BEAUTY AMONG THE THORNS
Beauty among the the people and places and glimpses of things that are noble
and pure and true and good and alive in the kingdom of God.
I think of my friend Hugh, who trudges through the snow to open up a hospitality house where people on the streets in Raleigh can find warmth and friendship and a place-to-be-loved. And my friends at Dry Bones Denver who love kids on the street deeply through the years who - calling out people’s dignity through simple friendship with no big budget or a single bit of flash.
And Luke and Rebecca, dreaming of a new community in Everett where all are welcomed and included and valued and treasured and women can lead and the marginalized have a voice and beauty is valued. Or the Justice and Mercy Legal Aid Clinic, where my awesome husband is a lawyer alongside other humble, kind, passionate justice advocates. It’s a place where women who are victims of violence are getting premier legal aid and are treated with dignity and respect. Then I remember my friends who bring water and clothes and friendship to people on the street in San Diego week after week after week. They left the confines of church years ago to find life and faith in tangibly being the body of Christ.
Upstairs from The Refuge is a food bank that opens its doors week after week after week with a completely and totally volunteer staff. No salaries, just a commitment to feed people in the name of Jesus. In Fort Worth my sweet friends gather in all kinds of different ways to break bread and share pain and celebrate life together without a church building or a big budget or a strategic plan beyond “being together.”
I think of the male pastors I work alongside with who gave up money and benefits and security and accolades to cultivate life in our little weird community because they care about people more than power. Or my dear friend Suzanne whose life is given to friendship with the Palestinians. No bells, no whistles, no organizational wow. Just relationship. And that’s always the foundation for justice.
Then there’s Ryan and his team of ordinary people who build long-term redemptive relationships with friends on the streets in Capital Hill. Network Cafe has been offering coffee and friendship day after night and night after day in a little house or over 30 years. And all the young people I am seeing online whose hearts are on fire for justice and change on behalf of Black Lives Matter. They aren’t waiting for permission; they are living out their call in simple, organic, profound ways. I smile as I read through a pile of emails from the interfaith group I am part of, leaders of all faiths standing in support with our Muslim friends on Wednesday night as part of a prayer vigil in Denver on behalf of peace.
The true pastors I know who love people whether they are paid or not, or have a degree or not, or are part of a church staff or not. Oh, and so many sweet and simple “churches” in all kinds of shapes and sizes with no budgets, no flash, no whiz, no bang, just kind people who find ways to gather around tables, in parks, in coffee shops, in recovery meetings, in church buildings, in all-kinds-of-weird-ways to see others and be seen. To love and be loved. And really I should have said this first–-the people everywhere with no titles or positions or roles-with-recognition who brought meals, who dropped by the hospital, who picked up a single mom’s kids, who shared their story at a recovery meeting that gave someone else a little hope, who cleaned someone’s house, who filled up someone’s gas tank, who tutored someone else’s kid, who called someone on their heart, who gave a rip when no one else would, who stopped to help the man on the side of the road, who hugged someone who needed a hug, who stood up against a bully, who offered grace in some small, simple, beautiful way.
Yeah, there’s so much beauty amidst the thorns. I hope we can see some of it today. The sweet, simple kingdom breaking through. Jesus with skin on. The image of God reflected in the least likely of places. The strength of the weak. Kind, humble leaders in all kinds of different ways. Real power. Real juice. Real people.
Jesus calls us to service. In answering his call, we support a number of community service organizations and projects. Among these are the Friendship House, Skagit County Community Action Agency, Battered Women's Shelter, Everett's Common Ground and Common Table, Family Promise, and Lincoln Elementary School
Just for pun!
• Every calendar's days are numbered.
• A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat.
• If you've seen one shopping center, you’ve seen a mall.
• Acupuncture is a jab well done.
• A man’s home is his castle, in a manor of speaking.
• Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?
• Reading while sunbathing makes you well red.
• When two egotists meet, it’s an I for an I.
• A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
• The worker who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered.
• Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead-to-know basis.
As members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), we believe our only creed is Christ. We shouldn't burden our lives with confusing rules of fellowship. There is no test of membership beyond faith in God's love and the Christ we have in Jesus, who leads us to reconcilliaton with God and each other. Our emphasis is placed on living in ways that confirm our beliefs and understanding. At our best, we carry out a ministry that makes a difference in the world and reflects the good news of God's grace extended to all people.
Partnering with Our Common Table and Our Common Ground:
Our Common Table is a new Christian Community seeking to cultivate spaces of welcome for all people where we can explore and practice life in the way of Jesus together, seek holistic justice, and love and celebrate our neighbors and neighborhood.
Donate to Our Common Ground:
Here is a current list of needed items at Our Common Ground:
Socks (new crew socks are preferred)
Gift Cards to grocery stores and restaurants in Everett
Coffee (preferably ground)
Snacks (protein rich and non-perishable are best)
Razors and Shaving Cream
Toothbrushes and Toothpaste
NEWS FROM THE PEWS
May is a wonderful month filled with sun and growing gardens, lawns needing mowing, and people planning vacations and summer-time events. We look forward to seeing you all this month! We celebrated Easter with an inspiring worship service, attended by over 60 members and friends. The children hunted for eggs, and everyone was filled with the Easter story of Christ arising from the tomb to save us all. We will keep our home-bound and travelers in our thoughts and prayers this month. We are so thankful for a congregation that is supportive and welcoming to everyone. We continue to support Family Promise and Our Common Table, as well as many local agencies, through our donations of food products and supplies needed to assist the homeless. Please bring your donations to church and place in the bins provided. We are also collecting items for Samaritan’s Shoe box project; ask Joyce Crock for details.
We celebrated with Justin and Ryan Morgan at the birth of their daughter, Wren, as well as with Jill Allen and the whole family. Jill shared that her other daughter, Ellen is also expecting! What a blessing! Please consider volunteering at the Friendship House the last Friday of every month. We have a few dedicated people who are always ready to serve, but we encourage those who have not had this experience to step forward. You will enjoy the time spent serving a meal to deserving people. Thank you for your consistent, unfailing financial support of our church. We are able to reach out to the community and the world through your generous donations. Steve and Lela will attend the Disciples Regional Assembly in Sumner May 17-20. Steve will attend Anti-racism as part of the assembly. Rev Jack & Liz Miller will fill the pulpit on May 20. Come and hear their inspiring message. Jeanne reported that Pregnancy Choices will not hold the “Run For Your Mum” this year, but she will gladly accept donations.
MVFCC Volunteer Opportunities:
1. The Friendship House needs you the last Friday of every month. Sign up at church this Sunday.
2. Neighbors in Need Food Bank is looking for donations of canned and dry foods. Place in the bins provided this Sunday.
3. Our Common Table requests financial donations for growing their congregation.
4. Family Promise: We partner with Salem Lutheran Church on a rotating basis to provide food, shelter and support for families who are struggling to find affordable housing and employment opportunities.
At his graduation, a young man tasked with giving a speech began reading from some notes. “I want to talk about my mother and the wonderful influence she had on my life,” he said. “She’s a shining example of parenthood, and I love her more than words can ever do justice.”
The graduate then paused, appeared to struggle a moment and looked up at the audience with a mischievous smile. “It’s really hard to read my mom’s handwriting,” he said.
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Mount Vernon First Christian Church Disciples of Christ
Visit us at:
900 Skagit Street
Mount Vernon, WA 98274
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Schedule of Weekly Events
Sunday Class - 9:30 am
Sunday Worship Service - 10:30 am
Sunday Fellowship Time - 11:30 am
Monday Prayer Group - 10:00 am
Bible Study - 6:00 pm