"He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"
As human beings we all like to know what is expected of us whether by our parents or other family members or by our boss at work or our teachers at school. Truth be told we also would like to know just what God expects of us as well. We would prefer that God would be as specific as possible but more often than not we have to deal with generalities. Such is the case when it comes to the prophet Micah. This Hebrew prophet is writing to the nation of Israel at a time when he considers their behavior, especially towards one another, to be failing the grade. Micah perceives that God "has a controversy with his people" and that they are guilty of having failed to appreciate all of Gods' "saving acts".
The people of Israel respond by asking just what it is that God expects of them. Does God want them to bow before God; to offer as burnt offerings "calves a year old"; would God be pleased with thousands of rams or ten thousands of rivers of oil; would God perhaps even require that they offer up the firstborn of their children, "the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul"? The prophet Micah is clear in his own mind as to just what God requires of them and it is simply "to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"
I suspect that the Israelites were hoping for something more specific, something that they could do and feel as though it was done, "there, I can cross that off my list!" Micah provides more of a broad perspective that makes clear in a general way just what it is that he believes God expects from each one of us- doing justice; loving kindness; and walking humbly with God. This answer on Micah's part requires that we give thought to our actions on a daily basis. It keeps us engaged. It means that we have to live an introspective life in which we are constantly asking ourselves whether, on any given day, we are truly living up to God's expectations for us as human beings and as people of faith. There is consequently, no time when we can say that we have arrived and therefore can sit back and rest on our laurels.
In some ways, Micah's words provide us with a good basis for looking back over our day and seeing if we have lived up to God's expectations for us. Have we treated others fairly today and advocated for their rights when necessary? Have we been kind to others today especially when they have acted like jerks? And, have we walked with God in humility recognizing our need daily for God's grace in our lives?
I, for one, don't ever expect to answer all of these questions in the affirmative, at least not on the same day, but that only gives me reason to continue to strive to live up to God's expectations while knowing with gratitude that God is merciful and patient with me as well.
2/2 The Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
Anthem- by the choir
Scripture: Micah 6:1-8; Matthew 5:1-12
Theme: Defining Qualities- What are the qualities that we should hope would define us as followers of Jesus Christ? Both the prophet Micah and Jesus in the Beatitudes have a clear idea as to what they should be.
VESTRY ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS
TO ADDRESS THE TOPIC OF YOUNG ADULTS, SOCIAL JUSTICE AND THE CHURCH
During the months of January and February the Adult Sunday School class that meets in the vestry will be exploring the topic of "Young Adults, Social Justice, and the Church" using the Vital Conversations Series provided by the General Commission on Religion and Race of the United Methodist Church. In this series "millennial" pastors and lay members share what is important to them as they seek to be the church of Jesus Christ in the 21st century. They will touch on issues pertaining to racism, welcoming refugees, ethnic identity and diversity, welcoming differently abled persons, and other social justices concerns. As we seek to be a church that welcomes everyone we need to hear what our millennial members have to say about the importance of these and other social justice issues. Pastor Rich will lead this class with hopefully the assistance of some of our church millennials. The class on February 2nd will be led by Pastor Rich and we will be viewing the video titled, "A Welcoming Church for Differently Abled People" which challenges the church to be at the forefront in offering opportunities for differently abled people to contribute to the life of the church.
CONFIRMATION PLANS ANNOUNCED
Confirmation classes for youth in grades 7 – 12 will be held during the months of March and April. It has already been decided that the classes will be offered during the regular Sunday School time at 9:00am each Sunday morning. Confirmation itself will take place on Sunday, April 19th. Classes will be led by Pastor Rich along with assistance from various members of the congregation.
We have an opportunity for you! The church needs additional counters to tally the collected offering each Sunday. Prospective counters will require several Sunday's of training and once trained will be scheduled to count one Sunday each month. If interested or you need additional details contact Bill Francis, Finance Secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-589-9792
Cafe Agape Update
We want to thank the congregation for the many generous donations, and our volunteers for the many hours they provide every week with our brothers and sisters that visit us. We wanted to acknowledge Honeydew Doughnuts on Temple Street for their generous daily donation of muffins and doughnuts. If you get a chance, please stop in and thank them!
