Weekly News for October 19, 2016

Help Request for Chicken Pickup
I need help ! Next Mon., Oct 24th, 500+ lbs of chicken need to be picked up from the Gray Market and brought to the church. Mid to late afternoon would be the best time, especially if it is still so warm outside. Obviously a pick up truck would work really well !

Help Request for Preparing Chickens
And I could really use 1 or 2 folks to help prepare the chickens for cooking. From 8pm to 9:30pm ish on the 24th would do the job. Tracy D helped me last time and it was amazing how fast we did the job. I could do this alone, but it was really so helpful to have a friend with me. Tracy is out of town for this event, If I can’t get the chickens to the church, do you think folks would notice if we substituted hotdogs ? Call me if you can help 829-5166….. Thanks, Jeanne

Newsletter Deadline
Monday, October 24 is the Newsletter Deadline. Please get your articles in on time as it is going to be a busy week with Chicken Pie Supper. Thank you.

Pumpkin Carving and Pot Luck
Our annual pumpkin carving and pot luck will be held on Saturday, October 22 at 5:00 pm. Please bring a dish to share and a pumpkin to carve. It is sure to be a fun night!

Christmas Baskets Donations

The needed items/ideas for donations for the baskets is all updated. The list can be seen at same place where the gift box for collections of items is, in the gathering place.
We have 6 baskets left that needs items/ Thank you for any help you can do!

Missions News

Missions is going to have a “vintage and antique” table at the church fair and are asking for donations to be brought to church for it. The proceeds of this event are to benefit the Pet Place Pantry that Missions sponsors and staffs. Thank you!

Save the Date! Chicken Pie Supper on Friday, Oct. 28

To all you wonderful, enthusiastic volunteers out there,

Please mark your calendars right now and block out these dates:

Oct. 24, Monday, 10:30-11:30 am: Make dough balls

Oct. 25, Tuesday, 1-3:30 pm: Pick chicken

Oct. 27, Thursday, 9-11:30 am: Roll pie bottoms

Oct. 28 Friday, 10:30-noon and 12:30-2:30 pm: Roll pie tops & assemble Chicken Pies!

If working in the kitchen isn’t your thing, we also need a few people who can do tasks of shorter duration; for example, set up the tables, clean up and put things back to normal after the chicken pie supper, etc.

This event is a significant fund-raiser for our church, and it has earned a strong following, serving many people from surrounding towns. When we put on a successful chicken pie supper, we can give back even more to the community at large…it’s a win-win event!

Please be thinking about how you can help; we have many types of volunteer activities, i.e. something for everyone. To express an interest in helping make this a big success, call Lyn in the office at 829-3644, or email Pam at james2@maine.rr.com.

Thank you in advance, Mark Heath and Pam Ames

Ten Commandments Discussion

Join Pastor Nancy on Tuesday November 2 at 3:00 pm an exciting and interesting discussion of the Ten Commandments for the 21st century.

We will be utilizing The Ten Commandments: Laws of the Heart. You will find more information on this program in your newsletter.

Pet Place Pantry Needs

Dry Dog Food

Dry Cat Food

Kitty Litter

Food Pantry Needs

Greetings to all,

It is good to have school back in session, nice interacting with the kids. We are beginning to plan for our Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets, how time flies.
This month’s list looks like many previous months lists. The most popular items

baked beans
jam/jelly
salad oil
tuna fish
boxed mac and cheese
spaghetti sauce
spaghettios
Hamburger helper
condiments – ketchup, mayonnaise.
personal hygiene items – toothpaste, tooth brushes, shampoo, deoderant
household cleaning supplies

We appreciate your support and involvement.
Donations may be dropped off at the church and will be taken to the pantry. Thank you.

Upcoming Events

Wednesday, October 19– Choir Rehearsal – 7:00 pm

Thursday, October 20 – Care Team Ministry Training – 1:00 pm

Thursday, October 20 – Council Meeting – 6:30 pm

Saturday, October 22 – Pet Place Pantry – 9:00 am

Saturday, October 22 – Pumpkin Carving and Pot Luck – 5:00 pm

Sunday, October 23 – Diaconate Retreat – 11:00 am

Monday, October 24 – Newsletter Deadline

Tuesday, October 25– Women’s Fellowship/Tuesday Gals – 10:00 am

Sermon for October 2, 2016

A Sermon from the North Yarmouth Congregational Church
A sermon offered by the Rev. Nancy J. White in the public worship of the North Yarmouth Congregational Church, UCC of North Yarmouth, Maine on Sunday, October 2, 2016.

