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Lenten Devotional – Day 27 – God’s Values vs. the World

Scripture Readings:  Exodus 2:1-22 ;  1 Corinthians 12:27-13:3;   Mark 9:2-13

Today is a journey of believing and obedience. Starting in Exodus we learn that in God’s plan a life is saved for a reason. During Pharaoh’s reign, males were to be killed. One woman loved her son so much that she risked her own life to save his. As the story goes she puts the baby boy in a basket and sets it in the river where the Pharaoh’s daughter would go down to bathe. One of her slaves finds the basket and the princess thinks that he is a Hebrew and offers to pay one of her maidens to nurse and raise him.

When this child was older, he was returned to the princess, and she named him Moses, stating that she drew him out of the river. As Moses grew he became very conflicted at how his people were being treated as slaves and watching them work until they died. This made Moses so angry that he killed an Egyptian and buried him in the sand. But the news of the murder got to Pharaoh and he wanted Moses killed.

Moses fled to Midian where he was well received. In time, the family of Reuel offered a daughter named Zipporah, and he married her. They had a child named Gershom for he said, “I have been a stranger in a foreign land.”

Later in the Book of Mark, Moses and Elijah appeared while Jesus was with his closest disciples: Peter, James and John. Moses and Elijah began talking to Jesus and after they finished talking, Moses and Elijah were gone and this surprised the other three. Jesus explained to his disciples not to talk to anyone about his meeting with Moses and Elijah until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they did as they were told; but, they often asked each other what Jesus meant by “risen from the dead.”

At this time, they could not understand that the values of God’s eternal Kingdom were different from the values of the world. They wanted relief from their present problems. But deliverance from sin is far more important than deliverance from physical suffering or political oppression. Our understanding and appreciation of Jesus must go beyond what he can do for us here and now.

Always remember, together we are Christ’s body, and each one of us is a separate and necessary part of it. What are the three things that will endure always? Faith, hope and love; but, of the three, the greatest one is and always will be love.

 

 

 

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Church is Two Days Away!

Lenten Devotional – Day 26 – I Need God

Scripture Readings:  Exodus 1:6-22;   1 Corinthians 12:12-26;   Mark 8:27-9:1

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34)

Denying myself means for me to be willing to give up something that I really, really want or to not seek something that hinders me doing God’s will. Wanting and seeking are not bad in themselves but are problems if I put them before doing what I know in my heart is God’s will. I must be willing to give up anything in life in order to please God.

Hearts are beloved objects to me. Shortly after I married, I found a heart-shaped cutting board and bought it for my husband because the shape and beautiful wood spoke to me of the love that we were sharing and of the hope I had for our relationship. From that purchase grew an incredible collection of heart-shaped objects —some I purchased but most were received as gifts from family and friends. It became easy for people to give me gifts. I was obsessed with not leaving the house without wearing some item of clothing, earrings, necklace, or bracelet with hearts on it.

One day I was brought up short with the realization that I was worshipping my heart objects and thinking more about them than I was about God. So I immediately stopped obsessing about hearts. I cleared items out of my closet and jewelry box and just kept a few things that I could wear on special occasions. Wow! I was denying myself and not seeking something that was hindering me from doing God’s will. I felt good that I was following God’s will for my life.

Prayer:  O God, guide me to daily deny myself, take up my cross and follow you.

 

 

Lenten Devotional – Day 25 – Understand Me

Scripture Readings:  Genesis 50:15-26;   1 Corinthians 12:1-11;   Mark 8:11-26

In the reading for today from Mark, Jesus expressed his frustration with his disciples: “Why can’t they see and hear and understand what I am trying to tell them?” They were with him every day, and yet it was the blind man who “saw” Jesus and was healed. His heart was opened, and he understood!

Isn’t this true with us? We see God’s mighty creation all around us; we witness miraculous signs of Jesus’ love every day. But so often the eyes and ears of our hearts cannot see and hear what He is doing and saying to us.

God had made a promise to Joseph in the reading from Genesis that He would care for His people. Joseph believed this with all his heart. He forgave his brothers who had betrayed him, and he even cared for their families. He understood and believed in his heart that God would be with them.

The human heart is a miraculous organ without which we would not have life. The heart is also where physical realities are transformed into spiritual “miracles”; it is where hate becomes love, doubt becomes faith, and sadness becomes joy. It is where the Holy Spirit enables us to hear, see and understand the awesome love of God. We often let the worries and busyness of our lives close our eyes and ears and minds.

During this Lenten season, may the heart that beats within us be opened to what God is doing in our lives and in the world around us. Then may we, with truly thankful hearts, respond: “Yes, Lord, I see, I hear and I understand!”

 

 

 

See You in Church This Weekend!

Lenten Devotional – Day 24 – Why Can’t We All Agree?

Scripture Readings:  Genesis 49:2-50:14;   1 Corinthians 11:17-34;   Mark 8:1-10

“Oh, what’s the bottom line?” It’s easy to approach even our spirit-building readings in this manner in this so hectic, over-bearing world. We are filled with questions, disagreements on the most simplistic matters, as well as matters of great theology. Why can’t we all agree? Why in the world don’t you understand my point of view? Why can’t I see yours? Are we really listening?

1 Corinthians 11:18-19 reads, “For, in the first place, when you assemble as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe it, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.”

I believe that we grow in compassion, in understanding, and in love by the sincere and deliberate search for the love and understanding that dwells in those around us. The Savior made this love available to everyone willing to make the effort. The seamstress who will never in her lifetime leave the community in which she was born, has available to her in the lives of the people she meets, the same opportunity to understand love and live into that gift as an ambassador who travels the world and engages the best educated of all on this planet.

The more diverse the opinions are, the greater the opportunity to find among us all the genuine. The challenge for this Lenten day, and for all of our Seasons, is to search out “the genuine” who are placed in our lives—and to become genuine ourselves. I believe God wants us to be real, the genuine love article. This is an opportunity available to every person to find that love and live it.

