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, your church supports a great tradition of United Methodist support for Higher Education. Providing scholarships and loans, a network of college chaplains, and an ongoing relationship with 113 colleges, universities and seminaries that are part of our connection – together we open doors to education for many deserving students. 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 our General Board of Higher Education & Ministry at www.gbhem.org

September 14, 2014 -- Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost/in Kingdomtide
Merciful God, you have filled our lives with a deluge of love and grace. Yet we are too often stingy with forgiveness for others. While Christ’s sacrifice on the cross removed the weight of our sin, we continue to blend in with a world that is intent on keeping score and settling debts. May the gifts we give this morning, small in comparison with all we’ve received, help strengthen the church’s ministry of love and compassion. In our giving, may we make a witness as those who have been forgiven much and who seek to have Christlike grace shine through our lives. We pray this in his name. Amen. (Matthew 18:21-35)
"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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