‘Grudging Obedience’ Text: Jonah 3,4

For these past two weeks, we have been reading the story of the prophet Jonah. The city of Nineveh, capital of Assyria is barbarian and evil in its ways. The Lord calls on Jonah to go to that city. Instead of responding, Jonah makes a run for it in the opposite direction. But Jonah quickly comes to understand that he has underestimated God in a big way. A violent storm at sea results in Jonah being thrown overboard to save the sailors and the ship. Jonah is drowning when suddenly the Lord commands a big fish to swallow him up. Saved from drowning, Jonah faces death yet again in the belly of the big fish for three days and three nights. Jonah prays to God and God speaks to the fish and it vomits up Jonah on the seashore.

So now, God speaks to Jonah, a second time, telling him to get up on his feet and get going to Nineveh. This time Jonah goes. He goes to Nineveh – which is a very big city taking three days to walk across – he walks for one day and he preaches – “in forty days Nineveh will be destroyed”.

He’s not even into the center of the city yet and the people listen to him and trusting God, they repent of their evil ways – and not just some of the people but all of the people – rich and poor, famous and obscure, leaders and followers – everyone repents, fasting and wearing burlap. They do not wait for a royal decree – in fact, we are told that the people repent before the message even reaches the king. The king observes what the will of the people is and issues a public proclamation for all to repent hoping that God will have mercy on them.

God sees that the people of Nineveh have turned away from their evil ways, and he changes his mind about them and he does not destroy them.

Well, this really ticks Jonah off! And now we learn the real reason that Jonah ran away from God’s call in the first place. He knew God’s heart would soften toward the people of Nineveh when he saw that they changed their ways. And Jonah cries, Foul! Like a petulant child, Jonah says – that’s not fair! I knew you would do this, I knew you were a God of mercy but these people don’t deserve your compassion – they don’t deserve your love!

Jonah is so mad at God, he demands that God kill him – he is better off dead! God tries to talk to Jonah, asking him what he has to be angry about. But Jonah goes off and pouts. God provides a shade tree for Jonah, which Jonah loves but then God sends a worm to wither the tree and Jonah once again is exposed to the blistering heat. So this just makes Jonah angrier yet and he reiterates his desire to die. God once again tries to discuss the situation with Jonah pointing out that Jonah did not plant or water the tree – did nothing to deserve the tree so why should he be angry at losing it? At Jonah’s apparent overreaction regarding the plant, God responds, so then why should I not care for the more than 120,000 people of Nineveh and all the animals?

And there our story ends with a question from God. We are left to ponder the question, Why should God not care about the people of Nineveh and all its animals? Is God’s mercy only meant for us? Or is God’s love so all encompassing that it covers even those who are evil in their ways?

A casual answer to that is, no God’s mercy is not just for us and yes, God’s love is big enough for all creation, but like Jonah, we don’t like it. We live a good life, following God’s commands, so why should people who don’t, get the same compassion that God doles out to us?

For some reason, it seems to be part of our human nature to want other people to get their ‘just desserts’. It’s like driving by all the rules of the road – obeying the speed limit, not cutting anyone off, – A few years back, on my twice daily 26 mile commute on a two lane road through several towns I always obeyed the up and down speed limit, 35 then 45 then 30, then back to 40. I remember numerous times when drivers tailgated then sped ahead at a light to pass and it always irritated me slightly…. And then one day, after one such driver had cut me off by passing in a no passing zone, I happened to see this same driver pulled over by a cruiser a mile down the road and I admit that I was not unhappy…

Many of you have read the best selling novel, The Shack, a story of one man’s encounter with God after his young daughter is murdered. In the story, God’s redemption is offered even to this murderer. This example may be closer to what Jonah experienced than my inconsiderate driver story. It makes the reader question the whole idea of forgiveness and who deserves it. These are tough questions, no doubt.

For most of us we will never be called on by God to forgive a murderer. But there are certainly people in each of our lives, whom we take issue with. Who would it be difficult for you to share God’s love with? For each of us, the answer will be different. A co-worker, a family member, someone at church, the bully at school, a teacher, a student, a neighbor, someone who has hurt you or someone you love, someone who has lost your trust, someone in business whose ethics are a little shaky? But how do you love that person? Certainly you need to remove yourself from any abusive situation and get help as necessary. But what do you do for those other times? For each person and situation, the answer may be different. Talk with the person to iron out differences; or even take someone with you as you try to do this. Don’t gossip about the person. When confronted, don’t respond in kind. Each situation is different and will require a different response on your part. Listen with an open heart; don’t close your mind before the other person has opened their mouth. Whatever you do, the most important thing is that you pray about it, asking God to help you.

