February 14th E-votional

When looking for a subject for this week’s e-votional, obviously there is a holiday that should be discussed.  That’s right….Groundhog’s Day!  That’s right!  Groundhog’s day was almost 2 weeks ago.  The legend is that when the groundhog comes out, if he sees his shadow there will be six more weeks of winter.  Puxatawney Phil did not let us down.  He didn’t see his shadow, which means an early spring!  As a side note, I’ve met Phil.  Try not to be jealous.

Of course, I can’t talk about the holiday, without thinking of the classic Bill Murray movie, “Groundhog Day.”  Bill Murray plays a weatherman who is forced to go and report on the weather predicting “rat” as he calls it.  He makes no secret of his displeasure at this and that the thinks this is below him.  Imagine his horror, when he wakes up the next day and it is groundhog’s day again!  He relives the same day over and over again.  Eventually, he figures out he can use this to improve himself.  He really gets to know the people in the town, he learns another language, he learns how to play the piano, and of course, because it is a movie, he gets the girl to fall in love with him.

What would it look like if we started each day with a fresh start?  What if we woke up and our mistakes from the day before we magically erased?  We might not get to live the same day over and over again.  However, we do get to start every day with a clean slate.  Every day when we wake up, God, through Christ, will forgive our sins.  This isn’t a get out of jail free card, we can’t sin without impunity, we must truly be remorseful and repentant.  When we are, through God’s grace and love, God forgives us.  The sins of yesterday are forgiven and we get to start anew!

Lamentations 3:22-23:  “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

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February 8th E-votional

You know that I love movies, although that I don’t see as many as I used to.  I like most genres of movies: sci-fi, fantasy, drama, horror, comedy, superhero, thriller, mystery, even some romantic comedies.  One of the best movies I saw last year was “Crazy Rich Asians.”  It was about a woman who travels to Singapore for her boyfriend’s best friend’s wedding.  Once there she finds out his family is “crazy rich” and he is considered the most eligible bachelor in high societal circles.

In addition to being a good movie, it was ground breaking for being the most successful movie with an all Asian cast in at least 25 years.  However, it wasn’t without controversy.  Come complained that the cast wasn’t Asian enough.  Henry Golding, who plays the male lead, is part Malaysian and part English.  There were complaints and op-eds that it would be nice to see a “full Asian lead for once”

One author took exception with this.  She related to this, having both Chinese and Italian heritage.  She said part of the problem is that she refers to herself as half Chinese and half Italian.  This is not uncommon language for people with mixed ethnic heritage.  She suggested we reframe our language and our thinking.  The author said that instead of “half” she will start using “both”.  She isn’t half Chinese, half Italian, she is both Chinese and both Italian.  This recognizes both without diminishing either one.

I think we fall into this same trap when thinking about Jesus.  We know Jesus is human and God.  However, we often act as if he is half God and half human.  We attribute actions or sayings to his human side or his divine side.  When we take this approach, we either diminish his divinity or his humanity.  He is not 50-50, but 100% human and 100% divine.  This is important.  Because he is fully human he can relate to our temptations and weaknesses.  Because he is divine, he is able to show us the true nature of God.  Because of our sinfulness, humanity owe a debt to God.  Unfortunately, it is so vast that humanity cannot pay it.   Only God can pay it, but it is not God’s to pay.  Because he is fully human, he is able to assume ownership of it.  Because Christ is fully divine, he is able to pay the debt.  Christ is BOTH human and BOTH divine and because of that, he is able to be our savior.

John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.”

February 7th News and Notes

 

Chili/Dessert Cook-Off

Our Chili and Dessert cook-off was a success this year.  Cathie Lambert had the best chili and Hannah Deacon’s cake won the desert category!  We raise $453 for our Mars Hill mission trip!

Super Bowl Challenge

The New England Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams in Superbowl XIII.  Our congregation thought the Rams would be victorious.  43 cans were donated for the Rams and 27 for the Patriots.  With the match for the Patriots, that is 97 food items for the Bowie Interfaith Food Pantry!

Cross-Gen

Our next Cross-Gen event will Sunday, February 17th.  Bring a snack or appetizer to share and plan on joining us!

Year-end Video

If you missed the annual meeting, you missed our year-end video.  You can view it here!

