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, a talented group of global communicators, lead by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tennessee, directs messaging that reaches people who have never set foot in one of our churches. Through billboards, digital advertising, video spots, radio and more, they give people outside the church a glimpse of who we are and what matters to us as Christians. 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 United Methodist Communications atwww.umcom.org and www.rethinkchurch.org.
God of our deepest joys and Alleluias! We sing our Resurrection songs this morning, not because of a miraculous historical event, but because you continue to bring life out of death and hope out of despair! When you rolled away the stone and let light enter Christ's tomb, you entrusted each of us who follow him to be bearers of light into the dark places of our world – carriers of the inexhaustible hope into lives filled with despair. May the joy of this morning, of the triumph of the Resurrection, empower us in our living out of these tasks, and in our generosity to support others who serve in our name. In the name of the risen Christ, we pray. Amen. (John 20:1-18)
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
From Despair to Joy, a Reflection on Baruch 5:1-9
Baruch attempts to console and to instruct.
Israel saw the exile as a justifiable punishment for its sin, for its failure to do what the Lord had instructed to, to live in the ways that the Lord had intended for them to live. Yet, despite their guilt, God will show them mercy. (Source: Abingdon: NISB)
Baruch addresses Jerusalem (the left-behinds, the witnesses to the destruction), "Arise, O Jerusalem, stand upon the height; look toward the east, and see your children gathered from west and east at the word of the Holy One.... For God will lead Israel with joy, in the light of his glory, with the mercy and righteousness that come from him."
Now, the present: We have sinned or lived among people that sinned or both. We have seen the consequences of those sins. And we can sometimes admit that we did deserve those consequences. But, Advent is not a time to dwell on what-might-have beens.
Baruch's words of comfort for an ancient people, scattered, hurt, suffering from losses of status and property can still speak to us. God still comes with mercy and righteousness.