“Come Walk with Me”

The Congregational Church of Brookfield
Lenten Devotional Guide 2018

Offered to you by:  The Deacons and Stephen Ministers of CCB

Lent 2018
“Come Walk with Me”

  • Each year, our Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. But this year, the way the dates fall is a little different – and very special. The season of Lent – 40 days of Lent, plus 6 Sundays – this year runs from Ash Wednesday on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, to April Fools’ Day, Easter Sunday, April 1st!

  • This intersection between secular and sacred holidays is nothing more than a calendar coincidence, and yet, it made us think – as we began our worship planning.

  • What an opportunity to bear witness to the transformative power of Christ’s redeeming love – to begin our Valentine’s Day in a quiet service of prayer and song at 7:30am the morning of February 14th. The simple, ancient ritual of imposing ashes on Ash Wednesday gives us an opportunity for us to repent of our sins and open our hearts to God’s forgiving grace, as we present ourselves in silent prayers of confession.

  • As we have been discussing during our Stewardship season of Epiphany, the Greek word for “repentance” is metanoia – which is akin to our English word “metamorphosis,” or “transformation.” The season of Lent is all about such transformation, if we take up new service opportunities or spiritual disciplines to strengthen our faith – over time, our deepening relationship with God can truly transform us, from the inside out.

  • How will you approach your walk with Jesus and your beloved community this Lent?

  • The invitation that lies before us is one where we can explore what it means to be a part of the “Rainbow Covenant” given to Noah and his descendants – an inclusive vision that extends beyond Christianity and offers hope of restoring peace to our broken world. The promises we make in covenant community change us, as we bind ourselves in agreements that lead to peace, as we share church membership and Holy Communion. And yet, to the “powers and principalities” of Caesar’s brutal world, we simple and loving Christians must seem like fools. We walk together in good times and bad. We dare to dream of a different world, as we follow our great teacher Jesus along the way.

  • And finally, the greatest miracle of all, the empty tomb, is there to surprise us on April Fools’ Day – the victory of life over death still seems like “foolishness to those who are perishing,” to use the words of the Apostle Paul. And yet, here the Church of Jesus Christ remains – alive and sharing the eternal and steadfast love of God each week in our Sunday worship.

  • This Lenten season, may we extend with love and joy God’s “extravagant” – and, yes, perhaps even foolish – welcome to all in our community who seek the kind of profound transformation that our walk together with Jesus can offer. May we boldly extend a hand to all who need a new vision and say, with our mentor Jesus, “Come Walk with Me.”

Blessings,
Pastors Bryn and Jennifer

Ash Wednesday              February 14, 2018           Service at 7:30am

Texts:  Psalm 51
Joel 2:1, 12-13, 15-19
Matthew 6:5-15

1Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions….
6You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

Psalm 51:1, 6

1Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near— 

12Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 
13rend your hearts and not your clothing.
Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful…

18Then the Lord … had pity on his people. 19The Lord said:
I am sending you grain, wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied…

Joel 2: 1, 12-13, 18

5“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Matthew 6:5-15

Much to ponder in how God who ultimately is Love, gets to define love…

 “Such I conceive as the world of agape: a world of unbounded giving and unashamed receiving, where all blessed creatures need and know that they need nothing but God and are therefore set free to love one another disinterestedly.  And so your love shall be like His, born neither of my need nor your deserving but of plain bounty.  I think those are drawing near to heaven, who in this life, find that they need men less and love men more and delight in being loved without being needed.  For where agape is, there is some degree of heaven.”

From C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Submitted by: Sherrie Ruschmeyer

Thursday, February 15, 2018                                                           

A Long Walk of Faith

Is there a person in the Bible whose story you simply love? One who encourages you, challenges you or with whom you share a similar life circumstance?

Perhaps it’s Moses and his keen leadership skills? Or Esther, the compelling queen who used her quick thinking to help save an entire nation? Maybe Joseph, as you contemplate how someone so mistreated could continually take the high road to family forgiveness?

All of these are fabulous choices, but I choose Enoch.

I first heard of Enoch as a teen, and he fascinated me. Not a lot is written about him in the Bible, but what is there (Genesis 5:24) piqued my interest; “Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” My young mind pondered that strange description.

As I grew, I learned more about this mystery man. In Hebrews 11:5-6 is more of the story:  “By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; ‘He could not be found, because God had taken him away.’ For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (NIV).

