Thoughts from Pastor Derek...

 

Special Time of Prayer

We are currently in the midst of a sermon series on the meaning of the parts of our worship service. This coming Sunday, May 6th, we will be looking at the reason that we have the prayers of the people and the Lord’s prayer as a part of our worship service each week. As a part of this service, we are going to be having a special time of prayer for wholeness and healing. We are asking people to consider inviting friends or neighbors to join us this coming Sunday, May 6th for this special time of prayer.

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One Great Hour of Sharing

 During the month of April, we will be collecting donations for the One Great Hour of Sharing. The One Great Hour of Sharing is a special offering that is collected by the Presbyterian Church in coordination with several other denominations. The funds collected by this offering go to help with disaster and hunger relief. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, the organization that helps with disaster relief and assistance for the Presbyterian Church, receives a great deal of funding through this offering, enabling it to help more people dealing with and affected by disasters. Thank you for your support of the One Great Hour of Sharing offering.

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Holy Week

For the past several weeks, we have been going through a sermon series on encounters that people have with Jesus in the gospel of John. In a few short weeks, we will be entering Holy Week. Beginning on Palm Sunday, we will discuss Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. On Maundy Thursday, we will remember Jesus’ last meal with his disciples. On Good Friday, we will hear the story of his crucifixion, and on Easter Sunday, we will celebrate his resurrection again from the grave. All of these stories can be found in the gospel of John, starting in chapter 12 and going on through chapter 20.

The schedule for our Holy Week services is as follows:

Palm Sunday — March 25th at 11am

Maundy Thursday — March 29th at 7pm

Good Friday — March 30th at 7pm

Easter Sunrise — April 1st at 8am

Easter — April 1st at 11am

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Belief unto life:

Currently, we are in the midst of a sermon series on the gospel of John. We are looking at encounters that various individuals have with Jesus throughout John’s gospel. We have seen that a common thread that runs through these stories is belief and life. In each of the stories that we have looked at, people are called to belief in Jesus. When they place their belief in Jesus, they receive overflowing and abundant life.

John directly tells us that this is the purpose for which he has written his gospel. In John 20:30-31, John says, “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

As we continue to look at these stories over the coming weeks, may you be blessed and encouraged in the life that is ours as children of God through belief in Jesus Christ. 

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Advent..."To Come"

We are preparing to celebrate the season of Advent. The name “Advent” means “to come” and during this time, we look forward to celebrating the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ on Christmas day. We celebrate the coming hope of Christmas. We celebrate Emmanuel. This is a name of God that is given to Jesus’ parents in the Christmas story. They are told that his name shall be Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” We celebrate that God comes to be with his people. 

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God is Generous and Abundant

This past Sunday, we looked at the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in John 6:1-15. In this story, we see God’s great care and provision for his people when Jesus miraculously turns 5 loaves and two fish into enough food for thousands of people. When the disciples see the crowd, they say that it would take 8 months wages for each person to have just a bite. Yet, notice that Jesus does not multiply the loaves and the fish to offer each person a bite. He provides so much that John’s gospel tells us that the people ate “all that they wanted”. Even after they have eaten all that they want, there are still 12 baskets full of food left over. Through this abundant provision, we see that God does not give us just enough to scrape by, but rather our God is gracious and abundant. He offers a feast to us, not just a snack. This helps us to see the heart of God. God is not stingy, but abundant and generous.

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All Saints Day

October 30, 2017

This past Sunday, we finished our series on the Protestant Reformation. The Reformation was sparked by Martin Luther nailing the 95 theses on the church door in Wittenburg on Oct 31st, 1517. Many people speculate that Luther chose this date because it was the day before All Saints Day. 

All Saints day has typically been a day of celebration and remembrance. We celebrate the lives of friends and loved ones who have gone before us in the faith. As we take the opportunity to remember them, we are inspired by their example of faith and encouraged to continue in our own walk with God. Thus, when Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church doors on the day before All Saints Day, it was almost as if he was saying, “God has been faithful to his people for countless generations and we know that he will continue to be faithful. In this confidence of God’s faithfulness, I share the following truth about God.”

