Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ!
For the last week, I have been basking in the hot water of our shower and giving thanks to God for this blessing. You see, back in November or so, the water in the shower started slowly turning cold. At first, I thought it was just because the weather outside was getting cooler but not cool enough to turn the heat on in the house and heat the water. But after several weeks of making excuses and the weather getting colder and the heat was running, I realized that we had a problem. To make a long story short, it took much complaining on my part for three months and the water actually running quite cold the fourth month, that Nick (I love my husband) finally called the plumber and then of course a week for the plumber to fit us in his schedule.
I tell you this story because by the end when I dreaded getting into the shower each morning and then racing to get clean so I could get out fast, I found that I started telling myself that there are people in many places of our world that don’t have the privilege of taking a shower every morning. There are also people who only have cold water to clean themselves in. Plus, I had the added privilege of my water being clean where theirs may have come from rivers or streams they had to walk to get the water in first place. Being aware of them kept me humble through the ordeal.
During the season of Lent, we take a special offering called “One Great Hour of Sharing.” It is one of the five special offerings of the United Church of Christ and one supported by multiple denominations. This offering supports our partners in countries with ministries that fund health, education and agricultural development, emergency relief, refugee ministries and international and domestic disaster response.
When Jesus tells the parable of the sheep and goats (Matthew 25: 31-40), he reveals to us that God is most tangibly present in the world where people hunger, thirst, lack adequate clothing and shelter, and are sick and imprisoned. Christ cares for people who suffer and says He is so present in them that when you feed the hungry, care for the sick, welcome the stranger—you feed, care for and welcome Christ.
The One Great Hour of Sharing offering is an opportunity for us to extend our reach of the Good News of Jesus Christ of God’s love and care and presence. By reaching out to those who suffer from natural disaster, war or systematic poverty with our tangible gifts, we let them know they are not forgotten—that we are there and God is there.
We are there through providing well pumps for clean water, seeds and training for sustainable agriculture, rice and oil to provide nourishment and cooking supplies. We are there through medical kits, school supplies, temporary shelters, and safe housing projects where needed most. We are there as the body of Christ. We will take the One Great Hour of Sharing offering on Sunday, March 26th and we hope you’ll consider giving to it.
Also as a part of Lent, our Peace in Zion Angels are seeking to make Christ’s presence known locally leading a mission project to support Liberty Ministries Lydia Project. Liberty Ministries exists to serve offenders in prison and ex-offenders in the community by showing God’s love, providing practical assistance and supporting biblical standards of justice.
The Lydia Projects focuses on women offenders and ex-offenders and provides them personal care kits given as they enter prison and after-care discipleship programs. The Angels are seeking donations through the season of Lent of shampoo, non-breakable bottle or tube, 10-15 ounce size; deodorant, must be stick or roll-on type; hand lotion, any brand, at least two ounce size, no pumps, tissues, three purse size packets; writing paper, ruled tablets, no metal spiral, no envelopes and one dollar for each kit. A personal note may be included with your name and church address for the women to write. Please do this only if you are prepared to carry on correspondence. Do not seal envelopes.
It is important that the donations follow the exact amounts and instructions as specified. Any donations that do not comply will not be able to be used for this project as the prison system has strict requirements of what can and cannot be used for the safety of the inmates as well as the employees. Thank you for your understanding.
So much is going on in Lent! You are invited to join us for two Lenten Dinners and Conversations, one on Sunday, March 12 and the second on Sunday, March 26, both at 6 PM and at PIZ. As in the past, Heidelberg UCC has invited us to their Lenten dinners, we’ve invited them to ours and look forward to sharing this ministry with them again this year. Donations of soup, bread and desserts are appreciated.
Finally, let’s not forget our Lenten candy making. We are making coconut and peanut butter eggs again this year. Candy making is on Tuesdays, 8-12 and Wednesdays, 8-9:30 throughout Lent. Come help make candy and share in the fellowship. Everyone’s help is appreciated. The candy is being sold this year for $11 a pound. Share the word and make your order so you don’t miss out on this delicious candy. The proceeds support the ongoing ministries of our congregation.
On a different note, we are still looking for two-three people to serve on our church development team. It is important for us to be taking a serious look at how we are being called to move into God’s future so we can discern how we are being called to share the Good News of Jesus Christ in our community and world now in preparation of God’s future. Our team will be guided by workshops by our new Associate Conference Minister for Congregational Development, Rev. Cean James. We also anticipate sharing in this work with other local UCC congregations who are also being about the church development work in our communities by sharing in conversations, best practices, visioning and needs to name a few place of sharing this work. This is truly an exciting time as we seek God’s guidance into the next phase of our ministry of Jesus Christ. If you are interested in joining our team, please see Pastor Barb.
May God bless you, the Holy Spirit guide you and the peace of Christ go with you on this Lenten journey.