Meal Packing Event – Rise Against Hunger

Rise Against Hunger (formerly Stop Hunger Now) 
Meal Packing Event
Saturday April 21, 2018 
3 to 5 pm

In two hours volunteers will measure, weigh, seal, and package over 10,000 meals of rice, vitamins and protein for distribution to impoverished countries and areas affected by disasters.   Sign up to help pack meals or make a donation at our Rise Against Hunger RUMC Page.  This is a fun, family-friendly, hands-on volunteer event that provides everyone who participates with a sense of accomplishment.

 

2018 Good Friday Walk – March 30th 7 am

Good Friday Walk
Friday, March 30th
at 7am

What: 20 Mile Charity walk
When: March 30, 2018
Where: Rockville United Methodist Church (see full map)
Who: Anyone can participated. Children 13 and under must be accompanied by an adult.
Registration: Registration starts at 7 am. Each participant must collect a minimum of $20. The walk begins at 7:30 am.
Donate Online: Click the paypal link on this page: donate online.

Over 30 churches and organizations participate with workers volunteering their time and energy to make the walk successful for over 100 walkers. There are ten stops along the route where restrooms, first aid, or snacks may be available. Transportation is available for those who can’t finish the entire twenty miles

 

Good Friday Walk – April 14, 2017

Walk for a Good Cause
April 14, 2017.

Join us for all or part of our annual Rockville United Methodist Church Good Friday Walk.  Registration begins 7 am at Rockville United Methodist Church 142 Grove Street, Rockville, CT 06066.  The 20 mile route goes through 3 towns, beginning and ending at the church.  Everyone is welcome to participate.  Proceeds raised from the walk go to Sharing, Inc. and The Cornerstone Foundation.  http://www.rockumchurch.com/good-friday-walk/

walking_6992c

What Leads a Person to Service?

BelindaForbes-bio

Dr. Belinda Forbes

Dr. Belinda Forbes is Coming!
Wednesday, September 7, 2016
6 pm

Join us for a potluck supper and presentation by Dr. Belinda Forbes. Dr. Forbes is the International Liaison for Community Health for Accion Medica Cristina (AMC). Dr. Forbes works in a part of Nicaragua where medical treatment is often over a day’s journey. AMC trains locals to help take care of basic medical needs for the local people.

Come hear Dr. Forbes talk about her experiences in Nicaragua. Please bring something to share–salad, vegetables, casserole or dessert. Call 860 875-6562 or 860 872-3122 to let us know how many are coming. Beverages, rolls and butter will be provided.

A freewill offering to support Dr. Forbes will be received.

Hosted by the RUMC Missions Committee and the RUMC Women’s Club.

Event: 2016 Good Friday Walk

Good Friday Walk

March 25, 2016

Twenty-mile Walk for Charity

Registration 7 am. Walk begins 7:30 am. 

         The Good Friday walk is a fundraiser for local and nationwide charities. With a minimum pledge of $20 anyone can attempt this 20 mile walk for charity. Interested? Details and paperwork are on our Good Friday Walk 2016 page.

Enjoy this video explaining our Good Friday Walk.

2016 sign jpeg

Sermon Mark 1:21-28 “Wrestling with Demons” February 1, 2015

One of the things you can count on when reading the Gospel of Mark, is that everything moves rapidly. One moment Jesus is being baptized in the river Jordan; the next, he’s being forced into the wilderness to be tempted to give up on God’s plan and make his own. And before you can take a deep breath or turn a page to the a new chapter, Mark records Jesus’ call for disciples and just as rapidly, gets down to work. His first task is the one we just read…he heals a man with an unclean spirit. All this happens in the first 28 verses. Amazing!

I’ve been reading another book by one of my favorite writers, Anne Tyler. This one, “The Amateur Marriage”[1] seemingly moves at the speed of light. There are chapters but no hint that any real time is passing. One moment there’s a marriage, children, a misplaced kid, a new found grandson, a divorce and remarriage and the next a death, life restored, and a family straining to reconnect. No dates, no sense that the next words will also be the next era, the next 5, 10 years down the road. There’s a passing of time, a lot of time without the sound of a clock ticking or a page in a calendar turning to another day, month or year. I’ve been surprised more than once and yet, not unhappily so. After all, it’s life and life is recorded not by jotting down each precise moment but more often than not by grabbing large chunks of time, huge spaces of things happening and lots of untold, perhaps even uninteresting events clustered into semi-similar categories, which in and of themselves, have little meaning. What we know is that people give life meaning. Human beings with their emotions and needs, their feelings of pleasures and pain, desires and hopes fill the spaces of time in a life lived.

