Friday, February 28, 2014

Scout Sunday

We observed Scout Sunday on 16 Feb. Thanks to Steve for coordinating, to all the Scouts and families, and to the many Scout leaders who do so much to form the character of the young men of our community!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Snow removal at altitude

On 16 Feb, before the "spring thaw", a small team cleared the flat roof of heavy snow to prevent damage from rapid snow melt. Thanks to Ken and Pete!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Foolish: The Good Life (7)

Prayer, Psalm 1
Children, John 4.34
Message, Matthew 7.12-29
Performed Song, “The Man of Galilee”

“If it is not worth doing the hard way, it is not worth doing at all”
      MacGyver, doing it the difficult way

To be called to a life of extraordinary quality, to live up to it, and yet to be unconscious of it is indeed a narrow way. To confess and testify to the truth as it is in Jesus, and at the same time to love the enemies of that truth, his enemies and ours, and to love them with the infinite love of Jesus Christ, is indeed a narrow way. To believe the promise of Jesus that his followers shall possess the earth, and at the same time to face our enemies unarmed and defenceless [sic], preferring to incur injustice rather than to do wrong ourselves, is indeed a narrow way. To see the weakness and wrong in others, and at the same time refrain from judging them; to deliver the gospel message without casting pearls before swine, is indeed a narrow way. The way is unutterably hard, and at every moment we are in danger of straying from it.
      Bonhoeffer, 211

Two gates and two ways
Good trees with good fruit; bad trees with bad fruit
Wise and foolish builders; foundations of stone and sand

These three figures in series divide the human race, divide perhaps the kingdom itself, divide even the individual human being – body and soul.  Over and over the crucial question is obedience.  “Everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them” (7.24).  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (7.21).  “Thus you will know them by their fruits” (7.20).
      My personal reading: Ezra – study, do, teach (Ezra 7.10)


Thanks to the Hospitality Team, and fearless leader George, for providing a beautiful meal and the love of Jesus after a recent funeral.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

United Methodist Hospital in Sierra Leone

umns13 300 1 2 Expanded mother child health care in Sierra Leone

By Phileas Jusu*

United Methodist General Hospital in eastern Freetown, Sierra Leone, now provides a more standard and expanded mother and child health care for patients through its newly constructed Mother and Child Health unit.
The $750,000 maternity building, funded through the American Schools and Hospitals Abroad and the United Methodist Committee on Relief, has doubled its previous maternal bed space from 24 to 50. Since the founding of Kissy United Methodist Hospital more than 30 years ago, maternal and child care has served as the core of the hospital’s services and area of expertise.

Community Outreach Unit

The fully air-conditioned facility, which was dedicated Oct. 26, 2013, also will provide space for an expanded outpatient area, consulting rooms, administrative offices, an expanded pharmacy and laboratory and radiology departments.
The unit also will house the hospital’s newly restructured Community Outreach Unit, which includes the HIV/AIDS “Friends” Unit, malaria and nutrition programs. This will enable the hospital to more effectively to reach out in the surrounding community and villages — where the maternal mortality, child morbidity and diseases of poverty are most pronounced.
. . .

‘Conduit of peace, reconciliation and unity’

The bishop emphasized that politicians come and go but the church will always be there. He said the church will continue to stay and lead.
“So what we need to do is to ensure that we become the conduit of peace, of reconciliation and of unity because our agenda is eternal; our agenda does not change. We must take the lead to help our politicians to redirect their focus to the purpose of their being,” Yambasu said.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sunday School

Thanks to the many teachers and leaders who make Sunday School HAPPEN. It is a great opportunity for all ages!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Haiti Partnership

Jenna (on the left) with Linda. Jenna heads to Haiti to spend 10 days working with the Haiti Partnership! Linda, one of our many Haiti Partnership veterans, along with the congregation, was able to pray over Jenna in worship Sunday 16 Feb.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Mozambique Shelter Relief

Tensions surrounding elections in Mozambique have resulted in conflict in the center and northern part of the country. The fighting between government and rebel groups has caused thousands of people to flee from their homes for safety. Almost 4,000 people are living in temporary camps.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is responding to emergency needs in war-torn Sofala and Inhambane provinces, where many people have settled, but are without shelter.

