Bible Study & Worship are a Go

hopeinwinter-001.jpgThe building is warm though the roads are a bit wintry. Join us this morning at 9:00 for Bible Study. (We’re looking at two healing stories in the gospel of John.) Then, join us for worship at 10:30. We will Skype with Maggie Sebastian who will share observations and answer our questions about her ongoing month-long trip to Guatemala.

As much as we’d like you to join us this morning, if you do not feel safe walking or driving to the church, please stay safe at home. Your safety is more important than your presence today.

Live From Guatemala

Live From Guatemala

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 8.27.19 PMIn lieu of a formal sermon on Sunday, Maggie Sebastian will Skype with us. She will make a few opening remarks (about 5 minutes) and then we can ask her questions in real time about her experience in Guatemala so far.
The focus scripture for worship on Sunday will be Micah 3:5-12. You can find it below.
(This is NOT the same as the scripture we will be discussing in Bible Study. For Bible study we will begin looking at John 4:46-54 and John 5:1-18.)
Here is the focus scripture for worship:
Micah 3:5-12
5 The Lord proclaims concerning the prophets,
        those who lead my people astray,
        those who chew with their teeth
            and then proclaim “Peace!”
            but stir up war against the one who puts nothing in their mouths:
6 Therefore, it will become night for you,
        without vision, only darkness
        without divination!
The sun will set on the prophets;
        the day will be dark upon them.
7 Those seeing visions will be ashamed,
        and the diviners disgraced;
    they will all cover their upper lips,[a]
        for there will be no answer from God.
8 But me! I am filled with power,
            with the spirit of the Lord,
            with justice and might,
        to declare to Jacob his wrongdoing and to Israel his sin!
9 Hear this, leaders of the house of Jacob,
        rulers of the house of Israel,
    you who reject justice and make crooked all that is straight,
10         who build Zion with bloodshed and Jerusalem with injustice!
11 Her officials give justice for a bribe,
        and her priests teach for hire.
Her prophets offer divination for silver,
        yet they rely on the Lord, saying,
            “Isn’t the Lord in our midst?
                Evil won’t come upon us!”
12 Therefore, because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field,
        Jerusalem will become piles of rubble,
            and the temple mount will become an overgrown mound.
Micah 3:7 Or mustache or beard
Lessons From a “Chicken Bus”

Lessons From a “Chicken Bus”

Writes Maggie today,

“I witnessed such poverty. Not in a neighborhood or particular area as I am used to seeing. Everywhere. Poverty. Houses made with corrugated tin, scraps of wood, concrete blocks or some sort of combination. Dogs roamed, bones poking through their mangy coats. Cows grazing on any spot of grassiness, some healthy, some severely underfed.”

Maggie Sebastian, a member of Condon UCC, continues to write about her experiences in Guatemala. She is currently in an immersion language program at a school in Xela (Quetzaltenango). Later this month she will join the Providence Hospital Surgical Mission Team as their chaplain. Read the rest of her offering here.

A view from the bus of homes in Guatemala.

A view from the bus of homes in Guatemala.

No Ruins: What Would Jesus Do?

No Ruins: What Would Jesus Do?

tourguideOur own Maggie continues to write about her experiences in Guatemala. She is currently in an immersion language program at a school in Xela. Later this month she will join the Providence Hospital Surgical Mission Team as their chaplain. Writes Maggie,

“I confess that, standing there while our guide, a former guerrilla and resistance fighter, told the peoples’ story, I felt helpless and embarrassed.  American and Canadian companies are the primary villains in this story. And Totonicapán is not the only department suffering.  While fighting these huge conglomerates is going to take more than I am able to give at this moment, I will find a path.  In the meantime, I purchased two small items in support and solidarity.  Now I need to ponder what would Jesus do?” Read her entire piece here.

Member Arrives in Xela

Member Arrives in Xela

Maggie's bed.

Maggie’s bed.

Maggie arrived in Xela (also known as Quetzaltenango) yesterday afternoon. She settled in with her “middle class” host family. She has a spartan room by American standards. The whole family gathered around the kitchen table to meet her upon her arrival.

 She blogged last night before bed from the comfort of her room. (Find it here.) She has a few photos in the post. (If you click on the photos, you can see larger versions of them.)
As I ramble about this huge parsonage alone except for my furry companion, I look at those photos of a Guatemalan middle class family and realize that phrases like “middle class” have very different meanings in different parts of the world. Though Maggie and I sometimes struggle at times we are quite wealthy by the standards of the most of the world.
God of Guatemala & Oregon: Remind us that all we have was given to us by you. Remind us that we are called to be good stewards of what you have shared with us. Nudge us, push us, shout at us if necessary in an effort to get us to live more simply so that those in Guatemala and other places in this country and beyond have their share of the world’s wealth. Amen.
posted by Pastor Tim Graves
Member Heading to Guatemala on Surgical Team Mission Trip

Member Heading to Guatemala on Surgical Team Mission Trip

Condon United Church of Christ warmly invites the community to its 10:30 a.m. service on January 26 where Rev. Maggie Sebastian will be preaching about her upcoming mission trip to Guatemala.  Sebastian, who works as a Clinical Chaplain, at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital, will be the chaplain for a surgical mission trip to Hospital Hilario Galindo in Retalhuelu, Guatemala February 28-March 8 this year.

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 5.35.50 PM“I am very excited by this opportunity.  I feel lucky to work for a faith-based organization that encourages and supports its employees to participate in events such as this trip,” said Sebastian.   “The mission of Providence is to ‘reveal God’s love to all, especially the poor and vulnerable through compassionate service.’ We strive to do that on a daily basis, and will get to do that on a global scale through this trip.”

The trip is organized by Providence Health International working with their partner in Guatemala, Faith in Practice.  The team will consist of about 30 Providence employees including surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, pharmacists, translators, chaplain, and support personnel. Working with staff at Hilario Galindo, the team will perform about 50-60 general surgeries in five days.

Rev. Sebastian, who is the wife of Condon UCC’s pastor, Rev. Tim Graves, has worked for Providence for about two years.  Prior to the surgical mission trip, she will be in

Guatemala for about three weeks at Spanish language school to improve her language skills for the trip as well as her ministry in Hood River.

For more information, contact the church at 541-384- 3681.  To find out more about Providence Health International or Faith in Practice, please follow the links at the Condon UCC website

Cut in Food Benefits Spurs Pastor to Take the SNAP Challenge

Cut in Food Benefits Spurs Pastor to Take the SNAP Challenge

Pastor Tim Graves is eating differently this week. He’s eating on the equivalent of the food stamp benefit. He wrote about the decision in the November newsletter following the cut in SNAP benefits that went into effect on November 1. (Read “Opening Our Hearts to the Hungry.“) He is also blogging about the experience on his personal blog.

For information about the ramifications of the food cut on rural communities, listen to Food Stamp Cuts Leave Rural Areas, And Their Grocers, Reeling. For information about the cuts, read Slashing the Food Stamp Program.

Recent posts about the experience:
Opening Our Hearts to the Hungry, Condon United Church of Christ website
SNAP Challenge, um, Maybe Not Today 11-19-13
SNAP: Getting Serious, Getting Anxious 11-20-13
SNAP: The Veggie-Noodle Balance 11-21-13