Message from Pastor Jerry

Lenten Pilgrimage
February 2018

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual.”
Luke 2:41-42 (NLT)

Greetings and peace to you all!
Recently I read a book that a friend of mine shared with me entitled: “Birds of Pray.” This book which encompasses many interesting facts about the Philadelphia Eagles Superbowl winning teamfrom 2018 really impacted me. More than my fascination with the NFL than with the Eagles, I was impacted by the life style, at least publicly displayed, from these professional athletes.
Upon finishing this book, my thoughts and my prayers asked a question: “Shouldn’t what these young athletes experienced during this year be something that all Christians can have access to?”
These athletes studied God’s Word together, they prayed together, they shared both social and service activities together, and they developed close relationships with one another allowing them to even rebuke and admonish each other in love when necessary.

I began to wonder how a community of faith might be able to foster such a life style with the sisters and brothers that gather together. I began to imagine what it must have been like for Jesus
and His family to make a pilgrimage each year to Jerusalem. In my thoughts and wanderings I imagined a young Jesus learning about faith from the family he walked the dusty road with. I could imagine Jesus and his friends talking about ways in which God was at work in their lives and sharing one another’s burdens.

Then it dawned on me that Lent 2019 is just around the corner! During the season of Lent, we will be forming “pilgrimage” groups. Each group (consisting of four people) will be asked to read the same Scripture daily, respond to study questions shared by Pastor Jerry, and complete a small “faith oriented” activity. To be part of a “pilgrimage group” will be a true commitment from each participant for the six weeks of Lent. I know that the type of commitment I am looking for in these “pilgrimage groups” will not be everyone’s “cup of tea.” My hope and prayer however, is that by sharing in this pilgrimage to Jerusalem along with Jesus and His friends and family, Lent and Easter will take on a deeper meaning for each of the travelers.

There will be two large group sessions as part of this pilgrimage. The first one will occur on our St. Peter’s Campus in the social room on March 2, 2019 at 9:00 AM and will last approximately two hours. At this session, group assignments will be shared and the pilgrimage will be fully revealed. The second Large group session will occur on the Light of Christ Campus in the fellowship hall on April 27, 2019 at 9:00 AM and will last approximately two hours to assess how this experience impacted everyone during Lent and Easter of 2019.

Part of the process that we are attempting to elevate is to provide opportunities to get to know other people on a deeper level. Because of this, groups will consist of at least two people that you may or may not know very well. I realize that this can be unsettling, so if you would like be to assured that you have at least one person in your group that you are already comfortable with (perhaps a spouse or close friend) you may annotate this on your application. All applications must be received by our offices or Pastor Jerry not later than our worship celebrations on February 23 and 24, 2019.

If you have questions or concerns about this ministry, please contact Pastor Jerry. Please take some time in thought and prayer to see if this might be a wonderful opportunity for you to experience Lent and Easter 2019. This ministry is open to all people of the UPG age 12 and older.

Peace and blessings

 

Pastor Jerry’s March Message

Jesus took Peter, John, and James up on a mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly, two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared and began talking with Jesus. They were glorious to see. And they were speaking about his exodus from this world, which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem. Luke 9:28-31(NLT)

Greetings and peace to you!

Together, we once again celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem! Together, during the season of Epiphany we have seen with our own eyes how the Christ child has been revealed to us in spectacular ways! Soon we will begin our annual pilgrimage with Jesus to the Holy City of Jerusalem! We will journey with our Lord to the cross, keep Vigil while He’s in the tomb, and celebrate His resurrection!

But before our Lenten pilgrimage begins, we pause to reflect on the Transfiguration of our Lord, a day when we acknowledge how Jesus was transfigured in the presence of His disciples. On this day we recall that Jesus became “radiant” and was standing with Moses and Elijah. On this day we remember that Jesus fulfills all the prophecies of the Old Testament and amplifies all of God’s teachings spoken in the past through His current life. On this day we recall that each of us is called to “listen to Jesus.” On this day you and I have an opportunity to bear witness to how God’s call and our Lord’s Spirit has also “transfigured” our own faith and our own life!

On March 3, 2019 the people of the United Proclamation of the Gospel will come together on our St. Peter’s campus to celebrate and rejoice over the transfiguration that has occurred in our community! Together, we will witness our Lord welcoming a new sister in Christ into our midst through baptism! Together, we will celebrate as sisters and brothers in Christ unite with our community! Together, we will rejoice that our Lord has empowered a sister in Christ to share her gifts and talents with us and commission her to be our parish nurse in the UPG! This worship promises to be exciting and joy filled!

Following our worship celebration we will adjourn to the St. Peter’s social room when we will share in a “Town Hall Meeting.” During this meeting we will be discussing the “Vision Plan” that has been generated based on the responses you shared in last year’s questionnaire and the thoughts and visions of many dedicated sisters and brothers in Christ who have shared their time and talents with our leadership. A copy of this “Vision Plan” is included in this month’s newsletter mailing. Our hope is that you will read this document and familiarize yourself with its content, bringing your questions, your thoughts, your concerns forward at the “Town Hall” meeting.

Recently a friend of mine shared an illustration with me regarding how she sees the events of the United Proclamation of the Gospel unfolding in her life. I found this illustration to be both profound and powerful and I would like to summarize and share her thoughts with you. She said “If someone told me that I could turn back the clock and become 25 again, I would immediately rejoice! I would recall the fun and relative carefree days I had at this age. I would recall the fond memories I have with friends and the excitement I felt with my husband. But, if I was 25 again, I wouldn’t have any of my children, and they have brought so much to my life. Rather, I like being the age that I am, remembering the joyful moments of my past, looking forward to the future, but relishing and living in the wonderful gifts and blessings that God is providing me in the present. This sister in Christ then shared with me many wonderful ministries occurring within our midst that she thinks are wonderful and what a great and abundant opportunity God has provided us all.

My thoughts and prayers are that we would all be able to give thanks to God for the beauty of our previous days, that we would look forward to the fulfillment of all of God’s promises in our future, but that we would be ever joyful and grateful for the opportunities that our Lord is sharing with us right here and right now!
Please consider joining us in this wonderful celebration on March 3, sharing your thoughts and visions with all who will gather!

Peace and blessings,
Pastor Jerry