Crestwood Loving and Leading People to the Life-Changing Jesus www.crestwoodrva.org
Rev. Dr. Matthew A. Merrill Senior Pastor
Rev. Dr. Robert K. Burns
Associate Pastor & Lead Pastor, Richmond Campus
Parish News Christian Sympathy:
Sympathy of the congregation is extended to: n Merry Rech on the death of her husband, James Springer. n Kevin Plumer on the death of his wife, Deb Plummer. n Carolyn Prather on the death of her mother
Rev. Josh R. Weeks
Margaret K. Webb (Peg)
John Kennedy, Virginia Beach, VA (son of John & Betty Kennedy)
Worship Arts Director
Director of Communications & Executive Assistant
Stephen Johnson, Ft. Benning, GA
(son of Mary Johnson)
Assistant Pastor for Family Ministries
Director of Children’s Ministries
Navy, Ruth Cook, Sand Siego, CA (granddaughter of Priscilla Cook)
Air Force, Samantha Cook, F.E. Warren AFB, WY (granddaughter of Priscilla Cook) Air Force, William Cook, III, Albuquerque, NM (grandson of Priscilla Cook)
Sexton, Midlothian Campus
Happy Birthday To... Peg Webb - December 7 Rob Burns - February 18
Thought of the Day.. Editor’s Note:
Submissions due on the 15th of each month. Please send to: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can tell a lot about a person’s chrarcter by what they laugh at. ~ Unknown
What OCC Means To Me
Ihadneverhear dofOper at i onChr i st masChi l d bef or ecomi ngt oCr est wood.AtaMi ssi onsmeet i ng, Il i st enedt oGi l dat el laboutanOCC Connect Conf er encesheandRechadj ustat t ended.She descr i bedt heshoeboxesasbei ngat angi bl eway t oshow God’ sl ovet ochi l dr enar oundt hewor l d, i ncl udi ngUnr eachedPeopl eGr oups.Eachbox,i s aGospelOppor t uni t y.Tr ai nedt eacher sshar et he goodnewsofJesust hr ought heGospelbookl et TheGr eat estGi f t .Thechi l dr encant hent aket he bookl ett or eadwi t ht hei rf ami l i est oshar eThe Gospelwi t ht hem.Al lIcoul dt hi nkwast hatt hi s i st hemi ni st r yI ’ vebeenl ooki ngf orf oraver y l ongt i me!Whatani ncr edi bl eoppor t uni t yt obe per sonal l yi nvol vedi nt heGr eatCommi ssi on wher eJesust el l sHi sf ol l ower st omakedi sci pl es ofal lnat i onsbapt i zi ngi nt henameoft heFat her , andt heSon,andt heHol ySpi r i tMat t hew 28: 1 620.Shoeboxeshavechangedmy l i f eIam sogr at ef ulandbl essedt obeont he Ri chmondWestt eam shar i ngwi t hchur chesso t hatt hey,t oo,cant el laboutourSavi ort oot her s. Al lyearIbuyi t emsf ormyshoeboxesandcan har dl ywai tf orNat i onalCol l ect i onWeekt ocomesot hatmor et han1 0, 000, 000chi l dr encan l ear naboutJesus.Thest or i est hatcomebackf r om shoeboxdi st r i but i onsr ei nf or ceshow God i swor ki ngt hr oughOper at i onChr i st masChi l dwi t hmi l l i onsofdeci si onsf orChr i steachyear . AsJesussai di nMat t hew 1 9: 1 4“ Lett hel i t t l echi l dr encomet oMe,anddonothi ndert hem,f or t heki ngdom ofheavenbel ongst osuchast hese. ”ToGodbet hegl or y!
-Ryann Weeks Operation Christmas Child is very important to me because it helps little kids all around the world that aren't as privileged as us. It also is cool to see how many boxes we can send out to the diﬀerent countries around the world and it's also really fun!"
-Peyton Weeks Operation Christmas Child is very good because it teaches children that do not know about God and how God is at work. Also children get presents that don't get presents a lot. It is also so fun and I think you should help next year and you can help children get their needs.
Sisters Peyton (11) and Ryann (13) Weeks working hard packing, organizing and preparing hundreds of OCC boxes to be shipped worldwide this Christmas.
