April 27, 2020
. . . those who welcomed [Peter’s] message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2: 41-42)
What does it mean to be a “church”? What does it mean to be a Christian church? My colleagues are beginning to ask – if we can do all this on-line, what does it mean that we yearn to get together? What makes our getting together more important? Is there more to church life than a sermon? Where is communion in all this?
Last week I came across a UCC church’s description of itself, and it astounded me; what do you think?
What we are offering is spiritual companionship, at-onement, friends in grace, and spiritual treasures with the wisdom tradition and the way of following Jesus. We invite people to discover their gifts, share their spiritual treasures accumulated through seeking and grow with our community. We are your spiritual companion on the initiate path. . . … dedicated Christians who want to follow Christ’s lead in his promise to create heaven on earth. How do we transform our lives into the likeness of Christ? As a group of rag-tag aspirants who seek to grow in grace, we are offering spiritual companionship on the initiate path.
At first glance, I thought it sounded good, but as I read more, I realized that this lovely group of people (and I actually have met the pastor), are veering off into their very own direction. The entire point and purpose of their gathering is to help one another grow spiritually (and, among other things, this involves special tooth-brushes and eating an entirely raw diet. No, I didn’t quite understand that part, either.) But the oddest thing of all was that it was all about them. There was no mention of outreach, no food pantry collection, nothing at all. It was all about how I can make myself better. Their self-centered-ness was stark and offensive.
Compare that description with this one, from City of Refuge UCC in Oakland, California:
In 1995, City of Refuge was accepted into the United Church of Christ, joining the company of over 5,000 other churches around the world that are dedicated to using their faith to effect a just and sustainable world, not just for Christians, but for all people regardless of their faith. With the support of its members and the UCC, City of Refuge continues to live out the demands of its faith through the various programs that it runs or partners with other organizations to run that address substance abuse, homelessness, HIV/AIDS and green justice.
There’s more to being a church than saying “we are a church.” Churches bring together community, fellowship, worship and sharing with the world beyond our walls. Whatever we do, however we present ourselves when we get beyond the present crisis, it will include worshipping together, eating together, praying together and serving our world, together.
So, what do you think? Does a Christian church have to care for others, or can it only care for itself and its members?
Easter blessings, Pastor Virginia
ON THE CALENDAR
Thursday at 8am Newsletter deadline. Email your stories to Pastor Virginia
Wednesday at 1pm Tea with the Pastor, via Zoom. Email me for an invitation.
Wednesday at 7pm Weekly Church Council check-in. Invitations go out Wednesday am. If you know something that should be discussed, email Pastor Virginia or any Council member.
Every month the Thrift Shop is closed, we lose about $1000 in income to run the church. If you could send in additional money this month, we’d really appreciate it. All our staff is still on the payroll, we still have utility bills. Your gifts make it possible for us to continue. Checks may be mailed to the church at 5 Gibbs Avenue, Wareham MA 02571.
NEED SHOPPING HELP? Nancy MacNeill reports that her two granddaughters are offering to do shopping for anyone who can’t get out. Just contact Nancy at 508-280-3716 or <firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to add a concern or joy to the list? Email me at email@example.com
- Prayers that our application to the Payroll Protection loan program is successful.
- Prayers for those who mourn this day, especially all of us missing Donald Hall.
- from Michele Sabourin: 2 workers and 1 resident at her mom’s nursing home (Southpointe Nursing Home) have tested positive. Today (Saturday) the National Guard is coming to test everyone. Keep them all in your prayers.
- UPDATE: Wareham Week Today reports that now over 30 people at Tremont Rehab, more than half of all who have COVID 19 in Wareham! Keep the folks at Tremont in your prayers.
- Nancy MacNeill notes that one of the people working at Tremont is Tammy, who’s renting our parsonage. Let’s keep Tammy in our prayers through this time.
- School is closed for the rest of the school year. Remember teachers, parents and children in this stressful time.
- from Susan Ryan: Lori Benson reports that Tim has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, but is asymptomatic. Please keep Tim and Lori in your prayers.
- from Oonagh Brault: please add my sister-in-law, Kathy, and her father, Jim, to the prayer list. Jim was diagnosed with COVID-19. He is now on hospice care. Kathy is suffering because she cannot be with her father during this trying time.
- from Elaine Johnson: (Elaine reports Janice is better, but still needs our prayers) Please add my sister Janice to the prayer list. She fell and has a small brain bleed and concussion and severed her ear which needed to be stitched back into place. She is home recovering.
- Prayers for all who work in the medical field as they deal with this crisis.
- from Nancy MacNeill, prayers for her cousin Pam Bergeron who is fighting lung cancer.
- from Lydia Sherman: Please add Carrie Andrews to the prayer list. She’s the cousin to my nephew Christopher’s wife… She currently is on life-support and is only in her 30’s.