Perhaps that’s why Mark spends most of his gospel recreating images, retelling events, and painting pictures of Jesus doing what Jesus does best…interacting with others…with other human beings. Mark wants to get to the heart and reason for Jesus ministry…to restore God’s people to God’s holy purpose and plan by healing our brokenness and preaching, leading, and loving them. All of them – the good, the bad and yes, as in this passage, even the ugly.

For indeed, this man whom an unclean spirit tormented suffered from an inner demon to such an extent others feared him. He became an outcast, his condition raising up walls of indifference, apathy, prejudice, fear, even hatred. In the eyes of others, he was a voice for evil, a tool of the inner workings of the enemy but under the ugly and challenging words this demon possessed man is forced to utter, Christ sees something worth saving. He reaches out and heals him.

Our own lives may be colored by pale shades of struggle and diminished self-esteem as we wrestle with the demons, which might plague us. Perhaps we are victimized by our lack of resources, our poverty both economic and spiritual. Perhaps we struggle with addictions that rule our existence, alcohol, drugs, a love of money or propensity to want more, and more and more. Perhaps we are battling a hidden secret we dare not share or we have fallen victim to an obsession to make an easy buck by gambling away our assets. Perhaps we feel pinned down by a certainty that the opinions of our parents, brothers, sisters, and friends regarding our worth define how we should live out our lives as worthless. Perhaps we struggle with our short tempers and envious desires to have what others have in the way of goods, looks, money, houses, cars or a position in society. Whatever we might be battling – and we all have such battles whether we admit them or not, the enduring message of Mark’s recording of this event in Jesus’ ministry is very clear. In God’s eyes, by Christ’s love and sacrifice, we are made worthy of healing. No one can take this from us. God has already proclaimed us as worthy, as his own and therefore, as children of God’s divine heart.

And that is who Jesus saw on the edge of the town…not a hideous ogre and fiend but a friend of God, a man of worth, one to whom Christ could and would heal. Once healed the man. Where once the demon possessed man was scorned and rejected now he was freed and made whole, an example of the power of Almighty God and of son, Jesus Christ. This is the God we worship and the One who reclaims us for a divine purpose each and every day of our lives. Amen.

[1] Anne Tyler, “The Amateur Heart” Ballantine Books, NY C. 2006

Cornerstone Foundation Soupfest 2014

Each year the Cornerstone Foundation provides 6000 beds of shelter, serves over 40,000 meals, gives away 35,000 items from its Clothing Bank, and provides a safe and secure haven for youths to gather for social, educational and recreational activities.  As a local organization, the Cornerstone Foundation depends on the generosity of its neighbors to keep these very beneficial programs going.

One way that you can support Cornerstone is participating in its annual Soupfest.  The 2014 Soupfest will be held on November 6, 2014 from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm at St. Bernard’s Church in Rockville with all proceeds benefiting The Cornerstone Foundation.

Music will be performed by Ellington music phenom Rob Thomas from “Off the Clock”.

Featured Restaurants include R House, The Hidden Still, and The Country Butcher.

Admission is Free!

Raffle tickets can be purchased for $20 by contacting David Joy at [email protected]  Raffle prizes include $500, $400, $300, and $200 Visa Gift Cards.

The Cornerstone Foundation provides support in the form of a Soup Kitchen, Shelter and Clothing Bank.  For more information please check out their website.

Sermon Luke 16: 19-31 “What is required” July 6, 2014

  When I was in junior high, I remember a girl named Ruth Olsen. Every time I saw Ruth I would think to myself “Boy, that girl is so ugly.” Of course, it was a very unkind thing to think but, in my defense, I was a kid very unsure of my own appearance. I wondered, a lot actually, if anyone was looking my way and thinking the same thing about me. Kids being kids, I shared my opinion of Ruth with all my friends. It gave us something and someone to laugh at and helped us all feel more secure about ourselves. Or, so we thought.

I didn’t pay much attention to Ruth other than to notice, she didn’t appear to have many friends. She was usually alone, which from my limited and unkind perspective, made sense. Good-looking kids had good-looking friends and a lot of them. In contrast, ugly kids either didn’t have any friends or hung out with other ugly kids and not many of those. In my world, those were the parameters of being a kid. We accepted the spoken and non-spoken rules of growing up and assumed this was just the way things were. So, it made sense not to be seen with ugly kids or weird kids, eggheads or nerds, the kids who dressed funny or acted strange. Close association with these unfortunates might be very unfortunate indeed…at least for those of us who thought we were somehow better than they.

Now, I don’t know how it happened or even, when it happened but one day Ruth and I became friends, good friends and suddenly I stopped thinking of Ruth as ugly. In fact, it wasn’t too long after we became friends I wondered how I could have ever seen her as ugly. She had become my friend and once I took the time to get to know her for who she really was I no longer thought about looks – hers or mine. I just found her to be a really nice person, a person I liked and someone with whom I wanted to be seen.

