November 2017

Surely I’m not actually sitting down to write an article about Thanksgiving already, am I?   We have had so many wonderful things happening here at Zion this year, and it does seem to make the days go quickly.  2017 is flying by!  I’ve already scrapped frost from my car windows in the morning, a sign that the seasons are ready to change even if I’m not ready for it.

Thanksgiving was always one of my favorite holidays growing up, because we would go see my Grandma and Grandpa Mouri, just outside of Chicago.  We’d bundle up, pile the car with our bags and some snacks for the road, and head up I-65.  As a kid, this journey seemed like it took forever  because I was filled with so much anticipation and excitement.  My cousins were waiting for me and had probably started playing games without us.  I knew my grandparents’ house would smell  like freshly-baked bread, chocolate chip cookies, and steaming hot rice (we always had rice and sushi at my grandparents’ house, even during Thanksgiving dinner).  The road to my grandparents’ house seemed like it was the longest road in the world to me, but I knew that no matter how many traffic jams we found ourselves in or how many construction zones clogged up the interstate, the wait would be worth it.  There were so many things to celebrate and for which we could give thanks together as a family.

The trip up to see my grandma never seems that long anymore, even with the never-ending construction on the interstate.  When my family gets together for Thanksgiving it’s still filled with fun and excitement, but not in the same way as when I was a kid.  When we take our seats at the table, I feel a tinge of grief bubble up inside me—grief that my grandpa is no longer with us and grief that my grandma’s dementia takes a little more of her each year—but there’s also a deep and abiding thankfulness to God for those childhood Thanksgivings when we were all together.  The seasons of life have matured the kind of thanksgivings I bring to God.  When we go around the table to share our thanksgivings, I recognize more fully the beauty of what God has done in my life.  If you know anyone for whom the holidays remind them of the losses in their lives, invite them to the Blue Christmas Worship Service that the Franklin Township Ministerial Association will host on Sunday, December 17 at 6:00 pm at Franklin Central Christian Church so they can experience God’s comfort among friends.

As the air begins bring a chill with it, I am mindful that, for many people, the changing of the seasons is hard for them.  We have too many neighbors who can’t afford their heating bills.  We have too many neighbors who have to sleep on the streets at night.  We have too many neighbors who struggle to put food on the table, let alone provide a big holiday feast for their families.

Friends, during this holiday season, we have the chance to share our blessings with our neighbors and each other.  We will be collecting a lot of food during this holiday season.  Our Raise the Roof Music Festival is our first big push for items for God’s Bounty.  Encourage your friends and family to join us for this fun afternoon and to bring food for God’s Bounty.  As is our tradition, we will collect as many canned goods for God’s Bounty as possible on the Sunday before Thanksgiving (Nov. 19).  We want the steps to our altar to be filled with food-offerings of gratitude and thanks!  I’ll take those items with me to the Franklin Township Ministerial Association Thanksgiving Worship Service, in which I will be participating.  You’re invited to join us at 7:00 pm at Southminster Presbyterian Church on Tuesday, November 21.  It’s amazing to see how generous our the churches that support God’s Bounty are. Finally, God’s Bounty is wanting to provide Christmas dinner bags to their clients, and they have asked us to collected the stuffing for the 200 bags they hope to put together.  Let’s pack the sanctuary full of boxes of stuffing!  We have until December 10th to meet this goal.  A can or two might not seem like a lot, but it can make the holidays a little brighter for our neighbors.  I can’t wait to celebrate with you all that we are thankful for at our Thanksgiving Dinner on Friday, November 17th.

—Pastor Sarah

October 2017

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7 (NRSV)

During worship the end of September and into October, we have been and will continue to study Paul’s letter to the Philippians, in a sermon series called “Dear Saints.”  We will look at the scripture above on October 15th.  It’s one of the passages from Philippians that has been with me through some of the hardest times of my life, and it’s one that continues to bring me comfort and remind me how very near God is to us.  “Rejoice in the Lord always,” Paul encourages his friends, “again I say , Rejoice!”

