Mission Moment for August 2022           

August 2022             “Healing Reign”             Luke 13:10-17

For eighteen years the woman in today’s story suffered an ailment that kept her bent over and in pain. Jesus knew how to bring healing to the woman who suffered, but those around him wanted him to wait until after the sabbath. Jesus knew that suffering could not wait. If healing was available and ready at once, then it should be enacted.

Look around. What kind of suffering do you see in your region or neighborhood? Is there suffering that has been allowed to linger because it seems that it is never the right time to heal? What kind of healing can you and your congregation bring to those broken places?

Pray this prayer as you open your heart and mind to the suffering in your midst and the healing that might be available to alleviate that suffering.

Jesus, our friend and brother,

We breathe in and we breathe out.

With each breath in,

we receive the suffering of our neighbors.

With each breath out,

we exhale your healing power.

With each breath in,

we pray for courage and insight

With each breath out,

we become more like you.

With each breath in,

we feel your strength and clarity

With each breath out,

we step forward, reach toward.

Jesus, our friend and brother,

Guide us, we pray, as we breathe, pray, become, feel, step, reach, heal. Amen.

July 2022                                                 “Caring Neighbors”             Luke 10:25-37

This scripture is the story of the Good Samaritan. Listen to the story in the words of those who experienced it:

The Religious Official speaks

I always believed there are two kinds of people in the world – good ones and, well, not-good ones.  I, of course, have been blessed by birth and by training to be one of the good ones. I help when I can, but I tell myself that you can’t help them all. And so that day, I rushed right by that person lying beaten on the side of the road, as I had rushed so many times before. In my rush to get where I was going and do the “good” thing I had planned, I think I missed a chance. I can’t stop thinking of him and wondering if there was something more I could have done, wondering if “you can’t help them all” is just a justification to not help anyone. Since that day, I’ve been thinking that maybe the world is not so easy to divide into good people and bad ones.

The Man Beaten by Robbers speaks

I always knew that there are two kinds of people in this world – those who suffer and those who make others suffer. Until that day, I made sure that I was the one who made others suffer, so they couldn’t hurt me. Everyone feared my fists, and that’s why they hired me to walk that dangerous road. But that day, I let down my guard for a moment, and others found me, and beat me.               I thought I would die there, but instead I felt a cool cloth on my head, a gentle hand to bandage my wounds. Since that day, I’ve wondered if maybe the world is not so easy to divide into assailants and victims. The person who picked me up and helped me that day had no reason to help, he just did. Maybe the world isn’t all about avoiding suffering or inflicting it. Maybe there is another way to live – healing and helping – that I hadn’t noticed before.

The Samaritan speaks

Look, there are two kinds of people in this world. The right ones, like me, who know that God dwells on the holy mountain and the wrong ones, like him, who think God lives in a box in the city. When I saw him lying by the side of the road that day, I knew that he was one of the wrong ones. But in that moment, I also saw his pain was just like mine would have been. I saw that his blood was red just as mine is. And for some reason, I couldn’t walk away. Since that day, I’ve wondered if maybe God could be both in my mountain and in their city. Maybe the world is not so easily divided into us and them.

June 2022                                                 Gathered and Scattered”             Acts 2:1-21

Strengthen the Church Offering

The church year begins with Advent – the four weeks before Christmas. Then there is a short season of Christmastide, followed by Epiphany. Lent is the next season of the church year, which culminates in Holy Week and Easter. Eastertide, the season that follows   Easter ends with Pentecost, which is Sunday, June 5, 2022. After this, the church is in the long season known as Ordinary Time that lasts until Advent begins again in midwinter.

In thinking of the church year, for many churches, Easter is the high point of the year.  With its majestic music, resurrection message, shiny new dresses and egg hunts, it can feel like it’s all downhill from there. Pentecost can be easy to miss, just a stop on the way to the long stretch of ordinary time. But what if we framed it in a new way? What if Pentecost day – TODAY – was not a steppingstone but the culmination of all that we have been preparing for and the beginning of a new adventure?

On the first Pentecost Day, the disciples, mourning the perceived loss of Jesus and the life they had known with him, were ready to give up. Then the Spirit arrived! When they felt the Spirit’s presence, they were infused with new energy. New gifts flowed from them, giving them the power to speak to their neighbors of all languages. Even Peter, who had barely been able to put a sentence together until now, suddenly preached with flowing eloquence. The church received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost day, and everyone paid attention.

Like the disciples, we, in these post-pandemic days, are mourning what we have lost and are trying to adjust to the new normal of the lives we have now. Now, more than ever, let us receive the power of the Holy Spirit. Now, more than ever, let us perceive how that Spirit is already at work, empowering the gifts of our congregation. Now, more than ever, let us speak in the languages that those around us need to hear – a message of salvation and love that only we can tell.

Sunday, June 5th many churches will receive The Strengthen the Church (STC) Offering. STC reflects the shared commitment of people across the United Church of Christ to cooperatively build up the UCC. Conferences and the national setting equally share the gifts given by members and friends through their local congregations. The funds raised support leadership development, new churches, youth ministry, and innovation in existing congregations. By your generosity to this offering, you build up the Body of Christ.