Collection Date: Sunday, March 31st
One Great Hour of Sharing® is the Lenten Offering of the United Church of Christ that supports disaster, refugee, and development activities.
From the UCC One Great Hour of Sharing Offering and Endowment Fund:
"Thank you for your past support. Because of your generosity,
in 2018 we were able to respond to a number of disasters
worldwide. We provided disaster relief in places you most likely
heard of in the news. We responded to: Hurricanes in Puerto
Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, North Carolina, Texas and Florida;
Fires in California; Earthquakes in Mexico, Indonesia, and Haiti,
Flooding in El Salvador, Hawaii, and South India; and Volcanos
in Guatemala, just to name a few. We helped people who were
displaced from their homes due to conflict and violence, while
providing sustainable solutions in places lacking adequate
education, agriculture or health, internationally. The impact that
the OGHS offering makes in the world has done more than we
But now more than ever, it would be easy to focus our attention
on the places and people near and dear to us. If you are like me,
you don’t have to look far to see a need that requires your help.
Natural disasters have impacted many communities, the cost of
almost everything continues to rise, and money just doesn’t seem
to go as far as it once did. We may want to help, but think there is
only so much we can do.
Yet, there is more that needs our attention. Jesus calls us to love our
neighbor, to feed, clothe and visit those whom the Bible calls the least
of these. And it isn’t supposed to matter where people live. They are
still our neighbors. They are still within our reach through our desire to
help, through the arms of this church, and through the One Great Hour of
A Simple Question
Written by Emily Heath
One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, 'Do you want to be made well?'"- John 5:5-6
There is a common saying in recovery communities used when someone relapses and returns to alcohol or drugs: "Well, maybe they just needed to do a little more research."
It is certainly gallows humor, but there's some truth there. As much as you can lead someone in the right direction, show them the tools that will help them make better choices, and support them all you can, in the end nothing will help someone to recover unless they want to recover.
When Jesus comes to a man who has been lying at the pool of Bethesda for 38 years he asks him a deceptively simple question: "Do you want to get well?"
The man doesn't answer him. Instead he tells him what was keeping him from getting well. Jesus seems to ignore these things and says simply, "Stand up, take your mat, and walk."
It's important not to equate physical disability with "getting well" in other senses. Jesus did the physical healing that not even modern medicine can do. But I sometimes wonder what Jesus would say to others who have been hanging around the pool for 38 years, for whom recovery is very much a choice.
To put it in recovery terms, no one chooses to be an alcoholic. That's a disease over which no one has power. But when you're sober, you can absolutely choose whether or not to relapse because in the end no one forces a drink down your throat.
In other words, "Do you want to get well?"
And I sometimes wonder what he would ask congregations who have been kicking the metaphorical can down the road for years and years, bemoaning a culture that has passed them by, blaming a changing world for declining membership.
"Do you want to get well?"
Truly, we who are "still sick and suffering" (and that includes the church) are not responsible for some things. But we are responsible for working with God towards our own recovery.
Great Physician, help me to say "yes" when you offer your healing to me. Amen.
About the Author
Emily C. Heath is the Senior Pastor of The Congregational Church in Exeter (New Hampshire) and the author most recently of Courageous Faith: How to Rise and Resist in a Time of Fear.
I share this "Daily Devotional" with you because it is a perspective I never imagined as I read the story of this man long ill.
Rev. Heath also brings up the condition of the church. We can see church mergers and closings in so many communities. We recognize that attendance wasn't what it once used to be.
Is the problem only with people no longer being sufficiently "religious" or is part of the problem that churches are not where people are looking for "religious"?
Do we want to be made well?, Rev. Heath asks.
I would ask you to keep this Daily Devotional in mind and maybe think about joining us on Saturday from 11AM - 1PM as we have invited Rev. Corey Sanderson to come and talk with us about church growth.
Rev. Sanderson has built a church from the ground up, where nothing was he helped to establish a congregation. I again invite you to come by and let's talk about this topic.
And hot soup will be served to boot.
Thank you to everyone who supported our Kindness for Kids (K4K) breakfast this morning. K4K is a program of the church’s Benevolence Committee. Its purpose is to help Hatfield’s public-school students participate in school activities that they may otherwise not be able to because of financial difficulty.
The organizers of the K4K breakfast were Melody Edwards, Leeanne Rubeck and Amy Novak. We thank them for all of their enthusiasm and hard work. We appreciate also the many volunteers who came forward from Hatfield Congregational Church, including Maddie and Morgan from our Confirmation class. I’ll see if they won’t let me post their names.
Leeanne and Art Rubeck were a huge help in the kitchen. Leeanne invited so many of her fellow parishioners from Our Lady of Grace Roman Catholic Church to come over and we appreciate their support. Being only a few days shy of Valentine’s Day, a card-making area was set up for our youngest guests, and we thank Ali and Brooke for supervising this activity.