Lately, I know my heart has felt heavy and at times it’s been hard to rejoice.  We have witnessed so much devastation and destruction lately.  We’ve seen it on a global scale in our own communities and families.  There are times when the hardships of life weigh us down, and the community in Philippi knew what that felt like.  They saw suffering and hardship all around, but precisely in those moments, Paul reminded them that there were so many things about which they could rejoice!  This community of faith not only had each other for support and care but also had God to envelop them in love and peace!  That’s exactly what we have here at Zion, too.  We have an incredibly caring church family and a God who is steadfast.   Friends, where have you experienced joy in your life lately?  What signs of hope has God helped you see?  Dwell on those moments.

Looking at what we have planned for the next few months here at Zion, I can already see that there will be so many moments of joy in my life because of the ministry of this congregation.  When I was growing up, getting to walk around Bulter for the Indianapolis CROP Walk, was one of my favorite things that my youth group did each year.  I can’t wait for the October 15th walk when our youth and others will get out there, enjoy the day, and witness to the important ministry for which they are walking. The CROP Walk raises funds for Church World Service, which is a ministry that is there when disasters strike and is there for the long road of recovery.

The weekend after the CROP Walk is going to be filled with lots of joy, too!  We’ll be having another bonfire (Oct. 21), and there is certainly joy to be felt when eating a toasty s’more on a Fall evening.  And if that wasn’t enough, we’ll have our Chili Cook-Off the next day (Oct. 22)!

On November 4th our gym is going to be filled with joyful noises, during our Raise the Roof Music Festival.  What brings me joy about this is not only the beautiful music we’ll get to hear but also that we’ll be collecting food for our pantries, in addition to the money we’re starting to raise for the roof on our Education Building.  We are a church that serves our community in so many ways!  I’m looking forward to our Fall Bazaar on November 11th.  There are some really talented vendors who join us for this event, and it’s amazing to see the  what they create. I hope you can make it to one or two or all of these joyful events!  What really makes these gatherings joy-filled for me is that we get to spend time together in fellowship as a church family.  Rejoice, friends!

—Pastor Sarah

September 2017

 

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. -1 Peter 4:8-10 (NIV)

Friends, I can’t wait for our Neighborhood Block Party!  Our Block Party Team, a combined effort of our Hospitality Team and the Board of Christian Education, along with other great volunteers, has been hard at work planning this great event.  The Neighborhood Block Party started out a few years ago as a way to reinvigorate Rally Day.  Those of us who grew up in the church know that Rally Day is that special Sunday when we kick-off the new Sunday School year and highlight the great Christian education and formation programs we have.  This kind of “church vocab” isn’t something with which everyone is familiar.  While our neighbors may not know what “Rally Day” is, most of them do, however, understand what a block party is.  I hope our Block Party will help us start this new season in the church with lots of energy, enthusiasm, and excitement.

Last year we welcomed so many people into our church who had never been here before.  It was great to meet some of our neighbors and have the opportunity to show them what a loving and caring community of faith we are.  Even if we don’t have a lot of visitors this year, the welcome we are sharing with our neighbors will be loud and clear.  I hope that whenever our neighbors drive by our church, they think of us as a place they know they’ll be welcome if they do decide to stop by.

Lately, I’ve been reminded how unwelcoming this world can be.  It has been hard to witness the reality in which we are living.  It’s been exhausting even.  Racism and hatred still have deep roots in our world.  Kids are bullied at school and made to feel unworthy and unloved, like they don’t belong.   With advances in technology and communication, the bulling doesn’t stop when the kids get off the bus and go home.  How can we, as the church, let people know that they have a place in our church family?  How might we share the good news of the Gospel that is rooted in God’s command to love God and love neighbor, no matter who they are or where they are on life’s journey?

We read those verses from 1 Peter during our Monday morning Bible Study not too long ago.  They’re an amazing reminder of how we are to live as a community.  We are to love each other, extend hospitality, and serve each other.  Even more exciting is the reminder that God has given each and every one of us gifts to share the good news of God’s grace.  Of all the places in the world, the church should be the place where people know they are welcome to join us.  Our Neighborhood Block Party is just one of the ways we can share that good news.  Thank you to all who are helping making that message loud and clear. Keep inviting your neighbors, friends, and family.   See you at our Block Party!

In Christian Love,

Pastor Sarah

 

Fall 2017 Bazaar and Sales

Get your Christmas shopping done early at Zion United Church of Christ’s Fall Bazaar and Sales! We will have great vendors with great products. Join us on Saturday, November 11th, from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm, and don’t forget to invite your friends and family to enjoy you for a fun shopping adventure.

