Responsive Offering Prayer

From today’s service:

Let us sacrifice to God our own broken spirits;

LORD, cleanse and heal our broken, hungry hearts. 

Make us artisans of justice, crafters of mercy, makers of peace. 

Build your kingdom in us!  Make us builders of your kingdom come.

True worship is this:

justice-seeking, providing for, protecting

forgotten, lonely people;

impoverished people,

persecuted people.

People just like Jesus.

People just like us.

What else can we give back to God, with all God’s given us?  We offer our own broken spirits, our own humble, hungry hearts. We offer you, LORD, nothing less than what you’ve given us — our lives, our selves, our all.

We give you but your own, our will joined to yours

our death joined to yours,

empowered by your Spirit

for resurrection now.

Glory and honor and praise be unto you our God,

forever and ever.

Amen.

Pastor Chris Named to Liberty Bell Museum Board of Directors

LibMuseumLogo.jpegDear Friends,

I am very excited and honored to have joined the Board of Directors of the Liberty Bell Museum of Allentown! If you don’t know the story of how the Liberty Bell was clandestinely transported from Philadelphia for safe-keeping under the floorboards of Zion’s “Liberty Bell” UCC Church in Allentown during the American Revolution, I invite you to visit the museum as well as Zion’s Church, a sister church of Lowhill in our Penn Northeast Conference of the United Church of Christ, “to touch history and be transformed!”

Of local Lowhill and Lynn Township note: the same Leaser family who’ve lent their name to nearby Leaser Lake were, along with the Mickley family, instrumental in transporting America’s most famous symbol of freedom for refuge in the Lehigh Valley during the darkest days of the American Revolution.

Having grown up in the Valley, I always knew the general contours of the story.   It became of even greater importance to me when I started fellowshiping and worshiping at Zion’s in 2010.  My experience at Zion’s was fundamental to the future work I’d do in ministry in the United Church of Christ, and was transformative for me on a number of levels.  It’s so good to be able to stay connected to my “home” UCC church and to be able to give something back to the work of preserving its important history!

 

-Pastor Chris

Pentecost Communion at the Altar: Historical and Spiritual Perspectives

Join us for a historical expression of a timeless reality this Pentecost!

Christ’s Church at Lowhill is an historic church; next year marks our 250th anniversary, and our current sanctuary is 150 years old. But we also strive to be a church community that looks to entrench itself in the future to which God is calling. We’re learning together how to blend traditional and modern expressions and understandings of Christian worship and spiritual depth.

This Sunday, which is also Pentecost, we’ll be sharing Communion together. In and of itself, that’s not out of the ordinary, especially for a special day on the church calendar. What is different, though, is how we’ll be sharing the Lord’s Supper together. Rather than reinvent the sharing of the sacrament, we’re going to be doing something very, very traditional; something that hasn’t been done at Lowhill in many, many years.

Harkening back to practices from the long life of our church, we’ll be receiving Communion at the altar railing this Sunday. We hope that participating in this practice helps each of us understand a greater depth of meaning in the shared meal, or, perhaps, a more personal connection with the God we meet in bread and cup.

Altar railings are, themselves, a product of the Protestant Reformation. They were designed in part to mark off sacred altar space from the sanctuary in general, according to prevailing theological sentiments of the time or of a particular local church. For many Christians, the “otherness” of sacred space is an important aspect of the experience of worship.  Other Christians understand all space as sacred, and therefore have tended away from the use of altar rails. Here at Lowhill, somewhere along the line, an architectural and spiritual compromise seems to have been struck. Our altar rails are low and permeable, meant, I think, to suggest that while the kingdom of God is here in nascent, growing form, it’s not entirely here yet. Even so, there are very real places and times and experiences in which heaven meets earth. Jesus himself is the ultimate expression of this truth. Our altar rails, which once wrapped around the entire altar space but were scaled back in the 20th century to allow open access to the table, seem to suggest both the present nature of the kingdom and our access to it, and the not-yet complete work of Jesus’ mission and prayer, that God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

Pentecost itself is a seminal moment in the building of the kingdom of God here among us. Join us this Sunday as we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit in the life of the early church, and as we look with anticipation to the Spirit’s clear call in the present and for the future God is calling us to build.

Blessings!

Pastor Chris

 

 

A Pentecost Prayer for Family Worship

I found this wonderful prayer on the website of our brothers and sisters in the United Methodist Church.  It’s great to use with children in a family (or church) setting because it spells out what we believe in everyday language that is easy to say and easy to understand.

There are many mysteries when it comes to the Holy Spirit, but not everything is a mystery.  Some of it, like the language of this prayer, is right within our grasp, waiting to be ignited in our families’ journeys of faith!

Gracious God. We are reminded again when the first believers in Jesus were given the courage to tell others about Jesus. We believe you give us that same courage to tell others about Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. You know, O God, that sometimes we are fearful and we feel alone. But just like that Pentecost long ago, we, too, are surrounded by your love and presence. Help us live in such a way that others see in us a reflection of your love. Help us have the courage to tell others about the difference it makes in our lives to trust in your love and care. Help us see those around who want to be in the fellowship of Christians. Help us to witness to one another so that we grow in faith. Through the power of your Holy Spirit and the witness of your son, Jesus the Christ, we pray today. Amen.

