“Never let the fire in your heart go out. Keep it alive. Serve the Lord. When you hope, be joyful. When you suffer, be patient. When you pray, be faithful. Share with God’s people who are in need. Welcome others into your homes.” —Romans 12:11-13 […]
Questions for the Confirmation Candidates:
- Do you desire to affirm your baptism into the faith and family of Jesus Christ?
- Do you renounce the powers of evil and desire the freedom of new life in Christ?
- Do you profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?
- Do you promise, by the grace of God, to be Christ’s disciple, to follow in the way of our Savior, to resist oppression and evil, to show love and justice, and to witness to the work and word of Jesus Christ as best you are able?
- Do you promise, according to the grace given you, to grow in the Christian faith and to be a faithful member of the church of Jesus Christ, celebrating Christ’s presence and furthering Christ’s mission in all the world?
Welcome and Promise of the Congregation
We promise you our continuing friendship and prayers as we share the hopes and labors of the church of Jesus Christ. By the power of the Holy Spirit may we continue to grow together in God’s knowledge and love and be witnesses of our risen Savior.
Since September 2017, three of the young people of our congregation have been preparing themselves to confess their faith and become full members of the church. It has been an honor to work with them through this journey, as they have learned and grown, asked important questions and discovered God’s love. From our special confirmation retreat at Merom to our classes on Sunday afternoons and our recent trip to visit our friends at Nativity Catholic Church for worship, I have seen how hard these young people have worked and how eager they have been to learn more about their faith.
Do you remember your own confirmation journey and what it was like to study and grow and make your faith your own? Do you remember the beliefs you confessed and the faith your affirmed? Do you remember the promises your church family made to you on that special day? On Pentecost Sunday, May 20th, Zion UCC will be asked to make a promise to these young people. I’ve included it on the other column on this page. Take a look at it. What does it mean to you to speak these words of promise and hope to our three confirmands?
One of the final things our confirmation class will do is host a fundraiser for Heifer International and Horizon House. On Sunday, April 29th after our 10:30 am worship service, you are invited to join our confirmands for a Baked Potato Bar Lunch. They will help prepare and serve this meal. They will help you learn more about these organizations. Monetary donations will be collected to support Heifer International and socks will be collected to support Horizon House. You can help support these great organizations by attending this delicious meal and can help support our confirmands as they seek to serve God and our neighbors. —Pastor Sarah
A Reading for Epiphany
Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
2 For darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will appear over you.
3 Nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
4 Lift up your eyes and look around;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from far away,
and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.
5 Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and rejoice,
because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
6 A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.
A few days ago, before Christmas, a few of us from Zion gathered on the day of the longest night of the year—December 21, the winter solstice. We gathered for the 2017 Homeless Persons’ Memorial Service to pray, worship, and light candles for and say the names of 58 persons from the city of Indianapolis who had experienced homelessness and had died this last year. A candle was also lit for those only known to God. Family, friends, social workers, agency workers, shelter volunteers, the mayor, pastors, and many more became one community in that moment, remembering our neighbors who were too often forgotten.
Why gather on the longest night? The Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention explains, “We hold this day of remembrance near winter solstice…to draw attention to the plight of many of our neighbors who need help and to call for greater action on their behalf. However, it is also the turning point in the season. Days become longer as nights shorten. The Homeless Persons’ Memorial Service marks a time for remembrance. But it also marks a time of transition and hope.” The service was moving, to say the least. To be gathered together with so many who have dedicated their lives to ending homelessness and who have worked tirelessly to give voice to the voiceless, I could see a light of hope shining brightly.
On this side of the solstice, the longest night has passed, and I can already feel the days beginning to grow longer. Those few extra moments of light each day seem to add up. As we begin a new year, how can we, as Christ’s church, be a light in our community so that we can share the ultimate hope that is found in Christ, the Son of God? —Pastor Sarah
“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!
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 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 […]