Amazing

Mark Flory Steury at the Church of the Brethren General Offices. Photo by Dewayne Heck

Mark Flory Steury at the Church of the Brethren General Offices.
Photo by Dewayne Heck

By Mark Flory Steury, Donor Relations representative

“It’s amazing how much the Church of the Brethren is able to do.”

This is a comment I hear often as I talk with congregational leaders and pastors about the denominational work of the Church of the Brethren. It has been my joy to visit many congregations over the past five years, and to thank them for being so generous! For well over one hundred years, congregations have faithfully supported the work of the church through their offerings.

When I visit a congregation, we talk about the ways the Church of the Brethren is currently serving in ministry both domestically and abroad. Globally we have partners in Nigeria, India, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Haiti, Spain, South Sudan and many other places. We help people in times of need through Brethren Disaster Ministries, Children’s Disaster Services, and the Global Food Initiative. Volunteers serve as the hands and feet of Jesus through Brethren Volunteer Service and Workcamps. These are some of the ways that we extend the love of God to others.

We also provide resources for churches and individuals across the country. We support the work of new churches through the Church Planting Conference. We equip church leaders and members through the work of Congregational Life Ministries, the Ministry Office, and Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leaderships, and through materials like Vital Ministry Journey, the Anabaptist Worship Exchange, the Shine curriculum, and webinars. Faith-forming, community-fostering conferences and programs are provided throughout the year like National Junior High Conference, Christian Citizenship Seminar, Ministry Summer Service, National Young Adult Conference, and National Older Adult Conference. Conversation and information are shared through Newsline and Messenger magazine. We also have wonderful historical resources preserved through the Brethren Historical Library and Archives. This is just a brief overview of the many ministries we do together!

Amazing! How is the Church of the Brethren able to do all of this? It’s only with the support of congregations and individuals who are willing to work together for a common mission and ministry.

It is remarkable how much the Church of the Brethren is able to do. Thank you so much for your awesome support. We can do this work only because of your partnership. May God bless us as we continue in our work together.

Learn more about the ministries of the Church of the Brethren at www.brethren.org or support them today at www.brethren.org/give .

(Read this issue of eBrethren)

True treasure

"They rejoiced in what came alive in them as they worshiped in this place." Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

“They rejoiced in what came alive in them as they worshiped in this place.”
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

by Duane Grady

“Therefore every scribe of heaven is like the master of the household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old”
(Matthew 13:52).

Jesus discourages us from thinking of heaven and its joys as a thing to be obtained. Instead, Jesus points to what heaven is like rather than what it is. If we reduce Jesus’ teachings to a pearl or a field or a net full of fish we will despair, because the chase is over, the celebration has ended. True treasure eludes us; there is always more to discover.

The newly married couple was looking for a church in the town where they had just moved. The town provided numerous options, and they were surprised by how drawn they were to a small congregation—a church that had none of the bells and whistles their college church had provided. There was something illogical yet so right in their attraction to this church. They hungered to know more.

By worshiping there the couple discovered people who blessed them with holy conversations. Their hearts were warmed by the love that embraced them, and their minds were guided by the Holy Spirit to consider new treasures of biblical wisdom. This place looked timid and shabby at first, but now felt strong and vibrant. It was hard for them to explain, but they rejoiced in what came alive in them as they worshiped in this place. They saw the face of Jesus in the ministry that surrounded them. Soon, they began contributing themselves by sharing their ideas and enthusiasm. For the very first time, they gave without worry and received a hundred blessings.

It was like finding the best Christmas gift still under the tree. After opening it once, they realized the gift kept on giving and surprising them along the way. The joy of discovering it sustained them.

This excerpt is from this year’s Lenten devotional Real Rest produced by Brethren Press. Order it at www.brethrenpress.com today.

(Read this issue of eBrethren)

Come to the Wilderness

Prayer for the Day

O God who speaks, your words through the prophets and your Christ both command and invite. Your desires for us at once command us to prepare the way and invite us into the fullness of life. Speak to us in this season of Advent that we might no longer hear only one or the other but that we might find the freedom that is granted in the coming of Christ. Amen

Question

How has the Church made too much of God’s commands at the expense of God’s invitations? How have we celebrated the invitations without attending to the requirements?

-Joshua Brockway; Director, Spiritual Life and Discipleship

Congregational Life Ministries of the Church of the Brethren is offering these simple prayers and questions in connection to this year’s Advent devotional written by David W. Miller. (Available from Brethren Press) Join us as we look and listen for the coming of the Word through the reading of scripture, David’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.