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March 3rd Lenten Devotional

Shake it Off

Jo Mead

Luke 10:1-12

 Who knew? I mean that. Who knew that the seventy others sent out represented all of humanity? I only knew it from reading Elaine A. Heath’s commentary on this scripture. She writes “The number seventy implies all of humanity, as Genesis 10 provides a list of all the nations of the world, numbering seventy.”* So Jesus sends out seventy people into the world to spread the news. Seventy people who are to go (notice not take) into the world without a purse, bag, or sandals. Offer people peace when you enter a home. Accept what people offer to you in hospitality. I read this as a grand adventure of stepping out today to our neighbors all around the world. A neighbor offers me enmoladas (enchiladas with mole) or the other neighbor offers tabbouleh salad. I am to accept what is offered to me. Why? It is acceptance of hospitality. It is trying to live within a community standard instead of setting your own as the only culture of community.

We live in a time when the fear of anyone different is driving to build walls of exclusion instead of finding the place of offering peace (or in Hebrew shalom) to all people. Shalom is a Hebrew word meaning peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility. A stranger is to go into a community to share the good news of the kingdom of God. If people do not accept this relationship, no need to grow angry or hostile. Move on and shake the dust off your feet. Maybe this is what we need today. Shake it off. Shake it off.

*Elaine A. Heath’s essay from Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 3 , Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 2010. Page 214.

Rev. Jo Mead is an ordained elder in the Great Plains Conference serving University United Methodist Church in Wichita, Kansas.

©2017 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group.  This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

March 2nd Lenten Devotional

Where are you from?

Matthew March

Luke 9:57-62

Where are you from?  It’s a question that gets asked, almost as a throw-away.  People seem to want to know where other people are from.  When one lives in a rural area, the question becomes even more important.  It highlights the line between those who have deep roots and those who have more recently found their home in a given area.

It’s a question that becomes more and more complicated as our society has become so mobile.  If you ask my children where they are from, you will get two different answers.  If you ask my wife and me, we will say Michigan but, since we married, we’ve lived in five different states and haven’t set foot in Michigan in several years.

As I think about those people who told Jesus they would follow him, I imagine they were people who had deep roots in their community.  I imagine them farming the land that had been in their family for generations.  I imagine them living in a household with multiple generations.  And I imagine they had no idea of the disruptive nature of the in-breaking of the Reign of God that Jesus was bringing near.

The Reign of God disrupts the way we make our identity.  No longer is our identity about where we are from or to whose earthly family we belong.  Our identity is in Jesus Christ.  It is not about who we are but whose we are.

 

Matthew March is the pastor of St John’s Lutheran Church in Chehalis, Washington.

 

©2017 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group.  This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

March 1st Lenten Devotional

Toward Jerusalem

Amy Fetterman

Luke 9:51-56

“Jesus’ face was set towards Jerusalem.”

What does that look like? Do his eyes take on a visible resolve? Does his smile become strained? How do the Samaritans, who only see his messengers, know to be wary of this wandering prophet and his path? How do they know to reject him?

They reject him not because of where he is from but because of where he is going. To Jerusalem. To be betrayed, denied, rejected, and killed. To engage the powers of his day and their cycle of violence. To show James and John how heavenly fire is not his holy way.

Rejected, Jesus lives what he has so recently preached to the disciples. He shakes the dust off his feet and moves on to another village. He continues to Jerusalem.

Village by village he goes.

Goes and commands peace to the spectres of violence.

Goes and proclaims release to those held captive by the forces of sin.

Goes and offers healing love in word and deed.

Goes and lives the Way, knowing what it will cost him.

In the prayers and rituals of Ash Wednesday, we who would follow the Way, who would live in the Truth, and would discover the Life, join with Jesus on this journey. We resolve to follow our Lord as he teaches and heals, as he is rejected and denied. We strive to resist the temptation to reject this hard path, the yearning for holy fire rather than the holy way. With ashes on our forehead, we turn to the cross.

We set our faces toward Jerusalem.

Amy Fetterman is a Virginia-based transitional pastor in the PC(USA) and co-author of Who’s Got Time: Spirituality for a Busy Generation from Chalice Press.

