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Join us this Sunday, October 29 for a combined Festival Worship Service beginning at 10:00 a.m. Sunday School for all ages begins at 9:00 a.m.
As part of our Festival Service celebrations, we will welcome special guest Rev. Rick Hamilton, Interim Regional Minister of the Illinois and Wisconsin Region, and our “B.I.B.L.E. Kids” children and youth will sing one of their new songs, “The Perfect 10,” as special music.
Following worship, we will have an all-church luncheon in the Parish Hall. Please bring a salad, side dish, or dessert to share; our Hospitality Team will provide the main course and table service.
It will be a great day! We hope you can be part of it!
All month long we have been exploring what it means to be Church, using the metaphor of sanctuary. We have talked about how we create sanctuary through our acts of hospitality in Jesus’ name; through the creation of trusting and trustworthy community; and through our identity as covenant people, reaching beyond ourselves and out into the world as we embody the mind and heart of Christ. On Sunday, the last day of this sermon series, it’s commitment time.
We commit ourselves to this identity and to this work as Christ’s people.
Eureka Christian Church has been committed to this patch of earth in central Illinois for 191 years—to this place and to the people who live here. We have used the work of our hands, the passion of our hearts, the creativity of our vision, and the resources in our pockets to create sanctuary.
Safe space. Holy space.
It is my conviction that there are a whole lot of people all around us who do not know sanctuary. Lord, prepare us to be sanctuary. If you care about this mission too, then please join me in supporting it. I believe in what we do together, and I support it with my financial resources. Because I want to make sure that the most vulnerable in our midst have a place—a safe place—where they can encounter and know the love of God.
If you have never made a pledge to the work of our church before, I would like to invite you to consider it this year. To make a commitment to this work we do together. Because it is valuable work; it is needed work. You can fill out and return an Estimate of Giving card to the church or set up on-line giving.
And if you think, “What I have to give couldn’t possibly make a difference,” let me just say: little is much when it comes to God. Don’t forget that we are a people of the five loaves and two fish that fed a crowd of 5000. We are a people of the widow’s mite and the mustard seed. God consistently takes our small offerings and multiplies them, magnifies them.
For little is much when it comes to the work of God.
I’ll see you Sunday.
Consecration Sunday is October 29. We will gather for a combined Festival Worship Service at 10:00 a.m. followed by an all-church luncheon in the Parish Hall. Our Hospitality Team is providing the main course for the meal; please bring a salad, side, or dessert to share.
Consecration Sunday is the time when we dedicate ourselves to the work of our church in the coming year and make commitments as to how we will support this work financially. If you plan to give to the work of our church in 2024, please fill out an Estimate of Giving card and bring it with you to worship on October 29 or return it to the church office at your earliest convenience. If you have been joining us online, there is a way to set up giving through our website. The Church Board uses these Estimates of Giving to finalize a budget that faithfully balances our envisioned ministries with the financial resources we have available.
In 2024, our proposed budget is $378,942. The Board developed a pie chart that breaks down this budget into our six ministry areas. In developing this chart, they assessed how our staff allocates their time and how our building is used for ministry.
While our 2024 proposal represents a slight decrease from this year’s budget, that doesn’t mean we are cutting back on our ministries. In fact, we have plans to add two staff positions—a Minister of Pastoral Care and Support and an IT/Social Media Internship. Meanwhile,
- Our youth group is planning to go on a mission trip next summer to learn about “Justice 101” in Kansas City, Missouri;
- Our children will learn the stories of our faith through our B.I.B.L.E. Kids Sunday School program and Godly Play and are already looking forward to Discovery Day Camp next summer;
- Our men’s and women’s ministries are thriving;
- And we will continue to support local, denominational, and global efforts to lessen the suffering and struggles of others through our Outreach Ministries.
We are an active congregation with lots to share and much to do as we seek to be Church out in the world. Join us!
What does God want us to do about the illegal aliens who are risking life and limb to travel to the U.S.?
The recent surge of people seeking to enter the United States whether legally or not has created much “soul-searching” among Christians. Some believe we should close our borders and refuse to allow immigrants to enter. Others — as the question indicates — want to find a response that would be faithful to our Christian beliefs.
