Worship Services for Sunday, April 15th are cancelled due to the Winter Storm as well as Sunday School and the meal service at N.E.W.Shelter.
What We Need for 2018
On Sunday, December 31st Watchwords were selected during worship. The tradition of selection Watchwords close to the start of a new year is important for Moravians. Watchwords, which are short passages from Scripture, provide guidance as we move into a new year. They are selected for congregational ministries in addition by each individual.
For 2018 our Congregational Watchword is from Ephesians chapter 1, verse 3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” The first words that strike me are “blessed/blessing” for these are words that have layers of meaning today. The words are used from “God Bless You” when one sneezes to the “May the Lord Bless you and Keep you” Benediction used in worship. I often wonder what it means to be blessed as it can be seen like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, or to mean nothing bad will come, or that it is about some sort of success we envision. The scriptures point us to a deeper understanding of blessing. A blessing that is tied to us allowing our lives to be caught up with God’s. We understand being richly blessed as a state of trusting God for every provision. It is to have hope that in all things God is working for good. Blessed is knowing God’s support and strength in times of challenge and trial. Having every “spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” reminds us the divide between the heavens and life now is not that insurmountable for we share in the things of God now and can always. What guidance does this Watchword from Ephesians have for us as a congregation? Are we a congregation that is richly blessed?
As a congregation we can operate from a place of scarcity thinking we don’t have enough of what we need to be whatever we envision church to be. However, our Watchword reminds us we are richly blessed by Christ Jesus. There is enough love to be shared by Christ and among community. There is enough faith as we experience the holy presence of Christ in worship, prayer, devotion, and community. There is enough hope as we trust in God to provide direction and gift, ability and funding needed for ministry. There are enough talents and diversity of gifts Christ gives us to do what needs to be done. There is enough to do everything needed and good as a congregation in ministry in 2018. There is enough because God is enough and blesses us with every spiritual blessing. May we have the faith to trust in God’s blessings moving as a church community into this new year.
Sharing in God’s Blessings,
Hymn Verse paired with our Congregational Watchword
All praise and thanks to God
The Father now be given,
The Son and Spirit blessed,
Who reign in highest heaven—
The one eternal God,
Whom heav’n and earth adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore. (533, MBW)
When I lived in New Jersey I noticed several people had large bamboo plants around their home. It acted like a fencing and provided some privacy for homes on busy streets. I asked about these plants and was told these tall, green stocks would last through winter. I was cautioned to not plant these unless I would want lots and lots of it. This plant grows tall, multiplies and is hard to contain.
Long ago peace and compassion were planted in our world in Bethlehem in the Immanuel, God with us. This Divine incarnation led to new growth of peace, compassion and hope. It has not been stopped or contained, even death on the cross could not stop God with us in Christ Jesus.
This compassion and peace is still growing and spreading. The incarnation, God made flesh, is about a God who seeks to dwell with humanity. God is still alive in open hearts and souls.
Advent and Christmas is a celebration of this God come to earth. It is more than a once a year celebration as God continues to work in open hearts. Inwardly transformed by Christ’s love, we can become like that New Jersey Bamboo in that we become a contagious, uncontainable force for peace, love and hope.
In Advent’s Hope and Christmas’ Peace,
Our society struggles with who is truly welcome within our borders. There are debates about welcoming new immigrants, refuges and people from outside of our County, City and State. This is an important conversation that impacts so many children, youth, men and women.
As Christians we take our lead from Jesus Christ whose welcome extends to all- people from every country of origin, refuges, people of various languages, cultures, faith traditions and races.
This past June I attended a concert of one of my favorite bands, U2. This Irish band has throughout their career had deep affection for the country I call home. They again lifted up some of the values that resonate deeply with what I love about this land: the variety of cultures and ethnicities, this being a place of refuge and new opportunity that welcomed my own German and Irish ancestors many years ago, and country whose story holds up values of freedom, equality, and justice. Even though we don’t always live out these values faithfully they are sought out still. I was reminded that in the United States “We the people” are the government, and have a voice and place at the table. Also, when issues seem to challenge justice, equality and freedom we don’t despair but work together for just change. “We do not agonize, we organize” Bono stated to the crowds. These Irish musicians see in this country the potential to be truly great in our generosity to meet need, great by the vast diversity of cultures that populate this land, and great in the voices that continue to rise up for justice.
