This Week – January 11, 2018

marshmallows

We open ourselves to God’s Spirit in worship, prayer and study, holding each other
in community and encouraging one another to grow in the Spirit.
We reach out in generosity and compassion to the people around us.

Sunday, January 14, 2018
9:15 a.m. Choir Rehearsal
10:15 a.m. Worship

Scripture: Exodus 33: 17-20; Job 38: 1-7, 40: 1-5; John 1: 18; 1 John 4: 12
Sermon: “The Protestant Principle”
Serving Our Church:
Liturgist: Amanda Kerr

The Christmas Fund
Thank YOU for your generous support of The Christmas Fund! Your donations totaled $1,373. This offering will be sent to the Pension Boards in NYC and added to offerings from other UCC churches to address clergy needs in times of unexpected financial crisis or health care need.

Exploring Open & Affirming
The New Beginnings committee prepared a Statement of Purpose and Identity that describes Chapel Hills as “inclusive” with a mission of “actively reaching out to all who are seeking spiritual and social connection.” They are now asking the congregation to start a caring conversation about whether to seek to be designated formally as an Open and Affirming church that publicly welcomes persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
We encourage everyone to share his or her thoughts, pro and con, about whether to move toward a vote. Together, as part the process, we will learn what it means to be Open and Affirming and the steps we would need to take if we eventually decide to seek the designation.

We plan to continue the discussions next Sunday after services. The Open and Affirming ministry team of Laura Feierabend, Dorothy Lundquist, Caroline Mast, Stephanie Tesch, and Bob Huber will each be available to speak with individuals or small groups. You may also speak with them later by telephone. We appreciate your willingness to speak with them and each other.

Pitching in to Remove the Christmas Decorations

tear down

Thank YOU!
We are grateful to Doug & Meredith Allen and Jon & Lynn Pearson who will be representing Chapel Hills on Saturday, January 13th at the House of Charity.

January Book Club – The Discussion Continues
Join us following worship on Sunday, January 14th to discuss the book… You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism, by Brad Hirschfield.
This was our December book selection. We decided that we needed another month to delve further into it. Read some, or all, of the book and join in the conversation.

“Known and Loved”
Second Sunday After Epiphany

It is something to think of ourselves as being knit in our mother’s womb, as if we were put together strand by strand. Sounds a lot like DNA doesn’t it? We are knit by intricate design with given bedrock characteristics, like blue eyes or a “natural” grace. The psalmist wants us to know this: God has intimate knowledge of who we are—a knowledge that is deep and touching as it fills us with awe.

This God who knows each of us this way is continually wanting us to get to know each other. The biblical world is replete with stories about God introducing us to strangers, asking us to know those we don’t know. It’s as if God is introducing us to distant and near cousins born also by that same knitting in gestation. “Here,” the God who knows us all might say, if we imagined a prosy God, “here is your cousin, Ali; he is like you and different from you. I think you should know each other.” It’s a good thing to welcome strangers and provide hospitality to the foreigners among us. Not only a good thing but it is God’s desire for us that we know each other and recognize our shared humanness.

Congregations all over the UCC are engaging these kinds of holy endeavors by reaching out to strangers in their community. If you believe that building relationships with strangers is a holy and spiritual practice, then the world today with its wash of refugees and immigrants is both a mission field and a divine imperative. Westmoreland Congregational UCC, in Bethesda, Maryland, is a church of about 400 members. They are diving into the practice of meeting strangers by partnering with Quaker and Presbyterian congregations, to support refugees in their community. The world of refugee support opens us up to the spiritual practice of welcoming the stranger. As God knows us, deeply and intentionally, we are called to know others as God knows us.

In Bethesda, Maryland, they welcome refugees by getting to know them, by helping them start businesses, by sharing meals and gathering things people need to start a new life in a strange country. This UCC congregation even passed a resolution by unanimous vote in January 2017. The Motion was passed in Support of Extravagant Welcome to Immigrants and Refugees of All Faiths. Their support included letter-writing to politicians, joining with the Justice and Peace Network of our denomination, and making their support of their Muslim neighbors visible and unmistakable.

Looking Ahead
January 13 House of Charity
January 14 Book Club – Following Worship
Confirmation – Following Worship
January 16 Tai Chi – 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Church Council Meeting – 7:00 p.m.
January 17 Tai Chi – 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
Adult Choir Rehearsal – 7:30 p.m.
January 23 Tai Chi – 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
January 24 Tai Chi – 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
Adult Choir Rehearsal – 7:30 p.m.
January 30 Tai Chi – 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
January 31 Tai Chi – 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
Adult Choir Rehearsal – 7:30 p.m.
February 3 Cookies for College Students & Homebound Friends – 9:00 a.m.
February 5 Board of Deacons Meeting – 5:30 p.m.
February 6 Tai Chi – 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
February 7 Tai Chi – 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
Adult Choir Rehearsal – 7:30 p.m.

Worship this Sunday:
Scripture: Exodus 33: 17-20Job 38: 1-740: 1-5John 1: 181 John 4: 12
Sermon: “The Protestant Principle”

twofaceA late New Year sermon for this Sunday: looking back at the Reformation and looking forward at keeping the Reforming Spirit alive. In the final essay in 500: A Study Guide for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, Matt Fitzgerald says that disgust at another believer’s claim to know the mind of God is a Protestant feeling. Paul Tillich puts it in very sophisticated language: the divine and human protest against any absolute claim made for a relative reality. Oliver Cromwell put it in more striking language: Is it therefore infallibly agreeable to the Word of God, all that you say? I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.

Prayer
God, you have revealed your love by the coming of Jesus Christ into our world. Help us to welcome him with joy, and to make room for him in our lives and homes that we may abide in him and he in us. Amen.