Starting in October, we will have a special worship series using the Living Peace Curriculum put together by On Earth Peace, an agency of the Church of the Brethren. This is a six week study that would encourage us to consider what it would look like if our congregation lived like a peace church led by God, following in Christ’s footsteps, and inspired by the Spirit. Along with these topics in worship, we invite you to join us in a daily Bible study and weekly reflection questions. The Living Peace Gathering group will also be hosting four lunch conversation opportunities in the Fellowship Hall after the 11:00 AM worship (October 11, 18, 25, and November 15) for us to continue the conversation together.
The Church is buzzing. Summer vacations have mostly come to an end. August has reminded me of the many important ministries that happen through this congregation. In August, church workers plan and prepare for a year ahead. Wisely, we lay a foundation from which God can construct lives of discipleship. It reminds me of Christ’s classic parable from Matthew 7, where the wise man’s house is built on rock so as to withstand rain, flood, and wind. The Church was buzzing this August laying a foundation from which our ministries can flourish.
At the end of August you will have an opportunity during worship to participate in a service of anointing. Anointing is one of those things we do in the Church of the Brethren that is unique. I have profound memories of anointing at National Youth Conference held every four years. I was anointed when I was a youth at this conference and that moment initiated my first steps along my path toward ministry.
Summer is such a sweet time of the year. The cherry tree behind our house has bright red, tart cherries. The orchards around Hagerstown will be advertising fresh peaches and watermelons. These fresh fruits hit the spot with delight and satisfaction on a hot summer day.
The first Sunday of May was All Music Sunday. Our two services came together into one service so that we could raise our voices and instruments in common song to our God. Praising God through music is a common topic in the Bible, especially in the Book of Psalms, which is no surprise, given that the psalms are written as an invitation to praise God in all aspects of life. The psalms are rich with heart-felt words of both sorrow and joy and speak to how we can praise God in the midst of both of these.
Christ is Alive! After weeks of joining Jesus on the long plod to the cross and Easter morning, the time has come to celebrate. As people of faith, we join with Christians around the world celebrating the greatest event in the Christian narrative. Christ conquers death and with it, human sin. What a morning, when bleakness turns to hope for God’s good earth.
During the season of Lent, as many of you know by now, Pastor Tim and I have been encouraging everyone to join us on a journey through the Gospel of Mark, reading a little each day until the whole Gospel is read by Easter. Daily readings are accompanied by a few questions related to the days selection of scripture. Some of these questions may encourage personal reflection while others may invite you to enter the scripture as you relate to people’s actions or thoughts.
We Brethren like to think we take Jesus very seriously. We say we have no creed but the New Testament; and if we had a creed within the New Testament, it would be the words of Jesus; and if we had to choose a creed out of Jesus’ words, we would probably choose the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus is incredibly important to us.
“Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it” -- Isaiah 43:18-19a
Advent is upon us. This is a time of preparation and a season of waiting for our Messiah to come. We await the Christ child in the familiar Christmas story. Why do we wait so expectantly? Every year we know what happens in the story, but do we ever allow the story and our lives to converge. This is a season of hope, expectancy, waiting, and advent in our Church.