DMARC Food Pantry Item for July
Canned Vegetables

This Week's Ministry Blog
Thank God for the Difficult Word

  Matthew 11:16-30

The pastors in this congregation don't get to pick the scriptures they preach on.
We use the Revised Common Lectionary, in which a committee selected scriptures for every Sunday in a 3 year cycle. There is nothing prohibiting us from saying, "Forget that!" and making our own selection. But we haven't - and there is a good reason.
It is something of a faith practice to commit to taking on whatever comes your way. In life, we don't get to pick and choose. So in preaching, I think it is good to practice viewing all things, wanted and otherwise, through the eyes of faith.    
And this is one of those "undesirable" scriptures that make me as a pastor both irritated and thankful for committing myself to the lectionary. Irritated, because I know I'm going to have to put in a lot more work to make sense of this passage. Thankful, because I know I will grow from the experience and probably learn a thing or two in the process. The lectionary committee even tried to do pastors a favor by cut out that troubling judgment part in the middle (v.20-24), but I'm not skipping over it. I'm all in. I've already made up my mind to do the hard work of facing a difficult word, I'm not about to take shortcuts. Bring it, Jesus!
And I'm not the only one who could benefit from such an exercise.
In the case of this scripture it is the Israelites, the religious insiders, the chosen ones, the people from Jesus' own community:
They've seen Jesus.
They've heard his words.
They've witnessed his deeds of power.
Yet still, they go right on behaving like bratty, little children. They taunt one another. They slander God's messengers. They forget themselves, their identity as the children the Father created them to be.
And they aren't going to like the difficult word Jesus is speaking to them now - taking them to task, pointing out the error of their ways, calling them to repent. They really won't care for the way Jesus unfavorably compares them to the foreigners on which they have long looked down. They don't want to do the hard work of listening and soul-searching. They don't want to have to acknowledge their failure, because that means they would have to do the hardest thing of all: change.
The Israelites think they can do no wrong.
And they don't want to hear otherwise.
But the word that God will speak is not up to them. And while it might not sound like good news, it sure would do them a world of good to listen.

Pastor Sarah 

Prison Ministry         
On Thursday, August 10, Faith will be bringing a group to the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women in Mitchellville, IA. We will join the Women at the Well congregation for worship and heed Jesus' command in Matthew chapter 25 to visit those in prison. Due to prison requirements, participants must be 18 years old and physically able to walk without assistance. Both men and women are welcome. Please contact Pastor Sarah by Sunday, July 16, so that we can process necessary security paperwork.

Thank You!  

This year's mission trip to Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Tucson was by all accounts an amazing, transformative, and holy experience. Our high school youth and their families are SO grateful for the support of the congregation-your prayers, your encouragement, and your financial contributions are what make these trips possible. THANK YOU for investing in the faith of the young people in our community and for supporting their participation in mission and service at home and around the country!

Cancer Support Group 

Cancer Support Group will meet at the church Sunday, July 9, from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. Jan Stegeman, R.N. and Barbara Cavallin, Ph.D. are the facilitators. Anyone who is dealing with cancer, has a friend or relative who is, or is dealing with the loss of a loved one from cancer, is encouraged to come for this inspirational, compassionate, uplifting time of devotion, information, sharing, caring and prayer. If you have any materials that you would like to share with the group, please bring them.

Annual Budget Meeting

Mark your calendar for our annual budget meeting on July 16, at 11:30 a.m. We will discuss Fiscal Year 2017 financials and present the recommended Fiscal Year 2018 budget (July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018) for congregational approval. Your financial stewardship is vitally important to the on-going health of our shared ministries. A copy of the annual budget meeting handout is available on the Welcome Center.