January 22, 2023 – The Advance/Third Sunday After the Epiphany, Year A

K-Parker-and-woman-shucking-corn. Photo Credit: GBGM
K-Parker-and-woman-shucking-corn. Photo Credit: GBGM

January 22, 2023 – The Advance/Third Sunday After the Epiphany, Year A

A Moment for Mission

“The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners.”- Isaiah 61:1, NRSV

Tucked away in the remote sprawls of the Amazon rain forest is the small indigenous municipality of Autazas. Containing several of the over 30,000 villages sitting along the Amazon’s banks, Autazas’ location makes it almost impossible to reach except with a small boat during the rainy season. For months on end, the residents go without medical care or needed supplies. Of the 24 million people living in this region, 25% are illiterate and almost 4% of children die before the age of one. Natural disasters, disease, and conflicts are a constant threat.

This doesn’t stop the Methodist Church in Brazil and its worldwide partners like the United Methodist Church from taking action. Seeing the need for medical attention and community support, the Methodist Church in Brazil purchased a boat, converting it to a staffed floating clinic, now known as the John Wesley Medical Boat.

In April of 2018, a team from the Florida Conference— including several doctors, dentists and nurses—were able to serve 330 medical and dental patients with essential care in two communities. Members of the team prayed with local mothers, played soccer and tag with village children and even started their own garbage cleanup crew! 

Simple acts of love like these are able to change lives forever. This important ministry is a reminder that sharing our faith and love of God with others, along with social action, are necessary to bring healing to a hurting world. It can’t happen, though, without our global connection and giving.

That’s the importance of The Advance. As the dedicated mission giving channel of The United Methodist Church, The Advance ensures that 100% of donations go to supporting over 300 missionaries and 600 mission projects around the world. Give to The Advance today and you will help transform lives, provide relief where it is needed most, make healthcare more accessible, and sustain vital ministry for years to come.

Adapted from a story published by the Florida Annual Conference

Children’s Message 
Who likes flowers? What are your favorites? (Allow time for answers) The nice thing about flowers is that you can bring them inside and set them somewhere you can see them. That way, you can smell them and see their pretty colors all the time! We can have a piece of God’s creation up close and be reminded that He loves us a whole lot!

You probably know you have to take really good care of flowers. Sometimes we put them in a vase with water, and other times, we put them in a pot with soil. Do you know what two things that flowers and other plants need the most? (Let children answer) That’s right, sunlight and water! If we keep the flowers in a dark spot of our house or forget to water them, they start to droop and look sad. But, once you move them or give them water, they perk up!

We’re not flowers, but sometimes we get a little droopy and sad. Feeling God’s love for us is exactly like giving a flower water. God’s love gives us strength and lifts us up!

Isaiah, who was a prophet a long time ago, said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” He went on to tell people that because he had God’s Spirit with him, he was able to go into the world and share God’s love with others by helping them, sharing with them and comforting them.

Did you know the Holy Spirit is with you too? That means you have God’s love inside of you. He wants you to go share it with others by saying and doing nice things, comforting your friends when they’re sad and helping others.

Let’s rise up with God’s love this week and go do good things for others so they know they’re loved too.

Offertory Prayer
O God of mercy, you have shown us such goodness and acceptance. Like Isaiah, we are called to bring your good news of peace, hope, love and joy to the world. Accept these gifts, O Lord, as a sign of our commitment to recognize Christ’s presence in those around us and love our neighbors as we love our selves. In your name we pray. Amen.

From Discipleship Ministries: Holy God, as we present our tithes and offerings in worship, we know we come from a world that is tearing itself apart due to division. Even among your followers, we find ourselves shutting down and closing ourselves to those who don’t think or act as we do. We need to be reminded that you desire unity and one mind from your children – not a church void of disagreement, but one where we work at listening in love more than working at speaking louder and winning the day. We dedicate not just our gifts but our minds to the work of your unifying love. In Christ, we pray. Amen.

Newsletter Nugget
No matter who we are, God is leading us to connect with those around us as we are filled with the Holy Spirit. Just as Isaiah was called to bring good news to the oppressed and afflicted, so are we.

The Methodist Church in Brazil lives into this call in a unique way. Equipped with medical staff and a message of hope, the John Wesley Medical Boat sails into the Amazon several times a year. Vaccinations and preventative tests are given to thousands in secluded communities while staff listen to and pray with families.

Acts like these show compassion and love to people seeking a healthier, safer and more grounded future. Whether you know it or not, you can play a major part in ensuring this vital ministry and others like it continue changing lives.

The Advance, the dedicated mission giving channel of The United Methodist Church, is the easiest way to make a large impact across the world. 100% of your donation goes to providing essential relief from natural disasters, making healthcare accessible, and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with a world in need. Give to the Advance today and you’ll help “advance” the Kingdom of God!

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