An Afternoon of Friendship – Jews, Baptists, and the Holocaust

An Afternoon of Friendship – Jews, Baptists, and the Holocaust

On Sunday, February 12, Temple Beth Or with Rabbi Robert Rubin, and Osbornville Baptist Church with pastor Fred Daugherty hosted Dr. Lee Spitzer as he made a presentation of his research on Baptists response to Hitler, the Holocaust and the Jews titled “Baptists, Jews and the Holocaust….The Hand of Sincere Friendship”.

Randy Van Osten is Ordained

It was not too long ago that First Baptist Church of Pitman called Randy Van Osten to be their new pastor  - July 20, 2016 to be exact. It signaled a new day for the congregation, as clearly it was evident all around that the call between pastor and people was anointed by the Holy Spirit.

Randy receiving his ordination certificate

Randy receiving his ordination certificate

The congregation  - and more importantly, Randy - passed another significant milestone recently. On Sunday, January 22, 2017, Pastor (now Reverend!) Randy Van Osten was ordained by the First Baptist Church of Pitman. 

The ordination of a new pastor is one of the cherished milestones in our shared regional life. It is also a significant milestone in the life of a congregation and in the life of the pastor that it ordains.

A packed sanctuary! 

A packed sanctuary! 

The church sanctuary was filled with members of the church, community clergy, representatives and pastors from the Greater Delaware Valley Association, and ABCNJ regional pastoral staff.

We thank God for calling together the Rev. Randy Van Osten and the First Baptist Church of Pitman, and now offer our prayerful support as a regional family to their new journey. 

Burden of the Old, the Lightness of the New

Our 2016 Christmas tree - a Canaan Fir

Our 2016 Christmas tree - a Canaan Fir

When we moved to our current home a little over 12 years ago, my wife and I decided that we make it a tradition moving forward to have a freshly cut Christmas tree in our home during Advent and Christmas. For some reason the tree that I cut this past Christmas was the tallest we have had so far - a little over 9 feet. The height of the tree is not the priority for us, but we always are drawn to the best shaped tree we can find at the Christmas tree farm. This time around when we found the best shaped tree that suited our purpose, it just happened to be much taller.

Our son usually comes with us to help. But this time he was not able to do so because of a schedule conflict. So I had to do the cutting myself with some help from my wife. Needless to say, it was quite a challenge for me. It was heavy, but I managed to cut it and get it on the cart and pulled it to the store where the workers helped to tie it on top of our vehicle. Getting it off the car when we got home, taking it inside the house, and mounting it on the stand was another challenge. But we did it, and it was beautiful where it stood.

It was not until January 9 of this year, after Epiphany, that I had the chance to take out our Christmas tree to the curb to be picked up for recycling. I watered and fertilized it regularly so, as you can see in the photo, it retained its shape and fresh look the entire season. But I noticed something rather remarkable when I had to finally pick it up to take it out of the house - the tree was so light, that I could literally lift it up over my head! It was clear that, while it retained its "fresh" appearance, the tree had lost much of its weight - its sap and fluids that gave it turgidity.

A new metaphor for the new year suddenly came to me: not only did the calendar change, not only did Epiphany liturgically book-ended Advent and Christmas, but the weight of all the cares and the burdens of the previous year now belong to that moment in time. In the new year the receptacle of my experience has been lightened, emptied and ready to receive the new joys, the cares, and even the burdens of the new year. May we look at this new year with great anticipation of the new encounters that will fill our cups with child-like wonder and gratitude to God who is the Lord of the Journey, and to Christ who is the Word become flesh.