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We value our people

At our recent congregational dinner and meeting, I had the chance to talk about a couple of ways in which we value people. We say we are a church that values community – which means we value the relationships between the people that are here and the people that are to come. We are called as the church not to be a building but a people who build each other up. For this reason, we are working hard in 2018 to improve in two key areas.

We value our people | staffing

As many of you know, Betsy Howden is retiring April 8 after more than 20 years on staff as our worship coordinator. We will thank and celebrate her as a church on April 8 and with a smaller private party of friends and family. Thank you Betsy – we love you! Betsy’s retirement means that Jon Graybeal will be moving from student ministry to worship to work alongside Don Nieman. Jon will do more of the upfront worship leading at the 10:30 worship service so we will have two great worship leaders instead of just one. Jon and Don will also handle Betsy’s duties. We think this move values our people as we enhance the Sunday morning worship experience. With Jon moving over, we are searching for a Director of Next Generation Ministries to take Jon’s place. This new hire will be a person who can do hands-on ministry for middle school and high school students and be a department leader over children and youth, from birth to college. Many churches around the country are using this model to bring a more cohesive and collaborative approach to help children, teens, and families in churches. Please pray as we have a great search team and are actively searching for the right person. Pray that God will prepare that person to join us, and that we will recognize and support this person to succeed at making disciples of kids and families.

We value our people | security

We have increased our building security in the building during the week especially for our preschool and day care, Noah’s Ark, with the addition of locked doors, entry through key fobs into the Noah’s Ark wing, and security cameras which provide accountability in classrooms. We are now working on Sunday morning security by creating a Shepherd Team, led by ZPCers Jim Martin and Mike Mitchell, who have expertise in security and law enforcement. The Shepherd Team will soon be trained and deployed on Sunday mornings in a few key places around the building to be “eyes and ears” to watch over the flock and to help lead when we have weather emergencies, medical emergencies, or other scenarios when hundreds of you are here on a Sunday. Keep praying for this group as Jerry and I work closely with them to take one step at a time (it will take a while to cover all the bases with security) to make our church more secure, and still grow in our gifts of being welcoming and hospitable to all who come to ZPC.

We’ll keep working on being a church who values community, helps you to build relationships, and takes care of our people who are here and even those who aren’t here yet. God bless, Scott Shelton

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Sunday, December 24 | The Word became flesh

Editor's Note

About the author: Scott Shelton is ZPC's associate pastor of discipleship. He and his wife Claire have been at ZPC for 24 years! They have a son in college; a daughter, who is a high school senior; and twin sons, who are high school freshman.

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of waiting, mystery, redemption, and incarnation. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.

Incarnation | John 1:1-14


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life,[a] and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

John’s gospel is different from the other three. John really makes you think about the words he chooses and the way he says things (not that Matthew, Mark and Luke don’t, but John is just different!). John chapter one has become a passage that is read as an Advent reading, although that wasn’t John’s intent. John 1 touches on many themes that we remember at Christmas, like beginning, children, light, and God being with us.

John starts his gospel, “In the beginning…”  It sounds like Genesis 1,
right? Jesus was there at the beginning of it all, is that true? Yes. Jesus is God – the Christ – and with God - he is the Word – and is God.  He was there at creation! Jesus is also light. In a world full of darkness, even the dark night in Bethlehem, Jesus is light. Even in the darkness we see today in our world, where we long for a Savior from darkness, Jesus is light. He was the “true light coming into the world.”  (John 1:9) And just as Jesus was once a child, a babe, he gives us the right to become children of God, born of God. What do we have to do to be called children of God?  We simply have to receive him and believe in his name (John 1:12).

And at Christmas, we celebrate that God is with us – Emmanuel.  John says it again in a way that makes us think: “The Word became flesh, and made his dwelling among us.”  Wait – what?  Jesus is the ultimate Word – the spoken Word of God – who became a human – to be like us – to love us – to die for us – that we might live. When we have doubts, darkness, or despair – Jesus is light, hope, and love.  So read John 1:1-14 this week – and remember that Jesus is light, Jesus is the Word, and that God is with us – because Jesus is God!


We don’t actually open up the Bible and read like we used to do.  We might just look it up on our phone or tablet, or maybe just don’t read very much at all. This week, take time as an individual or with your family at breakfast or dinner or before bed, to open up a physical Bible and read John 1:1-14.  Say: Jesus is the Word, Jesus became flesh as a baby, Jesus is the light of the world, and Jesus is Savior. Which of these images of Jesus stands out most to you?


Thank you God that you speak to us. A long time ago, it was through your prophets like Isaiah or Moses, but most of all you speak through Jesus.  He is the living Word – who became flesh. Jesus, thank you for coming to the world that we might live because of your sacrifice.  Help us this month to reflect your light in some old way or new way, because you are the Light of the world, sent to the world to be God with us. 

In Jesus’ name we pray,


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