Category: Thursday Thoughts

January 21, 2021 THURSDAY THOUGHTS

January 21, 2021 THURSDAY THOUGHTS

CLICK HERE to read the January 21, 2021 Thursday Thoughts

 

January 21, 2021

Dear Congregation:

I hope you will find this benediction, written by the Rev. Dr. William Sloane Coffin for Riverside Church in NY City, as a blessing for these days.

May the Lord bless you

and keep you.

May God’s face

shine upon you and

be gracious unto you.

May God give you the grace

never to sell yourself short;

grace to risk something big

for something good;

grace to remember that the

world is too dangerous

for anything but truth and

too small for anything but love.

So, may God take your minds

and think through them;

may God take your lips

and speak through them;

may God take your hearts

and set them on fire.

May God look on you with joy

And give you peace.

Amen.

 

 

 

Worship Notes                Third Sunday after Epiphany

            God calls many different people in many different ways.  In the Gospel lesson from Mark 1: 14-20, Jesus sees four fishers, and they immediately leave their nets in response to the call to “Follow me.”   Jonah 3:1–5, 10 is also a story of call. The prophet Jonah has already failed once to respond to God’s call. Now God calls Jonah a second time to go to Nineveh to preach a message of repentance. Because of this reluctant prophet, the people repent and acknowledge God. God’s mind is changed and Nineveh is saved.

 

Food for Thought:              

“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”  (Robert F. Kennedy 64TH US  Attorney General)

 

Rev. Dr. Barbara Kershner Daniel, Senior Pastor

Evangelical Reformed Church, United Church of Christ

15 West Church Street, Frederick, MD 21701

301-662-2762

E-mail: bkdaniel@erucc.org

 

Thursday Thoughts, January 14, 2021

Thursday Thoughts, January 14, 2021

CLICK HERE for the January 17, 2021 Thursday Thoughts

 

January 14, 2021

Dear Congregation:

I am holding on to hope.  I am hoping that wisdom and calm will prevail.  I am hoping that we, as a country, can find our way to reclaim our values of liberty and justice for all.  I am hoping that we can recognize that saying we were wrong is nor a moral failing but an act of courage and the opportunity to find a new way forward.

We will gather for worship on Sunday as we have done for over 275 years.  We will gather for prayer next week, with one another and members of the United Church of Christ.  We will invoke the power of the Holy Spirit to fall afresh on us and give us wisdom and courage for the living of these days.

I share a prayer for going on from Steve Garnaas-Holmes:

 Prayer for going on

Beloved, you have not given up on us.  Shine your light within us.

Crucified One, you have been here before. Sustain us with your presence.

Give us the wholeheartedness to mourn our brokenness and then to rise and get to work.

Give us the resilience to stay faithful, even in the shadow of evil, to do justice and to love mercy.

Loving One, lead us.

Redeem our fear, redirect our despair and revive our spirits.

Give us hope and dissatisfaction.

Give us strength and patience.

Give us humility and courage.

Give us love that will not quit in the face of evil.

Be among us, be with us, be in us.

Faithful God hold our hearts in yours, and grant us your peace.   Amen.

 

Worship Notes                 Second Sunday after Epiphany

In both the gospel lesson (John 1:43-51) and the Hebrew lesson (1 Samuel 3:1-10) we hear stories about God calling disciples.  Samuel recounts the classic story of God calling him in the night.  Samuel responds in the way most of us would want to respond: “Hear I am, Lord… “Speak, for your servant is listening.”   In John’s gospel, the only gospel to mention Nathaniel as a character in Jesus’ gathering up his disciples (note that Nathaniel was not counted as one of the 12 disciples), we hear the question put to Jesus about worth and value.  We hear Nathaniel wondering: “Can this guy from Nazareth be worth it?”  We might ask the same question:  Can anything of worth come out of our lives of faith, lived individually or lived together in the church in 2021?            

