Offertory Prayer

Each month's Offertory Prayers includes an "Invitation to the Offering" (see below) along with a digital image for those who might want to use it. We hope you will find this a helpful way to remind the people in your pews that their offering travels to many places to make a powerful difference in the lives of people they may never meet. You can find great stories of the difference our giving makes at http://umcgiving.org.

Invitation to the Offering
The offering you made last week empowered ministry within our congregation and in response to the needs of our community. It also helped support the work of ministries beyond the local church, such as our Archives and History Center on the campus of Drew University in Madison, NJ. Here, a small group of dedicated archivists preserve the history and artifacts that keep us connected to our past – what they call “the ministry of memories.” By preserving historical photographs, sound recordings, published documents in digital formats, as well as treasures such as the Bible used by Francis Asbury or the journals and handwritten notes of John Wesley, scholars of today can be reconnected with our beginnings when we were more of a movement than an institution. Many in the church hope that this Holy Spirit movement can be recovered for a new generation, and those hopes are made possible through the work of our Commission on Archives and History. This ministry happens, thanks to the way the people of The United Methodist Church live and give connectionally. I invite you to give generously as we worship God through sharing our gifts, tithes, and offerings.

Learn more about the General Commission on Archives and History at http://www.gcah.org

April 26, 2015 – Fourth Sunday of Easter
O Lord, you are the good shepherd! Your son Jesus laid down his life for all who belong to you. Thank you for nurturing our life and sustaining our faith. In gratitude, we want to help others to know your love. Open our ears to listen to your voice. Open our eyes to see our brothers and sisters in need as sheep of your flock. May our tithes and offerings give voice to Christ's love for all people, especially those who have gone astray. Amen. (John 10:11-18)

April Offertory Prayers were written by the Rev. Rosanna Anderson, Associate Director of Stewardship Ministries at Discipleship Ministries, The United Methodist Church.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Cost of Discipleship, a reflection on Luke 14:25-33

Those of us who are used to thinking of the term "Family Values" to be synonymous with Christian Values may have struggled with this particular passage. Is Jesus really telling us that we have to hate our families and to leave them behind if we want to join the church? Not a message I see being lived out by the churches I am familiar with.

Just about as troubling is the requirement to halt needed work like foundation building or to begin projects without considering what resources are necessary.

So, once again I am grateful to Ronald Allen & Clark Williamson who wrote a lectionary commentary called Preaching the Gospel without Blaming the Jews.

Early Christians would have found these commands difficult as well since rabbinic Judaism has no instructions to hate family. To help us to interpret what Jesus is saying to us, Allen & Williamson suggest we need to put the passage in context. Jesus had just told a parable about a man who invited a lot of people to dinner and they were too busy with their own lives to show up.
The banquet is the kingdom. The excuses represent the kinds of ties that people have--to real estate, to work, and to family--ties that keep us from giving our ultimate commitment to the work of God in the world. .... Jesus' teaching about hating our loved ones is not recommending that we feel hatred for them....It is about choices, decisions.

More from Allen & Williamson:
The language is hyperbolic. We are to have a relative love for the relative and an ultimate love ... for God and God's kingdom.... We are to assess critically whether we can finish what we start, whether we can stay the course of discipleship. Can we make the commitment to peace, justice, economic sufficiency for all, and respect for the well-being of the stranger that commitment to the kingdom and following Jesus entail?

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