Enoch was whisked away, spared the pain of death and transported immediately to God’s side, all because of one simple thing; He pleased God. You just do what He says in His Word. Straightforward enough, right? However, my years as a follower of Christ have taught me that is not always easy.  Choices present themselves, the world screams, our flesh gets in the way and we want revenge or glory…so we often lack faith, and instead try to control our own destinies.  We mess up the pleasing God part with our very own hands and hearts.

Enoch walked with God.

I’ll admit I don’t always walk with God. I take a stand for God. Believe the right things and make it known. I may walk after God.  And sadly, sometimes I run ahead of God, make my own plans and then say, “Oh yeah. By the way God, do ya mind blessin’ these plans? I made them in Your name. I forgot to consult You in the midst of them, but they are for You, alright?”   

What a shame and a sham!  Walking with God means we daily give up our desires to navigate our own lives, and we place our faith in Him.  We admit He knows what’s best for us and realize He might not always reveal the hows and whys until the very last second.  God is seldom early, but never late.  Only day-by-day faith-walking pleases God.

Do you long to be one who pleases God this way?  One who makes Him smile as He sees you place complete trust in Him and His infinite wisdom daily?  Maybe then we just might be like my Bible hero Enoch…the one who walked so closely by our Creator’s side that one day, during one of those long walks, God looked at him and said, “You know, we’ve been walking together for so long now that we are actually close to My house than yours. Why don’t you just come on home with Me right now?”  Glory! Well, at least that’s how I picture it.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, show me how to walk step by step with You in faith – not ahead of You or behind You, but right by Your side. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Written by: Karen Ehman                                                                     Submitted by: Leslie Sands

Friday, February 16, 2018                                                             

Nurturing

Paul wrote, "If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." 1 Corinthians 13:1

As I looked down with satisfaction at my newly planted seedlings, I thought about how new believers need to be nurtured in a way similar to these young plants. Other Christians can do this by accepting new believers where they are on their Christian journeys, encouraging them through Bible study, and supporting them with loving actions.

At the same time, it is important to remember that our Christian formation is a lifelong journey so that we do not become impatient with each other. Each person has his or her own lessons to learn. With God's help, we can develop a strong and deep root system and sturdy stems and branches to support the good fruit of faith. As we become firmly grounded in God's word, we gain a deeper knowledge and experience of God's faithful love. We can trust God no matter the circumstances. Just as I care for and nurture my plants, we can be sensitive to the faith journeys of others, providing encouragement and support. We can do this by being attentive to God, who helps us grow, and by always acting in love.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, thank you for placing loving people in our lives to help us grow in faith. Amen.

From: The Upper Room

Submitted by: Sue Boughton

Saturday, February 17, 2018                                                          

Renewal:  How can I renew what has grown old and tired in my life?

The most hopeful words are those of God’s resolve: “I am making everything new!”
                                                                                                     (Revelation 21:5)

It’s hard to see things grow old. The town in which I grew up is growing old. Some of the buildings are boarded up. Some of the houses are town down. Some of my teachers are retired; some are buried. The old movie house where I took my dates has “For Sale” on the marquee. The only visitors to the drive-in theater are tumbleweeds and rodents.

My mother still lives in the same house. On the wall are pictures of Mom in her youth – her hair autumn brown, her face irresistibly beautiful. I see her now – still healthy, still vivacious, but with wrinkles, graying hair, slower step. Would that I could stretch out the wrinkles and take off the bifocals and restore the spring to her step. Would that I could make everything new…but I can’t.

I can’t. God can. “He gives me new strength,” wrote the shepherd (Psalm 23:3). He doesn’t reform; He restores. He doesn’t camouflage the old; He restores the new. The Master Builder will pull out the original plan and restore it. He will restore the vigor. He will restore the energy. He will restore the hope. He will restore the soul.

