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This is THE week!

Dear Church,

You are invited to some truly special, powerful events this week that are all designed to bring you closer to the experience of a genuine Easter in your own life.

We begin with Holy Thursday, 6 p.m. at the church. A simple meal, a shared communion and the remembrance of Jesus’ last meal with his disciples is an opportunity to be in community with one another and be spiritually–as well as literally–fed. If you have never attended Holy Thursday before, I encourage you to come. There really isn’t anything else like it in our year of celebrations (and if there is, it’s always based on this service! :-)). It’s the perfect way to open your heart for the rest of the week.

The prayer vigil starts directly after. A wonderful email about that already went out!

Good Friday service begins at 7 p.m. on Friday. This time is set aside to hear the story of Jesus’ betrayal and crucifixion. Even though this is one of the most challenging of events in the Christian calendar, there isn’t anyone who hasn’t endured their own “Good Friday.” To be present with hurt, betrayal, loss, unforgiveness and death is hard, hard, hard. But it is one part of Jesus’ story and one part of our own story. We come together as a community to remember that we are not alone in that pain.

Easter begins early with an ecumenical service at the Quabbin Tower. Reverend Clare Overlander, the interim minister at BUCC will lead this service and it promises to herald that divine sense of a dawning joy and freedom that Easter brings.

HUMC gathers at 10 a.m. for a beautiful celebration. Please bring your friends. We have many church members who struggle to get to church for various reasons. If you know anyone who could use some encouragement to come for Easter, or a ride, or assistance from their car (our handicap spots are limited), this is the moment to reach out. Reach out! Our liturgical dancers will uplift us, the music will transport us, the story will transform us.

I look forward to being in the rest of Holy Week with you! Know that all these services are created to serve you as you walk in faith, in doubt, in hope, in love, in forgiveness, in expectation, as you are, no part left out.

big blessings,

Pastor Sam

Reflection for the Third week of Lent

Dear Hope,

Now that we are well into our Lenten journey thinking about forgiveness, I want to share some thoughts on the practice to incorporate during the week as you “fast” from unforgiveness.

The first is that forgiveness is very hard–most of the time. In conversations with parishioners, the difficulty of forgiving has come up many times. We all know how challenging it feels to attempt to forgive someone who harmed us deeply. On the other hand, we often struggle to forgive petty injustices as well. As Steve’s forgiveness testimony so beautifully illustrated, even small infractions can have far reaching effects. I think we all related to that experience.

The second thought is that forgiveness is so hard because we, generally speak, don’t understand it and don’t do it for the right reasons! Most of us are taught that we need to forgive for the other person’s sake. In truth, forgiveness is an act that sets US free. It’s possible for it also to free the other person, but when we “do” forgiveness as if we are giving someone who hurt us a gift, we often still feel hurt and resentful, maybe even thinking, “why do I have to be the bigger person?” Well, nobody has to be the bigger person. If you choose that role, you operate out of your higher identity, Christ in you, which brings us back into right relationship with God.

This past Sunday’s Gospel lesson included these words spoken by Jesus: “I am fed by doing the will of the one who sent me and by completing his work” (John 4:34). That’s fantastic! What fed Jesus was doing God’s work. It also fed other people, of course, but it fed HIM. We are fed when we do “God’s work” by forgiving. Give yourself that gift so you can experience the spiritual sustenance that comes with letting go of angry, hurting thoughts that don’t cause anyone suffering but yourself.

This week as you explore forgiving yourself, God and others, imagine it as an act of self-kindness. Here is some more inspiration from religious writers and teacher !

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.”  Henri Nouwen

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” Lewis Smedes

“People in general would rather die than forgive. It’s that hard. If God said in plain language. “I’m giving you a choice, forgive or die,” a lot of people would go ahead and order their coffin.” Sue Monk Kidd

“Forgiveness is not a one off decision; it is a journey and a process that takes time, determination, and persistence. Forgiveness is not forgetting; it is simply denying your pain the right to control your life.” Corallie Buchanan

Many blessings and keep letting me know how it’s going,
Pastor Sam

Second Sunday of Lent Worship Service 3/12/17

Enjoy our Worship Service for the Second Sunday in Lent.

Unfortunately the microphone stopped working for Lois’ message.  Here it is in case you would like to read it.

Message for March 12

The prayer that was used during our time of contemplative prayer:

The Knots Prayer

Dear God: Please untie the knots that are in my mind, my heart and my life.  Remove the have nots, the can nots and the do nots that I have in my mind.

Erase the will nots, may nots, and might nots that find a home in my heart.  Release me from the could nots, would nots and should nots that obstruct my life.

And most of all dear God, I ask that you remove from my mind, my heart and my life all of the “am nots” that I have allowed to hold me back, especially the thought that I am not good enough.

Amen

Little Black Dress Fashion Show

On Saturday, March 25th, we will host the Little Black Dress Fashion Show.  This is an afternoon of food, fun and of course fashion!  The doors will open for pre-show shopping at 11:00 AM.  At noon, we will have soup and sandwiches with cookies for dessert.  The main event, the fashion show, begins at 12:45. This year a prize will be given for the best decorated shoes – everyone knows, shoes are a girl’s best friend, so make them special and have fun.  The tickets are $5 and all profits go to help support our mission shares.  Buy those tickets now and let’s see what your imagination can create with your shoes! Come on ladies we know you’d love an afternoon of fun!

Tickets can be purchased at the church office (323-7584) or after church.

 

Lenten Reflection 1

Follow us on our Lenten journey with scripture and ideas to practice fasting from unforgiveness for 40 days.

Dear Hope,

As we move together through the Lenten season, we will focus on the idea of forgiveness. At the beginning of each week, I will send out an email with scriptures and ideas as a way to focus our efforts and also join us together in a common practice.

As we begin, we move through Ash Wednesday into our first Lenten Sunday. Why is it important to forgive?

“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”Mark 11:25

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”  James 5:16

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… Romans 3:23

Everyone needs forgiveness; forgiveness is part of our Divine character; forgiveness increases our spiritual power.

This week, think of someone you’d like to forgive–someone who isn’t that hard to forgive but who you simply haven’t taken the time or effort to forgive yet. Spend some time in prayer about that person and consider that forgiving another person is a method of receiving healing for ourselves as well as getting receptive to God’s love for us. Consider how each of us is broken and falling short. As you pray for someone you’d like to forgive, allow the prayer to move in both directions, towards that person and inward towards yourself until you feel the compassion with which God holds both of you.

Let me know how it goes!!

love and blessings,

Pastor Sam

Ash Wednesday

We will be holding an Ash Wednesday service on March 1st at 7:00 PM.

Join us as we begin our journey into the season of Lent with meaningful reflection and imposition of ashes.
“Remember that thou art dust…and unto dust shalt thou return.”