Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Have you seen the star on the knob in Milford? It’s quite beautiful. In the gospel of Matthew there is a story of a star that navigated the Magi to find Jesus at his birth. The star has often been used to recall that story since then.
As I looked up at it from Broad Street I paused and wondered: what does it mean today?
What if it meant the same thing that it meant many years ago? That it is an indicator to all who see it shining in the darkness that Christ dwells here? This is my prayer.
I pray that all who seek Christ will find his love in His church that we have intentionally opened to all people. I pray that all who seek Christ will find Him dwelling here: with us, in us, through us. I pray that all who seek Christ will find Him working through His disciples as we share food, share meals, share supplies and share resources. I pray that all who seek Christ will find that He dwells in our hearts, in our thoughts, and in our actions. I pray that all who seek him will find him as we share our faith and offer kindness, forgiveness, and grace. Yes, I believe Christ dwells here in Milford, and at Milford UMC. And I believe that we all encounter Jesus personally, as we serve Him.
The cross and flame of the United Methodist Church is also a beacon that calls out that Christ dwells here. I remember when I was on a church trip to D.C. for the “Stand for Children” in the 90s. One of our members started to feel ill. She just needed a place to rest. We sought out the General Board of Church and Society’s headquarters on Capitol Hill. We went in and saw the cross and flame and knew we had found refuge. And sure enough after we announced ourselves in need of a couch and a trash can, they welcomed us, as sick strangers, and put our friend in the lounge and cared for her the rest of the day.
The cross and flame signifies that Christ dwells here in the way in which we welcome the stranger. It represents that Christ dwells here to the family seeking mosquito nets for their children, to those who seek emergency health kits, or a bag of life-saving rice. It represents basic needs met. And it represents spiritual needs being met through the many ways we share our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior. As a global NGO God uses us in such amazing ways to provide actual sanctuary for the trafficked child, services of hope in war torn areas, to plant new faith communities, and to lift people out of poverty through education. Christ dwells here. Praise God!
I’m excited about Christmas. To welcome Christ to dwell with us, in us, through us. So I’m pleased to announce that our Christmas offering will go to support the work of the connectional church through the World Service Fund. It will support our missionaries who carry the cross and flame into new, sometime dangerous, places. It will support our efforts to promote justice, to feed the hungry, to provide aid in emergencies, and to tell the story that Christ dwells here. It supports all our efforts to share the light of Jesus with the world.
I benefit from the World Service Fund almost everyday as a pastor, as does our local church here in Milford. I’ve put more information on the WORLD SERVICE FUND below, so take a look at it and prayerfully discern your Christmas offering.
May the Lord bless you and keep you,
…………………The WORLD SERVICE FUND of the United Methodist Church:
The World Service Fund apportionment is the heart of our denomination-wide presence, underwriting Christian mission and ministry around the world. It enables United Methodists to reach out through the general church boards and agencies.
- General Board of Global Ministries: Undergirds a network of missionaries and others who serve in the name of Christ and The United Methodist Church around the world; oversees UMCOR, (United Methodist Committee on relief, our global emergency response agency), Imagine No Malaria, and Abundant Health Initiative (new).
- General Board of Discipleship: enriches our congregational life with practical resources for worship, retreat and camping resources, leader training, and stewardship development; provides leadership and coordination for denominational ministry with youth. (Pastor Luana regularly uses this site and just used it for the Blue Christmas liturgy)
- General Board of Higher Education: Certifies United Methodist professional Christian educators, communicators and musicians; provides scholarships to seminarians; continues nearly 200 years of commitment to quality college and graduate education, here and abroad.
- General Board of Church and Society: Assures United Methodists speak and work to help encourage a more ethical, just and humane world; promotes UM beliefs on Capitol Hill; provides practical resources for staying involved with legislation supported by our Social Principles on their website and other publications; expresses our commitment to God’s reign through ministries of peace and justice, and efforts to build a church and a society truly inclusive of all persons regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or handicapping condition. American with Disabilities Act had it’s genesis here, then George H.W. Bush, (a United Methodist by the way), took it into the oval office and to the legislature.
- General Commission on Communication: Gives our denomination a presence in the mass media and makes new communications technologies accessible to the church; regular publications for clergy and laity resources, regular articles from United Methodist News Service in daily and weekly emails. This agency also provided local churches with resources to promote their Christmas Eve Services with free bulk mailing and printing! Did you get one of the 900 postcards we designed and they sent out to the 18337 zip code?
This list is NOT exhaustive. More agencies, commissions, and projects sharing the love of Christ.
For more information see Pastor Luana or go to www.umc.org