Please consider joining us online for a Facebook live stream of our service.
We also have a radio station carrying our service live that you can access from our parking lot. Tune to 96.5 to hear the service as it happens.
Live in the Light
Often we want to be able to see into the future. We say, “How will next year be for me? Where will I be five or 10 years from now?” There are no answers to these questions. Mostly we have just enough light to see the next step — what we have to do in the coming hour or the following day.
The art of living is to enjoy what we can see and not complain about what remains in the dark. When we are able to take the next step with the trust that we will have enough light for the step that follows, we can walk through life with joy and be surprised at how far we go. Let's rejoice in the little light we carry and not ask for the great beam that would take all our shadows away.
—Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey
Sufficient for the Day
John Newton (1725-1807), author of “Amazing Grace,” wrote: “We may easily manage if we will only take, each day, the burden appointed for it. But the load will ... be too heavy for us, if we carry yesterday's burden over again today, and then add tomorrow’s.” This maxim might be easy to dismiss unless we knew about Newton’s troubled life.
Having been pressed into naval service and then slavery, Newton was finally rescued but became a slave-ship captain. He faced abuse, contemplated murder-suicide, suffered a stroke and was caught in a storm. When he cried out to God, the waves subsided, prompting a spiritual conversion for Newton, who became a priest and abolitionist. We never know how God will transform our sinful past into future good, but we can trust he will. That adds power to Newton’s advice, which echoes Jesus’ words: “Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34, ESV).
Waiting Until God is Heard
We’re often taught that prayer is speaking to God. And of course, that’s part of it. It’s good to pray for the well-being and needs of others — even Jesus prayed for his disciples. It’s okay to pray for our own growth in faith and love. It’s a wonderful, powerful thing, modeled especially by the Psalmists, to give God thanks and praise. And God welcomes our cries of pain and sorrow, offering the Spirit’s help when words fail us (Romans 8:26).
But through the ages, many deeply faithful followers of Christ have practiced contemplative prayer, centering prayer and other forms of stillness before God. Danish theologian Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) expressed it this way: “To pray does not mean to listen to oneself speaking. Prayer involves becoming silent, and being silent, and waiting until God is heard.”
Rock of Ages
On walks, I enjoy searching for heart-shaped rocks. One day in 2020, I spotted a broken heart, which seemed fitting as illness, racism and suffering dominated the headlines. I thought of Psalm 34:18, NIV: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Humans can be hard-hearted — pointing fingers, assuming the worst and failing to extend compassion. We often reject people who look, think or act differently from us. All these things break hearts, including God’s. Only with his help can we rise above hatred, learn to listen more than we speak, and express kindness, empathy and a willingness to learn. Jesus, be our rock as we face life’s brokenness. Stay near and start the healing. Amen.
In the News!
Want to receive the Chimes newsletter electronically? Email the church office at email@example.com with your e-mail address and you will be added to the list.
The MLG, Pastor Cal, and many others of us are continuously reviewing our safety protocols in light of COVID-19. We mourn with those who have lost loved ones due to this virus, or are currently suffering from it. May God comfort and protect you.
We are glad to see that numbers are now on a downward trend in both Michigan and Berrien County. We are grateful for what everyone has done in following the guidelines in worship and being respectful of one another. Because of all this, our sanctuary is currently open in a limited capacity on Sunday mornings. We would like to especially invite folks who feel they are most in need of attending worship in person to join us. Sunday School will resume meeting in person, following guidelines. Please note that wearing masks and practicing social distancing while in our building at any time is still required. If you have been in our building and test positive, or learn you have been exposed to Covid-19, please notify the church so we can respond accordingly. We continue to encourage you to consider joining us via Facebook Livestream at https://www.facebook.com/ZionUCCBaroda or on 96.5FM radio broadcast in our parking lot at 9am on Sundays. Even without a Facebook account, you can click the link above to access our Livestream either during or anytime after the service.
We want to highlight some of the extra safety precautions we are taking at Zion UCC, as these are important in protecting one another and folks in our community. It is also important to take extra care now so that we are able to move forward and do the things we love to do again.
Masks are required for entry into the building. If you are uncomfortable wearing a mask, you are welcome to access our worship service from one of the other ways it is being offered. Please sit at least 6 feet away from other families, and do your best to keep distance between you at all times. You will notice some pews taped off to help guide us. Please remember not to congregate either in the narthex, or right outside the front door. We want to give space for folks to exit while still practicing social distancing. We encourage you to continue wearing your mask outside if you are within 6 feet of other people.
Please note that we will not have coffee hour nor any other communal food or drink. Please also refrain from bringing non-essential food or drink into the building.
During the worship service, we will continue to refrain from congregational singing, and we will do limited responsive reading. Communion will be celebrated with pre-packaged cups. We will not be passing offering plates, but there is a plate at the back of the sanctuary, and you can also give online. If you would like give during the offering time, consider writing your check or donating on your phone then: https://www.zionuccbaroda.org/donate.html
Thank you for understanding and respecting these guidelines, which are in place to protect our neighbor and ourselves. Let us continue to worship God and care for one another as we continue to Be the Church now and always!
Please contact Pastor Cal or an MLG member if you have any specific questions regarding our current guidelines.
Grace and Peace, Pastor Cal Nevenzel & The Ministry Leadership Group (MLG): Jan Tollas, Brian Ames, Carolyn Shuler, Matt Schlutt, George Shaver, Beka Wiersma
The Magi's Story...and Ours
The story of the Magi is our story. God has used his supernatural means to draw us unto himself. … On one glorious day, when we were exhausted and wearied in our sin, God led us to gaze upon Jesus just as the Magi did. We see the glory of God manifested through Jesus Christ in the internal work of the Holy Spirit. We see our utter sinfulness and God’s abounding grace offered in the Messiah. We are filled with joy as this grace sinks into our hearts.
We fall down on our knees and confess our need of this Messiah. We worship him and offer up our lives as our greatest offering to him. Then we continue on in our lives, carrying the truth about the Messiah. —Travis Cunningham, tvcresources.net
Word for the Year
Every January, some people pray and ask God to provide a word for their year ahead. Friends have shared theirs with me, but I was hesitant to embrace the practice myself. I’d love to receive a word like flourish; then again, I might be like the friend who heard health and then faced many physical challenges that year.
But I tried it for 2020 and heard prepare. My first reaction was that the word wasn’t very exciting, which possibly confirmed I hadn’t orchestrated it. Indeed, 2020 ended up full of significant, unexpected change for our family, with careers, school, church and friends. Prepare reminded me that amid chaos, God had prepared me for each moment and continues to prepare me for what’s next.
Give it a try! Regardless of the word you receive or what lies ahead, you can trust that God loves you and is ultimately in control for 2021 and beyond.
Zion United Church of Christ - 9105 Third St, PO Box 10, Baroda, MI 49101 - 269-422-1590 - e-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org