Prayer:  First and above all else compassionate God, we thank you for your love. Guide us in finding those who exemplify those traits of genuine love and compassion which we may lack. Teach us to listen to their love and let it become our own. Help us to find ways to show our love to those seeking to be genuine as well. In all things, let us be true to the person you need us to be. Caress our fears, make us bold in love, and bring us joyfully ever closer to your light. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Lenten Devotional – Day 23 – Healing

Scripture Readings:  Genesis 49:1-28;   1 Corinthians 10:14-11:1;   Mark 7:24-37

Jesus took the man aside…and put his fingers into the man’s ears, and he spat and touched the man’s tongue….Immediately, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue released, and he spoke plainly. (Mark 7:33-35)

Jesus healed many people during his ministry. What I like about the second healing we read today is its physicality: fingers in ears and on the tongue. Unlike the long-distance healing of the Syrophoenician woman’s daughter that we also read today, the healing of the deaf man is skin-to-skin. While I like the second healing, I admit that it makes me uncomfortable. Jesus’ “mystical” healings somehow seem more spiritual and easier to handle.

As a society, we have mixed feelings about bodies—our own as well as others’. Not only do we have to deal with mass media telling us what we should or shouldn’t look like, but many of us are also wrestling with the anti-body messages of our faith traditions. (Maybe we heard those messages ourselves; maybe our parents and grandparents heard them, and then passed them on to us). Some of us also are dealing with abuse concerns that further alienate us from our bodies.

The story of Jesus healing someone with his hands is a powerful reminder of the blessedness of the human body. A body heals. A body is healed. I don’t think it is a coincidence that we Christians are the body of Christ.

Take a moment to reflect. Imagine you are the deaf man. How do you need to be healed? Where does your life need to be healed? Imagine you are Jesus. How can you be Jesus’ hands and voice in the world? How can you be an instrument of healing in the world? How is God calling you to be in your everyday life?

Perhaps my Lenten reflection will be to allow God to remind me of the blessedness of my physical self: the blessing I can be for others, and the blessings I receive from others.

Prayer:  Loving God, you want nothing less for us than fullness of life—fullness of our entire lives, including our bodies. Open our hearts to our need for healing, as well as our blessedness and your call to us to be a blessing to others. You have no hands on this earth but ours, so we ask for your continuous guidance, through Jesus Christ, our healer. Amen.

 

 

 

Lenten Devotional – The Fourth Sunday of Lent

 

 

 

Lenten Devotional – Day 22 – Promises

Scripture Readings:  Genesis 47:27-48:7;   1 Corinthians 10:1-13;   Mark 7:1-23

Promises, promises, promises—we all make them to our families, friends and business associates. How good are we at keeping them?

One could say that The Scriptures represent God’s promises to mankind, and we take great comfort in knowing that God keeps his promises. In Genesis we read about Jacob and Joseph and see evidence of God fulfilling his promise to “to make you (Jacob) fruitful and increase your numbers” (Genesis 48:3-4).

As Jacob is nearing the end of his life he asks Joseph “to swear” to him that he will carry him out of Egypt and bury him in their burial place. I don’t know about you, but when someone asks me “to swear,” it gets my attention. But why?

Wikipedia puts it this way: “to swear” refers to “an oath” as a promise calling upon something or someone that the oath maker considers sacred, usually God, as a witness to the binding nature of the promise or the truth of the statement of fact.

Many of us have been sworn under oath “to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

Many have vowed to “have and to hold someone until death do us part.” Some have made special vows to God in ordained ministries. During our Baptismal Services we join with those who are committing themselves to Christ and renew our own baptismal covenant (vow). As parents and god parents we stand before God and our fellow Christians and vow that we “turn to Christ and accept him as our Savior.”

Reading on in today’s scriptures we hear another promise from God in 1 Corinthians 10:13: No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

No matter what we are facing, we aren’t alone, and it’s not the first time that someone has had to deal with this situation. Perhaps our greatest test is in remembering this “promise” from God and having faith that He always keeps his promises. We will be challenged, but He will give us strength to endure.

Lastly, in Mark’s Gospel Jesus tells the Pharisees “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Mark 7:6). “Whatever goes into a person cannot defile, for it is from within, from the human heart that evil intentions come” (Mark 7:18).

During this season of Lent may we be mindful that God doesn’t want our “lip service.” He wants our “heart service.” He wants our promise, our oath, and our sacred vow to take Him into our hearts so that His word “may be fruitful and multiply.”

 

 

 

 

 

Lenten Devotional – Day 21 – Walk with God

Scripture Readings:  Genesis 47:11-26;   1 Corinthians 9:16-27;   Mark 6:47-56

At our wedding my friend sang a song with the line, “Walk hand and hand with me, through all eternity, with God as our guide.”  These readings reminded me of that song. Their stories share the importance of walking with God:  Joseph’s brothers and father walked into the palace to be presented to Pharaoh and answered Pharaoh. They were Shepherds and boldly ask for the land of Goshen.

Paul, compelled to preach, shared himself with all men, whomever his pathway crossed. Paul boldly expressed the message of Jesus in ways that it touched their souls.
Jesus comforted his disciples while walking on the lake. We know man cannot walk on water, yet here was Jesus. While reading this passage again, for the first time I noticed the words “He was about to pass them by.”

Where has God led your footsteps? On an Alaska trip to two villages in the Arctic, the plane was so small, fear gripped every part of my being. I was frozen in so much fear that I almost missed a pivotal walk in my spiritual journey.

Recently a phone message asked me to call a sales lady for an event at our time share. My head said why bother but something inside me said to call. I almost walked away from an opportunity to love and help a troubled stranger.

Little moments in our lives can place our footsteps where God can instruct us and use us to grow in grace and share His love. “Jesus almost passed them by,” but he climbed in the boat, he calmed the sea and comforted his disciples.

Reflect on a circumstance where you were afraid to step out of your comfort zone but did anyway? How did your faith compel you to go forward? How did the experience strengthen your faith?
What is God calling you to do? Maybe fear is keeping you from stepping forward. If fear is in your way, petition God for the faith to overcome your fears. And walk with Him as your guide.

Prayer:  God please direct my daily steps and help me to be still so I may know the Spirit within. Awaken my Spirit, refresh me each day so my steps will journey along the pathway you have provided. Thank you, God, for walking with me on my journey. Amen.

 

 

The Thing That Keeps Most Non-Religious People Away From Church and 3 Ways to Solve It

Here is an insightful article by Josh Daffern from the March 21, 2017 issue of New Wineskins that addresses the problem of reaching the unchurched.