The Lord says, “Forget what happened before, and do not think about the past. Look at the new thing I am going to do. It is already happening. Don’t you see it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

By Max Lucado

Submitted by: Mark Lyon

Sunday, February 18, 2018                                                    Lent 1

Sermon:  “Rainbow Signs”
Rev. Bryn Smallwood-Garcia preaching at 8:30 & 10:30

Text:    Genesis 9:8-17

 8Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9“As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. 11I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14When I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow is seen in the clouds, 15I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16When the rainbow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

 Questions for reflection:

  • During times of challenge or difficulty, have you ever prayed God would send you a clear sign or direction?  Did you get any answer? Have they been heaven-opening moments of rainbows and sunshine, or something more ordinary?
  • Do you think God sends messages to us in human form sometimes, as well as through spiritual “epiphanies”?  The word “angel” literally means a messenger from God.  Have you had such “angels” in your own life who have helped give you guidance on the way that seemed to you divinely inspired? 
  • Since the ancient age of Noah, our world has been torn apart by wars sparked by differences in race, religion, gender, cultural traditions, and nationality.  What hope does your faith offer you of our world coming together under renewed faith in God’s original “rainbow covenant”?  Does this help you understand our church’s “Open and Affirming” commitment in a new way?

Monday, February 19, 2018                                                            

What’s in your cup?

37While he [Jesus] was speaking, a Pharisee invited him to dine with him; so he went in and took his place at the table. 38The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you.” 

Luke 11:37-44

You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you, making your spill your coffee everywhere.  Why did you spill the coffee?  You spilled the coffee because there was coffee in your cup.  Had there been tea in the cup, you would have spilled tea.  The point is whatever is inside the cup is what will spill out.

Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you (which will happen), whatever is inside you will come out.  It is easy to fake it, until you get rattled.  So, we have to ask ourselves “What is in my cup?”  When life gets tough, what spills out?  Joy, gratefulness, peace, and humility?   Or does anger, bitterness, harsh words and reactions come out?  You choose!

Today, let’s work towards filling our cups with gratitude, forgiveness, joy, words of affirmation, kindness, gentleness, and love for others.

Author unknown

Submitted by: Sherrie Ruschmeyer

Tuesday, February 20, 2018                                                             

24This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!
                                                                                               Psalm 118:24

The Day God Tickled Me

One day at a most serious meeting

God came and whispered a joke in my ear,

then proceeded to give me a little tickle.

 

Laughter bubbled up in my entire being

but I couldn’t release it

amongst all that seriousness.

 

I waited for him to tickle the others,

but nothing happened.

I guess they forgot to invite God

to the meeting.

By Toni Sullivan

Prayer:  Dear God, Help us to remember that you walk with us throughout all our days. 
We often ask you to help with the challenges and we are grateful for your help
with those.  We also ask that you help us see the joy that is present in our lives
and to laugh a little each day.  Amen.

Submitted by Toni Sullivan

Wednesday, February 21, 2018                                                    

A Prayer Walk

1:26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

29Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

2:1Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing;
so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.
 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy,
because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.  -   
Genesis 1:26-2:3

God loves creation.  God made us, the animals, our beautiful earth. There are actually two stories of creation in the book of Genesis.  This is the end of the first one (from Genesis, chapters 1 and 2), which tells of God creating the world in seven days.  At the end of each day, God looked at everything he made that day and said it was good.  The other creation story is the Adam and Eve story (Gen. 2 and 3). In that story, God walked around the garden of Eden “at the time of the evening breeze” (Gen. 3:8). Both of these powerful stories show God’s joy in what God has brought into being.  God is still creating.

We can join God in that joy and care-taking. Today, take a “Prayer walk.” Choose a place – whether nature, a shopping mall, your office, the library, the grimy bus station downtown, your own neighborhood or someone else’s.  Walk through it slowly. Try to see it with God’s eyes.  Feel God’s love for the place, the growing things, the people.  As you walk, bless the houses, or rooms or paths.  Bless the people who will go in and out of them, their families. Pray for God’s healing, guidance, protection.  Pray as you feel the Spirit moving you to pray for anyone you see.  What did you notice?

Prayer:  O God, thank you for that glimpse of the way you see us and this amazing world.  I pray again for each person I saw, for their families, for their needs.  Protect each one. Please heal our sin and brokenness. Help each one to come to know you as fully as we humans can. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.

From: Unbinding your Heart, by Martha Grace Reese, p. 129

Submitted by: Leslie Sands

Thursday, February 22, 2018                                                        

1How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?

Psalm 13:1

Where Is God?

I ask, “Where is God?”

The dawn rises
lifting me into its embrace
filling me with light
I ask if this is where I find God
The sky answers
Always and forever.

The sky gently places me
in the arms of a tree
who wraps its branches
around me and whispers in my ear
Feel God in the life within me.

The tree reaches down to
place me in a meadow
pulsing with life
above and below.
The meadow says
Listen for the sounds of God
surrounding you.

