Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Rev. Debra Timmins is guest pastor at Zion's United Church of Christ, Hanover and Chestnut Streets.  She has served local churches, hospitals as a chaplain and currently works for Phoebe Ministries in Allentown.
 
The Sunday School children chose the following animals, etc. for their Heifer International offerings:  two goats, a trio of rabbits, honeybees, two starter flocks of chicks and tree seedlings.  Heifer will distribute the above to families as needed  throughout the world.  The children enjoyed making their selections.
 
Handbell choir is at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday with choir following at 7:30 p.m. Interested persons are welcome.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Living a Life of Abundance  



    It is hard to believe that summer is coming to a close.  This year at Zion’s summer has included Vacation Bible School, a regional youth event and even an experiment with one worship service for the month of August. We celebrated two weddings, said goodbye to two beloved members and celebrated the birth of a child. All of which says life with all of its joys and sorrows has blessed our church.  Often when we are in the midst of life it is hard to see the abundance and be truly grateful for all of our life.
      When you think of your life this summer what are you grateful for? Where do you see abundance in your life? Sometimes we see the abundance of life not just in the fruits but in the weeds. We see the wonder of God’s abundance often in places we are not sure we want it. Yet we live in an abundant and wonderful world.
     Our Biblical texts this fall will take us to think about both keeping Sabbath and tithing. Both of these disciplines are ways we act out our trust that God truly does provide. We can rest one day a week and give away a tenth of our income because we know that God has put us in an abundant world.  We act in faith that God will provide when we live out these principals, refusing to live the life of scarcity that our culture would have us believe we must.  Living in tune with these principals may seem hard to imagine as I am sure it did to the people of ancient Israel who were living off the land in a climate that made farming hard, but they trusted God to provide and God did. Where is your scarcity thinking holding you back from celebrating the abundant world God has put you in?
      I welcome you into an experiment this fall. I welcome you to try both tithing (weather that money comes to the church or other ministry) and keeping one day a week as holy and set apart. See where living life trusting in God’s abundance takes you in the next three months. How do you receive God’s gifts differently when you live from a sense of abundance?

I will be waiting to hear what you experience.

Pastor Linda

Friday, August 1, 2014

This Sunday, August 3rd, Zion's is doing something new. For the month of August we will have one service at 9:30 am. There will be no Sunday School and just one service. The services will be designed to be child friendly so that families know their children are invited and encouraged to join into the worshipping experience as is appropriate for them.

This Sunday we will celebrate Holy Communion and everyone is invited to be fed at God's table. Doris Miller will be our guest organist this week and Eileen McCormick will be our soloist.

God is still speaking and we hope that you will be part of that continuing conversation at Zion's UCC. The topic of worship this week is God's Blessings as we break bread together. I hope to see you.
Pastor Linda

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The August Sunday worship service at Zion's United Church of Christ, Hanover and Chestnut Streets will be at 9:30 a.m. in the sanctuary.  There will be no children's or  adult Sunday School until September.
 
Volunteers will serve the noon community meal Friday, July 25 at Emmanuel Lutheran.
Jesus, the Welcome Mat, and the GOP 
Rev. Dr. Ivy Beckwith

Several months ago, the Church House hosted a group of our members in discernment people heading toward some sort of authorized ministry with the United Church of Christ. As part of their visit they were invited to participate in a scavenger hunt as a way to learn more about the various ministries and departments of this denomination. As they met with people on the various floors of the building, one of the questions they asked of us was "What do you like best about the United Church of Christ?" When my turn came I answered, "Extravagant welcome." Inevitably, each group's response to me was "we're hearing that a lot." So this seems to be part of our DNA that people are attracted to that rings true to people of what the church ought to be about. 

