**In light of the damage done by Hurricane Ida, please feel free to reach out to me if you and your family are in any need of prayer or assistance.
After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and, with a deep sigh, said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened, and he began to speak plainly.
Mark 7:33-35 NIV
One of my closest childhood friends has been hearing impaired for as long as he can remember. Now, my friend’s hearing impairment doesn’t affect his life too much because of modern technology. But to this day, he can still recall how isolating hearing impairment was for him as a child, especially before his family and school district understood how he was differently abled.
This week’s gospel reading centers on a man who is deaf and mute. However, unlike my friend, this man lived in a society where there weren’t many resources or help for people who were hearing impaired and non-verbal. And due to these factors, this man likely began to feel deeply isolated from those around Him.
But, despite his marginal status, this man doesn’t escape Jesus’ merciful attention. And true to form and character, Christ makes time to touch this man and to speak a healing word over him.
“He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” which means “Be opened!”’
And sure enough, the man’s hearing and voice are restored by Jesus’ powerful word and merciful touch.
Saints, even though I can’t understand the unique experience of this healed man, I do resonate with his need to encounter Jesus’ mercy and power.
You see, all of us can begin to close our hearts to those around us, and we can start to shut our ears to the promises of the gospel, and we can close our minds to the new possibilities that God has in store for us.
And it’s those moments that we need Jesus to show up in our lives and say over us, “Ephphatha, Be Opened!”
Be opened to the good news of God’s grace!
Be opened to the needs of your neighbors!
Be opened to the new thing that God wants to do in your life!
Friends, may all of us encounter the mercies and grace of the Risen One who speaks over our lives: “Be opened!”
On Sunday, September 12th, we have our annual church picnic on our side lawn after service. Since this event is outdoors, masks will not be required. As part of COVID-19 precautions, we will NOT have potluck food items. All food and drink will be purchased and served by teams wearing masks and gloves. There will be crafts/activities for children attending. Looking forward to seeing you all there!
Supporting Refugees & Caring for Those Affected by Hurricanes
Our annual conference has shared the below information to our churches on how we can assist those affected by the events in Afghanistan and Hurricane Ida:
“UMCOR continues to connect our church in mission by being there for people across the world, from Louisiana to Afghanistan to Haiti. Congregations are encouraged to receive offerings to donate toward their relief efforts. Locally, as New Jersey prepares for the arrival of 10,000 refugees, NJVOAD is identifying what is most needed for resettlement.
For Haiti and Afghanistan, donate through UMCOR International Disaster Response with Advance #982450.
UMCOR is also partnering with Church World Service, to assist with refugee resettlement. Those interested in supporting this partnership can make gifts with Advance #3022144.
To see a list of items needed through GNJ’s Operation Welcome Neighbor, click here.
For those impacted by Hurricane Ida, donate using Advance #901670.
To support pro bono legal representation for immigrants and refugees through Justice for Our Neighbors, click here.
All resources can be found here. As NJVOAD coordinates the relief effort, we may identify other avenues for providing food, transportation or emotional/spiritual care as well as grant opportunities and will share with you.”
Resuming Music Ministries
The Choir and Bell Choir will resume rehearsals on September 8th. Rehearsals will be on Wednesdays in the choir room, with Bell Choir at 4:30-5:30 and Choir at 5:45-7:00. Feeling unsure about joining? Feel free to sit in on a rehearsal any time before deciding. All are welcome – no experience required!
New Sermon Series: The Power of Words
Starting next week, we’ll begin a new sermon series on what the bible teaches us about the power of our words and how God calls us to communicate with one another.
Sunday School Starting Back Up
Our church is restarting our in-person Sunday School program next week on September 12th. If you would like to register your child in our Sunday School program, please fill out a registration form and turn it in. If you need a form, you can email Gretchen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Food Drive for Flemington Food Pantry
From August 29th to September 26th, our church is holding a Food Drive to collect food for the Flemington Area Food Pantry. There is a list in the back of the church which states what items the Food Pantry is looking for. The drop-off box is also in the back of the sanctuary.
Sharing Prayer Requests
If you have a prayer request, you can fill out a prayer card in the back of the sanctuary or email our Office Manager, Gretchen, at email@example.com. We will be sure to add it to the list on the back of our bulletin. You can also email Gretchen to take off any prayer requests that are no longer relevant or needed.