As I write, it is the day before the Lenten journey officially begins. Over the years, Lent has become my favorite liturgical season.
I did not grow up in a religious tradition that practiced the spiritual disciplines of Lent. As one famous preacher (Fred Craddock) reflected, "I grew up in a tradition that was about as liturgical as corn on the cob!" I can relate to that statement.
Historically, Lent is a season of spiritual renewal. It is a time for prayer, reflection, sacrifice, service – or whatever God has inspired you to do to be more in touch with your spiritual center. My, how we all need to focus on the renewal of our spiritual centers! It seems to me, spiritual renewal is the purpose of the 40-day journey called Lent!
We all are busy people. We have a lot to do … more than enough to think about … business matters to manage … challenges to meet … issues to ponder and solve. I am convinced that most of us are so consumed with taking care of the urgent that we have lost touch with what is truly important. Lent is a season to refocus … renew … and restore.
By this time, you have figured out that I enjoy sports. When I played baseball in high school and college, we would begin conditioning in February. March was ‘transition time´ … from working inside to working outside. Games were scheduled to begin in mid-April. Without the inside work, we were never ready to play the games. Inside work was running … and running stairs … doing calisthenics … throwing the ball daily … spending time in the batting cage … having infield practice in the gymnasium … and playing the mental game of ‘situational baseball´ where in the classroom, the coach would prepare us to think like a team. As much as I disliked playing baseball ‘inside,´ the preparation season was essential if we were going to be ready to play our games.
By and large, March is sort of a yucky month. Everyone is sick and tired of winter! We are tired of being inside. We are looking forward to spring – especially this year. Most of us have ‘had it´ with cold, ice, clouds and snowy weather. In fact, I think that it is the mental escapism that has prompted our American culture to adopt ‘March Madness.´ I don´t think it is necessarily about basketball; I think it is a mental and emotional release during an in-between time of year.
Lent is ‘inside´ work! It is a season to regroup, rethink, and renew what is valuable and important in our lives. It is spiritual conditioning time.
So – once again … I invite you to join us in worship … prayer … participating in classes … practicing a daily devotional ritual … thinking about and intentionally developing faith … or investing in mission or service opportunities – so that by Easter, we are spiritually re-energized to ‘play the game´ called ‘life.´ Set some spiritual goals for Lent and work to achieve them!
May God grant to us all spiritual health and wholeness as we journey to the cross and the resurrection!
FYI – Bob Haile (our friend who had some physical difficulties during the second worship service last Sunday), is home and doing well. He was taken from church to the hospital where they did considerable testing that determined all seems to be well. Bob was released Sunday evening – returning to his home at Clark Retirement Community. We all appreciate the care and efficiency of our ushers and medical professionals as they dealt admirably with the situation.
• March 5, 6:00 pm — Ash Wednesday Service
• March 7, 7:00 am — Men´s Lenten Breakfast
• March 9 — Coffee Can Offering
• March 9, 12:15 pm — All-Church Birthday Dinner
• March 11, 7:00 pm — Infertility Support Group
• March 14, 7:00 am — Men´s Lenten Breakfast
• March 15, 6:00 pm — Jazz Vespers: The Jim Cooper Quartet
• March 19, 9:00 am — Caring Connection
• March 21, 7:00 am — Men´s Lenten Breakfast
• March 28-29 — Women´s Retreat
• March 30, 12:30 pm — Imagine No Malaria Movie: "Mary Martha"
• April 2, 6:00 pm — Taizé Sung Prayer Service
• April 4, 7:00 am — Men´s Lenten Breakfast
• April 11, 7:00 am — Men´s Lenten Breakfast
• April 13, 9:15 am ONLY — Palm Sunday Processional
• April 13,10:15 am and 12:00 pm — Palm Sunday Brunch
• April 18, 7:00 am — Men´s Lenten Breakfast
SUNDAYS 9:15 AM
• Infant Nursery — 0-23 months Room 107
• Toddler Nursery — 2 yr. olds - young 3´s Room 106
• Children & Worship (toilet trained) — Older 3´s – Pre K Room 204/201
9:15 AM: Faith Travelers, Junior High, and Senior High begin in worship with their families and are then dismissed to their classes. (Children of all ages are welcome to remain in worship if their families so desire.)