UMCOR, through the United Methodist Church in Mozambique, will provide iron sheeting to shelter 85 displaced families. The temporary shelter will help protect families and children from the elements, safeguard their belongings, and underscore their dignity.

Support UMCOR as it meets emergency needs, such as in this event in Mozambique, with your gifts to International Disaster Response, Advance #982450. (From the 12 Feb 2012 UMCOR Hotline)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Prayers for Ukraine

Read an update and prayer request from John Calhoun, a United Methodist missionary serving in Ukraine.
Dearest friends of the UMC in Ukraine,
Peace to you all from Kyiv.  It is midday on Wednesday, and for the past 24 hours the center of Kyiv has been the scene of violent clashes between anti-government protesters and riot police.  The clashes began yesterday afternoon near the Ukrainian parliament, and by nightfall had spread to Independence Square, where protesters have been encamped since late November.
Since yesterday, at least 25 people have been killed, and over one thousand injured.  The casualties include both protesters and the police.  Many buildings surrounding Independence Square have suffered fire damage.  At the moment, there is an uneasy standoff between hundreds of police and many thousands of protesters in the square, but the mood remains extremely tense.  The government has placed the blame for the recent conflict on the opposition leaders and has vowed to clear the square of all protesters.
Read the full story.

Prodigal Sons

Our Lent series, The Prodigal God, shows up in an unexpected place - in social commentary by David Brooks in The New York Times:

"I’d defend the father’s example, and, informed by a reading of Timothy Keller’s outstanding book “The Prodigal God,” I’d even apply the father’s wisdom to social policy-making today."

Check out the full article.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Hypocritical: The Good Life (5)

2014/02/16 Christ Church, Mountain Top
Prayer, Psalm 130
Children, Matthew 18.21-35
Message, Matthew 7.1-6

Cookies in the airport

1.     Judgment requires assumption-making
2.     Judgment distances us from others and from Jesus (superior)
3.     Judgment makes us hypocrites (Greek – actor, today’s “poser”)

Impacts our witness
      “Sons of the devil”

We judge all the time – feel superior
      Sexual orientation
            By persons whose adolescent fantasy life was exclusively hetero
      Skin color, race/ethnicity 
            Illegals, dangerous
      Politics, religion, social issues
            opposite sides of the street on Sundays

High school segmentation
      Athletes – not a single active brain cell
      Loners - the dangerous profile, like me

Connect external w/ holiness categories … “pre-judgment”
      What of behavior?
            Adultery – Lust
            Murder – Anger

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Improving Livelihoods in South Sudan

A gardener in Yei, South Sudan, tends to raised nursery beds covered by straw which protects the seedlings from the harsh sun.
South Sudan continues to face a number of significant challenges. Decades of civil war, insecurity and ongoing conflict have resulted in a collapse of its local economy and of essential basic services such as health, education, water, and sanitation. What’s more, food and income insecurity is leading to hunger, disease, and migration.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) in South Sudan is working to improve livelihoods through food production training and income generation opportunities for returned refugees and host communities in Mugwo and Kenyi Payams of Yei and Lainya counties. Vulnerable women, orphans, and people living with disabilities also will benefit from this livelihoods program. 

Through a series of activities, including seed fairs, where tools and seeds are provided to men and women farmers; honey production training; and rice and vegetable production, about 950 people will benefit from improved income, increased food production, business ownership, and more. 