The Thing That Keeps Most Non-Religious People Away From Church and 3 Ways to Solve It – 

 

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Recently I ran across a fascinating article titled “Why You Will Most Certainly Fail to Reach Your Secular Friends,” in which the writer made the argument why most non-religious people will stay away from church. For most of us religious folk, our default mode is to view this issue from a religious standpoint, so we would list “sin” or “rebellion against God” as the primary reasons why secular people stay away from church. The beauty of this article is that it addressed the issue from the secular point of view.

The thing that keeps most non-religious people away from church is simply that they couldn’t care less. Rather than open hostility, it’s indifference that keeps many out of church. They’re simply too distracted. The beautiful technology that we love and depend on has created a pandora’s box of distractions that keep our minds from drifting to the eternal. There are too many other fun and fulfilling (at least in the short term) options for people looking for something to do on the weekends. It would probably shock us religious folk to realize just how little non-religious people even think about the issues that are core to us.

So how do you get people to care when they couldn’t care less about God or religion? How can churches begin to make inroads into the rapidly expanding generation of ‘nones’ that don’t identify with any religion?

Here are three steps to move in the right direction:

1). Befriend them. Yesterday I was a call-in guest for the 6 am hour of a Wisconsin Public Radio show (which is hilarious because I live in Mississippi). What was convicting for me was simply how odd it felt for me to engage in a non-religious environment. It’s so easy for Christians to surround ourselves in a religious bubble that we fail to venture outside of it.

Get involved in your community. Find a non-religious group to get plugged into. Help out at the ball field. Do something on a regular basis where you interact with people outside of the religious bubble and begin to cultivate relationships with non-religious people.

2). Be curious. People can spot your agenda a mile away. If your only aim in a relationship is to convert them, then that’s not really a true friendship. Care enough about them as a person to get to know them outside of the religious realm. Find out what makes them tick.

Be curious about why they don’t have any interest in spiritual things. Many times our only interaction with the non-religious world is our fleeting attempts to convert it. Build up enough relational capital so that it holds the weight of the religious conversations you’d like to have down the road. Be curious.

3). Show them what eternal love looks like. Many people couldn’t care less about religion or spiritual issues because they haven’t experienced anything worth investigating. They’re so consumed with temporal things that they have no concept of what the eternal looks like. That’s where acts of sacrificial, eternal love come in. When you show love to others by serving them, caring for them, sacrificing for them, you break through their temporal facade with a glimpse of eternal love, like the blinding sun breaking through a thick fog.

The eternal will always create an appetite for more within the receiver. Once you truly experience eternal love, temporal distractions fail to fully satisfy. So go out and sacrificially serve your non-religious friends. Show them what the eternal looks like. Show them love and whet their appetites for a greater life then they’ve ever experienced.

 

 

 

Faith in Action!

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”  Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.James 2:18

FAITH IN ACTION is coming to Beaver County on April 15, 2017.

Faith in Action is an interfaith ministry that utilizes volunteers to provide rides for those 60 years and older who need to get to the doctor and medical appointments.

Those in need can call 1-800-207-6701 two weeks prior to the appointment , follow the prompts and someone will get back to schedule your ride asap.

Volunteer drivers are needed in the Big Beaver, Chippewa, Darlington, Patterson, Beaver Falls , New Brighton and  Rochester areas.  To volunteer call 1-800- 207-6701 and hit prompt #5.

 

 

 

Lenten Devotional – Day 20 – Journey into the Unknown

Scripture Readings:  Genesis 46:1-7, 28-34;   1 Corinthians 9:1-15;   Mark 6:30-46

“I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.” (Genesis 46:4)

As I read this verse I think of three things:  a journey into the unknown, a reunion, and a promise.

Have you ever taken a journey into an unknown area? It can be frightening. In November of 1961 my husband received orders to relocate from Texas to Alaska. We decided to take a leave, go to Pennsylvania, see family and drive to Alaska. My husband, two children, ages 4 and 5, and I, in our Ford Falcon, began a journey into the unknown.

Across the USA, into western Canada, up the Alcan Highway to Alaska in January of 1962, we drove between storms. And in the ten days it took us to reach Anchorage, we encountered some snow plows and a few cars, an oil tanker and the weekly “Safeway” grocery truck. Most traffic was going in the opposite direction. Many days we could not even tune in any radio stations.

One day we heard a station from Del Rio, Texas. It was music to our ears as we felt small and alone in the white world of the northland—both exciting and scary. A new adventure in our lives, but we knew God was with us.

In verse 4 we have Joseph, asking his father and family to leave their homeland and come to the unknown. We are on a journey into the unknown—life. Today we are in a shorter one—Lent—a time for reflection, introspection, and prayer. But God, as with Joseph, tells us not to be worried. “I will go down with you.”

Joseph and his father had a reunion in Egypt, and we had a reunion in Alaska with friends. How joyous it was. This Easter after our Lenten journey, we will have a reunion with our Lord and Savior and the promise for eternal life. He is with us always.

The promise given in verse 4 was for Joseph’s hand to close his father’s eyes. God tells us He will be with us throughout life’s journey and will bring us back again when it is finished. Home to Him, a reunion with our Lord and Savior, where He will close our eyes.

 

 

 

 

Lenten Devotional – Day 19 – Love Binds Us Together

Scripture Readings:  Genesis 45:16-28;   1 Corinthians 8:1-13;   Mark 6:13-29

These three scriptures gave me a great deal of trouble. After several attempts at meditation nothing came to me; ready to throw down the pen, I tried one more time. What I was failing to see was a faint thread woven into all three scriptures. It is love that binds us together, not only in community but with strangers.

Joseph was able to forgive his brothers and allow God’s plan to take place. When the process of forgiveness takes place … peace … takes over allowing love to fulfill us.

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians talks about those that believe it was okay to eat the meat left over from sacrifices to the pagan idols and those that did not. This reminded me of society today and how we have a tendency to separate into various groups and try to encourage others to do what we believe is right, in so doing encouraging others to do what they believe is wrong. When love binds us together, our concern for others should take precedence over our individual desires. We should care for harmony and reconciliation to be able to see Christ in the face of those we see every day.

