Pine Grove United Methodist Women held their January monthly meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 7, in the church fellowship hall. President Mary Conduff conducted the meeting.
The program, entitled Raise Your Light: Taking the Unexpected Path, was presented by Wilma Ottinger. The scripture used was Matthew 2:1-12.
“Long before any traditions were established around a Christmas celebration, Epiphany was celebrated as a feast day, weaving together the stories of Jesus’ birth and the magi’s journey, sometimes including Jesus’ baptism as well,” Ottinger said. “Epiphany is a celebration of God’s light shining, an illumination that reveals clear and compelling truths about the world and each and every one of us. In this story, the magi find another road home, refusing to return to Herod — refusing to become complicit with the death-dealing powers that be.
“In the light of the star shining over Jesus’ birthplace, they clearly see who Herod is in contrast to who they have been called to be and how they have been called to live.
“The story invites each of us to rethink, re-evaluate and reconsider who we are and how we live in light of this One who has come that all might have abundant life. The magi reveal to us an important revelation about how we are called to respond in the face of injustice at the hands of empire. Their decision to take another road home to avoid complicity in injustice is a decision we all must make at some point in this Christian walk.
“To be complicit means helping to commit a crime or do wrong in some way, or to be associated with wrong-doing in some way. We often do not think that we are complicit in the oppression and injustices against others because we are women of faith who have long supported the liberation of women, children and youth around the world. But, sometimes, we find that our voices aren’t as loud about issues that we think are more challenging to discuss, like racism, criminalization of communities of color or any issue that doesn’t seem to impact us directly.”
Ottinger then lit a candle and said, “I raise this light to illuminate a new path to offer healing. I raise this light to offer my voice to be a light in my community.”
Ottinger then asked some ladies to help with the program. Gail Ballard read as follows:
Mission giving makes mission happen. In the United States, mission giving currently provides support to 93 United Methodist Women-related National Mission institutions and colleges, as well as other U.S. ministries that provide spiritual growth programs, membership nurture and opportunities for leadership development, mission education and service and advocacy.”
Martha Easterly read, “Internationally, United Methodist Women annually support more than 150 programs, carried out by 116 organizations in more than 110 countries. Mission giving also provides scholarships to more than 73 students enrolled in institutions of higher education in 18 countries.”
Phyllis Henry then read, “United Methodist Women supports eight regional missionaries. Their work reaches 49 countries and the Caribbean. United Methodist Women also provide training, oversight and support for the office of deaconess and home missioner, which currently consists of nearly 200 active laypeople working in ministries of love, justice and service throughout our country and the world.”
Ottinger then stated, “As women of strength, we know the power of working together in mission as United Methodist Women members.”
She then asked all the ladies to please turn on their tea lights and join her as she lit the Christ candle.
In conclusion, Wilma thanked all for participating in this pledge service and said, “Just as the light grew in this room as we all took up our tea lights, let us build up our mission work. Before we close, please join me in singing the first verse of “This Little Light of Mine.”