Open and Affirming!

Open and Affirming!

All are welcome!

First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ
40 South Fullerton Avenue
Montclair, New Jersey 07042
Phone: 973-744-4856

Monday, August 30, 2010

What Doesn't Change?

Excerpt from Hebrews 13:7-21

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."

Reflection by William C. Green

If faith in Jesus is thought to have become weaker and narrower than it used to be, our vision is limited to the northern and western parts of the globe. In the south and east, Jesus is a rising star.

Circumstances shift and change, but not Jesus. What changes is our understanding of Jesus and the conditions that influence it. Those who are poor or jobless but devout believers will see a different Jesus than do many of the more affluent among us. Those dedicated to preserving dogma and doctrine will be suspicious of any understanding of a God who is still speaking with more to say than we've heard before.

More than time-honored beliefs and values, Jesus inspires character, without which the best standards can be wielded as weapons—as when the importance of hard work and personal responsibility is laid on the unemployed, or when patriotism makes us suspicious of immigrants while we rely on their labor, or when church or faith leave little room for those of different sexual orientations.

Yesterday, today, and forever, Jesus lives in the spirit of God he awakens. Under his influence, we become better "characters": more just and charitable, more attentive to the needs of others, less dismissive of views and values not our own, and more responsive to the new life we're given to know and share with others.

Whatever changes with the times, God, may I stay focused on Jesus, drawing on his spirit and growing closer to you. Amen.
About the Author
William C. Green, a United Church of Christ minister, is the Director of Long Looking, a consultancy service specializing in fundraising and education for congregations. His new book, 52 Ways to Ignite Your Congregation: Generous Giving, has just been published.

Friday, August 13, 2010

What are “traditional family values”?

This Sunday August 15 at First Congregational Church of Montclair:

What are “traditional family values”? Do we know what that means? What are “traditional family values” according to Jesus? This week, Brad Bannon returns to FCC and continues to explore “troubling” Biblical passages as Sarah did last week. In this week’s scriptural passage (Luke 12:49-56), Jesus proclaims that He “did not come to bring peace, but division” through a baptism of fire. How might we understand this surprising statement in light of today’s debates over traditional family values and the role of the Bible in our church? Brad looks for help in unexpected places – an ancient Hindu theologian (Shankara) and a Renaissance Christian mystic (Nicholas of Cusa) – in a sermon entitled “(No?) Peace: The Possibility of God and the Possibilities of Scripture.” Don’t miss it!