Gathered and Scattered (Acts 2:1-21)

Strengthen the Church Offering

The church year begins with Advent–the four weeks before Christmas. Then there is a short season of Christmastide, followed by Epiphany. Lent is the next season of the church year, which culminates in Holy Week and Easter. Eastertide, the season that follows Easter, ends with Pentecost, which is today. After this, the church is in the long season known as Ordinary Time that lasts until Advent begins again in midwinter.

In thinking of the church year, for many churches, Easter is the high point of the year. With its majestic music, resurrection message, shiny new dresses and egg hunts, it can feel like it’s all downhill from there. Pentecost can be easy to miss, just a stop on the way to the long stretch of ordinary time. But what if we framed it in a new way? What if Pentecost day–TODAY–was not a steppingstone but the culmination of all that we have been preparing for and the beginning of a new adventure?

On the first Pentecost Day, the disciples, mourning the perceived loss of Jesus and the life they had known with him, were ready to give up. Then the Spirit arrived! When they felt the Spirit’s presence, they were infused with the new energy. New gifts flowed from them, giving them the power to speak to their neighbors of all languages. Even Peter, who had barely been able to put a sentence together until now, suddenly preached with flowing eloquence. The church received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost day, and everyone paid attention.

Like the disciples, we, in these post-pandemic days, are mourning what we have lost and are trying to adjust to the new normal of the lives we have now. Now, more than ever, let us receive the power of the Holy Spirit. Now, more than ever, let us perceive how that Spirit is already at work, empowering the gifts of our congregation. Now, more than ever, let us speak in the languages that those around us need to hear–a message of salvation and love that only we can tell.

Today, many churches receive The Strengthen the Church (STC) Offering. STC reflects the shared commitment of people across the United Church of Christ to cooperatively build up the UCC. Conferences and the national setting equally share the gifts given by members and friends through their local congregations. The funds raised support leadership develpment, new churches, youth ministry, and innovation in existing congregations. By your generosity to this offering you buildup the Body of Christ.

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