June 22nd Weekly E-votional

For the E-votional this week, I am sharing the response from the Interfaith Council of Suburban Maryland.  This was written by faith leaders from the Muslim, Jewish, Unitarian, and Protestant communities from Bowie and the surrounding areas.

On the morning of June 12th, our nation awoke to the horrific news of yet another mass shooting.  A 29 year old man entered Pulse, a well-known gay nightclub, and took the lives of 49 people and injured many more.   Even before information was readily available, blame was assigned.   It was a terrorist attack.  It was the LBGTQ community’s fault.  It was ISIS.  It was Muslims.  It was immigrants.  The truth is that this is multi-faceted and there is enough blame to go around.

In the shadow of this tragic event, the Interfaith Council of Suburban Maryland came together.  We came together to pray, we came together to mourn, and we came together to say “ENOUGH.”   Enough of the culture of hate that permeates our society where we vilify the LBGTQ community.  Enough of assuming that anyone with an Arabic name is foreign born or a terrorist.  Enough of believing that ISIS is representative of all Muslim people.  Enough of the demonization of immigrants coming to our country seeking a safe haven and a new start.  Enough of groups of people being blamed or demonized for the actions of a few.  Enough innocent lives lost.

This is a hate crime, above all else.  It was birthed by the same culture of mistrust, misunderstanding, and hatred towards the LGBTQ community shown by  North Carolina’s House Bill 2 (aka “the bathroom bill”) and the many laws passed like it.  It was created by the states that refuse to recognize same gender marriages even after the highest court in the land ruled that it was a constitutional right.  It was created by the 100+ anti-LGBTQ pieces of legislation proposed across 22 states that declare LGBTQ people are less than human.  It was created by the reckless rhetoric of too many politicians seeking to make a headline or pandering to their perceived audience.

We write this as we remember the one year anniversary of the Charleston shooting at Mother Emmanuel.   We write this as we approach the anniversary of the murders of James Earl Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman in Mississippi, for daring to work for voting rights for others. The horrible events at Pulse in Orlando are yet another manifestation of this lethal mixture of guns and hatred that has plagued those most vulnerable in our society for half a century.

We must do better.  As we mourn those lives lost in Orlando, we must not let our mourning lead us to despair.  Instead we should let it serve as a call to action and a call to solidarity.  As people of faith, the Interfaith Council of Suburban Maryland, comes together focusing not on what divides us, but on what unites us.  We affirm that we are all created by our Creator.  As such, we all have value: all ethnicities, all sexual orientations and gender identities, all levels of ability, and all faiths.  For this reason the Interfaith Council of Suburban Maryland chooses to stand with the LGBTQ community, the Muslim community, and the immigrant community.  We choose to stand with each other, and with you.  We, as a society, must learn to love and respect one another.  Not despite our differences, but because of our differences.    As such, we are working with elected and community leaders to create a communal event, coming together to honor the memories of the victims in Orlando, to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters here, to celebrate our diversity and our community, to do all that we can to be the change we hope to see in our world.

We leave you with the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  Choosing love means standing up against hatred and discrimination and standing up for life.  We must continue to talk with one another to grow in our understanding of each other, so we can end the harm we pass on to other people.  We, the Interfaith Council of Suburban Maryland, choose light.  We choose love.  We invite our entire to community to join with us.

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June 18th News and Notes

Church in the Park

Church in the Park will be June 27th.  We will worship at 10:00 in the Gazebo at Allen Pond.  We will have a potluck picnic following worship.  You can sign up here or in the Narthex.  Come prepared to worship, to be creative, and to have a great time!

Appreciation

This is the last Sunday that the choir will be singing before taking a break for the summer.  If you talk to a choir member, be to thank them.  Especially thank Diane Eades for leading them!  They add so much to our worship service.

SMA Walk

Thank you to everyone who participated in the SMA walk.  We raised over $5000 and counting!

 Mars Hill

We are sending 8 people to Mars Hill this year to do mission work the week of July 10th – 16th.  Please keep these people and the work they will be doing in prayer.

Baysox Game

Mark your calendars.  We will be going to see a Baysox game on August 20th.  The game starts at 6:05 and there will be fireworks after the game!

