Who Is My Neighbor? (KidVenture Flood Buckets)

The children (and their youth and adult partners) in KidVenture collected and packed 29 Flood/Cleaning Buckets on Wednesday night!  These children wanted to help those devastated by the recent hurricanes and one of the first things people need are supplies to clean and disinfect their now mold-covered homes.  A flurry of energy and enthusiasm filled the room as children from the ages of 4-11 worked together so that all the supplies were packed in a specific way in order to fit into the bucket.  As the hurricanes kept coming and coming, one of our Calvary members talked to her coworkers and they donated supplies.  Many of the buckets were donated by Lowes, through the coordination of one of these coworkers.  

In packing the buckets, another blessing took place as older children were engaged in helping younger children.  For instance, the 5th graders were paired to be buddies with the 4 year olds, the 4th graders with the Kindergarteners, etc.  This reinforced the concept that we all work together and help each other in the body of Christ.

After the buckets were filled, everyone in the room stretched out their arms and prayed a blessing over these supplies and those who would be using them.  What an incredible gift for these children to give to those who have been so ravaged with hurricanes.

These buckets will be taken to the United Methodist Midwest Mission Distribution in Chatham, IL, where they will then be distributed to those who need them.  If you’d like to learn more about that incredible ministry, check out the newsletters here.  This ministry is also supported financially by Calvary through your Outreach Team.  Thank you for your support!


About the Author
Debbie Reese is the Co-Directing Pastor of Calvary UMC

Deeper Dive Podcast (Releasing God's Best - Patience)

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Randy, Debbie, and Isaac talk about patience in light of other instances in the Bible.

Listen in your device's podcast app – Apple version here and Android version here or use the desktop-only player below.


About the Authors
Randy and Debbie Reese are Co-Directing Pastors at Calvary UMC
Isaac Gaff is the Managing Director of Worship and Creative Arts at Calvary UMC

Teach Us to Pray (Releasing God's Best - Patience)

As you pray today, let patience be the foundation and framework of that prayer. Almost 1700 years ago, a Christian named Cyprian talked about how important patience is to the life of faith. Reflect on these words as you build your house of prayer with a patient foundation:

"...It is patience that both commends us to God, and saves us for God. It is that same patience which tempers anger, bridles the tongue, governs the mind, guards peace, rules discipline, breaks the onslaught of lust, suppresses the violence of pride, extinguishes the fire of dissension, restrains the power of the wealthy, renews the endurance of the poor in bearing their lot, guards the blessed integrity of virgins, the difficult chastity of widows, and the indivisible love of husbands and wives. It makes men humble in prosperity, brave in adversity, meek in the face of injuries and insults. It teaches us to pardon our offenders quickly; if you yourself should offend, it teaches you to ask pardon often and with perseverance. It vanquishes temptations, sustains persecutions, endures sufferings and martyrdoms to the end. It is this patience which strongly fortifies the foundations of our faith. It is this patience which sublimely promotes the growth of hope. It directs our action, so that we can keep to the way of Christ while we make progress because of his forbearance. It ensures our perseverance as sons of God while we imitate the patience of the Father.”
St. Cyprian of Carthage – “The Good of Patience”


About the Author
Isaac Gaff is the Managing Director of Worship and Creative Arts at Calvary UMC

Sunday Worship (Releasing God's Best: Patience

This week we'll be exploring Galatians 5:22-25; 1 Timothy 1:15-17; and James 5:7-11.  

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

Each Sunday you can find the live stream here or watch the archive here

A Light To My Path (Releasing God's Best: Patience)

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Our Scripture for the coming week comes from Galatians 5:22-25; 1 Timothy 1:15-17; and James 5:7-11

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
 

Question for Reflection:

How do you approach patience in your spiritual life?

Who Is My Neighbor? (Habitat for Humanity)

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It’s not always about a new house, is it?  This fall, Calvary partnered with Habitat for Humanity and with Luis Ortolaza and his wife, Evette Rios to rehab a Habitat House formerly occupied by someone who was able to ‘upgrade’ to a larger home!  What a wonderful way to be a part of the Habitat plan.  Louis and Evette are thrilled that they get to be homeowners and are going to be living on Fuller Court in Bloomington.  They are also very appreciative of the people who came from Calvary to help make their dream come true.

Calvary’s Habitat Team worked on 8 Saturdays in August, September and October, putting in 185 volunteer hours between 20 people.  There were 15 people who worked on the house and another 5 who provided refreshments for our hard-working house flippers.