• Faith Travelers — K-6th grade Church 3rd Floor
• Junior High — 7-8th grade The Vine South
• Senior High — 9-12th grade The Vine North
• Infant Nursery — 0-23 months Room 107
• Toddler Nursery — 2-3 years Room 106
• One Room Schoolhouse — 4 years-Grade 2 Room 202 (One Room Schoolhouse children begin in worship with their parents. Following the Children´s Moments, they are dismissed to class.)
**Worship bags and Children´s Pages are available in the narthex with activities that allow for children to participate in worship at their own level.**
Please contact Annette Erbes at 451.2879 or email@example.com with any questions.
ASH WEDNESDAY SERVICE Join us on Wednesday, March 5 at 6:00 pm for a service featuring music of Taizé in a reflective and solemn setting.
IPADS FOR MLK – A CHALLENGE FROM THE LEGACY MINISTRY A request came to Legacy Ministry for the purchase of 15 iPads, one for each tutoring station at the Martin Luther King Leadership Academy - FUMC Tutoring Center. The request includes the purchase of educational apps, and equipment that will appropriately provide security against theft. According to Jer Hon-Hawkins, iPads would "expose our students to current technology so they will be competitive learners in the future." The estimated cost for this project is $9,500. Legacy does not have the full amount available for this request, therefore, they would like to challenge the congregation. Legacy Ministry will match up to $5,000. If you are willing to help with this project, please specify iPads for MLK on your giving envelope. Thank you for all you do to help with the vital ministries of our church!
FAITH TRAVELERS MISSION OFFERING The K-4 Faith Travelers church school classes have selected Family Promise of Grand Rapids as their mission offering focus for February through May! The goal is to raise $100 for new toys for our Family Promise guests. Monetary offerings can be brought to any Faith Travelers class; all donations are optional. Any questions? Please contact Annette Erbes, Director of Children´s Ministry, at 616.451.2879. Did you know that…1,800 children have been supported by Family Promise and that 90% of families have found a new home?!
KIDS´ CLUB: FIVE WORTH FIGHTING FOR! Children in grades 3-6 are invited to explore the Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations in their own way! Kids´ Club will discover that these practices are Five Worth Fighting For! Kids will learn about the five practices through activities and games such as prayer stations, a game of trust, crossing a river of bubbling lava, a scavenger hunt, and game of Sardines! Join Ken and Emily Mol in Wesley Hall, bring $2 for dinner, on the following Sundays from 5:00 – 7:00 pm for Five Worth Fighting For:
• March 9 Intentional Faith
• March 16 Mission Impossible?
• March 23 Extreme Generosity
• April 6 Radical Hospitality
ALL-CHURCH BIRTHDAY DINNER Join us Sunday, March 9 as we celebrate everyone who has a birthday, which includes you! Following the 11:00 am worship service, we will gather and get to know others with the same birthday month. We are looking for table hosts. A table host is responsible for decorating the table and hosting the table for the meal. Please sign up using the Sunday bulletin insert. If you have any questions please contact Emil at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign up online at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/sign-up-sheet
WOMEN´S RETREATInviting Mary into our Martha Lives - Seeking Attentiveness Even in Chaos March 28, 4:00 pm – March 29, 4:00 pm at Geneva Retreat Center (Holland, MI). Cost $75.00 per person. Martha is worried and distracted by many things. Jesus reminds her there is need of only one thing and that Mary has chosen this better part. Is it possible for Martha to know what Mary knows? Join us as we discover the gift of attentiveness while seeking to live faithful lives. Reserve your spot by sending a check to Sharon Sorensen by March 19. Sign up online at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/sign-up-sheet
ARTS ALIVE CAMP, our summer day camp, will be held on August 4 - 7. This camp is open to all children who are entering 1st - 6th grade in the fall of 2014. Mark your summer calendars now!
