Inside The Bethlehem Star November, 2014
The Bethlehem Star
38 Church Rd.
Selkirk, NY 12158
Harlan E. Ratmeyer, Pastor
Pg. 2 – The Pastor’s Letter
Pg. 4- Parish Nurse Corner
Pg. 6- Really Made Strides THIS Year!
Pg. 8- Meet the Sunday School
Pg. 10- CE News.
Pastor Harlan offering Jayden a blessing of the hands.
The Nursery is available every Sunday for children ages birth through 3 years and is
open from 9:45-11:15 each week!
Please contact Tracey at 858-9092 for more information about our Christian Education
programs. All are welcome!!
From the Pastor’s Study
We are entering that season when nature is at her peak of
showing off color and shape. Farmer’s market displays are
thinning, but as late as this last week of October, a few fresh
tomatoes and salad fixings were available. Thanksgiving was
originally tied to the theme of nature, the ingathering, the gratitude for rain and sun
that produced crops. This cooperative venture between humankind and our maker was
special indeed. Farmers laid in the crops and gathered to be thankful. We are
scheduled for a gathering of area congregations here at First Bethlehem, the Tuesday
before Thanksgiving. The purpose? To give thanks!
Our congregation got an early start on gratitude, as a number of you wrote thoughtful
cards and notes regarding Pastor Appreciation Month. So gentle and kind, cards
arriving at the house. At first I wondered what was going on, then realized it was
appreciation month. After service this last Sunday in October, the children came
back into the sanctuary at the end of the service, presenting me with cards and
thoughtful remembrances. In reading the cards I was noted for helping decorate the
Christmas tree, being generally helpful, talking to the children during Church. One of
the children noted I had been “really really helpful”, but I’m not at all clear about how
I helped. Perhaps it is best left undefined. The sermon that day had dealt with the
hope we have that our lives account for something, that we have made a difference.
So it touches me when I have been able to make a difference for someone.
As I walked from church building to parsonage, carrying my newly created and signed
cards (some were still oozing a sticky dark red pasty goo) I thought about how much
better organized congregations are in comparison to pastors. We have no formal
“Congregation Appreciation Month”, not even an “Appreciation Week”, or even a
meager “Congregation Appreciation Day.” Do we not appreciate our congregations?
Certainly I cannot speak for any other pastor, but can say with certainty I “really
really” appreciate you! It has been an honor and privilege to be called “Pastor” in this
congregation. Nearly every morning we stand at the window and look with gratitude
on this lovely space.
My appreciation goes well beyond the yard and garden and parsonage. All of those
amenities would pale if that was all there was. What I deeply appreciate is the vision
we seem to hold in common. It shows up in our visioning for the future, preparing our
meeting space to address this generation and the next. Thinking about a ministry, and
utilizing our enormous wilderness space for a ministry. This means that we have had
to move well out of our comfort zone. We are welcoming visitors and seeking to be
hospitable and user friendly to couples with small children. We have approached this
major renovation project with a good spirit of cooperation. Many of you are unsung
heroes who have put your backs and knees to the test, moving things, preparing,
assisting where needed. I am deeply appreciative to be here and serve as your pastor in
this exciting and challenging time.
This is a most challenging time to be alive. Our children and children’s children will
have some enormous issues to deal with as our overcrowded globe groans under the
strains we place on it. The growing gap between the rich and poor nearly guarantee
angry outbursts and civil strife. Yet the message we share is that God is love, that
Jesus’ way is the way that brings hope and peace. How we need the support and
nurturance of a community of faith, where it is safe to talk about these things, and to
prepare ourselves and our children to a life of faith in difficult times. In this year we
have and are working to create a physical space for our gathering. We will need such
spaces for hospitality and training. I am grateful for your faithfulness and
Harlan E. Ratmeyer, Pastor
Parish Nurse Corner
Expressing thanks may be one of the simplest ways to feel better.
