Take a minute to look back on your life. Who all have you lived with? In the earliest parts of our lives, we might live with parents or grandparents or other caring adults. Perhaps siblings. Over the years, we might live with friends and extended family, family of choice or even sometimes with strangers. And sometimes we might find ourselves living alone.
No matter whom we live with now, or whom we have lived with before, God’s vision for the world is that everyone find a place within God’s kingdom—God’s house. What we celebrate at Pentecost is God’s pouring out of the Holy Spirit so that people of every identity and language can hear a word of welcome into God’s household. All belong in God’s household, and we get to live together, and learn together and celebrate together.
At Pentecost, we look especially to the children, youth and young adults with whom God has called us to live. The psalmist reminds us of the importance of faith being established during our earliest years, saying, “God from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.” God’s youngest family members need support to build their full potential in both faith and life, and all of us have a role to play.
These young ones also show and sometimes teach all of us more about faith in Jesus Christ and how the Holy Spirit is moving in our world.
In Isaiah 58, the author is addressing a people who have returned to Jerusalem,
where the Temple—God’s house—was in shambles. I imagine it was a heartbreaking
scene. And in that rubble, the prophet challenges the people not to rebuild the
building or to restore their religious rituals, but to care for the hungry, the weak and
the vulnerable–the prophet called the people to become the house of God. We are called to become, as Isaiah promised long ago, “repairers of the breach, restorers of streets to live in”.
Together, we become the household of God.
In the lead up to Christmas, many of us spend time in search of the perfect gift — the gift that communicates to friends and family how much we know and love them. We search our memories for indications of what gift might cause the faces of our loved ones to light up. We scour the stores and shops, hoping to come across the thing that will communicate a depth of love that our words cannot.
As important as gifts to loved ones are, we have an opportunity to give gifts that help many people we do not know through the Christmas Joy Offering. These gifts in particular draw us back to the manger and God’s perfect gift to us — Jesus Christ.
Jesus came to live among us, bringing light into darkness, and reconciliation to God and to one another. A perfect gift from a gracious God.
October 6th is World Communion Sunday, which celebrates our oneness in Christ with our brothers and sisters around the world. It’s perhaps the most appropriate day of the year to receive the Peace & Global Witness Offering — to think about what it means to be peacemakers, to be witnesses and advocates for compassion, peace and justice. To seek “peace in all times in all ways” (2 Thess. 3:16).
Celebration of World Communion Sunday, as it was originally known, was adopted as a denominational practice in the Presbyterian Church in 1936. Churches in other denominations were invited to celebrate with us, extending the celebration to a large number around the world. World Communion Sunday is a gift of the Presbyterian Church to the larger ecumenical church, and on October 6th it will be celebrated around the world by many denominations.
Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, invites us to the table. It is a big table and we share it with many.
In the lead up to Christmas, many of us spend time in search of the perfect gift — the gift that communicates to friends and family how much we know and love them. We search our memories for indications of what gift might cause the faces of our loved ones to light up on Christmas morning. We scour the stores and shops, hoping to come across the thing that will communicate a depth that our words cannot.
For those of us gathered together in Advent expectation, we know that the only perfect gift ever given was the one we received in Jesus Christ. At the Incarnation, we celebrate God who came to dwell among us, bringing light into darkness, and reconciliation to God and to one another. A perfect gift from a gracious God. Although we cannot give the perfect gift, we can give generously, knowing, as the New Testament letter of James says, “every generous act of giving … is from above.” And, as important as gifts to loved ones are, the Church rejoices and gives in special ways, drawing us back, again and again, to a manger scene with bowed shepherds and joyous angels, and the truth of God’s perfect gift to us.
The Pentecost Offering unites us in a churchwide effort to support young people in Christ and inspire them to share their faith, ideas, and unique gifts with the church and the world.
Each year on Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birthday of the church. The Holy Spirit remains with us still, connecting us with the church of the past, continuing to inspire the church of today, and pointing us to the church of the future.
