Virtual worship via Zoom
Given that Geauga County is now on Level Red for Covid, our church will not at this time hold live worship in our sanctuary. Instead, beginning Sunday, October 25, we will hold virtual worship via Zoom. The zoom link has been sent through email in order to join in; if you did not receive the link please send an email to email@example.com.
The Zoom gathering will begin at 9:45 AM to give folks time to sign in and greet one another. We will share announcements and prayer requests as the worship service begins at 10 AM. You may continue in fellowship once the service concludes. This virtual format will continue until Covid levels go down and we may again worship in our sanctuary on Sunday mornings.
Even when we are able to again worship together in the sanctuary, we will still continue each week to post the Youtube video of worship on our website. Thus there will be two alternate ways of entering into worship. May you be blessed as you draw near to our God in praise and worship.
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Tuesday, October 27, 2020
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
There have been many deaths from Covid, so many that it is hard setting aside the sheer magnitude of numbers to know that for each death, there is family and friends that mourn. In each death there is a loss of what could have been in that person’s life, the good that could have been rendered, the positive influence that person may have had on another. Multiplied many times over, each one who has died is also a loss for our nation and world.
We mourn when we lose someone we loved, but Jesus reminds us that we do not need to be troubled. Put your trust in God. To be troubled implies that we do not trust that God will continue to care that person once he or she has completed this earthly life. We cannot know what happens once we cease to breathe and pump blood through our veins, but by faith in Jesus Christ, we trust that God’s love will still be with us in this next unknown chapter.
We trust that God’s promises are worthy and true. We trust that what God says will come to pass. If God says there is a place prepared for us, we can believe it and in those words find hope. The good in any person does not die upon that person’s death. Yes, he or she will live on in those who follow after, but even more, God has made provisions for our eternal life. And those provisions center around Jesus, who promises to take us to be with him.
Trustworthy and true. God gives us hope in Jesus Christ.
Gracious God, I lift up those who are mourning today. Be with them to fill the gaping hole left by their loss. Renew all of us in hope, to remember that our present life is but the prelude to what will come by faith in Jesus your son and our savior. Amen.
Monday, October 26, 2020
6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Amy Grant sings a song where she imagines God saying of her, “She has her father’s eyes.” That is for me like the way Jesus describes this woman, saying, “She did what she could.” Or, like the one in a parable of Jesus, who upon completing his work for his master, is told, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Such an affirmation, that this woman offered herself to God’s service in the best way she could. She showed a servant’s heart, akin to the heart of God, in what she did.
God knows us to the core, so I hope that when I get to meet God face to face, God will see that I used well what opportunities I had to further God’s kingdom and follow God’s commands to love one another. Certainly I cannot do everything, but God understands my potential along with my limitations. God continues to stretch me and challenge me to mature in character and service. I hope my actions will be such that even though I cannot do all things, God can say that I have done what I could.
Pouring perfume on Jesus to anoint him for burial – a small thing in one perspective, but huge in another. It took courage and sacrifice on her part, not to mention having to endure censure for her actions! But Jesus praised her. “She did what she could.” May that kind of praise from our master be enough for you and me.
Dear God, give me the courage to do even small things for your kingdom if that’s what I am able to do. Keep me listening to your guidance so that I may be faithful in service. Let me not get discouraged looking at my limitations; instead let me be obedient in whatever way I can. I give you the praise in Jesus Christ our savior. Amen.
Saturday, October 24, 2020
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”
Don’t we all want to know the answer to these questions? Don’t we want to know when is the last possible moment to repent before all destruction breaks loose? It is newsworthy, even if people are skeptical, whenever someone claims to know the date of the end of the world. Jesus said for us to be on our guard; he said, “Watch out that no one deceives you.”
Terrible things may happen, persecution and suffering. What we experience now as people of faith may be nothing compared to what could come in the future. Jesus speaks of war and natural disasters, along with betrayal within families, hatred and death sentences simply because one professes faith in Christ.
The main thing, Jesus says, is to know the messiah well enough that one recognizes a fake. If we maintain a real relationship with him, we will know falsehood when we see it. If Jesus does not know the day of his return, then we cannot know it ahead of time either. All we can do is keep our eyes on him.
There is much in the world waiting to deceive and lead us astray, Lord. Create within us the urgency to know you well enough so that we will recognize a fake when we see it. Keep us close to you through your word in scripture, and constant in prayer. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Friday, October 23, 2020
6 “He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 7 “But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. 9 “What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture:
“‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;
11 the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”
12 Then the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them.
How sad, how ironic, that it was the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders – the religious experts – who knew who Jesus was and still rejected him! They understood the truth of the parable, that they were the ones whom Jesus said treated the servants of the landowner, a.k.a. God, shamefully. If they “got it”, why were they not filled with remorse, instead of anger and hostility? What did they have to lose, when there was so much more to gain?