This coming Sunday, November 5th, we will take time during our Sunday worship to hold a service of remembrance. This will be an opportunity to remember and give thanks for friends and loved ones who have gone before us in the faith and to honor their memories. We will have a vase of flowers and will invite people from the congregation to come forward and take a flower in memory of their loved ones.

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Reformation Sunday

October 22, 2017

This coming Sunday, October 29, we will celebrate Reformation Sunday here at Union Presbyterian Church. This celebration is in honor of Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 theses on the church door at Wittenburg on Oct 31, 1517. We are going to have a special luncheon after church with special food in honor of the Reformation and special activities.

During this luncheon after church, we are going to have our flu shot clinic. Pharmacy technicians from Walgreens will be at the church in order to administer flu shots. Please bring your insurance card with you if you plan to get a flu shot.

At 6:00PM that evening, Sun Oct 29, we are going to be showing the episode of the Torchlighters series covering the life of Martin Luther. This will be followed by discussion and prayer.

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Protestant Reformation

October 4, 2017

We are currently in the midst of a sermon series on the Protestant Reformation. Oct 31st marks exactly 500 years since Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the church door in Wittenburg Germany. This began a movement that would eventually reshape the entire Christian church. The thoughts of the Reformers have been summed up in 5 statements called “Solas”. Sola is a Latin word for “only” or “Alone”. These five statements are:

To God alone be the glory

Scripture alone

Christ alone

Faith alone

Grace alone

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Over 80 Luncheon

September 17, 2017

This Sunday, Sept 17, we will be having our over 80 luncheon immediately following the service. It will be held downstairs in the fellowship hall. Our over 80 luncheon is held in order to honor all of those individuals in our congregation who are 80 years of age and above. While this lunch is held in their honor, it is not only for them. Anyone is invited to come and to join in the lunch. You do not have to be over 80. All ages are welcome. Please come and join us as we celebrate the individuals in our church who are 80 and above. 

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Sunday School & Youth Group

August 30, 2017

Summer is coming to an end very quickly, and there are some important changes taking place at Union Church:

First, on Sunday, Sept 10, our worship will move back to 11am. Please be sure to make note of the time change for our worship service. Also, on Sept 10, we will begin another year of Sunday School. We have classes for all ages, both children and adults. We encourage you to come and join a class in order to learn more about God and his Word.

On Sunday, Sept 17 we are going to be having our grand youth group kickoff for the year. The first youth group meeting will be held on Sunday, Sept 17 at 6:00PM. There will be plenty of food, lots of fun and games. We encourage our youth to come and to invite their friends to come with them. Also, if you know a young person who would benefit from coming and the fellowship with other young people, we encourage you to invite them to attend as well.

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Fruit of the Spirit

July 13, 2017

We are currently in the midst of a sermon series on the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” As we look at these fruits of the Spirit, we are seeing time and again that the fruit of the Spirit is not something that we must try harder in order to have or achieve. Instead, the fruit of the Spirit is God working through his Spirit to produce his character in our hearts. Living with the fruit of the Spirit means reflecting the heart and character of God to those around us. 

We can see this character of God in Exodus 34:5-7. God appears to Moses and describes himself to Moses. The description that he gives should remind us of several of the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5. God describes himself as, “The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands,[a] forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.”

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Pentecost

May 31, 2017

For the past several weeks in worship, we have been doing a sermon series on what it means for us to live because of Christ’s resurrection from the grave. Over and over again, we have seen that living the resurrection life is about living in the new life that we have already been given through faith in Christ. Col 3:1 says, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” It speaks about our resurrection with Christ in the past tense. It is completed. It is finished. That is our identity. That is who we already are through faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, it is good to be reminded of that identity. It is good to remember who we are in Christ. So, this Sunday, on Pentecost, we are going to have a service of revival to be renewed in our resurrection identity in Jesus Christ. We are going to spend time in prayer asking Christ to fill us with his spirit once again. I encourage you to come and join us for this very special service this coming Sunday, June 4. Thank you.

