Spring into Motion!

SiMAs many of you know, this Wednesday night, we will begin a series of mission activities called “Spring Into Motion.” Each week, participants will choose from a variety of activities and service projects. You can stick with one activity for multiple weeks, or you can sample a different option each week. My hope is that this time of service will also be a time of growth and fellowship.  Click here for a list of activities and to sign up!

In addition, there are several other ways that we can “spring into motion.”

The first is a practical appeal. The parking lots closest to the church have been quite full lately, which has created problems for our visitors, our members with physical limitations, and our families with small children. If you are able to walk a block or so, please “spring into motion” and park at places such as the 14th Street Garage or Stacy Hall.

Another way to “spring into motion” is to host “A Quiet Place to Study” starting this Thursday for UVA students studying for finals in our Fellowship Hall. Sign up by calling the office.

Yet another way we can “spring into motion” is to participate in Operation Inasmuch on May 10. Our sign-up lunch this past Sunday had a good crowd, and I encourage you to invite friends or neighbors to work alongside us throughout the community on Saturday, May 10, starting at 8:00 a.m.

Finally, for those who support the community work of IMPACT, you might “spring into motion” by attending the Nehemiah Action at JPJ on Monday, May 5 at 6:30 p.m.

Let’s spring into motion together!

~Blessings, Michael

Bright Sunday!

laughing_jesusWhat a privilege it was for me to observe Maundy Thursday and Good Friday with you this year! What a joyful Easter Sunday service we had as we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord! I am so grateful to the staff and to all the volunteers and worship leaders who made those services so memorable.

As you know, the Sunday after Easter is often a “low Sunday,” both in attendance and in spirit. However, this year, we intend to inject a joyful and humorous attitude into our worship service this Sunday as our young couples are planning a “Bright Sunday” worship service. According to the joyfulnoiseletter.com website,

For centuries in Eastern Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant countries, the week following Easter Sunday, including ‘Bright Sunday’ (the Sunday after Easter), was observed by the faithful as ‘days of joy and laughter’ with parties and picnics to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection . . . . The custom was rooted in the musings of early church theologians (like Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, and John Chrysostom) that God played a practical joke on the devil by raising Jesus from the dead.”

This Sunday, we will continue the Easter story as we celebrate the greatest practical joke of all time: God overturning death! So come wearing bright and colorful clothes, and prepare to have your spirits lifted in the joy of the risen Lord!

~Easter blessings, Michael

Holy Week Journey

Holy Week is upon us.  For Christians throughout the centuries, Holy Week, the week spanning Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem through His Last Supper, betrayal, trial and crucifixion, and ending with Christ’s resurrection the following Sunday, is the most sacred time of the Christian calendar.  Time almost slows down as some Christian traditions call for worship gatherings every day of the week in order to provide followers an opportunity to worship and remember Jesus during the final week of His life.

While Baptist churches have not traditionally observed Holy Week services, many are now recognizing the value of these additional services, especially on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.  These services allow congregations to experience the sacrifice and the suffering that our Lord took upon Himself for the forgiveness of our sin and the restoring of our relationship with our heavenly Father.  Without these extra worship gatherings, Christians often go from one jubilant service on Palm Sunday straight to another celebratory service on Easter Sunday, while skipping right over Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion in between.

In our culture today, we want life to be easy, convenient, happy and without sacrifice.  But that is not the narrow way of Christian discipleship.  That’s why I hope that you will allow yourselves to be inconvenienced this week by attending as many of the Holy Week services as possible, either here at UBC, or at some other church.  May Holy Week be a reminder to us that our salvation, while a free and gracious gift from God, was obtained for us with great sacrifice at a very high cost.

Therefore, I invite you to follow Jesus into Holy Week.  You experienced the joy of the Palms last Sunday.  Now experience the sorrow of the Passion.  Reflect in the silence at the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday.  Grieve over Jesus’ sacrifice and death on Good Friday.  Then you will be prepared to celebrate the amazing miracle of Easter Sunday.  On that day, we’ll celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and the baptisms of Will Wagoner, Fanli Yang, and Yang Zhao.  See you on the way!

~ Journeying on, Michael


A Note from Alba

Jubilate-webAfter a very successful Jubilate year and a wonderful Homecoming Concert last Sunday night, there are so many people to thank for all that they have done!

We thanked UBC for the support that for 41 years has kept Jubilate a viable ministry and a musical force in the Charlottesville community.  We also thanked those who have prepared us meals for this year’s experiment with a once-a-week rehearsals.  Of course, we thanked Robby Gough, who embodies the spirit of service, and Anne Keith who has been our choir “Mom” since 2005, and our wonderful accompanist Barbara Moore!

One person that I have failed to thank for 12 years now, someone who works tirelessly behind the scenes doing tasks ranging from stuffing programs to cleaning tables to cooking bacon crisps for the Jubilate Christmas fellowship and, most importantly, leading the Soprano and Alto section rehearsals — our own Pam Beasley!  She has given her time to help Jubilate sound as beautiful as they have this year and for many years.  Her support of the group and love and care for its members have made her a most special friend to all the members of Jubilate for 12 years!

Thank you, Pam, and all who love and support Jubilate!

Soli Deo Gloria!                                                                               ~ Alba


Lenten Reflection

During this season of Lent, I have been reading Richard Rohr’s Wondrous Encounters:  Scripture for Lent as my daily devotion.  Today’s reflection is on Daniel 3, the prayer of one of the three young men in the fiery furnace, and on Matthew 18:21–35, the parable of the “unforgiving servant.”  Rohr connects these two Bible passages by suggesting that refusing to forgive can be like time spent in a fiery furnace.  He writes, “If you do not pray to be released from your unforgiving heart, you will indeed keep burning.  Sometimes, only God can release you from such a furnace.”

