Get ready to serve! “God’s work. Our hands. Sunday” September 11, 2016
On Sunday, September 11th, Zion will join nearly 10,000 congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in a special day of service. We will put our faith into action by serving and sharing God’s love. We ask those who have them to wear their official “God’s work. Our hands.” T-shirt. You can also wear your Thrivent shirt. If you need a Thrivent Shirt you can contact Emma Lee Dasher or Mary Lou Thomas. On Sunday, September 11th, everyone is asked to bring a sack lunch to eat following worship. Our Social Ministry Team is researching a really great service project, and we will let you know what they have decided in the September Zionews. Whatever we do, there will be plenty of work for all ages and abilities. Mark your calendars and join your ELCA family for this special day of service!
More than a few decades ago and across this nation on the West coast, public schools did not start until the Tuesday after Labor Day and did not get out for the summer until in June. So school starting in August and especially early in August does seem strange. Things that are not part of our experiences seem a little strange and at times foreign or even wrong just because they are different from our background.
Roman Catholic friends of ours became God parents to a baby girl some decades ago. The child grew up and recently got married in Indonesia (the homeland of her parents). Included in all the festivities was the wearing of tradition wedding apparel which was not in the style of United States apparel. The God parents were invited and traveled to Indonesia and were furnished with traditional wearing apparel. The pictures of the God parents showed them looking far different than normal, but they did it out of love for their God child. Because of our love of God, there will be times, when we will need to show our love by better understanding how people different from us are still God’s children and live different lives than we think. People receiving welfare cash assistance are not necessarily lazy slobs, but may have been laid off from their work. In fact in the 20 years since States started receiving cash welfare money in block grants, many States have used much of that federal taxpayer money for other actions. In Michigan part of the welfare money is used to fund grants to help pay for tuition at private colleges of even middle income students. People with criminal records may have made one mistake and that was being in a car with someone else when the car was stopped and drugs were found in the car. What is it like to be a police officer? What is it like to have people treat you differently simply because you are short, or over weight or your skin is a different color or any number of other “differences” that set you apart from others?
The apostles were a different group of people even as we think they were all from the same area. Simon the Zealot (a patriot of Israel) was not likely to think kind thoughts about his fellow apostle Matthew who had been collecting taxes and handing them over to the occupying Romans. Somehow with Jesus’ love they were able to work together and in their situation to even travel together to accomplish what was their ministry for their time and place. May we see not differences that separate us but the love of God that brings us together.
One of the many steps involved in calling a pastor, is completing a Ministry Site Profile (MSP). The MSP is about the ministry of the congregation and the context in which that ministry takes place. There are questions that need to be answered by members of the congregation regarding what types of ministry would seem to be the most important for the congregation as a whole to be involved in with the new pastor. The five member MSP Task Force will be announcing in the coming weeks the Sundays on which surveys will be available for members of the congregation to complete to help provide data in the MSP. Watch for announcements in the bulletin.
These surveys will ask for your impressions about the congregation and will also be asking what abilities a pastor needs to have to serve the needs of the congregation. The idea is for you to think beyond your individual perspective and preferences to think what would help the ministry of the whole congregation. Additionally, we need to realize that the society around us has changed and therefore what was needed may no longer work well. In the 1950s congregations would form by building a building. Now it takes the individual evangelism of the members inviting persons to participate in some aspect of the ministry of the congregation.
At Barnyard Roundup, kids discover that Jesus, their Savior, knows them by name, rounds them up, and brings them home. Kids learn that Jesus is with us always and forever– no matter what! Come, join in the fun, with crafts, games and snacks all designed to get to know Jesus better! When: June 6-10, 2016 Time: 9:00—Noon—ZFH Ages: PreK (must be 4 by Sept. 2016 and potty trained) through 5th grade. The 6th-12th graders will stay at church to lend a helping hand (These are the grades that your child completed for this school year.) At the end of the week on Friday, June 10th, there will be a Hot Dog Supper and Closing program. The Hot Dog Supper begins at 6 p.m. followed by the Closing Program at 7 p.m. We hope to see you there.
