Dear Cedar Grove UMC family,
In the television series M*A*S*H that aired from 1972-1983, Jamie Farr played a character named Corporal Max Klinger. Klinger was forever trying to burrow, tunnel and cajole his way out of camp to get away from the Army. In one episode, Klinger decides that his best course of action would be to do the opposite of what he would usually do. Instead of his usual antics, Klinger opts to play the part of a dedicated soldier. His actions are counterintuitive to the behavior people usually see in him.
Counterintuitive thinking goes further than a television series’ fabricated characters who aim for a laugh. Consider the discipleship called for by Jesus in Mark 8. Want to follow Jesus? Deny yourself. Want to save your life? Lose it. Want to release your burdens? Take up your cross. Such directives are not the world’s usual prescriptions for success.
The covenant of discipleship into which Jesus calls us – both as individuals and as communities of faith – is inherently counterintuitive to “normal” ways of thinking, living and being in community. In Christ, discipleship comes in the gift of letting go of control of our lives so that we may learn the grace of being held by the One who gives us unconditional love and acceptance.
This movement toward covenant with God does not always take on paths we expect. So where might this counterintuitive discipleship invoked by Jesus intersect with your faith journey? In what ways and in what habits might your usual practices of thinking, believing and serving need a refreshing brace of Jesus’ contrarian call to save by losing? What might you need to set aside for the sake of following? These questions are ones both you and I will ponder and seek to answer as we continue our journey through the season of Lent over the next weeks.
Our Lenten sermon series will look at the stories of Jesus in the Gospel of John. The Fourth Gospel is filled with rich images and profound truths to help us understand who Jesus is, and how we might have abundant life in his name. This Sunday, my sermon will be “The Word Made Flesh” as we examine the prologue to John’s Gospel and consider the effects of God becoming incarnate and living among us. Join us for worship at 10:30 a.m. Sunday – and bring a friend with you!
During the Sunday School hour at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Kevin Bates will begin leading us through a study of Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, An Altar in the World. In this book, Taylor reveals meaningful ways to discover the sacred in small things we do and see every day. Books will be provided – please come and join us!
Our year-long program on reaching out and engaging young adults contains a series of online training videos being released through May from the Barna that will help us in this process. The first two videos, each about an hour in length, are now archived on line: “Know Your Audience: Who Are Millennials?” and “Making Space for Millennials.” Just go to www.barnalabs.com/training, and when prompted, enter the authentication password “millennial101” to see the videos. I am enjoying this program, made possible in part by a grant from The Duke Endowment, and I hope you are, as well.
Also, remember that on Friday evening, March 27 and Saturday, March 28, we are invited to attend a workshop on “Engaging Young Adults” at Front Street UMC in Burlington. After that workshop, we will enter into a coaching relationship for a year. I hope that many of you will be able to attend this workshop. Please mark your calendars and let me know as soon as possible.
Please plan to join us for our Bible Study, “Jesus’ Final Week,” on Tuesday. My wife Christine will lead us through this study. As part of our Lenten Soup, Bread and Scriptures, we will have a meal of soup and bread in the Fellowship Hall at 6:30 p.m. prior to starting the study at 7 p.m. Study guides are available – see you there!
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!
It’s time to start our Operation Christmas Child shoebox drive again! 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.
From now through the end of March, we are asking that you donate toothbrushes and bars of soap. The toothbrushes need to be unopened in their original packaging, with one or two in the package so that they can fit easily into shoe boxes. 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:
I hope that you all have been safe and warm through this week’s winter storms. I am looking forward to seeing each of you in worship on Sunday as we continue our Lenten journey together.