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Father forgive the Pharisees

Forgive the religious leaders who were more concerned about religious rituals, proper clerical attire and using the right liturgy rather than having their hearts in right relationship with you

Father forgive the Sadducees-

Forgive the aristocratic religious rulers who were more concerned about their positions rather than the justice

Father forgive the political leaders

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The Work of Christmas

by Howard Thurman
Graphics by Heather Peck


When the star in the sky is gone,

When the Kings and Princes are home,

When the shepherds are back with their flocks,

The work of Christmas begins.

To find the lost,

To heal the broken,

To feed the hungry

To release the prisoner,

To teach the nations,

To bring Christ to all,

To make music in the heart.

BY KATE THOMAS

Sundays have typically been the day of rest. Truthfully, most Christians today no longer take the day to give back to God. It’s about time we reclaimed this sacred day, not just for God, but in the spirit of Jesus’ teachings – to love unconditionally and spend time with those who are impoverished.  

Sunday is the perfect day to do a churchwide mission day at least once or twice a year for a few reasons:

1. People who attend church are already available.
2. It sets the tone for “church” to take place outside the church walls.
3. It provides connectedness with the entire church community in a way that could never be as widespread as Sunday morning.

How do we make this transition, you ask? It’s really quite simple once you realize your church probably already has the infrastructure to pull off a mission Sunday. You can harness some of the already existing groups (UMM, UMW, youth, Sunday School, small groups, mission team, church council, etc.) to each find a local mission project that church members can attend. Make sure to be specific about how many people you think might participate in each project, timing, directions, and choosing a team leader. Or this might be a time for anyone passionate about mission to shine. Either way, it’s helpful to have a team of people, each coordinating the details for the different projects.

Some other things to keep in mind:

1. Have a signup sheet for each project; two or three Sundays prior will help you predict your numbers.
2. Make sure to accommodate additional church members who will show up without signing up. Have projects that can take additional people or come up with additional projects that can have unlimited numbers.
3. Have a variety of projects for different ages, physical capabilities and interests.
4. Consider a gathering time before going out to serve. This could include a few upbeat songs and a prayer as well as a time for offering. The “sermon” will be your service to God.
5. Following the mission activities, it could be a great time for a church potluck, with some sharing time about the projects.
6. Set up for easy traffic flow at church. Make sure to have a meeting space for each of the projects before touching base for instructions and to carpool, and make sure to have details for those who haven’t signed up. This could be a bunch of tables in the fellowship hall with signs and descriptions as well as a handout at the door with all the projects. The short worship time before serving could take place in the same space.
7. Consider how your church can uniquely serve and Change the World in a meaningful way. Make this project your own.

Kate Thomas is senior productions coordinator for ACDI-VOCA and former graphic designer for the Baltimore Washington Conference

RESOLVED: Atheists are the New Evangelicals

You know it’s serious when Chuck Norris gets spooked. Non-believers are now a legit voting bloc: seven out of ten people who say they never go to church votedfor Barack Obama in November, and he repaid them with an unprecedented shoutout during his inauguration address.

The “European Disease” has officially jumped the pond.

While the number of self-identifying Christians has fallen 86% in 1990 to 76% today, the ranks of those claim “no religious affiliation” have almost doubled, to 15%. Nearly 4 million Americans now identify as atheists or agnostics, and more non-believers are publicly expressing their lack of faith—groups of non-believers are proliferating on college campuses and social networking sites.

But the battle for hearts and minds will be a long one. Most Americans have a low opinion of non-believers; a 2006 University of Minnesota study found atheists to be the most disliked minority group in America. More than half the country wouldn’t vote for an atheist for President, whereas 72% would vote for a Mormon—there’s some good news for 1012, Mitt. Still, the signs of progress are there: in 1958, 75% wouldn’t pull the lever for a non-believer.

You know it’s serious when Chuck Norris gets spooked. Non-believers are now a legit voting bloc: seven out of ten people who say they never go to church voted for Barack Obama in November, and he repaid them with an unprecedented shoutout during his inauguration address.

The “European Disease” has officially jumped the pond.

While the number of self-identifying Christians has fallen 86% in 1990 to 76% today, the ranks of those claim “no religious affiliation” have almost doubled, to 15%. Nearly 4 million Americans now identify as atheists or agnostics, and more non-believers are publicly expressing their lack of faith—groups of non-believers are proliferating on college campuses and social networking sites.

But the battle for hearts and minds will be a long one. Most Americans have a low opinion of non-believers; a 2006 University of Minnesota study found atheists to be the most disliked minority group in America. More than half the country wouldn’t vote for an atheist for President, whereas 72% would vote for a Mormon—there’s some good news for 1012, Mitt. Still, the signs of progress are there: in 1958, 75% wouldn’t pull the lever for a non-believer.
READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE

What will it take for Christians to make evangelism as important to their spiritual discipline as prayer, quiet time, fasting, worship,journaling and studying the scriptures? The Apostle’s number one priority was to share the gospel and now the church is more concerned with buildings and appearances.

This article shows us how much work we have to do to share the gospel with non believers.  Our mainline denominations are dying not because of a lack of people but because of a lack of engaging the outside world outside of the church in a meaningful way. 

Faith sharing must become a personal life style, congregational value and denominational imperative. The biggest missionary field in the world is right here in the United States. The unconditional love, unmerited favor and total forgiveness that we have expereinced as born again believers is not a gift to be hidden in our sanctuaries and prayer closets but a gift to be shared with all of our neighbors and even the strangers that we meet.

This article set off alarm bells for me. I am committed to social justice and serving the marginalized people of the world.  I support new church plants, multi site church ministry and church yard sales.  This article has called everyone’s ministry to task. Evangelical, Full Gospel, Pentecostal, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, AME, and the others that Ihave not named.  I pray that it will challenge and encourage you.  The new evangelist are those of us whose lives have been transformed by our relationship with Jesus Christ. We are the people who carry the Good News. We are the people with the message hope that endures the vicissitudes of life. We are the people with the message of total release from the guilt and stain of sin because of of our living  Savior whose tomb remains empty to this day. It is time to tell our story with power and conviction.  Church as usual is no longer acceptable.  We have some work to do!

This is a great sermon from the lectionary text for last week, Matthew 10:40-42.

Michelle Holmes Chaney – June 29, 2008

Internet video casting allows a church to stay connected to members who are sick and shut in, members who are on vacation and potentially it can connect with prospective visitors.  When used in connection with the church newsletter, bulletin, a community mailing and encouragement from the pulpit it can be an effective ministry tool.