Now I’m telling you this story, embarrassing as it is, because I never forgot the lesson I learned that day, the day I became Ruth’s friend and she became mine. It was on that day that I recognized the great sin I had committed, the sin of indifference. Prior to really getting to know Ruth, I hadn’t bothered to see her as a person of value, someone who had many good qualities and who was a beloved child of God just like the cheerleaders I envied or the scholars I admired and wanted to be like. Ruth was a person God loved. Who was I to think less of her than I had thought of myself?

Jesus’ parable has a lot to say about indifference. There is no indication that the rich man in the parable is cruel to Lazarus. He is not sending Lazarus away or refusing to let him sit by his gate each day. But on the other hand, the rich man really doesn’t see Lazarus at all. If he did,
than he might be moved to feed him, to tend his wounds, and to send the dogs away so they would quit pestering and harassing Lazarus. He might even invite Lazarus to join him at his table. But the rich man doesn’t do any of these things. His indifference keeps him from recognizing Lazarus’ value as a person and keeping Lazarus at a distance. To the rich man, Lazarus is simply one of the unfortunate ones whose situation has been determined by the fickled hand of fate. Some people get all the breaks, some get none. It never occurs to the rich man that he may be able to change the situation.

Jesus was telling this parable to a Jewish crowd who, much like a pre-teen measuring her worth by how many friends she might have, measured their worth in God’s eyes by counting their earthly wealth. The Jewish hierarchy thought if one was rich, one was blessed, if poor, than cursed. So it was a great surprise to those listening when Jesus turned the tables upside down yet again. In the afterlife, the rich man and the poor man would trade places. He, who was rich, would suffer while the poor man would rest in ease. Then, the question for those listening to Jesus was “who are God’s favored?” Could anyone be assured of their ultimate fate if such a fate did not rest on what one had accumulated in this life?” Jesus was changing the rules in the middle of the game.

Well, Jesus is always changing the rules in the middle of the game or so it seems. More likely, we have yet to learn the rules so we don’t know when or even, if those rules are changed.  That’s part of growing in faith…understanding Christ’s way and not just living our way. It’s been said that this story was the spark that touched off the revolution in Albert Schweitzer’s life. After reading this parable, Schweitzer concluded that Africa was the beggar lying at Europe’s door, and in response, he founded
the Lambarene Hospital. Schweitzer, to his credit, could not be indifferent to Africa’s hurting population. He once wrote: “Only through love can we attain communion with God.”

Love seems to be the key to any interaction we have with God or God has with us…Love. Learning to live out a commitment to love others in Christ’s name and for Christ’s sake is the call on our hearts and brings us closer to a fuller understanding of what it means to follow Jesus. Love initiates our response to stand with rather than not apart from those
God puts in our way. It’s love that breaks down the barriers that make us indifferent and disinterested. It was love that made Schweitzer turn from one understanding of life to another, to recognize the call God had placed on his heart. He heard the call and then he followed making a difference not only in his own life but in the lives of countless others.

Like most of Jesus parables, there are moments in which we are sure we don’t want to know what comes next. This is certainly one such story. Perhaps the most frightening moment is the moment when Abraham speaks these words: “Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.” It suggests that there is time on this side of life to make a better choice and embrace discipleship. But at some point the chasm will be fixed and one will not be allowed to make amends or
change their ways. In this life we can hold ourselves accountable and choose another path. We can follow as those touched by a Lord that loved us enough to give everything for us. We are invited to see Christ in the poor, dispossessed, the disenfranchised, the hungry, the homeless, the lost, the frightened, and the needy among us and to do what Christ, in his life on earth, taught us to do. But our response comes now. Once the chasm is fixed; once life on earth ends, the time to take a positive step forward is past.

So, we are invited to give our lives in profound ways – it’s not always easy. We may be called to make sacrifices, giving our lives in ways that fulfill a deep, gratifying sense of purpose and meaning. The sacrifices are real; Dietrich Bonhoeffer called them “the cost of discipleship” – but the rewards are awesome. Pushing aside our natural or even unnatural aversion toward someone who may be a bit awkward or different in some way from us can be most rewarding. Not only may we see people differently, we may just find how much better we come to understand ourselves and Christ.

How Jesus wanted his listener to hear this truth! There is no salvation for those who rely on material goods rather than human interaction. There is no hope for those who leave this life less than it was before they enter it. There is no place to run to, no way to escape for those who make choices, which harm rather than heal. We spend our lives learning how to invest ourselves in one another and our model, our witness, our example and our hope rests in Christ who invested his whole life in us. There is a cost to discipleship but there is also a wealth of blessing. Amen.