Warm Nights

UPB will be participating in the Warm Nights Program at Village Baptist Church on March 16, 2019. A sign ise available in the Narthex.  Our meal selection will be: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans and desserts.

Sermons Online

Did you know that our sermons are posted on our website, usually a week after worship?  You can find them here.

 

Two Week Outlook

Sunday, February 10th

  • Worship, 10:00, worship
  • Christian Spiritual Formation committee meeting, following worship

Wednesday, February 13th

  • SEEDS, 6:00
  • Choir rehearsal, 7:30

Thursday, February 14th

  • Men’s Breakfast, 8:30 am, Nautilus Diner, Crofton
  • Ladies Luncheon 11:30, First Watch

Sunday, February 17th

  • Worship, 10:00, worship
  • Cross-Gen, following worship

Wednesday, February 20th

  • SEEDS, 6:00
  • Choir rehearsal, 7:30

Looking Ahead

  • March 6th, Ash Wednesday
  • April 21st, Easter
  • April 27th, Christmas in April
  • July 7th-13th 2019, Mars Hill Mission trip
  • July 22nd-26th, Art & Music Camp

Winter Board Corner

It continues to be important for the UPB Board to communicate the activities and discussions of the Board.  Minutes of the board meetings are filed in the church library.  Our Policy Manual can be found there as well.  All minutes include our Pastor’s report, Financial information, and committee reports.

In the past few month we have been working on the following:

  • Pastor Chris and the Board continue to study the Book of Acts. There is also a discussion, led by one assigned board member, of a sermon or verse from the previous month.  The board then closes in song.
  • The Board continues with a “Membership Check-In” where concerns or issues that have come up with the congregation can be discussed. Follow-up is made as necessary.
  • All church committees have a board member that gives a report at each meeting.
  • The Board members continue in participating in a “Holy Living” task. Each month a member is charged with a task.  For example a member is assigned to pray with each committee, our music program, and our pastor.  The prayers of the people are sent out each week to Board members so they can hold these people in prayer.
  • The Board voted to approve the Nominating Committee Policy.
  • The Board discussed the Christian Education Program. After realizing the LIFT program did not suit our needs it was decided to support a “Cross-Gen” program on the third Sunday of every month.  All generations have bee encouraged to attend and it has gone well.
  • The Board continues to look at adding policies to our manual. The By-Laws were edited (typos and duplications) and the board voted to present this for a vote, to the congregation, on January 27, 2019.
  • The Board continues to support our Mission Sundays and look into new organizations to help.  The Congregation is also encouraged to submit ideas.
  • The Board supported the CYF Committee start of our “Buddies Program”. This is an effort to get both adults and young people to know more about each other.  Pairs were created and activities have been planned.
  • The nominating committee, led by Board member Mary Bird presented a slate of nominations to fill our Board vacancies. Sharon Doughty has agreed to run for a second term and nominated Herb Sheppard and Ermas Barron to fill the other vacancies.  The committee also presented members from the congregation to serve of the committee next year.  They are Alex Barbato, Mary Jo Munnelly, and Dawn Pitsenberger.
  • The Board voted to utilize Mr. Hugh Blocker, CPA to assist our church treasurer with bookkeeping and multiple other tasks. The UPB treasurer will work closely with Mr. Blocker’s office and will continue to write checks, keep pledging information, and continue with sharing the status of our giving.

 

The Board is meant to represent the membership of the United Parish.  Please feel free to contact any Board Member or Pastor Chris with your ideas, suggestions and/or concerns.  Board members for 2019 are Terry Drown, Mary Bird, Cathie Lambert, Sharon Doughty, Sue Kennedy, Herb Sheppard, and Erma Barron.

 

January 15th News and Notes

 

Cross Gen

This Sunday is the third Sunday of the month, so join us for Cross Gen.  Bring a dish to share and plan on staying after worship for our intergenerational interactive Christian Education.

MLK Jr Interfaith service

Join the interfaith council as we gather on Monday, January 21st for our Martin Luther King, Jr worship service at 11:00 AM.  We will worship at Christian Community Presbyterian Church (CCPC)

Annual Meeting and Chili/Dessert Cook-Off

Mark your calendars.  On January 28th, we will have our Annual Meeting and our Dessert and Chili cook-off to benefit the Mars Hill mission trip!  At the annual meeting, we will be voting on the budget as well as some corrections to the by laws.

