How To Increase Your Church Membership
Churches across the globe are suffering from a decline in membership. Marcus J. Borg , author, The Heart Of Christianity, suggest the solution may be in rediscovering our faith. In a passage familiar to most church goers, The Parable Of The Sower (Matthew 13:1-23), Jesus offer an antidote to bear fruit 100, 60 and 30 folds. In a coded message to the disciples, Jesus discloses key concepts in planting and calculating exact numbers for the harvest. Your input is requested as we revisit solutions to declining church attendance. See you in worship
-Rev. Leo Lynch
Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
Barbara Ehrenreich, in her 2001 book on economic inequality, Nickled and Dimed wrote about going to a tent revival in Portland, Maine. The preacher spoke to a mostly impoverished audience about Jesus on the cross and the importance of believing in him to go
to heaven. She thought:
"It would be nice if someone would read this sad-eyed crowd the Sermon on the Mount, accompanied by a rousing commentary on income inequality and the need for a hike in the minimum wage. But Jesus makes his appearance here only as a corpse; the living man, the wine-guzzling vagrant and precocious socialist, is never once mentioned, nor anything he ever had to say. Christ crucified rules, and it may be that the true business of modern Christianity is to crucify him again and again so that he can never get a word out of his mouth.
"I get up to leave, timing my exit for when the preacher's metronomic head movements have him looking the other way, and walk out in search for my car, half expecting to find Jesus out there in the dark, gagged and tethered to a tent pole."
Many followers of Jesus focus exclusively on his Divine nature as the Son of God, offering salvation for humanity in the hearafter. But many in so doing, miss out on the humanity of Jesus and his mission on this earth, which has implications for all of us, right here and now.
Marcus Borg is our conversation partner this summer; many of us are reading his book The Heart of Christianity, which is a primer on Christianity from a progressive perspective. He argues that it's important to understand and seek to follow both the pre-Easter Jesus AND post-Easter Jesus. This Sunday, as we read Matthew 11: 16-19 & 25-30 we will reflect on Borg's insights about the nature of Jesus... as the Heart of God.
-Rev. Andy Schwiebert
This summer we are reading and sharing in worship and having two small groups after worship to share our responses to The Heart of Christianity by Marcus Borg. Our text on July 2nd is a simple Psalm that expresses both struggle and hope, pain and yearning. Do you remember the first time you heard about God - the first time you listened to a Scripture reading or saw a picture? What impressions did you have and what assumptions did you make about how God would act or feel toward you? In a reflection entitled "Who Is Our God" we will consider some images of God in Scripture that Borg references, and look at how/whether we have changed our own image of God since those impressions of our past. Come join us in the air-conditioned Chapel at 10AM for worship. The first of two discussion sessions on the book will take place after coffee hour.
Rev. John H. Pomeroy
How do you live out your faith in your everyday life, sharing the good news? How is your life a reflection of the call to discipleship of Jesus?
In our reading from the Gospel of Matthew this week disciples are called on by Jesus to go out and proclaim the good news: cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons and [...] give without payment. They are told to go to where they are welcomed and shake off the dust from their feet from places where people don't listen.
-Rev. Andy Schwiebert
Our text in worship this Sunday is Jesus commissioning the disciples - asking them to make disciples of all nations and authorizing their work by describing how they have inherited the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. In a reflection entitled "You Have What It Takes!" we will consider the mechanics of ministry for us all and look at what it takes to do the work of God from day to day in our lives. The model in business - and sometimes in parenting - is to delegate responsibility all along the way so that as we age and grow in our experience, we are doing less and less of the "grunt" work and more of the decision-making and visioning. Is ministry always simply "grunt" work - service to others, compassionate and Godly, but service nonetheless? Come join us for worship at 10AM in the Chapel as we reflect on ministry and our gifts this Sunday.
- Rev. John H. Pomeroy
"Signs and Wonders"
This Sunday we will observe Pentecost - the season of the church year where we recall and remember the giving of the Holy Spirit to the early church community. The unleashing of the Spirit of God on the people was a disconcerting and strange event. With wind, fire and strange speech, the power of God was given to the early followers of Jesus. They were transitioning from a community with Jesus physically present to a community where Jesus was spiritually leading them. It was a time of great wonder, fear and maybe even a little bit of excitement! We too are blessed with the Spirit of God in our midst - sometimes in quite dramatic ways; other times in a less showy manner. But we know when God's Spirit is guiding us - we feel enveloped and borne up by the mysterious power of the Divine. There is nothing more energizing than that! Come and join us for worship on Sunday as we explore these themes. It is also Choir Appreciation Sunday when we say a big "THANK YOU!" to our choir who has lovingly showered us with music all year. We will also thank our new Musical Director Connie Washburn who has finished her first season with us and our newly re-formed Bell Choir under the direction of Paulette Westphal. See you Sunday for all the fun! Wear red/orange/yellow if you wish.
-Marlene W. Pomeroy
The daily onslaught of news can be mind numbing and soul rattling: everything from the daily news coming out of the White House and the media who covers it to a proposed national budget to the bombing in Manchester and a host of other situations abroad. A natural question arises: how long might things worsen - and will things get better? This Sunday we will spend time with two texts for "Ascension Sunday," the week when we read about the departure of the resurrected Jesus and what's left behind . . . for the transformation of th world.
-Rev. Andy Schwiebert
1 Peter 3:13-22
This week in worship we have the good fortune of celebrating the work of Irene Phillips, the Director of our church nursery for nearly five decades. In 1 Peter the writers are encouraging followers of Jesus to hang onto their ideas and principles - to hold fast to their faith, aware that communities, friends and family members may scoff at their beliefs and practices. Ms. Phillips has been such a wonderful example to all of us in the church of holding fast to loving and caring for children and youth in our church nursery - no matter what their faults, no matter where they are in their development, no matter how they are growing and changing! Her offer of compassion and care has been there each week, each special event, for each child, no matter what the storm, what the change, what the name or personality! In a brief reflection this week entitled Integrity and Compassion Are Ministry we will compare our own commitment to our faith with the invitation in this text - and ask how we are doing in maintaining our faith amidst the push and pull of our work, culture and family. Come join us in worship in the Chapel at 10AM!
- Rev. John H Pomeroy
It's so easy to succumb to societal notions of individuality-- that we and our own homes and families are islands and that we ought to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps if we are to be worth anything. We ought to be self-reliant and neither take from others nor be expected to give to others. But this Sunday as we read about the first Christian community from Acts 2 we will be reminded what it means to be the church, sharing our life together.
-Rev. Andy Schwiebert
Our text in worship this week is the story of followers of Jesus who meet him as a stranger on the road to Emmaus, and realize his identity only after breaking bread and hearing the Gospel story from Jesus' mouth. What are the writers after here? They are lifting up the importance of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper - remembering - literally telling the story and "piecing together" Jesus' body in a key ritual of the church; the writers are also lifting up a key model of ministry - walking with another person and hearing their concerns, sharing with them our experience of the story of Jesus - birth, life, death and finally - resurrection! We will have the privilege this Sunday to join other churches in a celebration and exploration of sacred resistance and sanctuary by hearing from a guest about their concerns and their hopes for our current immigration policies. We will also consider - in a brief reflection entitled "Whom Do You Walk With?"- how our lives are changed and our faith nurtured by whom we choose to walk with on our journey of faith - and whom we open our lives to in our day-to-day experiences. Come join us for worship this Sunday in the Chapel at 10AM!
-Rev. John H. Pomeroy