Communion Invitation | 11.26.17

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As the Thanksgiving holiday comes to a close, we reminisce on the things we are thankful for. I am thankful for the last week filled with family and friends. I have a house to live in, a car to go places, and a school where I can learn. But thankfulness does not mean contentment.

As I loved and laughed with family and ate way to much turkey, many were killed by ethnic violence in south Sudan. As I played card games, the genocide in Darfur continued. As I watched football, sectarian violence in the Central African Republic left many dead. On Black Friday, I shopped for Christmas presents and yellow fever reached epidemic status in Brazil. When I ate dinner with my grandparents, many in the same city did not eat.

Let us all be grateful but let us never be complacent. This table to me represents the community and love of Jesus and this congregation, and it is welcome to all.

Let us all take strength in the sacraments that we can use to fuel how we can affect change and help other people. Because that is the message of Jesus Christ.

Written by Ehret Nottingham, junior at Loveland High School.

October Stories | Generosity

For some who may remember – and for many who do not know – I have been a member here at Heart of the Rockies for almost 25 years.

I don’t really want to talk about it. It makes me feel old. (And one of my students called me “middle-aged” this week. Though accurate, I’m still reconciling this fact.)

My first Sunday School teacher here was a woman named Janice. We memorized Psalm 23 together: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want… 

I remember getting picked up by Darlene after my 7th grade basketball practices to eat pizza and talk Jesus with a handful of other middle- and high-school youth in her living room.

With our pastor Jeff’s patient guidance and belief in me, I gave my first sermon from this very spot as a freshman in high school.

I moved to Montana for college where I was a Higher Education and Leadership Ministries (HELM) Fellow for the Disciples of Christ Church. I attended Grand Avenue Christian Church and was mentored, loved on and well fed by Tom and late Arty Parac.

When I returned to finish my degree at Colorado State University, our pastor Scott Hardin-Nieri met with me monthly over burritos and good conversation.

Maybe you are picking up on a theme here…

For 25 years, people have continuously stepped into my life through Heart of the Rockies to offer support, mentorship, and guidance. I hope that I have returned that through my time as a youth group leader, Sunday School teacher, worship leader, and volunteer.

As an educator, I know – and research shows – that the #1 factor to kids making it in this world (and holy wow, is this a world to “make it” in!) is that they feel connected to one caring adult. It’s the ticket, the IT.

Turns out, it’s everything Jesus was about… RELATIONSHIPS. Our finances at Heart of the Rockies reflect that. That relationships matter. It’s what we mean when we say we’re Loving God. Serving others. Changing lives.

It’s what we mean when we make sure our kids have a caring adult that they feel connected to. It matters. And that adult very likely could be the Associate Pastor we’re about to call to our congregation.

The people I mentioned? They matter too. They molded me and inspired me to be an active part in shaping others.

I give generously to this church because I was inspired by that.

And I hope that every awkward seven year-old who walks through these doors has the same experience that I did. Powerful, kind, and generous adults who say “yes” – and not just for them, but for the many who will follow.

Please consider how you can give generously as we plan our budget for the coming year. Love this family; let’s make this happen.

(This story was shared in worship on Sunday, October 8 by Cassie Poncelow, long-time Heart of the Rockies member, local high school guidance counselor, and empower-er of young world-changers.)

Mission Trip Sunday | At the Table

IMG_7239We set off to Texas knowing that we were going to be doing tornado relief work, but it was unclear as to what exactly we would be doing. We were told to go down with open hearts and willing hands in order to do whatever needed to be done. We were ready. However, the last thing I expected us to be doing was spending the better part of our first day taking down and redoing work that contractors – not volunteers – had done poorly and left incomplete.

Seeing the results of people being deceptive and taking advantage of the consequences of a natural disaster really struck a nerve in me. I wondered if that’s how Jesus felt on the night he was betrayed? In awe and shock that someone could do that to their fellow man, even though he knew it was to happen that way? I feel like he was, but rather than dwell on something he could not change, he instead did what he was commissioned to do — he died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.

I realized it wouldn’t do any good to dwell on my frustrations for people I had never met, but that my time and energy would be better spent on doing what I was commissioned to do.  I focused my energy on the fact that we were there as servants in Jesus’ name just as the disciples were commissioned at the last supper to remember Him and be servants to all.