Herod is a good example of allowing his love for his daughter to encourage the beheading of John the Baptist. Herod was more concerned with regards to the promise he made to his daughter in front of his guest than in what he believed. How many times as individuals do we allow our head and not our heart and soul to direct our actions?

 

 

 

 

 

Frederick Swann on the Value of the Pipe Organ to the Worshiping Church

An article from the March 21, 2017 issue of Patheos – Ponder Anew contains an interesting article on the value of a pipe organ in worship.

Famed American organist Frederick Swann was recently asked for his view on the value of the pipe organ in the life of the church. This was his reply.

“As a church organist for 75 years (starting at age 10…and making it my life’s work) I have been privileged to be the organist of three major churches in the country, each with fine pipe organs and musically literate congregations. And, as a concert organist, my travels have taken me to churches large and small in each of the United States and several foreign countries.  I have frequently either attended worship or played for worship in many, many of these churches. Thus I have had the opportunity to observe what the pipe organ can mean to a wide variety of congregations.  The stories of how the organ in worship has literally changed lives are legion.

In reading the responses to your blog in response to A Case For the Pipe Organ it is abundantly clear that those most critical have been written by people who have never experienced what a good organ well-played can mean to the emotional and spiritual life of church members.  And/or the writers have minds that are so tightly closed that they would not be willing to give themselves the experience.  Prejudice and closed-mindedness are crystal clear in many of the comments. So there is nothing I, nor anyone can say to change their minds until they are willing to sincerely give themselves the opportunity of experiencing worship with a pipe organ, or one of the excellent digital organs (more determined and unfounded prejudice shown there!) and about which they have no knowledge.

The first duty of the church organist is to lead congregational singing.  No hand-waving ‘song leader’ can inspire a congregation to sing as can an experienced hymn player…in fact they are more often than not a deterrent to good congregation singing. I have been experiencing hopeful signs lately in many of the churches who eschew the organ and think they are filling their pews with the use of a praise band, some of which are quite good from a pure musical standpoint.

Interestingly, these musical groups are beginning to disappear from many churches as YOUNG church members (who have somehow been able to experience a pipe organ and traditional church music) are losing interest in their praise band and very much wanting to experience an organ and more ‘traditional music.’ The pendulum has swung widely throughout history in regard to what music works best in church. Thus it is encouraging to see it swinging again!”

Let it be so!

Frederick L. Swann is an American church and concert organist, recording artist, choral conductor, and former president of the American Guild of Organists. Music critic Tim Smith called Swann “one of the country’s most distinguished organists”. He is Organist Emeritus of the Crystal Cathedral and the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. Swann currently lives in Palm Desert, California, where he is Artist-in-residence at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church and University Organist and Artist Teacher of Organ at the University of Redlands.

Lenten Devotional – Day 18 – Ruts

Scripture Readings:  Genesis 45:1-15;   1 Corinthians 7:32-40;   Mark 6:1-13

They were speechless—they couldn’t believe what they were hearing and seeing.  (Genesis 45:3)

This is a difficult set of passages to discern. But as I touched them with my eyes, a pattern of themes began to spin a strong thread. There are three sturdy strands to grasp and with which to construct beauty: Jesus is rejected in Mark by his very kinsmen and women; Paul instructs on godly inspiration in one’s <ahem> personal life; Joseph shows compassion toward his brothers who are penitent.

Rejection.            Penitence.            Inspiration.

Isn’t that the flow of life sometimes? I feel rejection often and reject God more often than I should. I find if I can humble myself enough and ask forgiveness, I often find inspiration to pick myself up, usually feeling grateful and a little ashamed, but able to cheerfully return to my gifts. Like Joseph’s brothers though, I don’t believe my heart’s eye at seeing forgiveness. It is the inspiration in itself where I find comfort and a way back to my path.

I’m a preschool teacher; I go through this process several times a day some days. I’m also a mother to two <amazing> teenagers; I go through this process with them several times an hour some days!

I pray if you find yourself stuck in a rut, you’ll talk with God, the generous three in one. Open your heart, and let it pour out. With God’s help, you will grasp your strands and weave a beautiful braid of Inspiration.

 

 

 

Lenten Devotional – Day 17 – Body, Mind, and Soul

Scripture Readings:  Genesis 44:18-34;   1 Corinthians 7:25-31;   Mark 5:21-43

He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”  – Mark 5:34

This passage speaks of a woman who has been bleeding for twelve years. She has tried many physicians and has not been cured. She felt that if she went to Jesus he could cure her. He was her last hope.

In the huge crowd she approaches Jesus and touches his robe, feeling that that would be sufficient to cure her. Imagine her surprise when Jesus turns around and asked who touched him! Would you be brave enough to confess that it was you? The woman fell at his feet and told him that she had done it. Imagine her relief when he replied, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.”

Disease can be of the body, of the mind, of the soul or all three. How often have you talked to Jesus and asked him to help heal you? In our family there was a very emotionally stressful situation in which two of my family members were at odds with each other. Because of my love for both of them I was in a great deal of distress. For two years I prayed daily for a resolution to the problem which would bring them back together. It was through another adversity that the situation was resolved, and we are again a whole family.

Jesus helps us through our disease in body, mind, and soul. Persistence and faith are necessary to help us reach the resolution.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, help me to be persistent in all my works, so that I can do thy will and serve thee in all aspects of my life. AMEN

 

 

 

Lenten Devotional – The Third Sunday of Lent

 

 

 

Lenten Devotional – Day 16 – Prioritize

Scripture Readings:  Genesis 43:16-24;   1 Corinthians 7:10-24;   Mark 5:1-20

We live in a time that requires most of us to have very busy lives. Sometimes it is almost impossible for us to manage with a 24 hour day. Then Lent comes along, and we need to make time for Lenten Devotionals. How are we going to do that? Maybe we need to rethink, what are we doing anyway? I read a book called Loving Your Home, which changed a lot of things for me.

With the help of the book, I began to donate a lot of “stuff” to the Thrift Store. The result of that is I have a lot less material things to look after. I no longer have to care for them and dust them as tables and chairs have a lot fewer things on them. I can find things in the closets as there are fewer things in the closet. Everything fits with room for more.

