Christ United Methodist Church
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Called & Empowered by Christ to Love, Serve, Witness
Informal with guitar by the River June 1 to October 15, in the Sanctuary October 16 to May 30
Traditional with organ, choir & bells September 1 to May 30
Sanctuary worship June 1 to August 31
Sunday School for children and youth September 1 to May 30
Highland Village Bible Study beginning September 9
*3:30 to 4:45 p.m.
Confirmation Class for all students in grades 7 and 8, September 24 to May.
*7:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Wednesday Evenings with John's Gospel, September 10 to November 19.
112 Hall Street, Watertown, WI 53094
(920) 261-0736 ♦ firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday - Friday 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
What's Happening Now...
*World Community Day
This event is sponsored by Church Women United and will meet on Friday, November 7 at 1:00 p.m. at Watertown Moravian Church. The 2014 Theme is "We are in God's hands and we are God's hands." As part of the theme, the subject is "Through God our hands can heal." Please bring nickels for national and Personal Essentials items and Food Pantry items. If you have any questions, contact Ruth Borbe at 261-9661.
* Got Coupons? Tisha Morgan has already picked up the coupons and circulars that have been brought to church. She still wants you to keep bringing in more of the manufacturer's coupons and Pick 'N Save coupons/sale circulars. For more information, please contact Tisha Morgan at 920-699-9113 or 920-245-1640.
*Weekend Food to Go
This mission project just started this past week. We are in need of certain food that our church is responsible for. The list includes: Mac & Cheese 6 oz. size, Canned spaghetti sauce 24 oz., spaghetti noodles 1 lb., Chicken and Tuna Helper, Flavored rice/red beans & rice. You will find copies of this list on the table in the narthex. Please pick up a copy and take with you to the grocery store. Thank you in advance for your help and support of this mission.
*Operation Christmas Child Box:
These boxes are now available in the narthex. The boxes may be the only Christmas gift children will receive this year. A brochure is enclosed with the box as to what items are needed. Also include a check for $7 to help pay for the shipping. All the boxes must be returned to the church no later than Sunday, November 16. Thanks for your support.
We are making health kits. We would appreciate donations of the following items: hand towels, washcloths, combs, nail files or clippers, soap, toothbrushes, bandages, plastic bags and $1.00. Please bring them to church school on Sunday, October 26.
*Turkey Dinner - 2014
Our annual Turkey Dinner will be Tuesday, November 4, from 4:00 - 6:30 p.m. Sign-up sheets for food donations, volunteers to help on Nov. 4, Turkey Club, carryout room help and donating pies are in the narthex now. Be sure to check them out.
We also need a few more people to take charge of different areas of the Turkey Dinner. Contact Pastor Ron or the church office.
The meal is served "Buffet Style." The menu includes roast turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, coleslaw, jellied cranberry sauce, rolls, apple and pumpkin pies and beverages. Carryouts will be available.
Cost of the tickets are Adults - $9 in advance, $10 at the door; Children 6-12 years of age - $4.00; Children 5 and under are free. Tickets are now being sold. Everyone will need a ticket. Watch for Turkey Dinner coupons in the local newspaper in October. Advance tickets may be purchased from the church office or after worship.
Mark your calendars for this huge event. We need everyone to help in one way or another. This is our big fundraiser of the year. Hope to see you there.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
1 Thessalonians 11-10
A Message to My Friends
If I did the "math" correctly, the date was July 5, 1992. That should have been my first Sunday preaching at my first appointment, Emmaus United Methodist Church on the near southside of Milwaukee. I did not save that first sermon. In some ways I wish I had, but in other ways I
am glad I didn't. My guess it wasn't all that good. At least not as good as the text we have this week from Paul's First Letter to the Thessalonians.
The similarity is that this was Paul's very first letter to a community he had established. It may also be the oldest document of the New Testament. But, what is most important is the message Paul had to share with these friends whom he had introduced to Christ and then needed to leave behind.
Thessalonica, a city in what is now modern Greece, was a rather busy place in Paul's time. There were Jews and Gentiles - obviously Greeks, but also Romans, who lived there. Paul had come and brought Christ to them, but all was not easy. There was conflict with the Jewish
population and there was great concern with the general population over who this Jesus, and the movement which was building in his name, was and what it all meant. What if these "people of the way" alienated the Romans, who were a powerful influence? So, the group who Paul had left behind were feeling isolated, threatened and possibly persecuted.
To comfort and strengthen them, Paul sends a letter. He can't be there in person, but he can certainly be present to them through his words. And so, this first letter was composed and sent. I only wish I could have said such things to the struggling church I was starting out at. Paul's message to them is one every church should hear and embrace - a message from a friend who clearly loves and cares for them.
Paul begins by telling of the power of, and need for, prayer. God is, Paul reminds them (and us) that God is at the center of everything. "We always thank God for you" he says. And for what is he thankful? He remembers before our God and Father how you put your faith in practice, how your love made you work so hard, and how your hope in our Lord Jesus Christ is firm. (1 Thess 1:3, TEV) If someone wanted to outline the qualities of a successful congregation, they wouldn't have to say more than this. These people had it all - faith, love & hope.
This is a "formula" for church which we need to remember today. When you spend time with "church people" - especially folks from mainline denominations
like the United Methodist Church - you hear the same things: "Times are hard", "People aren't attending", "Finances are a problem", "No one is helping", "We're all getting old", "Why aren't we growing?", Where are the new people?". And these are legitimate worries. Yet, as real and as troubling as these trends are for our churches today, compared to what the faithful in
Thessalonica, in Paul's time, were facing, we don't have it as bad. Our faith in Christ may be ignored by society, but our lives are not being threatened - at least not in this country - because of our belief in Jesus the Christ.
Paul was striving to encourage his friends. He points out how they had embraced the Word when it came to them. He compliments them on the way they live their lives - imitating the Lord. He reveals to them that others are inspired by their example. There is a lesson to be
learned form Paul's review of the way these people have responded to God's call on their community, Jesus' redeeming grace and the presence of the Holy Spirit among them. And that lesson is really quite simple:
1) Keep God at the center
2) put your faith in practice
3) work hard out of love
4) and maintain a firm hope in Jesus Christ.
Keeping focused on whose we are and how that changes who we are to be makes the difference between a vital or a distressed congregation. So, regardless of whether a faith community is large or small, growing or declining, prospering or struggling, it is about practical faith, applied
love and healthy hope. It is about faith that changes lives - both the life of the faith-filled individual as well as those whom that Spirit-drenched life touches. It is about love that makes a difference - not the mushy, romantic, sugary-sweet love we see on TV, but the kind of love that
cares enough to hold others accountable and to sacrifice for the good of the other. It is about hope that lives in the present not in "what could be", "what should", or "what the story books tell us will". This is the type of hope which fuels persistence and the determination to live out
the Gospel even when everything looks bleak and filled with despair.
Yes, I wish I could have preached that message which Paul sent to his friends in Thessalonica to my first church on that first Sunday. Every church needs to be reminded, now and then, that all the strategic planning, demographic analysis and trendy new ideas in the world cannot substitute for simply being the people God has claimed to be His in this time, at this place in the best way they possibly can. Just as it did for the Thessalonians, this will take courage, hard work, a willingness to take risks and an openness to following the lead of the Holy Spirit - wherever that may lead us. But, we are, above all, simply God's people - water washed &
Spirit born - making our way through life seeking to glorify and please the One to whom we are committed.
Grace & peace,