At this concert, I also noticed a man who may have been of Indian or Middle Eastern descent. He wore a black tee shirt and one word was printed across his chest in white- HUMAN. I don’t know if this tee shirt denotes a slogan or band name, or maybe he was reminding those who forgot that he too is a human being. After all, some see others as not worthy of certain rights, or basic kindness, or ability to exist due to race, creed, gender, conviction record or country of origin. I was reminded of an America different than the four Irish lads from U2 described. One where we can’t assume the fully humanity of all is recognized.
An even more stark reminder of this came to my attention back in February. One of my distant cousins, Ian, was at a sports bar in Kansas. Another man entered the sports bar harassing a few people thinking they were of Middle Eastern descent. Ian stood up for the two Indian men bearing the brunt of racial slurs, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani. The man bullying them was asked to leave and did. Unfortunately, the bully returned with a gun and after yelling “get out of my country” began shooting. Ian ducked under a table and began counting how many shots had been fired. When he thought the gun was empty he went after the shooter. However, Ian miscounted and was shot in the process. Ian and Alok survived with injuries, Srinivas died. In this horrific encounter, we see conflicting understandings of what it means to be viewed as a human being in this country. Of course, not all question another’s human worth with a gun but in lessor ways by who we choose to welcome into our communities, or who we choose to associate with, or what words we use about others.
Over the years my faith has grown more deeply rooted in God as Creator. This belief demands that I look on all creation as that which God has made. Those I call enemy or view as disreputable or those I disdain because they may view me as disreputable- all are HUMAN. If I am serious about sharing life in relationship with the Creator I must take seriously the human dignity and worth of what the Creator has made.
My cousin Ian is a good example, not only in what he did in that sports bar but in using the publicity from this incident as a way to encourage others to get to know their neighbors. A good friendship has developed between Ian and Srinivas’ family, Alok and many in the Indian community. Together they are seeing this as a moment for different cultures to learn more about each other and grow together as a community.
“It’s not about where he’s from, or ethnicity. We’re all humans.” Ian Grillot
In Christ, Pastor Marian
Join us this Sunday for worship at Heritage Hill State Park as we gather at the historic East Moravian church building. Worship is at 9am with light refreshments to follow. This is a beautiful space with great music and as always wonderful community to celebrate Christ’s love for us and all.
Worship includes several anthems from our Choir as this is the last Sunday till fall for their active ministries.
So I Send You
“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ John 20:21-22 NRSV
This scripture was part of the readings for Sunday, April 23rd. It is also part of the reflection Jill Kolodziej, the Director of Antioch Ministries for the Board of World Mission, shared with the Jamaica Mission Team after worship this same Sunday. The Holy Spirit is available to each receptive heart. This Spirit of our Living God sends us forward into a variety of mission fields. Pay attention to the many ways people are sent and serve in this Spirit as you read look over our website!
This season we are especially grateful for those who have answered the call to be sent on a mission to Jamaica. They will be working with our Moravian brothers and sisters in Jamaica in maintenance projects, mostly painting, learn more about the people who live there beyond the tourist spots, and share in worship and community. The mission team is Courtney Bauder, Tiffany Sadler, Shad Krueger, Shelley Krueger, Julie Srenaski, Jaymee Srenaski, Alexis Srenaski, Seth Wilson (from Sturgeon Bay Moravian Church) and Jill Kolodziej leading and organizing the team.
As they go we invite your prayers and support. Sunday, June 18th there will be a special time of prayer during morning worship for the mission team.
Below is a prayer watch we invite you to consider in your daily prayers as the team travels, works and shares in community with the Jamaican Moravians.
PRAYER WATCH FOR JAMAICA
Saturday, June 24th– Pray for safe travel. The group will be flying out of Appleton and have a stop in Atlanta before arriving in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Sunday, June 25th– Pray for our Moravian brothers and sisters who gather for worship this day. The mission team will be sharing in worship this Sunday and getting to know the community better.
Monday, June 26th– Pray for the ministries of Camp Hope in Jamaica. This is the place the mission team will receive lodging and meals. Pray for this Camp that serves children, youth and adults from Jamaica and welcomes in visitors from other lands.
Tuesday, June 27th– Pray for all in the group as they work in a very hot climate. Pray for their energy and endurance.
Wednesday, June 28th– Pray for all in the mission team as they work and pray together. For God’s Spirit to be at work in the relationships developed among the team and the local people they work and pray with in Jamaica.
Thursday, June 29th– Rest day. Pray for the group as they explore the natural beauty of Jamaica and find time for rest and renewal.
Friday, June 30th– Pray for the group that in their service they may grow closer to Jesus Christ.
Saturday, July 1st– Pray for safe travel home. Pray for the group as they return to new opportunities for service and relationship building here in Wisconsin.