly – tell them why we do it.

Living Stones: The Family of God

As you come to Him, the living stone…rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him…you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.                                               1 Peter 2:3-5

In 1997, Madeline L’Engle co-authored a book with her editor and friend, Lucy Shaw, entitled “Friends for the Journey”.  The book is filled with wonderful stories of an enduring and often long-distance friendship shared by the two as they navigated the everyday changes of life and the sacred moments of worship together.  For more than forty years, they enjoyed the benefits of complimentary personalities.  They were comfortable with each other, no matter the circumstances, as they walked together in this friendship.

One afternoon as they traveled together in the New England pastoral countryside, they came upon a series of low fences made of fieldstones.  They speculated that these stones might have been made into a fence as a means of getting them out of the field.  But, then Lucy had an epiphany.  She noted that the convexity of one stone fit perfectly into the concavity of its neighbor.  The fence was built because the stones fit so well; even the gritty surfaces served to help keep them in place.  Stones of different sizes and shapes, held together, not by mortar, but by the careful fit of each stone in its place;  the way God puts us together, even today, to form His Spiritual Houses.

We fit together, as Children of God wherever we may be, not by chance, but by His Divine Orientation.  We all have gifts and talents, as God Himself has seen fit to give us.  It is up to us to discover what they are and how to use them for his honor and glory.  Each of us is like one of those fieldstones, some surfaces being grittier than others; but that only serves to keep us strong, headed in the same direction, and focused on Him.

Precious Father, thank you for building us into the household of faith; for allowing us to serve as living stones built upon our firm foundation.  Help us to be mindful of the needs of those you place so intentionally next to us, so that in serving each other, we bear witness of your love to the world and thereby serve you with our very lives.  AMEN.

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Andrae Crouch goes home and Heaven rejoices

Heaven rejoices today in a never ending welcome home celebration for Andrae. But it is no more and no less a celebration when any child of God goes home. I am grateful today for the opportunity of watching him work with the senior youth choir at Montreat Conference Center a few years ago. He had the whole place moving and giving Glory to God. For most of my adult life I have known his music and participated in the use of it in choral worship settings. “My Tribute” is particularly meaningful to me, but today, I think this rendition of “Soon and Very Soon” speaks volumes more about Andrae Crouch than I could ever say with the written word. Blessings.

Andrae Crouch

Andrae Crouch

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmGiu9JfbIs   

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Epiphany! Shine On Christmas Star, Shine On!

The Christmas Star on the top of my tree reminds me of the Light of the world who in human form pierced the darkness and relative quiet of a stable so long ago. The tiny Light grew and illuminated the hearts of those around Him except those who would not receive Him. Incredibly two thousand years ago there were those who preferred to walk in darkness just as there are in today’s world.

Just as the Star lit the way to Bethlehem for the wise men guiding them on their journey, so Jesus lights the way for our journeys. In His own words He tells us that “He is the Way, the Truth and the Life”. (John 14:6) He is The Light that “shines in the darkness and the darkness has not (nor will it ever) overcome it”.

Darkness comes in different forms. Illness, loss, depression, war, hardship, hunger and thirst are a few examples. Imagine being lost alone in the dark. Terrifying right? But there is no darkness we can name, or think of, or experience that cannot be illuminated by the One Light of God. Some translations say the darkness cannot understand this Light and happily the darkness can never put it out. (John 1:5) I am grateful not to have to live in such Light-less hopelessness.

Can you see it?

Often we can’t see God’s Light until we have the 20/20 vision afforded by hind sight and reflection. Then we may be able to see the “AH! There – The light was there all along” moments. There is a light that shines steadfastly in the deepest darkness, and there is hope and peace beyond all human expectation and understanding in believing in God. I cannot answer the question no one can answer, the big “why” question; rather I want to suggest that we don’t even have to ask that question. It just does not matter. There are things in this life we will never understand no matter how intelligent or resourceful we are; we just have to accept things on faith in God alone. Once we have believed and acknowledged our need for God, we can begin to find the “peace that passes understanding” even in the hardest trial. And learn the lessons – because “pain is never pointless”.