You can support this work with your gifts to World Hunger and Poverty, Advance # 982920, which helps address the root causes of hunger and poverty.
Give now

Monday, February 17, 2014

United Methodist Grammy-winner

025 Grammy winner conducts 580x412  Grammy winner teacher from family of pastors

By Sam Hodges*

Kent Knappenberger found himself in the thick of the recent Grammy weekend, being flown to Los Angeles, rubbing tuxedo shoulders with Ringo Starr and other pop legends.
Now he’s back home in rural upstate New York, teaching music in a public school all day and tending his farm before and after.
“I got up and milked the cow this morning,” he said by phone, referring to a registered Guernsey named Giggle. “No more glitz. No more red carpet.”
Knappenerger, son and grandson of United Methodist pastors and a United Methodist himself, won the first Grammy for a music educator. He beat more than 30,000 nominees from all 50 states, though he comes from a small school — 730 students in 12 grades — which can’t match the resources of wealthy suburban districts or private schools.
For 25 years, through innovation and drawing on what others say is uncommon energy and passion, he’s had the majority of upper-grade students at Westfield Academy and Central School in Westfield, N.Y., in music courses and joining music groups he leads.
Read the full story to learn about his mission trips to Brazil, his family, and more!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Work of Art

Thanks for the beautiful original work of art! Keep your eyes open for where it finds a home! Inspired by the artistic vision of Georgia O'Keefe, this painting calls me to step out on the way of the cross, a journey of limitless discovery and deep intimacy with our Lord Jesus Christ. Take the time to reflect and pray with this image before you.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Prodigal God teaser

Coming soon! Our church-wide spiritual experience for Lent: The Prodigal God.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Anxious: The Good Life (5)

Thanks to Joel Shuman for sharing the message this Sunday!
Matthew 6:18-34; 7:7-11
(Psalm 39; Isaiah 58:1-12)

Almost from the beginning of the scriptural account of God’s saving work in history, God’s exhortation for his people to “be holy” stands as a dominant thread running through the entirety of the biblical story. From the giving of the ten commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai to Jesus’s gospel proclamation that the kingdom of God has come near to his reminding his followers that they are to be salt and light to the world around them, the primary focus of God’s redemptive work in the world has been to gather and form a distinctive community to bear witness to his intentions for the creation; not a religious people, nor a pious people, but a holy people, a people set apart, a people whose life together, devoted first to each other’s flourishing and happiness and ultimately to the flourishing and happiness of every one of God’s creatures, is declared by God to be the beginning of his coming reign on earth.

The twentieth century author Flannery O’Connor once quipped, in a somewhat skewed echoing of the fourth Gospel, “The truth will set you free. But first, it will make you strange.” And so it goes with holiness. To be holy is to be whole; it is to flourish; it is to be blessed. But it is also to be different, to be set apart – not taken out of, but distinguished from – a world that is largely alienated from God, and thereby characterized by selfishness, greed, and blind ambition, and so filled with violence, injustice, and suffering. God’s people are called to be not like this, but instead to inhabit a peculiar, countercultural way of life, what Saint Augustine called an altera civitas, a “different city,” a community whose generous “politics of love” are often wildly opposed to the self-seeking “politics of security” that pervade the fallen creation.

Today’s gospel text is about wealth, and at no point is the opposition between the logic and politics of the kingdom of God and that of the kingdoms of this world more conspicuously evident than in their respective attitudes toward the acquisition and use of wealth. Jesus spoke often of this opposition, reminding his followers and those others who gathered to hear him of the profound dangers of a life devoted to the pursuit of riches. “It is easier,” he said, “for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Matt. 19:23-25).  In this part of the Sermon on the Mount he throws the contrast into sharp relief, echoing both the first commandment and the oft-repeated truth that the real object of our worship, our real god, is whatever we value most, the thing toward which we most direct our time, our energy, our resources, and our attention. “For where your treasure is,” he reminds us, “there will your heart be also” (6:21). “No one,” he continues, “can serve two masters…. You cannot serve God and wealth” (6:24).

