CHURCH BRIEFS

Special to The Chronicle-Express

LeTourneau Christian Center

Join us Sunday, April 10 at LeTourneau Christian Center from 3-7 p.m. Come play ultimate frisbee or board games, enjoy great food, connect with other youth and dive deep into God's Word. The cost is just $5; please register at www.letcc.org/events/

Revive

Milo Center Methodist

"God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination." A powerful statement from St. Augustine and so true to many of us. Lent reminds us that dark days and struggles are all around us. But the cross is before us, Jesus shed His blood so that we may have redemption. It is important for us to change our ways and take on the responsibility as a follower of Jesus to spread love and kindness without complaints or judgement. The time is now, stop procrastinating and use the season of spring to begin a new mindset of hope. Let the journey of Jesus encourage you. 

Our young disciples planted seeds while learning verse Psalm 126:6 and spoke prayers for a bountiful harvest. Prayers are lifted for Craig and Sue Prior, Chet Briggs, Ruth and Eli Reihl, Phyllis Hamm, and Frank Francisco. 

Join us Sundays at 9 a.m. for service in person or via Zoom, Bible study each week, and our Easter festivities. All are welcome!

St. Mark's Episcopal

The most solemn week of the liturgical year will be marked at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church during Holy Week. Palm Sunday, April 10, commemorates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, when his followers laid some kind of leaves or fronds on the road that Jesus was traveling along, and proclaimed him “King of Israel.” Episcopalians, like many other Christian communities, pass out palm fronds, which are then blessed during the service. The left-over palms are stored until the following year, when they are burned to produce the ashes for Ash Wednesday.

Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples. Episcopal services on that evening often include the ceremonial washing of feet. Jesus washed his friends’ feet at the Last Supper, and enjoined them to do the same for each other, as an act of humble service.  At the end of the service, the altar is stripped of every form of decoration, leaving it completely bare, signifying the death of Jesus on the cross. 

Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus. The Passion, or story of Jesus’ suffering and death, is read, and the congregation reads an ancient set of prayers known as the solemn collects. 

Many churches celebrate the Great Vigil of Easter during the evening hours on the Saturday before Easter Sunday. Traditionally the congregation enter the church in darkness, and during the first part of the service, candles are lit and the church is filled with light. It is a festive occasion, often including baptisms, but always including renewal of baptismal vows and the Eucharist. 

The joy and celebration of Christ’s resurrection continues on Easter Sunday, April 17 this year. 

This year at St. Mark’s, we do not yet have a rector in place so there will be no Maundy Thursday or Good Friday services. We encourage people to attend services at other local churches and/or to celebrate Maundy Thursday at home with family and friends: a simple meal like soup, bread and perhaps wine. On Good Friday there are several church services scheduled locally including an evening service at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Geneva which will feature a community choir singing two movements of Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna.  

However, St. Mark’s will be celebrating the “book-ends” of Holy Week at our Sunday services. We will be commemorating Palm Sunday with a procession and palms, as well as a jubilant Easter morning service with flowers, hymns, light and bells – and alleluias. You see, parishioners at St. Marks are particularly fond of adding “Alleluia” to various responses during the course of Sunday services, and have sorely missed doing so during Lent. At the Easter morning service, every “alleluia” will be accompanied by members of the congregation enthusiastically ringing their bells from all over the church. It will truly be a joyful service - please join us! 

All our Sunday services are at 9 a.m. and our red doors are open to all!

First Presbyterian 

March is drawing to a close and we are more than halfway through Lent. In many Christian faiths, this past Sunday is referred to as Laetare Sunday. “Laetare” is a Latin word meaning "rejoice." People of those particular faiths celebrate the fourth Sunday of Lent by taking a breath from the solemnity of prayer, fasting, self-denial and introspection to simply express their own joy! It provides many with a sense of renewal towards their commitments and preparation for Easter. Regardless of one’s faith, if you observe Lent, it’s a great time to assess the ways you chose to honor God through sacrifice.

One often cited parable during this period of Lent is that of the prodigal son, as told by Jesus, in Luke 15: 11-32. It is one of Jesus’ most famous lessons in the Bible and remains relevant even today. The younger of two sons requests his eventual inheritance early. He leaves home and proceeds to squander it quickly. Then on the verge of starvation, he makes his way home and begs his father’s (and God’s) forgiveness for his sins. His father and brother thought him lost and probably dead. Not only is he alive, he is welcomed by the father with open arms. A feast is prepared to celebrate that his son has “returned to his senses” and his family. Meanwhile, the older brother who has remained at home loyally working the land alongside his father, never disobeying him, is still out toiling in a field when he hears music coming from the house. As he draws closer to the house he sees people dancing and learns his brother has returned. The elder brother is angry and will not join the party. His father responds, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to make merry and be glad.”                

