The United Way will hold its annual Back to School Fair on August 6th at Oshkosh North High. According to their press release, the committee organizing this event aims to serve over 1000 families, so the need is real.
The United Way is requesting that we hold a "Christmas in July" event starting June 20th. They would like donations of clothing and cash:
- Hygiene supplies
- Gift cards
The committee will supply us with gift tags for the Christmas tree. Look for them soon.
We will hold a potluck on Sunday, January 10th to celebrate Pastor Dan's last Sunday with us. Please sign up in the narthex if you haven't already, and plan on attending this joyful feast!
The Winter Semi-Annual Meeting will be held immediately after worship on January 31st, 2016.
Rev. Jim Kline, interim minister of St. John's UCC, Appleton, will join us for worship on January 17th. Please extend him a gracious welcome!
The Bethany Book Club will meet at church on Thursday, January 7th at 1:30. We will discuss books we are reading or have read, have a cup of coffee, some fellowship and be on our merry way.
[From NE Association Minister Jane Anderson]
For unto us a child is born.
Unto us a son is given…
And his name shall be called,
Almighty God, the everlasting Father,
The Prince of Peace.
These familiar words of scripture are exquisitely set to music in Handel’s Messiah. They echo in many of our hearts and minds during the Christmas season. The beauty and poignancy of these familiar words ring out a message of hope—a message so desperately needed in Jesus’ time and in ours.
When we see children born we are often filled with hope and joy. We anticipate all the possibilities that this child will bring forth. We look into their faces and dream of their future. For many that future will be bright and glorious as they are offered all that is needed to live up to their greatest potential and given the opportunity to make a difference in the world by their gifts and graces.
But for many other children, children who like Jesus, are born into poverty and homelessness, that sense of hope and joy may be fleeting. It is cut short by the reality of the challenges that surround these families on all sides. Questions and fears about how to feed, clothe, shelter and nurture these children loom large for these mothers and fathers. Hopes and joy are often dashed by these fears and unanswered questions.
Poverty and homelessness are on the rise in communities across our nation, due to a decline in affordable housing, a divided economy, job loss, rising health care costs and a network of social services that is taxed and bleeding on numerous levels. Added to this is a growing refugee crisis around the world. Our ability to respond in ways that are helpful is crippled by fear— fear for our own safety and well-being, and the well-being of our communities. This fear prevents us from responding compassionately or creatively. And in the light of great need I fear it will only add insult and injury to the crisis that lay before us.
A group of clergy have begun meeting to take a stand up to this fear and to ask others to join them in taking a stand. In Christmas we are asked to prepare our hearts and lives to receive the gift of Jesus—the birth of a child whose life grew to mean so much for those who live on the fringes of life, struggling with poverty, homelessness, disease, and hopelessness. Jesus offered hope and joy by bringing comfort and healing to their lives. Jesus offered them the love and grace of God in abundance. No one was ever turned away.
Those who met Jesus received the message that God cared for them. God loved them. We have the opportunity and responsibility to bring that message of love, hope, and joy to others, especially those for whom poverty and homelessness abounds. I invite you to seek out ways that you give the greatest gift of all by bringing a message of God’s love and grace to those who most need it in their lives.
May your lives and those whose lives you touch be blessed by the gift of healing and hope. Unto us a child a is born, unto us a Son is given.