Also, If you are so moved, we could use some additional coffee, ideally, the Maxwell House 3lb Club Pack Containers. Granola bars are a welcome food donation option as well. You can leave any donations in the Cafe Agape donation bin in the connector. We can always use volunteers, if interested please contact Vince Aquino, email@example.com, or Deb Andrews, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Souper Bowl of Caring Sunday
Since 1990, young people have been leading the charge and inspiring others to collect dollars and food in weeks leading up to the Big Game. Teaming up with local partners, these groups give 100% of donations to local charities, changing the nation's largest weekend of football into the largest weekend of caring. Our youth will be banging pots on February 2 to remind you to be a part of this special day. Last year, they donated all of the proceeds to Main Street United Methodist Church's Food Pantry.
February 2020 Count Your Blessings - B
Tommy used to work on the docks, . . . Gina works the diner all day . . . It doesn't make a difference if we make it or not. We've got each other and that's a lot for love . . . Take my hand, we'll make it I swear. Woah, livin' on a prayer. Livin' on a prayer. These words are excerpted from a single by Bon Jovi, which echoes many lives here in America. In a Malcom Dolm interview, Bon Jovi described the song as modeled after a real couple struggling to make ends meet, "and how their love and ambitions get them through the hard times."
Last month's Finance column explored the hardships of poverty. For February let's move up to the struggles routinely involved in being middle class today. While 38 million people live under the poverty line of $20,300 a year, another 140 million live below 2x this very low threshold, and the number seems to be growing.
Let's cut to the chase – what is the relationship between money and happiness? A 2010 study by Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton found happiness increases with income, but levels off at $75,000 a year. More recent studies had similar leveling off effect above a certain income once your basic needs are met. Along the way, other factors, such as outlook on life, relationships, and actualization, have big effects on happiness. Even the Bon Jovi song recognizes the power of relationships, and prayers.
Our worshippers at Main Street come from the full range of incomes and backgrounds. A church like ours in an urban setting provides nurture and support for many, which goes a long way toward lives worth living. In the Circles Greater Nashua program, we serve as allies to families working to get ahead. We also participate in GSOP, or Granite State Organizing Project, to "positively impact the quality of life in New Hampshire communities." We have congregants who give cheerfully because they see the work we are doing here and fund our ministries and missions to a high level.
On a personal level, I have high concern and pray for those struggling to make ends meet, such as single parents, people without medical insurance, or people who have to work two jobs. I also have concern
and pray for people stuck in jobs with high physical or emotional stress. They have no choice, and any
bright spots we can provide in our church programs goes a long way in such lives.
Here at Main Street, we are committed to making Disciples of Christ across all social classes
and backgrounds. You can participate in adult education classes, evening programs,
morning worship, and weekly events regardless of your ability to contribute financially.
That is our mission and priority. In both serving and being served at Main Street, you
will realize your purpose and prosper in ways money can't provide.
UMW – Baby Care Kits
This month we are gathering items and assemble layette kits. Each kit includes:
- Six cloth diapers
- Two T-shirts or undershirts or onesies
- Two washcloths
- Two gowns or sleepers
- Two diaper pins
- One sweater or sweatshirt (Can be hand knitted or crocheted)
- Two receiving blankets (one can be a hand-knitted or crocheted baby blanket)
Items must be new and under 12 months in size. Wrap items inside one of the receiving blankets and secure with both diaper pins.
Sunday School Sock Drive
The Sunday School children are hosting a Sock Drive from Sunday, January 26 – Sunday, February 16.
Looking for new packages of adult and children socks.
Any adult socks will be donated to the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter. Any children socks will be donated to the Pass Along Project of Nashua, which is an organization that distributes clothing bundles to foster children.
There are donation bins in the Sunday School classroom, the lobby and the vestry.
Thank you for your help and support with this mission project.
February Ham and Bean Supper!
Leap into February with a Ham and Bean Supper on February 1 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. The meal is served family style and features ham, two kinds of beans, coleslaw, potato salad, beverage, bread, and pie. We need you and your friends, neighbors, and family to attend the Ham and Bean and make this supper a success! It is a fundraiser for our church that also welcomes the community to a great meal and opportunity for fellowship.
Children 6 to 12: $4
Children 5 and under: Free!
If you would like to help with the Ham and Bean, contact David Appler at email@example.com
See you at the Ham and Bean Supper Saturday!