©2017 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group.  This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

February 21st News and Notes

Ash Wednesday

Lent begins Wednesday, March 1st with an Ash Wednesday service at 7:00.

New Member Class

We will be having a new member class soon.  If you are interested, please let Chris know.

Warm Nights

On Saturday, March 18, 2017, UPB will provide the meal for warm nights hosted by Village Baptist Church.  We have been asked to prepare beef stew, salad, bread, and dessert.  Please sign up in the Narthex and plan to drop off your food offering directly at Village Baptist Church, 1950 Mitchellville Road, Bowie, Maryland, 6pm on Saturday, March 18.  Please bring the stew in a crock-pot with liner.  To sign up click here.

Annual Meeting and Chili cook-off

Our Annual Meeting and Chili cook-off has been rescheduled for March 12th!  Plan on joining us after worship.

Easter Baskets

The Mission and Service committee is putting together Easter Baskets for the children of the Crisis Center.  They are asking for small gifts such as candy, books, crayons, etc.  The baskets will be delivered April 16th.

 Lenten Dinners and Inter-generational Devotionals

Are Lenten Dinners will be begin on March 8th.  We will be exploring how to experience God through the five senses.  You can sign up to participate or bring food here.

Two Week Outlook

Wednesday, February 22nd

  • Seeds, 6:00
  • Choir Practice, 7:30

Thursday, February 23rd

  • Mens Breakfast, 7:45, Nautilus Diner, Crofton
  • Women’s Night Out, 6:30, Old Bowie Town Grill

Sunday, February 26th

  • Worship, 10:00
  • Chat & Chew, immediately after worship
  • Sunday School, after worship

Tuesday, February 28th

  • Choir Practice, 7:30

Wednesday, March 1st

  • Ash Wednesday Service, 7:00 pm

Sunday, March 5th

  • Worship, 10:00
  • Sunday School, after worship

Tuesday, March 7th

  • Worship Team, 4:00
  • Parish Board, 7:00

Looking Ahead

  • March 1st: Ash Wednesday, Lent begins
  • April 16th: Easter
  • April 29th: Christmas in April
  • June 25th: Church in the Park
  • July 9th-15th, 2017: Mars Hill Mission Trip
  • July 24th-28th, 2017: Art & Music Camp

February 21st Weekly E-votional

As many of you know, one of my best friends, Scott Hauser, lost his battle with cancer last Thursday.  Tomorrow, I will be flying out to Wisconsin to participate in his funeral.  Scott served as one of my references when the PNC and I were in conversation.  He participated in my installation as pastor of the United Parish of Bowie.  He was part of the clergy group that I get together with at least once a year.  This does not begin to touch on what he meant to me, personally.   If I had to pick the people who had the biggest influence in shaping my approach to ministry, he would be top three without a doubt.

I learned a lot of things from Scott.  I learned how to calculate pot odds in poker.  I learned how to appreciate good Kentucky bourbon.  We would often talk about church, theology, politics, sports, family, and many other things.  He even tried to teach me to love baseball, but there were somethings even he could not do!  Even in his dying, he continues to teach me.

The way Scott died demonstrated his faith.  While there is still much grieving, the fact that he was at peace has provided a lot of peace to me.  During one of his last conversations with his wife, she asked him “Who do you belong to?”  “I belong to God,” he responded.  After his passing, though, something happened that I had never seen.  Facebook exploded.  Hundreds of people started sharing different pictures and stories about how Scott had touched their lives.  As a pastor of a large church, you might expect a lot of these to be church members.  There were some, but it was a collection of people from throughout his life, from childhood to high school to college.  Every stage of his life was represented.  It was amazing and a testament to his life and his faith.  He loved all these people because God first loved him and he had made an impact on their lives because of it.

I stumbled across a quote this morning, by author Dallas Willard.  It said, “The Gospel is less about how to get into the Kingdom of Heaven after you die, and more about how to live in the Kingdom of Heaven before you die.”  Even though Scott knew that, through Christ, he would inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, that is not why he lived the Gospel.  He lived the Gospel so that could live in the Kingdom of Heaven every day and so that he could share that Kingdom with everyone he encountered.  All the stories shared about Scott attest to the pieces of the Kingdom of heaven he shared.  By living the Gospel, he shared the Kingdom far and wide.