The Old Testament — in several places — admonishes the Israelites to remember that they were once strangers in a strange land, and therefore they should treat resident aliens with kindness and generosity (see Leviticus 19:10, 33-34; 23:22; Deuteronomy 14:29). And the prophet Ezekiel even envisioned a time when the aliens would become citizens.
When we turn to the New Testament, the passage that comes immediately to mind is Matthew’s account of the “last judgment” which reads, in part:
Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you … for I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me … (Matthew 25:34b-35; emphasis added).
On the whole, it seems to me the Biblical record is clear: we should treat the migrants with love and seek to do all that we can to make their lives here as bearable and sustainable as we can.
But it seems to me that we must do more than that. Our welcoming love and care for the migrants must be accompanied by an effort to attain justice and draw closer to the biblical concept of shalom.
Andrew Whitehead in a book entitled American Idolatry writes: “Part of our loving the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the immigrant is recognizing our own complicity in the systems of injustice that create and perpetuate their marginalization and suffering.”
Whitehead reminds us that we need to do what we can to bring greater justice, economic stability, and safety to the migrants’ homelands and thereby reduce the need or desirability of migration.
You all do all the managing, planning and preparation for the service to keep us in good spiritual health. What can we, the congregation, do for you, the leadership, to keep you well?
“Where two or more are gathered in my name, I’m right there in the midst of them.” It’s a truly awesome thing we do, when we gather to worship! There are many of us. We preach, teach, pray, make us aware of outreach, play instruments, sing, operate sound equipment, prepare communion, serve communion, prepare bulletins, greet, count the offering, and open and close the buildings. We keep the buildings clean and in good shape, and we keep the grounds looking beautiful. We do all of this so that we can gather in God’s name!
What can we do to keep the leadership well? We can show love. Many of us are already doing that. Take credit! Most of us are familiar with Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, 1992. We each have a particular way of showing love, so use the “love language” that is natural for you! Here are some ideas:
*Words of Affirmation. Was something meaningful to you in worship? Tell it. Say it. Write it.
*Acts of Service. Many, many of you are contributing to worship itself. Some contribute their time and energy in cleaning, mowing, and repairing. And, there’s always planning and teaching.
*Quality Time. Be totally present when you’re interacting.
*Physical Touch. There are always hugs, pats on the back, hand squeezes.
*Gifts. You already do this. There are gifts from the garden. Baked dishes. A flower or two. Small things that show your appreciation.
A final note: If and when you might have some constructive observation or criticism, take a hint from Dale Carnegie—yesteryear’s How to Win Friends and Influence People—make a sandwich: Wrap your criticism/observation/beef in between words of affirmation. It goes down better that way!
Inspired by the Prophet Amos and his commitment to those in need, we have been collecting food throughout the month of September.
This Sunday, October 1 is the last Sunday for our food drive. Please bring your non-perishable food items with you to worship and add them to our overflowing collection! (If you cannot be in worship on Sunday, please feel free to drop off your donations any time the church is open.)
We will dedicated these gifts in worship on Sunday and then take them to the Eureka Food Pantry next week.
Thank you for being part of this effort!
Announcing B.I.B.L.E. Kids Sunday School at Eureka Christian Church!
The Fall Quarter of B.I.B.L.E. Kids, our children and youth Sunday School program, begins this Sunday, October 1!
All children and youth ages 4 and up are invited to come to the “B.I.B.L.E. Kids” Clubhouse most Sunday mornings from 9:30-10:15 in October, January, and March for fellowship, learning, singing, crafts, games, and all-around fun! (The Clubhouse can be found upstairs in the Education Building.)
If you have your own Bible, please bring it! If you don’t have a Bible of your own yet, we will have plenty of extras in the Clubhouse.
Sometimes, we will be all together as one group; other times, we will split off into younger and older age groups.
Plans for October include:
October 1 Building the B.I.B.L.E Kids Clubhouse
October 8 The Books of the Bible
October 15 The Ten Commandments Part 1 (Torah)
October 22 The Ten Commandments Part 2 (Torah)
October 29* B.I.B.L.E. Kids begins at 9:00 a.m. today due to the 10:00 a.m. Festival Service
Friends and visiting family are always welcome.
Our September series on the book of Amos continues this Sunday. Here is a preview.
