Christ United Methodist Church
Tuesday, September 02, 2014
Called & Empowered by Christ to Love, Serve, Witness
(920) 261-0736 ♦ email@example.com
Office Hours: Monday - Friday 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
What's Happening Now...
* Fall Worship Hours begin Sunday, September 7. We will return to our 8:00 a.m. worship service, followed by Church School at 8:45 a.m. and our 10:00 a.m. worship service.
* Monthly Prayer Meeting on Tuesday, September 2 at 6:30 p.m.
* Bread & Roses - Thursday, September 4 at Immanuel Lutheran Church. There is a sign-up sheet in narthex for food donations.
* Sunday School Parents' Information Meeting - Sunday, September 7, 8:45 to 9:45 a.m. All parents of Sunday school children and the children are encouraged to meet in the Fellowship Hall. A new format for our Children's Christian Education Program will be discussed, as well as additional information about resources for you and your children along with the year's schedule. There will be ice cream sundaes and good conversation.
* Highland Village Bible Study will begin Tuesday, September 9 at 10:30 a.m. This is a weekly study. The study will be on the Book of Exodus. Everyone is invited to attend.
* Children's Choir Rehearsals resume on Tuesday, September 9 at 6:00 p.m. The choir is for children in grades 2 through 8. Vicki Larsen is the director. We are in need of an accompanist for this group. If you know of anyone who would be interested, please contact Pastor Ron or the church office.
* Handbell Choir Rehearsals resume on Tuesday, September 9 at 7:00 p.m. This choir is for 9th graders through adult who are interested in playing handbells. Vicki Larsen is the director.
* Turkey Dinner Organizational Meeting will be on Sunday, September 14. Following each service, there will be a time to go over tasks which need to be done for the November Turkey Dinner. People will have an opportunity to decide which tasks, if any, they would be willing to take on. Please plan on attending! Call Pastor Ron or Annette with questions.
*Kids' Faith? Who Knew?" Join Pastor Ron for 3 sessions during Sunday School time on September 14, 21, and 28 for presentations and discussion on children's faith and spirituality. This will be very informative for parents, as well as anyone interested in faith development in children. The third session on September 28 will focus on Communion and children. We will meet in the "coffee area" in the narthex.
* Loaves & Fishes - We are responsible for participating and donating food for Loaves and Fishes at the Watertown Moravian Church on Monday, September 15. Check the sign-up sheets in the narthex to see where you can help out.
* Confirmation Class will begin Wednesday, September 24 from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. All students in grades 7 and 8 are encouraged to attend.
* Coupons For Care - In an effort to meet the needs of the hungry, a pilot program called "Coupons For Care" is underway. The immediate and on-going need is coupons. A box is provided in the narthex to place your unwanted or unused coupons. Manufacturer's and Pick 'N Save coupons/sale circulars are needed to make this successful. For more information, please contact Tisha Morgan at 920-699-9113 or 920-245-1640.
* Fireside Christian Concert - We have purchased 25 tickets to see the Pfeiffers on October 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Fireside in Fort Atkinson. A fish and chicken buffet will be served at 5:30 p.m. Gratuities need to be paid at the time of the meal. Cost of this event is $35 per person. A sign-up sheet is in the narthex. Deadline to sign up is September 7.
So then, my friends, because of God's great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. … Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. … (Romans 12:1a, 2a)
In the verses which follow these opening ones, Paul offers a wonderful list of gifts and a formula for Christian living. But, what follows depends on these opening thoughts, where he challenges us to be different. In the 2nd verse: “do not conform yourselves”, Paul is shining a light on another way – a different path – a course apart from what may seem more natural or customary and easy.
In bicycle, as well as NASCAR, racing there is a technique called “drafting”. Here the racers follow one another closely in order to reduce the wind resistance which saves energy for later in the race. The problem, which I have experienced biking, is that you then go wherever the lead cyclist leads you. More than once on a bicycle tour I have “drafted” another rider right through a pothole and even onto the wrong road. When you tuck down to reduce the effect of the wind, you aren't able to watch very well, so you end up in places you might not have intended.
Paul is saying the same thing - “Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world”. Instead seek “transformation”. And, while that may sound good, it does involve something we tend to avoid - “sacrifice” - dedicated to the service of God. In biking, this means doing the hard work of pedaling on your own without the apparent advantage of a wind break. In life, this form of sacrifice means being open to God's way, and where it takes you, rather than your own way. The good news, of course, is that God's way, more often than not, takes us just where we need to go.
And, according to Paul's formula, God makes it easy for us. We don't have to transform ourselves, we simply offer ourselves to God who will transform us. He won't make us taller or shorter, more athletic or artistic, or even smarter or holy. What needs transforming is how we think and how we understand the world. We need a “complete change of mind”, which allows us to recognize God's work in our lives and our part in achieving the coming of the Kingdom.
Probably the most difficult part of it all is realizing that we can't do it all by ourselves and that we may have a very small part in the overall process. I am always struck by the percussionists in a symphony orchestra. If you ever get the chance, watch the person holding the triangle. S/he may sit quietly for a very long time while the violins play majestically or the tubas fill the bottom notes of the piece; but, then, at the exact right moment, they stand and ring out a single note. Maybe the piece would have been just as good without that solitary “rinnnng”, but when you hear it, you know that it made all the difference in the world.
Paul is telling us that we need to “sacrifice” our desire / need to either follow the crowd or to play first fiddle and allow ourselves to become part of the entire orchestra performing the music God has prepared for humanity. We are to “use our different gifts in accordance with the grace God has given us and humbly play the notes which are ours to play.
The text goes on to offer some examples and I encourage you to read verses 6 to 12 with an eye on your place in the “band”. Open your heart and your mind to let God in to transform you. Allow yourself to be content with the calling God has placed on your heart.
Grace & peace,