Room In The Inn (Or RITI) at Carmel is a team-based outreach program. The mission is to do God’s will by providing hospitality to homeless men (or neighbors). This includes providing a warm and safe place to the spend the night, the offer of washing and drying their clothes, providing a dinner meal, a breakfast meal and a bag lunch. Also provided is an opportunity to pray and fellowship with the Carmel volunteers or team members. Carmel provides the transportation for the neighbors – picking them up in the church bus (about 5 P.M.) at the Urban Ministry Center (just north of downtown Charlotte) and returning them early the next morning to the Transportation Center in downtown Charlotte by 6 A.M. The logistics for each session requires the work and cooperation of many volunteers. Team members drive the bus, bring out the mattresses, pillows, linens, towels and wash cloths from storage, make the beds, arrange sleeping areas with chairs and bins for clothes, setup the eating area with tables, chairs, eating utensils, etc., Prepare the food, serve it to the neighbors and cleanup the kitchen and eating areas. Also of note is that ALL food has been donated or provided by the team members and participating groups. After each session there is a lot of work to put away the sleeping supplies, gather the laundry (sheets, pillowcases, blankets, robes, etc) and take the laundry to be cleaned.
As we move through the Lenten Season, we approach one of the great highlights of the Christian Year. On April 9th we will gather as a congregation for the celebration of Palm Sunday, commemorating the triumphal entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. As the events of the Holy Week unfold, we move from Palm Sunday to Maundy Thursday, to Good Friday, and finally on April 16th we celebrate the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday. It is clear from the New Testament that the resurrection of Jesus Christ on that first Easter is the central fact of our faith. On Easter we proclaim that the forces of sin and death are overcome on that triumphant Sunday morning. Someone has noted that the resurrection is the answer to two basic human problems. The first is the reality of natural evil. So often we observe that the forces of nature are very powerful. We experience this form of evil in natural phenomena: earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. It is also evident in the variety of diseases with which we struggle.
B.I.G. THINGS!... happen in small groups! Believe in God. Join a small group. Watch how God’s wonders unfold!Sit and Stitch - The Sit and Stitch ladies will meet on April 5th and 19th in the Church library from 10:00AM until noon. Priscilla Perkins can answer questions.Amani Beads - The Amani Bead ladies will meet on April 12th and 26th and we welcome new members. Please join us in the Cathcart Center from 10:00AM until noon . Debbie Ferrell can answer any questions.Ladies Circle Ladies - Join us in the library for circle on Tuesday April 11 at 10:00 am. We will be finishing up the the study of John Ortberg's book and video When the Game is Over It All Goes Back in the Box. We will also be preparing sandwiches for Urban Ministry uptown. For questions call Nancy Anderson.Sisters in Christ - Will meet on the first and third Sundays of each month at 5:00pm in Cathcart Center. For more information, please contact Carol Troy Schmitt
Then, too, this unnamed Centurion reminds us of the importance of the Christian witness in a secular world. One of the most dramatic changes that has taken place in the last three decades in the City of Charlotte is the influx of so many religious traditions. Thirty years ago Charlotte was predominately a Protestant city. In fact, when I moved to Charlotte in 1983, there were more Presbyterians than Baptists. Today, there are many different religions represented in Charlotte, including over 10,000 Muslims and four mosques.
Listen to Dr. Wood describe the cross that Simon had to unexpectedly bear and relate it to those crosses that will both surprise us and require us to step up in our faith. We all face challenges and we must turn to Jesus when those burdens appear.
[powerpress]One of the difficult things about this story is the response of Jesus. “The poor”, he said, “will always be with you and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish, but you will not always have me.” (Mark 14:7) Now, please forgive me, but there are some things I wish Jesus had never said, and this is one of them. It is a bit insensitive and there is no telling how much damage this saying has done. Think of all the times this verse has been quoted as an excuse for doing nothing in the face of poverty. So, why has the church been so assiduous about preserving the witness of this one woman? And why should Jesus say that as long as the gospel was proclaimed in the whole world, this woman’s act would be remembered?
Over these next weeks we will examine what we are calling “The Lesser Lights of Lent”. Many of us are familiar with some of the major figures of the last week of the life of Jesus: Pontius Pilate, Herod, Caiaphas, Peter, James and John. But there were others as well and Mark has very carefully placed these individuals as part of the story of Jesus: 1) a widow in the temple, 2) a woman at the house of Simon the Leper who anointed the feet of Jesus, 3) Simon of Cyrene, the one forced to carry the cross of Jesus, 4) a centurion who stood at the foot of the cross and 5) Joseph of Arimathea. Each of these individuals is an essential part of the story of the last week of Jesus on earth. So, we begin with this widow that Mark describes. We do not know her name. Mark does not give that to us, nor does Luke for that matter. She is one of the “lesser lights of Lent”. Mark’s gospel tells us that Jesus had taken a seat opposite the treasury of the temple. He was in that part of the temple called “The Court of the Women”. There were thirteen collection boxes there, each shaped like a large trumpet. People came there to make their offerings: offerings for the poor, offerings for the upkeep of the temple, offerings for the various sacrifices that were part of the Jewish tradition.
Listen to Pastor Mark give a lesson the mindset and attitude that Christians should observe during the Lenten season. Pastor Mark suggests reminders, qualities, and behaviors that help in observing a time of thoughtful consideration of Christ's sacrifice.
Is there any real justice in life? Is there justice in Jesus's sacrifice? Evil is just as likely to come to us as is the good. We are subject to its aims and susceptible to its whims. But, Dr. Wood tells us to be confident in facing evil. God takes both the good and evil and can make good out of them with our faith.