 

 

Rev. Dr. Barbara Kershner Daniel, Senior Pastor

Evangelical Reformed Church, United Church of Christ

15 West Church Street, Frederick, MD 21701

301-662-2762

E-mail: bkdaniel@erucc.org

Thursday Thoughts, January 7 2021

Thursday Thoughts, January 7 2021

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January 7, 2021

Dear Congregation:

Like you, I am still reeling from yesterday’s events.  I am trying to process all that I saw and heard and wondering where our country goes from here.

What is clear is that we need leadership in the nation, the world, our community, and our church that is willing to do the hard work of building relationships of trust and respect.  It is clear that we all need to take a deep breath and focus on the values we proclaim as people of faith and as a country.  Then, we must do the even harder work of standing up to bullying, injustice, misinformation, and attempts to create an alternative universe.

We have seen so much of what we value ridiculed, challenged, and yesterday we saw an attempt to destroy our democracy.

There can be no silence.  There can be no “I had no idea this was going on.”  There can be no sitting comfortably in our lazy boy chairs or watching from the sidelines.  We have the responsibility as citizens and as people of faith to do this hard work.

Stacey Abrams of Georgia spoke of how she has been working, for years, to go to where people are, to listen to them, to hear their concerns, and build relationships.  She admits that this is hard, time consuming work but it is the only way we can building a community.  And you know where she learned these skills?  From her parents.  Her clergy parents used this model as the way they met people and created church community.

We know how to do this work and we must do it.  Our lives depend on it.

Worship Notes:         Baptism of Christ Sunday

Today is Baptism of Jesus Sunday, an invitation to enter into the mystery and wonder of Baptism. Baptism is important to our identity as Christians, as it is the defining moment in which we enter into the Christian family. This day invites reflection on the relationship between God and Jesus, defined in Jesus’ baptism as special and different from all other relationships. Consider what it means that God says to each of us, “You are my beloved child.”

Mark’s gospel is characterized by urgency – events happen at a rapid pace. In these opening verses, John the Baptizer bursts on the scene in our Gospel lesson, Mark 1: 4-11, with a shocking message: Israel must repent and return to God’s ways.  In the defining moment of baptism, there is a new beginning for Jesus and for all who would follow him in the days and years to come.

Genesis 1:1–5 gives a vivid picture of the work of God the creator. Water is an image of power, both life-giving and destructive. A wind from God (God’s Spirit) brings order out of the watery chaos. God creates by speaking and calls the creation “good.” Creation is beloved and God is pleased with it.

We will be reaffirming our baptisms this morning.   If you are worshipping at home, please have a small bowl of water at your worship centers.

 

Food for Thought:              

“Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.”   (Ruth Bader Ginsburg)

 

Rev. Dr. Barbara Kershner Daniel, Senior Pastor

Evangelical Reformed Church, United Church of Christ

15 West Church Street, Frederick, MD 21701

301-662-2762

E-mail: bkdaniel@erucc.org

 

 

Thursday Thoughts, December 31, 2020

Thursday Thoughts, December 31, 2020

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December 31,  2020

Dear Congregation:

I do not need to remind us that it has been a long and hard year.  What I do want us to remember, lest we forget, that throughout it all, God’s grace and strength has been our guide.  We have found comfort and hope in God’s word.  We have experienced encouragement as we have walked with one another through fear and anxiety.   We have learned how to be resilient in ways we never imagined.

May we enter the new year with hope and with the knowl3dge that no matter who we are or where we are on life’s journey, God is with us.

I invite you to share in this prayer from the UCC Worship Ways for the New Year:

God of Creation and Wonder, you formed us in your image.

You gave us your Son who taught us how to live out your teachings.

Give us the strength and wisdom to make this world your world.

Open our hearts to the possibilities of the new year.

Remove any cynicism or mistrust we may be clinging to

and fill us with the hope of a new beginning. Amen.

