newsletter march 2017 | Born Again

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March 2017 he Messenger The newsletter of the Selby and Mobridge United Methodist Churches UMW Focus Day Just One Thing The Mobridge UMW will be Mobridge UMC will be collecting the following items on a monthly hosting the annual UMW basis. The items will donated to the Bridges Against Domestic Violence Focus Day on Satu
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  he Messenger March 2017  The newsletter of the Selby and Mobridge United Methodist Churches Clean water is life. One in five children who die under age 5 die from diseases related to contaminated water sources. One in nine people do not have access to clean water every day.  Jesus calls us to give drink to the thirsty. This is the aim of the United Methodist Committee on Relief through the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene or WASH program. UMCOR works in communities and in partnerships to rehabilitate or create new water sources in communities without access to clean water. UMCOR then offers training to ensure that the communities will be able to maintain their own water sources. UMCOR also is involved in global education and training programs that build appropriate toilets and teach proper handwashing practices. On Sunday, March 26, we will observe UMCOR Sunday in order to lift up and financially support the important work of UMCOR. It is one of the six special offerings observed across The United Methodist Church. UMCOR Sunday (Formerly One Great Hour of Sharing) UMW Focus Day The Mobridge UMW will be hosting the annual UMW Focus Day on Saturday, April 8th at Mobridge UMC. This is a day of worship, prayer, and learning. Registration will be at 9:30 with the actual event beginning at 10:00. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP to Trudy  Johnson.  Just One Thing Mobridge UMC will be collecting the following items on a monthly basis. The items will donated to the Bridges Against Domestic Violence house.  March –  Batteries AA, AAA, D  April –  Light Bulbs  May –  Disposable Diapers, Sizes 3-5   June –  Band Aids, First Aid Kits   July –  Toilet Paper  August –  Kleenex  September –  Laundry detergent, Dryer Sheets  October –  Trash Bags  November –  Flashlights  December –  Shampoo, Body Wash, Toothpaste, Toothbrushes   I am pleased to greet you as we enter our 40-day Lenten journey that will culminate in the Easter festival celebrating Jesus’ resurrection and victory over sin and death. During these 40 days, commencing with Ash Wednesday, we journey with Jesus as he claims and fulfills his mission. It is a season we are meant to experience and carry out God’s ultimate mission for our lives. We do so through our Lenten disciplines of self-denial, repentance and becoming more obedient, even to the point of dying to our old selves and being born again. One of the biblical texts that inform my Lenten journey is the story of Nicodemus recorded in John's Gospel (  John 3:1-17  ). You know this story well. It is one of my favorites because the story is not just about Nicodemus. It is about me and all of us. John is telling our stories of emptying ourselves, humbling ourselves, becoming obedient so that we can embrace God’s mission for our lives and that mission alone. Nicodemus is mired in his presumptions and his impoverished spiritual imagination. Nicodemus is confined by his limited view of reality. Nicodemus is defined by a fixed, immutable world, confident of his religious knowledge and closed to the surprising, the improbable, the Spirit of God, a new way of viewing himself and God’s dream for him.  Nicodemus keeps seeking and inquiring in the dark, unable and unwilling to expose himself to the full light of Jesus. Nicodemus is not prepared to die to his old self and allow new life to be birthed in him. Nicodemus is not ready to surrender fully and let God's Spirit live and reign with him. Ouch! This really is about us, isn’t it? I, for one, confess that the state of my soul is like Nicodemus’ as I enter into this Lenten season.  Deep within the recesses of Nicodemus' soul is a small flicker of holy curiosity about the kingdom of which Jesus speaks and which he had witnessed. Deep within a corner of Nicodemus' spirit, this flicker of hunger for new life drives him to seek Jesus but in the security of the shadows.  Jesus jumps all over Nicodemus’ curiosity and invites him to be born again, start anew. He reminds Nicodemus that all things are now possible because “God so loved the world that God gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish, but have eternal life,” (  John 3:16 ) abundant life, new life. Our Lenten journey, the very journey we are entering into, is one of moving out of the darkness of sin and the shadows of doubt into the new life in Christ –   birth from above as Jesus said. It is a joy, one of the blessings of being your bishop, to witness Holy Spirit breakthroughs in individual lives and congregations throughout the Dakotas and Minnesota Conferences. I witness congregations and individuals on the same journey as Nicodemus. They are moving from the tentativeness of shrink-wrapped faith to risk-taking faith and mission. They are allowing their curiosity about new life to overwhelm their fear and well-worn traditions and preferences to embrace and be guided by the unlimited imagination of God. This is the journey from despair and death to resurrection. This is the