Gathering, Praying, and Collecting Items for Harvey and Irma Clean Up!

This evening, we gathered for a prayer and action vigil for people in the paths of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. You can download tonight’s liturgy, which includes a gathering prayer and litany by UCC disaster relief worker Karl Jones, here. We also incorporated a new setting of Amazing Grace, called We Who’ve Prayed in Wind and Rain, a compelling insight from Teresa of Avila, and a prayer adapted from Jonah’s cry in the belly of the whale.

We also got a start putting prayers into action. Please consider helping us fill much-needed Clean Up Buckets for the volunteer and professional crews that are will be dispatched to Texas, Florida, and elsewhere.  Many of the needed items are available at dollar stores.  We’ll be accepting donations for the next month, at least, and will be sending buckets out on a rolling basis. Please join us!

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!

 

Mayweather, McGregor, and the Gospel

Regardless of the outcome of today’s billion-dollar card, the Apostle Paul reminds us “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

There are many ways of understanding and applying this wisdom to our modern situations.  At base, though, I think Paul wants us to remember that most of the struggles we find ourselves in, even struggles with other people, are the manifestations of systems and circumstances set in-motion through generations, through broken social patterns that promote injustice, intolerance, and inequality.

Paul is asking us to see our supposed enemies the way Jesus does.  It’s Paul, after all, who famously persecuted the early church before his blinding experience on the road to Damascus.  And it’s Jesus, after all, who asked every one of us to love our enemies as ourselves and pray for those who persecute us.

Our enemies aren’t really our enemies.  The people with whom we seem to contend are, just like us, products of many broken systems setting us on paths toward personal conflict and even international war.  The “rulers, authorities, and powers of this dark world” are the lies teaching us to look out only for ourselves, to serve our own interests at any cost, and to take what we can while we can, regardless of the harm inflicted on others, especially if those others look, think, or speak differently than we do.

Don’t fall for the lie.  We have more in common than we like to admit.  And our struggle is not with each other, but with any system running counter to the economy of the Kingdom of God, a kingdom, as the Taize chant teaches, of “justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”  A kingdom wherein all is provided, where all have enough because none horde too much, where nothing is wasted and none are in want.  Amen.

– Pastor Chris

(resources: Ephesians, “The Kingdom of God,” Taize chant, “Not Scared Here” by Tim Coons)

 

 

Lowhill at The Great Allentown Fair!

The Great Allentown Fair is marking a major milestone this year: 2017 brings the 165th installment of this time-honored and forward-thinking Lehigh Valley tradition!

Lowhill’s connection to the farming communities at the heart of the fair go back to our founding, and we’re proud of the modern farmers and historic farming families at the heart of our community. We’re also especially proud of Christ’s Church at Lowhill’s very own Bev Gruber, the first woman to serve as President of the Great Allentown Fair! “I encourage everyone to come out to the Fair and help celebrate Lehigh County Agriculture!” Bev said. Her energy, dedication, and enthusiasm for the Fair are a key to its continuing success, as is the great work done by the entire fair staff and the leaders and members of the Lehigh County Agricultural Society.

The Lowhill Church Choir is honored to be participating once more in the Fair’s Opening Ceremonies, and Pastor Chris is excited to be giving the invocation. “The Great Allentown Fair is easily one of my favorite Lehigh Valley traditions,” he said. “My family has been involved with the fair for over 40 years. I have never left summer without it!”

Join us for this year’s Opening Ceremonies on Tuesday, August 29 at 5PM in the RCN Farmarama Theater!

As School Begins, Hungry Kids Face Challenges Locally, Nationally

One out of every six children in American lives in a household that struggles to put food on the table.

News from  Bethlehem this week highlights why ministries like the Lowhill Food Pantry and the Snack Pack program are so important in our community.

Christ’s Church at Lowhill is in the heart of the Northwestern Lehigh School District, and the Lowhill Food Pantry’s food assistance programs serve individuals, families, and children in Lynn, Lowhill, Heidelberg, and Weisenberg Townships.

We are called to love our neighbors and care for all of God’s children.  Please help the Lowhill Food Pantry carry out this vital mission!

 

 

Rally Day! Fill the Pews! Community Social!

Please join us on Sunday, September 10, for Christ’s Church at Lowhill’s Rally Day! Start your church year off with a renewed energy for Christ by joining together with fellow Christians. Our service begins at 10:00 AM and will feature contemporary, uplifting music, including praise songs. Bring a friend or relative for this special “fill the pews!” Sunday! Our worship gathering will be followed by a cake and coffee social for all ages. Everyone welcome!