 

Worship Notes:            Epiphany Sunday                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               On this day our church will celebrate Epiphany, a name that comes from a Greek word meaning “to make manifest” or “to display.” During the season of Epiphany, Christians rejoice in the gift of saving love and the unfolding vision of wholeness that God has made manifest for all people in Jesus the Christ. Our call is to participate in proclaiming this good news.                                                                                       We will read from Isaiah 60:1–6 as the prophet declares that “nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”  The Gospel lesson describes the story of the arrival of the magi to pay homage to Jesus, Matthew 2: 1-12.                                                                                                                            We will be sharing in Holy Communion.

 

Thursday Thoughts December 24, 2020

Thursday Thoughts December 24, 2020

CLICK HERE to read the Thursday, December 24 Thursday Thoughts

December 24, 2020

Dear Congregation:

Tonight, as we welcome the birth of Jesus, remembering and celebrating that God is with us, may we be blessed with these words:

In the beginning, the Word;

the Word was in God’s presence,

and the Word was God.

The Word was present to God from the beginning.

Through the Word all things came into being….

In the Word was life, and that life was humanity’s light-

a Light that shines in the night,

a Light that the night has never overtaken.

Go forth to witness to the Light, to the Word,

to the Glory of God dwelling in us;

Go forth to live in grace and truth.

(Rev. Susan A. Blain, Minister for Worship and Gospel Arts, Justice and Local Church Ministries, Faith INFO Team, UCC)

 

May you be blessed with the wonder of Christmas and the good news of light shining into our lives.  The light of Christ shines and nothing, absolutely nothing, can ever put it out.

 

Worship Notes              

                        Christmas Eve Services

5:30 p.m.   Children’s Service in the main sanctuary (live streamed)

7:30 p.m.    Candlelight & Carol Service in the main sanctuary (live streamed)

10:30 p.m.  Christmas Eve Communion Service (Trinity Chapel)

 

            First Sunday After Christmas   December 27

Our first reading is from Isaiah 61:10—62:3. In this portion of the long book of Isaiah, we read of the people’s return from exile, and encounter recurring themes of justice and righteousness, as well as the overarching theme of salvation. The prophet emphasizes God’s message of forgiveness, consolation, and hope, revealing God’s plan of blessing and salvation. The Gospel lesson is from Luke 2:22–40 resounds with the salvation theme as the righteous and devout man Simeon encounters the newborn Christ child and breaks into his song of praise.

The service will conclude with the “Letting Go and Letting God” ceremony.  This is a time when the congregation will be invited to write down on a piece of paper those things which each person wants to let go of from the old year of 2020, receive God’s grace and move into the new year with divine blessing and hope.  The dissolving pieces of paper will be placed in a bowl of water at the front of the chancel.

 

Food for Thought:              

“Joy to the world!”  Anyone for whom this sound is foreign, or who hears in it nothing but weak enthusiasm, has not yet really heard the gospel. For the sake of humankind, Jesus Christ became a human being in a stable in Bethlehem: Rejoice, O Christendom! For sinners, Jesus Christ became a companion of tax collectors and prostitutes: Rejoice, O Christendom! For the condemned, Jesus Christ was condemned to the cross on Golgotha: Rejoice, O Christendom! For all of us, Jesus Christ was resurrected to life: Rejoice, O Christendom! … All over the world today people are asking: Where is the path to joy? The church of Christ answers loudly: Jesus is our joy! (1 Pet. l:7-9). Joy to the world!   (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

 

Rev. Dr. Barbara Kershner Daniel, Senior Pastor

Evangelical Reformed Church, United Church of Christ

15 West Church Street, Frederick, MD 21701

301-662-2762

E-mail: bkdaniel@erucc.org

 

Thursday Thoughts, December 17, 2020

Thursday Thoughts, December 17, 2020

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THURSDAY THOUGHTS FOR DECEMBER 17

 

Dear Congregation:

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”  (Matthew 11: 28)

Tonight you are invited to bring your weary self, and your burdens to our Longest Night Service.  The service will begin at 7:30 in the main sanctuary and will also be live streamed.  There will be gentle music, readings, and a time for quiet reflection.  There will also be an opportunity to light a candle in memory of a loved one, as a sign of hope.  A time of refreshment and fellowship will follow the service.

