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 19, 2015 – Third Sunday of Easter
Holy God, thank you for making Jesus the Author of life, whom you raised from the dead. You still do marvelous miracles of forgiveness, bringing healing and new life in our midst. We know that these gifts don't come from our power or piety, but by your goodness. As we reach out to people in our community, may they draw closer to you. Let our offerings contribute to the ongoing work of your servant Jesus, here and now. Amen. (Acts 3:12-19)
April Offertory Prayers were written by the Rev. Rosanna Anderson, Associate Director of Stewardship Ministries at Discipleship Ministries, The United Methodist Church.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Lesson learned, reflection on Good Friday

Readings for Good Friday: Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Psalm 22; Hebrews 10:16-25; John 18:1-19:42

In an essay about Good Friday, Virginia Stem Owens talks about how beautiful the spring trees are in her native Texas. But, one year, she found herself offended by them:
...I was driving to work in College Station on Good Friday through a miasma of dogwood and redbud and not feeling good about it at all. It was a sparkling, resplendent day. Thickets of wild plum thew up their dark arms in dreamy clouds of white. Primroses, tenderly pink and gold, filled up the ditches along the road.
I was not pleased. This was not a penitential landscape. Good Friday is not the time for beauty.
....
I drove along, vaguely offended by the fields of flowers in full cry and the hillsides spangled with Easter white. This is the week, I thought, that the Savior of the world dies. This is the day when all that is good and true goes down to suffer death at the hands of the arrogant, those swollen with the pride of power. And what is the world doing? What is the earth, its own life threatened by those same enemies doing? Did it care? Was it grieving? No. It was shouldering aside the clouds and the husks of its dead self in order to break into life....
....
All week I had been reading the penitential Psalms and examining my sins. .... But now it was Good Friday. What did you do after you'd confessed all your sins and cleaned out all your closets? I took one last look around the bare cell of my heart for some forgotten fault, at the same time being careful to avoid the danger of manufacturing contrition for its own sake....
But what else was there to do on Good Friday? Already, on this spring morning, as I was descending the hills toward the river, Jesus was beginning his climb to Golgotha. What else was there to do? For the women who followed him, "Looking on afar off" (Mark 15:40 KJV), for those standing beneath the cross, what was there left to do?
Nothing. Quite obviously just nothing....Because Good Friday is the day when you can do nothing. Bewailing and lamenting your manifold sins does not in itself make up for them. Scouring your soul in a frenzy of spring cleaning only sterilizes it; it does not give it life. On Good Friday, finally, we are all mourners and mockers alike.....Good Friday is the day when we can do nothing at all.
....
Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. His blood and his righteousness.
I passed the intersection at Carlos with its one blinking, yellow light and crossed the bridge over the pipeling that carries the coal slurry to the plant a few miles further on. From there the road bent northward to cross the river.
As I broke out of the ines and into the fertile bottomand, the spring again assaulted me. The land below, emerging from the tendrils of morning fog, was a tangle of luxuriant fertility.
Clouds of pink and white, effulgent enough to inebriate the soberest soul, lured one's live of vision into the darkest trees. Acres of bluebonnets streaked up the red clay banks of the river. The earth, on this Good Friday, cast forth its life, heedless of the sacrifice that sustained it. Its callous, regardless life, sucked from the source it can never repay, never replenish. Continually drawing on the death of its Savior to live. Just like me.

Read the entire essay and many others in Epiphanies, edited by Eugene Peterson and Emilie Griffin, published by Baker Books.

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