Offertory Prayer

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 the World Service Fund, you made possible life-changing mission work led by the General Board of Global Ministries, in areas of clean water and sanitation. Almost 900 million people don’t have access to clean, safe water; and 2.5 billion people do not have safe sanitation. Through partnership across the church and with UMCOR and the Advance for Christ, United Methodists strive to meet this most basic need. This ministry happens thanks to the generous support of United Methodists like you. I invite you once again to give generously as we worship God through the sharing of our gifts, tithes and offerings.

Learn more about the work of the UMC to help people Access Safe Water at:www.umcor.org/UMCOR/Programs/Global-Health/Water-and-Sanitation

July 20, 2014 -- Sixth Sunday after Pentecost/in Kingdomtide
Holy God who chose to live among us: You remind us that in your creation good and evil exist side by side. We know that the evil can come in subtle ways, valuing the regard of others more than seeking to please you, putting self-promotion before compassion for others, or turning a blind eye to injustice. May the gifts we give this morning be our affirmation to choose the good over the evil, and what serves your loving purpose over what denies it. Help us to bear fruit, and may our lives be deemed worthy at the time of harvest. We pray in the holy name of Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer. Amen. (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43)

"Prayers by Ken Sloan. Copyright General Board of Discipleship. www.GBOD.org Used by permission."

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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