“Here is a helpful reminder to all who fear the dark. Darkness does not come from a different place than light; it is not presided over by a different God. The long nights of Advent and the early mornings of Easter both point us toward the God for whom darkness and light are alike. Both are fertile seasons for those who walk by faith and not by sight.   Even in the dark, the seed sprouts and grows—we know not how—while God goes on giving birth to the truly human in Christ and in us.”   (Barbara Brown Taylor)

 

Worship Notes               Fourth Sunday in Advent

As the Advent season draws to a close, we celebrate our annual lessons and carols service with our college students reading the scriptures.

 

Food for Thought:               Dark Moments — by Ann Lewin, UK

A reflection on Dame Julian of Norwich’s text from Revelations of Divine Love:

‘All shall be well. You shall see yourself that all things shall be well. That which is impossible for you is not impossible for me. I shall keep my word in all things and I shall make all things well.’

 

‘All shall be well’…

She must have said that

Sometimes through gritted teeth.

Surely she knew the moments

When fear gnaws at trust,

The future loses shape,

Gethsemane?

 

The courage that says

‘All shall be well’

Doesn’t mean feeling no fear,

But facing it, trusting

God won’t let go.

 

‘All shall be well’

Doesn’t deny present experience,

But roots it deep

In the faithfulness of God,

Whose will and gift is life.

Rev. Dr. Barbara Kershner Daniel, Senior Pastor

Evangelical Reformed Church, United Church of Christ

15 West Church Street, Frederick, MD 21701

301-662-2762

E-mail: bkdaniel@erucc.org

 

Thursday Thoughts, December 10, 2020

Thursday Thoughts, December 10, 2020

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December 10,  2020

Dear Congregation:

This Sunday is our annual meeting, at which time we will adopt the 2021 Mission Spending Plan.  This plan serves as a statement of who we are as a church, what we value, and how we hope to serve one another, the wider community, and the world.

In the United Church of Christ, the local congregation has the responsibility and power to make its own decisions.   Each of us, as a member of ERUCC, has a voice and vote in determining our future.   We need your voice and participation in the life of our congregation to enable us to continue to be a faithful witness to the love and hope we know in Jesus Christ.                                                                                                                                                                      While the coronavirus may have canceled and stopped many things in our lives, the mission and ministry of ERUCC has continued through worship, education, fellowship, and mission.  This Sunday, you will hear about some of these programs and initiatives.  You will receive an update on progress made on repairing our historic buildings.  You will be invited to affirm our commitment to be an antiracist congregation.  You will hear the exciting news about a permanent family shelter.  You’ll hear that while some of our 275th anniversary activities were canceled; we are hoping to move some of those activities into next year.                                                                                                                                                                                                          On the third Sunday in Advent, our theme is joy.  Even in the midst of the challenges of this past year, we have a lot to celebrate.  Hope you will be present for the annual December as we celebrate God’s work in and through us and imagine the year ahead.

 

Worship Notes               Third Sunday in Advent

Isaiah the prophet beautifully portrays that day of deliverance when God will come and deliver suffering Israel in Isaiah 61: 1-4, 8-11.  Isaiah’s is the same promise that Jesus will use for his first sermon in Nazareth in Luke’s Gospel.  God sends forth good news, especially to the oppressed, the broken-hearted, the prisoners, and the poor.  In the final verses, Isaiah breaks forth into a song of hope.  The Gospel lesson is from Luke 1: 46b-55 and is known as the Magnificat or Mary’s Song.

We are pleased to welcome new members this Sunday: Angela Brittain, Al Mannus, and Scott Harris.