-Jenifer Zhandira To me OCC is a way for me to see God’s love in his children. It helps share the gospel of the lord. This year I put my heart into OCC because I’ve been praying for a way to get closer to the lord. Being able to work almost everyday for two weeks seeing the amazing boxes that will be delivered to random kids around the world made my heart happy. After praying for a way to feel closer to the lord, I realized he placed me at Crestwood with Rec and Gilda for a reason.
Page 7 3
Reflections on 2020 -Jim Scorzelli
The primary event of 2020 – the Covid-19 pandemic – intruded upon all our lives in ways no one could have predicted, no one could have prepared for. From the beginning, we watched and listened to often conflicting news reports coming out of China and other parts of the world. Something was coming, but no one really knew what it was or what it meant. Like a massive wave crashing onto a peaceful beach, suddenly it was upon us. Food and other essentials quickly became scarce. (Toilet paper? Really?). It was frustrating, incomprehensible, and frightening. I remember going to the grocery store in March, even before masks were required. I saw for the first time the empty shelves and shoppers’ worried expressions as they scurried about competing for the last morsels of sustenance. I had the sinking feeling that life would never be the same. On September 11th, 2001, I also knew change was on the horizon, but that change did not affect me immediately or deeply. This was different. This was real. This hit home. And then, as Covid-19 deaths mounted, things just started shutting down. Stores and restaurants closed, gatherings of large numbers of people were illegal, schools became vacant, and the churches closed. When Crestwood shut her doors, it was like a punch to the stomach. Unanswerable questions became the focus of conversation in our family and no doubt many others. Where and how would we worship? When would we be able to see our Crestwood brothers and sisters again? What will the future of our faith journey look like? And, perhaps, the most disturbing and unanswerable question was, why is this happening? It is said that the night is darkest just before the dawn. At the deepest moment of despair, a ray of light – feeble at first but steadily growing – slices through and brings hope and joy. We humans are a resilient race. We find ways to cope even in the grimmest circumstances. We persevere when the odds are stacked against us, when common wisdom tells us we should give up. We have this uncanny ability simply because we are made in the image of God. There can be no other reasonable explanation. As His daughters and sons, we reflect, however imperfectly, attributes of God such as patience, love, determination, and myriad others. In recent months, I have come to realize much spiritual growth has occurred in me and those close to me only because of the restrictions placed on us by the pandemic. Because I have been forced to work from home, I found more time for bible reading, study, and prayer each morning. Since my son and his sons have moved in with me, they attend “virtual” church each week, which was not happening at all in pre-pandemic days, and hardly a possibility until Crestwood started broadcasting worship and children’s services online. My membership in a 444 group became more meaningful and essential due to a marked decrease in social meetings. Although my involvement in the prison
ministry has been indefinitely discontinued, encouraging letters to and from my incarcerated brothers touch the soul in deeply felt ways unlike any classroom dialogue. Indeed, every personal interaction has become more precious and intimate now that they are relatively infrequent. At one point, early amid the darkest times, I wondered if Satan might be overjoyed at the damage that was being done to people’s lives, the economy, and society in general. It didn’t matter whether the pandemic was somehow instigated by him or the result of fallen human nature. But now I see that he is defeated, fooled and trapped by his own nefarious intentions, left only to witness with horror the hidden good that has come out of this devastating pestilence. God’s Holy Kingdom has once again triumphed over the forces of darkness! And so, having seen once again how our Lord makes a way where there seems to be no way, and having felt the warmth and hope of His light in the darkness, I rejoice in what the future holds, a future that, for those who are called according to His purpose, is filled with healing, and a sure promise of abundant life now and forevermore!