I sigh and hear God sigh
I laugh and God laughs back,
I run and God runs with me,
I love and God loves through me.

“So easy,” I say,
And God answers, “Of course.”

By Toni Sullivan

 

5I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

Psalm 13:5

Prayer:  Dear God,  when we are searching for you, help us to see the simple ways to connect and not waste time with the complicated.  Help us learn to see you in all that surrounds us and know that you walk closely with us always.  Amen.

Submitted by Toni Sullivan

Friday, February 23, 2018                                                            

 Sit at My Table

  [Jesus said], 20For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
                                                                                                                   
Matthew 18:20

 There comes a time in your life when you walk away from all the drama and the people who create it.  You surround yourself with people who make you laugh.  Forget the bad and focus on the good, love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don't.

Life is too short to be anything but happy.  Falling down is a part of life. 
Getting back up is living.

Quote:
“Today may there be peace within.  May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.  May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you.  May you be content with yourself just the way you are.  Let this knowledge settle into your bones and allow your soul the freedom to dance, praise and love.  It is there for each and every one of us.”

Shared with me by my friend, Pat Roehling                                                                                     

My To-Do List for Today

·         Count my blessings

·         Practice kindness

·         Let go of what I can’t control

·         Listen to my heart

·         Be productive yet calm

·         Just breathe

Submitted by Sharon Santi

Saturday, February 24, 2018                                                        

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

By: Max Ehrmann                                                                 Submitted by: Sherrie Ruschmeyer

Sunday, February 25, 2018                                                 Lent 2

Sermon:  “The Time Has Come”
Rev. Jennifer Whipple preaching at 8:30 & 10:30

Text:    John 2:1-11

1On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 9When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

 Prayer for patience and strength

God of grace,
You make me softer, kinder, gentler, generous, forgiving, and loving.

Yet at times I know these gifts wear thin.  I feel impatience rising.
I sense resentment brooding and revenge is on my lips.

So I pray today and all days for more of your Spirit. 
May the grace that you pour out open the door for a renewing of my mind,
a restoration of my heart, and a transformation of my soul.

Thank you,
that in you I find new strength,
discover more patience,
and walk with grace at work in my life.
Amen.

            Author unknown                 Submitted by: Mary Gallagher DeLucia

Monday, February 26, 2018                                                          

40 Blessings

1Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
2Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits—

Psalm 103:1-2

Last year, I wanted to offer time and intentional appreciation during Lent, instead of forgoing chocolate or sweets.  Something simple enough to continue all 40 days. 

I made a list of 40 people who make my life better and handwrote a note to each of them.  My wonderful sister.   A friend who mows my yard because I have chronic back pain.  My mother.  A friend who faithfully prays for me.  A veterinarian, who helps me care for my aging German Shepherd.   The baggers at my favorite grocery store.  “You came to mind as I was counting my blessings,” I wrote.  “I wanted to write to tell you how much I appreciate you.  You really bless my life!”

So many people said they were touched to be remembered out of the blue that Lenten season.  But I’m thankful for their kindness all year.

Written by Laura Garrett for Guideposts
Fuquay Varina, North Carolina

Prayer:     Dear Lord, I am thankful for so many people in my life. Help me to remember to let them know what a blessing they are to me.  Whether through a handwritten note, a phone call or simply through prayer. Amen.

Submitted by:  Jan Labas

Tuesday, February 27, 2018                                                         

I Want to Walk with You

My husband and I walk both morning and night. We walk in the morning because I work from home. If I walk, it means I change out of my PJs and actually start my day. At night, there's a different purpose. My husband is a therapist to children. He sits with them every day. He listens.

There are times he has to step in as an advocate for a child. While he loves what he does, some days are really hard. Our nightly walks allow him to transition from heaviness to hope, especially on those more difficult days. I can almost tell you to the mile marker when the burdens of his day have lightened. His voice changes. He's lighter.

We all need a friend to walk with, don't we?

In today's Scripture text, two friends are walking. They are heavy-hearted indeed. They don't know what to think or what to do. Jesus died on a cross, and with Him, their dreams died, too. They loved Jesus as a friend, but they also believed He was the Messiah. They never expected Him to die an untimely death. Earlier, some believers found the tomb empty. The women said Jesus was alive, but that seemed impossible. As they walked and talked, they tried to reason and figure it out. They simply didn't know what to think.

Suddenly a third person joined them in their walk.