The really amazing thing about the story of Jonah and God is that even after Jonah’s attempt to run away, his less than sincere prayer from the belly of the fish, his anger at God, his sulking and pouting and then anger again about the plant, even after all of that, God tries to reason with him. God didn’t have to explain anything to Jonah but he did – because he loved Jonah. God loved Jonah so much he didn’t want him to be eaten by anger and resentment so he tried to help him.

God knows how difficult it can be to enthusiastically answer his call and he loves us even when we don’t want to do his bidding. He’ll help us as he tried to help Jonah. His love is for everyone and he wants us to get that message to everyone.

God asks us to put aside our anger, our self-righteousness, our prejudices, our fears and reflect the same love to others that we ourselves receive from God. Can we do that? Can we change our hearts? We can with God’s help.

God has called us as a church and as individuals to carry the message. As individuals and as a church, how we will respond?

The story of Jonah leaves us hanging wondering what happens next.

So I ask you,
what happens next?

Sermon for September 25, 2016

A Sermon from the North Yarmouth Congregational UCC
A sermon offered by the Rev. Nancy J. White in the public worship of the North Yarmouth Congregational Church, UCC of North Yarmouth, Maine on Sunday, September 25, 2016.

Principal reading is Jonah 2

Last week we were introduced to the prophet Jonah. The city of Nineveh, capital of Assyria is barbarian and evil in its ways. The Lord calls on Jonah to go to that city. Instead of responding, Jonah makes a run for it in the opposite direction. But Jonah quickly comes to understand that he has underestimated God in a big way. A violent storm at sea results in Jonah being thrown overboard to save the sailors and the ship. Jonah is drowning when suddenly the Lord commands a big fish to swallow him up.

This is where we pick up our story today. Jonah is thrown off the ship, probably to drown
but then Jonah is swallowed by the big fish. We are told that Jonah was in the belly of the big fish for three days and three nights. In common language of the day, three days and three nights referred to the amount of time it took to die. If you were a listener of this story when it was originally told, you would have known that Jonah escaped death by drowning
only to die by being swallowed up by a big fish.

Jonah ran from God, got thrown overboard and then swallowed up by a big fish –
he has hit rock-bottom. After three days and three nights, he finally decides to address God. From the very depths of hell, Jonah finally decides to talk to God. And God answers him.

From a purely human perspective, if we had been treated by Jonah the way he treated God,
we probably would have given him the silent treatment, let him stew for awhile. It was a good thing for Jonah that it was the Lord he called on rather than a mere human.

Jonah called to the LORD out of his distress,
and the Lord answered him;
out of the belly of Sheol Jonah cried,
and the Lord heard his voice.

In this prayer, Jonah acknowledges God’s power without ever really admitting his own role in his current circumstances. He pretty much blames God for everything and then asks God to get him out of the mess he is in. God, silent throughout Jonah’s prayer still does not say a word directly to Jonah but commands the fish to vomit him out on dry land.

So after unsuccessfully avoiding God, finally Jonah calls on God for help. There are scholars who take this prayer or psalm at face value and believe that Jonah was finally acknowledging that God was supreme in his life and was repentant of his actions. There are other scholars who interpret this psalm as satiric – Jonah sort-of mocking God, not really sincere in his repentance – he’s at the bottom, has no where to go but up, so might as well call on God.

Even though the words of the Psalm appear to acknowledge God’s power, Jonah takes no responsibility for his plight. And if you read it carefully, you note that in this prayer, Jonah refers to himself either as subject or object 26 times in 8 verses – sort of egotistical.
So some scholars maintain that Jonah is not truly repentant here.

As I was thinking about this myself, I realized that it doesn’t actually matter. Only God knows the heart of Jonah.
And God rescues him. And God rescues him from the depths of hell. God brings Jonah back from death. God is God of all places, all times, all things, all creatures, AND now we understand that God is God even over death. God has heard Jonah’s cry and has answered it with compassion.

When things are OK with us, don’t we often go through life with minimal thought of God.
And then when something happens that we don’t understand or feel we don’t deserve,
then we call on God in our distress, in our anger, in our sorrow and we expect God to respond.
Tragic circumstances may be the result of our own actions or life choices or they may be totally out of our control.

Are there times when you feel very alone and far from God and God’s love?
• Maybe you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer and are undergoing chemotherapy;
• have you lost a loved one and you grieve alone while the world moves on;
• have you lost your job and your self-esteem is at an all time low;
• are you depressed and feel like you no longer want to exist;
• are you being bullied at school, shunned by friends, ridiculed;
• have you been passed over yet again for that promotion at work;
• do you have a loved one with a catastrophic illness or injury;
• are you in a spiritual desert feeling like you come to church week after week without encountering the presence of God.,
• the list goes on.