Reflections on 2020 -Merle Hirschman
This has certainly been a crazy year so far. But it has had a lot of positive points as well. I have tried to keep a positive attitude since I know my state of mind influences my health and well-being and also that of all those around me. I know that I am a child of God…loved by Him and that I am never alone. This has certainly helped me stay positive despite all the quarantining and not being able to get together in person with those that I love. No matter what is happening in the world around us, I know that God is in control and was there first… and will be there to see us through the turmoil. Being retired has certainly had its benefits….not having to figure out how to “work” from home would be a big one. But because I am retired, and now have even more time on my hands, I have been called by Him to use one of my God-given gifts of working with my hands….specifically sewing. Many of you know how dear Rotary is to my heart because of being able to reach out and help others both in our community and around the world. Folks in our wonderful community had been working with me to make sundresses for a Rotary literacy trip to Costa Rica. And of course the trip got cancelled when Covid hit. Looking for something else to make to help someone in need, a nurse asked if we could make some masks. We started out as the Greenwich Walk Stitch Therapy group (working for your safety and our sanity) and have now become the Greenwich Walk Sweatshop. To date we have donated over 9,500 masks! It is such a blessing to me to be able to help so many folks in need!
Page 3 9
And of course we needed to be making things other than masks so continued making sun dresses for OCC. And our folks who knit and crochet have been making ear savers, lap blankets, baby hats….I knitted some ear savers but that is the extent of my knitting talent! Would much rather be sewing . This pandemic has certainly brought home the point that there are people all around us that need to be encouraged with the comfort that only God can give. I know He wants me to reach out to them with compassion and to share the love He has given to me. We all leave fingerprints on everything we touch….but I believe He is encouraging us to leave a “heart-print”….heart-prints of compassion, understanding, love, kindness and genuine concern for our family, friends and neighbors. And since we can’t do a lot of this in person, a handwritten note is always a way to stay in touch and so well received and often leaves a special heart-print on the receiver. But I don’t have to know if it made a difference in the receiver’s life….it certainly made a difference in mine! And where does Crestwood fit in all of this? Crestwood has been amazing at being able to conquer the technology so that we can worship our glorious Father on Sunday mornings as one family. And putting other programs in place such as 444, The Table, Sunday School via Zoom….trying to keep us all together and in so doing, helping us to put heart-prints on others in our congregation. Moving forward, I would love to see more folks attending worship in person. Live streaming is great but not the same as seeing folks in person. Of course on those cold rainy days, it is comforting to know that we can sit in our PJ’s and have a hot cup of coffee and still be part of the Crestwood family! Our Crestwood family is certainly a family of encouragers….diligently using their God given gifts to honor Him! And that makes for great joy for all…and especially for Him! As for me, my goal is to continue to trust and rely on Him and hope that through His great love for me, I will be able to continue to leave heart-prints on many others.
Reflections on 2020 -Ann Huffer
I don’t know about you, but 2020 has been a roller coaster of a year. So many people chalk up anything negative to “2020”. And, I have to be honest and share that this year I easily got bogged down in the negative and had to fight to remain positive and focused on God’s blessings in my life. For those of us who wear glasses or contact lenses, think about what it is like when you first get up in the morning. Everything you look at is fuzzy, not defined, blurry. That’s how I spent a lot of my time this year…out of focus and not seeing God’s blessings clearly. I started each day reading a devotion and scripture before teaching online. I went through my prayer list of people and lift each one up by name. I spent time reflecting on the blessings that God has given me. And yet, I would find myself sad and sometimes weepy over things that were out of my control. I like things to work, as planned and my plans were all being upended and changed! All of this social distancing is really akin to my distancing myself and not seeing God’s daily blessings. I would stand just far enough away that I couldn’t see them clearly. It really was as if I forgot to put on my glasses or put in my contact lenses. Things were fuzzy and out of focus. I would sometimes dwell on the things that I missed or had changed rather on the new opportunities presented to me. I missed going to worship on Sundays and having lunch with my friends. I missed going out to the store without the worry of becoming sick. I missed my part time job as a reading tutor at Bon Air Elementary. I was sad that our daughter’s wedding was going to have to change a great deal. I was sad that I could not just hop in the car to see my family in Pennsylvania without a lot of planning and discussion about whether it was safe for me to visit. I missed cooking each Wednesday at church. I was sad that our plans for Dinner Church seemed all but impossible. I was heartbroken when we had to put two of our