 Two Week Outlook

Sunday, June 19th

  • Worship, 10:00
  • Family Crisis Center Meal

Thursday, June 23rd

  • Men’s Breakfast, 7:45 am, Nautilus Diner, Crofton
  • Ladies’ Night Out, 6:30

Sunday, June 26th

  • Church in the Park, 10:00, Allen Pond
  • Potluck following worship

Friday, July 1st

  • Book Club, 7:00

Looking Ahead

  • June 26th: Church in the Park
  • July 10th-16th: Mars Hill Mission Trip
  • July 25th-29th: Art and Music Camp
  • August 20th, Baysox Game
  • September 17th, Bowie Houses of Worship Tour
  • September 22nd: Watoto

June 16th Weekly E-votional

I have been staring at a blank screen for half the day.  Ever since Sunday, I have been trying how to respond to the deadly shooting that took place in Orlando last Saturday night.  The shooting where 50 people lost their lives and even more were injured raises so many issues.  It raises the issue of the treatment of LGBTQ people.  It raises the issue of mental illness.  Many overlook the fact that it was Latino/a night at Pulse and a majority of the victims were Latino/a.  The shooting raises the issue of gun safety and gun control.  Another facet is if it was a terrorist attack.  Yet another facet that has been raised is the vilification of immigrants and Muslims.

How are we, as Christians, how are we supposed to respond to a shooting that took place almost a thousand miles away from us?  How do we respond to a hate crime hurting so many people?  I have heard many people call for prayer and for moments of silence.

Prayer is a good place to start.  I believe the God hears our prayers and that there is power in prayer.  Please, pray.  Pray for the victims.  Pray for the families.  Pray for everyone affected.  Pray for peace.  Pray for an end to the violence.  But don’t stop there.

When we pray, we should also be acting on our prayers.  Jesus teaches the disciples the Lord’s prayer and it is obvious that prayer is not a passive action, but one that also requires action on our part.  In the Lord’s prayer, we pray “Thy kingdom come, on Earth as it is in heaven.”  We are claiming our responsibility to work towards bringing forth the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth.  We also pray “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”.  Again, in order to receive God’s forgiveness, we are called, ourselves, to forgive.  Prayer is a good place to start, but we cannot stop there.

So how do we respond?  We respond with love.  After all, Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. ” 1 John reminds us “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.”  In light of these scriptures, Martin Luther King Jr reminds us that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Utah’s lieutenant governor Spencer Cox said in response to the shooting, “May we leave today with a resolve to be a little kinder,” Cox said. “May we try to listen more and talk less. May we forgive someone that has wronged us. And perhaps, most importantly, try to love someone that is different than us.”

When we hear somebody say that the shooting was divine retribution, we should respond with love.  When we hear that the shooter is representative of all followers of Islam, we should respond with love.  When we encounter someone who disagrees with us on how to best protect ourselves from gun violence, we must respond with love.

In light of the violence and the hatred that this shooting has brought to the surface, we are to remember that we are called to be a light in the darkness.  We are called to love.  We cannot remain silent.  I proudly say that I stand with the LGBTQ community.  I stand with our brothers and sisters of Muslim faith.  And I choose love.  I hope you are willing to do the same.

 

Mark 12:30-31  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’  31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

June 9th Weekly E-votional

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan began this week.  For those who are unfamiliar, Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year for Muslims.  Muslims believe that it was during Ramadan that the Quran was revealed to Mohammed.  Ramadan is a month of deep contemplation of one’s relationship with God, extra prayer, increased charity, and intense study of the Quran.  It is also a time of fasting.  During Ramadan, Muslims do not eat, drink, or otherwise consume anything from Sunrise to Sunset.

There are many reasons why Muslims fast during Ramadan.  It is to remind you of your human frailty and dependence on God for sustenance.  It is to build compassion and are reminded to help the poor by showing what it feels like to go without food or water.  It is also to reduce distractions so that you can more clearly focus on your relationship with God.

While we may not believe the same things as followers of Islam, there is a lot to admire and learn from Ramadan.  I don’t think any person of faith, whatever that faith might be, would argue that learning greater dependence on God, learning compassion for the poor, and building a stronger relationship with God is a bad thing.  These are things we, as Christians, should strive for in our lives.

I am not saying that we should participate in the fasting of Ramadan, but we should take a look at our lives and our spiritual practices and what they accomplish.  We should look for areas where we could grow closer to God.  We should take the goals of Ramadan and apply them to our own lives, whether it is through Bible study, prayer, fasting, alms giving, or some other spiritual practice.

2 Peter 3:18  “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

 

 

June 2nd News and Notes

Bowiefest

Bowiefest is coming up this Saturday.  We still do not have enough people to help out especially in the afternoon and packing up.  Please sign up here or email ckdeacon@yahoo.com if you can help out.

Rechartering Sunday

This Sunday, June 5th is our Rechartering Sunday.  During worship, there will be time to tell your story.  Come prepared to share a story about your faith or the church.

One Great Hour of Sharing

This Sunday is the first Sunday of the month, so we will be collecting the One Great Hour of Sharing.  This month, we will be dedicating OGHS to the SMA walk.  Speaking of which….

SMA Walk

Our congregation will be hosting a walk n roll to raise money for SMA on Saturday June 11th.  The walk will be one mile at 10:30 and we will have a celebration afterwards.  This is an opportunity to both commit to hands on mission and raise our viability in the neighborhood, so let’s all get involved so we can put an end to SMA!