On Your Mark

Our spring "On Your Mark" group kicks off in the Bohanan home. Small groups are the "engine" of discipleship!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

United Methodist Committee on Relief in Haiti

Dawn Anderson is UMCOR Haiti’s senior grant coordinator and works with UMCOR Haiti’s program team.
Dawn Anderson is senior grant coordinator working with UMCOR’s country office in Haiti. She also supports UMCOR Haiti on community outreach and institutional donor relations.

“It’s been an interesting experience transitioning from the US domestic policy sector to the international development field,” said Anderson. The work is challenging and stimulating in ways I never expected. I think that’s because every day the way I see the world is questioned. I get to see up close the worst of humanity—the good news is that I also see the best in humanity. Here at UMCOR, we have the opportunity to impact so many lives in such a positive way, it makes me feel really good. ” 

Dawn hails from Pennsylvania and has traveled extensively. She has more than 20 years of experience working in the fields of US health policy, communications, and national politics, having worked for two members of the United States Congress and a governor of Pennsylvania. Her first development post was managing the US Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Program, a livelihoods grant initiative, in Zimbabwe.  (From the 12 Feb 2012 UMCOR Hotline)

Sunday School for all!

So many great opportunities for all ages!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Let It Shine!

Thanks to Janet for the donation of new altar candles, honoring a faith-filled family legacy and family future (that's son Dave and grandson Sean). They replace candles given by Lois Davis in memory of her husband.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hoagie Sale

Thanks to the Confirmation Class for the Super Bowl Weekend Hoagie Sale - which funds much of their experience in this year.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Fasting and Prayer

By Abigail Mvududu, Harare Gardens, Harare

In an interview after the all-day revival DS Rev Tsitsi Madziyire shed light on how the 10 day period of fasting and prayer came about for the district. This is because this tradition is unique to Harare East District (HED) in the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area as was acknowledged by Bernard Banda who said, “HED is the only district that holds such a revival at such a large scale, which has impact and is successful”.
DS Rev Madziyire got a revelation in 2009 while on spiritual leave. She felt that God spoke to her and said to her that there is victory through fasting and prayer. But that there are people who don’t understand it and some who fear fasting, therefore as a pastor it was important to teach people to put this into practice and therefore a call to group fasting.
Initially the revelation was for the group fasting to happen once or twice a year but the Connectional Ministries chairperson at the time Rev. Daniel Chitsiku made a recommendation to the district conference of that year and the conference made a resolution to have the revivals three times a year instead of just the two. The revivals are now a yearly occurrence in January, July and October.
DS Rev Madziyire said fasting is a biblical concept and that there are 8 records of fasting in the bible ranging from half a day to 40 days. She was quick to say,” If the author of the church who is Jesus Christ fasted to begin his ministry who are we not to fast as the one we follow fasted? John Wesley the author of Methodism used to fast on Wednesday and Friday. Therefore fasting is a special discipline for Methodists”.

She said John Wesley lived by the policy that, if you could not rule the belly how then would one be able to rule the church. Methodists have always observed the 40 days of fasting during the lent period.  Read the full article from the Zimbabwe Church!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Let the Children Come

Jesus put children at the center of his kingdom and we strive to do the same thing in our life together as Christ Church!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Narcissistic: The Good Life (4)

2014/02/02 Christ Church, Mountain Top
Holy Communion
Children, Esther 4
Message, Matthew 6.1-18

Exercise that Dr. Diblasio gave to our family
      Secret kindness
      Saying “thanks”
      My sister got me – I was on the phone.
Narcissus – had no love for others and fell in love with his reflection in a pool, only to die there

Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them.
Your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you (6.4, 5, 18).

Language used here for “in order to be seen by them” is that of performance and applause.  (See The Message.)  The root of the English word “theatrical” (Robertson’s Word Pictures).

