The New Year comes in and while we may not be optimistic, we may still find hope. Often times we hope that our lives will be better and at least, we can be better. As you enter 2016 make a commitment to have a better faith life. Here are some suggestions for techniques to accomplish that. Make an effort to attend worship more frequently in 2016. Worship in the community can have all sorts of positive influences on your life. Find a program to read scripture more regularly. I especially recommend the Gospels to increase your understanding of who this Jesus character is that we make such a big deal about. Set aside a specific time in your day for prayer and/or meditation. Create a worshipful space to do this. Prayer and meditation have been shown to improve physical and mental wellness in addition to strengthening faith. Choose an area of service to commit your time and energy to. There are several that the church does and many more in the community that allow us to impact the world for God.
Be realistic. Don’t try to accomplish all of these. But pick one to start. And if you can do it with someone, another church member, a family member or friend, you are more likely to stick with it.
As I said in last Sunday’s sermon regarding the Pope’s visit to America, “We like this Pope.” He seems to embody Jesus’ call to service and to leading by being least and last. His gesture to eat lunch with the poor and homeless in Washington, D.C. was a powerful witness. In an age where most of what we read about Christianity is about Christians being mean and judgmental, it’s refreshing to see this side of the Pope getting air time.
Maybe we like him so much because here is a person who has reached the pinnacle of his profession and instead of grabbing for all the privileges offered to him, the Pope is offering himself for others. And frankly, that resonates with us because it is something we do well here at First Congregational. Much of our work as a congregation is focused on giving ourselves for others. We’ve had 200 people show up the last two months for the mobile food pantry that we host and staff along with Eastern students. Our shops are providing clothing for children and adults at minimal cost. We host the Interfaith Sewing Group and several of our members work with them providing school bags and kits for Church World Service, baptismal gowns for Haiti and a host of other projects. We are heavily involved with the work of Windham Area Interfaith Ministries (WAIM) and support the No Freeze Shelter and the Covenant Soup Kitchen. Our ministry parallels much of the Pope’s witness and we respond positively.
But we also have a witness that is beyond the Pope and the Roman Catholic tradition. We recognize the full value and capability of women and take the ordination of women as natural and positive. We go beyond an absence of condemnation to give open welcome to LGBTQ individuals and support and offer marriage celebrations for them. So we celebrate the servant witness of Pope Francis while also having our own distinct and valuable witness for Christ in the world. Let us continue to work with all people of faith, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, etc… to transform the world for God’s love, grace and justice.
Summer is a great time to relax, renew and refresh. Family vacations, summer camps, and unscheduled time are often part of summer. Just to be out of routine provides a change that can help us feel more relaxed about life.
But now school reopens and life seems to shift gears for us and for those around us. Reluctantly, students may go back to school and we may come back from vacation. Despite this, the opportunity to see friends and reunite can also be a time of excitement.
As we come back to church after our traveling summer activities we come back to a loving community of faith. Here we find support for life with all of its joys and challenges. Here we have the opportunity to learn and mature no matter what our age.
September is a time of friendship and community. We celebrate Rally Day with a unified worship experience and a church family picnic. Church School begins and children and families become more active. We receive new members into our church family. Come back, join in. Together we help ourselves and others know, “NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE, OR WHERE YOU ARE ON LIFE’S JOURNEY, YOU ARE WELCOME HERE!”
11am Combine Worship Service
12pm Church School Registration
Picnic to Follow
Church School begins Sept. 20 at 11:15