Each of us faces times when we are in dark despair – there are times in each of our lives when we feel like we are in the belly of the big fish, so far away from God, we cannot reach him.
We may be in such despair that there seems no way out, there is no light at the end of the tunnel, nothing will ever be the same again. How do we know that God is with us?

For some of us, we know that God is with us because we have experienced God’s presence in the past time and time again and we know even if we cannot feel God’s presence, that God is indeed with us. We know from scripture that even the heroes of our faith struggled with this and needed to be reminded of God’s presence often. Even Jesus felt alone as he hung on the cross.

Sometimes God’s presence is made real to us through the presence of people who just come and ‘be’ with us while we are in the belly of the whale – they don’t have to have all the answers – they just are with us.

Jonah called out to God in his despair. We need to ask for help too. Ask for prayer, read scripture, call a friend to just come and sit with you.
God uses other people, people not unlike Jonah, people just like us to bring the light of God’s
love into our world.

I have had many discussions with people who not only don’t ask for help, they refuse it when it’s offered. They do not want to put anyone out so they refuse the help of others. Accepting the help of others in both small and big ways accomplishes two things. It allows someone else to be the answer to prayer – to answer God’s call in their life. And while it may not significantly alter whatever your physical circumstances are, it serves to reassure you of God’s love for you and that is a powerful thing.

God loves you with an enormous love.

No matter where your heart is – God loves you.

When you are in the belly of the big fish take this message from Paul’s letter to the Romans, 8:38-39 and read it :

“For I am convinced
that neither death,
nor life, nor angels,
nor rulers,
nor things present,
nor things to come,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God
in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Tape it to your bathroom mirror, tape it to your dashboard,
carry it with you in your pocket – read it aloud each and every day.

Let it be a little spark of light in your darkness until God frees you from the belly of the big fish.

Amen.

Sermon for August 14, 2016

A Sermon from the North Yarmouth Congregational Church
A sermon offered by the Rev. Nancy J. White in the public worship of the First Congregational Church of North Yarmouth, UCC of North Yarmouth, Maine on August 14, 2016.

Principal Reading Hebrews 11:29-12:2

Today’s scripture reading from Hebrews finishes up one of the best known chapters in the Bible on faith. This chapter starts with a concise definition of faith that may sound familiar, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” ‘the assurance of things hoped for’ – in the Greek, the word for assurance has a quality of ‘reality’ and hope in Biblical terms means more than what it has come to mean in our culture today. It is more than just a wish – it is an expectation – our hope in God and God’s promises for us are what we can rightly expect – we are assured that God will come through in all things. It is the ‘conviction of things not seen’ – in Greek the word for conviction has a connotation of ‘evidence’ meaning that people of faith have insight into God’s promises – a world that human understanding does not really comprehend. We do not always see the fruition of God’s promises and yet through faith we know that God will deliver on all that is promised. Faith in God is a sure thing even during suffering and trials. In Christ Jesus we are promised an amazing eternal life with God – so amazing that for centuries song writers and poets and the writers of the Bible have tried to describe it and yet we still find it difficult to define.

Chapter 11 of Hebrews contains a litany of Biblical personalities and how each was faithful against all odds.

For most of chapter eleven we hear detailed accounts of the faith of famous characters of the Bible, starting at the beginning: Noah, Abraham and Sarah, and Moses. Noah respected God’s warning that all the earth would be destroyed by a massive flood and that only Noah’s family would be saved and so by faith Noah built a huge boat that would house Noah’s family and two of every type of animal. Noah was mocked and laughed at – but his faith kept him strong and he persevered. God promised Abraham descendants – ‘as many as the stars of of the heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand’ and yet he was without children until he and Sarah had their firstborn when they were 100 and 90 years old. The descendants of Abraham are the foundations of our faith but Abraham himself never saw that – and now we still sing about how Father Abraham had many children and we are all descendants. Moses, a Hebrew baby, was raised by the daughter of the Egyptian king while that same king enslaved the Hebrew people. At the age of eighty, God called Moses to lead the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt and Moses had faith God would protect them against the king’s massive army. After leading God’s people through the wilderness for forty years, their descendants finally made it to the land God promised but Moses died before reaching it.

Then in today’s lesson, the list escalates. We quickly hear of the Hebrews, led by Moses, crossing the Red Sea on dry land; we hear how the unscalable walls of Jericho – the city God promised to the Israelites – fell after a long siege with just the blowing of trumpets and the loud cry of God’s people; we hear of a prostitute, Rahab, the only inhabitant of Jericho who was saved from death because she aided the Israelites. Then we hear of how numerous others persevered even through amazing hardships or torture, imprisonment, even death for their faith in God.