The Snack Pack Program Needs Your Help!

As children in our area prepare to return to school, we wanted to remind everyone of an important program tackling weekend food insecurity for our region’s young people. The Lowhill Food Pantry has joined hands with the Northwestern Lehigh School District and the Allentown West Rotary Club to provide weekend food supplements to local children during the school year.

The program launched a few years ago with 40 children receiving “Snack Packs” twice a month, but we know the needs are at least twice as great. We’ve identified at least 40 more families that could benefit from this important program. Nationwide, 1 in 6 children live in households that struggle to put food on the table. The causes of this reality are complex and deserving of close examination, but we must not allow children to go hungry while adults in Harrisburg or Washington argue politics.

To better meet the needs of Northwestern Lehigh community, the Snack Pack program is in need of sponsorship from individuals, businesses, churches, and other community groups. Volunteers from Rotary, Northwestern Lehigh Senior High School’s Interact Club, and the Lowhill Food Pantry gather to assemble these packs, which cost about $5 each to fill. Without this vital program, many of children in our community would go entire weekends without eating.

The Snack Pack Program needs your support. Please consider an ongoing monetary donation. One-time gifts are also appreciated. 100% of checks made payable to the Lowhill Food Pantry with “Snack Pack Program” in the memo line will go directly into the purchasing of nutritious food items for this essential program.

Questions? Please contact the Lowhill Food Pantry (610-674-2440) or Gloria Zimmerman, Allentown West Rotary (610-395-0763).

Please donate as you are able. No child should go hungry!

Let Your Light Shine…In Every Season!

Yesterday, the nation experienced the excitement of the solar eclipse, which was able to be viewed in totality in many parts of the country, and by everyone in the world on NASA’s official YouTube channel. Over 4 million people were logged on, and official data shows that the live stream of the eclipse on NASA’s servers accounted for 87% of all web traffic on federal government systems. People of all ages and backgrounds turned out and tuned in for this historic event!

Here in the Lehigh Valley, we didn’t experience totality, but at the moon’s peak above us, it obscured 85% of the sun. Though the midday didn’t turn to night in Lowhill Township, there was an unmistakable duskiness as the moon moved across the sun’s face. I watched through Eclipse Glasses and through pin-hole viewers, and am reminded now in retrospect of the language the Apostle Paul used long ago to explain the idea that here on Earth, we don’t yet see things as fully as we one day will. But that doesn’t mean these things aren’t worth looking at here and now. Even though our vision is limited, our vantage is always made better in community. Our life’s journey will have its moments of eclipse, but the sun will shine again. The darkness will recede. The light will not stay hidden nor will it be overcome. This is good news here and now.

It’s an interesting coincidence that the solar eclipse should also happen on the last meteorological day of Summer. For me and for many of you, Summer doesn’t officially end until after Labor Day, until after the livestock and homemade delicacies are shown and shared at the Great Allentown Fair, or until children begin another year at school. The movement of the moon and sun and stars reminds us that time continues to pass, and the order of universe reminds that it does so with a purpose. The heavens move in their courses, following ancient routes. Our lives are not so predictable, but they are held in the hand of the same Creator God who cares far more for each of us than for all the stars in all the galaxies in all the universe. This is good news here and now.

As fall approaches, we look forward to another season of renewal. We’re preparing for Rally Day (September 10), and we’re asking everyone to invite friends, neighbors, and loved ones to join with us in worship, celebration, and anticipation of the new courses God is setting for us as a family of faith. On September 20, I’ll be kicking off a new weekly Wednesday night Bible study for adults at 6PM. Our first course will look together at the different and diverse types of literature that comprise the Bible, why they’re important, and how they relate to us and our own stories.

On October 7, we’ll celebrate the beauty and bounty of Fall with our Lowhill Fall Festival Community Yard Sale and Car Show, another great opportunity for fellowship with one another and with our community. Speaking of fun and fellowship, our third Penny Party for 2017 is set for October 20, and we’re organizing a Chicken Pot Pie dinner for November 11.

This has been a fun and fruitful summer together. Our outdoor services, picnics, and Vacation Bible School program have given us great times and great momentum heading into the “church year.” Please continue to be a part of this journey of faith hope and love, and always know this: whoever you are, and wherever you are on life’s journey, you are welcome and wanted here. God is still speaking!

-Pastor Chris