"He asked them, ‘What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?'
They stopped short, sadness written across their faces."          
Luke 24:17 (NLT)

They spill it all out to the "stranger," amazed how He's unaware of recent events. As they approach Emmaus, they ask the man to join them for dinner. While eating, their eyes are opened, and they recognize the Lord. It's Jesus. He's alive!

Who knew that they were walking with Jesus all along?

As we celebrate a new year, we can't help but acknowledge this past year was challenging for many. When the world is chaotic, our temptation might be to withdraw from people. From conversations. Even from our faith. We might hold up all our broken dreams ... and wonder if it's worth it. Those feelings are real, and they matter to our Savior. Rather than walk away from Him, we're asked to walk even closer. We walk with Him mile by mile, but also moment by moment. When we're sad, we can be honest. As we walk together, He listens. He reveals what we cannot see in the natural. He encourages us to hold on during those tougher places. He communes with us as a Friend and Savior.

Walking with Jesus isn't a task to be performed, but a relationship to nurture.

Just like these men who walked toward Emmaus, Jesus chooses to walk with us, and we can ask Him to stay a little longer: “Walk with me, Jesus. Throughout my day. In that relationship. Into my ministry or job. Walk with me as I share the burden that seems so heavy it almost knocks me down. Walk with me as I share the joy of knowing You.

Our burden becomes shared, rather than managed alone. We are equipped to begin again the next morning – where He meets us all over again.

Richard and I have been married a long time, and walking is part of who we are. One day, we won't celebrate the number of miles we clocked, but what took place as we did.

It's the same as we walk with Jesus. We won't always feel like it, but we show up because He meets us there. Our faith is strengthened as we find the rhythm of walking with Him, no matter what's going on in the world around us.

Prayer:  Dear Jesus, when life gets messy, I want to pull away or hide. I might believe no one else feels as sad or confused as I do, and so I keep it to myself. I'm so grateful You walk with me. I'm grateful I can be honest with You, and that You exchange my heaviness for healing and hope. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

By Suzie Eller, from www.godupdates.com Daily Devotionals

Submitted by: Sue Ronan

Wednesday, February 28, 2018                                                    

Our Anchor

Jesus Calms the Storm

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 They were terrified and asked each other,
“Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”                       
Mark 4:35-41 (NIV)

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.                Hebrews 6:19 (NIV)

I never thought about the absolute necessity of an anchor until I stood aboard a 1935, 45-foot, double-masted sailing vessel watching dark storm clouds roll in above the Chesapeake Bay.  The clouds obscured the sun’s light from above, as choppy seas tossed us about.  In the midst of that storm, the captain dropped anchor, and the heavy chain delivered it to the depth.  There the anchor grabbed hold of the sea bottom and the ship was steadied by the anchor’s weight, giving us a sense of security.

It was then that I realized why we need an anchor.  I also learned what the writer of Hebrews meant when he spoke of God as our anchor.  Sometimes an anchor is the only thing that holds firm.  During our life’s journey we may feel battered about as if wind were tearing at our sails and water overtaking the deck of our ship.  We may cry out for peace and yearn for safe passage through the storm.

When the storms rage, God holds us firmly, never wavering, never failing, always loving, always caring.  The one who can calm a raging sea is our anchor and our almighty God.

Prayer:  Father God, when the storms of life are raging, help us to remember that we can trust you to be our anchor, holding us securely through every storm.  Amen.

Thought for the day: “God is our refuge and strength...”

By Belinda Jo Mathias, from The Upper Room, December 2017

Submitted by: Leslie Sands

Thursday, March 1, 2018                                                            

Listening to God

 10“Be still, and know that I am God!”
11
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Psalm 46:10-11

 I don’t know if this story about Mother Teresa is true or not,
but it tells the truth whether or not it happened:

 Mother Teresa was asked by a reporter what she said to God when she prayed.
She replied, “Mostly I just listen.”

 The reporter then asked what God said to her.

“Mostly he just listens,” she replied.

 Could it be that the loving, attentive, mutual listening of the soul and the Spirit
constitute the greatest expression of spirituality?

 . . . Holy listening holds space open between beloved and Beloved, the soul and God,
and that space, like the silence in which all music happens, holds infinite possibilities.

 May we value silence. May we treasure listening. May we hold space open for God.

