WThis past weekend, a group of youth from our church and Grottoes UMC filled the field on Port Road for hunger and homeless awareness. They set up boxes and fire barrels to shelter them from the cold and wind as they spent the night outside. In the evening, several speakers came out to share their experiences working in hunger and homeless ministries with the youth. I had the privilege of offering an opening devotional, and I want to share some of my thoughts with you as well.
Why does someone live homeless or suffer from ongoing hungering? Certainly life circumstances could lead any of us to be without a home or to go hungry for a season - perhaps we suffer a house fire or natural disaster, the loss of job or an accidental injury that keeps us from working and piles on medical bills. Hopefully, we have the support to get back on our feet, and things return more to normal. Sometimes though, homelessness or hunger is not merely seasonal but becomes a chronic problem. Often there are complicating factors that we might expect - drug or alcohol abuse, addictions, incarceration, mental illness, and extreme poverty. But often there is another, largely unrecognized issue that goes even deeper - the breakdown of relationship. If something were to cause someone to lose their home or to go hungry, most likely they would have friends and family to call upon, and they would not be homeless or hungry for very long. What happens, however, if someone has no one left to call upon? What happens if they have burned bridges with those they have counted on in the past because of addiction or abuse? What happens if all the relationships they have built break down? Where there is a breakdown of relationship, there is potential for chronic homelessness and hunger, because there is no one left to help. While this may run the risk of oversimplifying the problem, the point that this raises is the role that a breakdown of relationships plays in the problem. As we think about helping those who go hungry and are homeless, it is important to realize that building a relationship with them is as much a part of the solution as meeting the physical needs they have. What our youth did by filling the field was to begin making relationships by experiencing just a bit of what those in need face and growing in their understanding and empathy.
May we treasure the relationships we have and work to build relationships with those who are most vulnerable. Blessings on the journey, Jim
A Prayer for Election Day
God of Wisdom and Power, from beginning to end, you are the Mighty Counselor, Prince of Peace, and King of Kings. For more than a year, we have wrestled with the question of whom we would have lead us. This has sadly been a time of bitter division and growing discouragement for our nation. We have lived in uncertainty and fear over what the future holds, but today we finally come together to make the decision. We give thanks to you for the freedom we exercise today to vote our conscience, and we thank you for all those who have sacrificed and struggled to ensure that right for us all. Help us to see more clearly how you would have us to vote, not only on the presidential election that has consumed so much of our attention but also on local elections and state initiatives. Fill us with your love not only for those who think like us but also for those who are opposed to us. Keep our tongues and tempers in check, and help us to trust one another again. Surround our polling sites with your protection that they may be places of peace rather than disputes. Sustain all the election officials and volunteers working so hard today with your patience and encouragement for the long day and night ahead of them. Bless each and every candidate who have offered their service to their towns and cities, their counties and states, this nation and indeed the world with your grace and strength. Throughout this day, help us your people to reclaim and proclaim our unity as a country and our love for our neighbor. Remind us of who we are in you, and may the way we live today bring glory to your holy name. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
Worship This Week: Thanksliving
Sunday's Sermon Snippet: The Present of Presence (Ephesians 1:15-23)
Thanksgiving is approaching soon, and we will give thanks for our many blessings on that day. But how can we not only give but also live out our thanks everyday? In his letters to the saints of the early church, the Apostle Paul connected giving thanks with the act of prayer. In writing to the Ephesians while he himself was imprisoned, Paul affirmed that he never stopped giving thanks for them, their faith, and their love when he remembered them in prayer. Moreover, he prayed that God would give them the wisdom and revelation to know God more fully and deeply so that their faith and love could grow. To this end, he prayed that the eyes of their heart would have the light to see three things: 1) the hope of God's call that we would be an honor to God in how we live, 2) the richness of God's inheritance for us of salvation and the indwelling of the Spirit, and 3) the greatness of God's power through which we - along with all things - are made, redeemed, and remade through Jesus Christ. When we see these things clearly, we recognize the great gift that God is always present with us and around us - making and remaking us. We are always surrounded by God's protective hands working for our redemption although we may at times wonder where God is. We are always surrounded by God's goodness indwelling in the world around us although the corrosion of sin may sometimes make it hard to see. Paul gives thanks for this present of God's presence within and around us, even though he is in prison for preaching the gospel of Christ. We should give thanks for this presence as well and grow in our thankfulness everyday by looking for God's presence in our midst.
This Week's Prayer for Growing a Thankful Heart
This week's prayer for helping us grow in thankfulness is an ancient Celtic prayer attributed to St. Patrick. This prayer celebrates and asks for God's presence with us.
Christ be with us, Christ before us, Christ behind us,
Christ in us, Christ beneath us, Christ above us,
Christ on our right, Christ on our left,
Christ where we lie, Christ where we sit, Christ where we arise,
Christ in the heart of every one who thinks of us,
Christ in every eye that sees us,
Christ in every ear that hears us.
Salvation is of the Lord,
Salvation is of the Christ,
May your salvation, O Lord, be ever with us.
Have you ever faced a difficult situation that replaced the joy and trust in your heart with worry and fear? Have you ever wondered how or what to pray for in trying times? Join us this Sunday as we discover "The Guardian of Prayer"!
Living in Community
Please continue to pray for Sue and her healing over the coming weeks.
Thanks to Mary and Kendra for organizing the Operation Christmas Child party!
Thanks to Ralph for serving as our lay leader!
Thanks to Bob, Dianna, Connie, and Davida for serving communion and to Linda and Donnie for setting it communion up for our service on Sunday!
Thanks to all the youth crew leaders, volunteers, speakers, and neighbors who made Fill the Field possible - Dinah, Meg, Chris, Angela, Eddie, Jordan, Brad, Pam, Pastor Brian and Kara from Grottoes UMC, Dianna and Bob, Joe and Jean, Tracey, Keith, and Randy!
If you would like to purchase poinsettias for our sanctuary in honor or memory of a loved one, please see Pam during the month of November.
The Drive-thru Nativity is fast approaching! Please see Davida to sign up for a part. before all the good ones are taken (and they are all good ones!).
This Week at Port Church
Tuesday, November 8
9:00 - 11:45 - Office Hours
The Church will be open and Pastor Jim available for prayer during office hours.
Go vote, and come by for prayer!
Wednesday, November 9
6:00 pm - Wednesday at the Port
7:30 - Choir Practice
Thursday, November 10
9:00 - 11:45 - Office Hours
Sunday, November 13
9:30 am - Worship: "Thanksliving: The Guardian of Prayer"
11:00 am - Sunday School
Drive-thru Nativity - December 9 & 10
Christmas Musical Program - December 18
News and Updates
Find out what is going on at Port Republic UMC this week and in weeks to come!