Part of the outgrowth of having less is that I have more. I really have some time for my spiritual self that is not stolen from other things that I feel I “must do.” The reward has been that, “God … has given treasure.” I did not fill up the time saved from housekeeping with other harried chores, but that time I gave over to the Lord and to myself.

There is more time for Our Savior, for me, for real relationships, and to enjoy friends, children and grandchildren. The perspective about what is important in my life has changed dramatically. I see more beauty in and have more compassion for others. In Mark, Jesus says, “Go home to your friends and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.”

For me, the season of Lent is becoming about not just what I can give up for a few weeks, but rather, what I can eliminate completely to have more time for what is really important. “Keeping the commandments of God is what matters.”

 

 

Lenten Devotional – Day 15 – In the Storm

Scripture Readings:  Genesis 43:1-151 Corinthians 7:1-9Mark 4:35-41

A great gale arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. (Mark 4:37-39)

Feeling God’s grace and presence in the middle of the storms in my life is something I hope for on a daily basis. I have felt a lot like Job these past months. My Spirit knows that God is with me, but I would be happier if I could see God lying on a cushion next to me in the chaos that envelops my life. I need my Savior, and I don’t like waiting. This chaos will pass, but why can’t it be over now.
My gut feels like I’m on Space Mountain riding in the dark, getting jerked around and pushed side-to-side with job cut backs, financial concerns, betrayals, humiliation, and threats at every side.

I want to blink and open my eyes to “…it’s a small world after all, it’s a small, small world.” That would be God’s grace My way, but I am not in control of all these changes. I can control my response though—my thoughts, my words, my deeds—to these changes. “If it be Thy will, please take it from me, Lord; no really, Lord, take it from me. I don’t think I can take another hit. I am letting go!”

In no time a friend shows up and helps me get through the rough spots.” I am assured that these gifts are God’s gifts to calm me. When I cry out, “Do you not care that I am perishing?” the answer comes quickly. “Yes, you know that I care, we care, your sisters and brothers around you care. You are not alone in this chaos. Stay close to me, listen to me, follow me, rest in me and all shall be well; all manner of things shall be well.”

Today, I feel like I’m drowning, but the water is clean. I can see the light at the surface. Listening to the still voice within me, I can battle back to the light. Sometimes God lets the storm rage and calms His child.

 

 

Lenten Devotional – Day 14 – This Little Light of Mine

Scripture Readings:  Genesis 42:29-38;   1 Corinthians 6:12-20;   Mark 4:21-34

He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed, is meant to be brought out into the open.” (Mark 4:21-22)

My first thought after reading this Scripture refers to the song “This Little Light of Mine.” It is probably familiar to you as well. The chorus goes like this…

This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine.
Every day, every day,
every day, every way,
Gonna let my little light shine.

Where do you keep your lamp? Is it put away with the “good” china and crystal; only brought out for special occasions? Do you have to blow the dust from it, which accumulates from lack of use, prior to each use? Or is your lamp burnished to a soft patina from frequent handling and use? Does it guide your daily steps and light the way for others to walk with you?

What “bowls” inhibit your light and prevent you from attaining maximum wattage? Have you asked God’s help to remove those obstacles? Maintaining a close relationship with Him has proven to be the most effective way for me to shine for Him. Surrounding myself with friends, , and my church family here at Central who nurture me, strengthen me, and encourage me in my spiritual journey are also beacons of light for me. I am graced with glimpses of Christ through their actions and am motivated to do likewise for others. As another song goes…It only takes a spark, to get a fire going…

 

 

 

 

 

Lenten Devotional – Day 13 – Sow Seeds

Scripture Readings:  Genesis 42:18-28;   1 Corinthians 5:9-6:8;   Mark 4:1-20

Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word and accept it, and produce a crop – thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown. (Mark 4:20)

Imagine the feeling of dismay that Joseph’s brothers experienced when they realized they were about to pay the price for betraying their brother, Joseph. His acts of forgiveness and reconciliation were not even in their thoughts! But these were in Joseph’s plan all along…..no small “random act of kindness.”

We all have seen the ads on TV where a small act of kindness is enacted, only to be multiplied numerous times by people who observed it. This heartwarming ad reinforces the words of Jesus when He spoke the parable of sowing seed in good soil. Thus we pray that our eyes will be open and our ears will hear, and that we will be sensitive to the needs of others and have the courage to carry out what needs to be done. These random acts of kindness are easily seen as living examples of Christian living.

During this Lenten season, let us pray for the Spirit to let us not only sow good seeds but to be open to receive good seeds and provide a healthy environment for them to grow.

 

 

Lenten Devotional – Day 12 – Thankfulness

Scripture Readings:  Genesis 42:1-17;   1 Corinthians 5:1-8;   Mark 3:19b-35

Anyone who does the will of God, is my brother and sister and mother. (Mark 3:35)

I am in the season of thankfulness at the moment. The statement found in a book titled One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, has led me to this place. I find that searching out things in the moment that I am thankful for is leading me down a path of gratefulness and joy. My list in a journal is lengthening and by writing each item down, I have begun to realize how blessed I am. Part of this blessing is being part of a community of believers, a community that is searching, at all times, for the will of God. It has not been easy. Decisions have been slow in coming. We have become short-circuited at times. But our path has been created with prayer and discernment.

One afternoon, sitting in my wheel chair, I found myself disillusioned.

Communication with my sisters had not been easy that day. Discernment of the will of God did not have consensus. The path did not seem clear. I was ready to give it all up! Oh, one of little faith, I was not seeing God’s picture, only my limited vision. Yet I could see that God had gathered a group of women together for a purpose. Each woman joining this community was bringing unbelievable gifts as well as the desire to follow the will of God.

I realized that I needed to look at the big picture, not the restlessness of the moment. It was time to be thankful, not despairing. It was time to rejoice, not quit. And it was time to realize that following the will of God would take time, patience and perseverance.

Today, I am thankful for my church family that I have joined on this path. Today, I am thankful for our Sisters and Brothers who have patiently accompanied us along the way. And I am thankful for the God-given gifts that each member of the community brings as our pilgrimage continues into the future.

 

 

 

 

Lent and Easter Quiz

Why does Lent last 40 days?