Their faith – ‘the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen.’

This lesson on the heroes of our faith tells us that we are surrounded by a great ‘cloud of witnesses’ – we are surrounded – both those we just read about in Hebrews and those whom we have known of in our own lives. These are the people we should be looking to, to help shape our own lives. Here at North Yarmouth Congregational Church, there are many who have gone before us who have guided us by their lives of faith in God. There are many now who still help us see the path we should take.

In our culture today, things are more complex than ever and the lines between right choices and not so good choices seem to blur. We rush about trying to be good neighbors and good citizens and good parents and good workers and good volunteers, good brothers and sisters, good examples for our youth,
the list goes on.

As in the litany of biblical heroes of faith, earthly life goes on with or without God in it.
Those who are faithful, find themselves confidently expectant in God’s promises even in the midst of strife.

They are able to persevere through all of life’s struggles knowing that God has something better in store for them – something so amazing and wonderful, that any earthly struggle can be endured. How do they do that? How do we do that? We build our faith. We work on our relationship with God through daily prayer and study of the stories of the bible where we learn of people just like ourselves who struggled and at times even despaired – the Bible is full of them. And just like anyone trying to become good at something, we practice our faith daily.

And the good news is we don’t have to do it alone. We are part of a faith community,
a faith family, a wonderful group of people whom God has brought together in Christ – ‘so great a cloud of witnesses’ – past and present – our faith family. We bolster our own faith by sharing the faith stories of others. We listen to the stories of those who have gone before us. We need to share our individual faith stories with our faith community, our church family.

Are we comfortable doing that? We should be. Last week I mentioned how many of us do wonderful ministries of volunteering in our community. I am thinking it would be really wonderful if sometime soon we had a special time where we can learn about what different volunteer ministries are happening right here in our own church family. I hope and pray that part of that will be each person sharing what their particular volunteer work means to them and how they meet God there.

We share our inmost thoughts and feelings with those we are closest to, don’t we? As a church family, do we know each other well enough, are we close enough to trust each other with our deepest feelings,with our ‘God moments’? As a faith family, we need to get to know one another and we need to be intentional about it. I have known of folks who have revealed to me a real reticence about talking with and socializing with people at fellowship time following worship – this is way out of their comfort zone and yet they come and mingle because they are looking for connections with people in their faith family. So if socializing is an area where you are comfortable, seek out someone whom you don’t know very well and chat with them instead of spending your time speaking to people you already know well.

In our culture today, many young families are far removed from relatives and loved ones. This coming year, we will be having a confirmation class for youth in 7th grade and older. Each youth will be looking for a ‘non-relative’ mentor who will help guide them, pray for them and support them on this journey. The hope here is that mentors will share some of their own experiences of their faith journeys and that in turn our young people will feel supported and safe enough to share their thoughts and questions with their mentors. There are no rules here but our hope is that this will grow relationships between some whose daily paths do not ordinarily cross.

Growing in faith also means growing in our relationship with God. Part of that and only part is personal time of study and prayer; the other part is time with other believers studying the bible and exploring faith issues.

Join a Bible study or start one of your own. One way to start would be to just get together with a small group of people and read a book from the bible and discuss it. Or you can use a study guide – there are many available. Meet in someone’s home – rotate who brings refreshments – allow time to build relationships centered around the Word of God. A gathering such as this, will help you grow in faith and get to know each other on a different level than here on Sunday morning.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.
Surrounded by our faith family, together, always look to Jesus for guidance and help.

Keep your focus on Jesus and you will not be disappointed. For the joy of the Lord will be yours.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in his wonderful face,
and the things of earth will turn strangely dim,
In the light of his glory and grace.

God has provided something better for each of us and it is fulfilled in Jesus the Christ.
Amen.

Weekly News for August 17, 2016

Summer Office Hours

Monday and Wednesday – 7:00-8:30 am

Tuesday and Thursday – 7:00-8:30 am and 12:15 to 3:00 pm

Newsletter Deadline/Vacation

The September newsletter deadline has been moved to the week of August 15-19. Lyn will be on vacation August 22-26. Please get your articles in as soon as you can.

Vacation Office Coverage

The office will be closed during Lyn’s vacation week, August 22-26. Jeanne will come by to bring in the mail and phone messages will be checked daily.

Spruce Up to Lift Up Capital Campaign

Don’t forget the Matching Fund opportunity that will help so much as the Church Trustees are trying to raise $12,000 to paint the church steeple and the outside of Fellowship Hall and replace carpeting in Fellowship Hall. The painting of the church has been completed and looks beautiful. This campaign will finish up September 11. Thank you!

