Monthly Archives: April 2017

He Is Risen

Jeremiah 31:1-6

1At that time, says the LORD, I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.
2   Thus says the LORD:
The people who survived the sword
found grace in the wilderness;
when Israel sought for rest,
3        the LORD appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
4   Again I will build you, and you shall be built,
O virgin Israel!
Again you shall take your tambourines,
and go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.
5   Again you shall plant vineyards
on the mountains of Samaria;
the planters shall plant,
and shall enjoy the fruit.
6   For there shall be a day when sentinels will call
in the hill country of Ephraim:
“Come, let us go up to Zion,
to the LORD our God.”

With Christ, we find grace in the wilderness. The wilderness may be of our own making — a tough Lenten discipline, perhaps, or a set of consequences of choices we now regret. It may be a wilderness of the spirit that has been with us for too long. Or the wilderness may be a challenge that has come up in our lives, a difficult time that God has allowed to happen.

Easter is a time of celebration. A time to take up our tambourines and go forth in the dance of merrymakers.

We can celebrate the end of a challenging discipline. We can find the strength in Christ’s resurrection to give up the personal wilderness of the spirit that we have been carrying with us. But we can also celebrate in the midst of a challenge that will continue.

Christ is risen.

As believers in Christ, we have the sure and certain hope that we inherit this new life from Christ. This lets us celebrate, regardless of our circumstances.

He is risen indeed.

God So Loved the World

In 1887, Sir John Stainer composed an oratorio entitled The Crucifixion: A Meditation on the Sacred Passion of the Holy Redeemer. He intended this work to be within the scope of most parish churches and is written for two soloists, choir, and organ. The twenty movements include five congregational hymns as well as the famous God So Loved the World. This is the only movement that is without accompaniment and is also often sung by itself outside the scope of the oratorio. The text of this anthem is John 3:16-17.

 

 

Today, remembering God’s sacrifice for us, let us meditate on these words: “For God so loved the world that He gave us His Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

I Lift up My Eyes to the Hills

Psalm 121

1   I lift up my eyes to the hills —
from where will my help come?
2   My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.

3   He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4   He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5   The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade at your right hand.
6The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7   The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8   The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and forevermore.

Rejoice in the faithfulness of the Lord, and do not let your heart be troubled.

A Table Before Me

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Psalm 23:5)

The last part of Psalm 23 is less familiar, in which the psalmist praises God for granting him a place in God’s house and for treating him royally. But what does it mean to have a table in the presence of enemies?

One does not eat easily when enemies abound; one must be wary. But it is also a sign of power and authority to have a table prepared. Who sits at this table? Do our enemies, then, sit at the table with us?

Yes. If we truly follow Christ, then we will break bread freely even with those who would plot our demise—as Jesus broke bread freely with Judas. We will share the intimacy of a meal even with those who hate us, and in so doing we shall have no more enemies. God’s mercy is more powerful than any hatred man has yet conceived, and God’s grace is neverending—the overflowing cup.  If we surrender our battles to God, then surely God will preserve us against our enemies—not by waging cruel war against them, for God does not need to take sides in our petty human conflicts—but by preparing a table set for friend and foe alike and bidding us dine with our enemies, who are all likewise made in God’s image.

Let us sit down, then, in the presence of our enemies, and bid them join us in the feast!

Angela Cox

Good News and Bad News

Saturday! After a relaxing swim and a good breakfast I looked at our local paper’s front page. I was faced with four titles:

  • “Guard was eyed to round up illegals”
  • “Pakistan victims remembered”
  • “Training add-on snags campus add-on gun bill”
  • “Project aims to cut wrong-way driving”

I chose the last article. Its subtitle was, “State’s $3.1 Million awarded for work to improve markings on off-ramp.” That sounded like good news to me and everyone in the state. We all have our own opinions of what “good news” is.

How to cope with the bad news?

Circle 1 studied Hebrews last week, so I opened my Bible and found what I thought I remembered.

“Therefore lift up your drooping hands & strengthen your weak knees, and make straight the paths for your feet, so what is lame may not be out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with all men and for holiness without which no one will see the Lord”.
Hebrews 12:12-14

May we be clear and tender hearted in our thinking and speaking, and kind hearted in our actions and words.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us be your earthly example. Amen

Pam Andersen

Giving Up

 

Lent is the season to remember the sacrifice of Christ. For forty days, we purposely consider what distracts from our worship of His sacrifice. We consider what is important in our daily lives and chose to sacrifice that thing, whether it be food, drink, or entertainment, and every time we crave that thing, we think of Christ’s sacrifice for us. But what happens when that thing that distracts us from God is ourselves?

I truly believe that if everyone did as I said, when I say it, things in my life would go much easier and if they went wrong it would land on my shoulders to accept the blame. However, this means removing everyone else’s agency and no doubt there are those that would ask me to simply do as they wished. Fortunately, there came a time in my life when my ability to control anything was stripped away from me. My youngest son lay in the hospital and I was forced to accept that I could not influence whether he lived or died. To be honest, I was confident that God was not listening to my prayers anyway.

As I lay in the floor, silently screaming, as I received the news that he was on life support, I prayed. I prayed an acceptance of having no favor with God. I prayed that God would listen to any number of the people who had my child in their hearts. If there was but one person who had favor with God who was praying for my child, that their prayers be answered. I accepted that when it comes to God, I had no agency. Not if what I truly wanted was to live a life for God. I had to give up myself. Give up the future I had dreamed of. Give up the things that I wanted. Give up my demands of everyone else’s perfection and obedience. Give up my own selfishness. I accepted that I might have to give up my son.

It was in this moment of giving up that my fear for my son’s life left me. It was in this moment that God began to change me. He did not ask for everything at once, it is a slow and continuous process. A sacrifice that I am joyously willing to obey because of the sacrifice of Christ.

 

Scripture: Psalm 130

130:1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD.
130:2 Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!
130:3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?
130:4 But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.
130:5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
130:6 my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.
130:7 O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, you are the creator of everything that is, has been, and will be. You, who in your knowledge of your creation, knew that we would fail in every way. It is because of your knowledge that you sacrificed in order to save. And because of your sacrifice, I give you my spirit, my will, my body, and my life. May everything I do and say be for the glory of your name. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray.

Elizabeth Scheirschmidt