JOURNEY TO LIFE Bishop Deborah Kiesey invites you to join her for Journey to Life, a 40-day Lenten journey that will deepen our faith and connect us with our brothers and sisters in Sub-Saharan Africa. You will receive a daily devotion delivered by email. Register online at https://wmc-reg.brtapp.com/ImagineNoMalariaDailyLentenStudy
IMAGINE NO MALARIA is a $75 million effort of The United Methodist Church to eliminate malaria deaths in Africa by 2015. Achieving this goal will require a comprehensive approach to fighting this disease. Mark your calendar now to attend a screening of the inspirational movie Mary and Martha starring Hilary Swank and Brenda Blethyn on Sunday, March 30. A movie for children will be shown at the same time. A simple lunch will be served immediately following the 11 am worship service followed by the movie screening at 1 pm. A free willing offering will be taken.
THE 2014 FIRST CHURCH LENTEN DEVOTIONAL is available for pick up now. A devotional has been written for each day of Lent, by a member or friend of First Church, beginning with Ash Wednesday, March 5. Use the daily devotionals for a time of personal prayer and reflection as we journey together toward Easter. You may pick up a devotional in the north lobby, at any entrance to the sanctuary, or online at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/lent.
60+ LUNCHEON will be Monday, March 17 at noon. The program will be on JFON. Please call Elaine Youngs at 735.5506 or Luci Baer at 457.7797 to make a reservation.
MISSION UPDATE Nicaragua: Please pray for the Healing Hands Medical Mission team who will be traveling to Nicaragua March 6 - 17. First Church members Nancy Gillette (team leader), Bob Gillette, Mike Gillette, Matt Gillette, and Laure Mieskowski, along with ten additional doctors, nurses, and volunteers, make up the current team. The Michigan team will partner with a Nicaraguan team to serve the medical needs of people in remote villages on the Caribbean side of Nicaragua. Vaccinations, preventive medical exams, fitting people with glasses, and dental treatment are among the services that will be provided. The team expects to serve approximately 1500 people over a six-day period. Cuba: This year´s Cuba team is busy preparing for their trip scheduled for April 7 - 12. They are accepting the following donations of medications to take to our brothers and sisters in Herradura. Adult: Tylenol, Advil, Alleve, vitamins, Immodium, heartburn meds. Children: Tylenol (liquid & chewable), Motrin (liquid & chewable), vitamins, Immodium. (Brand names are listed but generic versions are also happily accepted.) Donations can be dropped off at the north lobby desk.
SOCIAL CONCERNS DONATIONS For the month of March the pantry is in need of soap, body wash, shampoo, and peanut butter and jelly. Please drop off your items in the north lobby donation room.
FAMILY PROMISE WEEK FAST APPROACHING When we hear the term "homeless," most of us don´t think of children and families, and yet they are the fastest growing segment of this population. There are many reasons for a family´s homelessness, but the root causes are poverty and an inadequate supply of decent affordable housing. The loss of a job, increases in rent, sudden illness, absence of family support -- any one of these can thrust a family into homelessness. FUMC will be hosting Family Promise the week of April 6 - 13. During this time, members of our congregation provide homeless families with basic human needs -- shelter, safety, and sustenance. Our church becomes a temporary "home" in which families are treated as guests of our church family. By volunteering you can help alleviate the hurt and alienation of homelessness, and both volunteers and guests can grow and learn from each other. Please consider giving a few hours of your time. You may sign up through the Sunday bulletin insert, online at www.grandrapids.com/sign-up-sheet, or by calling Christian Miles in the church office, Monday - Thursday, from 4 to 9 pm, 616.451.2879.
VOLUNTEERING @ KIDS FOOD BASKET Young Adults (age 18-30), you´re invited to help us fight hunger in GR. Please meet at The Vine on Wednesday, March 19 at 5:30 pm for a quick bite and to carpool over to Kids´ Food Basket.
MOMS´ GROUP: PANCAKES & PJS Are you a mom of a baby, toddler, or preschooler? If so, you´re invited to join our Moms´ Group for Pancakes & Pjs Night on Tuesday, March 11 at 5:30 pm. Have the little ones dressed for bed and we´ll have dinner and share in story reading. Dads are invited too!