Missing Dolly – and it’s NOT a Barbie!

It is red and orange. If anyone has seen it or knows where it is please return it to the community room downstairs. It belongs to the Tuesday Gals and we miss it! Thank you!

This and That

1) The next council meeting has been set for this Sunday, after church. It would be great if the chairs could be there, but if you can’t could you please arrange for another member of your committee to sub for you? There are a few items that need to be addressed fairly soon. We will save the ” What are we looking forward to for our church?”, for a less busy time this fall.

If you are around on the 18th you may want to catch the “Concert on the Village Green” featuring the Greely High School State Championship Jazz Band. They are under the direction of Kevin Rollins…..local boy and teacher at Greely.

2 ) Remember when NYCC had the best float in the FunDay parade? If we did one now it would be a good way to get our church out there. There are lots of new folks in town, a show of support for the community, “see, we are not just a stodgy tired church…..we have fun, too ! Surely we could get a pick- up truck or a wagon/trailer ……….select a theme and away we go. Any takers to head this off?

3) The church looks amazingly beautiful !

Christmas Baskets Donations.

We Need help to filling the raffle baskets. There is a list of the items needed in front of the basket for donated goods. The collection basket/box is located in the Gathering Space. We appreciate all the help to make the Christmas Basket Raffle a success! If anyone would rather donate money instead of shopping, we will do the shopping! All you need to do is let Terri, or any of the Tuesday gals aware of the money donation! All of the TUESDAY GALS thank you for all your HELP!

Pet Place Pantry Needs

Dry Dog Food

Dry Cat Food

Kitty Litter

Food Pantry Needs

Greetings to all of you,

What a nice cool spring we are having. I hope you all have had a chance to be out enjoying it.

Traffic continues to be steady at the pantry. We seem to be serving about 35-40 families a week. Now that summer is almost here donations tend to slow down so your help will be invaluable.

Need list

jam/jelly

baked beans

soups – beef, chowders

boxed mac and cheese

Hamburger Helper

coffee

toothpaste

ketchup

mayonnaise

mustard

salad dressing

spaghettios

canned fruit

personal hygiene items

household cleaners

We continue to be thankful for all your support and donations. It truly is a community pantry.

Donations may be dropped off at the church and will be taken to the pantry. Thank you.

Upcoming Events

Saturday, August 13 – Pet Place Pantry – 9:00-10:00 am

Sunday, August 14 – Trustees – 11:00 am

Tuesday, August 16 – Women’s Fellowship/Tuesday Gals – 10:00 am

Saturday, August 20 – Men’s Club Breakfast – 7:00 am

Sermon for August 7, 2016

A Sermon from the North Yarmouth Congregational Church
A sermon offered by the Rev. Nancy J. White in the public worship of the First Congregational Church of North Yarmouth, UCC of North Yarmouth, Maine on August 7, 2016.

Principal Reading Isaiah 1:1, 10-20

Isaiah is one of the Major Prophets who lived some 600 years before Jesus and was called on by God to bring a message, be a prophetic voice, to God’s people Israel. This is the beginning of his prophecy. And right off the bat, he accuses the religious leaders of being like the people of Sodom and the people of being like the people of Gomorrah. As you may recall, God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah back in the days of Lot and his family. Over the centuries, these cities have come to be associated with sexual sin in general and homosexual behavior in particular. This is not what the people living there were condemned for – in the book of Ezekiel it is made clear that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah is that ‘they had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not care for the poor and the needy’ (Ezek 16:49).

So then we forge ahead into this first prophecy from Isaiah and we hear that God is condemning their worship. And God is pretty clear about it. ‘What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? … I have had enough…. I do not delight…. who asked this from your hand? … no more; …..futile; ….abomination …. I cannot endure…. Your new moons and your appointed festivals my soul hates’ . The prophet goes on with God’s message for the people, ‘even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood’.

God will not even listen to their prayers any more. Their hands are full of blood. In those days, it was the practice to bring animal sacrifices to God. And then it became the practice that the religious leaders prepared a feast for themselves from the sacrifices of the people and gave the leftovers to God.

God says – NO MORE! You cannot go through the motions of worship and praise and then just keep living your lives the same old way.

‘Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.’

And then God relents, ‘let us argue it out’, or ‘let’s discuss it’. We can come to an understanding, if you will do what I have commanded you to care for the less fortunate, then ‘you shall eat the good of the land’.

