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.


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.

He Ate With Who!??

Mark’s version of the gospel moves along quickly. He’s fond of the words translated to English as “suddenly” and “immediately.” Last week, we explored three stories of healing. (You can read that sermon here.)

This week we have another sequence of three stories: a healing, Jesus eating with sinners, and questions from people about why his disciples don’t fast like John’s disciples and the Pharisees. Each of these stories allows the hearer/reader to learn something new about Jesus and his ministry.

In the first, friends of a man are so devoted (and convinced of Jesus’ ability to heal) that they break open the roof and lower the man down to Jesus. We also learn that not only God but Jesus has the authority to forgive sins.

In the second, Jesus is challenged for eating with tax collectors and sinners. He reminds the questioners that healthy people don’t need a doctor.

In the final story, Jesus is again challenged. This time people yearn for the old ways of doing things. They want to know why his disciples don’t fast like John’s disciples and the Pharisees do. Jesus points out that new wine (his teachings) belong in a new wineskin to be valuable.

Please read the stories of Mark 2:1-22 and reflect upon who Jesus is to Mark and who he is to you.