The Thanksgiving holiday began, as the name implies, when the colonists gave thanks
for their survival and for a good harvest. So perhaps November is a good time to
review the mental health benefits of gratitude — and to consider some advice about
how to cultivate this state of mind.
The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace,
graciousness, or gratefulness (depending on the context). In some ways gratitude
encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an
individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people
acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that
the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result,
gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals
— whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.
In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with
greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good
experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.
People feel and express gratitude in multiple ways. They can apply it to the past
(retrieving positive memories and being thankful for elements of childhood or past
blessings), the present (not taking good fortune for granted as it comes), and the future
(maintaining a hopeful and optimistic attitude). Regardless of the inherent or current
level of someone's gratitude, it's a quality that individuals can successfully cultivate
Ways to cultivate gratitude
Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching
for something new in the hopes it will make them happier, or thinking they can't feel
satisfied until every physical and material need is met. Gratitude helps people refocus
on what they have instead of what they lack. And, although it may feel contrived at
first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice.
Here are some ways to cultivate gratitude on a regular basis.
Write a thank-you note. You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship
with another person by writing a thank-you letter expressing your enjoyment and
appreciation of that person's impact on your life. Send it, or better yet, deliver and read
it in person if possible. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month.
Once in a while, write one to yourself.
Thank someone mentally. No time to write? It may help just to think about someone
who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual.
Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to write down or share with a loved one
thoughts about the gifts you've received each day.
Count your blessings. Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your
blessings — reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for. Sometimes it
helps to pick a number — such as three to five things — that you will identify each
week. As you write, be specific and think about the sensations you felt when
something good happened to you.
Pray. People who are religious can use prayer to cultivate gratitude.
Meditate. Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without
judgment. Although people often focus on a word or phrase (such as "peace"), it is
also possible to focus on what you're grateful for (the warmth of the sun, a pleasant
Emmons RA, et al. "Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental
Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life," Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology (Feb. 2003): Vol. 84, No. 2, pp. 377–89.
Grant AM, et al. "A Little Thanks Goes a Long Way: Explaining Why Gratitude
Expressions Motivate Prosocial Behavior," Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology (June 2010): Vol. 98, No. 6, pp. 946–55.
Lambert NM, et al. "Expressing Gratitude to a Partner Leads to More Relationship
Maintenance Behavior," Emotion (Feb. 2011): Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 52–60.
Sansone RA, et al. "Gratitude and Well Being: The Benefits of Appreciation,"
Psychiatry (Nov. 2010): Vol. 7, No. 11, pp. 18–22.
Seligman MEP, et al. "Empirical Validation of Interventions," American Psychologist
(July–Aug. 2005): Vol. 60, No. 1, pp. 410–21.
For more references, please see www.health.harvard.edu/mentalextra.
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk
Thank you all so much for support for this year's Making Strides Against Breast
Cancer walk! This year's walk was held on Sunday, October 19th at Washington Park
in Albany. We had twelve walkers from our church this year: Tricia, Krysti and Jon
(Kandefer), Sean, Lyn and Macayla (Farrell), Sean, Melissa, John and Michelle
(Norton) and Michelle and Isabella (Williams). Our church team: Team First
Reformed Church of Bethlehem, raised $1425 in donations for this important cause!
This is our highest number in donations ever! A special thank you to Tricia Kandefer
who organized the walk and collected donations. We are grateful for everyone's
Geoffrey Allen, 11/24
Carrie Brown, 11/7
Faith Jordan, 11/1
Nicole Jordan, 11/26
Sina Jordan, 11/28
Jacqueline Lejere, 11/23
Michelle Norton, 11/27
David Peasley II, 11/21
Frederick Schubert, 11/11
Henry Weisheit Jr.,11/26
Valerie Bidwell, 11/15
Lyn Farrell, 11/11
Keith Jordan, 11/7
Paula Sue Jordan, 11/17
Harold Joyce, 11/8
Allan Northrup, 11/20
Sean Norton, 11/24
Victoria Roth, 11/11
Keith Searles, 11/7
Beautiful paint work is being done upstairs!