The days of summer vacation will soon be here, but some are already on their summer break, at least local students are on summer break. Some youth from Zion are going to participate in June in the Southeastern Synod’s annual Affirm event which should be fun and inspiring. Some families will take summer vacation trips that hopefully will be fun and relaxing. Summertime is a change of pace for some people and for others their routine continues on unchanged or only changed slightly.
For the congregation there will be some slight changes and there will be some significant temporary changes as in the case of providing a Vacation Bible School program for the first full week in June. The ministry of a congregation may change at times from the hectic-ness (and sometimes hectic mess) of Holy Week to a more relaxed schedule in the summertime (but only after VBS is accomplished). Yet there is always ministry to do and there is always the need for disciples supporting the ministries of the congregation with their presence, their abilities, their prayers, and their financial resources. There is no break from maintaining the facilities of a congregation even when members are absent from worship, whether it is winter or summer or at any time of year. So remember that even when you are away from worship because of vacation, work, illness, or any other reason, your congregation needs your continued financial support.
Living is a serious matter and so is the need for some humor to help bring some joy to our living. Comic strips bring humor and also sometimes carry a point. The April 17, 2016 edition of the Savannah Morning News contained Sunday comics and on page 4G in the upper right corner was the man Brutus walking and meeting the little neighbor girl Hurricane. She asks where he is going and he says to the public library and invites her to come along. She says yes and then explains why she loves to go to the library by saying “They have computers you can use. They have concerts and show movies ..and they have tons of DVDs and CDs you can borrow.”
Brutus responds, “Yes, they do. Times certainly have changed! Would you believe when I was your age, libraries didn’t offer any of those things!” The little girl’s response was “Really? Then what did you go to the library for?” You could supply the answer to the young girl’s question, but what if Brutus was going to church? Times certainly have changed for libraries and also for congregations.
Today libraries continue to share knowledge not just through books but also through the use of computers and DVDs and get people into the building through movies and other events. Today congregations still have the task of increasing the spiritual awareness of individuals who come through their doors, but times have changed and how we share a spiritual awareness is also changing. Individual Christians need to be able explain to others why there still is meaning and purpose in entering through the doors of a church to worship within the community of faith. Think about and be prepared to answer the question ”Why do you go to worship?”
The Easter season of the church year has arrived early this year with Easter Sunday occurring and there are still four more days before April even begins. The festival nature of Easter Sunday is a joyous celebration giving us hope for eternal life with God coincidentally fostered in the Northern Hemisphere by the budding and blooming of spring. Sometimes Christians get so focused on the promise of heaven for them as an individual that they are of little help on earth. Christian faith is more than receiving through faith in God’s grace eternal salvation. Christian disciples are given new life here on earth to make a difference in the world around them. It is like those dormant plants that when spring arrives they are the same plants, but they do SHOW a difference as spring arrives and they grow during the year. Consider the words of 2 Corinthians 5:17 “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything has become new!” Let us celebrate the hope of the resurrection to eternal life with God as we work together to share the message of the Good News of God’s love for this world* and the difference it makes in our daily living.
Opportunity is about to knock. Will you consider responding to the knock? Specifically to the opportunity to invite people to Easter Sunday because it is seen as a “special Sunday.” A Sunday that people find is easier to come to even though the resurrection of Christ is celebrated on all the other Sundays during the year. Who do you know that does not participate in the ministry of another congregation? If you do not know, this is an opportunity to give an invitation and find out if they indicate they participate in a congregation. As part of the invitation offer to give them a ride or to meet them outside the church building at a certain time. Invitations can be extended to neighbors, relatives, coworkers, and people who belong to another group that you both participate in such as a scout group. Do consider in the coming weeks who you will invite to Easter Sunday worship, March 27th.