Maybe you don’t call yourself a religious “expert,” but there may be times when you shrug off Jesus from your life. Maybe you don’t reject him, per se, but you ignore him. Why not give Jesus what he is due as God’s only son? Certainly respect, along with our faith in him.
God knew Jesus would be rejected, he that is our cornerstone. It is marvelous, that even though God knew beforehand that not all persons would accept him, and that Jesus would be crucified in a most painful death, his death would be the means for our forgiveness, for our new beginning, and our wholeness.
You have given us an amazing inheritance, Lord, and so because that it is one that comes as a result of humanity rejecting Jesus. You took what was wrong and let it be the means of receiving salvation. You are marvelous, O God! You are utterly incomprehensible in your amazing, gracious love. We absolutely do not deserve the grace we receive in Jesus Christ. But we thank you. Amen.
Thursday, October 22, 2020
22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
What an amazing promise – faith to the extreme! Jesus had that faith – he who could still the wind and waves, who could restore life to one in a tomb, who could heal and teach and live every moment in faith. Us? Well, maybe we could move a pebble, if we kicked it. But a mountain? I don’t think so.
These words of Jesus remind me that there is so much more to faith than I can believe or receive in this lifetime. There is more power in God than I can possibly comprehend right now. There will be a day when you and I get to experience the fullness of God, when faith will be more concrete, right in front of our eyes, so everyone can see it. Then we will see mountains moving, even melting, before the awesome greatness of our God.
I may never move a literal mountain, but God is moving in me day by day. God is still guiding me, teaching me, encouraging me, and yes, challenging me to take the risk in faith. Keep moving me, dear God, as I endeavor to grow in faith.
There is so much of you, Lord, like an immense mountain that takes my breath away. I cannot presume to scale the mountain of faith when I can barely scramble over a hump in the road. Don’t give up on my, Lord, as I try to keep you in the center of my life. Strengthen me for the journey, give me persistence in prayer, and above all, help me forgive as you have forgiven me. For this I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
Blessings and hardships. We long for the first, and want to run away from the second. We want to be blessed with wealth and loving families and all manner of good things, but for Jesus to include persecutions in the list – wow – that is difficult to receive. And then Jesus ends his remarks saying that many who are first will be last, and the last first.
What that says to me is that, in this as in other instances, we are to let God be in charge and not presume to order God around. Maybe we have sacrificed for the sake of gospel – lost a friend or a job or some other tangible resource. Or maybe difficulties have come, simply because we profess faith in Jesus our savior. Whether we find in this life blessings or curses because of faith, well, so did Jesus.
I pray that whatever God asks of us, that we may endeavor to be faithful and obedient to do it. Maybe much will be asked of us, or maybe not. Maybe our eventual place in heaven will be humble, despite all our efforts here in this lifetime. If we will simply put our trust in God’s goodness, no matter what happens we can continue to give God all thanks and praise.
Gracious God, let me be faithful to do what service you ask of me, today and every day. Let me be willing to shoulder the difficult tasks, and do it with grace. Let me keep my eyes fixed on you, Lord, so that my only desire is to please you. I give you all praise in Jesus Christ. Amen.
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
The expert wanted to justify himself. He wanted a pat on the back to hear, yes, you inherit eternal life. You love God, even if you only love certain people you call neighbors, while excluding others from the definition. With this question of who is my neighbor, Jesus begins the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Jesus talks about a man who was attacked by robbers. We don’t know who he is. We don’t know his nationality, his status or profession. Whoever he was, the priest and the Levite declined to acknowledge his presence or care for him. But the Samaritan took pity on him, bandaging his wounds and placing him in the care of another, even paying the caretaker for his trouble.
Did it stick in the craw of the expert to have to acknowledge that the Samaritan was the good neighbor? Did this parable enable him to widen his definition of neighbor? Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.” I guess that’s our job too.
Can we call one a neighbor whose political affiliations are opposite to our own? Can we call one a neighbor whose faith is different from ours, whose culture is unfamiliar to us, whose appearance or behavior runs counter to our own upbringing? It is hard for us to embrace that which is “outside the box” of what we know or hold dear. The Samaritan chose to care for someone based on their common humanity, rather than according to any labels we place on a person. In this time of polarization in our country, we pray to enlarge our sense of being a neighbor.
It is painful to admit, Lord, that I do not consider every person my neighbor. Forgive me for those I exclude, for whatever reason. Open my eyes. Help me see each person as you do, even those I don’t particularly care for. Don’t let me close myself off from someone you have called a neighbor. 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.
Sundays - Outdoors this summer
10:00 am Worship Service
with Children's Moment
Live Outdoor Worship 10:00 am @ Township Park next to the church. Bring a chair. Plenty of room for social distancing. Or stay in your car. Masks are encouraged. More details below in the June newsletter.