Monday, December 30, 2002

Sun. Jan. 26
Souper Bowl Sunday!
This is a good reminder to bring canned goods -- like soup! -- for the food pantry this Sunday. Some folks like to get a can of food to donate for each snack item they buy for the Super Bowl celebration later on in the day. However you do it, help us make this a "Souper" Sunday for the food pantry.
Hebron Crossroads 1-05-03
By Jeff Gill

Winter is a fine time for reading. I enjoy skiing, and even snow shoveling has its pleasures (when you grew up shoveling snowfall
measured in feet), but there’s no time like these next few months for sitting near a fire, turning on a lamp, and opening up a book.
So the long promised (or threatened!) “Books and Coffee” series will begin the fourth Saturday of January, and run at least through May. We’ll meet at 10 am, in the meeting room at the front of 612 W. Main St. next to Hebron Christian Church, and I’ll have the coffee ready if you’ll come to talk about your reaction to the book o’ the month. They’ll all be relatively short, easily accessible by library or Waldenbooks at the mall, and picked by yours truly.
Jan. 25 we’ll look at “Johnny Tremain” by Esther Forbes. Officially a “juvenile” novel, this is a story of Boston as the American Revolution is getting started, and seemed a good choice as we’re about to see Ohio’s bicentennial celebration get started (March 1, don’t forget!). Published during the onset of World War II, Forbes was looking for ways to make history accessible and relevant to young people, but wrote a piece of historical fiction for the ages.
February 22 the selection is “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” by Jean-Dominque Bauby. This nearly un-summarizable book has to be read to be believed, and is quite short so why not try it? I guarantee a lively and memorable discussion.
March 22, as we’re all getting antsy with spring fever (or cabin fever if the winter’s grip has relaxed yet), the book is “Under a Tuscan Sun” by Frances Mayes. This is a true story that will warm up the most frigid view out your window as you read in February and March. There’s something here for cooks, carpenters, gardeners, teachers, poets, whatever your interests.
April 26, with Easter just past, we’ll look at “Desire of the Everlasting Hills” by Thomas Cahill, who wrote “How the Irish Saved Civilization.” Cahill is working his way through a series called “The Hinges of History,” and from his first Gaelic tribute to this most recent social history of the man Jesus, he’s living up to his intentions of giving a non-specialist overview of the major turning points in western civilization.
And the close of this experiment I made a “classic” that is rarely read today, but still in print (so someone’s reading it), Anthony Trollope’s “The Warden.” Again, a short book, but with a long reach across nearly 150 years into issues of today.
Even if you can’t attend any of the Saturday “Books and Coffee” gatherings but just decide to read a few of these titles that caught your fancy, you’ll have helped make this endeavor worthwhile. In fact, if someone e-mails me a few thoughts they had on completing the book for that month, I promise to make use of your contribution as we begin our discussion.
Of course, if you haven’t read (or finished) the book you’re more than welcome to attend; we just can’t promise not to ruin the ending for you! And the conversation is all the more interesting if you have some sense of who or what we’re talking about.
So request the book from the library, or go see the display at Waldenbooks (thanks Anita and Justin and Michelle!), and find a warm corner to read; we’ll see you Jan. 25.
Oh, and Go Bucks!

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and compulsive reader; if there’s a cure, he doesn’t want it! If you have news or book reports to share, call him at 928-4066 or e-mail

Sunday, December 29, 2002

Notes From My Knapsack

With the season of Christmas winding up on Epiphany Sunday (also known as Post-Fiesta Bowl Sunday), it’s also a good time for looking back over the “Holiday Season” and how the society around us does and doesn’t observe the occasion.

You’ve probably already heard how “the Gap” has instructed employees not to say “Merry Christmas”, and in fact I learned from employees at the mall that the landlords told all stores to avoid putting the word “Christmas” in any of their displays (I’m assuming, I hope unfairly, that manger scenes would have been completely out of the question). We’ve talked in the adult Sunday School classes and I’ve mentioned from the pulpit in recent weeks how seasonal music in ads and public spaces is now almost completely “carol-free,” limited to “Jingle Bells”, “Let It Snow”, and “Chestnuts Roasting. . .”, which was “The Christmas Song” when Nat King Cole first sang it, but never mind.

There’s plenty of room to bemoan some of these cultural developments, but let me tell you what the good news is in all of this. For many years, I think we’ve been too comfortable with assuming that society is taking care of teaching Christianity to our young, and reminding the more mature of the meaning of the story, not to mention the “reason for the season.” The good news, the Good News out of the new day we find ourselves in, is that we now know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if we want our children to learn the story and meaning of Christmas, we’re going to have to teach it to ‘em ourselves. The Gap isn’t gonna do it, Target won’t get it done, and the mall doesn’t care. And ya know what? I’m not sure they ever did.

As to the comment “but we’re in the majority, we shouldn’t let a minority take away our Christmas,” here’s an observation that isn’t good news, but is a good challenge as we go into our annual meeting Jan. 26 and Christian Ed planning Jan. 9: on Christmas Eve, we were rightfully pleased to see around 165 in worship. But Hebron has around 2200 residents, and if the four churches in town averaged about the same, that’s 660 souls in church, on a pretty churchgoin’ night of the year. We’ll average about 101 in worship through the year (up from last year, to be sure), and even if you use the 250 that attend at least five times a year, or “active members”, and call that an average of the four Hebron churches (which would be generous), that’s 1000, or less than half.

We’ve got a ways to go before we can really say that a majority of Hebron, or almost any other place in the USA, is truly Christian. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” Are we ready to reach out to the unchurched in the Lakewood area? See you at the congregational meeting and dinner after worship the 26th!

In Grace and Peace,
Pastor Jeff

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Your Family History:
A Story Worth Telling

Pastor Jeff will present his program on oral history and telling your family story at the Hebron Library on Sat., Feb. 1, at 10 am. The talk and discussion will last about an hour and a half, and is open to all!

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Books and Coffee
Jan. 25, Feb. 22, 10 am

At the old parsonage meeting room on the fourth Saturday of the month this winter, you and your friends are invited to sit down with a cup of coffee and a good book. Waldenbooks is helping promote this series of discussions, led by Pastor Jeff. The January book is “Johnny Tremain” by Esther Forbes, and February is “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.” Selections for Books and Coffee are fairly short, available in paperback, and generally can be gotten at the library in either our church or down at the Hebron branch, or you can go buy your own and bend the covers back all you want! Invite a friend and join us through May; we will also have a Wednesday Bible Study mornings through Lent, starting Ash Wednesday.

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Friendly Class on the move!

The adult class will be moving for the next few months to Fellowship Hall; we’ll meet around tables with coffee in hand and maybe a munchable item or two, along with the lectionary-based Bible study. Come join the assembly at 9:30 in the sanctuary, and then drop downstairs for class.