Sermon Genesis 1:1-2:4a June 15, 2014 “And God Saw That it was Good”

This morning we go back to the beginning of the Biblical story, the story which helps to shape and define us as Christians.  Now, I do remember a time when I naively believed this particular story of the beginning of creation and the birth of humanity was the only story. So, of course, it came as a shock when I was exposed to many stories, from many tribes and nations, all of which sought a way to explain the existence of life, the birth of humankind, and our presence on earth. A shock, yes, but it was also enlightening and, it made perfect sense. Once I overcame my initial fear that I was somehow, by the very act of contemplating other creation stories, acting contrary to my own faith and beliefs, it made perfect sense. Of course, there would be many stories of our beginnings. We are a curious breed. We are destined to wonder about the marvels of life, of the world above, the world beneath and the world around us. We are meant to think, to reflect on our existence because we’re made that way. God created all creatures but to man…male and female…God gave the gift and the burden of introspection.

The opening words to one philosophical and religious thought on creation myths led me to give greater thought and reflection to this story found in the Book of Genesis.

“There is a thing inherent and natural

Which existed before heaven and earth,

Motionless and fathomless

It stands alone and never changes…

I call it Tao and name it as Supreme…”

The introduction goes on to say:

Thus the ancient Chinese philosopher-poet Lao Tzu [loudzuh] came to grips with the question of the origin of all things. At the same time, halfway around the globe, Zuni Indians searched for their answer, as had the druids of England, the priests of Egypt, the epic poets of India, the bards of Finland. For this was a question that faced all humans for all time, and from it came accounts of creation that continue to stir us today—“     

Once I read the book, I recognized the sense in its meaning. The ancient Jewish and Semitic tribes were certainly not the only curious people. People, that is, human beings, which of course are all of us, are created with a natural, inborn curiosity for the unknown. After all, Eve’s curiosity worked in the serpent’s favor…she took a bite of the forbidden fruit and not to be outdone, Adam’s curious nature caused him to take a second nibble of the fragile fruit, which ultimately led to their fall from creative perfection and brought us where we are today…still curious, still getting into trouble and still laboring to meet our human needs of food, home, relationship.      

Through the passage, the words “and God saw that it was good” marks the intent of this creation story. God creates and it is good. But why was there a need for anything remotely and intentionally human in nature? You see, God doesn’t need light…God is light. God doesn’t food or shelter, crops or labor. There is only one reason for God’s intentional act of creation. God loves us. That is it. It is as simple as that and yet, when we give it thought, it is profound.

But having created this world and everything in it, God didn’t stop there. I’m always amazed at the way in which tragic, unpleasant circumstances can evolve into the most life-giving, life-saving messages of hope. It’s those stories we hear of death somehow inviting life, which give us renewed hope in the goodness of God’s creation, stories like that of the Amish parents who, having lost their children to senseless violence, find a way to offer prayer and forgiveness to the family of the perpetrator of this heinous crime. Stories like those of the twin tower sacrifices where victims of this senseless act who are facing the very grave possibility of dying themselves make the decision to save the life of another. This is God’s love…its God’s love lived out in God’s creation, humanity. Ultimately, the key to God’s creative act is based in the goodness of God’s grace. We are created in the image of God and it is only in understanding these words, this concept of similarity to the nature of a God who created in love, for love, out of love and invites the same from us can we appreciate how truly good God is to us.

On a day like today, when we honor fathers and recognize the importance of a father’s love and care for his children, we can see most clearly how the love of our God is stamped into the best of what it means to be a good parent. As Dave Bland, a professor of Homiletics puts it:

“God’s image is already placed within humans; no other kind of representation is necessary. As God’s image bearers, male and female are given responsibility: to have dominion over the created order. Humans are given dominion, not domination; they are caregivers, not exploiters. We do unto creation as God has done unto us; we express love and care toward the world. Being image bearers of God is also at the heart of how we see other humans, which results in treating them with dignity, regardless of race, age, gender, social or economic status.”

So, there’s our call, our purpose in existence. We have been given life and it’s a pure gift but not one without consequence. We’ve been intentionally created to be creative, to live fully as responsible caregivers of this world and its inhabitants…all the created order. We have been created in the image of Love and called to act in loving, compassionate, healing ways. We know how far from the mark we are…the brokenness introduced into world is still very much a drain on what God would have hoped we could be but, having created us in love, God didn’t desert us…God simply rewrote the story and introduced a new example of hope for us to follow…Jesus Christ. And once again, God saw that it was good. Hopefully, we will see it too. Amen.