Blessings!

Pastor Chris

Understanding the Holy Spirit (Video)

We’re celebrating Pentecost this Sunday, and welcome everyone to celebrate the coming of God’s Holy Spirit in the historic life of the church.

But what does any of that actually mean?

This video, from non-profit studio The Bible Project, does an excellent job connecting the story of the Holy Spirit throughout scripture and experience.

Breaking Babel, Building the Body of Christ

It was wonderful to worship together with organ, piano, and acoustic guitar! We also explored the Tower of Babel story by building and destroying our own tower of self-centeredness, then rebuilding it on the altar, piece by piece, into a representation not of our own pride or desires, but of the Body of Christ!

As always, you can check out our morning video stream at our Facebook page in case you weren’t able to be with us in person yesterday.   This coming Sunday, we’re celebrating Pentecost with flourishes of color, exciting music, and the story of the pouring of the Holy Spirit on the early church.  In many ways, the Pentecost story is a reversal of yesterday’s story of Babel.  Whether you’ve been in worship with us recently or not,  come help celebrate the often-forgotten power of Pentecost.  Join us this week!  We’re not just inviting you to church, but to a mission to build a world on earth as it is in Heaven…a just world for all, where each and all know the power, provision, and protection of God in the Body of Christ.

Mothers’ Day Call to Worship and Litany

While we’re focusing our sermon and scripture tomorrow on the story of the Tower of Babel in preparation for celebrating Pentecost, we’re opening our service with a special Call to Worship and Litany in honor of Mothers’ Day. Recalling familiar and powerful figures from the history of our faith, this litany honors mothers, but also brings to our hearts the struggles of families who long to have children but can’t, of people left motherless, of people faithfully raised by other family members or by adopted parents. Whatever your experience, know that you are invited and welcome to participate in the life of our community!

Mothers Day Call to Worship

Make a Joyful Noise in Babel…

Getting ready to look at the Tower of Babel story on Sunday, and incorporating David Gray’s 1998 hit “Babylon” into a call and response with Keith Green’s “Create in Me a Clean Heart.” We’ll have piano, organ, and acoustic guitars leading us in worship! Join us!

 

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Spring Updates

Dear Friends,

It seems like just yesterday that we celebrated a fantastic egg hunt in the snow!

The weeks since Easter have flown by, and we’ve been exploring what it means to live as God’s risen people.  We’ve been exploring the mission of God’s risen people, the joy of God’s risen people, the witness of God’s risen people, the provision of God’s risen people, and more.

We’ve shared in the joy of four baptisms, with another coming at the end of June, and we’ve been preparing for a lively celebration of Pentecost.  We’ve blended traditional hymns on piano and organ with songs led on guitar, and we’ve supplemented our bulletin with inviting images and reflective videos.

We’ve done a lot of pastoral care, and we’ve done a great deal of leg work for upcoming community events we’re hosting.  We held a very successful spaghetti dinner with live entertainment from Rob Ballonoff that was a great night of food and fellowship;  we had food, fellowship, and fun raising mission funds at another historic Lowhill Penny Party; and we celebrated a Mother’s Day Tea Party and bridal show with a wonderful turnout from the community.

As pastor, I want to thank everyone for the great work we’ve done together this season, and to share the fact that we’re just getting started.  We work hard on outreach not just for the sake of having fun events, but for the impact of fellowship and the building of community.  As faithful folks serving in a time when traditional commitments to all institutions are struggling, we’re inspired to create opportunities to minister to our friends and neighbors and each other in a variety of ways.  We want to be a place where people feel able to connect, and we want to build great on-ramps into the fuller life of the church.  Please join us!

Coming up:

This week in worship, we’re going to look at the Tower of Babel story in preparation for Pentecost, and I’m bringing my Jenga pieces.

Next week, we’ll celebrate Pentecost with lively worship, bright flourishes of color, Communion, and a birthday social following our worship hour where we’ll honor our May birthdays as well as the birthday of the Christian church.

On May 26, we’ll be hosting a Spring Yard Sale and vendor fair with live music from our friend Rob Ballonoff.

On Father’s Day, we’ll be worshipping outside in our beautiful grove and enjoying a cookout and picnic following worship.

The end of school is coming, and with it, Vacation Bible School.  Our theme this year is “Shipwrecked,” and I’m already growing my “castaway” beard…

This summer we’re also going to be launching a weekly family fellowship and worship program on Wednesday nights called Lowhill Live.  Watch for information about that soon!

We’re very excited about the months ahead, and we’re looking forward with joy and excitement to our 250th anniversary next year.  Please join us!

Blessings and thanks!

Pastor Chris

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Youth Group Alert! An Egg-celent Opportunity for Fellowship and Fun!

Christ’s Church at Lowhill is excited to announce the first of many fun fellowship events for youth in our area!

What:  Let your creativity flow while we decorate Easter eggs to support our community Egg Hunt and enjoy fun, fellowship…and pizza!  All ages welcome!

When:  Friday, March 23, starting at 5PM.

Where: Social Hall, Christ’s Church at Lowhill.

If you would like more information on upcoming events, please get in touch with Tabitha Daniels to be added to our contact list!