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 Episcopal Fund, your church not only supports the Bishop who serves your conference, but the global work of our United Methodist episcopal leaders. Your giving makes possible their witness for the whole church in many areas including evangelism, justice ministries, global health and working with the world’s poor. 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 Council of Bishops of the UMC at: http://www.umc.org/who-we-are/council-of-bishops

August 24, 2014 -- Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost/in Kingdomtide
Almighty and merciful God, as we give our tithes and offerings this morning, we are reminded that it is here that the relationships of our hearts and our connection to the material world intersect. You have called us into the world, into its need, its suffering, its injustice, and its pain; not to be claimed by the world, but as those claimed by you to be agents of change and transformation and healing in the world. So use not only these gifts, these dollars we offer, but use us. Use our hands, use our feet, use our voices, and use our hearts to shape the world for which you long. We pray in the blessed name of Jesus, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen. (Romans 12:1-8)
(Genesis 45:1-15)

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

Monday, June 11, 2012

Beginning with a Seed, a Reflection on Mark 4:26-34

Baby boomers fueled the growth in American church membership and attendance, but they are dying off.  Lovett Weems has termed this the Death Tsunami. He suggests that we focus on what is important:
To talk of survival does not mean that survival is an end in itself. The survival sought is not for an institution and certainly not for institutional forms or entities. Church leadership is a response to God’s love and action in the world revealed most clearly in Jesus Christ. Christian leadership is a channel of God’s grace as it seeks the fulfillment of God’s vision, and such leadership emerges out of the history, beliefs, and traditions of faith communities.
What is the future going to look like? Will leadership emerge? I think about those early Christians, the first hearers of Mark's gospel. What discouragements were they facing? What did the future of the church look like to them?

Their gatherings were as small as mustard seeds. Yet, they did become as great shrubs providing protection.

So, I would like to draw from this parable a parallel--size now does not limit potential.

But, I'm also drawn to the lesson embedded in this passage--that Jesus spoke in parables because his hearers were not ready to learn his meaning. To his disciples, and in private, he explained everything.

Yet, even without understanding, the other hearers became part of the growth of the church. I'm looking back at verses 26-27. The sower of the seed doesn't have to know how the sprouting part works in order for it to work.

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