Exodus 32: 7 – 14
Psalm 51: 1-10
1 Timothy 1: 12 – 17
Luke 15:1 - 10
[note: we don't yet know what text(s) our Homecoming guest speaker, Rev. Buddy Marston, will be using]
We believe in God, the Eternal Spirit, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
and our Father,
and to His deeds we testify:
He calls the worlds into being,
creates man in His own image
and sets before him the ways of life and death.
He seeks in holy love to save all people from aimlessness and sin.
He judges men and nations by His righteous will
declared through prophets and apostles.
In Jesus Christ, the man of Nazareth, our crucified and risen Lord,
He has come to us and shared our common lot,
conquering sin and death and reconciling the world to Himself.
He bestows upon us His Holy Spirit,
creating and renewing the church of Jesus Christ,
binding in covenant faithful people of all ages, tongues, and races.
He calls us into His church to accept the cost and joy of discipleship,
to be His servants in the service of men,
to proclaim the gospel to all the world and resist the powers of evil,
to share in Christ's baptism and eat at his table,
to join Him in His passion and victory.
He promises to all who trust Him forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace,
courage in the struggle for justice and peace,
His presence in trial and rejoicing,
and eternal life in His kingdom which has no end.
Blessing and honor, glory and power be unto Him. Amen.
( The Statement of Faith of the United Church of Christ, since 1957 )
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This week, plans are finally coming together for Bethel’s One Hundred and Twentieth Anniversary as a congregation. We are hoping for an outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit upon “the regulars” and upon everyone who gathers— in the flesh and in spirit— for this special Sunday celebration.
Our church officers and the History Committee have worked to make this a good event. One might imagine that Homecoming is a backward-looking event, mainly concerned with “the way things used to be.” True, our History Committee has been trying hard to gather correct and interesting facts and photos which illustrate the one hundred and twenty year history. But our church is alive NOW, living to serve Jesus Christ. And our whole aim is to serve him faithfully each new day. So, as always, each milestone reveals not only how far we have come, but what direction we are moving, and how far we still have to go toward our heavenly goal. At best, looking at our history can give us additional reasons to thank and praise the One Who makes all good things possible (and Who calls us to repent of all un-fruitful works). Also, if we study our church’s history very prayerfully and thoughtfully, we may discern some past mis-steps which we want to avoid, going forward.
We current stewards of Bethel’s mission are imperfect, struggling human beings... not very different from the Charter Members of 1896. We, as they, require repeated forgiveness and refreshment at the hand of our so-gracious God.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that You have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and steadfast spirit within me.
- Psalm 51: 8 – 10