1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Last Wednesday evening, we held our Quarterly Church Council meeting. Looking over the Financial Secretary’s report, which includes attendance numbers and offering totals, we noted that we hadn’t missed any Sundays due to bad weather yet. Ha !! Of course, when wintry weather quickly followed, we took the decision very seriously, whether to cancel Sunday School and worship. We discussed a variety of possible options, short of simply calling off everything. In the last analysis, what decided the matter was concern over any individual— even one— slipping on the ice while getting in or out of their vehicles.
I know, from the discussion, that we were also thinking about what cancelling church would mean for the majority who wouldn’t slip on the ice. But regard for the one who might slip won the day.
For my part, I have tentatively decided to call for the Scripture readings and songs we would have shared on January 8th to be used this coming Sunday, January 15th. In the scheme of the Church Year, the Sunday following Epiphany is the time to remember Jesus being baptized. We will hear that story as it is told in the gospel of Matthew, chapter three. Matthew reports that Jesus went to the Jordan River to be baptized, and John the Baptizer baptized him.
However, the gospel lesson for January 15th would normally be John 1: 29 – 42. If you read John’s account closely, you will see that he never says that Jesus got baptized. But the gospel according to John does emphasize that John the Baptizer pointed out Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” The next day, John the Baptizer was standing with two of his own disciples when he saw Jesus walk by. Again, he told them, “Here is the lamb of God.” Those two disciples then left off following John and began to follow Jesus. It appears that was what the Baptizer wanted.
Not to put too fine a point on it— the attitude taken by our church leaders in the wintry weather is the same one shown by the Baptizer: he wanted what was best for each individual under his care, even if he himself ended up getting left alone.
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This week brought news from my friend and leader, Rev. Marie Bacchiocchi, our Associate Conference Minister, who has been serving this part of the Central Atlantic Conference for several years now. Many of you Bethel folks would have heard her preach when I was ordained at Bethel in October of 2012.
December 26, 2016
My Dear Friends,
I am writing to resign as Associate Conference Minister of the West of the Central Atlantic Conference United Church of Christ. My last day with the Central Atlantic Conference will be February 24, 2017.
I have accepted the call to be the Interim Conference Minister of the Southeast Conference United Church of Christ. I am excited about this call. It feels like the place where God is calling me next. However, I need to admit that I leave my current position with much sadness. I have truly loved being a part of the Central Atlantic Conference. A part of my heart will always be with you all.
In this time of transition, I will continue to faithfully minister with you. Thank you for allowing me to serve in this amazing conference.
Blessings and peace,
Rev. Marie A. Bacchiocchi
Associate Conference Minister
The Southeast Conference of the United Church of Christ includes churches in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
I have been blessed to have worked with Marie. I am sorry that we won’t be conducting ordinations, installations of pastors, and other such events together in the foreseeable future as we have over the past few years. If you are like me in expecting that you will miss her, stay tuned— our Association is planning a Service of Release and a reception for her, near us, before she goes away. I will publicize it !
I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 1: 4 – 7