sweet dogs to sleep. I stressed about the division in our country. I spent many sleepless nights thinking and worrying. Worrying and thinking. As my husband would say, “Satan is messing with you!” And, I know that worrying just shows my lack of trust and faith in God and his plans. But, that’s what I did. And, for what? God was on the move, quietly and deliberately working to show me that he can take any situation and use it for good. His blessings have abounded! I have had the chance to meet with my church family by Zoom. We were able to plan the perfect small and intimate wedding ceremony and reception for our daughter and had our closet family and friends present. Although I wasn’t working with my Bon Air students, I was able to share in a weekly story time with some of Crestwood’s sweet children. I was able to visit my family and see my beloved aunt one more time before she passed away. Randy and I have a full house right now, with 6 adults and 3 dogs, all under one roof! It has actually been one of the greatest blessings that God has ever given to me. I will soon celebrate 5 years since my breast cancer diagnosis; one that my doctors were not sure would happen! I have been able to spend time walking outdoors and enjoying God’s creation. I have been able to spend more time with my family enjoying cooking and eating family dinners together. God moved us to begin The Table with
3 Page 11
a drive through dinner pick up that offered prayer for each person who came. No one could have believed the blessings that we have experienced through this ministry. I know that I would never have believed it. I’m sitting here writing this and just kicking myself for all the missed sleep and missed opportunities to just live in the moment and “Let God”. So, we are coming upon the end of this year. The year that many will remember as the year of masks, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes and social distancing. My mom always told me that you can’t always choose your circumstances, but you can definitely choose how you react to them. So, I choose to live in the moment. Let God take control. Thank God for all his blessings before I close my eyes each night. Let go and let God. I will definitely put on my (continued on page 11) glasses or put in those contacts so I don’t miss one thing that God is doing in this new year. Covid is certainly not going away right now, but neither is God. Our pain and struggles may not go away, but neither is God. Civil unrest and uncertainty may not go away, but neither will God. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He has great things to show us, if we will only put on our glasses and focus on him. God wins. Every. Single. Time. Amen.
A Note From The Diaconate Fellowship - Not an Event Are you missing Wednesday Evening dinners? Are you craving conversation around coffee and cookies after worship? Do you wish you could sit next to a friend in Sunday School, attend a retreat, or gather at a picnic? Me too! We are created to have fellowship with one another and as Christians, our brothers and sisters encourage us, support us, grieve with us, rejoice with us, and occasionally even correct us. So what do we do when a pandemic makes our physical gatherings few and far between. It does not seem wise to just wait it out and hope our relationships are still intact when we return. I Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to encourage one another and build one another up. And this is definitely a time when we need to be doing that. The fellowship team has a few suggestions to help us strengthen our bonds even when there are few events. First, make sure you have a small group, a 444 group, or a prayer group. Whether you meet with masks in person or through technology, you need these brothers and sisters and they need you. If you don’t have a group, contact Rob Burns and he would be happy to help you find one. Write a list of Crestwood friends and pray for each of them. Praying for our friends strengthens our bond with them. Make purposeful contact with someone each week. Perhaps, when you watch the comment section during on-line worship, you have seen someone’s name and wondered how they are doing. Don’t just wonder. Call, email, text, or send a card. Set a goal for contacting someone every week. Perhaps buy a box of cards and send one out each week to someone you miss. The weather is getting colder, but that doesn’t mean we have to stay inside. Bundle up and go for a walk. If your neighborhood walk is getting boring, try walking with a friend in their neighborhood. Or perhaps walk your neighborhood, while on the phone with a friend. Volunteer to serve in a group project. You can join a group that is currently serving in one of our ministries. If you are not comfortable being in a group, most projects need behind the scenes people. The Fellowship Committee is currently looking for people to cook sides for The Table and there are many more opportunities. Serving together has always been a joy at Crestwood. We are awaiting the day when we can all gather safely together. Meanwhile, we will continue to encourage one another and build one another up.
Ways To Give: VENMO - The easiest way to gice to Crestwood during these times are through the giving app “Venmo”. Search within the app for Crestwood Church and look for this logo. If you would like assistance with this giving system, call the church office! ONLINE - Giving on our website is as easy as it’s always been!Sim- crestwoodrva.org/give ply go to this web address to make your contribution. SNAIL MAIL - Yes! We accept good ol’ checks! You can mail yours to us at:
1200 Charter Colony Pkwy. Midlothian, VA. 23114