Studies show that a foundation of faith established during childhood through young adulthood, helps ensure lifelong faith and service. Psalm 71 testifies to this same truth. Verse 17 says “O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.” The patterns and lessons established during these formative years continue to bear fruit throughout a person’s life.
These lessons might be taught through a congregation’s commitment to Educate a Child, Transform the World in ministries that shape a child’s academic achievement, setting them on a path toward a stable future. They might be taught through one of the youth events sponsored by Ministries with Youth at the national church that brings together young people from all over the country to share their experiences of faith with one another, and learn how their faith can help them address challenges all over the world. Or our young adults may be guided through a year of intentional service where they discern God’s call upon their lives by our Young Adult Volunteer Program.
What led you to becoming a believer?
Chances are, your relationship with God started when you were young. You were probably introduced to the church by your parents. But what kept you coming back?
Can you think of a time you had a chance to volunteer through church, and learn to serve God by serving others? Did a youth pastor help you understand Scripture, and deepen your faith? Did you attend a youth group, and make lifelong friends? Did you face a challenge, and find help in a church-supported program?
Growing up is hard. Growing up without these positive experiences is hard to imagine. Studies show young people who participate in their religion reap benefits not only in their youth, but well into adulthood.
That’s why the Pentecost Offering (received April 6-May 24) is so important. This Offering supports a diverse range of youth programs: helping children at risk, providing opportunities for Young Adult Volunteers to serve around the world, sharing the gospel and making connections through youth ministry, and creating bright futures through advocacy for and education of children.
The Pentecost Offering is your chance to give the positive influence of our faith to a young person who needs it today.
If you like the idea of lending support close to home, know that 40% of your Pentecost Offering gift will stay with your congregation to help youth right in your own community. But whether the Offering is used near or far, every gift helps young people grow with God—making an incredible difference in the world.
Please give generously:
We have a lot going on around CPC this month! Here are just a few of the things on the calendar that are happening soon!
Saturday, May 9th the CPC Men invite everyone to join them in the NAMI Walk at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock at 9 am. Click Here for more info and Click Here to Donate to NAMI!
Sunday, May 24th is Pentecost Sunday and we’ll be welcoming Lance Jones as our Guest Minster! We’ll also be taking up the Pentecost offering. Click Here to Give to the Pentecost Offering!
Sunday, May 31st is Youth Sunday. Our Youth and Youth Leaders are planning a wonderful service. You will not want to miss this time to see our youth in action as they lead our worship that day.
“Faith in Jesus is why I’m involved in this new initiative. It’s not a social program, it’s a gospel program, the way I look it.”
Joseph Johnson, a member of Self-Development of People (SDOP), challenges you to dream big—for all God’s people.
“Jesus told the church, ‘you feed them, you take care of people, you respond to people, you interact with people, you find ways to change lives and ultimately the world,’” he says.
Johnson is part of a new initiative focused on the New Orleans/Delta region. It brings together members of SDOP, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, and the Presbyterian Hunger Program—all of which are already working within the region on other projects—to more effectively help families still suffering nearly a decade after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area. The three ministry areas, all part of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, are supported through the One Great Hour of Sharing offering that is taken up during our Easter Sunday service.
The Presbyterian Women’s Birthday offering will be received on June 29, during morning worship. The offering funds up to five projects that are not included in ongoing General Assembly mission support, such as agricultural development, child care, community organization, criminal justice, drug counseling, economic justice, elderly care, employment training, homelessness, literacy, violence and women’s concerns.
The Creative Ministries Offering Committee has chosen one project—Blue Corn Mothers Alliance—as the recipient of the 2014 Birthday Offering of Presbyterian Women. This project provides a range of services, from crisis intervention to education, for Albuquerque’s Native American women who experience domestic violence. The grant amount will depend on gifts contributed during 2014. The goal for the 2014 Birthday Offering is $500,000. Please give as you have been blessed and support this life-changing project. If you won’t be in Church this Sunday please visit http://www.presbyterianwomen.org/birthday to give.