If we have faith in God, then we also have the Light for this life to help us with whatever darkness we encounter. Whatever form darkness takes in our lives, we may be assured that the Light of Christ will penetrate it bringing grace and showing the way through. Will it be an unmistakable shaft of Light? Or a pin prick sized spot that grows slowly until all is illuminated? Yes to both. Sometimes we are graced with “Ah-ha! Moments” when all seems as clear as that shaft of Light. Other times the darkness is penetrated by a smaller Light, but a Light that grows and steadily warms the heart, clears the vision and points out the path.

I am often reminded of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs as I reflect on Scripture. Today I am reminded of two very different songs, from two distinctive genres. The first is an old hymn text written by John Henry Sammis with music by Daniel Brink Towner in 1887.

Lyrics:

-1919

When we walk with the Lord In the light of His Word, What a glory He sheds on our way; While we do His good will, He abides with us still, And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, For there’s no other way To be happy in Jesus, But to trust and obey.

The full lyrics may be found at this link: https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/582

And the other piece was recorded by country music artist Emmylou Harris, with harmonic vocals provided by Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt. It was recorded by Warner Brothers in 1979 but has been re-recorded several times by other artists.

Listen to the full piece here: http://www.metrolyrics.com/beautiful-star-of-bethlehem-lyrics-emmylou-harris.html

Oh, beautiful star of Bethlehem Shining afar through shadows dim

Giving the light for those who long have gone

Guiding the wise men on their way Unto the place where Jesus lay

Oh, beautiful star of Bethlehem, shine on

May the Light that brings life grow in your heart today, illuminating new corners of your life with the One True Light. The Light came into the world – to its very own people – but they did not receive it. But to those that did (and those that will today and tomorrow) the Light became the Light of the world. John 1:1-18.

Growing Larger: A Look at the Annunciation

37 For no word from God will ever fail.”38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

Mary carried God. Jesus became human through Mary and the will of God. Jesus was truly human and truly Divine. Mary, a virgin, was truly human and truly obedient. Mary was the deliverer of God to the world, young inexperienced, yet trusting and faithful.

I see Mary as one who has pledged her virginity in faithfulness to God until her marriage with Joseph. That vow is important to her and of course to her family. Now stunningly she is visited by an angel – Gabriel himself – who tells her that she is to become pregnant via the Holy Spirit before her marriage to Joseph. The Bible does not say that she hesitated; it does say she was greatly troubled. Did her thoughts include: “wait, let me think about all this” or “what will my parents think?”, “what will Joseph say or do?” or “oh yeah! I could be stoned when people see me growing larger before my marriage”! All are thoughts that could have frightened her into a great panic. But Gabriel has already spoken peace to her heart perhaps not just because of the sudden surprise of his visitation, but maybe also to quiet any of these potential thoughts. He has told her he brings “good news for all people”, (Luke 2:10), so how can this be bad for Mary? She is a good Jewish girl awaiting the promised Messiah like her entire village and the whole Jewish world. Now she knows where and when He will come and she knows before anyone else.

She has been honored and blessed by God beyond human understanding. This is the knowledge that removes even the possibility of fear. God will take care of her and her situation and He has already thought of everything. (Just like He does for you and for me).

Luke’s account (1:26-38) also does not say that she wondered who would believe her story. Gabriel took care of that too by telling her about Elizabeth’s surprise and humanly impossible pregnancy. Strange things are happening and Mary knows that Elizabeth will understand, support and guide her. After the announcement by Gabriel, Mary wastes no time getting to Elizabeth.

Mary carried God in the form of a little baby boy that grew to be the One who sacrificed Himself for the sins of the whole world. Mary delivered Jesus to the world. Now He lives within all who accept His Lordship in their lives. How do we carry Him in this world? How do we deliver Him to those we encounter daily? Is it clear to others that Christ’s love is growing larger in our own hearts and lives every day?

As God cared for Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus by keeping them safe from Herod’s sword and from every other possibility of harm, He does the same for us. He loves us and wants us to love Him and each other through whatever crisis life might throw at us.  Those who are martyred for there faith and those who meet tragic deaths on this earth are not abandoned by God.  He is with them before, during and after their transition into the heavenly realm.  He has given us a promise, “Never will I leave you, and never will I forsake you”. Hebrews 13:5. “No word from God will ever fail.” Luke 1: 37. Amen.