 

     

 

Rev. Dr. Barbara Kershner Daniel, Senior Pastor

Evangelical Reformed Church, United Church of Christ

15 West Church Street, Frederick, MD 21701

301-662-2762

E-mail: bkdaniel@erucc.org

 

Thursday’s Thoughts, December 3, 2020

Thursday’s Thoughts, December 3, 2020

CLICK HERE for the December 3, 2020 Thursday Thoughts

This week’s Thursday Thoughts is written by the co-chairs of the Mission and Social Action Committee, Rebecca Shillingburg and Colleen Baldree.    They wish to provide information about an item on the agenda for the congregational meeting on December 13th.

At the recommendation of the Mission & Social Action Committee, the Consistory approved bringing the following statement to the congregation:

“We, the members of Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ, declaring that Black lives matter and acknowledging our complicity in systemic racism toward all people of color, commit to be an authentic reflection of God’s promises of peace through justice for all by working to become antiracist in all ministries of word, welcome, and deed.”

Our statement reflects our growing awareness of systemic racism and our call as Christians to work “to become antiracist.” ERUCC has begun this work with many opportunities to discuss and learn about racial injustice. Current events and ERUCC’s opportunities to learn and discuss what it means to be antiracist have awakened many of our members to the racial injustice that exists in our country today. We recognize how difficult this conversation can be, but together we can be the change our world needs. This is our opportunity to live into our call to be the church!

Rebecca Shillingburg and Colleen Baldree, Mission & Social Action Committee Co-Chairs

 

Worship Notes               Second Sunday in Advent

On this Second Sunday in Advent, the prophet Isaiah prophet proclaims to Israel that despite their present circumstances, God has not abandoned them.   Isaiah 40: 1-11 describes how we are as vulnerable as grass, and therefore we are at the mercy of forces beyond human control.  Yet God does intervene with salvation and deliverance.  John the Baptizer opens Mark’s Gospel with a scorching sermon in the Judean wilderness.  John calls people to change and, as a sign of that change, to submit to a baptism for repentance of sins as we read Mark 1: 1-8.                                                                                       We will share communion this morning.  If you are worshipping at home, please prepare bread or crackers along with a cup of wine, juice, or water for communion.  You are also invited to light the second candle on your advent wreaths as we light the candles in the sanctuary.

Food for Thought:               Prayer for Advent (Written by Kevin Coyle)

We approach this Advent season with trepidation. This winter will be hard on all of us for many of us are apart, unable to visit each other or suffering from this affliction or that. In this midst of all this turmoil, remind us that we are not alone. We cannot know for sure what will transpire in months ahead, but Your work is never done. There is always more we can do. Even as earthly troubles can seem insurmountable, You showed the power of little acts from the heart. You showed how sitting at a dinner table conversing with outcasts or laboring to fix a home, can make a difference. Above all, You showed what one person can do, when they are moved by faith and love, even in a world where injustices, hardships, and afflictions abound. As we move into this new month, dealing with our own struggles here, be with us, breaking through into our lives in unexpected moments as we move through these days of yearning, remembering, and waiting.

 

Rev. Dr. Barbara Kershner Daniel, Senior Pastor

Evangelical Reformed Church, United Church of Christ

15 West Church Street, Frederick, MD 21701

301-662-2762

E-mail: bkdaniel@erucc.org

 

Thursday Thoughts, October 29

Thursday Thoughts, October 29

CLICK HERE to read Thursday Thoughts for October 29, 2020.

October 29,  2020

Dear Congregation:

In my sermon on October 11, I referred to a 1937 photo of shipyard workers in Hamburg offering the Nazi salute.  There was one man in the crowd who is pictured as having his arms folded, not participating with the crowd.  I encouraged us to be like that man,

Pastor Emeritus Fred Wenner sent an email connecting this story with Fran Wenner’s family.  I share it with you, with their permission:

In 2008, Fran and I, along with one of her brothers and his spouse, spent a couple weeks in Germany exploring places related to her family’s history. In the town of Thaleischweiler-Fröschen in the Palatinate we found a handwritten note from 1737 that confirmed family lore that a young blacksmith, Reinhard Alspach, had impregnated a teen-aged girl named Magdalena. They were effectively kicked out of Germany and emigrated to America, but not before they were married in the town’s Protestant Church.