Vendors interested in participating in this event can find registration forms here. Please, print out the forms and mail them to the church (8916 E. Troy Ave. Indianapolis, IN 46239) or email them to pastorsarahzucc@gmail.com.

Event Details for Vendors:

Size of booth and price: 10’ X 10’ – $20

(You may provide your own table(s) or, if desired, one 8’ table and 1 chair
will be provided per booth. Additional tables are available at $5 per table.)

Setup will be Nov. 10th from 1 to 5 pm.

Gym location: Zion United Church of Christ
8921 East Troy Avenue, Indianapolis 46239
(SW corner of S. Post Rd & E. Troy Ave)

Detach the top portion of this form at the dotted line and return the completed form by Oct. 11th, to the church office at mailing address:

Zion United Church of Christ
8916 East Troy Avenue, Indianapolis 46239

* No weapons (guns, knives, etc.) or ammunition are permitted for this sale.

August 2017

34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35 and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” —Matthew 22:24-40 (NRSV)

There were so many exciting things that happened at General Synod this year.  I gave you fair warning, my first Sunday back, that I would keep talking about it.  One of the many exciting things was an announcement about a new mission initiative that our wider church is undertaking.  In the past, the United Church of Christ has tried to get the whole denomination, at every level, to focus on certain areas of mission.  Most recently, there was a mission initiative that sought to care for God’s creation through environmental justice.  I was so excited to learn that we are trying something like this again!

Over the next few years, all levels of our wider church family—from us at Zion, to our neighbor churches like Immanuel UCC downtown and First Congregational UCC on the northside, to our Indiana-Kentucky Conference, and all the ministries at our denomination level—are invited to join in the 3 Great Loves Mission Initiative, focusing on our love of neighbor, love of children, and love of creation.  This is about putting our faith into practice.   It’s about responding to Jesus’ command for us to love God and love our neighbors, not only by believing in that love and feeling that love, but also in living out that love daily in our lives and in our ministry together.

This mission initiative was developed from years of hard work at reinvigorating the ministry of the United Church of Christ.  Over the past few years, our denomination has gone through some intensive restructuring, streamlining the way that we do our ministry.  As we navigated these changes, it was important that, as a church family, we refine what we believe God is calling us toward, in terms of our purpose, mission, and vision.  The Three Great Loves mission initiative matches these guiding forces behind our ministry.  Here they are:

  • PURPOSE: We will love the lord our God with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength; and our neighbor as ourselves.
  • MISSION: United by the Holy Spirit and inspired by God’s grace we love all, welcome all, and seek justice for all.
  • VISION: A just world for all.

Rev. John Dorhauer, the President and General Minister of the UCC, recently wrote, “The Three Great Loves mission initiative serves as a way for us all to embody and incarnate a missional commitment to love neighbor and build a just world for all….What would it look like for an entire denomination to focus its attention this way?  We are going to find out.”

Our council, here at Zion, has decided that it’s time for us to take a look at our own way of doing ministry.  We want to see if our ministry matches those important documents that govern us.  As our new Constitution and Bylaws Team gets started, we will want to hear from you about how you understand our purpose, mission, and vision.  What might be the most faithful ways for us to put our ministry into practice?  Perhaps these 3 Great Loves will help guide our focus.  I plan on these loves guiding my own ministry with you, so keep a lookout for upcoming things about loving our neighbors.

—Pastor Sarah

 

July 2017

Greetings from Baltimore!

As I write this article, friends from all over the country and the world are getting their boarding
passes ready for flights, packing up the car for road trips, or, from some, settling into the hotel rooms
that will be home for the next several days. When I arrived early for training, the halls of the convention
center were all but empty. Over the past few days, I’ve watched them come to life. I can feel the excitement
building in the air. I can feel the Spirit moving through the halls and through our meeting rooms.

General Synod is a wonderful thing. It really is. As I look around at all that’s going on, I am reminded
of how big and wide our wider church family is. Friends, there are folks here from all over the
world who love and care for our Zion family, even though they have never met us. This is the bond of
Christ.

I have the privilege of chairing a committee that will be responsible for revising a resolution and
submitting it to the general body for a vote. It’s a somewhat complicated process. There’s lots of detail
that goes into this work, and it takes a lot of ,me. The United Church of Christs goes through this committee
resolution process every two years. Some wonder what impact one of these resolutions could
make. Because of the way our UCC family functions and the way the different settings of the church relate
to one another, the resolutions that pass here at General Synod are not binding for our local churches.
They speak to us, encouraging us to take a stand, think about our ministry in new ways, or add to the
work of Christ that is happening in our churches. Yes, some,mes our wider church family feels far off,
but I know that these are our sisters and brothers is Christ.

