It Has been an exhilarating year for Phoenix Rising UCC. A year of creativity; faith building and serving as we planned and purposely implemented events and gatherings. We developed into a Blessing Brigade, blessing people with animals, with boats and with bikes! We went to North Shore Pride and had a table in the market place sharing our PRUCC story. We enrolled in the Firemen’s Museum Annual Chile Cook OFF! We helped sponsor an LGBT picnic at Rolling Ridge retreat Center in Andover. We gathered for Sunday Service once a month at the Worshiping Oak Tree at the Buttonwoods Museum. We gathered for Prayer and Praise once a month at the Atmosphere Center. We gathered for Food and Fellowship. We Worshiped together at other UCC Churches. Christmas Eve we joined Belleville Congregational Church UCC. Joining the choir and I preached alongside Pastor Ross in a Christmas dialog. It was a very moving evening. This past Sunday December 27, 2015 we held our first Worship Gathering at the “Barn” a generous and hospitable gift from the Gifford’s. We met Wednesday nights at Dunkin Donuts and have studied the “Phoenix Affirmations” by Eric Elnes, and currently “LOVE WINS” by Rob Bell. I have loved holding office hours twice a week at the Artist Café. Over all, we have been evolving into a progressive Christian community of the United Church of Christ, Inclusive and intentional in making God’s love and justice real in the spirit of belonging!
For People of the Christian Faith, the New Year begins the First Sunday after Thanksgiving with the four weeks of Advent. Week one: HOPE. Week Two: PEACE, Week: Three JOY and Week Four: LOVE.( You can read those blogs here) the focus of each week helps us understand what Jesus brings.
When I think of who Jesus is, I consider His entering time from eternity as a vulnerable dependent child, what he did while among us and what was done to him by us his last days before his resurrection. When I think of Jesus in this way, I am inspired knowing how great a LOVE God has for us. Four Books tell His story: Matthew, Mark Luke and John. Three of the books cause the reader to ask ,”Who was this man? It is the Gospel of John we discover WHO JESUS IS! In the Old Testament, when Moses asked God, “Who should I say you are?” God answers saying, “Tell them, “I AM” has sent you.” (Exodus 3:14). In John’s Gospel Jesus refers to himself as, “I AM”.
“You can put him in the desert surrounded by people who are chronically unsatisfied, and Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35).
You can put him in the midst of people who are confused, people who ask, “Who are you, Jesus? What makes you different from all the other gurus, rabbis, and religious leaders?” And Jesus says, “I am the gate for the sheep. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture” (10:7, 9). It is an act of self-definition.
You can put him at graveside, in the midst of grief-stricken people, and Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live” (11:25).
Or put him in the midst of people who feel disconnected by life’s difficulties, and Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing” (15:5).”[i]
This coming Year it is my prayer that each of us come into a deeper relationship with, “I AM”. Are you looking for a place to belong, tired of feeling disconnected, have you been stricken with grief, seeking a sense of balance, authentic relationships and spiritual answer? We are Phoenix Rising UCC and together we seek to know ‘I AM” Fully and Faithfully with you.
Our Next worship Gathering will be January 17, 2016 at 10 AM at 148 Main Street Plaistow NH. You can contact me, Pastor Donna at Pastordonnaprucc@gmail.com if you would like to meet me over a cup of coffee join me at the Artist café 20 Washington Street, Haverhill Ma Tuesday’s or Thursdays between 9:30 Am and I:00 PM and stand convinced God has been preparing the way for others to come and join our community.
To learn more about Phoenix Rising United Church of Christ go to: HTTP:www.phoenixrisingucc.org.
NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE OR WHERE YOU ARE ON LIFES JOURNEY YOU ARE WELCOME HERE!
[i] Praying For A Whole New World
Gospel Sermons For Advent/Christmas/Epiphany Cycle C, William G. Carter