Test your knowledge with this and other questions about the seasons of Lent and Easter.

The quiz has a new question each weekday.

Click here to go to the quiz!

 

 

Lenten Devotional – Day 11 – Trust

Scripture Readings:  Genesis 41:46-571 Corinthians 4:8-20Mark 3:7-19a

God has plans for each life, and His plans are always to prosper us (Jeremiah 29:11) and not to harm us. What God allows in each life may not be the smooth and easy road through the journey but bumps and peaks and valleys—to strengthen and show us that He is always with us, and when we truly trust Him with our whole being, the journey will be exciting.

Joseph, the son of Jacob, experienced many bumps and peaks as he traveled through life. Joseph’s father favored him and gave him a wonderful gift, a coat of many colors which Joseph had to show to his brothers, igniting envy and jealousy. They got even with Joseph, or so they believed, by unsavory means and then lying to their father about what happened to him. God lived in Joseph’s heart and showed Joseph that continued faith and perseverance are rewarded. At 30 years of age Joseph became the “chief executive officer” for Pharaoh, the King of Egypt.

Joseph proved wise in his powerful position and had control over the food supplies, accumulating so much that many new warehouses needed building to store everything. Life was good and to this good life were born two sons, the first one named Manasseh (forget) because Joseph with God’s love was able to forget his past troubles; a second son was named Ephraim (fruitful) because “God has made me fruitful in the land of suffering” (Genesis 41:51-52). A heart of gratitude for the good of life and not a heart turned sour because of the suffering Joseph experienced—“God has plans to prosper not to harm”—a heart of gratitude.

To truly understand all that Joseph experienced before we meet him at 30 years of age, it is truly necessary to read his life story from the beginning. Unfortunately we do not have the space, but we can look into our own lives and review our experiences, the good and the bad, because none of us, even though we are the apple of God’s eye and created in His image, live the smooth and easy life, for a reason. Joseph had a heart of gratitude, not letting his past unhappy moments define his whole person.

The questions we need to explore are simple: Do I trust God completely with my life? Do I give in to my troubling times? Do I talk to God openly and honestly about how I am feeling spiritually? Do I walk with others in their troubles or avoid the painful emotions of my friends? Do I see the good and let the bad truly live in the past (forget as Joseph did)? These are tough questions to ponder but very necessary for a grateful and peace filled life in this life.

 

 

 

Lenten Devotional – The Second Sunday in Lent

 

 

 

Lenten Devotional – Day 10 – Gifts

Scripture Readings:  Genesis 41:1-131 Corinthians 4:1-7;  Mark 2:23-3:6

This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. (1 Corinthians 4:1)

What is the true nature of apostleship? The word apostle comes from the Greek word apostolos, which simply means, “a sent one.” An apostle is a messenger, an ambassador, a minister, a servant. This is Paul’s definition of a true minister of Christ. Here Paul speaks of the ability of everyone in the Church, who by the gift of the Spirit was a minister or a teacher of the Word of God. Every Christian is in the ministry.

At this time Corinth was a prosperous commercial center as well as the capitol of the Roman province of Achaia. The people of Corinth included wealthy and dignified aristocracy with the larger population being slaves and the poor. Paul had been successful in converting a small group of Jews and pagans about five years earlier. He wrote this letter to the church in Corinth around 56 or 57 AD while in Ephesus on his missionary journey. Paul is responding to the turmoil felt in Corinth since his last visit.

There is much quarrelling going on and Paul makes an appeal for unity in the Christian faith in a sanctified doctrine and practice. Paul defines the boundaries of the Gospels to end the bickering. Paul explains apostleship: have faithful leadership; that Christian leadership involves serving and guarding; to have trust through faithfulness in God; to trust the mystery; to trust God to handle the Judgment; and to learn from their leaders.

God has gifted different people and different leaders in different ways. These gifts are from God, by God and for God. Brothers and sisters are the heart of church. Each Christian is gifted. Together the Christian community has ALL the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This is why community is so powerful.

You and I are called as apostles, as servants, to go into our world and make a difference. Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours, Yours are the eyes with which he looks Compassion on this world, Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good, Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, Yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours, Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world. Christ has no body now on earth but yours. – St. Teresa of Avila

 

 

 

 

Lenten Devotional – Day 9 – Transformation

jesus-our-hopeScripture Readings:  Genesis 40:1-231 Corinthians 3:16-23Mark 2:13-22

No one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins. (Mark 2:22)

A week of Lent has passed, and my old ways are starting to pinch the new resolve that I so sincerely made on Ash Wednesday. Perhaps I am being made aware of the need for new wineskins—a different way of looking and acting—not merely placing the new on the top where there is no mixture of the new and the old (like vinegar and oil).

permanent, lasting change. I cannot expect to merely patch up the holes in my journey to become whole—I must spring clean the old habits—to make room and time for the new spirit to come in. My challenge is to open up myself to Christian love and to pass on the kindness of others that have shown me the love of Christ.

As Lent proceeds and I am attempting to put new practices into my life to draw me closer to God . . . I must remember that the new practices (like new wine) must be put into new wineskins (a new, more open body and mind) in order for there to be a

In Genesis, Joseph asks to be remembered when it is well with the wine steward. However, as soon as the wine steward’s fortune was restored, he forgot about Joseph. It is easy to get caught up in the routine so that there is not time nor energy to allow new ways of serving to be tested, new friendships formed.

Mark reminds us how Matthew followed the call of Jesus without hesitation. I forget my Baptismal call and often fail to allow the love of Christ which is within me to be visible to others. I hesitate to find new opportunities to serve and new self- improvement challenges.

In Corinthians, I am reminded that I am God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells within me. The Temple of God that is within me needs to be awakened with new wine. I need new eyes which see the opportunities for different service. I need a willing heart to sit and listen and to be aware of what I am reading; that serving God is not always doing but also a renewing of myself. This Lent, may I remember that the Baptismal service marks us as Christ’s own forever . . . I am Christ’s and a worthy vessel for the new wine. May I continue allowing the old to be transformed so that there are new wineskins to receive the new.

