Lenten Bible Study Starts this Wednesday!

Lenten Bible Study:  Jesus’ Final Week

Please join us each Wednesday throughout Lent at 6:30 in the Social Hall for a this year’s Lenten Bible Study focusing on the final week in the earthly life of Jesus.  In this study, we’ll look at the narrative scope of the events immediately leading to Jesus’ crucifixion, starting with the accounts of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem mere days before the tide of popular opinion would turn against him.  By exploring these events, we will have better prepared our hearts and spirits for Easter, and we will have better prepared ourselves to be the Easter people Jesus enables us to be.

Weeks and Themes:

  February 21: The Triumphal Entry (Matthew 21:1-11)

  February 28: Clearing the Temple (Mark 11:12-19)

  March 7: Teaching on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 24: 1 – 31)

  March 14: Jesus and His People at Prayer

  March 21: Last Supper Special Seder Presentation with Rev.     

     Dr. Steve Shussett*

  March 28: Good Friday (Matthew 27)

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Welcome to a Journey with Jesus

Here at Lowhill, our leadership team has started to read and discuss a book called Real Good Church by Molly Phinney Basket.  It’s a great resource and we’re having some great discussions because of it.

Something that emerged from our last leadership meeting was the idea of intentional welcome.   Three questions emerged from that idea that I wanted to take a moment to share.

In terms of our life at Lowhill:

Who is welcome?

How do they know they are welcome?

What are we welcoming them to?

The consensus we came to:

Who is welcome?   Everyone is welcome (and wanted).

How do they know they welcome? We’re not exactly sure if we’re conveying that welcome as publicly as possible. It’s something we’re thinking about how to act more visibly on.

What are we welcoming everyone to?  Simply put, we’re welcoming each other, our community, our friends and neighbors –and everyone else– to get to know Jesus better.  We don’t think we have all the answers, and we know that your presence with us will help us get to know Jesus better, too.

That’s not a bad start toward articulating who we are and why we gather.

Boiled down to one sentence:

We’re a church where everyone is welcome to be part of a journey with Jesus, and we’ll hope you’ll join us!

– Pastor Chris

 

Ripe Unto The Harvest

Paul David Hewson is an outspoken Christian activist focused on the justice issues of access to life-saving medicine, the elimination of extreme poverty and the forgiveness of predatory debt. He’s also the lead singer of U2. (You probably know him as Bono).

What does Bono mean when he says our opportunity to end extreme poverty — the kind that causes children to starve to death — has become instead a millstone around our necks?

If the imagery sounds familiar, that’s because it’s from Jesus, as recorded in Luke 17:2:

“It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones [children] to stumble.”

The root causes of extreme poverty, both here and abroad, are important to think about as we prepare to celebrate Harvest Home tomorrow, thanking God for another year’s harvest and collecting produce and canned goods in support of the Lowhill Food Pantry.  Please join us!

Celebrate Harvest Home this Sunday!

 

“Our passion is to imitate the ministry of Jesus in the power of the Spirit. This requires we must follow Jesus out of baptismal waters, through our personal deserts, and into the harvest.”

     – John Wimber

Lowhill, we’re getting ready for our annual Harvest Home celebration this Sunday, October 15.  The gathering and blessing of produce (and, in modern times, canned goods) at the altar of the local church is a long-standing tradition among many American churches with Germanic roots.  Lutherans, Mennonites, Moravians, and the German Reformed ancestors of many United Church of Christ congregations like Lowhill brought this yearly celebration with them from Europe, where its roots run even deeper.  This 2013 piece in the Berks-Mont news chronicles some of the tradition’s origins and practices.

The Lowhill Food Pantry, hosted on our property and managed by volunteers from across the community, serves the needs of families and children in the Northwestern Lehigh School District.  All produce and canned goods offered at the altar on Sunday will be donated to the Food Pantry for their essential work in bringing the harvest home to friends and neighbors in need.

Please join us this Sunday as we celebrate God’s good provision through another year. There will be special music, a harvest liturgy, and a message about perhaps the most famous and subversive of Jesus’ agrarian parables about the Kingdom of God:

“What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”

The mustard plant was considered an invasive weed in Jesus’ day.  What that might say about our own harvest work here and now?  Join us on Sunday!

