On Sunday evening, March 26th, we will be hosting the Elkton community at Bethel for a light soup-and-sandwich meal and a program. The theme which our Ministers’ Association has set forth for this year’s gatherings is “Sacrifice and Resurrection.”
If you think about it for a moment, for us followers of Jesus Christ, each of those words has a two-fold meaning. “Sacrifice” refers to the ministry, passion, and death of Jesus himself, but it also evokes OUR sacrifice, as we obey Jesus’ call to “take up our crosses.” Likewise, “Resurrection” is the word for the Father raising Jesus Christ from death, but it also means God’s new creation and eternal life for US as we faithfully follow Jesus.
For the program we offer at Bethel, I am inviting YOU to participate in planning our program on March 26th by naming three things:
>your favorite Bible verse (or two) related to
either SACRIFICE or RESURRECTION
>your favorite song related to SACRIFICE
>your favorite song related to RESURRECTION
Please include your name, and turn in your responses by Sunday afternoon, March 19th. We will provide some time to consider this during worship next Sunday, March 12th. The Deacons will help me process your responses and identify the top two or three SACRIFICE song requests and the top two or three RESURRECTION song requests, so we can sing them on the 26th. Also, we will invite you to publicly say your favorite verses in the program— but it will also be OK if you want to have someone else say it for you.
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Last evening, during a very nice time of fellowship over soup and sandwiches at Evangelical United Methodist Church in Elkton, the man sitting next to me asked me if I had heard about Pope Francis’ “tips on what to do for Lent.”
You never know what God may have in store for you when you reach out and mingle with faithful neighbors !
So, this morning I googled “Pope Francis Lent,” and as far as I can tell, our neighbor was referring to a “Top Ten” list which was compiled from Pope Francis’ writings and addresses by Kevin Cotter of The Fellowship of Catholic University Students.
Here is the bottom half of the list, counting down from number ten. I hope to share the other five in this space next week !
10. Evangelize “The Lord asks us to be joyous heralds of this message of mercy and hope! It is thrilling to experience the joy of spreading this good news, sharing the treasure entrusted to us, consoling broken hearts and offering hope to our brothers and sisters experiencing darkness.”
9. Help the Poor “In the poor and outcast we see Christ’s face; by loving and helping the poor, we love and serve Christ. Our efforts are also directed to ending violations of human dignity, discrimination and abuse in the world, for these are so often the cause of destitution. When power, luxury and money become idols, they take priority over the need for a fair distribution of wealth. Our consciences thus need to be converted to justice, equality, simplicity and sharing."
8. Almsgiving “Today gratuitousness is often not part of daily life where everything is bought and sold. Everything is calculated and measured. Almsgiving helps us to experience giving freely, which leads to freedom from the obsession of possessing, from the fear of losing what we have, from the sadness of one who does not wish to share his wealth with others.”
7. Fasting “We must be careful not to practice a formal fast, or one which in truth ‘satisfies’ us because it makes us feel good about ourselves. Fasting makes sense if it questions our security, and if it also leads to some benefit for others, if it helps us to cultivate the style of the Good Samaritan, who bends down to his brother in need and takes care of him.”
6. Prayer “In the face of so many wounds that hurt us and could harden our hearts, we are called to dive into the sea of prayer, which is the sea of God’s boundless love, to taste His tenderness. Lent is a time of prayer, of more intense prayer, more prolonged, more assiduous, more able to take on the needs of the brethren; intercessory prayer, to intercede before God for the many situations of poverty and suffering.”