Dear Cedar Grove UMC family,
(Today’s eNote is rather lengthy – because we have so much activity in our church! After the beginning devotional, please read below all the opportunities before us, especially all that will be happening in a very exciting worship service on Sunday, the mission opportunities available to us, and a great opportunity offered to us by Barna Labs!)
When Jesus refers to himself as the Good Shepherd in chapter 10 of the Gospel of John, he starts out with a couple of pretty straightforward statements. He says that he is the shepherd, and that the sheep know him and he knows his sheep. OK, got it. Next Jesus says the Father knows him and he knows the Father. Again, got it.
But wait – hovering around the edges are other sheep, and it doesn’t sound like they’re welcome, at least not by the sheep already living inside the sheep gate. But Jesus says he is the shepherd for all. He will lay down his life for all of them – because he can – and then he will take his life up again for all of them – because he can. No other shepherd has ever been able to pull that one off.
So, who are these “other sheep”? Other Jewish Christians? Gentiles? Those who will come to believe? Jesus is talking to Jews, so bringing in Gentile sheep certainly would not put him in position for “Good Shepherd of the Year” honors with the Jews. In fact, the Bible tells us that “the Jews were divided because of these words.” They didn’t like it, plain and simple. They thought Jesus was a raving lunatic. They certainly did not want to hear that someone from “outside” might be invited in to their exclusive club.
The lessons here for all of us as Jesus’ followers are substantial. If you’re part of the shepherd’s flock, you don’t keep the Good Shepherd all to yourself. You share the Good Shepherd with those from “outside” because the Good Shepherd lays down his life for all. The best thing that can happen is that your flock becomes larger, more eclectic and more diverse.
On Sunday, I will begin continue our sermon series on The “I AM” Sayings of Jesus. This Sunday’s sermon will focus on Jesus as both the Good Shepherd and the door for the sheep. Join us at 10:30 a.m. Sunday for worship – and bring a friend with you!
Prior to Sunday’s worship service, we will have our Fourth Sunday Fellowship Hour beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall. Please join us for coffee, a light breakfast and great fellowship! This time also presents a great opportunity to invite people to come to church with you. Do you know someone you’ve been thinking about inviting to church? This is the Sunday to do it! We’ll have a relaxing time of fellowship in the Fellowship Hall then move to the sanctuary for worship at 10:30 a.m. I look forward to seeing each of you and guests for this wonderful Sunday of worship, prayer and praise!
During worship on Sunday, we will offer farewell blessings to our student intern, Kevin Bates. Sunday will be Kevin’s last official day as student intern at CGUMC. We have been so blessed by having Kevin and his wife Mary as part of our church family over this past academic year. I know that you will want to join me in showing appreciation for Kevin’s efforts on Sunday and wishing God’s blessings upon Mary and him as they prepare to enter into the next chapter of their ministry for Christ.
Also during worship, we will officially welcome Jason and Elizabeth O’Quinn as new members of CGUMC. Jason and Elizabeth have been part of our church family for some time now, and on Sunday we will “cross the t’s and dot the i’s” as we enter into a new phase of our ministry together. Please plan to join me in welcoming our new members!
And, during an exciting and full worship on Sunday, we will also hear from Calli and Ava Rountree about their recent mission trip to Haiti. We are so proud of the Christian witness of these two young women, and I know you will want to come and hear about how they shared the light and love of Christ with the people of Haiti!
Our area quilters have been hard at work for months, and the Cedar Grove Quilters Annual Quilt Show will be from 2-5 p.m. Sunday at Eno Presbyterian Church. Please plan to attend!
Thanks to all of you who have completed the first of 2 congregational surveys from Barna Labs! We have another congregational survey before us now, and your input is needed! Your opinions matter. Please click the link below and complete this brief, anonymous survey designed to gather feedback from people who are part of the CGUMC family. The entire survey takes about 4 minutes to complete, and again, it is totally anonymous. To gather the most information possible and have as complete a report as possible from Barna, please take a few minutes and complete this survey.
The link to the 2nd survey is:
And if you haven't completed the 1st survey, please also do so by going to this link:
The deadline for completing both surveys is noon May 8. Once the surveys are completed, Barna researchers will use the immense technological resources available to them to generate a report specifically for us at CGUMC. We will share the results of that report with all the people in the congregation. Remember, no one will be personally identified in the survey or the report -- this is meant to gather information to help us in our long range planning. Thank you in advance for helping with this effort!
Please mark your calendars: the Administrative Council will meet at 5 p.m. Sunday, May 3. This will be a very important meeting – please plan to be in attendance!
Remember that the UMW is collecting health, sewing, and school kits, as well as food buckets, for a mission project. These kits and buckets will be taken to Annual Conference in Wilmington in June to be presented to Bishop John Yambasu, episcopal leader of The United Methodist Church in the West African nation of Sierra Leone. Bishop Yambasu will take these items back to his home country, which has been at the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak crisis. A list of things to include in each type of kit is included in Sunday’s bulletin. Kits may be given to any member of the UMW or dropped off at the church office. Please turn all kits in by May 3. Thank you for supporting the UMW in this effort!
World Malaria Day is tomorrow, April 25. Every minute, someone in the world dies from malaria. Children are the most susceptible to this disease, yet malaria is 100% preventable. You can help Change the World! Got any change in your pocket or purse? Drop it in our bucket beside where we put our canned goods for OCIM. Your gifts will provide nets, medication and education as together we “Imagine No Malaria.”
Bring your canned goods and other nonperishable food items each week and drop them in our food collection baskets in the narthex. Your gifts are taken to the food pantry at OCIM in Hillsborough, where they will be distributed to families throughout northern Orange County. Thank you for touching the lives of others through this wonderful mission!
Our annual Operation Christmas Child shoebox drive is on! Three years ago, we set a goal of 50 shoeboxes and collected 51. Two years ago, we set a goal of 75 shoe boxes and collected 100!!! Last year, we set a goal of 100 shoeboxes and collected 143!!!
For 2015, we’re setting our goal for 144 shoeboxes, but I am confident we can top even that total! To help keep this ministry before us throughout the year, we are again collecting items for shoe boxes each month. These items will be stored at the church until early November, when we will have another shoe box packing pizza party
- For April, we are asking that you donate washcloths. Our large blue Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child box is in the narthex for collecting the items each month. What an exciting way to bless children throughout the world! Your gifts will show the love of Christ and the power of the gospel to a child whose life you will indelibly touch, even though you may never meet that child.
You can follow the many happenings and ministries of CGUMC online in a number of ways:
Kathy Colville, Christine and I participated in a conference call on Thursday evening regarding how to reach out to guide young adults to a deeper relationship with God and the church. The really cool thing is that this approach is multi-generational because those who have been in the church the longest have the most to share with the next generation! We all know we have such a great Christian spirit at CGUMC and we want to make sure that "other sheep" come to know and love the Good Shepherd we know, love and share with each other! In coming days and weeks, we'll be sharing with all of you what we've learned as we all work together as a church family on an outreach plan. This is truly an exciting time to be at CGUMC!
I’m looking forward to seeing each of you at the Fourth Sunday Fellowship Hour at 9:30 a.m. and at our worship service at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday!