Weekly Thoughts


Let’s all keep alert!

posted Dec 14, 2018, 6:17 AM by Cameron Hubanks   [ updated Dec 14, 2018, 6:17 AM ]

Good evening, Zwingli Church!

 

We are well into the season of Advent.  Have you noticed Christ in any usual places?  The promise of Advent, of course, is that Jesus is likely to show up at unlikely times and in unlikely places.  Let’s all keep alert!

 

On Sunday we’ll co-mingle Advent and Christmas.  I’m sure God won’t mind!

 

That “co-mingling” will happen, of course, in the form of the Children’s Christmas Program.  It’s a delight to have our younger members bring a message for those of us who are older.  Who knows….perhaps Christ will come to us through our children!?!  There will be coffee and refreshments after the program.  Plan to stick around.  In fact, you might stick around for choir practice!  That will also happen after the program ends.

 

Finally, please be sure to note that our Christmas Eve service this year will begin at 5:00 pm.  More and more churches are finding that earlier rather than later services on Christmas Eve are better attended.  This is an experiment.  If you do show up at 7:00 pm….well, perhaps you’ll enjoy a quieter service of silence and solitude!  😊

 

Advent blessings to each of you.  Come, Lord Jesus!

 

Rich Pleva, Pastor

Zwingli United Church of Christ

Paoli, Wisconsin

608-845-5641 – voice

608-574-9465 - text

 

Zwingli UCC – A small church with a big and open heart!

“Big Stories”

posted Dec 7, 2018, 9:52 AM by Cameron Hubanks   [ updated Dec 7, 2018, 9:55 AM ]

Dear Church,

 

On this second Sunday in Advent we will leave the “Big Stories” series and focus on a more traditional Advent text – Luke 3:1-6.  In this short passage John the Baptist summarizes his calling with bracing clarity:  My job is to prepare the way for the coming of Messiah (the coming of God!).  

 

There are many reasons why humans aren’t really sure that we want God to come NOW.  On Sunday we will consider some of our ambivalence and remind ourselves that doubt is fine, but that God loves us regardless and will assuredly come.  

 

Amen!  Come, Lord Jesus.

 

See you Sunday!

 

Rich Pleva, Pastor

Zwingli United Church of Christ

Paoli, Wisconsin

608-845-5641 – voice

608-574-9465 - text

 

Zwingli UCC – A small church with a big and open heart!

Happy New Year!!

posted Dec 1, 2018, 5:07 PM by Cameron Hubanks


You probably are thinking, “Huh?”

 

Tomorrow is the first Sunday in Advent and the church year begins with Advent, so “Happy New Year” is an appropriate greeting for church people.

 

The better question to ask, of course, is about the meaning of Advent.  Before leaving the “Big Stories of the Bible” series for a few weeks, we’re considering the story of the crossing of the Red Sea.  It’s not a traditional “Advent” story.  But if Advent is about unexpectedly finding God in unlikely places and at unlikely times, then getting the Hebrews safely across (through?) the Red Sea is a very Advent-ish thing for God to do.  

 

Even on a cold, rainy Saturday – most of us live lives unmistakably blessed by God – very much unlike that of the ancient Hebrews.  For that we should be thankful – and joining in worship is one way to do that.  Who knows, perhaps on the first Sunday in Advent, we’ll even encounter God!

 

In hope!

 

Rich Pleva, Pastor

Zwingli United Church of Christ

Paoli, Wisconsin

608-845-5641 – voice

608-574-9465 - text

 

Zwingli UCC – A small church with a big and open heart!

What will happen next?

posted Nov 24, 2018, 10:21 AM by Cameron Hubanks   [ updated Nov 24, 2018, 10:21 AM ]

Dear Friends,

 

Humans are almost always fascinated with the future.  We instinctively wonder, “What will happen next?”

 

I have no crystal ball and my knowledge of the future is pretty limited.   But here’s something I’ve learned pretty clearly over my life:  In terms of my OWN future, those things I’ve planned for and committed to have more often come to pass than the things I’ve merely thought about and more-or-less left to chance.

 

On Sunday I’ll be talking (again!) about giving.  Jesus talked a lot about money and about giving and therefore it seems a faithful thing for a pastor to talk about as well.  

 

On Sunday there will be an opportunity – an invitation, really – to take good intentions and turn them into something concrete.  During worship there will be an opportunity to write down one’s giving intentions for the coming year.  

 

This invitation will not be high pressure and there will no shame assigned to those who don’t complete a pledge.  Nonetheless, I suspect many of us will find this a step worth taking – a step that might even bring pleasure and joy.

 

I want you to see the letter that will be included in the bulletin on Sunday.  It’s included as an attachment to this note and is also copied below (in case opening a PDF is something hard for you to do).

 

Blessings to you as you think and pray about your response.  If you know you won’t be in church on Sunday, you can return your pledge card later in December, or you can mail it to the church (PO Box 530, Belleville, 53508), or you can email it back to the church address.  

 

Oh!  Maybe bring a pencil or pen on Sunday….though we’ll have some extra on hand!  

 

Rich Pleva, Pastor

Zwingli United Church of Christ

Paoli, Wisconsin

608-845-5641 – voice

608-574-9465 - text

 

Zwingli UCC – A small church with a big and open heart!

Train our ears to hear, train our hearts and minds to understand

posted Nov 17, 2018, 3:09 PM by Cameron Hubanks   [ updated Nov 17, 2018, 3:10 PM ]

Good morning, Zwingli Church!

 

In some circles Christian faith is conceived as something almost entirely consisting of my relationship with Jesus.  

 

Clearly that’s important, but any system of faith that excludes others in the interest of an exclusively privatized relationship with God cannot be reconciled with Biblical religion.  God is particularly attuned to the voices and lament of those who have little and who suffer and are pushed to the edges – and so we must train our ears to hear those same voices and train our hearts and minds to understand how God would have us respond.

 

On Sunday at Zwingli Church we will be focusing on some of those “others.”  It’s Native American Sunday and Judy Batker and Jeanette Bossingham will invite us into a taste of native spirituality and help us better understand their respective work with native peoples in South Dakota.

 

And….we’ll be doing two other things to remind us of those whose voices God hears – those who are hungry in our own communities and children living in poverty far away from us.  We’ll be gathering non-perishable food items for donation to area food banks, and we’ll be filling shoebox-sized gift boxes for children who otherwise are unlikely to receive gifts at Christmas.  

 

For the second project you are invited to bring a “wow gift” (appropriate for a child living in a non-western culture – and remember, it has to fit in a shoebox!), as well as personal hygiene items, or simple clothing items, or school supplies.  If you’d like, you can assemble your own box, but mostly some of our youth will be filling these boxes after worship – so bring as much or little of the “box-fillers” as you’d like.  It’s also expected that we donate $9/box for shipping, so your gifts of cash will also be appreciated.

 

Blessings!  See you Sunday!

Rich Pleva, Pastor

Zwingli United Church of Christ


 

Zwingli UCC – A small church with a big and open heart!

Sunday is Polka Sunday

posted Nov 10, 2018, 9:36 AM by Cameron Hubanks

Good evening, Zwingli Church!

 

Sunday is Polka Sunday – if you intend to dance down the aisle (and that’s CERTAINLY permissible!), then be sure to wear your dancing shoes!  😊

 

I’ll also be preaching – and the sermon pushes more than a little bit, I suspect.  It’s about Moses and his perfectly sensible impulse to beg off the work God wanted him to do.  I’ve felt pushed in writing this sermon and perhaps God will use it to push you, too.  I think that’s what preaching is supposed to do – for all of us!

 

A week from Sunday we’ll be inviting ourselves to two different mission projects.  You can embrace one or the other, or both.  We’ll be gathering donations for an area food bank, AND we’ll be assembling small packages of Christmas gifts for children who might otherwise not receive any gift at all.  I’ll give more detail on Sunday, but if you’re curious, check out the Shoebox Project at https://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/pack-a-shoe-box/.

 

Blessings to each of you!

 

Rich Pleva, Pastor

Zwingli United Church of Christ

Paoli, Wisconsin

608-845-5641 – voice

608-574-9465 - text

 

Zwingli UCC – A small church with a big and open heart!

Zwingli this Weekend

posted Nov 2, 2018, 6:10 AM by Cameron Hubanks   [ updated Nov 2, 2018, 6:11 AM ]

Good evening, Zwingli Church!

 

There’s a lot going on at Zwingli Church this weekend.  

 

Friday is the bazaar/auction/dinner.  I guessing you all know the shtick!  I expect to see you at the Montrose Town Hall!