Question, fit with context: Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven (5.16).
      Different class of works?
      Bonhoeffer’s insight: We can perform for ourselves
From whom are we to hide the visibility of our discipleship?  Certainly not from other men, for we are told to let them see our light.  No.  We are to hide it from ourselves.  Our task is simply to keep on following.
      Bonhoeffer, 176

SOUPer Bowl

Thanks to all who supported our SOUPer Bowl collection for our local food pantry. We received a total of 415 pounds ... the Patriots, 55; the 49ers, 55; the Seahawks, 110; the Broncos, 195. The Broncos are our 2014 winners! Check out the story of United Methodists in Colorado competing with those in the Northwest: Everyone wins at Sunday's Big Game. The Broncos won that competition too!

If you are interested in helping out directly with the Food Pantry ministry, please contact Suzanne in the office or Shirley & Lee.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Care Team Intro Day

Thanks to Mike Case for preparing this wonderful time together! Check out or download the training material and give Mike (or Suzanne in the church office) a call to share your interest.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Typhoon Update from the Philippines

Rev. David Cosmiano 290x217 UMCORs Return to Leyte
By Rev. David D. Cosmiano, District Superintendent, United Methodist Church, Eastern Visayas District, Philippines.
On December 5-6, 2013, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) returned to Leyte Province in the Philippines to distribute relief goods among survivors of Typhoon Yolanda, or Haiyan, as the storm is known outside of our country. UMCOR is an agency of the global United Methodist Church and is in charge of relief operations whenever there is a natural or a human-caused calamity.
Super Typhoon Yolanda hit Eastern, Central, and Western Visayas on November 8, 2013. It devastated the entire region. Thousands of lives were lost, and livelihoods were washed away. UMCOR staff and volunteers first came with a relief convoy to the region about a week after the storm.
When they came again in early December, they distributed relief goods in several communities, including where we have local United Methodist churches. UMCOR’s emergency food packages were distributed to many survivors in the communities who were in need. I accompanied the UMCOR staff and volunteers on this visit to Ormoc City, Isabel, and Tacloban City.
The families served by UMCOR on this relief trip expressed gratitude that our United Methodist Church remembered them in times of calamity. We saw an inspiring banner in Ormoc City that read: “Homeless, Roofless, But NOT HOPELESS!”
When I visited Methodist households just before Christmas, I also stopped in to see some of the neighbors who do not belong to the church and who had received UMCOR food packets. Many of them had saved the bright yellow UMCOR bags that had contained rice, beans, and other food items.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

In the News

Our own Heather M was in the news last Friday for her “play of the day” on the basketball court.  To see the game story and interview, check out the video and skim to the 12:36 time marker.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Obsessive: The Good Life (3)

2014/01/26 Christ Church, Mountain Top
Prayer, Psalm 119.1-8
Children, Luke 18.9-14
Message, Matthew 5.17-48

But when they measure themselves by one another, and compare themselves with one another, they do not show good sense.
      2 Corinthians 10:12

Bookends of this passage:
      Compare yourself with the scribes and Pharisees (the righteous)
      Compare yourself with tax collectors and Gentiles (the heathen)
The engine of obsession – comparison and guilt
      Being a “good Christian”

Between these two comparisons, these two benchmarks, Jesus lists all kinds of ethical themes over which we can and do obsess and feel guilty.  Each one is introduced by the phrases, “You have heard” (the conventional wisdom or the basic law in the Hebrew Scriptures) and “but I say to you” (Jesus way of raising the bar, elevating the difficulty, going deeper, and making perfectly clear that he is the “Author and Giver of the law” (Bonhoeffer, 142-3)).

Murder/Anger – it is not just murder, but the rage that drives it
      Even hurling insults: retard, idiot
      Mt 5.23 – the practice of reconciliation – changed my life
      We rarely talk about it, except when a public leader has broken faith
      But we have no trouble objectifying one another, even ourselves
      Pornography is acceptable and epidemic
      Adultery begins in the heart
Divorce – we all agree that divorce is tragic, even when necessary
      (as Jesus and Moses both indicated)
Oaths and Truth-telling, Princess Bride
      on my life as a Spaniard (I don’t trust Spaniards); on the soul of my ...