A Message from Pastor Scott

Making a Difference

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If you’ve been part of Westminster Church for any length of time, you’ve heard of One Great Hour of Sharing. One Great Hour of Sharing, or OGHS, was started during World War II by Protestant groups concerned about reconstruction efforts after the war. By 1950, the organization was formally introduced. Since then, as many as 29 different denominations have participated in any given year. It is a true ecumenical success story. One Great Hour of Sharing focuses on four specific areas: Water, Hunger, Disaster Relief, and Empowerment. Today I would like to tell you a recent story of one of those OGHS’ successes.

Matee Kakoo is a 40-something woman who lives in a poverty-stricken area in Eastern Kenya. Their group has not been blessed with financial or political support over the years. The situation has gotten so bad that their water resources were almost non-existent. They had no water in their village and they had to walk a long distance, stand in line for four to five hours to get access to the water, and then walk all the way home again.

Needless to say, they had no water for bathing, leaving them humiliated by their neighbors. The people in Matee’s village often went hungry because there was no water left over for cooking. They dreamed of having a school, but water is necessary for making bricks, and water for bricks was a pipe dream.

Then, One Great Hour of Sharing stepped in to help. With the funds from OGHS, a sand dam was built to preserve water for Matee’s community. Now, they are able to bathe and have regained their self-respect. They have water for cooking and their families are healthy again. They even built their long-awaited classrooms. Plus, many of the residents started building their own homes because water was so prevalent.

This is just one of many faithful success stories made possible by One Great Hour of Sharing. This year, on Sunday, April 15, we will introduce this year’s OGHS program. Children will be given fish banks during their Faith Formation classes. They will also be available after worship in the Narthex.

We will take the OGHS collection the following Sunday, April 22. Please pray before you give. Your donation can make a huge difference, when included with other Westminster member’s gifts. Together we can make a lasting difference in the lives of the less fortunate. Matee showed her appreciation by saying of the OGHS-sponsored dam: “It will be remembered by generations to come.” Be part of making a difference in God’s name, by supporting One Great Hour of Sharing.

Getting Ready For Lent

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It is hard to believe we are already getting ready for Lent. At least the Super Bowl is over before we step into the more reflective time of Lent. The Lenten season is traditionally described as lasting for forty days, in commemoration of the forty days Jesus spent fasting in the desert, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, before beginning his public ministry, during which he endured temptation by Satan. So, how do we commemorate, celebrate, or experience the Lenten season?

Lent is not a season we commemorate because it isn’t primarily something we remember in the past. Each year we experience Lent anew. Lent isn’t something we celebrate, because it is a recognition of suffering and sinfulness. It is not a “yahoo” moment. At its best, Lent is something we experience. We use those approximately six weeks to reflect on our lives, especially the areas that need improvement.

Some Christian Churches give up meat, or worse chocolate. Others exclude flowers from their services throughout Lent. Others make a commitment to nurture the faith of its members by participating in Lenten devotionals. My devotionals can be used as a spiritual practice throughout Lent. (You can see them at westpres.org/daily-devotions). Whatever you choose to do, make sure it isn’t just a painful obligation, but a meaningful opportunity to nurture your relationship with God.

I’ve taken a few days of vacation and gone to a monastery, and used time in silence and prayer to experience a deeper time with God. I’ve committed to a number of Lenten devotions through the years. Personally, the least meaningful Lenten practice I’ve done is giving something up. Now, adding a spiritual discipline through Lent is important because it develops spiritual habits that just may continue throughout the rest of the year.

This year I plan to pick up my nylon string guitar to play and sing Taize music each day. In my last church we had a monthly Taize service, and it was a powerfully spiritual time for me. I look forward to inviting the Holy Spirit into daily worship over the 40 days of Lent. Do you have a Lenten plan yet? Be sure to think about your Lenten plan, so you can be ready to focus on God this Lenten season. You will be amazed at how God blesses your time with the Holy One.