1 Timothy 6:6-19
Most UCC congregations will receive the Neighbors In Need offering on October 2, 2016 as part of their World Communion Sunday observance. Here at Bethel, we will, too.
Neighbors in Need is a special mission offering of the United Church of Christ that supports ministries of justice and compassion throughout the United States.
One-third of NIN funds support the Council for American Indian Ministry (CAIM). CAIM is the voice for American Indian people in the UCC. CAIM provides Christian ministry and witness to American Indians and to the wider church. Justice issues that affect American Indian life are communicated to the whole UCC by CAIM.
Historically, the forebears of the UCC established churches and worked with Lakota, Dakota, Nakota, Mandan, Hidatsa, Arickara, and Hocak in North and South Dakota, Wisconsin and northern Nebraska. Today there are 20 UCC congregations on reservations and one urban, multi-tribal UCC congregation in Minneapolis, Minnesota. CAIM supports these local churches and their pastors. In addition, CAIM strives to be a resource for more than 1,000 individuals from dozens of other tribes and nations who are members of other UCC congregations and to strengthen their participation in the life of the church.
Two-thirds of the Neighbors In Need offering is used by the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries to support a variety of justice initiatives, advocacy efforts, and direct service projects through grants.
Justice and Witness Ministries of the UCC awards Neighbors in Need grants to churches and organizations doing justice work in their communities. If we at Bethel applied for a Neighbors In Need grant, we could receive one, just as some other churches in our Association have done in the past. These grants fund projects whose work ranges from direct service to community organizing and advocacy to address systemic injustice.
One example of a church in our area using a Neighbors In Need grant was St. Luke’s – County Line Church. A few years ago, they applied for and got one such grant, which they used to reach out in multiple ways to the camp full of migrant workers who tend and harvest the orchards between Timberville and Mt. Jackson.
Funding for these grants is provided through donations to the annual Neighbors in Need offering. Please pray and ask what gift you should make to this worthy cause.
Our gospel lessons, this Summer, have been highlighting Jesus’ and the prophets’ call for us to curb our selfishness and make sure to care for the poor. If I were preaching at Bethel this Sunday, you would surely be hearing about ‘the rich man and Lazarus,’ as told in Luke 16:19 — 31. Jesus said that the rich man who did not take care of his poor, sick neighbor ended up in hell, while poor Lazarus lives in glory in the bosom of Abraham.
This gospel inspires me to be a progressive Christian. When I pray, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” I am not satisfied to imagine “pie in the sky when we die.” No. Jesus calls us to care for our discriminated-against and our poor neighbors now, today, in this lifetime.
Washington Gladden was a pastor and leader of Congregational churches, beginning in the late 1800s. His studies in the teachings of Jesus and the prophets led him to develop the movement known as the Social Gospel. Gladden worked hard to organize Christians on behalf of workers’ rights, ending racial segregation, and other progressive attempts to realize the kingdom of God in this world. In 1879, Gladden published this poem, which was made into a beloved hymn:
O Master, let me walk with Thee,
In lowly paths of service free;
Tell me Thy secret; help me bear
The strain of toil, the fret of care.
Help me the slow of heart to move
By some clear, winning word of love;
Teach me the wayward feet to stay,
And guide them in the homeward way.
Teach me Thy patience; still with Thee
In closer, dearer, company,
In work that keeps faith sweet and strong,
In trust that triumphs over wrong.
In hope that sends a shining ray
Far down the future’s broadening way,
In peace that only Thou canst give,
With Thee, O Master, let me live.