The resolution that my committee will be working on is titled A Resolution of Witness in Support
of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse and Neglect. It comes from our friends in the Central Atlantic Conference.
This particular resolution calls for the church to offer care and support to those in our world who
have faced horrors that are hard for some of us to even begin to imagine. It asks us to see, with compassion
and care, that there are people in our churches and in our neighborhoods who are in need of healing
love. A resolution like this one will make an impact only if we take the opportunity to respond to this call
that our wider church family is giving us. If you have ,me, take a look at the resolution at synod.uccpages.org.

Keep our wider family in your prayers. There is so much excitement and love in the air, as the
Spirit moves through this place and the people who are gathered here.

Pastor Sarah

June 2017

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)

“I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now.” Philippians 1:3-5 (NRSV)

This is a month of celebrations. On Sunday, June 4th we will celebrate the birth of the church, when God poured out God’s Holy Spirit to empower God’s people to share the Good News that had been made known through Jesus Christ. What a powerful moment that must have been for the early church. Even though Christ had ascended, the real presence of God lived on in this world and the faithful continued to spread the Gospel. The church would always have the promised gift of the Spirit to inspire it for faithful ministry. For 2,000 years that Spirit has been breathing new life into every generation, continually offering reforming and renewing guidance.

That same Spirit has been breathing life into Zion United Church of Christ for 160 years. Where have you seen the Spirit at work in the ministry of Zion? How has being part of this community of faith made your life more Spirit-filled. I am thankful for the work of our 160th Anniversary Team., as they will help highlight for us, on Sunday, June 11th, how God’s seeds were planted and nurtured in this church. Their creative efforts will help us to joyfully celebrate this occasion through worship, sharing of stories, fun activities, and, of course, food.. I am excited that we get to welcome back to Zion those who offered their leadership in ministry as pastors of this church.

Friends, thank you for allowing me to be in ministry with you as your pastor for this 160th year of the life of this church family. This past year has been for me a time of learning, new relationships, personal growth, and lots of joy as I have had the honor to walk with you on this journey of faith. Thank you for being patient with me, for offering me guidance and support, and for welcoming me into this family.

—Pastor Sarah

May 2017

160 Years of Growing God’s Kingdom

Anniversary Theme: Planting God’s Seeds – From a Small Seed, a Bountiful Future May Grow

“30 He also said, ‘With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.’’
Mark 4:30-32 (NRSV)

Our 160th Anniversary Celebration is quickly approaching. It amazes me to think about all the wonderful ministry that has taken place in 160 years of faithful service. The seeds of God’s love and mission that were planted 160 years ago have taken deep root and brought forth abundant hope and life.

Lately I’ve taken notice of how much service and outreach is taking place at Zion. I think about what we’ve been up to the past couple of months and what we have planned in the weeks ahead, and it brings me a great deal of joy to see what a positive impact Zion UCC is making on our community, as we seek to serve God through mission that witnesses to God’s love. Let’s take a look!

What We’ve Already Done in Just a Few Months:

Franklin Township Ministerial Association (FTMA) Voucher Program – The 9 congregations of the FTMA partner to provide vouchers for food, gas, and lodging for those in our community who find themselves in moments of crisis and need. Anytime someone comes to Zion UCC looking for assistance, we are able to respond to their request because of the joint efforts of the FTMA to ensure that funds are available for this ministry. This year during our Lenten services, our offerings were collected for these partnership efforts. We raised around $1,000 for this important ministry! That means we collected enough for about 33 vouchers worth $30 of food or gas! Thank you so much for your generosity! It means this ministry can continue.

Our FTMA partner churches: Acton Baptist Church, Acton United Methodist Church, Franklin Central Christian Church, Grace Community Church, Maple Hill United Methodist Church, Nativity Catholic Church, New Bethel Baptist Church, and Southminster Presbyterian Church, and Zion United Church of Christ.