 

 

Daylight Savings TIme

Lenten Devotional – Day 8 – Feeling Unworthy

jesus-our-hopeScripture Readings:  Genesis 39:1-231 Corinthians 2:14-3:15Mark 2:1-12

Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. (Mark 2:3-5, 10b-11)

In whatever way and at whatever time we come to Jesus, it is the right way and the right time. Jesus meets us with love and healing. The paralyzed man on the mat was unable to come on his own. He needed the support of friends. Unable to get to the door, he is lowered through the roof. He meets Jesus flat on his back, unable to move. He does not speak or ask aloud for healing; perhaps he does not have the words or feels unworthy to say them.

In this time period, physical infirmity was regarded as punishment for personal sin or for the sins of one’s parents or ancestors. Perhaps the paralyzed man felt unworthy to even be in Jesus’ presence, but Jesus reads his heart and knows his need. In love, Jesus first heals the broken spirit, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Although these words serve as a demonstration to the priests and the people of His divinity and power to forgive sins, I believe Jesus’ first concern was to meet the needs of the man before Him. He gives a hurting man love and heals the man’s spirit before he heals the body. Jesus wants us to be not just physically well, but also emotionally and spiritually well. He wants us to be whole.

Jesus meets each of us where we are, in whatever way we are able to approach Him. He sees Zacchaeus hiding in a tree and welcomes him; He meets the Samaritan woman as she draws water alone because she is ashamed to be at the well with the other women; He meets Nicodemus in secret in the middle of the night. He waits patiently and lovingly for us to look His way or move into His presence. And when we do, He enfolds us in His healing love as we are able to receive it. And we are home.

 

 

The Covenant Players – Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at 7 pm

 

 

 

Brent Vernon Concert – Friday, March 17, 2017, 7 pm

Brent Vernon is a Christian South Florida-based singer, songwriter, ventriloquist, children’s author & illustrator. songwriter and performer, who will be performing at Central Church at 7 pm on Friday, March 17.

You can view some of his material on his Facebook page at:  https://www.facebook.com/pg/BrentVernonOnFB/about/.    The same Facebook page also contains excerpts of some of his songs.

We will have a cookie and punch reception for Brent in the Parlor after the concert so folks can get to know Brent a little better.  (The only cost is an optional freewill offering.)

Please plan on joining us on Friday, March 17 for a special time together!

 

 

Lenten Devotional – Day 7 – Choose

jesus-our-hopeScripture Readings:  Genesis 37:25-361 Corinthians 2:1-13Mark 1:29-45

A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” (Mark 1:40-41)

Some choices are so easy. Shall I have a few cookies with my coffee in Sunday School. Will I sit with my friends at lunch or with the couples further down the table? Some choices are harder, like having no cookies because it’s Lent or sitting with the person that’s a little crabby and unfocused. I’ll miss out on all the fun, but I think I know what Jesus would have me choose. And maybe I can make this a better time for that isolated person so he doesn’t have to miss out.

And what about during the service? What can I do ,to inspire others feel closer to God or actually empower other’s and myself, with God’s help, to go serve. I can listen and smile back (so she knows I’m listening) or I can actually hear what she’s saying. What’s this about our choices during Lent? We could give up something, like those cookies, or we could choose to take something on, something big. All I have to do is choose, listen to that still small voice, and choose.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, I do choose. I choose to reach out. Please help me to know what it is You would have me do, and give me the courage to accomplish it, in Your name. Amen.

 

 

Lenten Devotional – Day 6 – Unpack for Lent

jesus-our-hopeScripture Readings:  Genesis 37:12-241 Corinthians 1:20-31Mark 1:14-28

Now after that John was put in prison. Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God. And saying. The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. (Mark 1:14-15)

 Usually when I’m getting ready for a trip, I am busy packing, deciding what I will need for the journey. This journey requires unpacking, putting aside everything but my love for God. There will be no packed suitcases on this trip.

 During Lent is a good time for thinking about what we don’t need and most importantly, what we do need. We do need time, quality time listening for God’s word for us. I’m sure that God quite often gets a “busy signal” when He’s trying to give me guidance.

 So what am I striving for during this Lenten season? My desire during this Lent is to create a habit of spending more quiet time listening for His words of guidance for me, and most important of all, following them.

 

 

Lenten Devotional – Day 5 – Make It About Jesus

jesus-our-hopeScripture Readings:  Genesis 37:1-111 Corinthians 1:1-19Mark 1:1-13

Today’s Gospel is the story of a family, God’s family, and particularly a Father and His Son. As a boy Jesus was obedient and faithful, as He went about His daily life; however, somewhere, somehow, He knew that He had a very special relationship with His God, and because of that He would one day be required to give something in return. Most definitely the life of Jesus was a “process, not an event”!

Jesus’ life unfolded over centuries, for like ours, it began long before His birth, and as we know has continued on long after His death. We can only imagine how His heart leapt when his Father finally acknowledged him as his Son, to the entire world. Our identity, our personhood, is a most precious thing as we see clearly when people who have been adopted are finally reunited with their biological parents.

It is startling when we read that immediately after this affirmation of identity His Father sends him into the wilderness to be tested. We may well ask, what does all this say to you and to me? One thing we know beyond doubt is that Jesus taught by modeling behavior.

So, if He were tested and passed that test, then we had better learn something from that exercise too. Learning to accept the process of testing one’s behavior, as a method of helping one see the core of the work to be done, is extremely important.

There is nothing sadder than someone who is so self-centered that they are totally unable to learn from a life experience, but only spend precious time moping and feeling sorry for themselves. Jesus needs disciples who know how to step out in the sureness of His love and empowerment, to take their part in transforming their corner of the world for God. The most effective way to transform our society is to allow ourselves to be transparent, so that others are able to see Jesus in us.

Lent is a special six weeks when we are asked to center on methods available to us to make some huge changes in how we live our daily lives. These very short six weeks ask us to make some important changes in how we live and move among those with whom we share our island home. If we are willing to make these six weeks all about Jesus and the sacrifices He made for us and not all about us, we will rise on Easter Morning, stronger in our renewed faith having come through our yearly time of testing and having reached the other side, and be able to claim our crown from the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

 

 

 

Lenten Devotional – The First Sunday in Lent

keep-your-feet-on-the-ground

 

 

 

Lenten Devotional – Day 4 – Give It to God

jesus-our-hopeScripture Readings:  Ezekiel 39:21-29;  Philippians 4:10-20;  John 17:20-26

And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:19

How easy it is for me to forget Paul’s promise—and it echoes through all of today’s readings. When I start my day putting all of my concerns for health, money, work and other people in God’s hands and ask for His direction, I have a great day. So why do I forget and try to control and manipulate the community around me to do things my way?