 

On Saturday night you’ll set your clocks back one hour and enjoy an extra hour of sleep before coming to worship Sunday morning.  

 

We’ll be leaving the series of “Big Stories of the Bible” for a week to begin a two Sunday series on what Jesus said about money (a hint – he said a lot!).   Obviously, figuring out how to be faithful with our money (or perhaps it’s God’s money?!?) is a life-long project, but now is always a good day to start that kind of a big, ambitious project!  We’ll start this Sunday by thinking about why giving is such an important discipline and then we’ll do some other things for a couple weeks, and then come back to the giving theme for the Sunday following Thanksgiving.

 

Never forget how much God loves you!

 

Rich Pleva, Pastor

Zwingli United Church of Christ

Paoli, Wisconsin

608-845-5641 – voice

608-574-9465 - text

 

Zwingli UCC – A small church with a big and open heart!

 

Huh?

posted Oct 26, 2018, 4:00 PM by Cameron Hubanks

Huh?  Shiphrah and Puah?  What’s that, I’ll bet some of you wondered.

 

Well, don’t be too hard on yourself – almost no one has heard of Shiphrah and Puah.  But these two (women – midwives, as it turns out), play an important role our Big Story for Sunday.  A teaser:  these are two remarkably courageous women.  They take a stand for what is right – for justice – in the face of almost unimaginable political pressure to the contrary.  I wonder if I…. if you…. would have been so courageous?

 

If you care to read the text for yourself – it’s Exodus, chapter one.

 

Ruby and I had a wonderful road-trip vacation out west these past two weeks, but we’re glad to be back home and back in worship with the good people of Zwingli UCC.  See you Sunday!

 

BTW – there’s no Sunday School this Sunday, but as always, children are welcome in worship.  After all, “this is where children belong!”

 

Blessings!

 

Rich Pleva, Pastor

Zwingli United Church of Christ

Paoli, Wisconsin

608-845-5641 – voice

608-574-9465 - text

 

Zwingli UCC – A small church with a big and open heart!

 

Noah’s Ark

posted Oct 6, 2018, 5:39 AM by Cameron Hubanks   [ updated Oct 6, 2018, 5:40 AM ]

Greetings, Zwingli Church!


Noah’s Ark – it’s one of the most famous stories of the Bible.

But what does it really mean?  It seems to me it’s a story to be handled with care – on the one hand it could be taken to teach that God is given to fits of out-of-control rage – or else that God has decided that human wickedness is no longer a matter of any concern.  I think both these ideas are wrong.

 

Join the congregation on Sunday morning and see what you think.  Part of what I’m sure about is that we need each other and that worship is good for the soul!

 

And… in the afternoon the congregation and I – in the presence of representatives from the Southwest Wisconsin Association of the UCC – will gather to exchange promises and to celebrate that God has brought us together.  At least I’m glad to be serving you – I hope you are, too!  The service is at 3 pm.  I hope you can come!

 

Blessings!

 

Rich Pleva, Pastor

Zwingli United Church of Christ

Paoli, Wisconsin

608-845-5641 – voice

608-574-9465 - text

 

Zwingli UCC – A small church with a big and open heart!

Your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!

posted Sep 27, 2018, 5:54 PM by Cameron Hubanks

My Dear Zwingli Church,

 

In one of Scripture’s most poignant lines, God says to Cain in Genesis 4, “Listen; Your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!”

 

As I’m writing the day-long Senate Judiciary hearings into the allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh are wrapping up.  There is a sense in which it feels like our nation is being torn apart just as Cain and Abel were torn apart (Don’t you wonder about Adam and Eve during this horrendous affair of fratricide?  Only the faintest passing word is recorded of their response).

 

Anger, division and violence are as old as the human race.  Should Christians care?  If yes, what can – what should – we do?  

 

On Sunday morning I will invite you to explore two important themes that arise from this story (there are others, of course):

 

  • What does this text say about human difference and diversity?
  • And what about Cain’s sarcastic question:  “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  

 

There are no simple responses to either of these questions – but unless we are willing to explore them, we will be helplessly unable to work for the increase of understanding and grace – to advocate for justice and forgiveness.

 

See you Sunday.

 

Rich Pleva, Pastor

Zwingli United Church of Christ

Paoli, Wisconsin

608-845-5641 – voice

608-574-9465 - text

 

Zwingli UCC – A small church with a big and open heart

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