Worship on Sunday, March 18
Worship will begin at 9:30 AM on Sunday, March 18 only. Immediately following worship, all who choose may attend Robin Stanley’s installation as licensed pastor at the Hartsgrove Community church. There will be a luncheon following their worship service.
We celebrate with Robin this significant milestone in her faith and service in ministry. She is so worth beginning our worship a half hour earlier this day so we may rejoice with her at Hartsgrove.
THE CARILLON - March 2018
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Extended reading: Matthew 19:25-20:19 with God all things possible, parable of workers in the vineyard, Jesus predicting death
20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. 21 “What is it you want?” he asked.
She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”
22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered.
23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”
24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
This is so our human condition. We think we deserve places of honor when we don’t; we think we can do more though we fail miserably. We get angry when we think someone has robbed us of the position we wanted for ourselves.
These disciples had followed Jesus for several years at least. Day in and day out, they heard his teachings, they witnessed the healings he did. They themselves received power for ministry, going out to serve in Jesus’ name. But they were just as prone to faults and failures as any one of us. We see in this passage that they were just as unwilling as anyone else to serve in humility and not presume they “deserve” any places of honor.
There’s no way for us to get around our usual human tendencies but by the grace of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit within us. We are so quick to block God’s will for our own. God is ready to bless us with resources of strength and service, but God will never foist his way in. God will wait to be invited in, every step in continued discipleship. We pray for the gift of humble service. We pray to follow Jesus, he who did not come to be served but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many.
Gracious God, forgive our pride and pretension. Forgive us when we try to shove our way ahead of another because we want to be first. Help us, day by day, to take on the character of Jesus in all we do. He gave his life for us. He served in humility, he who is your only Son. Help us serve according to the gifts you have given, for that is how we honor you. This we pray in Christ’s name. Amen.
Monday, March 19, 2018
Extended reading: Matthew 19:1-15 teaching on divorce; Jesus blessing children
16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
18 “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Have you ever done just what the man inquiring of Jesus in this story has done? Hearing the answer of what you have to do to truly accomplish something, but not really wanting to do it? I know I certainly have! I would like to be fit and healthier, but do I really have to give up chocolate cake and ice cream? After all, I do other things that are good for me! Sometimes it is so hard to follow the path we know God wants us to because it means sacrificing things that are a big part of our lives.
This man asks of Jesus what he needs to do to get eternal life, and is probably pleased with the fact that he has done most of the things Jesus mentioned, until Jesus tells him that he must give up all of his wealth to the poor and follow the Lord. That makes him sad because his life has most likely become intertwined with the wealth that he holds and it will be so different in its absence. What a leap of faith it would take for this man to give up all of his wealth and follow the Lord.
It is difficult to give up what we have worked hard for and what has allowed us to live a comfortable lifestyle. We feel protection in that wealth and have vested much of our selves in it. To take that leap of faith, giving up our possessions and following the Lord, is not an easy task but one that is freeing and one that has a future payment in eternal life with our Lord Jesus Christ.
Dear Lord, help us to understand your word and realize how very temporary of our lives here on earth are. Help us to know that we are meant to follow your path always and to do the right thing-even when it is not the easiest road traveled. Please continue to love us, teach us and guide us in your way. In your name we pray. Amen.
Sunday, March 18, 2018
Extended reading: Matthew 18:15-22 how to be reconciled with one who has wronged you
23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
“Dear God, isn’t it funny how much better I feel when I choose to forgive?” And yet how many times in the course of my life have I chosen to remain angry or carry hatred or fear in my heart towards another one of your children?
It is important to remember that forgiveness is an act of grace. Isn’t forgiveness a reflection of God’s love? Shouldn’t love not only be my first choice, but my ONLY choice? Yes, we enjoy grace given to us by God, but this parable tells us that God expects us to demonstrate at least some small portion of that grace in our relationships with our Christian brothers and sisters.
Jesus teaches us that one must “grant” forgiveness in order to “have” forgiveness. We receive forgiveness ourselves in the person of Jesus. We have first been forgiven by God our Father, so therefore we are to forgive in return.
Saturday, March 17, 2018
Extended reading: Matthew 18:6-9 consequences of sin
10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.
12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.
Throughout His ministry Jesus advocates for those who are weaker than others—children. He does not specifically mean those who are biologically children, however, in that He perceives that all people who have not yet reached full maturity are children—in truth, we are all children. In fact, as Christians following His teachings in our daily lives, we are encouraged to be like children. This means that we are to avoid becoming poisoned by the world in which we live and continue to carry (and share) a grain of hope for “better”.
We are, therefore, to remain vigilant so we do not cause harm to those we perceive have a lesser understanding. We are to be willing to share and assist in the hope of finding what Jesus seeks from us. Often, however, it is the “child” that gives us a greater perspective.
Now for the “sheep”. Throughout my life, I have been strongly encouraged to be obedient and dutiful with a promise of “my just reward”. I, therefore, struggled for some time with the concept in this passage that indicates that faithful and obedient followers might be “abandoned” so that the needs and safety of the recalcitrant ones might be attended to. This is very contrary to human nature….a thought that should have immediately alerted me many decades ago to the “rightness” of leaving 99 for the sake of one. We are not being abandoned permanently….merely for a short while….and we are not being left alone….we are safe within the “pack” and the collectively ability to reason our path until His presence returns. We never are outside of His thoughts, but have been left resources to assist us with whatever arises. We have relative strength…the “lost” sheep is alone and weak until He finds them.