Spring Sale Supports Disaster Preparedness and Response Ministry – Every summer the Indiana-Kentucky Conference Disaster Relief Ministries organizes mission trips for our congregations to help rebuild after natural disasters strike. This summer our conference is heading to South Bend to help repair flood damage and to Kokomo to help repair damage from the tornadoes that hit last summer. It has been hard for these communities to get funding because the damage didn’t meet certain requirements that would make them eligible for certain types of funding. Zion raised just around $600 that will help providing funding for building materials for these projects. What an impact this will make for our Hoosier neighbors!

What We Will Do in Just a Few Months:

Senior Health Fair, May 13, 10am-2pm – In partnership with Oak Street Health and the Franklin Township Ministerial Association, our wonderful facilities and hospitality here at Zion UCC are making it possible for seniors in our community to receive free screenings, attend workshops, learn from educational seminars, and get connected with health organizations. All of our seniors here at Zion are welcome to participate in this wonderful event. Don’t forget to invite your friends!
Community Service Day, May 20, 8:30am– The Pairs and Spares have organized several ways for us to share God’s love through community service projects. From wrapping crayons for Riley Children’s Hospital, to gardening at Horizon House, to giving a deep clean to God’s Bounty Food Pantry, these are opportunities for all of us to serve. We are sure to have a lot of fun and will gather at the table for a delicious mean, too.

Hygiene Kits for Annual Gathering – Zion UCC is part of the Southeast Association (a geographic region that consists of UCC churches in the southeast quarter of Indiana), which is part of the Indiana-Kentucky Conference (a geographic region made up of several associations within the states of Indiana and Kentucky). Every year during the Indiana-Kentucky Conference Annual Gathering, our sisters and brothers around the conference come together for service projects. As part of the Southeast Association, we have been asked to collect hand towels (approx. 16×28”) and bring them to Annual Gathering so they can be used to make hygiene kits for Church World Service (learn more about CWS at http://cwsglobal.org). There’s a flyer in this month’s ECHO with more information. These kits will make a difference in the lives of people facing natural disasters, violence, and poverty. Our conference has set a goal to put together 1,000 kits. How many towels can Zion UCC collect?

Mission Trip, Indiana-Kentucky Conference Disaster Preparedness and Response Ministry – During the Week of June 18th, some of us will head to Kokomo, Indiana, to help people rebuild their lives after the tornadoes struck our neighbors up north. When natural disasters strike, rebuilding can be a long and frustrating process. We will join people across the Indiana-Kentucky Conference this summer who will be serving both in Kokomo and South Bend. What an exciting opportunity to be able to help our neighbors up north. We’ve already collected $600 for building materials for these projects. Thank you for the support you have already given to this ministry. If you feel a call to participate in this ministry, please, let me know.

What a tremendous impact we are making on our community as we seek to build God’s kingdom on earth. These are signs of a vibrant, generous, loving, and caring community of faith committed to being Christ’s hands and feet in this world. From a single set of crayons wrapped and every penny placed in our offering plates, to swinging a hammer in Kokomo and shoveling mulch at Horizon House, and to every prayer said for our ministry, each act we do for God and God’s people grows God’s kingdom when it is done in love and faithfulness.
I give thanks for the ancestors of our faith who planted the seeds of ministry at Zion United Church of Christ 160 years ago. We are continuing in their legacy of faithful service and mission. God has given us so much to celebrate here at Zion. Keep inviting your friends, family, neighbors, and past members to join us June 11th as we celebrate what God has been growing at Zion these past 160 years.
With Christian Love and Thanksgiving,

Pastor Sarah

April 2017


“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
1 Peter 1:3-9

“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
Romans 6:5

Spring is finally here! What wonderful time of the year this is. The days are getting longer. The bulbs of those beautiful perennial flowers, which have been cold and frozen by the hard winter ground, have given away to bright green leaves and delightful blossoms. Nearly every morning when I wake up, I can hear the song of the birds outside my window. I didn’t know how much I missed their melodies until I started noticing that they were back.

As we greet the new month of April and the new season of Spring, we continue our Lenten journey to the cross. During this season of Lent, a season for listening to God’s still-speaking voice in our lives, God might have been planting seeds of hope and new life in your life. Maybe God woke you up to places in your life that are a little sleepy after a long winter or are a little hard after being out in the cold. As new life is blooming all around us, how do we let the promise of new life that we have found in Christ take root in our lives?