I saw a t-shirt for another church recently—“Don’t just GO to church” and on the back it said “BE the church,” and it struck me how well it paraphrases our readings today. God has continuously shown us: Forgiveness, Restoration and Faithfulness.

But do I show it to others when I am away from the church? Do I show it when the bank makes a mistake in my account? Do I show it when I hear over 120 elementary children at our school have no permanent address? Do I show it when a stranger has a drug or alcohol addiction and asks for a handout? Usually not. I forget they are part of my community.

How can I live out John’s action plan? “… So that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:23, 26).

I will pray the Prayer attributed to St. Francis daily to help me be a channel for God’s love. I am also promised that God can change my mind and heart and direct my actions today. Fully Rely on God. May God’s Forgiveness, Faithfulness and Restoration be shown in our lives and our communities.

 

 

 

Lenten Devotional – Day 3 – Lead Us Lord

jesus-our-hopeScripture Readings:   Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32;  Philippians 4:1-9;  John 17:9-19

And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

To have this peace of mind in today’s world, dear Lord, help me to fight passionately for “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious….” (Philippians 4:8).

There are so many forces in our culture fighting against us. We need your help through prayer, supplications and thanksgiving. Help us better understand your love and lead us to the true passion you desire of us.

 

 

Lenten Devotional – Day 2 – Here’s Your Sign

jesus-our-hopeScripture Readings:  Habakkuk 3:1-10, 16-18 Philippians 3:12-21John 17:1-8

How often have I asked God for a sign? Have I ever given something to God and then taken it back, only to repeat this over and over? Habakkuk is a reading with such human expression. The timeline is about 610 BC; the time of the exile of King Jechoniah and eleven years before the destruction of the first temple, which was built during the time of King Solomon (son of King David).

It is believed that Habakkuk may have been a Levite and a singer in the Temple. Perhaps this is why this passage appears to be a poem or a hymn. Habakkuk speaks of the battle between the Chaldeans and Jerusalem. “Teman” is translated from the Hebrew in reference to the south area where the Yemenite Jews lived in Yemen or Siberia. This area was noted for the wisdom of its inhabitants.

Habakkuk closes with a confession of faith and trust. He is worried that he will be judged for the actions in Judea (that whole region of conflict). In this reading, Habakkuk asks for a new expression of God’s wrath and mercy, as God had demonstrated so powerfully in the past. Habakkuk acknowledges that he has heard of God’s great saving acts. He pleads that when God judges, he will also be merciful. Habakkuk vows to praise God in the midst of all the chaos of war.

Paul wrote this letter while under house arrest in Rome to update the people of Philippi about his trial and to strengthen them in the hope and joy that was theirs in Christ. About 61 AD, Paul had arrived in Philippi to pursue his mission of planting new churches. Philippi is the only church used in the New Testament as a model for the churches that will follow. Philippi had a Roman colony where retired army veterans were given a grant of land as a reward for their years of service and were settled there.

This located loyal Roman citizen/soldiers at this strategic location along Egnatian Way, which was the main road constructed in 2 BC that connected Rome with the Roman provinces in the east. In this book, Paul has an urgency to express that one cannot achieve the kingdom of God through any other means but through a deep relationship with God. Paul is passionate about spreading the word of God.

The Gospel of John was probably written between 70-85 AD. After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life—that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.  I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed. I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. (John 17:1-8)

I have heard this prayer referred to as “the dying man’s prayer.” When we are the furthest from human ego, we are the closest to God’s love. Perhaps I need to die to myself every day. Jesus’ whole life had been an experience of the Father. He came to show us the heart of a true servant. His prayers in this reference are to completely surrender to God’s will. Jesus gives an account of his mission on earth. In this scripture, Jesus prays for himself, and then for his disciples. Jesus offers prayers of intercession for his disciples. Through Christ we are promised eternal life, the Father’s word, the Kingdom of Glory. How can I turn my Christian walk into action?

Sometimes the most important things in life are also the most simple. If I live in the moment and surrender to God’s will (not my own will), perhaps all will be well. How can I show the face of Christ to those whom I encounter every day? Am I able to get up each day and ‘begin again’? Possibly, it is in the showing of God’s love that the glory of God will find us. Trust this Holy mystery!

 

 

Lenten Devotional – Day 1 – Ash Wednesday

jesus-our-hopeScripture Readings:  Amos 5:6-15Hebrews 12:1-14Luke 18:9-14

 “There is nothing sadder than a self-made man.” (or woman)

I grew up listening to old sayings like this one, and they surface in my mind at interesting times. This one flashed clearly upon my mind’s eye while reading today’s lesson, “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust”  “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”.

It is so very easy to forget whence we came and wither we go in the hustle and bustle of daily life. The Pharisee, in our Luke reading, had become so immersed in his role as a religious leader that he had lost touch with the reality of being human – created in God’s image, not an immortal deserving the blessings of his privileged life. His role in organized religion had blinded him to his need of the Grace of God.

The day to day nastiness of the Tax Collector’s trade never let him forget the huge gap between himself and Almighty God. He was blessed with the knowledge that only with the Grace of God could he hope to obtain the promises of heaven. Talk about a blessing in disguise!

Another old saying, “There but for the Grace of God go I,” seems to fit.

God be merciful to me, a sinner.

 

 

 

Welcome Mark Deltondo!

mark-deltondo-born-2-28-2017All of the family of Central Church join today to welcome Mark Deltondo into the world!

Mark, the son of Tony and Kayla Deltondo, was born at 10:15 am this morning, coming into the world at 7 pounds, 6 ounces, and has been named in honor of Tony Sr.’s younger brother.

With Mark’s older siblings, Tony Jr. and  Laycie, the expanding Deltonto family now increases to five.

Please take a moment to congratulate Tony and Kayla on their latest addition to both the Deltondo clan and the Central Church family!