Electrical work is ongoing.
Upstairs countertops have been raised to the proper
height, and surface material has been ordered.
There is a new storage closet for chairs and tables.
Walking the Labyrinth-a gratitude walk!
Meet the Sunday School!
We were given a great idea from Bea Legere (thank you Bea!!) to interview each of
our Sunday Schoolers throughout the year in an effort to allow people of the
congregation to get to know our students this year. Each month, you will see two
students highlighted...one from each of our classes...
Name: Olivia Jayne Boomer
Age: 9 years old
Grade: 3rd grade
Sunday School Class: Children & Worship
I am the youngest child in my family. I have an older brother named Travis, and an
older sister named Hailey. My favorite color is pink and my favorite sport is soccer
because you get to kick the ball! My favorite subject is Science and when I grow up I
want to be a Veterinarian. My favorite thing about church is that we sometimes get to
play outside! Something you may not know about me is that I love to watch
Name: Hailey June Boomer
Age: 11 years old
Grade: 6th grade
Sunday School Class: Kids for Christ (KFC)
I am the middle child in my family. I have an older brother named Travis, and a
younger sister named Olivia. My favorite color is turquoise, and my favorite sport is
volleyball because you play it in the summer. My favorite school subject is Social
Studies. When I grow up I want to own and run a daycare center. My favorite thing
about church is that I get to see my friends! Something you may not know about me is
that I like to ride horses and that I used to take riding lessons!
Christian Education News
We are moving back into our newly renovated Sunday School spaces in the basement
and we could not be any more excited! It is so wonderful to have this space for our
children and they are as excited as we are. We even have our own game room now
equipped with a fooze ball and air hockey table! We invite you to come check out and
visit our new space!
On Sunday, October 5th, the KFCs remained in the worship service for World
Communion Sunday. The Children & Worship class returned to the basement for the
first time this Sunday School year, and helped stock and organize the art room! They
all showed us their big muscles and did not stop til the work was done. We are proud
of them for taking ownership and responsibility for our Sunday School area.
On Sunday, October 12th, the Sunday School kids took a
thanksgiving walk on the church labyrinth. As
they made their way around the circles to the
center, they offered "thank you God" responses
for what they were seeing along the way…blue
sky, golden leaves, the church building, the birds, each other, etc,
etc. Following the walk they made pine cone bird feeders which
they hung in the branches of the grove of trees which has become their special
gathering place. They enjoyed a game of "I Spy" after completing their good work,
noticing the colors of God's creation.
On Sunday, October 19th, some of our Sunday Schoolers participated in the Making
Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in Washington part. They helped us get donations
and walked to support this important cause! Thank you to: Tricia, Krysti, Jon
(Kandefer), Sean, Lyn and Macayla (Farrell), Sean, John, Melissa, Michelle (Norton)
and Michelle and Isabella (Williams) for your dedication that cold, crisp morning.
Thank you also to the Norton family for loaning us your van for carpooling!
On Sunday, October 26th, for Service Sunday, the Sunday
Schoolers made cards for Pastor Harlan. October is Pastor
Appreciation Month, and we wanted to share with Pastor
Harlan our thanks for all of the love and support he shows for
It is not too early to start planning for Christmas flowers.
Donna Lasher will be taking orders for Poinsettias- red, white,
pink or variegated. Plants can go home with you after Christmas
Eve service, or remain to decorate the Sanctuary the following
Sunday. The deadline for orders is 12/15/2014.
Not for Profit
THE FIRST REFORMED CHURCH OF BETHLEHEM
38 CHURCH ROAD
SELKIRK, NEW YORK 12158
PERMIT NO 5
Your November Newsletter
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The Bethlehem Star is also available online at: www.firstbethlehem.org.