The Vine - The Newsletter of West Leonard Street CRC

May 2, 2021

Pastor’s Pen


“Normalized Madness”


In newsletter articles for The Vine, I generally try to not deal with subject matter that is too weighty. This month, however, I find myself irresistibly drawn to a subject that has been prompted both by the sermon series we are currently in and a quote I ran across recently. This is the quote: “A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, ‘You are mad; you are not like us.’”

 – St. Antony the Great, circa 300 AD


As I read this quote, I felt overwhelmed by a sense of the prophetic awe. We live in a day where things that were once considered normal, decent, or right are increasingly seen as strange or abnormal, while things that scripture holds as outside the design of God are increasingly viewed as normal. This, of course, applies to many types sin, which are increasingly considered normal, but it really is much more than that. Today, many people hold views of the world and truth that for the majority of human history were fringe views. The idea that, for instance, there is no such thing as objective truth or that morality is relative are views that have always existed, but have never been as prevalent as today. In contrast, it seems that every traditionally held value or belief is seen as strange and, in some cases, problematic.


What is happening in our world? I think Romans 1:25 states this phenomenon so well. “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator . . .”


For a Christian, this creates a lot of pressure from the world on us. We are being asked to adopt the world’s ways of doing things and seeing things and to change many of our views which we have held for almost two millenniums. If we do not, the world has decided that it will brand us as crazy or hateful or problem causers. I have found that many have given in, adopting views and values which contradict the teachings of the Bible. They have come into agreement with a growing number of people who live in ways contrary to God’s word yet which are viewed as correct or acceptable simply because they are the majority, so they twist and distort God’s word to fit their new viewpoints. This is a grave error, and the church needs to be reminded of that.


My friends, I urge you to hold to the teachings of the Christian faith, which the Holy Spirit led and instructed the church in for generations, and to resist the urge to adopt new viewpoints simply because they are commonly accepted today.


Blessings as we navigate these strange times.


- Pastor Matthew



End-of-Season Coffee Break “Report”


As the infamous virus lingered and guidelines for meetings continued to change, it became a stop-and-start year for our Coffee Break Women’s Bible Study. After a set of weekly meetings in late fall, our hope and plans were to reunite the second week of the new year. But once again, plans were deferred until they became a reality on February 2. Though our numbers were somewhat reduced even from the fall session, a core group of women and even one brand new member came faithfully for seven weeks to study the book of Esther, the story of a woman called by God “for such a time as this.” We marveled again at God’s placement of not only Esther but other people and events perfectly timed to save His chosen people from annihilation. We were able to relate to God’s ongoing kingdom-building plan that eventually sent Jesus to save us, His people, from eternal death. We shared some of our own stories of what persons and events God used in our lives to bring us to faith. Things were not “back to normal” though as we went directly to our small groups without our big group meeting with songs and prayer to get us started. And, it was Coffee Break with no coffee! 

BUT . . . People are getting vaccinated, there is hope of abatement of the pandemic, guidelines are loosening, and our faithful God is still in control! With all of this in mind and Lord willing, we hope to joyfully return on September 14 with a welcome brunch, ready to sing what have kind of become our theme songs: “Speak Oh Lord as We Come to You to Receive the Food of Your Holy Word” and "Ancient Words, Long Preserved for Our Faith in This World”.  Please join us then! 


 - with thanks, the Coffee Break Leaders:

Betty Bouwman, Barb De Korte, Karen Hengeveld

Lisa Kuiper, Mary Polonowski, Jan Wierenga 







May 10                 Lil Tacoma (87)

May 20                 Phyllis DeSmit (92)

May 24                 Jo Warners (83)

May 26                 John Vis (91)


July 8                    Marilyn Pardee (85)

July 21                  Evelyn Veenstra (86)

July 30                  Karen Kass (83)


August 8              Wayne Warners (84)

August 13           Ted DeLeeuw (95)

August 17           Ed Pardee (81)



May 5                   Ed & Jan Wierenga (54)

May 6                   Wayne & Jo Warners (63)

May 7                   Bob & Marian Orange (55)

May 8                   Gary & Laurie Hinken (41)

May 10                 Andrew & Victoria Pastars (19)

May 22                 Phil & Kristin Donahue (17)

May 23                 Glenn & Marlene Hudson (40)

May 26                 Ren & Carol Vandesteeg (51)

May 30                 Geoff & Beth Rogers (41)


June 2                   Robb & Ann Wiersma (20)

June 13                 Paul & Mary Cornish (18)

June 20                Mike & Rachel Vander Wall (23)

June 22                 Gary & Jan Breen (54)

June 22                 Caleb & Sherry Hengeveld (9)

June 24                 Bob & Karen Hengeveld (43)

July 7                    Michael & Mayme Becker (5)

July 8                    Steve & Lisa Kuiper (33)

July 25                  Aaron & Jen Pennington (6)

July 25                  Matthew & Tracy Pearce (12)

August 1              David & Jane Heetderks (43)

August 6              Ken & Joanne Vander Slik, (56)

August 9              Ken & Sherry Thomasma (48)

August 11           Justin & Liz Nguyen (9)

August 11           Dan & Lisa Wisneski (31)

August 15           Dusty & Lisa Vander Meer (18)

August 20           Dave & Lori Tacoma (38)

August 21           John & Betty Bouwman (46)



May 18                 Pablo Feliciano

June 11                 Ruth Hoekwater



May 21                 John & Ruth Hoekwater

August 22           Ken & Chris Van Weerdhuizen

August 26           Dave & Daphne Smith


Congratulations to Our College Graduate!!