 

What is World Communion Sunday:

This Sunday, October 1, 2017, Christ’s Church at Lowhill will join with thousands of Cristian congregations around the globe in celebration of World Communion Sunday.

So what is World Communion Sunday?

 When I need to cut to the core of something, I tend go right to Wikipedia. It’s usually where Google sends me anyway.  According to the editors of the internet’s most popular encyclopedia:
World Communion Sunday is a celebration observed by several Christian denominations, taking place on the first Sunday of every October, that promotes Christian unity and ecumenical cooperation.[1] It focuses on an observance of the eucharist.

 

The tradition was begun in 1934 by Hugh Thomson Kerr who ministered in the Shadyside Presbyterian Church. “Davitt S. Bell (the late Clerk of Session and church historian at Shadyside) recalled that Dr. Kerr first conceived the notion of World Communion Sunday during his year as moderator of the General Assembly (1930). Dr. Kerr’s younger son, the Rev. Dr. Donald Craig Kerr, who is pastor emeritus of the Roland Park Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, was sixteen in 1933. He has related that World Communion Sunday grew out of the Division of Stewardship at Shadyside. It was their attempt to bring churches together in a service of Christian unity—in which everyone might receive both inspiration and information, and above all, to know how important the Church of Jesus Christ is, and how each congregation is interconnected one with another.”[2] It was then was adopted throughout the US Presbyterian Church in 1936,[1] and subsequently spread to other denominations. In 1940, the Federal Council of Churches (now the National Council of Churches), led by Jesse Moren Bader, endorsed World Communion Sunday and began to promote it to Christian churches worldwide.

It’s important to note that even though different Christian denominations have different practices and beliefs regarding Communion, or that practices and beliefs often differ from church to church even within the same denomination, World Communion Sunday celebrates what unites us.

Ian Doescher puts it this way:

“The key words for World Communion Sunday are togetherness and unity.  It is a day when we mark the almost universal Christian practice of breaking bread with one another and remembering both the night of Jesus’ betrayal—when Jesus instituted what we now call the Lord’s Supper as a lasting remembrance—and of Jesus’ sacrifice.  World Communion Sunday is a time for remembering that around the globe—in different languages, with different traditions and customs, and in various forms of liturgy—the Lord’s Supper is celebrated throughout Christendom.  At its best, therefore, World Communion Sunday serves two purposes: it is both a joyous and meaningful partaking in Jesus’ sacred meal with his friends and a mind-opening exposure to different Christian traditions from around the world.”

At Lowhill, the Communion table is open.  As the liturgy says, come, for all things are ready.  Let us share the bread and cup with one another and the world!

See you Sunday!

– Pastor Chris

Worship Series: The Kingdom of God is Like…

 

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus uses parables of everyday life to explain the radical hope and promise of the Kingdom of God.  Through stories about things as vital as planting and harvesting, working and leading, preparing food and sharing it, Jesus reveals a compelling vision.

We’ll follow this theme Sunday mornings, September 24 – October 15.  We’re also excited to celebrate World Communion Sunday on October 1 and Harvest Home on October 15 in this context.  Join us!

The Kids’ Table: Worshipping Together as Family

Two weeks ago, we introduced a new way of sharing our worship experience as a family of faith.  Rather than separate our children from their parents and the rest of the church family during the worship gathering, we’ve created a space, “The Kids’ Table,” within the service itself where children are free to engage in age-appropriate crafts and activities building on the Children’s Sermon all while remaining in the same space as the rest of us.

The adage is true: Children are sponges. The things they hear and remember from the service, even while they’re coloring, cutting, pasting, or writing, are remarkable. Jessica Nelson, a children’s minister from Texas, says, “children need calm and security, and they don’t always get that at home. Sitting in worship, holding hands, and speaking community prayers together can give our families a respite. Once families are comfortable with these practices, they’ll be able to use them away from the church when a crisis or difficult situation emerges and they need family spirituality.”