Super Bowl Challenge

The AFC championship and the NFC championship are both this Sunday.  This will tell us who will be playing in the Super Bowl.  Sunday, January 27th and February 3rd, you can vote for who you think will win the Super Bowl by bringing cans or food items in and placing it in that teams basket.  Pastor Chris will match the winning team with all food items going to the Bowie Food Pantry.

Adult Sunday School

We are gauging interest in an adult Sunday School.  If you are interested in participating and/or leading, please sign the sheet in the Narthex or sign up here.

Sermons Online

Did you know that our sermons are posted on our website, usually a week after worship?  You can find them here.

 

Two Week Outlook

Wednesday, January 16th

  • SEEDS, 6:00
  • Choir rehearsal, 7:30

Thursday, January 17th

  • Mens Night Out, 6:30 PM, Glory Days, Edgewater

Sunday, January 20th

  • Worship, 10:00
  • Cross-Gen, after worship

Wednesday, January 23rd

  • SEEDS, 6:00
  • Choir rehearsal, 7:30

Thursday, January 24th

  • SEEDS, 6:00
  • Choir rehearsal, 7:30

Sunday, January 27th

  • Worship, 10:00, worship
  • Annual Meeting, following worship
  • Dessert/Chili cook-off

Looking Ahead

  • January 27th, Annual Meeting
  • March 6th, Ash Wednesday
  • April 21st, Easter
  • April 27th, Christmas in April
  • July 7th-13th 2019, Mars Hill Mission trip
  • July 22nd-26th, Art & Music Camp

December 25th Advent Devotional

Merry Christmas!

Sandy Safford

Luke 2:8-20

The day has come, the one we have been waiting for this Advent. Mary and Joseph are in Bethlehem and the time came for the baby to be born. Mary gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger. The coming of the Messiah, the birth of the king of kings was announced to the shepherds on the hillside watching their sheep. “Do not be afraid” the angel of the Lord said. We have heard these words before in the days of Christ’s coming. But fear is a natural reaction to the unknown, to what is new, changing and especially to angels appearing. But here is reassurance and encouragement as the shepherds tremble. “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)  This was God’s promise to the shepherds and to all people and they were told where to find the baby. But wait! The sky filled with the heavenly host, and the angel praised God saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom God’s favor rests.” The shepherds go and find the baby Jesus, just as the angels told them. Now they too share the story and spread the word of God’s promise for all people, a Savior has been born! Merry Christmas!

Father, God may we remember this day of Christmas all year long and celebrate your promise for all people. Amen.

©2018 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group. This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

December 24th Advent Devotional

Silent Night

Chris Deacon

Luke 2:1-14

One of my favorite Christmas memories growing up was going to our church’s Christmas Eve service. It ended with us lighting candles, singing “Silent Night” and departing in silence at midnight. One particular year, I was driving to my parents’ after the service. It seemed the whole town was asleep. I saw very few other cars and I drove in silence the entire way. It was very peaceful and very holy.

 

Was the night that Christ was born really silent? Bethlehem was overflowing.

Every inn in the city was full. I used to live in a small, rural town of about 2000. Once a year, there was a huge arts and craft drive that would bring in 10,000 visitors. When a small town has several times it’s population visiting, it is never quiet! We can’t forget that Jesus was born in a manger. There were donkeys, sheep, goats, possibly chickens. It is hard to believe that it would have been silent.

Maybe, the whole world fell silent and entered into peace to welcome the Christ child. Jesus could calm the storms and walk on water, a little quiet would be nothing for him! Or maybe, Jesus was born into a loud, noisy world. Babies crying, animals braying, a city overflowing with people. Maybe, that is the point. This perfect child was born into a noisy, flawed, broken world. Maybe that is the point of Christmas, that God entered into a noisy, flawed, broken world to redeem it. It may not have been a silent night, but no doubt it was a holy night!

Almighty God, on this day we prepare to finally welcome the Christ child. We welcome him into a world that is dirty, broken, and loud. Just as he came to redeem this world, help us to further your kingdom here on earth until he comes again. Amen

  

Rev. Chris Deacon is the pastor of the United Parish of Bowie, a joint UCC/PC(USA) congregation in Bowie, MD. He is also the author or “Louder than Words.”

©2018 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group. This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.