Habitat For Humanity’s Mission is:  “Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.”  Those who apply for, qualify, and are chosen for a Habitat House must work alongside the Habitat onsite staff as well as volunteers in order to fulfill their end of the contract.  The family receives an affordable mortgage that they can manage and the community gains wonderful neighbors in these new homeowners!

What’s next?  The United Methodist Churches in Bloomington/Normal are coming together to do a ‘United Methodist’ Habitat Build in 2018.  While all of the UM churches in town participate in their own outreach ministries, the pastors thought it would be wonderful to unite in doing something very important.  The idea blossomed into a Habitat Build.  We look forward to working alongside our new and old friends at the other United Methodist Churches in town in 2018 as we help to make a difference for another family in Bloomington/Normal.

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About the Author
Debbie Reese is the Co-Directing Pastor of Calvary UMC

Deeper Dive Podcast (Releasing God's Best - Peace)

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Randy, Debbie, and Isaac talk about peace in the context of Jesus' words from Matthew "I come not to bring peace, but a sword…"

Listen in your device's podcast app – Apple version here and Android version here or use the desktop-only player below.


About the Authors
Randy and Debbie Reese are Co-Directing Pastors at Calvary UMC
Isaac Gaff is the Managing Director of Worship and Creative Arts at Calvary UMC

Sunday Worship (Releasing God's Best: Peace)

This week we'll be exploring Galatians 5:22-25:  

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Each Sunday you can find the live stream here or watch the archive here

A Light to My Path (Galatians 5:22-25)

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Our text for the coming week comes from Galatians 5:22-25:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Question for Reflection:

What does it mean to "live by the Spirit"?

Who Is My Neighbor? (Las Vegas)

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As I try to write this about the ways in which we may have reached out his week, I cannot get the mass shooting in Las Vegas out of my mind and heart.   Who is my neighbor?  This is the very end of Luke 10:25-37, the passage from which this section of The Daily Connection springs:

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”  The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”  Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

At the time of this writing, we don't know much about the gunman or his motive.  But he was someone's brother.  He was someone's son.  He was literally someone's neighbor.  And he was a neighbor to all of us because he was one of God's people.  We may never know what caused this retired accountant and avid gambler to do what any of us would define as the unthinkable.  His family hurts, also.  Was there something that could have been done to have changed the tragectory of this man's life?  Was someone a neighbor to him when he needed it?

And of course those who died, who are injured, who are forever traumatized, who lost loved ones.....they are the ones our hearts run to when we hear of such a horrific tragedy.  There are stories upon stories of people running back in to help the injured, of off duty police officers, medical professionals, and others springing into action to do what they could to bring hope to this terrified crowd.  

And yet......in the midst of this kind of world.....we are called to be the love of Christ to those who are hurt.....in whatever form that hurt takes.  When we feel helpless, it's time for us to help.....help anyone......just be that neighbor......to your literal neighbors, to your friends, to your enemies.....to the homeless, to the rich, to the annoying person, to the sweetest person.  We all need a neighbor sometime.....find someone today to serve in even the smallest of ways.

Here is an excellent article that reflects this spirit as we hurt from the recent violence in Las Vegas and around the world:  http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/you-did-it-for-me-serving-others-in-times-of-tragedy


About the Author
Debbie Reese is the Co-Directing Pastor of Calvary UMC

Love Your Neighbor (and Your Enemies)

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Every so often I like to recommend a specific episode of podcast that generates good thought and conversation about what it means to love your neighbor/enemy. This recent episode of The Liturgists Podcast does an excellent job of walking through the issue of loving your enemy "through the lens of art, science, and faith."


About the Author
Isaac Gaff is the Managing Director of Worship and Creative Arts at Calvary UMC

Teach Us to Pray (Galatians 5:25)

"Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."

One way to keep step with the Spirit is to get into a prayer rhythm. Last Wednesday, Carroll Bross mentioned an app she uses to help her stop and take short moments during the day to pray. If you don't have a practice like that already, the Honor Your Inner Monk app (iOS and Android) is a great way to get started. It's easy to use and fits into even the busiest of schedules.


About the Author
Isaac Gaff is the Managing Director of Worship and Creative Arts at Calvary UMC

Sunday Worship (Galatians 5:1-3,16-18, and 22-25)

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This week we'll be exploring Galatians 5:1-3,16-18, and 22-25 and the theme of JOY.  

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Each Sunday you can find the live stream here or watch the archive here

A Light to My Path (Galatians 5:1-3,16-18, and 22-25)

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Our text for the coming week is from Galatians 5:1-3,16-18, and 22-25:

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Question for Reflection:

How do you "keep step with the Spirit"?