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
Thursday, May 24, 2018
And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat.
3 Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.
What do you eat today? Is your food sweet or salty, nutritious or merely empty calories? What if God asked you to make his word be your meat and drink, to take his scroll and let it enter into your soul? Could you speak God’s word to those whom God said would not listen, to those who will not turn away from their wrongdoing? How hard Ezekiel’s task, how tragic even!
God called Ezekiel to be responsible for the lives of those whom he either spoke to or failed to speak to. If Ezekiel pointed out that person’s wrongdoing and the person turned back to the Lord, it is good. But if Ezekiel failed to point out the person’s errors and that person died in his sin, the responsibility was on Ezekiel’s shoulders.
God’s word is sweet when we find joy in the Lord. But it is a serious, even difficult thing to listen then have to be God’s voice of warning for those who have strayed from God. Hold in prayer today someone whom God may need you to help.
Let me bow down before you, Almighty God, for your word is strong and powerful, and I am vulnerable to temptation, no different from anyone else. Before I can guide anyone else, I have to consent to let you mold me first. Let your word be sweet as honey, to keep me longing after you. For this I pray in Christ’s name. Amen.
Wednesday, May 23, 2018
In my thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.
I remember precisely what I was doing the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated, when I came home and found my mother crying. I remember that schools were closed so we could watch the funeral and I saw little Caroline and John-John with their mother. It was a very sad day. I remember where I was when I first heard that a plane crashed into the World Trade Center. I didn’t believe it until I got home and saw the terrible video footage on television.
In the same way, Ezekiel remembers the exact day when he received a vision of the glory of God. The creatures he saw were not of human origin; they had a mixture of human, bird and animal components, along with a wheel that accompanied the figures. They were amazing and utterly unforgettable. Ezekiel would always remember this vision, along with the date when God showed him this vision.
Some folks know the exact date when they first accepted Christ as their savior; others experienced a gradual awakening that only later they perceived as faith in Christ. Some people retain a clear memory of a special worship experience, perhaps at Christmas or Easter or another time. You may remember a time when prayer was answered and you knew God was with you.
It is good to hold on to moments when you know faith is important, moments when you know without any doubt that God is real and loves you profoundly. Whether you can attach a date to that moment or not, may you never forget the vision God has given you – a vision of love and hope and peace.
Dear God, there is so much I can forget, but let me never forget you. Hold me in the palm of your hand and keep me safe; let me see your love shining through the eyes of those who love you too. How amazing it will be when what is but a vision now becomes reality when we will live forever with you. I praise your name in Jesus Christ. Amen.
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
38 They will be my people, and I will be their God. 39 I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them. 40 I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. 41 I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.
This chapter of Jeremiah is one of great promise despite the storm of destruction that is gathering over the land. The people of Israel have disobeyed God again and again, and Babylon is threatening to destroy them. Even so, God asks Jeremiah to buy a field, which Jeremiah does. God says, “Put the deed in a safe place,” which then meant a sealed clay jar. The meaning is clear – though destruction is imminent, there will be a time when Jeremiah can reclaim his field, when God’s people may return to their land, when God will bless them with safety and prosperity.
What kind of amazing God is this? Like the people of Israel, we also do wrong things. God has every reason to be disappointed in us, even angry at us. We certainly deserve any punishment we get! But God never stops loving us, never stops being our heavenly Father, and will never stop doing good on our behalf.
May we continue to have every reason to thank God and praise him for the good God showers down on us, for the love God shows us, and for the forgiveness we are offered in his only son, Jesus Christ.
Dear God, this day is fresh before me. I may choose to spend it in ways that honor you, or I may squander this day in activities that do not give you glory. Lord, I do not always make good choices, so I need you. Speak to my soul through your Holy Spirit; guide me and strengthen me to follow your will. Make my path clear so I may walk in your way, this day and every day. For this I pray in the precious name of our savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Monday, May 21, 2018
This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the LORD came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of a potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. If at any time I announce that a nation or a kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it. “Now therefore say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘This is what the LORD says: Look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions.’ But they will reply, ‘It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; we will all follow the stubbornness of our evil hearts.’ ”
God’s power over his creatures is represented by the potter. Jeremiah looks upon the potter’s work, and God speaks into his mind two great truths. God has authority, and power, to form and fashion kingdoms and nations as he pleases. He may dispose of us as he thinks fit; and it would be as absurd for us to dispute this as for the clay to quarrel with the potter. But he always goes by fixed rules of justice and goodness. When God comes against us in judgment, we may be sure it is for our sins; but sincere repentance from sin will prevent the evil of punishment, as to persons, and families, and nations.
