February 28, 2020
"Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." But he answered, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
Matthew 4:1, 2
By the time you read this we should already be into the Lenten Season which begins with Ash Wednesday on February 26th. The season of Lent is modeled on the story of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness as it is reported in three of the four gospels (The Gospel of John omits any reference to it). Jesus, shortly after his baptism, is reported to be led by the Spirit (or "driven" according to Mark's Gospel) into the nearby wilderness where for a long period of time (the number "forty" signifies a period of testing in the bible and shouldn't necessarily be read literally) he goes without eating. During this time he experiences the testing of the call that he had felt in his baptism and he is tempted to misuse his power in ways that would shorten the process and lead to future reward without the necessary effort or suffering.
Now I suspect that most of us do not find ourselves tempted to turn stones into bread or jump from the pinnacle of the temple or lay claim to the kingdoms of the world. While these temptations were suited to Jesus' sense of God's call in his life they do not resonate with us. What our temptations do have in common with those that Jesus experienced is that we too are tempted to take short cuts or to want quick fixes rather than allow our struggles, our challenges, or our successes to unfold as they need to. When are sad we want to get through our sadness as quickly as possible. When we are uncertain we want to move to certainty quickly. When we find ourselves struggling in our relationships we want to get through the discomfort fast even if that means giving up on the relationship.
Lent provides us with an opportunity to walk with Jesus on the long road to Jerusalem where he was confronted by the powers that be, both Roman and Jewish, and forced to endure suffering, hardship, and uncertainty. Jesus was able to live with this reality even when it looked as though all would be lost. While his death seemed as though it was a failure of purpose and mission this did not prove to be the end of the story. Out of death would come new life and this new life would expand Jesus' mission to followers both then and now.
My challenge to us all is to take the opportunity that Lent affords to us to think about the shortcuts that we are tempted to take in living out our lives. Where do we need to live with our current reality longer in order that we might experience the new life that is available to us? When the quick fix is dangled before us; when instant gratification seduces us, may we remember Jesus and find in his temptation that which we need in order to fulfill our calling and our purpose in life. May we have patience and endurance so that we too may discover the new life that beckons to us.
3/1 The First Sunday in Lent
Anthem- by the choir
Communion Bell Anthem: Kelly Brown and Irene Harris
Scripture: Matthew 4:1-11
Theme: What Does Temptation Look Like For You?- The temptations that Jesus experienced in the wilderness were very pointed and called into question both his identity and vocation. Needless to say, for most of us temptation looks very different than this but usually likewise calls into question who we are and what we understand our calling in life to be.
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.
One is All - Wednesday Morning Lenten Class
March 4, 11, 18, 25, April 1, 10:30 AM – Noon, Vestry
Come join us on a Lenten Journey using the spirituality of nature as we broaden our perspective and move from All is One to One is All. There will not be a class book, but rather we will use sacred texts and poetry from a variety of faiths. We will spend class time in small group conversation, sing hymns and have creative experiences. Child care will be provided. We left February 26, Ash Wednesday, free so you could use your time to attend a service. A sign-up sheet and pre-class assignment will be available during coffee hour or email Pam Breniser (class facilitator) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speaking in Tongues
We are blessed here at MSUMC with members and guests from a wonderful variety of backgrounds and cultures. Unfortunately, come might have difficulty in communicating in English. And so, with the goal of truly being a loving and welcoming community of faith in mind and heart, we'd like to create a database of members that have a fluency in other languages. This is not a committee, there are no meetings to attend or big time commitments. We'd just like to know who might be able to help if a language barrier presents itself. If you would be willing to share your gift with us please email Paul Pederzani at: email@example.com and type MSUMC in the subject line. Thank you for your continued support of our church and church family.
Heifer Project Easter Tree of Life
Heifer International's mission is to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth using gifts of livestock, seeds, trees and training in sustainable agriculture community development projects to help millions of people become self-reliant. Since 1944, Heifer has helped transform the lives of more than 30 million families by giving them gifts of cows, goats and other livestock. Look for our Easter Tree of Life, and honor someone with the gift of an animal. Fill up our tree! We offer vegetarian options.
"Coffee and Causes" for Retirees
March 6th, 10:00am, Hunt Community, Nashua
At this meeting, we'll be learning how retirees can help support inclusion of social and emotional learning in school curricula in Nashua and around the region through the "Choose Love" Enrichment Program. Shannon Desilets, Program Coordinator for the effort in New Hampshire will speak about the project. Contact Sara Ceaser at firstname.lastname@example.org or (603)864-0201 to register.
OPERA ON MAIN STREET RETURNS
Our collaboration with Jane Cormier and the offering of a "salon" series of operatic concerts has resumed. This month: February 29 - Sacred Music selections from Malotte, Gounod, Hadyn, Schubert, and Mozart.
All concerts take place in our sanctuary at 7:00pm. There is a cost of $12.00 per person or $10.00 for senior citizens with children and youth free. A portion of each ticket supports the church's organ fund.
March 1 is the first Sunday in the Christian season of Lent, a time when we take stock of how we are doing as Christians in preparation for Easter. Some may use this period as a time of sacrifice, others may add more volunteering or prayer and Bible study. We are starting our journey with Jesus' time in the wilderness as recorded in the book of Matthew.
The following may help us understand what the area was like. "In the land where Jesus lived, the wilderness was a wasteland where little, if anything, grew. Wilderness areas in Palestine received only the heaviest of rains. The wilderness land was a kind of chalky rock that washed away in the heavy rains. The wind and rain left ridges in the hills of the wilderness." (New Invitation, copyright 1994 by Cokesbury)
The cloth behind our worship table is intended to be an image of the sackcloth and ashes of Ash Wednesday, a day focused on repentance. The rocks and dried twigs should give an idea of the barrenness of the wilderness. Although each Sunday in Lent is to be celebrated as a little Easter, our wilderness visuals will be up for the six-week period. The polished wood and brass cross will reappear on Easter morning.
Ice Cream Fundraiser
Do you like ice cream? Would you like to support our Bell Choir and their goal of purchasing a fourth octave of bells? On March 11, you can do both! On that day, you can enjoy a breakfast, lunch, dinner, or ice cream at Friendly's in Merrimack, NH and 20% of your check will be donated to the church when you use our vouchers.
If you wish to just make a donation, please note on your check or envelope that you wish to donate to the handbell fundraiser. Thank you for your unending support to the bell choir and other music ministries here at Main St.
F Troop News Leap Year Celebration
Saturday, February 29, 2020-
12:00 PM Church Vestry
It's Leap Year! Bring your favorite Lear Year traditions and trivia as the F Troop celebrates the day with a pot luck luncheon. (What! You don't have any traditions or trivia-no songs or games? No, neither do I but we will enjoy the fellowship of the meal, anyway! and maybe we'll start some traditions for 2024!) A sign up sheet will be posted on the bulletin board under the clock in the vestry. We hope to see you there! (F Troop is our fellowship group for those 40 and over-our motto is food, fellowship and fun for all!)