Ash Wednesday

ash-cross“Whoever wants to be first, must be least of all and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35 CEB)

Read Mark 9:30-37.
This week: Reflect on ways you can be a servant to others.

Join us for a twenty minute service at noon on Wed., Feb. 10.

Ash Wednesday Service at Noon

The forty-day season of Lent begins this week. We will mark the start of the season on Ash Wednesday with a twenty minute service of repentance at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 10. Imposition of ashes will also be a part of the service for those who would like them.

Why ashes on Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent. Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline.

Ash Wednesday emphasizes two themes: our sinfulness before God and our human mortality. The service focuses on both themes, helping us to realize that both have been triumphed through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

During some Ash Wednesday services, the minister will lightly rub the sign of the cross with ashes onto the foreheads of worshipers. The use of ashes as a sign of mortality and repentance has a long history in Jewish and Christian worship. Historically, ashes signified purification and sorrow for sins.

It is traditional to save the palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday service to burn to produce ashes for this service. Sometimes a small card or piece of paper is distributed on which each person writes a sin or hurtful or unjust characteristic. The cards are then brought to the altar to be burned with the palm branches. The ash cross on the forehead is an outward sign of our sorrow and repentance for sins.


Lent Begins Feb. 10

Lent Begins Feb. 10

Lent, the liturgical season leading up to Easter begins with Ash Wednesday on February 10 this year. We will have a short (no more than thirty minute) service at 6:00 p.m. that evening.

The Worship & Spiritual Life Committee has set “Wherever you are…” as the theme for Lent and Easter this year.

During Lent, we will also be participating in a special outreach project that will benefit our local food pantry. Bags with a complete set of personal care items will be dedicated on Easter Sunday. Please bring the following on each Sunday during:

Sunday, Feb. 14
hand towels and wash clothsSunday, Feb. 21
shampoo and conditioner

Sunday, Feb. 28

Sunday, Mar. 6
deodorantSunday, Mar. 13
hairbrush and combs

Sunday, Mar. 20 Palm Sunday
toothpaste and toothbrush

Spirituality & Aging at 4oh!4 This Sunday


Reminder – No morning worship on 10/25 at Condon United Church of Christ tomorrow. Instead 4oh!4 returns at, you guessed it, 4:04 p.m.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 24th @ 4:04 PM

It has been said that aging is not a spectator sport.  Not only are we faced with the realities of our changing bodies, but we are often confronted with spiritual challenges and changes as we get older.  At 4oh!4 we will get some background on aging and spirituality. We will share some of our experiences.  And hopefully, we will gather a few tools to help us draw closer to the Divine and our own spirits.

A Critical Approach to the Bible

A Critical Approach to the Bible

I was recently asked what I mean when I say that rather than a literal reading of the Bible, I take a critical approach. A literal approach, of course, is to read the Bible as if each word is the literal intention of God.

Trouble is, which Bible? When the Bible is translated into English, the translators do their best to avoid allowing their biases to influence them but to be human is to have biases. Also biblical archaeologists continue to find older manuscripts (snippets and longer) of our sacred texts. For example, did you know that many more recent translations have the advantage of older original manuscripts than the King James Bible? (Older documents are closer to the original.)

Like most UCCers and other mainliners I interpret using a critical approach to the Bible. A critical approach is to study the  Bible within its original context.

Who wrote it? To whom were they writing? When was it written? What literary style is used? What do we know about the historical time period? What about the culture?

Once I do my best at understanding the context of the Bible, I prayerfully consider what God is speaking to us in the present? I discuss my thoughts and inspirations with others.

While this may seem too complicated for your personal study, I recommend an easy and quick way to get to the same place. If you don’t already have a good Study Bible, get one. (I recommend the CEB Study Bible or the Harper Collins NRSV Study Bible.)  In a few introductory pages to each book of the Bible, in footnotes, and in boxes within the text you can have this information at your fingertips.


Upcoming Scripture Readings

Sunday, Jan. 17
Mark 4:1-34
Parables of sower and mustard seed

Sunday, Jan. 24
4oh!4 No morning worship

Sunday, Jan. 31
Mark 6:1-29
Jesus rejected at Nazareth; sending of the Twelve; death of John the Baptist.

Sunday, Feb. 7
Mark 8:27–9:8
Peter’s confession, passion prediction, bearing the cross, Transfiguration.

Exercising Our Spiritual Muscles

On the day after a personal best run, I hurt. This wasn’t the kind of hurt that is invigorating. It was the kind that meant I’d been pushing my body too hard, too fast.

The result is that I’ve been in the slow lane for almost two weeks.  I’ve endured unnecessary pain. Occasional ibuprofen, caution, and alternate exercises while my achilles and shin repair themselves have been necessary. At the end of the day I’ve been cranky and tied to the heating pad and ice packs.

Since my injury, I’ve done a lot of reading about exercise and what I should have done to prevent it. I should have taken my time increasing the distance I run. I should have stretched my muscles consistently before and after my runs. I should have taken days off from running a little more often. I should have listened more closely to what my body was telling me.

We often do the same in our spiritual practices. We wait until a crisis to grow in our understanding of God. When a loved one is dying, we start reading the Bible. When an emotional crisis occurs, we talk with the pastor or other Christians about the nature of God and suffering.

Unfortunately, because we fail to stretch our emotional and spiritual muscles until after a crisis we often put ourselves through misery, worry, and angst that could be avoided. Suffering happens to all of us but attending to our faith and spirituality builds muscles that will help us during life’s challenges.

Make a resolution now to attend worship regularly, study and read your Bible, and participate in educational events at the church regularly during the new year. Building habits and understandings before crises will help you during the difficult times of life.

Congregation Meets

The Annual Meeting of the Congregation will meet on Sunday, Feb. 7th immediately following worship. We will hear reports from committees, approve the 2016 budget, elect officers, and committee members. Snacks will be provided.

Committees: Please Send Reports to Mac
Your annual reports are due to Mac Stinchfield no later than Sunday, January 17th. Please email or deliver your one page or less report to him in a timely fashion.