So what does this have to say to us now? We do not have sacrifices during worship. Do we have solemn assemblies? Some might argue yes. The people of Israel followed all the prescribed traditions and rituals of the church in their day and yet God said, ENOUGH!’ Or maybe we should say, God said – it’s not enough. You are worshipping yes. But you are neglecting to care for the poor and needy. You do not rescue the oppressed. You do not seek justice. You do not defend the orphans or plead for the widow. Stop doing evil, God says through the prophet Isaiah. You have so much, God says. Care for the least of my children…

This reading is harsh. As I think about it, it is more than that, it is a condemnation. It makes me reflect on my own life as a minister. It makes me think about my life outside church. Do I present one side of me here at church, particularly in worship? Do I carry through in my daily life all that I believe God is calling me to?

And what about the church? What keeps the Church from changing our communities? We reach out in small ways and minister to those in need but what really changes? What does keep the Church from changing our communities? I think the biggest obstacle is fear. We fear those we think are different from us and we strive to keep them at arm’s length.
When I was doing chaplaincy at Maine Medical Center the summer of 2013, I spent every Wednesday at the Preble St resource center for the homeless in Portland. It was a new experience for me and definitely took me out of my comfort zone. This was something I had never been exposed to before. I had always had this sort of attitude of they are not like me. They are not like people I know. How does one get themselves into that situation anyway? Why don’t they just get a job and find a place to live? Do they want to just ‘work the system’? It was eye-opening and a very humbling experience – I was misinformed on many levels. I spent my time at the adult resource center handing out socks and towels and talking with folks. Their stories were as varied as the number of people there. By and large they did not want to be there. I also spent time at the teen center and the stories there from child abuse to teens being thrown out of home broke my heart. There was staff there helping them negotiate life and find jobs. Mine was a ministry of presence – listening to stories and helping them understand that God has not forgotten them and indeed loves each of them very much. I received so much more than I gave. The people there are no longer frightening and non-human. I now see them as people just like me – as children of the Living God.

This passage from Isaiah makes me explore and challenge what I do every day of my life. I try to look at our society and culture with the eyes of one who has listened to the stories of the homeless and ask why? And what can be done about it? I do not currently volunteer at Preble St but I support them with clothes and other items that I know they need. What else might I do? How might I do something differently to help promote justice and goodness? This is something I need to explore further.

How do we as a church seek justice for all people? How do we as a church rescue those who are oppressed? These are questions we must ask ourselves. Where do we stand in all of this? I know that many of you already do so much in the way of volunteering in our community and our world – helping with the food pantry, our own pet pantry ministry, working with children both here at church and in the community – and so many more – some I probably don’t even know of yet – wonderful!

I understand last week you learned about Grace Street ministry in Portland – a ministry to God’s children who are homeless. Yes, they are God’s children and until we can see them as people who love and laugh and weep and get angry and hurt just like we do, we will not be able to help them as God would want us to. We may not all be able to go walk the streets with them but I understand one of the greatest needs they have is for socks and also umbrellas and rain ponchos. Maybe in addition to our food pantry and pet pantry collections, we can also bring in socks to help this ministry.

Last week, I was on a women’s retreat. The oldest woman there was in her nineties. One day over a meal, Sr Maureen excitedly shared her newest ministry with me. She is corresponding with prisoners all over the country. She had just sent a birthday card to a new person on her list and had received a letter in return from someone who was very grateful for the outpouring of God’s love from a stranger in something as simple as a birthday card. I do not remember what Sr Maureen had done earlier in her life but even in her 90s she is finding ways of reaching out to share God’s love with God’s children who are having a rough time.

And these are just some of the many great and creative ideas to help us touch God’s people! But I believe we need to do more to help promote justice and goodness in our world. This fall we will have several gathering times to discuss what new ways we believe God is calling us to be in our world. Please be praying about it and join us for this very important discussion. Amen.

Sermon for August 7, 2016

A Sermon from the North Yarmouth Congregational Church
A sermon offered by the Rev. Nancy J. White in the public worship of the First Congregational Church of North Yarmouth, UCC of North Yarmouth, Maine on August 7, 2016.

Principal Reading Isaiah 1:1, 10-20

Isaiah is one of the Major Prophets who lived some 600 years before Jesus and was called on by God to bring a message, be a prophetic voice, to God’s people Israel. This is the beginning of his prophecy. And right off the bat, he accuses the religious leaders of being like the people of Sodom and the people of being like the people of Gomorrah. As you may recall, God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah back in the days of Lot and his family. Over the centuries, these cities have come to be associated with sexual sin in general and homosexual behavior in particular. This is not what the people living there were condemned for – in the book of Ezekiel it is made clear that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah is that ‘they had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not care for the poor and the needy’ (Ezek 16:49).

