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Listen to last Sunday’s sermon here:
Jesus Christ is the Light of the World!
Sometimes it is hard to see the light. With the holidays coming up there will be all the more occasions to miss the ones you have lost to death and remember the wonderful times you had together.
It is this season of the year, when the days get shorter and it seems like darkness would be able to overcome the light that the church has always reminded itself that All Saints are resurrected to eternal life. The Sunday before All Saints Day is a reminder that the light will cast out every darkness, a reminder that life will win over death.
Please join us at St. John’s United Church of Christ on Sunday, October 29th 2017 at 10 a.m. to celebrate the memory of loved ones who have passed on. Everyone is invited to light candles in memory of people they have lost. Members of our congregation who died since last All Saints Sunday will be lifted up by the entire congregation and next of kin are specifically invited to light a candle for them.
Whether we live or whether we die we will always be in God’s loving hands. May our God be with you also as you are adjusting to a life without having the ones who died around.
October 14th 2017 marks the tenth anniversary of my ordination to Christian ministry. I have served full time for fourteen years, but in Germany ordination is not granted until a few years into your ministry. How is an ordained person different from a non-ordained person? As far as God is concerned there is no difference because every Christian is a priest to the LORD. Ordination is a promise that professionals make to the church. For my tradition it is summarized in the Ordained Minister’s Code. It has wonderful guidelines for ministry and life in general:
The Ordained Ministry
I believe that God calls the whole Church and every member to participate in and extend the ministry of Jesus Christ; that the privilege of witnessing to the gospel in Church and society belongs to every baptized Christian; that God empowers the ministry of the Church and its members by the Holy Spirit; that the Church nurtures faith, evokes gifts, and equips its members for service; and that God calls certain of the Church’s members to various forms of ministry in and on behalf of the church.
I have been called by God to be a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ and ordained by the United Church of Christ to preach and teach the gospel, to administer the sacraments and rites of the Church, and to exercise pastoral care and leadership.
I will seek to witness to the ministry of Jesus Christ.
I will preach and teach the gospel without fear or favor. I will speak the truth in love.
I will administer the sacraments and rites of the Church with integrity.
I will diligently perform the work of ministry which I have agreed to perform.
Partnership in Ministry
I will nurture and offer my gifts for ministry to the Church. I will seek to call forth and nurture the gifts of others in the Church and join their gifts with mine for the sake of the mission of Jesus Christ and the health of the Church.
I will seek to understand, support and interpret the diverse ministries of the Church and its members as carried out throughout the world. I will stand with those who risk personal well being because of actions taken in response to their Christian convictions.
I will work cooperatively and collegially with those whom I serve in the particular ministry to which I have been called.
I will stand in a supportive relationship with my colleagues in ordained, commissioned, and licensed ministry, offering and receiving counsel and support in times of need.
I will be an advocate for fair standards of compensation for all ordained and lay employees of the church, particularly in the place where I serve.
I will be a responsible participant in the life and work of my Association, Conference, and the United Church of Christ.
I will be a responsible representative of the Church Universal and participate in those activities which strengthen its unity, witness and mission.I will seek the counsel of the Conference or Association Minister or the Association Committee on the Ministry should divisive tensions threaten my relationship with those with whom I minister.
The Ethics of Ministry
I will regard all persons with equal respect and concern and undertake to minister impartially.
I will honor all confidences shared with me.
I will not use my position, power, or authority to exploit any person.
I will not use my position for personal financial gain, nor will I misuse the finances of the institution which I serve.
I will not perform pastoral services within a parish or for a member of a parish without the consent of the pastor of that parish.
I will deal honorably with the record of my predecessor and successor.
I will not, upon my termination and departure from a ministry position, interfere with nor intrude upon the ministry of my successor.
Growth in Ministry
I will encourage and participate in the regular evaluation of my ministry.
I will seek to grow in faith, knowledge and the practice of ministry through intentional continuing education, study and devotional life.
I will cooperate with my Association in the periodic review of my ordained ministerial standing.
Commitments to Self and Family
I will live a life which honors my commitments to my family.
I will honor my need for time for physical and spiritual renewal, recreation and vacation.
I will honor my family’s need for privacy and time together.
I will be a responsible steward of my personal and family finances. I will honor and accept responsibility for all debts which I incur.
I will attend to my physical well being and avoid abusive behaviors and abusive use of substances.
Relying on the grace of God, I will lead a life worthy of the calling to which I have been called.
At least 59 people were killed in Las Vegas on Sunday. The event has been called the biggest mass shooting in modern US history. It is appropriate to pray for the wounded, the families of the dead, and all those who do the hard work of helping the community recover. It is also important to enact measures that reduce the likelihood of mass shootings like this. One response though is not correct: being afraid.
The Jason Aldean concert was a happy time. So were the Eagles of Death Metal show in Paris and the Ariana Grande performance in Manchester. Music is full of blessing and joy. Fear has no room there. As Luke reminds us, “in that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see — I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.'” And from there the choir of the heavenly host proceeded to give a concert of Hallelujahs, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” Where there is singing there cannot be room for fear.
But is the world not getting more dangerous by the minute? All these mass shooting all the time. It seems to be so dangerous in America right now. The reality is that your chance of dying in a mass shooting is smaller than in other Western countries. In the US you are less likely to be injured or killed in a mass shooting than you are in Finland, Norway, or Switzerland. This is obviously a dark moment for everybody involved. But in the midst of this pain the message of the Psalmist is still true, “even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.”
The Bible is full of reminders to fear not:
After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” (Genesis 15:1)
But now, this is what the Lord says – he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.’(Isaiah 43:1)
The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. (Luke 1:30)
“Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” (John 12:15)
Let that ring true in our time and place as well:
Do not be afraid, Las Vegas!
Do not be afraid, Paris!
Do not be afraid, Manchester!
Do not be afraid!
World Communion Sunday offers congregations a distinctive opportunity to experience Holy Communion in the context of the global community of faith. The first Sunday of October has become a time when Christians in every culture break bread and pour the cup to remember and affirm Christ as the Head of the Church. On that day, they remember that they are part of the whole body of believers. Whether shared in a grand cathedral, a mud hut, outside on a hilltop, in a meetinghouse, or in a storefront, Christians celebrate the communion liturgy in as many ways as there are congregations. World Communion Sunday can be both a profound worship experience and a time for learning more about our wider community of faith.
This year Global Ministries showcases its Caribbean Initiative: On this World Communion Sunday, the materials we are sharing with brothers and sisters in Christ, will guide us to return to the original, radical message of the Eucharist. The Parable of the Great Dinner (Luke 14:15-22) and the Parable of the Wedding Banquet (Matthew 22:1-14), give us examples of breaking norms and rules of a concrete economic and cultural system and allow us to shift into openness, compassion, generosity, and welcome to all humans and creatures in Creation. The proposal is to surrender our haciendas, our private places, closed by privilege and domination, and to fill our stomachs with the reality of the other, letting the yeast of the Gospel transform us from the logic of retaining to one of offering. This alternative implies a society governed by a different symbolic order, not only by another law. It is about a permanent re-evolution of love, understanding, and care. ¡Bienvenidos y bienvenidas a la Mesa del Señor! Welcome to the table of God!
If you want to embrace the spirit in worship, a new album of Caribbean hymns and praise music, complete with lyrics in English and Spanish is now available! Download the free album today!