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 that reach people who are in desperate need to feel the touch of love and reconciliation. Through churches that receive the “One Great Hour of Sharing” offering this year, we will support the disaster-response arm of the church, the United Methodist Committee on Relief or UMCOR. UMCOR is ready to respond on our behalf within minutes of a disaster occurring, and their specialty is long-term recovery. UMCOR is not always the first organization on the scene, but they are often the last ones to leave. 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 UMCOR at www.umcor.org. Find resources for the One Great Hour of Sharing Offering at www.umcgiving.org.

March 8, 2015 – Third Sunday in Lent
Holy God, Creator and Redeemer, you have commanded us to put no other gods before you. Often, our lives have demonstrated that we have done the opposite. We worship “gods” of power, wealth, beauty, popularity and self-gratification, to name only a few. As we give our gifts to you, we proclaim you as the one and only God of love, deserving of our dedication and praise. In your holy name, we pray. Amen.(Exodus 20:1-17)

March Offertory Prayers were written by the Rev. Dr. Ken Sloane, Director of Stewardship & Connectional Ministries at Discipleship Ministries, The United Methodist Church.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A guide to guiding, Reflection on Acts 8:26-31

Through the first seven chapters of Acts, Peter and the other apostles have been preaching in Jerusalem. Successes and setbacks. Steven was condemned to death. Saul (more about him later) watched the stoning.

The persecution became so severe that the apostles scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. (Go back and read again Acts 1:8.)

Philip is preaching in Samaria where crowds are listening eagerly to him and seeing the signs that he did (8:4-8). Peter and John returned to Jerusalem. And Philip is directed by a messenger from God to go to Gaza.

He is performing signs, drawing crowds, being praised, and baptizing. Philip is in a productive mission field. And God tells him to travel the wilderness road.

On the trip, Philip came across a court official of the Ethiopian queen who was returning from a trip to Jerusalem. He had gone there to worship, and when Philip saw him, he was reading from the prophet Isaiah.

We can speculate whether he had already read the part of Isaiah where eunuchs and foreigners are included in Israel's promise (56:1-8). [Tangent: We can further speculate on whether we ourselves have spent much time with that passage and whether we talk and act as if we believed it.]

The Spirit sent Philip over to speak to this foreigner. Philip responded to this command by running over to his chariot.

He asked him if he understood what he was reading. The Ethiopian replied, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" And he asked Philip to join him.

Some points to consider:

People who don't look like or who haven't been brought up like us may be sensing the call of God. God may be talking to us, and we ought to be listening.

If someone wants to understand scripture, and we're standing right there, we need to be prepared to step up to the need.

OTOH, scripture may not be transparent even to someone who has studied a lot. We need to look at the Ethiopian as a good example of someone who knew he needed instruction and was willing to admit it.

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