Advent: The Podcast continues, with three reflections from three very different Christians on how we live in to God's promises in this waiting season of Advent. You can listen here:
What are the promises of God that you keep close to your heart? Do you ever have doubts? How do live into the promises when it feels like they haven't appeared yet?
This Advent, Pastor Hannah and several other local Pastors will be doing an Advent podcast, reflecting on the Scriptures that tell us the story of Jesus's birth. Here is the link to the first episode:
What does "comfort, comfort my people" mean to you? What are ways God gives you comfort?
This morning Pastor Hannah and her colleague Pastor Mark of Grace UMC in Logan Square were invited onto WBEZ, Chicago's Public Radio station, to discuss what it means to be the church in a changing world.
Listen in here!: https://soundcloud.com/morningshiftwbez/how-can-religious-institutions
What do you think it means to share the Gospel in a rapidly changing world? How can the church become multi-cultural, a better neighbor, or a better evangelist? Jesus never laid still and got comfortable - he went out to meet the people, and prepared himself for change. At Elston Avenue, how can we do the same?
Why do we do what we do?
This is a questions you might ask yourself about all kinds of things. Why do all bathtubs look so similar? Why are bad habits so hard to break? Why does the school year always start in September? We are born into a world that has been shaped by generations before us, and our natural human curiosity drives us to ask - why?
This month, our sermon series at Elston Avenue will focus on Why Do We Do What We Do - at church? Why do we have an offering every week? Why do we have so many opportunities for teaching and Bible study? Why go to church at all? If you've ever wondered, we're going to have the conversation, and it should be fun and faith-growing for everyone from the brand-new Christian to the life-long churchgoer.
What do you have questions about? What have you always done, but never known why? Maybe we can get to it. Would you please share your experiences with the church?
What does God have to say about being sick, being healed, and being whole? Sickness is something that all of us experience. Many of us can feel discouraged or abandoned by God if our sickness or the sickness of someone we love is not healed. We can be confused by the weakness of our bodies. But where is Christ-like wholeness found? Click below for our perspective. The Biblical text preached is the healing at the Pool of Bethesda, John 5:1-9, which you can read here: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%205:1-9. If you'd like to watch along with the video mentioned and played in the sermon, it can be found here: http://vimeo.com/95004795.
This Mother's Day we took the opportunity to thank all kinds of Mothers in all kinds of ways. We remembered those who have passed, serenaded those who were present, and gave or saved flowers for all those who helped to mother as us we grew up. But Mothering isn't just about being a primary parent, or carrying a child. Mothering is something bigger, a kind of total commitment and love that God gives to each of us and that we all try to give to each other. God once said. "As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you" (Isaiah 6:13). God's love and comfort are available to us all, and so is God's power to Mother the lost, the broken, the sad, and the lonely.
We are spending Lent considering spiritual practices - stuff we do in our lives to help us get closer to God. For some, fasting is a spiritual practice that is very powerful. For others, running or stretching daily helps to center them. For others, service to others brings them closest to God. But for all of us, prayer should be a part of our life - some way, some how. What does prayer mean to you? How does prayer work in your own life?
This past Sunday Elston Avenue celebrated Youth Sunday - our teaching, music, and liturgy were all offered by our youth. Many spoke of lessons they had learned at Christmas Institute, the four day retreat run by and for young people every year in late December. For just a taste of the wisdom we all heard Sunday, here is the message Mark Mohammad shared with us...
C.I. is an event in which United Methodist youth seek to find Jesus in their lives, but for most, we seek to further our relationship with him. C.I. is four days full of delicious food, fun times, and learnings of God. To learn about God, we have sermons, family groups, and learning workshops. Throughout the sermons, many pastors addressed the inner spiritual flame. Initially, we must spark our inner flame. To spark our inner flame, we need to acknowledge Jesus and trust in him. Only then can we fan the inner flame. We fan the inner flame by sustaining and developing our relationship with God. There are many ways to fan our inner flames. We could go to church. We could pray. We could read the bible. We could do good acts such as being kind and helping others; we must not only do this in church but in all places in our lives. We could even go on missions. These many ways can help us fan our inner flames.
After the sermons, we would meet with our family groups. Family groups separated the delegates and placed them in a group of youth of similar ages. Pastors would lead the youth in discussion. Delegates would read bible verses and reflect on them. We learned many things in our family groups, but we learned two things in particular. First, we learned that we are all something. God has made all of us for a reason; we have a purpose in life. God has not made a mistake on each and every one of us. Although at times it may not seem like it, God has a plan for us. We just have to be patient and trust in him. Second, we learned to be kind to your neighbors. We have all heard this before, but we may not have taken it into deeper perspective. Being kind does not mean just acknowledging your neighbor but to become friends with them. We must actually get to know them.
Another way we learned about the church was through learning workshops. One of the workshops that I took part in was History of Hymns. In it we learned of the history of particular hymns. One story of a hymn stood out to me the most. The hymn is It Is Well with My Soul #377. The writer was a man from Chicago. He had a family of seven: his wife, his son, and his four daughters. The man suffered many tragedies and adversities in his life. First, his only son died of scarlet fever. Shortly after, he invested in real estate right before the great Chicago fire. The fire caused all of his money to go to waste. A few years later, his four daughters and his wife were on a boat ride to Europe; the man would join them a few days later on a separate boat. Somehow his family’s boat was hit by another ship, and it sank. Losing their four daughters, his wife was the only one to survive. After suffering so much, the man wrote the hymn to express his feelings. It baffles me that a song made with such sorrow and despair could become such a popular hymn. Maybe instead of representing sorrow and resent, it represents hope. Hope in ourselves, and hope in Jesus Christ.
Find that hope! get to know that neighbor! And share with us where Mark's wisdom might be leading you on your spiritual journey.
All month, we have been considering how the Bible calls us to be faithful in our families, and to the families of others. But when it comes down to it, who counts as family?
Jesus would say "everybody." And so must we. But it can be really hard! How do we start to care for everyone as we care for those we call our own? On this Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day the man himself has some powerful words, and testimony from his own life, that help show us the way.
The latest reflections, sermons, and special events from all in our community. Enjoy, comment and, if you feel like it, contribute!