The observance of Lent helps us to understand the need for basic Christian virtues, reasons for sacrifice, and practicing justice towards God, our neighbors and even ourselves. The three parables in Luke 15 teach us we must repent and ask for forgiveness as the youngest son was forced to do. Sometimes we should act with grace and sacrifice our pride, as the eldest son needed to do. Most importantly, can we all learn how to grant unconditional forgiveness as the father was able to do?  These are the lessons that Jesus has tried to convey to us.

Branchport Methodist Church

March has been a wonderful month for celebrating God’s creations!  The weather keeps us guessing every day and the flowers are starting to pop up in our yards.  It was a month of 14 birthdays within our church!  We can’t wait to see what April brings.

We are starting the planning process for our 5K on July 4.  We are so excited to bring back the event after postponing for two years because of Covid.  We will keep you posted with more information soon.  In the meantime, if you have any questions you may reach us at bumc2022@gmail.com.  Also, check us out on Facebook.

During the Lenten season we are having a study of Max Lucado’s book “He Chose the Nails.”  You are welcome to join us on Zoom at 7 p.m. on Wednesday evenings until April 6.

Last Sunday, Pastor Kim gave us all seed paper to plant.  We also sang the hymn “You Are the Seed” that tells us to “go to the world, proclaiming love to all, messengers of my forgiving peach, eternal love till the end of the world.”

May peace be with us.

Dresden Methodist

This past week the congregation at Dresden UMC learned about one of Jesus's parables: The Parable of the Unfruitful Fig Tree. In the parable, the vineyard owner finds a barren fig tree in his garden. The owner tells the gardener to get rid of this tree. The gardener pleads on the tree's behalf and asks for a second chance to nurse the tree back to health. Specifically, the gardener wants to address the roots of the tree. We can understand this parable as it relates to our own lives. If we are not rooted in God and love, we produce no fruit. However, if we repent from our sins and turn to God, to prayer, the Bible, and Christian Community, then God forgives our sins, and we become able to produce good fruit. Our lives are like a garden. If we use improper means to nourish it, then we will die. If we disconnect ourselves from God, our life-giver, we will die a spiritual death. If you're surviving on spiritual fumes, we encourage you to seek out someplace where you can connect to God to begin producing good fruit for this world in need.

There will be Community Dinner March 30 at 6 p.m. Please bring a dish to pass. Entertainment will be provided by "Mostly Memories."

Are you in need of medical equipment such as wheelchairs, hospital beds, crutches, canes, etc.? Call Dresden UMC and ask for the First Aid Closet. We have equipment available to borrow for free. The First Aid Closet is also looking for donations of medical equipment to continue to meet the community's needs - if you have equipment you'd like to donate or have equipment you need to return, please get in touch with the church.

Middlesex Methodist

The Middlesex United Methodist Church, located at 1162 Route 245 in Middlesex, will have an Easter Egg Hunt Saturday, April 16 starting at 11 a.m. until all candy is gone.  It will be held in the church parking lot.  Come and enjoy "The HUNT!"

Bluff Point Methodist

Peggy Beckwith recently led our service with a wonderful lesson from John 18, as we continue with our studies during Lent.  We also so appreciate Phil, Ron, Ellie, Babs, Bruce, Eric, Stacey, our choir and others who always pitch in to help.  It is so good to have our choir back after the long Covid induced absence.

Many prayers needed this week for Ukraine, and many members of our congregation who are ill, undergoing numerous tests, or grieving.  It is sad when people all over are going through such difficult times.

Just a reminder that we need Sunday School help, and sign up to help with after church fellowship.  We all enjoy those tasty baked goods after church, sharing with friends.

Peggy helped us look at John 18, and reflect on what Peter might have been thinking. How could he have betrayed Jesus, for he was the first Apostle that Jesus called.  He witnessed many of Jesus's miracles.  Why did he deny Jesus?  It is easy for us to condemn Peter.  How do we today deny Jesus?  Peter's fears often overtook his strong will.  The crow of the rooster brought Peter to his knees.  The rooster crow is a symbol of light and a new day. Interestingly, Peggy informed us that this story is in all four of the Gospels.  Denial and death are not the final word. Peggy asked us to examine when in our lives did our faith waver? God's love and forgiveness are forever.