One of our members had this to say about The Kids’ Table experience at Lowhill:  “Keeping the children in the room, having them work on their projects while still being able to engage in what the rest of the church is doing…it reminds me of a living room.  It’s like we’re all in one big family room together.”

Exactly.  That’s how it was in the early church, too.

At Lowhill, we’re committed to helping families worship, grow, love, and serve together.  Life is hectic. Families are separated during the work and school day, during sports practices and extracurricular activities.  Weekly worship, which started in the homes of early Christians, seems like a great place for families to be together.  It also helps the entire church family remember the promises it has made to help parents raise children up in the life-giving ways to which God calls us.

Another old adage says it takes a village to raise a child.  What’s a village other than an extended family of adults caring for each other and sharing in the encouragement of parents and children?  And what’s a church if not precisely an extended family?  What’s a worship gathering if not a place where the whole family can grow together in faith, hope, and love?  We’re called together as the Body of Christ, a family of faith, a community.  A village without borders and a people welcoming children, like Jesus did, without reservation.

At Lowhill, we’re focusing on living out our Christian purpose, mission, and vision in ways that welcome children, families, and neighbors with the love of Jesus.  Because He says so, yes, but also because it’s what gives us life, because it’s what blesses our community, and because it’s what really matters.  We’ll hope you’ll join us!

– Pastor Chris

 

 

 

 

Hurricane Prayer and Action Vigil

In response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, we will gather on September 11, 2017 at 7PM for prayer and action at Christ’s Church at Lowhill. We’ll be collecting items from the attached list to create Clean Up Buckets to be donated to Church World Service’s disaster relief efforts for Harvey, Irma, and forthcoming storms.  Please join us!

BUCKET CONTENTS AS SPECIFIED BY CHURCH WORLD SERVICE:

One five-gallon bucket with resealable lid (If bucket has been used, clean well but do not use if it has held chemicals of any kind.)
Four scouring pads
Seven sponges, including one large
One scrub brush
Eighteen reusable cleaning towels (e.g. Easy Wipes)
One 50 oz. or two 25 oz. bottle(s) of liquid laundry detergent
One 16-28 oz. bottle of liquid disinfectant dish soap
One 12-16 oz. bottle of household cleaner that can be mixed with water (no spray bottles)
One package of 48-50 clothespins
Clothesline, two 50 ft. or one 100 ft.
Five dust masks
Two pairs non surgical latex gloves
One pair work gloves, cotton with leather palm or all leather
24-28 heavy duty or contractor type 30-45 gallon trash bags on a roll and removed from carton
One 6-9 oz. bottle of non-aerosol insect repellent
All cleaning items must be new – all liquid items must be capped and securely tightened. Place all items into the bucket, making sure they are packed securely to avoid damage during shipment. Snap the lid on tight and seal with packing tape.

You can share this event with your Facebook friends here!

You can also sign up through the United Church of Christ’s national organization to  volunteer in regions affected by Hurricane Harvey here.

 

Exploring Our Identity: A Three-Week Series

Today at Lowhill, we began  a three-week series looking at the spiritual and historical “DNA” of our church.  What does it mean to understand and embrace our identity as Christ’s Church at Lowhill, a United Church of Christ where God is still speaking?

We’ll look at our identity in three parts:

  • Christ’s Church at Lowhill (today)
  • a United Church of Christ (September 3)
  • where God is Still Speaking… (September 10: Rally Day/Fill The Pews Sunday)

This week, we looked closely at the first part of our identity.  By exploring the history of the words Christ and Church, how they relate to each other, and what it means to be a people of God belonging to Christ and situated in a local, particular context, we considered what it means to be Christ’s Church at Lowhill here and now.

Today’s scriptures and study notes on the history of the words Christ and Church can be downloaded in an easy-to-read format by clicking here: Word Study August 27-Christ:Church.

Peter’s recognition of Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, is the starting point for our response as Jesus’ people.  “Thou art the Christ,” Peter said.  And we are the Church.  As Christ’s Church at Lowhill, we belong to Jesus, we are a people gathered for a purpose, and are called to minister to the heart of our community!