CHURCH IS OPEN
CHURCH IS OPEN
Pentecost celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit, which empowered the earliest followers of Jesus to dream anew and envision a new future for themselves and their community. The story of the first Pentecost – Acts 2: 1-21 – speaks to how God moves us from a mindset of scarcity to one of abundance. Many of us feel the need to make that same shift now, as the Covid-19 Pandemic triggers feelings (and fears) of scarcity. The contrast of scarcity and abundance doesn’t mean the difference between poverty and wealth. A person can be rich by any measure but still operate out of a scarcity mindset, an unquenched hunger for more. And a person can be poor but still experience abundance, seeing the world with grateful eyes, a feeling of contentedness. The disciples woke up on that first Pentecost with minds stayed on scarcity. Fear gripped their hearts despite over forty days spent with the resurrected Jesus. They hid behind locked doors. And then God’s spirit intervened: “And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.” The Holy Spirit moved them from scarcity to abundance. They went outside their locked room. Peter spoke even when people thought him drunk or foolish. The community grew bigger than they could have ever imagined. Abundance didn’t mean life became easy (Peter would soon be arrested), but it did mean fear didn’t rule their hearts. Renew! THE 2021 STRENGTHEN THE CHURCH OFFERING The Strengthen the Church Offering furthers the work of our conference and the national UCC as we work together to strengthen and renew existing congregations, fund leadership development, and provide exciting new programs for youth and young adults. RENEWAL CONVERSATIONS FOR CONGREGATIONS: From Scarcity to AbundanceAs we come to celebrate Pentecost in 2021, how can we move from a mindset of scarcity to a mindset of abundance? Organizing a congregational conversation can be a way to engage people in this mindset shift. Follow the local health department recommendations when planning the gathering or use a feature like Zoom’s breakout rooms to create virtual small groups. When your group gathers, acknowledge that experiences like the Covid-19 Pandemic can push us into a place of scarcity thinking. Then, recalling the first Pentecost story, name that God moves us to a place of abundance. Finally, and most importantly, invite people to reflect in small groups about three questions: • What has been the most challenging aspect of the pandemic so far? • Where do I see hope amid it? • And what have I learned about myself that I want to hold onto moving forward? These questions of challenge, hope, and learning can help people reflect on the experience of the last year in a way that moves them to think more abundantly. Finally, as you wrap up the conversation time, invite people to share they experience God calling them to renewal in their life and in the life of their community. Renew! Gifts to the Strengthen the Church Offering Renew the United Church of Christ
“Nobody hungry, no body thirsty, shade from the sun, shelter from the wind, for the Compassionate One guides them, takes them to the best springs.” ~ Isaiah 49:10
The theme for this year’s OGHS offering is “Let Love Flow.” Through this all church offering, the United Church of Christ helps people around the world whose lives have been devasted by war, natural disaster, and by lack of food or clean water. OGHS is there during the Covid-19 pandemic for those who have lost jobs and those waiting in food lines. OGHS is there when deadly wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods strike. OGHS is there helping refugees and asylum seekers who have been displaced by economic conditions, war, and climate change. Your generosity ensures that, even in the midst of uncertainty, the transforming power of love will continue to change the lives of those who are most vulnerable among us.
With your gift to OGHS, we are able to be present for the long term in disaster recovery, as we partner with churches and organizations locally and around the world, to walk with families as they rebuild their homes and lives. Donations will be received during the month of March. Please send your contribution into the church office or contribute by text or on-line giving.
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