            Here’s were Fran’s story and your sermon converge. When we approached that old church (1st photo), we were struck by a bronze plaque next to the church door (2nd photo). A translation of the plaque follows:

            HEINZ WILHELMY               

March 6, 1906 — May 16, 1980

From 1933 to 1953 Heinz Wilhelmy was pastor of the Protestant parish of Thaleischweiler. He was one of the few pastors in the Palatinate who courageously opposed the National Socialists (Nazis). In his sermons, he publicly denounced their godless and inhumane ideology. For him the standard was the biblical Word. Beginning in 1935 he was an active member of the Confessing Church. From 1953 until his retirement in 1969, he developed a strong program of Men’s Work for the congregations of the regional church of the Palatinate.

Imagine discovering this bit of family history — 200 years after the Alspach’s left Germany, the pastor of the church where Reinhard and Magdalena were married boldly preached the Gospel and “did not salute” the Nazi flag. In that place and in that time, he may have been the only one.

            That’s our story, brought back to life by the story you told on October 11. Thanks for triggering this bit of family history.

 

 

Thursday THoughts, October 22, 2020

Thursday THoughts, October 22, 2020

CLICK HERE to read Thursday Thoughts for October 22, 2020.

Dear Congregation:
From the Stewardship/Generosity Committee – Faces of Love
This Sunday we will bring our month’s spiritual journey to completion as we pledge our financial commitment to the mission and ministries of ERUCC for the coming year.
As we offer our pledges, we invite people also to reflect on what God is calling you to give or do this year as a renewal of your commitment to continue to grow in faith and love. What is one step that you might take?
At the 10:30 Service, Felecia Bishop will speak, after which we will offer our pledges and commitments. There will be paper, post-it hearts you can use to write down the step you have chosen and place it in the plate along with the pledge cards and offerings. Since there are no longer pencils in the pews, please bring something to write with.
To celebrate this day of appreciation and commitment, a boxed, tasty treat for each family member will await you after the 8:30 and 10:30 services and at our socially distanced “Consecration Sunday Drive-by” between noon and 2 p.m. During this time our gloved and masked team members will safely greet you with your treat and a cheery welcome! Please enter the church parking lot from West Church Street. You can then exit through the alley to West Second Street. If you are not able to pick up your treat in person, let us know and we will deliver it to your home.
If you need a gluten-free option or need it delivered to your home, email, call, or text David Howard, dehowardcello@gmail.com; 202-841-5061.
Pledges can also be dropped off on Sunday, during the 12-2 drive-by
YOU are the Faces of Love. Our bulletin covers have reflected some faces; please be sure to add your face to these images. We are all the church together.

Worship Notes
As the community of Jesus’ disciples, we are called to find ways to proclaim the love of God to our neighbors. The Gospel lesson in Matthew 22: 34-46 reminds the emerging Christian community of Jesus’ rules – unconditional love for God and neighbor. Today’s reading from the Hebrew scriptures, Deuteronomy 34: 1-12, brings to an end the life of Moses. He is given a glimpse of the promised land, but he will not cross over into it. Felecia Bishop will be speaking as part of our Faces of Love campaign. We will also be dedicating our pledges for our 2021 financial support of the mission and ministry of ERUCC. Pledges can be made in person, via the web page, via mail, or dropped off at the church office or brought to worship this Sunday to be received during the offering.
Don’t forget to come by the church between noon and 2 to pick up your tasty treat lovingly prepared by David Howard. A thank you for your ongoing prayer and support.
Food for Thought:
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” (Soren Kierkegaard)

Rev. Dr. Barbara Kershner Daniel, Senior Pastor
Evangelical Reformed Church, United Church of Christ
15 West Church Street, Frederick, MD 21701
301-662-2762
E-mail: bkdaniel@erucc.org