 By Brian McLaren, in Naked Spirituality

 Submitted by: Tosha Gordon

Friday, March 2, 2018                                                                 

26[Jesus] said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 

Mark 4:26-27

Beauty Unseen

The flower bud

at the end of the stem

revealing nothing that is within.

Buffeted about by storms

with little care to the future.

A solitary bump

on an otherwise scrawny stem.
 

Someone passes by and thinks,

“How plain…”
 

A man sits in a doorway,

head bent down

with little care to the future,

revealing nothing that is within.

Someone passes by and thinks,

“Another homeless man...”
 

The man sees the bud

on the scrawny plant

clinging to the patch of dirt

between the cracks of the sidewalk.
 

Drawn to the sight

as if soul to soul,

he lifts the plant,

moves it to safer ground,

knowing the beauty that waits within.

                                    By Toni Sullivan

Prayer:    Dear God, as we go through our days, please help us see with our hearts
as well as our eyes and to look for the beauty in all of your creation.  Amen
.

Submitted by Toni Sullivan

Saturday, March 3, 2018                                                             

4Praise God with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!
6Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!       
Psalm 150:4, 6

God’s Dancing Spirit

God’s spirit came dancing down the road
And I didn’t even notice
As I walked with head down
The burdens of the world ‘on my shoulders.

Then
something began to stir within
and cause my eyes to look up
where I saw others around me
tapping toes, clapping hands,
Joined in a dance.

I watched,
As a hand stretched out to draw me in.
Fingers touched, joy flickered and grew
I smiled, my own toes yearning to tap.

One small step, then another,
Hesitation 

   melting

               away

I found myself joining them.
The dance releasing my spirit to soar.
As I spun around, surprise filled me.
When I saw God
Dancing in the midst of it all
Enjoying it as much as the rest of us!

The dance slowed down
and eventually

   came

               to

                           a

                                       stop,

As we gazed at one another
we found ourselves smiling,
one-time strangers,
Now connected through the dance.

By Toni Sullivan

Prayer:  Dear God, Lead us into the dance of life.  Give us the courage to join the dance
with you.  Show us how to find the joy in the dance.  Help us to take the joy we
find into our daily lives. Amen.

Submitted by: Toni Sullivan

Sunday, March 4, 2018                                                       Lent 3

Sermon:  “One Bread, One Body”
Rev. Jennifer Whipple preaching at 8:30 & 10:30

Text:    1 Corinthians 10:1-17

1I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea,2and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3and all ate the same spiritual food, 4and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.5Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness.

6Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. 7Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.” 8We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. 10And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.11These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come.12So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. 13No 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. 14Therefore, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols.

15I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ?17Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

Monday, March 5, 2018                                                       Lenten Prayers 

17Pray without ceasing, 18…for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.   1 Thess. 5:17-18

Forty days alone, 
a wilderness of thoughts, 
tempting and inviting thoughts, 
which could so easily
have distracted you 

from your task, your mission,
your vision.

Yet you emerged, stronger
and more attuned 

to all that had to be done, 
despite a time constraint 
that to our eyes would have seemed hopeless.

We too live in stressful times. 
Demands are made of our time
that leaves so little 
for the important things of life. 
We are easily distracted 
in the wilderness of our lives, 
by every call to go this way or that
and do all that would keep us
from the truth.

We listen to the voices of this world, 
and ignore the one who endured all this 
and so much more, 
and emerged triumphant, 
that we might not have to suffer so.

Forgive us, Father, 
when we get distracted from our task. 
Forgive us those times when we try 
to be all things to all men, 
and fail to be anything to anyone
.

You were a man of suffering
acquainted with grief,
loved and despised in equal measure.
You understand humanity,
know our failings,
love us despite the people that we are.
When we, like Peter, deny you
by word or action,
forgive us.
When we, like Judas, are tempted
to follow a different path
forgive us.
When we, like those in the crowd
allow you to be crucified,
forgive us.
Bring us to the foot of the Cross
to stand next to the one who,
looking into your eyes declared,
‘Surely, this is the Son of God.'

******************************************

Your love,
which breathed this world into being,
established a covenant people,
brought them out of captivity
and into a promised land.
Hallelujah!

Your love,
which from the moment of our birth
has known and called us by name
from out of this world’s slavery
into the kingdom of God.
Hallelujah!

Your love,
poured into the heart of Jesus
who endured the nails of our sin,
defeated death to rise again,
and causes our hearts to sing
Hallelujah!

This page was last updated on 02/10/2018 02:51 PM.