Sinners call it liberty to live at large; whereas for a man to be a slave to his lusts, is the very worst slavery. They left God for idols. When men are parched with heat, and meet with cooling, refreshing streams, they will drink from them. In these things men will not leave a certainty for an uncertainty; but Israel left the ancient paths appointed by the Divine law. They walked not in the highway, in which they might travel safely, but in a way in which they must stumble: such was the way of idolatry, and such is the way of iniquity. This made their land desolate, and themselves miserable. Calamities may be borne, if God smile’s upon us when under them; but if he is displeased, and refuses his help, we are undone. Multitudes forget the Lord and his Christ, and wander from the ancient paths, to walk in ways of their own devising. But what will they do in the Day of Judgment!
Lord we accept that you are indeed the potter and we are the clay. I ask you to mold me and shape me as I face each new day. I strive for your approval as decisions are made. I praise your Holy Name. But our world is much like what Jeremiah observed. Thank you for your Blessings and Assurance that you will be with us throughout all time. Amen.
Sunday, May 20, 2018
“As a thief is disgraced when he is caught, so the people of Israel are disgraced—
they, their kings and their officials, their priests and their prophets.
27 They say to wood, ‘You are my father,’ and to stone, ‘You gave me birth.’
They have turned their backs to me and not their faces;
yet when they are in trouble, they say, ‘Come and save us!’
This is a harsh chapter of Jeremiah, of which this is but a portion. No one is excluded from God’s indictment against the nation – the people, the kings and officials, even the priests and prophets. Every one of us falls into one or another of the above categories, for every one of us are human. Every one of us has failed to consistently and unfailingly put God at the center of our lives. Every one of us has chased after little gods of money, fame, prestige, career, even family – things that we presume to put on top over God. And yet, when we are in trouble, we cry out to God for help.
God has every reason to be irritated, even angry with humanity for the way we behave. When I read passages like this one, it makes me all the more amazed that in spite of all the ways that people turn their backs to God, God still sent Jesus, his only son, to us. God allowed Jesus to take our punishment, to be forsaken for our wrongs when we deserved it, not him. Jesus paid the price. He was disgraced though he had done no wrong. Praise God for his mercy and love, redeeming us for his sake.
Lord God, let me turn to you today, not out of guilt or shame, but out of love and amazement, praising you for the gift of Jesus my redeemer. You have every right to look at my wrongs, but you choose to take them all away in Jesus out of love for your people. Help me be as kind towards others as you have been to me, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Saturday, May 19, 2018
10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
We cannot make it snow or rain. We cannot prevent its coming, for its power is inherent in the earth of which God is the Creator. We see the good in the rain and snow as well as the way it can wreck havoc on our lives. The good is that it nurtures crops and provides for our sustenance.
In the same way, Isaiah reminds us that God’s ways are beyond our partial understanding. God’s word has an effect beyond what we may imagine. God’s will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. We cannot put limits on God, any more than we can control the weather. We cannot demand that God act on our timetable. God has a purpose that will be fulfilled in God’s perfect timing.
God gives us promises in Isaiah that God has fulfilled in Jesus Christ our savior. God asks us to confess when we have gone astray, so that we may turn to God to find the resources we need. When we turn to God, we are able to see the power in God’s word, to accomplish what God wills. We are not God, but God is. God has a bigger plan, a wider vision, and the means to fulfill what God intends.
Forgive me, Lord, if I have tried to hem you in by my understanding, or tried to define you according to what I want. You are bigger than my self-centered wishes. Let me receive your Word; let it infiltrate my being so that I may give you all praise and glory. For you are God; I am not. Guide me to fulfill your plan, in Jesus Christ. Amen.
Friday, May 18, 2018
4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
God punished him. He was afflicted, took up our pain, bore our suffering. He transferred our sorrow and grief upon himself. All that is painful in our lives, Jesus knows intimately, because he took it all on himself.
He was pierced. He was crushed. He took the punishment. He was stricken, bruised and wounded because of things we have done wrong. He took the punishing blows on himself, but the result is our peace and our healing.
This is our confession – we like sheep have gone astray. We wander onto dangerous pathways because of our own obstinate pride, thinking we know best. We turn away from God our shepherd, thinking we don’t need him to guide us. Forgive us, Lord, for we need Jesus to intercede on our behalf. Help us realize what an amazing and perfect gift we have been given in Jesus our Savior!
Gracious God, out of love you provide for us a way out of the wilderness where we have become ensnared. You send us Jesus, who did for us what we cannot do on our own. Through him we are forgiven. Through him your justice is made complete. We praise you and honor you in Jesus Christ. 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