Devotional for James 2:9-13

James reminds us that listening and being slow to anger leads to mercy. Quickly judging others often trips us up, since our standards are different from God’s. So when in doubt, show mercy.

Ankeny UCC is Feeling Compassion

Dear Church-

This week’s scripture lesson continues the theme in Luke that we have been seeing of Jesus’s compassion in ministry. He announced to his synagogue that he was fulfilling Isaiah’s call to declare freedom to the oppressed and relief to the poor; when some fishermen were discouraged after a day with no catch, he brought them fish. When he saw suffering in front of him on the sabbath, he healed anyway. And this week, Jesus heals a Roman centurion’s servant. Jesus could easily have seen this Roman as an enemy, and turned him away in retaliation for the harms Rome was doing in Israel, but he showed compassion. And, then, to finish, Jesus sees a widow who is defenseless in the patriarchy of the time, with no husband and no sons, and performs a miracle resurrection!

In these acts, we are reminded that we are called by Christ not to have stone hearts as Pharoah did, but to have compassion for others-to suffer with them-even when we are afraid or aggrieved. It is why Christians across the country are deeply involved in refugee resettlement (as Ankeny UCC was, back in the 70s), and see the pain that people suffer in countries beset by war who, after years of waiting and processing, hope to come to the United States for a new life, and in the name of Jesus and the Hebrew prophets welcome them with love and compassion.

Grace and Peace,

Worship 101

This Summer, we’re going to embark on a sermon series on Worship. Worship 101, really. What are the different parts of our worship, and why do we do them?

This will start on Holy Trinity Sunday, May 22, with the Invocation.
May 29: The Passing of the Peace and Benediction
June 5: Communion
June 12: Call to Worship
June 19: The Lord’s Prayer and Prayers of the People (outdoors)
June 26: Offering
July 3: Confession
July 10: Scripture
July 17: Sermon
July 24: Hymns

I hope you’ll join us as we read scripture, sing hymns, and otherwise explore our worship together!

Yay Giving!

As part of our commitment to celebrating intergenerational worship, I’d like to introduce a couple of new practices.

First, we have started intentionally seeking out worship elements that may speak to the primary-age youth (we are also working on ways to provide leadership and participation opportunities for the senior youth). We started last week with a responsive reading that specifically included them, but we are planning more activities for the future.

Second, we have decided to involve them in the offering. Every week in worship during the offering, we will have youth running around with coffee cans for your loose change. This offering will go to our quarterly mission focus. In Q1, this is the Ankeny BackPack Program, which partners with schools to send backpacks full of food home with students who are facing food security issues at home. Come and make a joyful noise!

Sunday School Registration!

Sunday School registration is now open! We’d love to know how many people to expect in our classes this year, so if you want to head on over to and sign up, we’ll plan on seeing you September 7!