So then we forge ahead into this first prophecy from Isaiah and we hear that God is condemning their worship. And God is pretty clear about it. ‘What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? … I have had enough…. I do not delight…. who asked this from your hand? … no more; …..futile; ….abomination …. I cannot endure…. Your new moons and your appointed festivals my soul hates’ . The prophet goes on with God’s message for the people, ‘even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood’.
God will not even listen to their prayers any more. Their hands are full of blood. In those days, it was the practice to bring animal sacrifices to God. And then it became the practice that the religious leaders prepared a feast for themselves from the sacrifices of the people and gave the leftovers to God.

God says – NO MORE! You cannot go through the motions of worship and praise and then just keep living your lives the same old way.

‘Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.’

And then God relents, ‘let us argue it out’, or ‘let’s discuss it’. We can come to an understanding, if you will do what I have commanded you to care for the less fortunate, then ‘you shall eat the good of the land’.

So what does this have to say to us now? We do not have sacrifices during worship. Do we have solemn assemblies? Some might argue yes. The people of Israel followed all the prescribed traditions and rituals of the church in their day and yet God said, ENOUGH!’ Or maybe we should say, God said – it’s not enough. You are worshipping yes. But you are neglecting to care for the poor and needy. You do not rescue the oppressed. You do not seek justice. You do not defend the orphans or plead for the widow. Stop doing evil, God says through the prophet Isaiah. You have so much, God says. Care for the least of my children…
This reading is harsh. As I think about it, it is more than that, it is a condemnation. It makes me reflect on my own life as a minister. It makes me think about my life outside church. Do I present one side of me here at church, particularly in worship? Do I carry through in my daily life all that I believe God is calling me to?

And what about the church? What keeps the Church from changing our communities? We reach out in small ways and minister to those in need but what really changes? What keeps the Church from changing our communities? I think the biggest obstacle is fear. We fear those we think are different from us and we strive to keep them at arm’s length.

When I was doing chaplaincy at MMC the summer of 2013, I spent every Wednesday at the Preble St resource center for the homeless in Portland. It was a new experience for me and definitely took me out of my comfort zone. This was something I had never been exposed to before. I had always had this sort of attitude of they are not like me. They are not like people I know. How does one get themselves into that situation anyway? Why don’t they just get a job and find a place to live? Do they want to just ‘work the system’? It was eye-opening and a very humbling experience – I was misinformed on many levels. I spent my time at the adult resource center handing out socks and towels and talking with folks. Their stories were as varied as the number of people there. By and large they did not want to be there. I also spent time at the teen center and the stories there from child abuse to teens being thrown out of home broke my heart. There was staff there helping them negotiate life and find jobs. Mine was a ministry of presence – listening to stories and helping them understand that God has not forgotten them and indeed loves each of them very much. I received so much more than I gave. The people there are no longer frightening and non-human. I now see them as people just like me – as children of the Living God.

This passage from Isaiah makes me explore and challenge what I do every day of my life. I try to look at our society and culture with the eyes of one who has listened to the stories of the homeless and ask why? And what can be done about it? I do not currently volunteer at Preble St but I support them with clothes and other items that I know they need. What else might I do? How might I do something differently to help promote justice and goodness? This is something I need to explore further.

How do we as a church seek justice for all people? How do we as a church rescue those who are oppressed? These are questions we must ask ourselves. Where do we stand in all of this? I know that many of you already do so much in the way of volunteering in our community and our world – helping with the food pantry, our own pet pantry ministry, working with children both here at church and in the community – and so many more – some I probably don’t even know of yet – wonderful!

I understand last week you learned about Grace Street ministry in Portland – a ministry to God’s children who are homeless. Yes, they are God’s children and until we can see them as people who love and laugh and weep and get angry and hurt just like we do, we will not be able to help them as God would want us to. We may not all be able to go walk the streets with them but I understand one of the greatest needs they have is for socks and also umbrellas and rain ponchos. Maybe in addition to our food pantry and pet pantry collections, we can also bring in socks to help this ministry.

Last week, I was on a women’s retreat. The oldest woman there was in her nineties. One day over a meal, Sr Maureen excitedly shared her newest ministry with me. She is corresponding with prisoners all over the country. She had just sent a birthday card to a new person on her list and had received a letter in return from someone who was very grateful for the outpouring of God’s love from a stranger in something as simple as a birthday card. I do not remember what Sr Maureen had done earlier in her life but even in her 90s she is finding ways of reaching out to share God’s love with God’s children who are having a rough time.

And these are just some of the many great and creative ideas to help us touch God’s people! But I believe we need to do more to help promote justice and goodness in our world. This fall we will have several gathering times to discuss what new ways we believe God is calling us to be in our world. Please be praying about it and join us for this very important discussion. Amen.