HEIFER INTERNATIONAL Sunday, March 9, the Coffee Can offering will benefit Heifer International. Heifer International´s mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the Earth. By giving families animals, Heifer empowers them to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity. By bringing communities together and linking them with markets in their area, Heifer helps bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty.
DON´T FORGET to spring forward Sunday, March 9. Set your clocks ahead one hour for daylight saving time. Don´t be late for church!
IMAGINE NO MALARIA is a $75 million effort of The United Methodist Church to eliminate malaria deaths in Africa by 2015. Achieving this goal will require a comprehensive approach to fighting this disease. Mark your calendar now to attend a screening of the inspirational movie Mary and Martha starring Hilary Swank and Brenda Blethyn on Sunday, March 30. A movie for children will be shown at the same time. A simple lunch will be served immediately following the 11 am worship service followed by the movie screening at 1 pm. A free-will offering will be taken.
YOUNG ADULTS: LENTEN STUDY Are you a young adult (18-30) looking to deepen your faith this Lent while connecting with other young adults? Then, you´re invited to join us on Wednesdays beginning March 12 at 6:00 pm for the Five Practices study. Books are available at the church desk or available for download for $10. Not a young adult, but looking to support us? We´d love for volunteers to sign up to drop off dinners for about 10-15 during the study! Email email@example.com for details.
SCRAPBOOKING will be held Saturday, March 15 from 10:00 am - 6:00 pm. If you would like to join us, contact Patsy McGillivray at firstname.lastname@example.org.
STEPHEN MINISTRY MEET AND GREET Meet and greet your Stephen Ministers after both worship services on Sunday, March 9 in Wesley Hall. Learn about Stephen Ministry, what the ministry is, whom we care for, and how you might become one!
ROAD TRIPS The Road Trips for 2014 are now set! Save the following dates: May 7th - Jackson, Michigan - historical tour, lunch and Armory Arts Village. June 18th - Detroit Tigers vs KC Royals! July 24th - Marshall, Michigan - historical tour, lunch at Schuler´s and a musical at Tibbits. Sept 18-20 - Pennsylvania - includes a dinner cruise in Pittsburgh, Flight 93 National Memorial, Quecreek Mine, Duncan House, Duquesne Incline, and Heinz Memorial Chapel. Details and reservation forms are available in the north lobby and on our website!
Concerns & Prayers for:
• Lynne Beals
• Roy Hart
• Leola Hathaway
• Ken McCaw
• Shannon Smith (U of M Hospital)
• Jan Taylor (Blodgett)
• Healing Hands Medical Mission Trip to Nicaragua
• Chris Bolhouse
• Scott Grifhorst
• Stephan Mathos
• Jesse Mounts
• Trevor Norton
• Shawn Seher
• Peter Taylor, Jr
The love and prayers of the congregation are extended to Jim and Pat Newell and family on the death of their son, Robert Newell, on February 26. His funeral service was held March 1 in our sanctuary; and to Blake and Renee Brott and family on the death of Blake´s grandmother, Barbara Maile, on March 3 in Newaygo.
One of the challenges churches face when it comes to giving is the impact on church finances due to the loss of large individual donors, either because of death or moving away. At First Church, we are blessed with having had a very generous group of substantial giving families for many years.
But, as is inevitable, we saw our 2014 giving projections impacted due to the death of a long time generous member of our church. In the past, we have always gotten through similar situations when other givers are inspired to give generously, such that despite losing a generous giver, others take their place. In 2014, we are benefitting from our usual wonderful financial support that has been a tradition at First Church. But, we still haven´t completely made up for the loss of that substantial 2013 gift.
This "cycle" has sustained and grown our church and our ministries for over 175 years. Is this the year that God leads you to the bold decision to become one of our leading givers? Has your faith brought you to a point where you want to step-up to sustain First Church´s 175 year legacy by giving a tithe? Time after time throughout our church history, God has moved countless others to give joyfully with wonderful generosity. This is what has led us to become the church we are today!