And a welcoming demeanor should be a characteristic of any church, because the Jesus I'm familiar with in the Gospels demonstrated extravagant welcome over and over again. He ate meals with people from the wrong side of the tracks. He went to a party at a hated tax collector's house. He welcomed children when his disciples thought he was too busy for them. He got physically close to people living with leprosy. He spent a water break with a maligned Samaritan woman who'd had far too many husbands. He told stories about extraordinarily wealthy people inviting the poor and the disenfranchised to over-the-top parties. He invited the criminal dying on the cross next to him to be with him in Paradise. And he asked God to forgive those who had abused and beaten him. And while he called out the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of the day, he never shunned the everyday Jews and Gentiles who followed him, or thronged around him to hear what he would say or see what he would do. He didn't ask the 5,000 on the side of the hill where they stood on certain theological and social issues before he fed them. No one can out "extravagant welcome" Jesus. But those of us who say we want "to live in the way of Jesus" ought to be as welcoming as possible to everyone, and the United Church of Christ puts it right out there: "We offer you an extravagant welcome." 

But these days, it seems that churches and church-affiliated organizations have a difficult time offering extravagant welcome to those who stand outside of what is believed to be the sanctioned party line of their particular tribe. This week, I was dismayed to learn that my alma mater a Christian college had signed on to a letter supporting a religious exemption to the forthcoming federal regulations banning anti-gay discrimination. Now, this school is a theologically conservative place, but when I was a student there, I also saw it as a welcoming place and a place open to entertaining ideas and welcoming those who did not completely fit into the "conservative Christian college" mold. They were open to allowing students to think for themselves and make up their own minds. Times have changed and the boundaries have been drawn tighter. The welcome has become conditional polarization reigns. And this has not only happened in conservative circles. 

Now you may be thinking we're the United Church of Christ. We're not like that. We're progressive. We believe in extravagant welcome. But the thing is that to the average unchurched person, Christians are all the same. They don't really see the difference between Christian right and left, or understand "open and affirming." They just know what they read on the internet or see on the news that Christians say they are all about God's love, but then refuse to hire gay people, don't want women to have contraception, and won't bake cakes for same sex weddings. So somehow, the United Church of Christ (along with other progressive denominations) needs to stand up and say, "We're different. We believe God's love is for everyone and we show it through our extravagant welcome." Then we need to back it up with action. 

And here's an action (and challenge) that is worth thinking about. Last week, the city of Cleveland learned that it will be the setting for the 2016 Republican National Convention. The UCC national offices at 700 Prospect Avenue are a block or so away from where the action will be. There are many of us in the United Church of Christ who don't agree with Republican political stances and legislative initiatives. There is no question that this convention will be an opportunity for the Church to speak God's truth to power but is it not also an opportunity to show extravagant welcome to those who oppose many of our beliefs? How will we choose to do that? How will we offer a cup of cold water in the name of Jesus during the hot summer of 2016? As the old camp song goes: "They'll know we are Christians by our love."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The Rev. Dr. Ivy Beckwith is the Faith Formation Team Leader for the United Church of Christ. Ivy and her team want to hear your stories about the transformative ideas your church has implemented in the area of faith formation. She can be reached at beckwithi@ucc.org or at 216-736-3875.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Rev. Ann Cormier will serve as guest minister at Zion's United Church of Christ, Hanover and Chestnut Streets for  8:15 and 10:45 a.m. worship this Sunday.  A graduate of Lancaster Theological Seminary , she was ordained in 1998.  After serving six years in congregational ministry, Rev. Cormier now enjoys a private practice as a psychotherapist amd spiritual director.


The annual church picnic will be held Sunday July 13 at Earl Township Park from 2:30-7:00 p.m.  Bring a lawn chair and enjoy games for "children" of all ages.  A cake walk will follow dinner of bar--b-que and hot dogs.  Bring a side dish to share.  Longacre's ice cream will be a dessert treat.  See you there!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Last week we were blessed at Zion's in two different ways: First PECO discovered the electrical system in the church building was over heating and before it did any damage they came and turned off the power. The electrician changed the plate where the power connects and today we were able to worship in the sanctuary with air conditioning and all. So yes it is a good day to give thanks.

Last week was also VBS and we were blessed with the energy and vitality of 24 children and another dozen youth helping around the church each evening. Together with the adults who created the event our church was a lively happening place. We give thanks for each person who helped from Zion's and St Paul's as well as the young people from the neighborhood.  What a joy to do good ministry together.