journey that takes us to the cross and then to the empty tomb. I pray this will be your spiritual journey this Lenten season. Thanks be to God’s Spirt for calling us,  guiding us and equipping us for the journey from the shadows to renewed life in Christ. May it be so! Bishop Ough Move out of the shadows: Bishop Ough's Ash Wednesday message    I’m reading a book called When Helping Hurts that defines poverty as being about a lot more than money. “Poverty is the result of relationships that do not work, that are not just, that are not for life, that are not harmonious or enjoyable. Poverty is the absence of shalom in all its meanings.” I can be rich in things, but foolish in spirit. I can have a lot of stuff, but not have a good relationship with God, with others, or with my own self. The authors of When Helping Hurts  state that throughout all of history humans have created economic, social, religious, and political systems. The effects of our bent to sinning, the effects of the fall show up in the systems that we create. The recently passed law that caps interest rates in our state at 36% was a huge change in an economic system that had, prior to that vote, been uncapped and was above 500% for the poorest in our state. Both the Roman Catholic Church and the United Methodist Church are religious systems. The RCC is a religious system based upon the ancient Roman Empire, while the UMC is a religious system based upon the constitutional system that is the basis of the United States. So both the RCC and the UMC are religious systems patterned after political systems. In 1968, when the Evangelical United Brethren joined with The Methodist Church (the United in our name comes from the Evangelical United Brethren), the Methodists in the South insisted that all black churches, regardless of whether they were in Alabama or New York or California would be placed in an all-black conference called the Central Annual Conference. The churches in the northern states reluctantly accepted that system even though they were ashamed of it. African Americans were so angered they walked out of the “uniting conference”.  But an amazing thing happened. Because only black churches were in the Central Annual Conference, they elected their own bishops who appointed their own district superintendents and all of the bishops and district superintendents were black. Three decades later, when the Central Annual Conference was abolished, The United Methodist Church found they had a deep bench of black leadership. God brought something good out of something bad. Oftentimes we look at the systems that surround us and think we are helpless to change them. But oftentimes we look at change and are afraid of the impact that change might have on the systems that surround us, perhaps because we’re comfortable with those systems or perhaps because we benefit from those systems. The simplest system I know of is the system symbolized by the cross –  two straight lines that intersect. The larger of those two lines, the vertical line, connects us with God while the horizontal line, which is upheld by the vertical line, connects us with one another. We have to have both lines to be disciples of Jesus Christ. Through Christ, God took a system of execution and transformed it into a system of grace. That’s pretty amazing.  As we enter the Season of Lent, may we look inward and seek to change ourselves, to deepen our relationship with God and to strengthen our relationship with others. And then may we be transformed into disciples of Jesus Christ who will follow him even if we must follow him to the cross.   March 2017 Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday 1   Genesis, 3:30 - 5   Ash Wednesday 2   Communion at Good Sam, 10:15 am   3   World Day of Prayer   4   SW -  Selby Worship   MW -  Mobridge Worship   CCM -  Church Council Meeng   5   SW -  9:00 am   MW -  11:00 am, potluck Conrmaon 6   7   8   Genesis, 3:30 - 5   SUMC CCM -  7:30 pm   9   10   11   Worship Design Training at Watertown 1st UMC   12   *Daylight Savings Time* SW -  9:00 am   MW -  11:00 am   CCM following Conrmaon 13   14   15   Genesis, 3:30 - 5   16   17   18   19   SW -  9:00 am   MW -  11:00 am   MUMW -  12:45   Conrmaon 20   21   22   Genesis, 3:30 - 5   23   24   25   26   SW -  9:00 am   MW -  11:00 am   Conrmaon 27   28   29   Genesis, 3:30 - 5   30   31   So the real beginning of Lent is Ash Wednesday? Yes. Ash Wednesday, the day after Mardi Gras, usually begins with a service where we recognize our mortality, repent of our sins, and return to our loving God. We recognize life as a precious gift from God, and re-turn our lives towards Jesus Christ. We may make resolutions and commit to change our lives over the next forty days so that we might be more like Christ. In an Ash Wednesday service, usually a minister or priest marks the sign of the cross on a person’s forehead with ashes.   Why ashes?   In Jewish and Christian history, ashes are a sign of mortality and repentance. Mortality, because when we die, our bodies eventually decompose and we become dust/dirt/ash/whatever. Repentance, because long ago, when people felt remorse for something they did, they would put ashes on their head and wear “sackcloth” (scratchy clothing) to remind them that sin is pretty uncomfortable and leads to a sort of death of the spirit. This was their way of confessing their sins and asking for forgiveness .  
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