A Comforting Hug - Issue #197 (May 2, 2014)
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As you drive north in New Hampshire on I-93, you pass through an area where the four-lane highway becomes two lanes for a short stretch. This is known to local residents as the Notch. Life below the Notch offers lots of opportunities for employment; above the Notch, not as many. For communities above the Notch, it is even more important that residents look out for one another.
Littleton is one of those communities above the Notch. Everyone who sat in the congregation of Littleton First United Methodist Church knew what was going on in town. Their local high school was having a tough time. The school board was unable to find a principal, and the morale at the school was low. So when the pastor stepped to the pulpit one Sunday morning and preached a sermon titled "What If?" that suggested the church had the ability to lift the spirits of those who worked at the high school, a spark was ignited!
The congregation is well known for its chowder lunches that are held on Fridays throughout Lent as a fundraiser for the small congregation. They know how to plan and carry out a community meal. Capitalizing on those skills, they began to make plans. In what became referred to as the "comforting hug," the church decided to prepare and serve a lunch for the entire school staff as a way of saying, "We are here with you."
The date that was chosen fell on Holy Thursday. On a day when churches all around the world celebrate Holy Communion and remember Jesus' example of washing his disciples' feet, the members of Littleton First UMC ladled soup and distributed sandwiches to school teachers. In this simple act of caring, they reminded the community that there is still hope above the Notch, and they experienced for themselves that not all holy meals happen in the church.
Questions for Discussion
- What are the things that your church knows how to do? How might you use those competencies to bring a comforting hug to your community?
- What unique opportunities does living in the rhythm of the church year provide for your congregation to reach out to the community?
- In what ways does congregational worship propel the members of your church into community service?
Ken Sloane is the Director of Stewardship and Connectional Ministries at the Discipleship Ministries. He can be reached at [email protected].
Romans 12 Newsletter. Issue #197. © 2014 Discipleship Ministries. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to copy this newsletter for use in United Methodist congregations. This newsletter is provided as a service of the Discipleship Ministries and is funded through World Service apportionment giving by local United Methodist congregations.