Rohr then wrote this prayer:

 “God of Compassion, Mother and Father of all Mercies, do not let us shame ourselves — or the wonder of your name — by living outside of the wondrous loop of your forgiveness and mercy.”

I hazard to guess that we all have been hurt by others.  My prayer is that we will pray to be released from an unforgiving heart, so that we may show compassion, forgiveness and mercy to others in the same manner that our Lord has shown it to us.

 ~Blessings, Michael

Mission Madness & OIAM

This past weekend, 19 of our youth and 4 chaperones spent time in Blacksburg with 150 others from across the state.  They were participating in one of three “Mission Madness” weekends organized by CBF Virginia.  The youth broke up into work teams and joined forces with kids and leaders from other churches.  They did tasks such as building a wheelchair ramp for a woman who had been practically homebound for several years, or cleaning up the grounds and touching up the facilities of a retreat center, or sorting baby clothes for a women’s clinic.  They did all this and much more, holding hammers, paintbrushes, rakes, and cleaning supplies.

Sound familiar?  Of course it does — it sounds like the youth version of Operation Inasmuch.  I’m thankful to John Buchanan and the rest of the OIAM steering committee who are already at work lining up projects and making plans for our own day of service.

Let’s follow the example of our youth, who set aside an entire weekend for time together and for time in service.  This year OIAM is Saturday, May 10.  Let’s write it on our calendars so that we can be praying for that day and for the ways that we can be involved.  It’s a perfect chance to invite friends to join with us as we lend a helping hand to our neighbors.

                          ~Blessings, Michael

Great News!

Pledge PlateGreat news!  We surpassed our goal for our special Stewardship Campaign!  As of today, we have received fifty-five new or revised pledges totaling $88,546!  I cannot express how grateful I am to all of you who responded so positively and generously to this campaign!  Once again, members of UBC have shown that we can rise up to meet a challenge!  Our Finance Committee will begin to work on a new, revised budget, and we will schedule a budget discussion meeting sometime in late April.

I am so thankful to God for the positive and encouraging signs that are springing up everywhere at UBC:  new babies dedicated, new believers baptized, new members joining, and new financial supporters of our ministries.

This week, Jubilate, our collegiate choir, is on tour singing in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia.  This weekend, nineteen of our youth will be joining youth from all over the state to participate in “Mission Madness” in Blacksburg, VA.  Pray for both groups as they share the love of Christ through song and hands-on service.

This Sunday Erin Brown will give a report on the progress our Faith and Justice Committee is making through IMPACT in addressing youth unemployment, homelessness and mental health in our community.  Those interested in getting involved are invited to an IMPACT Network meeting after worship.

Great news all around!  Thanks be to God!

~ Blessings, Michael

God is Good!

God is good!  This past Sunday, Phil Woodson and our youth did a wonderful job planning and leading our worship service.  It was so inspiring to see Ismael Moumbossy, Joey Hamel and Jacob Morris being baptized, to hear Mattie Morris speaking about how UBC has nurtured her Christian faith, and to receive Will Wagoner’s request for baptism.  Visit this link to view video of the youth service.

I also thank God for your response to our Pledge Challenge!  We are less than $5,000 from making our goal.  If we raise that final $5,000, a church member has agreed to match it!  With this goal met, we will be able to continue to invest in the lives of our babies, our children and our youth, even as we all grow in faith, in love, in service and in generosity.  God is good!

                        ~ Blessings, Michael


What a Sunday!

What a Sunday!

Eight babies and children were dedicated.  Joseph Johnson was ordained as a Deacon (after his son Joshua was dedicated).  Laura and Patrick Watson joined the church (after their son Zachary was dedicated).  And Joey Hamel, Jacob Morris, and Ismael Moumbossy came forward to profess their faith and request baptism.  It was a moving service, and I was thankful to be a part of what Joyce Martin called “a mountaintop experience.”

The service featured two video presentations, one showing the young parents stating their hopes and love for their babies, and one showing Joseph’s parents offering similar words of blessing and thanksgiving for his ordination.  The videos are posted on the church’s web site and Facebook page.

The excitement is not over.  This Sunday, our youth will lead us in worship, as Ismael, Jacob, and Joey will be baptized.

I am thankful for all this — the signs of new life among our youth and young families, and the signs of commitment among people of all ages.  Many of you have pledged or revised your pledge as part of our campaign.  Thanks for your faithfulness as we look ahead to what God will accomplish through UBC!

~Blessings, Michael


A Word from Michael

Last Sunday I shared from my heart my emerging hope and vision for UBC.  For those of you who were not in attendance, the audio file of that service will be available for download on our Worship Media webpage, and I will be posting the text of my sermon on the church’s blog.  I hope it will spark a wider conversation among our church members and leaders as we begin the process of living into our future.  In many ways, my sermon was inspired by the positive spirit and faithful stance exhibited by our members’ response to our budget challenge.  We’ve received over $30,000 in additional pledges already; and if you haven’t done so already, I invite you to help us meet our $75,000 goal!

This coming Sunday, we will hold a Parent-Child dedication service for seven families and eight babies/young children!  In addition, we will ordain one of those parents, Joseph Johnson, to the office of Deacon.  Exciting things are happening among our young families, so let’s pledge our support to them this Sunday.

Finally, this Wednesday night, we will serve a traditional Slovakian meal as Mark Snipes, Missions Coordinator of CBFVa will be our guest speaker to talk about our mission work among the Romany people in Slovakia.  Come join us for what will be a fun and informative evening!

 ~ Blessings, Michael


Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6