(Written by Kate Seaver, graduated senior and high school mission tripper.)

Youth Sunday 2017 | Closing Prayer

Dear Lord,
As we leave this church crafted by your loving hands, let us remember you shape the rocks and the land just as this church shapes us. Let these rocks we hold serve as constant reminders that through you, the church crafts us into Christians pleasing to your sight. Through our creation, we are all shaped differently, yet we all share the same jagged edges and sparkle. We are uniquely crafted, yet all the same at our core, both flawed and beautifully made. We thank you for allowing us to remember that the church, which you have created with love and care, is not just a building made of rock, but a call to go out and practice your great compassion and spread your good word. Let us remember this true meaning of church as we go out into the world with the opportunity to shape others in the same way church shapes us.

Written by Ally S.

Youth Sunday 2017 | Prayers of the People

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God,

In the United States and all around the world today, there are happenings and people around every corner that are in need of your help and of your love.

The refugees fleeing from the ever so apparent violence and brutality present there every day need our prayers to reach a better life and to someday get back to the lives they lived before the violence began, and we would like to pray for their safety, prosperity, and acceptance.

In this town and in bigger cities all around the world, you can see a person facing the harsh costs of poverty, living without homes, food, or opportunity. Give these people the opportunities to pull themselves out of poverty, to help their children escape the endless cycle of poverty, and to overall lead a better life.

Please allow the never-ending tension apparent in our country and world today to show a foreseeable end. We pray to you that it will not tear apart relationships at the seams and that we can come together as a big community once again.

On a global and local scale, discrimination against Muslims because of their religion has become a big problem. Let us all live in harmony without any hate someday.

Thank you, God, for all the beautiful beings and opportunities surrounding us, thank you for the trees, for the wind, and for the sky.

The relationships that hold us together make our lives better every day, so thank you Lord for providing them. Most of all, thank you Lord for providing us as a youth group the precious relationships, opportunities, and time together to learn more about you and act in your ways.

Written by Ella J., 9th grade.

Youth Sunday 2017 | Offering Invitation

Last month, many of us had the opportunity to volunteer at Slammin’ Famine, an event where we packed dehydrated food to feed hungry children. Together, our team packed enough to feed 21 kids in Nicaragua for a whole year!

I got to experience what it feels like to know what we were doing would make a real difference in someone’s life.

The money collected in the offering baskets allows us to show our Christian love by making a difference in people’s lives within the community or even the world. We invite you to give your tithes and offerings.

Written by Adrienne N., 8th grade.

Youth Sunday 2017 | Senior Sermon

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Growing up, my family used to go to church every Sunday. My dad sang and played in the band and I was committed to Sunday school. As the church grew, it had to move to a bigger location. We tried our best to make it every Sunday, but every Sunday turned into every other Sunday, every other Sunday turned into the occasional Sunday, and the occasional Sunday just stopped happening. I was growing up, my parents were getting new jobs, and we just couldn’t make the time anymore.

Fast forward seven years later to when a good friend of mine at the time told me about an amazing church camp she went to. She invited me to come with her that summer—I agreed, not sure of what to expect. Little did I know that going to camp that summer would drastically change my definition of church forever. It was no longer a distant memory of sermons past and songs I vaguely remembered, but rather something that sparked a passion deep inside me that over the past few years has grown into a roaring flame—not just from going to camp, but going on numerous mission trips and service retreats.

Camp taught me the value of fully engaging in what I was learning and making true connections with the people around me, and with God. The transition back into the real world after a week of no technology is something we talk about at the end of every camp. We talk about how we can take the information we have learned over the week and apply it in our separate lives back home.

I didn’t realize it the first time, or even the second time we talked about this, but over time I realized that it was the same for church.

We come to church to learn, and grow in our faith, we come to build friendships with a community that shares our values, and we come to praise God. But none of it matters if we don’t make the effort to live out what we learn.

Because being a Christian is more than just showing up to church on Sunday.

Written by Kate Seaver, a senior at Thompson Valley High School.  Kate will attend Front Range Community College in the fall.