Amos preached a demanding message to the people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He asked them to take a good, long, hard look in the mirror to see where their lives were aligning with God’s priorities—and where they were not.
According to Amos, the glory of a nation is not about the whirring of its economic engine or the unparalleled strength of its military might. According to Amos, the glory of a nation, the honor, the goodness, the godliness is directly due to how compassionately and fairly said nation treats the least powerful and least advantaged in its midst.
Amos lays this specific, passionate judgment squarely at the feet of his people: “This country will collapse because you are unjust.”
That is an incredible witness. And an incredibly difficult Word to hear. Because like the crowds around Amos long ago, this Word scandalizes us, and we feel those defensive walls coming up fast inside us.
But the faithful response to this charge is not defensiveness. It’s not squirming, hissing, spitting, shouting, stomping off. It’s not a shocked, unexamined, “How can I not be the good guy?”
The faithful response to this charge is the question: How am I part of systems of injustice and oppression right here and right now? The faithful response to this charge is holding up that mirror and taking a good, hard, long look—even though we don’t want to. If we are going to allow Amos to speak to us, to move us, to change us, then this is what we must do.
Disciples, are we up to the challenge?
I’ll see you Sunday.
P. S. Please remember to bring your non-perishable food items on Sunday to add to our collection for the Eureka Food Pantry.
What is the meaning of life?
This a question that most of us have asked many times. When we’re disheartened and disillusioned. When we’re young and overwhelmed with life-decisions. When we lost someone who gave us the world.
Many of us have been taught from childhood that God is Love. Pure love. It was God’s creative love that gave life to the birds of the air and the fish of the sea. To fireflies. And cockroaches. And then, our God of Love made us “in God’s own image.” God intended us to be made of Love. It’s up to us, then, with God’s help, to live out that Love.
Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is like this.” A lost lamb and a caring shepherd (Luke 15:3-6). A lost coin and a determined widow (Luke 15:8-9). An injured traveler and a helpful stranger (Luke 10:25-37). All of them are opportunities for Love and Gratitude.
Victor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, wrote a book about this question, Man’s Search for Meaning. He wrote, “When we look for meaning, we’re considering the question of continuing to live despite persistent world-weariness.” He then turned the question around: Rather than “What can I expect from life?” to “What does life expect from me?”
There’s a story in one of Robert Fulghum’s books. (He also wrote, All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten.) A Greek teenager, in post war World War II, found a smashed piece of the mirror from a motorcycle wreckage of a hated Nazi. He filed the sharp edges down, so that he could keep it in his pocket. He carried that piece of mirror the rest of his life, taking it out in idle moments to reflect the sun and to angle the light into the darkest, most inaccessible places he could find. He knew that he wasn’t the source of the light. “I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know, but light. . .is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it.”
Perhaps you can find meaning for your life in some of these thoughts.
How can I respond in a faithful, caring way to people I completely disagree with?
Disagreements are a difficult part of our human experience, but for Christians and for the church, they have always been with us. We need only look at Paul’s letter to the Galatians or the writings of fourth-century Christians about the relationship between Jesus and God during the First Council of Nicaea to see that Christians have disagreed strongly with each other about many things throughout history. So, your question is a good one; “How do I respond to, or affirm someone with whom I disagree?”
One suggestion I will offer is to remember that the view that someone holds that differs from yours is not the only thing that determines who that person is. Regardless of whether you disagree with who that person votes for, their views on social issues, their faith or absence of belief, or any other concern, you may still be alike in more ways than you are different. In a 2009 TED talk, Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie spoke about the danger of a single story, or the danger of allowing only one part of a person’s identity frame our perception of that person. Here is a link to that TED talk, and I highly recommend it.
If you are someone who believes in the mission of the church, Michael Kinnamon and Jan Linn write about the implications of covenant relationship in their book Disciples: Who We Are and What Holds Us Together. They write,
This means, of course, that a church built on covenant must accept, even value, a diversity of perspective. The commitment we make is not always to agree, but to walk together as we attempt to discern where God would have us go. If the church is a purely voluntary association, then when we disagree we can simply take our marbles and leave. If, however, the church is a covenantal society constituted by God’s initiative, then we stay at the table, especially when it is tough to do so.” 
These are challenging words from Kinnamon and Linn, but for me they describe part of the “heavy lifting” of discipleship.