God's Compassion

May 23, 2017

This past Sunday, we looked at the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18. I spoke in my sermon about God’s compassion. The king forgives an unimaginable debt to his servant because he has compassion on him, because his heart goes out to him. God forgives us through faith in Jesus Christ because he has compassion on us. Here are some other examples of God’s compassion in the scriptures:

Matt 9:35 - 38: Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

Matt 20:29-34: Now as they went out of Jericho, a great multitude followed Him. And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.” So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him.

Mark 1:40-42: Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed.

Luke 7:11-15: Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd. And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother.

Luke 10:33-34: But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

Luke 15:20: And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.

Mary's Tears

April 25, 2017

On Easter Sunday, we looked at the story of Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene. This story is found in John 20:11-18, and it focuses on Mary’s tears. The word for tears or crying appears four times in four verses. We saw that Mary’s tears point us to God’s great love for us. Yet, Mary’s tears also show us something else. Mary’s tears remind us that God uses the difficulties and hard things in our lives in order to draw others to him. We can see this by looking at our second passage of scripture for Easter morning— Mark 16:9-10. It says, “When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping.”  Notice that after Mary weeps over Jesus, she goes and comforts others who had also been mourning and weeping. Mary was able to comfort those around her because she had been comforted by Christ. Mary is a living example of the words of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” Mary’s tears point us to Jesus and his great love for us, but they also remind us that God redeems the difficult and hard things we experience in order to show his love to those around us.

Church Website / Holy Week

April 10, 2017

Yesterday in worship, we announced a new web site for the church. I am very excited about this because the website will serve as a tool for us here at Union Church to introduce more people to Jesus Christ. People will now be able to see our mission clearly displayed on our home page. They can listen to sermons and see the various missions that we support. They can look at the calendar and explore upcoming events at the church. They can learn about our children’s programs and our Sunday worship. They can get directions to the church or learn how to contact us. All of these things are helpful and convenient. More than that, though, they all share one common purpose. They are a tool to allow us to introduce more and more people to Jesus Christ. That is the vision for this new website— that it would allow us to introduce more people to Jesus.

We are entering into the celebration of Holy Week in which we remember the death and resurrection of our Lord. What a wonderful opportunity to introduce someone to Jesus! As we enter into Holy Week, I want to encourage each one of us to invite someone to the various Holy Week Services. You could invite a friend, a neighbor, someone from work or a family member. I want to encourage us to utilize the new website to share with others about what we believe here at Union Church and invite them to join us for worship, so that they might come and learn about Jesus.

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Season of Lent

March 2017

During the season of Lent, we are going through a sermon series on resurrection. We are looking at both Old and New Testament examples of resurrection as we anticipate the celebration of the death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ during Holy Week and culminating in our worship together on Easter Sunday.

Death and Resurrection are a theme throughout the whole of Scripture’s story. We have already seen this in our sermon series. From God giving new life after the flood through Noah and his family to Daniel being saved from death in the lion’s den, from God creating all life through Adam and Eve to God giving new life in heaven in the book of Revelation and everything in between, the Scriptures show us that our God is a God of life!

Here are a few more interesting examples of death and resurrection in the scriptures that I will not have the opportunity to cover during this sermon series:

2 Kings 13:20-21     A man comes back to life after touching the bones of the dead prophet Elisha.

2 Kings 4         This chapter contains 4 different stories which all show that our God is a God of life. God miraculously provides food, raises someone from the dead, cures a deadly poison and miraculously provides food again!

Matthew 9:18-26      Jesus heals one woman and raises another from the dead.