the ASCENSION OF OUR LORD
THURSDAY, MAY 10
Psalms 47 & 93
SUNDAY MAY 13
1 John 5:9-13
[Jesus prayed, ]
protect them in Your name
that You have given me,
so that they may be one,
as We are One.”
In my mind, this week is the path through the woods to the teddy-bears’ picnic. If you haven’t been paying attention, the teddy-bears’ picnic is planned for this coming Saturday at Bethel, from Noon until 3 PM.
I know— you’re probably thinking something like, “Ho-hum... another silly little activity to while away somebody else’s Saturday...”
Not so, friends! While I don’t want to saddle this one event with the weight of the hopes and dreams of generations... this may be one of those serious forks in the path, either toward decline and decay or toward renewed vitality and long-term rebuilding for our little Bethel congregation.
When Jesus prayed “that they may all be one,” I believe he had the foresight to know what we are facing today, with individuals and groups each going their own way. I believe that Jesus fully understood our all-too-human tendency to splinter and fragment and separate, which we see here in our postmodern society. And I believe our situation is why he prayed as he did for our unity.
Back to the path toward the teddy-bears’ picnic: if you ever wondered, “Where are the young folks, and why don’t they come to church like we used to do?,” then here is a moment in the life of our church when you and I can do something about it. We can get our antique teddy-bears out of the closet, invite our relatives and neighbors, and make it a priority to get together at church.
It could have been a smash-up derby or a fishing event at the river or skiing on the mountain... but this time, it’s a teddy-bears’ picnic— at our church. Please, let’s drop our solitary activities and our worldly priorities and come together for a good time in one another’s company, for God’s sake. Sure, teddy-bears are lovable, but the real point is to reach across generations and other differences and dwell together in the love of God.
Of all the types of churches where people ought to value choosing to come together, here we are part of the UNITED Church of Christ. You need to know that our church came from people who chose each other, who made great efforts to remove barriers so we could be ONE church. The United Church of Christ motto states our goal, for all of Jesus’ followers and ourselves: THAT THEY MAY ALL BE ONE. And if not now, when ??
Speaking of the United Church of Christ, our Interim Conference Minister, Rev. Roddy Dunkerson, sent out this message to the churches of our Conference this past Friday, May 4, 2018.
Today is a Board Meeting Day for the Central Atlantic Conference UCC.
At the heart of our Protestant tradition is the notion that the members of a congregation control the life of the congregation. Once upon a time, this was a very new structure. Ownership was once seen as individual and never collective. So, a bishop owned all the churches in a diocese. The whole corporate structure that now describes how the world does business is based on our forebears developing the concept of parishioners owning the church.
I suspect my history may be oversimplified, but, it is a truth that when we solve one problem we free imaginations to create things that were once unimaginable. ...
Change can be threatening and intimidating. It can also be liberating and empowering.
Keep the Board in your prayers today and tomorrow. We will need to review the past and consider missteps we have taken. That is important work. But its importance is in helping us let go of the past, learn from it, but not be owned by it. We have the audacity to declare the vision we received from Paul, that in Christ we are a new creation.
While we always give thanks for the gifts we receive from our past, let us dare to let go of the guilt and anger and disappointment. Let us instead reach for the wonder of the new to which God constantly calls us. One of the joys of having been in ministry for a long time is to experience young believers imagining a future that I could not dream of seeing. We are building an unimagined church. Let us count on you taking your place in making dreams reality. Roddy