It is our hope that we will close the gap we have in this year´s budget through increased giving rather than affecting meaningful life-changing ministry.
Are you ready to make a bold leap in your giving to the ministries of First Church? If so, let Sharon Sorensen in the church office know of your revised Estimate of Giving for 2014.
Praise God for the wonderfully generous saints who have gone before us. Let us honor their memory through our unwavering commitment to ministry through our faith, our work, and our gifts!
TRANSPORTATION NEED We have two people who would like a ride from Porter Hills (3600 East Fulton St) to the 11:00 am worship service on Sunday mornings and then back home. If you are able to help with this transportation need, please contact Marj Timmerman at 901-9224 or email@example.com.
MEALS NEEDED Meals are needed for Lynne Beals who is undergoing chemo and for Debbie and Rick Schuitema who have a brand new baby! If you are able to help, please sign up at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/meals or contact Marj at 901.9224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
BLOOD DRIVE Our next Blood Drive is Monday, March 24 from 3:00 - 7:00 pm in Wesley Hall. Michigan Blood is running a special promotion for March. Sign in to donate and you could win one of 4 prizes: 4 tickets to a Griffins game, 4 tickets to Celebration Cinema, 4 passes for the Children´s Museum or 4 passes to Meijer Gardens PLUS you may be saving someone´s life! Sign up for a time or to provide cookies by using the Sunday sign-up sheet or contact Marj at 451.2879 or email@example.com.
ADULT SUNDAY CLASS: CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVES ON THE JUSTICE SYSTEM A four-week class featuring speakers and videos. Classes are Sundays, March 2 - 23 at 9:30 am in room 3107, led by Ruth Chisnall. This 4-week class will attempt to give new understanding to the issues faced by the State of Michigan in making the justice system more equitable. Lynda Zeller will be our guest speaker on March 16. Lynda worked in medical care of inmates in prison for the State of Michigan and is now working in the mental health field to address the issues of prison being used as housing and treatment for citizens with mental health issues. We will have a Circle of Support guest on March 23. Please join us to find ways you may be able to help the justice system become more equitable.
MEN´S LENTEN BREAKFASTS 2014"Why First Church Is My Church" Join us Friday mornings at 7:00 am in Wesley Hall beginning March 7. Sign up using the Sunday bulletin insert. Sign up online at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/sign-up-sheet
LENTEN STUDYFive Practices of Fruitful Congregations by Bishop Robert Schnase. You are invited to embark on a journey this Lent. The church has entered a new era. People are seeking spirituality, but not necessarily organized religion. How will the church respond? What will speak to the people of today? Robert Schnase tells us that people are searching for a church shaped and sustained by Radical Hospitality, Passionate Worship, Intentional Faith Development, Risk-Taking Mission and Service, and Extravagant Generosity. Let´s get talking about how we might use these practices to make disciples for Jesus today and into the future. Sign up online at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/sign-up-sheet
• Wednesday AM – March 5-April 9, 10:00-11:30 at Clark, with Dick Youells
• Thursday PM – March 6-April 10, 7:00-8:30 pm at Kurt & Randy Kimball´s
• Sunday AM – March 9-April 13, 9:30-10:30 am at Church, with Amy Hinman
• Sunday PM – March 9-April 13, 5:00-6:30 pm at Church, with Pastor Bob
• Sunday PM – March 9-April 13, 6:00-7:30 pm at Dave & Peggy Thompson´s
• Monday PM – March 10-April 14, 7:00-8:30 pm John & Marianne Warnock´s
• Tuesday PM – March 11-April 15, 7:00-8:20 pm at Allyson Cave´s Home
• Wednesday PM – March 12-April 9 (or 16), 6:30-8:00 pm at Church, with Laure Mieskowski
FIRST AID STATION
CHURCH ASSISTANCE PROGRAM Call the CAP Hotline at 455.6210. They will answer the phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and will set you up to meet with a trained counselor. The first two one-hour sessions will be at no charge to you by telling them you are a member or friend of First Church! So don´t wait any longer – call today!