A LENTEN PRAYER BY BISHOP SUDARSHANA DEVEDHAR
remind me again today that
you are Love;
that Loving is always expressed in action
Remind me again today
that your love was made visible
in the Church, the body of Christ.
Remind me again today
that it is through love, not
right vs wrong,
good vs evil, that
we are saved.
Remind me again today that you
gather us all,
love us all,
sanctify us all,
call us all,
to be one —
with each other,
in ministry to
all the world.
The prayer shared above was presented to the members of the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church at the start of the Lenten Season. I assume that it was written sometime between the end of the recent special session of General Conference and the beginning of Lent. Bishop Devedhar's prayer reflects his strong belief that God is love and that God's love has been made visible in God's acts of goodness towards all of God's creation. It is an all-inclusive love that binds us together as the human family and excludes no one. Jesus expressed this love throughout his life especially as he embraced those who so often failed to be accepted and loved by the more rigid and legalistic religious leaders of first century Palestine. Unfortunately, legalism is not dead but very alive in our denomination. It is most evident in the recent harsh, discriminatory, and unjust decisions that were passed by the delegates of General Conference. These decisions continue our discriminatory practices towards lgbtq clergy members and those aspiring to ordination and towards the lgbtq members of the United Methodist Church who desire to have their love for one another blessed by God and the church. Likewise, there are added punitive measures that have been agreed upon to punish Bishops, Boards of Ordained Ministry, and clergy who choose the loving action of advocating for and supporting the lgbtq community of United Methodists.
As a congregation we have already begun to have conversations as to how we will respond in love to these General Conference decisions and with love to our lgbtq sisters and brothers. Included below are two opportunities for us to have a voice and respond in love and with action. I hope that you will take advantage of these opportunities and make it a part of your Lenten journey.
3/17 The Second Sunday in Lent
Scripture: Psalm 27; Philippians 3:17-4:1
Theme: Challenging the "god" of Gluttony- The apostle Paul warns the beloved saints in the city of Philippi about those who are the "enemies of the cross". He identifies them, among other things, as those "whose god is their stomach". How does gluttony make one an "enemy of the cross" and in what ways are we all guilty of gluttony in our eating practices?
OPPORTUNITY OF THE WEEK
At our most recent Church Council meeting we talked about how we might better highlight some of the opportunities for service that are available through the church. A suggestion was made that maybe we could have an "opportunity of the week". This will now be a new feature in the weekly e-mail blast so look for these wonderful opportunities and see if there is something that sounds inviting to you.
This week's opportunity involves volunteering at the Nashua Soup Kitchen for the food pantry ministry. On the third Sunday of each month our Hunger Ministry volunteers open the food pantry at the Nashua Soup Kitchen in order to provide opportunities for those who are unable to go to the food pantry during the week. Our volunteers will be there from 1:30-4:00pm on Sunday. Please speak to Phyllis Appler if you would like more information or just show up!
Following the Special Session of General Conference that was held February 23-26 there are lots of questions as to what the implications of the decisions made will be for our annual conference and for the churches that make up the United Methodist Church. In order to provide opportunity for members of our district churches to have "courageous" conversations our District Superintendent, Jim McPhee, will lead us in discussion on Monday, March 18th at 7:00pm. We will be hosting this session here at MSUMC and will need volunteers to help with refreshments, sound, projection, and greeting. If you are willing to assist please let Pastor Rich know asap. A second session will be held on Tuesday, March 19th at 7:00pm at in South Portland, Maine.
RECONCILING CONGREGATION CONVERSATION
A number of people from the congregation have expressed interest in our exploring whether it might make sense for us to become a "reconciling" congregation (to learn more check out the Reconciling Ministry Network website A preliminary meeting to discuss this possibility will take place on Tuesday, March 19th at 6:30pm on the second floor of the lobby. All are invited to attend.).
College Box Collection – March 17
It's that time of the year to remind our students away at college how much their Main Street family loves them by sending them a box filled with goodies! The education committee will be packing boxes on Sunday. Some ideas are small candies, power/energy bars, gum, etc. This year we are asking again that the congregation refrain from donating chips or other items packaged in similar bags, or liquid items that may leak. Thank you for helping us with this annual way to keep in touch!
Thanks, Mark Morrissey
Global Missions Display
During March, a display of the different global missions we participate in throughout the year will be out on the table and bulletin board in the lower lobby. Two of them are opportunities for giving during the season of Lent: the Heifer Project Easter Tree of Life and School Kits. Look for awards we have received for completing an "ark" for the Heifer Project.
Rada Knives Fund Raiser
Did you know that Main St United Methodist Women have been selling Rada Knives and other products as a Fund Raiser?
We have an inventory on hand for immediate purchase, with a catalog for special orders. We are currently taking orders until April 15. These will be available for pick up by early May. Stop by our display during Coffee Hour to see our current stock, or pick up a catalog to choose books, soup and
dip mixes, gift ideas, and many other items.