 Mars Hill

The Mars Hill mission trip will be July 10th-16th this year.  Please let Chris know if you are interested in going bu June 12th.

 Two Week Outlook

Friday, June 3rd

  • Book Club, 7:00, Barbatos residence

 Saturday, June 4th

  • Bowiefest, 8:00 – 6:00

Sunday, June 5th

  • Worship, 10:00
  • Rechartering Sunday
  • CYF committee meeting, 5:00

Monday, June 6th

  • Worship Team, 4:00

Tuesday, June 7th

  • Board Meeting, 7:00

Thursday, June 9th

  • Men’s Breakfast, 7:45 am, Nautilus Diner, Crofton

Friday, June 10th

  • Ladies Luncheon, 11:30, Location TBA

Saturday, June 11th

  • SMA Walk,  10:30 – 1:00

Sunday, June 12th

  • Worship, 10:00
  • Chat & Chew following worship
  • CYF appreciation luncheon

Thursday, June 16th

  • Men’s Night Out, 6:30

Looking Ahead

  • June 4th: Bowiefest
  • June 11th: SMA Walk
  • June 26th: Church in the Park
  • July 10th-16th: Mars Hill Mission Trip
  • July 25th-29th: Art and Music Camp
  • September 17th, Bowie Houses of Worship Tour
  • September 22nd: Watoto

June 1st Weekly E-votional

As you may have heard, the Metro is about to become even less convenient than usual.  Some stations will be shut down, some routes will become one track for periods of time, and they will even shut some route segments and even complete routes down temporarily.  The Metro has a lot of problems and there has been a lot of discussion on how to fix it.  After discussing shutting the entire system down for a long period of time, the Metro administrations have settled on a year of significant disruptions.

The question is why are these this necessary.  Why impose these significant disruptions on a population that has come to depend on the Metro system?  The short answer is years and years of shortcuts in maintaining the system.  When you don’t perform proper maintenance on something, it will eventually fall apart.  Just ask anyone who has decided they don’t need to change their car’s oil!

Our faith is no different.  For many of us, once our faith is developed, we stop working at it.  We stop growing in our faith and we do little to maintain it.  I think that is one of the issues I have with “saved” theology, the idea that you are saved at a specific point in time when you accept Christ into your heart.  I think that following Christ is a lifelong journey, one that requires constant work and, yes, maintenance.   A faith that is not a work in progress is a faith that is dying.

How do we work on our faith?  Participating in worship is one way, but it cannot be the only way.  We need to enrich our relationship with God through prayer, through scripture reading, through study, through participating in the life of the Body of Christ, and through whatever spiritual practices draw you closer to God. Our faith should be a constant work in progress.  If it isn’t then, like the Metro, it will fail us one day when we need it.
2 Peter 3:18   “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To God be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

May 25th News and Notes

Bowiefest

Bowiefest is coming up June 4th.  Sign-up sheets for helping out available in the Narthex.  The Burgess’s, who usually head this up, are unavailalbe this year, so we are still looking for a Project Lead to oversee everything.

Rechartering Sunday

Sunday, June 5th is our Rechartering Sunday.  During worship, there will be time to tell your story.  Come prepared to share a story about your faith or the church.

SMA T-Shirts

You can order an UPB vs SMA t-shirt for the rock n roll for $15.00 with the proceeds going towards finding a cure for SMA.  Please order one here or through the sign-up sheet in the Narthex.

SMA Walk

Our congregation will be hosting a walk n roll to raise money for SMA on Saturday June 11th.  The walk will be one mile at 10:30 and we will have a celebration afterwards.  This is an opportunity to both commit to hands on mission and raise our viability in the neighborhood, so let’s all get involved so we can put an end to SMA!

 Mars Hill

The Mars Hill mission trip will be July 10th-16th this year.  Please let Chris know if you are interested in going bu June 12th.

 Two Week Outlook

 Thursday, May 26th

  • Men’s Breakfast, 7:45am, Nautilus Diner

Sunday, May 29th

  • Worship, 10:00

Saturday, June 4th

  • Bowiefest, 8:00 – 6:00

Sunday, June 5th

  • Worship, 10:00
  • Rechartering Sunday
  • CYF committee meeting, 5:00

Monday, June 6th

  • Worship Team, 4:00

Tuesday, June 5th

  • Board Meeting, 7:00

Looking Ahead

  • June 4th: Bowiefest
  • June 11th: SMA Walk
  • June 26th: Church in the Park
  • July 10th-16th: Mars Hill Mission Trip
  • July 25th-29th: Art and Music Camp
  • September 17th, Bowie Houses of Worship Tour
  • September 22nd: Watoto