Pastoral Ponderings – February 2024

Decades ago, Christian churches used to gather for worship together on special holy days as a sign of covenant and unity. As churches became busier, the first activity that disappeared from their yearly
calendar was sharing worship with sister churches. As a result, members of each individual church lost the opportunity to meet members of other churches and for churches to understand that they are not alone in this world as they seek to bring God’s realm to earth. This loss of support makes it harder to hold on to hope as we continue to work on God’s behalf.

This year, Encanto Community Church UCC will be joining First Congregational UCC and New Hope UCC in gathering for Ash Wednesday and Maundy Thursday. First Church UCC will host all three churches on Ash Wednesday and the music will be provided by musicians from First Church and New Hope. Rev. Susan Valiquette, Rev. Myra Taylor and I will lead the service. Encanto Community Church UCC will host Maundy Thursday with music provided by our musicians. We are inviting both churches to join us for our Soup Supper prior to the service and have asked them to contribute soup, appetizers and desserts to the supper.

Many of you are familiar with First Church UCC which is located at 1407 N 2nd St, Phoenix, AZ. New Hope UCC is a new church start and open for worship on Palm Sunday of 2023. They currently rent
space from a school in Laveen for Sunday morning worship. They will continue to meet in a rented space until growth permits them to move into their own church.

This should be an exciting time for all of us and I hope that you will make the commitment to attend both services. We will make transportation available for those who need a ride to the service at First Church UCC.

There is a Lenten Study entitled “Hard and Holy Work: A Lenten Journey through the Book of Exodus” written by the Rev. Mary Alice Birdwhistell and Hebrew Bible scholar Tyler Mayfield. I will be using book to inspire my messages for Lent. A couple of the general questions that this study asks: Are we paying attention to the holy ground beneath our feet? Where do we see burning bushes in our world today, and what are they calling us to do? Do spiritual encounters in our lives have holy consequences in the world
around us?

May we open ourselves to the wonderful opportunities Lent offers as we prepare to welcome the Risen Christ in our spirit.

Blessings, Rev. Gloria