Kate Kuiper is graduating with academic honors with a BSN - Bachelor of Science in Nursing - from Baker College of Muskegon on

May 9. She has already accepted a nursing position at Mercy Health Hospital in Muskegon after she passes her NCLEX nursing

exam in late May or June. Her position at Mercy Health will be 9th floor neuro/stroke, gastric bypass, and possibly COVID care.

She will continue to live in her apartment in Muskegon with her tabby cat Kota, as she has throughout her college career.

We pray that God will use and bless Kate in this new and important chapter of her life.

Fun fact: Hannah Brower from our church also works at Mercy Health, so these two young women may be working together

at times in Muskegon!

National Day of Prayer - Thursday May 6, 2021


Thursday, May 6, is the annual National Day of Prayer. This year’s theme is “Lord Pour Out Your Love, Life and Liberty, “ II Corinthians 3:17. On this day, you are invited to join in an evening of prayer livestreamed on the National Day of Prayer website: Here you will also find much more information about this day, including how to pray for America in the seven centers of influence in our nation: Government, Military, Media, Business, Education, Church and Family.


Here is the National Prayer for America 2021:

Lord, we look up and see the billions of stars You created, and we praise You. We look around and see the billions of people You created in Your image; uniquely, fearfully, wonderfully, and we thank You. Wrap us in Your Spirit and unite us in Your family, Lord.

Thank You for loving us first. In Your love for the whole world, You sent Your Son to save us.

Jesus, in You alone we have abundant and everlasting life. Thank you for teaching and leading us to love and live, fruitful, and faithful.

In Your life, death, resurrection, and ascension You are our Lord, our love, our life, and our liberty. You came to “bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners.” You have freed us from the penalty and shame of our sin; free to live life as You designed and Your destiny for our nation.

Spirit search us, convict us, as we repent for our sin and the sins of America. Please cleanse, fill, and send us. We rejoice, knowing that Your forgiveness makes us acceptable and effective vessels for Your love, life and liberty in our family, church, education, workplace, military, government, art, entertainment, and media.

We pray that America will be united in love to serve You with all our hearts, all our ways, and all of our days. Unite us to pray, love; to live and walk by the Spirit. Conform and transform us as we pray and proclaim, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there

is liberty.”

We pray this is the name of Jesus, Amen.

- written by Kathy Branzell
President, National Day of Prayer Task Force


Tales from the ‘Hood


I’ve got the wind in my hair!!


Dear congregation,

As you well know by now, I’m always up for a walk to help patrol my neighborhood. One of the guys who works at the lock shop next door to church told grandma that my walks were important to maintain my “girlish figure.” I’m not really so very concerned about that. I just enjoy being up and about, greeting all my canine friends, reminding the neighborhood squirrels that they are better off in trees and in general putting the fear of God into stray cats. There is way more wildlife right here in the neighborhood than most people think! Just the other day, I spotted a curious-looking creature with long ears and a fuzzy white ball for a tail. It hopped rather than ran, and grandma said, “Aw, Nova, look! It’s a bunny!” and apparently this is one more critter with whom I do not need a close relationship. The waterfowl at the park, however, disturb me not at all. Grandma for a while did not try to bring me around the pond at the park because she was afraid that I would perhaps consider a duck as a good lunch. But I am keenly more interested in the bread and corn that people scatter for them.


However, on one of our outings to the park, we literally ran into something kind of scary that I never felt before. I’m okay with most weather and have walked in some pretty stiff wind. Sometimes the wind will be so strong that it pins my ears back on my head and I don’t mind that. But this was different. What grandma called a gust came right at us. I was pushed to the end of my leash and grandma lost her footing and quite nearly fell over. I do believe that I might have lost some fur that day as well! After we composed ourselves, we sat to rest on a park bench. “You know, Nova,” grandma began. And I thought, “Here it comes. Another story that I don’t quite understand about this Holy Spirit person.” And I was right.


The story was from many years ago, when my dear Amanda (who used to live with me but is now in heaven) was just a little girl. Grandma and her family were at a nighttime service at

church and there was a guest pastor and it was a day called Pentecost. The pastor talked about

different kinds of winds. He lived in some place called California and talked about the wind there. But then he talked about wind sometimes being a sign of the Holy Spirit and how we should always want this kind of wind in our hair. While he said, “I’ve got the wind in my hair,” he messed up his hair with his hands. Little Amanda had pigtails in her hair that night, and as the pastor was messing up his hair, Amanda was intently watching and gleefully flopping her pigtails back and forth to pretend the wind was in her hair as well.


So here’s the point grandma made. Although we had the wind in our hair on our walk, maybe that gust was to remind us that, although the Holy Spirit is always with us, sometimes we need a hefty reminder of His power and what He really can do. Grandma said that Pastor Matthew preaches a lot about this too! So next time you feel the wind in your hair, think of it as a sometimes-gentle-but-often strong reminder of the Holy Spirit.


 ♡ Nova


P.S. If you are at the park and see some red dog hair stuck on a tree or a rock or even on a duck, remember it probably came from me. J

P.P.S. Grandma told me that my newsletter column will be on vacation for a while, since the next issue will not be until late summer or so. That’s okay. I’m expanding my patrol area, and there will be plenty more stories to tell! J

P.P.P.S.  Update on my love life with Chapo, the handsome pit bull next door to me: It strikes me as odd that both my grandma and the people next door try not to let us out at the same time, maybe because we race around a lot with the fence between us. But one day recently, Chapo was around the corner of the house when I went out and grandma didn’t see him. But we saw each other right away, we raced around a lot, and then we shared our first kiss through a chain link fence.


On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. (Acts 2:1)