May 17, 2021

About United Congregational

Come to the About Us section to find out what we're all about!

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If you're curious about what a truly nurturing community of believers is like, then you should come to the Join Us section to find out how you can get involved.

What is UCC?

Find out about the United Church of Christ and the history of this wonderful organization on our What is UCC page.

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This months Website is 

sponsored by

Robert & Arlo Maisch &

Connie Lutz

in Memory of

Cheryl, Pauline, & Reinhold Maisch

Live Streaming is sponsored by

Marc & Nancy McClellan

If you would like to sponsor a month

contact the office.

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Members Login



Soup & Pie Fundraiser

Please join our Youth Group on Valentine's day and enjoy a bowl of soup & a piece of pie along with fellowship!

Last week's Sermon

May 9, 2021

 

John 15:9-17 & Acts 10:44-48

“Side Jesus”

I started first grade in a one room school house that consisted of one teacher for thirteen students in eight grades. Quite regularly recess consisted of games that required teams. Team captains were usually two of the older students. It was the task of the team captains to choose who was going to be on his or her side. As one of two first graders and one of the younger, smaller students in the school, I was never really concerned about when I would be chosen. It was a given that I would be one of the last ones.


What intrigued me more was, who would choose me. Whose side would I be on? As a first grader, I looked up to the older students. I was kind of in awe of how they could run faster, hit a ball farther, throw harder. I was hoping to be chosen by someone I looked up to …someone I admired …someone who wanted me to be on their team and not just because I was one of the last picks. Would I be excited or disappointed when I heard the words, “I choose you?”


The disciples are gathered with Jesus sharing an intimate meal and time together on Jesus’ last night with them. There is tension in the air from the events of the past week. The world outside their doors does not seem to be a welcoming place. Some of the disciples might have even been questioning their life choices as to following Jesus. They might have even wondered whose side they should have been on …the side with Jesus or the safer side with the religious leaders that catered in fear to the Roman government. Into these questions, doubts, and uncertainty Jesus says, “I Am the true vine.”


Jesus connects himself directly with God and then adds, “I chose you.”


I chose you. You did not choose me. You did not run up to me saying that you had chosen to follow me. I chose you. I called you. And you responded by following me. But it began because, out of grace and nothing that you did or could have done, I chose you. Not only did I choose you to follow me, I now choose you as a friend …one who is loved. You accepted the invitation of grace. Now, if you are going to live in this grace given to you out of love of God, I expect you to bear the fruits of love.


I chose you. How comforting and reassuring those words must have sounded to the Gospel of John’s community. They were a community excommunicated from the synagogues …their places of worship. They were wondering if they had been deceived into believing Jesus as the Messiah. They were searching for some understanding of how they fit into the religious community and society as a whole. And then they hear the words of Jesus saying, “I chose you. I want you on my side because I am on your side.”


This concept of chosen by God and what it means to be chosen is difficult for us to understand. Up until the first century CE it was understood that you had to be Jewish to be one of the chosen. At least that is what the Jewish community thought. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, Peter finds himself sharing the Good News of Jesus with a Gentile household …a non-Jewish family. While Peter is preaching, the Holy Spirit falls on the non-Jewish listeners and they begin praising God and speaking in unknown languages. The Jewish believers are flabbergasted. They can’t believe it. God’s Spirit is reserved only for the chosen …the Jews.


They were partially right. God’s Spirit is reserved for the chosen, but it is God who does the choosing and it is not based on religious affiliation or understanding. We continue to struggle with that understanding of chosen and what it means to be chosen today. By societal standards, to be chosen you have to be bigger, stronger, more beautiful, smarter, more powerful, wealthier, better, more faithful, more religious …more something of whatever the standard we are using for the circumstance. There is always some criteria that we have to meet. But Jesus says, “I choose you. No standards. No criteria to meet. Only grace extended by the love of God.


Today is confirmation Sunday. Today four young people of church family will confirm their baptismal vows that were spoken for them as infants. One of the questions that we ask our confirmands is if they would like to join this church. It is their choice. Just because they have gone through two years of confirmation classes does not mean that they have to join the church. They could say, “No.” The choice is theirs.


But, Arieanna, Charley, Jackson, Shane, I want you to know this. While it is your choice as to whether or not to join the church, God has already chosen you. We know that God has chosen you because it was evidenced in your baptisms of water and the Holy Spirit. God has chosen you through the grace of God’s love. God chose you. You did not and cannot choose God. But you can choose and you must choose on how you will respond to God choosing you. God’s desire is that you will respond in love …in the same love that God has shown you …in the same love that was lived out in Jesus.


Jesus says, “I chose you. I chose you as friend …loved and cared for as a friend. I want you on my side because I am on your side. I want you on my side …the same side as God’s love.”


Each and every one of us here is here because Jesus chose us. God is on our side. Today, through confirmation and our re-affirmations, we respond that we accept God’s loving invitation of grace. That is the easy part. The challenging part is to live out the love of God that God has shown and given us. Our acts of love are the fruits of God’s love and the sign of our acceptance of God’s grace lived out in our lives. Amen.