and 21:22 - 22:5
John 5:1-9 and 14:23-29
As we move abruptly from April into May, here are some calendar notes.
We are currently still in the season of the church year called Easter-tide. It starts with Easter Sunday and continues until the Day of Pentecost. During Easter-tide, we go a little farther than usual to emphasize what Jesus Christ’s resurrection means to us… although as Christians, new life in Christ ought to be our main topic, year-round !
Before we are through with Easter-tide, on May 5th we will mark Ascension Day. Easter Day this year was March 27th. According to the New Testament book called The Acts of the Apostles (which seems to be written by the same author as the gospel called Luke), after Jesus was raised from the dead on that Easter Sunday morning, he stayed with his followers during forty days, teaching them more about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). Then his followers witnessed him being lifted up, or “ascending” into heaven on the fortieth day. So Christians observe Ascension Day to remember that Jesus still lives, though now exalted at the right hand of the Father. The date of Ascension Day moves each year, depending on the date of Easter. We don’t have a special Thursday worship service planned for May 5th, but it is always a good time to reflect on the fact that Jesus is alive and he reigns on high ! In our worship on Sunday, May 8th, we plan to observe both Mothers’ Day and the ascension of Christ.
The date when the church celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles is also different each year, depending on the dates of Holy Week. We read in Acts chapter 2 that the Holy Spirit came to the Apostles on a Jewish holiday called Pentecost, or The Feast of Weeks. According to the Law of Moses (Leviticus 23:15-21), the Jews were to offer special sacrifices to God, hold a feast, and declare an extra day off from work on the fiftieth day after the Passover observance: seven weeks plus one day. Pentecost means “fiftieth.” Christians count the fifty days from Good Friday, because Jesus, the Lamb of God, was crucified (sacrificed) at the time of the Passover festival. The Day of Pentecost marks the early harvest time, reminding the Israelites how they settled the Promised Land after their long years of wandering in the wilderness: they were finally able to plant and harvest their own crops- so they give thanks to God.
Among Christians, Pentecost is often called “the birthday of the Church,” because the coming of God’s Holy Spirit equipped and empowered Jesus’ followers to continue Jesus’ mission on earth. What would the “body of Christ” be without the breath of life, the Holy Spirit ? This year’s Day of Pentecost falls on Sunday, May 15th. It is traditional to wear red clothing to church on Pentecost, and to decorate the sanctuary with red flowers and cloths. We will remind you, as we get closer to Pentecost.
Here is a special invitation from our Central Atlantic Conference General Synod 2017 Team:
Jill White, Sia Barbara Ferguson Kamara, and Robert Ziegler.
The United Church of Christ General Synod 2017 that the Central Atlantic Conference will host in Baltimore next summer offers an opportunity to put forward our values at a time when our voice is needed more than ever, and to model the radical hospitality that is central to our life. Our success depends on you and other leaders in our Conference who are committed to the United Church of Christ and its expression of God’s mission here and throughout our country and world.
Our Conference leadership has scheduled five events for potential volunteer leaders, prospective donors and others who will be key to our success in the summer of 2017. On Tuesday, May 24 at Jimmy Madison’s, 121 S. Main St in Harrisonburg, from 6-9 PM, we will gather to introduce the plan for General Synod, talk about how we hope to leverage it for sustainable mission success in the Conference, and ask for your support in doing so. We hope you will attend.
[PLEASE RSVP TO DAN BY WEDNESDAY, MAY 4th]
We know you share our excitement about next summer, and hope you can join us in making the kickoff of what will be a seminal moment in the life of our Conference and the whole Church. We look forward to seeing you on [May 24th] and to our working together to make Synod a success.