Pentecost is Sunday, May 19th this year. Often celebrated as the birthday of the church, it is really the time the early Christians transitioned in their practice and presentation of the faith. Until that moment they had been a closed group of followers, keeping quiet both out of fear of the authorities and waiting for the gift of the Holy Spirit. With the coming of the Holy Spirit the Christians explode outward, taking to the streets in the midst of the festival, offering the good news of the God’s work in Jesus to all in language they could understand. That expansive movement outward has continued throughout the history of the church. From that moment on, the Disciples and early Christians were challenged to follow God beyond their traditional limits into new areas to share the faith.
Throughout the book of Acts, the church is taken unexpectedly to Gentiles (non-Jews) and the possibilities multiply. Disciples are forced to overcome their own reluctance for this outreach and to embrace the changes in practice that take place as these newcomers become part of the body of Christ. That history continues as the Gospel is proclaimed in new languages, in new cultures and in new styles.
For all of creation, it began with a Big Bang that has launched the universe into continuous expansion. For Christians, Pentecost becomes the Big Bang of the New Creation. The possibilities are astounding. But we may be reluctant to follow God into the new cultures and expressions awaiting the work of Christ today. Our challenge is to see God leading us there and to go confidently; knowing God is going with us into these strange new worlds.
This month celebrate the Big Bang with us on Pentecost. See signs for growth and opportunities as the Windham Association offers a workshop, “From Stone Tablets to the Internet”; Getting Your Church Online, and at the Association Annual Meeting, our worship band has been invited to offer contemporary worship. Throughout the history of the church the Good News has been expanded into each strange new generation and culture.
Our special emphasis for the season of Easter is 4/1 Earth. Beginning April 1 (4/1) we encourage you to observe 50 days of Earth Care leading up to Pentecost. There are 3 parts to our mission work.
First, we green up the earth by planting trees. We invite you to buy a sapling and plant it in a special place where you can watch it grow. Our trees absorb the excess CO2 in the atmosphere and produce oxygen for us.
Second, we offer our lives in hours of earth care. Be creative. Ideas include: tend a garden, clean trash from an area or roadside, spend an evening NOT using energy (Turn off your TV, computer, lights and have a candlelit family game night or reading night.) Watch a documentary or educational program about the environment. Ride your bike or walk to a destination instead of taking the car. Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact florescent or LED bulbs. Tally your hours of earth care and report them back to the church.
Third, we advocate for our environment. Write a letter to your congressperson or representative encouraging them to vote for bills that protect and improve our environment. We will have sample letters available for you at church.
Joining with UCC churches throughout our conference and the nation let’s have a renewing impact and vision for the beautiful planet God has created.
Bryan Sirchio, progressive Christian singer/songwriter, in concert
Saturday, March 16, 2013, 7 p.m.
First Congregational Church, 199 Valley Street, Willimantic.
Open to all – fully handicapped accessible
Free will offering
Being followers of Jesus is a rich promise, filled with a variety of work and an equally varied assortment of disciples. As we move through Lent we are looking at our own call from Jesus to “Come, Follow Me.” In February we heard the stories of Nathanael and Thomas as they responded to that call and lived out their lives. During the month of March we will see John, Mary Magdalene, Paul and Peter each witness to the work of God as they followed Jesus.
Meanwhile, the band has sung, “Follow Me (87 times),” challenging us to the essential work of our Christian faith. Our adult study of the book, “I Am A Follower,” is reminding us that the best leaders in the church are first and foremost followers of the way of Jesus.
By the time we reach Holy Week and Easter, March 24-31, we will be able to truly follow the disciples and Jesus through the ultimate drama of our faith. Don’t miss this opportunity to bring new life to your faith. Hear and respond to Jesus’ call to “Follow Me.”