Posted tagged ‘religion’

Haitian Earthquake Relief

January 14, 2010

By now you have probably heard about the massive earthquake that struck Haiti.  Haiti, one of the poorest nations in the western hemisphere, lies in ruins.  In response, Americans are doing what we do best-helping our neighbors. Make no mistake, the need in Haiti is dire.

If you want to help, you can donate to the United Methodist Committee on Relief, or UMCOR.  UMCOR has a strong presence in Haiti.  Gifts to support UMCOR’s Haiti Relief efforts can be made to Haiti Emergency, UMCOR Advance #418325.  Checks can be made to UMCOR with Advance #418325 Haiti Emergency in the memo line.  Checks can be put in the church’s offering plate or mailed to UMCOR, PO Box 9068, New York, NY 10087.  UMCOR states that 100 percent of Advance gifts made will go to support relief and development efforts due to emergencies in Haiti.

“Give freely and spontaneously.  Don’t have a stingy heart.  The way you handle matters like this triggers God, your God’s blessing in everything you do, all your work and ventures.  There are always going to be poor and needy people among you.  So I command you:  Always be generous, open purse and hands, give to your neighbors in trouble, your poor and hurting neighbors.”  Deuteronomy 15:10-The Message.

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It’s Called Christmas for a Reason

December 3, 2009

I had a nice experience at a local big box store last night.  I had stopped in to begin my Christmas shopping, and as I exited with my purchases, there was a young man standing next to a Salvation Army kettle, ringing a hand bell.  I put a five into the pot, and he said “Merry Christmas”.  I thanked him and wished him “Merry Christmas” as well.

Unfortunately, not everyone is allowed to say “Merry Christmas” these days.  Many stores and other public places actively prohibit employees from wishing anyone anything other than a bland “Happy Holidays”.  Now, I don’t hold that against the employees, as they have little choice if they want to keep their jobs.  I do, however, blame the employers, and those who would secularize the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior.  The former are intimidated into cowering compliance for fear of offending someone-but apparently offending Christians is OK.  The latter are those who don’t believe in God or Jesus Christ and want to force their non-belief upon everyone else.  If they don’t believe, I’m willing to pray for them, but I refuse to let them prohibit me from expressing my faith.

So, when someone wishes you a “Happy Holiday” in the coming days, respond kindly.  They may not even have a choice in the matter.  I suggest that you smile, and wish them God’s blessings and a “Merry Christmas”.  Amidst all the hustle and bustle, remember what Christmas is really about.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16.

Tossing the (Bake Sale) Table

September 25, 2009
Jim Jacobsen

Jim Jacobsen

By Jim Jacobsen, EPUMC

The Pittston Fair took place last summer, and the East Pittston United Methodist Church had a table in the Grange Exhibition Hall, as we do each year.  At that table, we sell baked goods, and this year, cutlery.  I spent several hours staffing the table on Saturday.  The past couple of years, it’s my understanding that these sales are purposed to supplement the funding for the new Fellowship Hall.

Much as I support that effort, at times I was a bit uncomfortable.  I felt that way because there was something missing from our church’s table: the church.  From a fair patron’s point of view, the only thing that distinguished us from the tee shirt stalls and mobile food vendors was an 8.5 inch by 11 inch piece of paper hanging off the front of the table with the church’s name printed on it.  Otherwise, we appeared like any other commercial money raising operation at the fair.

I would have loved it if people had asked me about the church, which of course is an opportunity to talk to folks about God and Jesus.  Instead, the questions I got were along the lines of  “How much are the brownies?” and “Can you break a twenty?”  Realistically, why would people ask anything else, when there was nothing of note to pique their curiosity?  We had no pictures of the church, none of our handouts or flyers, and nothing to invite people to worship with us.  Nothing what so ever.

In my opinion, we (and I firmly include myself) hid our faith under a tablecloth, as though we were ashamed to advertise our Christianity.  In Luke 9:26, Jesus said “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”  If Jesus had walked into that hall, would He have been ashamed of our timidity and tossed our table out the door, like the money changers’ tables in the Temple?  I pray that our congregation will be more outgoing and welcoming when we have opportunities to witness.