Our journey is taking us closer and closer to the day of resurrection when the tomb will be rolled away. Sometimes there are things in our own lives that need to be rolled away in order for the seeds God has planted in our lives to be able to give way to new life. Maybe as we get closer to Easter, you are being called to a spiritual “spring cleaning.” How might you refresh your spirit?

This season in the church brings with it so many opportunities for us to gather together as a community of faith to worship and grow in our faith. Our Wednesday evening worship services continue until Holy Week. During Holy Week, we will gather on Maundy Thursday to remember Jesus’ command to be nourished around the table through the breaking of bread and the pouring out of the fruit of the vine. On Good Friday, we will find ourselves at the foot of the cross and will confront the hard truth of sin and death. On Holy Saturday, our young people will get to have some fun at the Easter Egg Hunt, as we get closer to our celebration of the resurrection. At 6:30 am on Easter morning, our youth will lead us in our worship and praise of the God of new life and resurrection. They have been ready and willing to take the lead on this service, have spent lots of time writing their own skit, and have prepared to bring us a word of truth and hope. The offering they take up will go to support our scholarships for summer camp at Merom. It will be well worth it to get up a little extra early Easter morning to witness the faith and leadership of our youth. Breakfast will follow the service, and then we will move into our regular Sunday morning schedule as we celebrate as a church family on this most holy of days.

These are all opportunities for us to brush away some of the dust in our lives or for us to get rid of some of the clutter that keeps from more fully experiencing the newness of life God wants for us. I hope you can join us as this journey to the cross and the empty tomb continues. Please, invite your family and friends to join us for this special season in the life of the church. They are always welcome.

Pastor Sarah

March 2017

We are about to begin the sacred journey of Lent, a journey into the wilderness, a journey that invites us to go deep into our faith. As Jesus journeyed through the wilderness for 40 days, so do we during this season of 40 days of spiritual exploration and examination. On Wednesday, March 1, we will begin this journey by marking ourselves with ashes, a dry and dusty reminder of our own mortality. As the days grow longer, as warmer winds blow across the cold ground, and as the flowers begin to bloom, we remember that the things of this world fade. As springtime begins to flourish, we turn our eyes to the cross.

During Lent we often think about adding certain spiritual disciplines to our lives. Often when people think about Lent, they think about fasting, about giving up certain things so that, instead of turning to those things, we can turn to God. That might be a spiritual practice that helps you draw closer to God during this special season. For others, expanding their prayer life by adding something to their spiritual practice is what makes Lent meaningful and rich in connection with God. Still others might approach Lent as a season to go out into the world and be Christ’s hands and feet by engaging in service opportunities at the local food pantry or by volunteering at a homeless shelter or nursing home. We all connect with God in different ways. What ways will you connect with God this Lent?
There will be opportunities for you to go deeper this Lent and connect with others in our congregation. Each Wednesday evening at 7:00pm (March 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29; April 5) we will gather for a simple service of worship and study.

Our Monday Morning Bible Study is beginning a study on the book Living Well Through Lent 2017: Listening With All Your Heart, Soul, Strength, and Mind. This book invites us to listen with our hearts to what God is speaking to us during this special season. There will be extra copies of this book available, so that each family can follow along with us even if you are not able to make it to Monday Morning Bible Study.

You can also buy it on Amazon for you Kindle (https://www.amazon.com/Living-Well-Through-Lent-2017-ebook/dp/B01N260T10/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1487942381&sr=8-1&keywords=living+well+through+lent+2017). There’s a description in the article on Bible Study.

Finally, our Hospitality Team is going to be providing opportunities for our church family to connect more deeply with each other through “Connection Conversations.” Not only is it important that we listen to God during this season, but it is also important that we listen to our sisters and brothers, as we all seek to grow in our faith. We want our community of faith to have time to talk about what is important in the life of our congregation. While the Hospitality Team will host this first round of Connection Conversations, which will begin at the end of March around the topic of hospitality, these small group discussions will be a setting for other groups and individuals to engage in the important act of listening to one another. As we try out this new practice, let me know if there are topics you’d like to see our congregation talking about.

I hope that this season of Lent is meaningful for you and that you find a way that works for you to get closer to God. If there is anything I can do for you on your Lenten Journey, please, let me know.

Blessings and Peace to you,

Pastor Sarah

(* Photo Credit: http://centralunitedchurch.dreamhosters.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/lent-wordcloud_2.png)