We were truly blessed by the generous support of the Hatfield Lion’s Club and Goggin’s Realty. The Lion’s Club donated $500 to the K4K fund and added eight gift cards to the Texas Road House Restaurant in Hadley.
The Goggins Real Estate Agency contributed $250, and on top of that four employees came and worked with us at the breakfast. They were: Micki Sanderson, Tess Coburn, Rachel Simpson and Julie Rosten. Every month Goggins’ employees volunteer at a local charitable event.
We need also to thank the Hampshire Gazette Newspaper. They ran an article in the Gazette in advance of our breakfast and helped us to get the word out about the event and K4K. Here, again, is the link to the article:
The posted article on our FaceBook page has already received over 500 hits. The Gazette sent a photographer to the breakfast and we are looking forward to seeing those pictures next week.
Lastly, the initial count on the proceeds we made at the breakfast, 100% of which will benefit students in need in the Hatfield public schools, is $1,450! Thank you to everyone who donated, worked and attended the breakfast to make this possible.
Last year five of us attended the Super Saturday event. I thought it was exciting and informative. We even followed up by inviting Rev. Corey Sanderson to come to our church to continue speaking about mission and outreach. And he's coming for his second visit on Saturday, February 23rd. We'll be serving soup that day too.
If you may be interested in attending this year's Super Saturday, please visit the link below, and then let Rev. Randy know if you want to attend.
I was hoping for more snow today. I was hearing 18". I think we got 8. But it's better than the nothing we had. Sure didn't feel like a Sunday today without church. It really is the anchor of my week.
Here's a picture Sharon took off our back deck. Snow still falling, clouds overhead, and the sun peaking through just before sunset behind the hills to the west. Beautiful.
From one of this coming Sunday's readings:
"The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world." (Ps 19)
So I guess there was some church for me to go to today.
Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Day. I am much impressed by the fact that this pastor led a nation to see better who we are called to be. His Christian faith led him to be an unstoppable force of betterment, not just change, but change for the better. That's what faith can do, should do.
MLK was a man of faith and a man of The Book. In his speeches, Bible comes out naturally and authentically. How appropriate it is that we are meeting tomorrow evening at 7PM on Martin Luther King Day to continue reading from Mark's Gospel in our Bible Study Group.
It's a long weekend. We weren't able to gather for our Sunday church Service this weekend, but we can still come together over God's Word. I hope to see you then.
Started in 2009, Rerun Shoes was created to help people here in the US and in other parts of the world re-cycle old shoes. In addition to providing shoes (in good condition) to children and families in the neediest nations, their shoes provide opportunities to micro-businesses throughout the African continent.
Rerun Shoes is a nationwide charitable organization, but its home-base is right here in Florence, MA. To learn more about this organization, please visit their website: www.rerunshoes.com.
Not all shoes can become Rerun Shoes. Shoes that have too much wear, or don’t have a need in African countries (i.e., winter boots), won’t make the cut. Here are the shoes that they look for and welcome: athletic shoes, men’s shoes, women’s shoes (no high heels please), children’s shoes and sports sandals (please no flip-flops or Crocs).
A collection container has been placed inside the front entrance of the church. So if you have old shoes in decent shape that are only taking up space in your house, please bring them by the church for collection and distribution to those who would so much love to wear what we have outworn.
Kindness for Kids (K4K) is a charitable program sponsored by our church’s Benevolence Committee. Its sole purpose is to help the students at the Hatfield Elementary School. Sometimes a family may face a financial difficulty in one way or another that would hinder or prevent their child(ren) from participating in a school or after-school activity. Our K4K donations are entrusted to the school administration for disbursement. When the school recognizes such a need in a student, the administration may decide to use K4K funds to assist the family.
A Valentines themed Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser is planned for Saturday, February 9th from 8:30 – 10:00am in the church dining room. A card-making table will be set-up so that our younger attendees may make a card to share with someone they care about. A suggested per ticket donation for the breakfast is $8.00, and of course additional donations will be accepted with a smile.
Tickets may be purchased at Hatfield Congregational Church on Sundays or reach out to Melody or Rev. Randy. Please make checks payable to “FCC Hatfield Benevolence Fund.” Tickets may also be purchased online by copying and pasting this link in your browser: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/valentines-day-breakfast-fundraiser-tickets-54183905520. This breakfast is open to the community at large.
We are working in conjunction with the Hatfield Elementary School and with Our Lady of Grace Roman Catholic Church. If you would like to help work this breakfast, please contact Rev. Randy or Melody Edwards: (413)email@example.com.
We also wish to thank the Hatfield Fire Fighters’ Association. After their very successful summer bonfire, they donated a majority of the proceeds to benefit the Town of Hatfield and also to some charitable organizations outside of town. As part of this giving campaign, the Fire Fighters Association chose to donate $1,000 to the K4K program! Again, we thank them for their generosity.
Faith, love and chitchat.
Sunday 10-11am (9:30am July + August)
Children Sunday School 10-11am
Nursery care available during worship