Just as Scott taught me and inspired me in life, he teaches me and inspires me in death.  We should all be inspired to live the Gospel in every aspect of our lives, to share the Kingdom with all with everyone we meet.  Not in hopes of heavenly reward, but because we love, because Jesus first loved us.

 

Romans 14:8  “If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.”

Feb 16th Weekly E-votional

I read an amazing story this week that I wanted to share with you.  Dirk Willems is a hero in the Mennonite faith.  He was an Anabaptist in the Netherlands in the 16th century.  The Mennonites have three beliefs that are foundational to their faith: adult baptism, separation of church and state, and non-violence in all situations. Because he baptized adults and rejected infant baptism, he was condemned by both Protestants and Catholics.  He was eventually arrested for this practice.  He was able to escape from prison on a rope made from knotted ropes.  After climbing down from his cell, he found a think layer of ice surrounding the prison.  Due to the weight he loss in prison, he was able to scurry across the ice.  A guard was following him and fell through the ice.  Willems heard the guard yelling and returned to pull him out of the water and save his life.  This led to his recapture, torture, and eventually, being burned at the stake.

It’s easy to see how the Mennonites could lift Willems up as a hero of the faith.    Someone who held to his belief of non-violence, that he couldn’t stand by and watch a man drown, even when it meant returning to the cell he had just escaped from.  Someone who would risk his freedom, and even his life, to rescue someone who was persecuting him.  Someone who showed the same extravagant love as Jesus.  It is much like Christ saying, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”, as he died for everyone including the Romans who had put them there.

Willems raises several important questions for us.  How are we showing extravagant love in our lives?  How can we be more Christlike?  Maybe most importantly, do we have any beliefs that we hold so dear that we would be willing to risk imprisonment or even death?
Matthew 16:24 “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

 

February 10th News and Notes

Soup-er Bowl Challenge

What a Superbowl! The New England Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons in overtime! Just as UPB predicted, either team could have won. We had 59 cans donated on the Atlanta Falcons side and 61 cans donated on the New England Patriots side. That is 120 cans, plus the 61 match for 181 cans for the  food pantry!

New Member Class

We will be having a new member class soon.  If you are interested, please let Chris know.

Ash Wednesday

Lent begins Wednesday, March 1st with Ash Wednesday.  We will have our Lenten Intergenerational devotions/dinners on Wednesday during Lent.

SEEDS

The Christian Spirtual Formation committee will meet this Sunday following Sunday School.

Family Crisis Center

The Family Crisis Center meal is February 19th this month.  The theme is “comfort food”.  You can sign up to help out here or in the Narthex.

Warm Nights

On Saturday, March 18, 2017, UPB will provide the meal for warm nights hosted by Village Baptist Church.  We have been asked to prepare beef stew, salad, bread, and dessert.  Please sign up in the Narthex and plan to drop off your food offering directly at Village Baptist Church, 1950 Mitchellville Road, Bowie, Maryland, 6pm on Saturday, March 18.  Please bring the stew in a crock-pot with liner. 

 Two Week Outlook

Friday, February 1oth

  • Women’s Luncheon, 11:30, First Watch

Sunday,February 12th

  • Worship, 10:00
  • Chat & Chew, following worship
  • Sunday School immediately following worship
  • CSF committee following Sunday School

Wednesday, February 15th

  • Seeds, 6:00
  • Choir Practice, 7:30

Thursday, February 16th

  • Mens Night Out, TJ Elliots, 6:30

Friday, February 17th

  • Book Club, 7:00

Sunday,February 19th

  • Worship, 10:00
  • Sunday School immediately following worship
  • Family Crisis Center Meal

Wednesday, February 22nd

  • Seeds, 6:00
  • Choir Practice, 7:30

Thursday, February 23rd

  • Mens Breakfast, 7:45, Nautilus Diner, Crofton
  • Women’s Night Out, 6:30, Old Bowie Town Grill

Looking Ahead

  • March 1st: Ash Wednesday, Lent begins
  • April 16th: Easter
  • April 29th: Christmas in April
  • June 25th: Church in the Park
  • July 9th-15th, 2016: Mars Hill Mission Trip
  • July 24th-28th, 2016: Art & Music Camp