We are not to abandon those who find themselves in “bad” circumstances because of their own decisions. We are to heed the quiet whisper that tells us God has a task He is calling us to do. Always help others and don’t discount those we believe “deserve” to be wherever we find them. All of God’s children are worthy of help and assistance.
God, may we always listen for Your still small voice that convicts us to act in accordance with Your teachings. May we reach out without judgment to those who are imprisoned or experiencing problems. Help us remember that this world holds no despair so great that Your love cannot overcome it…..likewise, we do not possess a wisdom so immense that someone else cannot teach us. We need to be constantly open to Your guidance and remember that You love even the least of us. You are with us always, even unto the end of our existence as we know it. Amen.
Friday, March 16, 2018
Extended reading: Matthew 17:9-27 healing of a boy and the faith of a mustard seed
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
In this passage Jesus wants his followers to become like children, but exactly what could he mean by this statement? A child is can be naïve, pure, unblemished, blameless, accepting, trusting, and so many more attributes. This I feel has to do not only with our own accepting of Jesus and his teachings, but also refraining from being judgmental, and accepting those we encounter in our lives. A child accepts other children without seeing the many differences that we as adults have been taught and learned in our encounters. A young child just sees a potential friend, someone they accept and love from the first encounter.
Dear God, help me in my everyday life to adopt the childlike qualities you expect from your followers. Let me not judge those I do not yet know. Help me try to put aside judgments I have made, instead of looking at people like you would want us to see them. Amen
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Extended reading: none; you may catch up with any readings you have missed
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
6 When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8 When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
This is one of my favorite stories from the gospels. I am amazed at the privilege the disciples had in receiving a glimpse of Jesus’ true nature, shining and transfigured before them. Not only were they blessed in living and working with Jesus on a daily basis, but these three disciples were further honored to be with Jesus on the mountain to see him as he really was.
Peter the blabbermouth had no idea what to say or do, but he tried to be helpful in saying he could put up three shelters, one for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. The others probably just stared at the vision of Jesus shining, with no words to come out of their mouths. Then the very voice of God came out of the clouds, and they fell to the ground terrified.
Most every day our lives are very ordinary. Go to work, get dinner on the table, be there for the family in whatever way we can. But then, God intersects our very usual routines with a glimmer of a vision of the person and character of God, and how absolutely amazing He is. In these moments, we can do nothing but fall down to worship Him and give God our all. Praise God for these shining moments; thank God for the privilege of receiving faith in Jesus Christ.
Open my eyes, Lord, that I may see Jesus. Stop up my mouth so that I may better hear your voice. Set me down on my knees in prayer and adoration so I may worship you. You are bigger than my imagination. You are Almighty; you are Everlasting Love; you are Mercy and Kindness and Gracious. You are God, come for our salvation in Jesus Christ. I give you all praise and glory. Amen.
Wednesday, March 14 2018
Extended reading: Matthew 16:17-20 Peter is the rock upon which Jesus builds his church
21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. 28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Peter was appalled to think of Jesus suffering and dying. He was Jesus’ protector and friend and his first impulse to prevent any harm from coming to him. He didn’t understand that God’s plan of salvation was dependent on Jesus fulfilling his destiny.
Jesus was fully man as well as fully God. He was agonizing over the suffering he would endure. Peter, unknowingly, was like Satan in the desert tempting Jesus to disregard His Father’s will to save himself.
The disciples were told to take up take up their cross and follow Jesus. In order to find life they must first lose it.
Heavenly Father, thank you for leading out of my selfishness as I become the person you created me to be. Help me to give myself fully to you, to lay down my life, my will, and my limited understanding so that I can find real life in you. Give me the courage to be willing to suffer, even to death for your sake, if that is your will. Lord I pray for those people who live with the constant fear of death for following Jesus in the places in the world where that is common place. In Jesus’ name, Amen
What We Believe
We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only son and our savior, who lived among us to teach us and die for us. He rose again to give us the promise of eternal life in him John 3:16. He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is God dwelling in us John 14:15-17. We seek God’s word in the Bible, the foundation of our faith. Our mission as a church is to proclaim the good news of Christ to all. We honor Christ through worship and fellowship, encouraging one another in faith, hope and love 1 Corinthians 13:13, and serving our neighbors with compassion and justice.
We belong to the United Church of Christ. As a congregation we are granted the autonomy to govern our local church, and prayerfully make the best decisions we can on how to live out our calling as believers. Each person has the freedom and responsibility of discerning for themselves how faith in Jesus Christ impacts their daily walk and their worldview. We respect one another’s differences because even though we are diverse, we are still part of Christ’s body.
We look forward to welcoming you some day soon. Peace to you in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
10:00 am Worship Service
10:00 am Children's Adventure Hour
Maundy Thursday, March 29
6:30 pm Soup & Bread Supper
7:00 pm Communion Service
8:45 am Easter Breakfast
10:00 am Easter Service