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
Saturday, April 21, 2018
“But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the good Lord provide atonement for everyone who prepares his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers, though he is not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary.” And the Lord listened to Hezekiah and healed the people.”
What is one of the most important things we can do for others? We can pray, we can intercede to God on others behalf, especially those who can’t or don’t know they can reach out to God. When people we know and love have great need, it can very often be beyond our power to help them in any temporal way. However there is one who is above the temporal, that is Jesus. He is eternal, He is all powerful, and He loves us with an everlasting love.
Sometimes people can lose sight of their destiny, of their purpose and can be overcome by cares and anxieties of daily life – sickness, disappointment, financial, depression, addictions, exhaustion, loss of a loved one. Not being able to help ourselves, the support by prayer and intercession not only helps those in need, it also brings us closer to the real heart of God.
Ezekiel 18:23 “have I any desire that the wicked should perish saith the Lord God, but rather they return from their ways and live.”
25 The entire assembly of Judah rejoiced, along with the priests and Levites and all who had assembled from Israel, including the foreigners who had come from Israel and also those who resided in Judah. 26 There was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem. 27 The priests and the Levites stood to bless the people, and God heard them, for their prayer reached heaven, his holy dwelling place.
Like a pebble tossed into still waters, ripples went out from one to touch many people with love and devotion to the Lord. King Hezekiah sent word out to all Israel and Judah, Ephraim and Manasseh, inviting them to come to the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem and celebrate Passover, the feast remembering how God rescued his people from slavery in Egypt. At first there were few priests who were able to celebrate, according to the commands set forth by the Lord. There were people who scorned the proclamation the couriers read from Hezekiah. Others listened, humbled themselves to the Lord and went to Jerusalem. God was with the people to give them unity of mind to carry out what the king and his officials planned, following the word of the Lord.
The ripples continued to spread. More priests became consecrated to celebrate Passover as God directed. People were not ritually able to celebrate but they did anyway. Hezekiah made intercession for them and the Lord heard and healed the people. They rejoiced for seven days, then decided it wasn’t enough time and decided to celebrate seven more days. The joy radiated out to foreigners coming from Israel, along with those who lived in Judah. Their prayers made God smile.
You may remember the song, “Pass it On.” It only takes a spark to get a fire going… In the same way, what began with Hezekiah spread out until there was a great mass of people praising God and lifting their hearts in prayer. You and I may not have the same level of influence as a king, but any one of us has the capacity to be a positive influence and touch the life of another. May your faith be a banner that draws others to the Lord, like Hezekiah.
Work within my life today, Lord, that I may help another in a good way. May something of my faith shine through all that I do, to encourage another to seek you and rejoice in you. Help me be part of a ripple of faith to praise your name, in Jesus Christ my savior. Amen.
Friday, April 20, 2018
2 Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi). 3 Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4 The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.
It has been said that there are no atheists in foxholes, meaning that in a crisis, people feel compelled to turn to God for help. That’s what presumably happened in the days of Jehoshaphat, when he heard that a vast army was coming to invade their land. He called a fast and together the people came to seek God’s help.
King Jehoshaphat prayed before the assembled people, confessing that though they did not have the power to face this adversary, they would keep their eyes fixed on the Lord. Then God responded through words uttered by Jahaziel, to tell the people to march up against them, take up positions, stand firm, and know that the battle belongs to the Lord. Jehoshaphat’s foxhole prayer was effective, because God sent word that God would bring deliverance. God will be with them.
Prayer is good in the midst of a crisis, because a crisis allows us to remember that God is in charge and not ourselves. Foxhole prayers can be some of the richest prayers of faith. Prayers on a daily basis are also good. It’s fine to ask God for help when you can’t find something, are looking for a parking space in a crowded lot, or want to use the right words to talk with the boss. God will listen when we’re worried and afraid in a big crisis, and God will listen when we puzzled or simply need a little help. God helps us when we are willing to trust and obey.
Build us up in trust, Lord, so that we may come to you with confidence and be faithful to do what you say. No matter what is before us today, large or small, let us count on you as a friend who will guide us and help us. Keep our eyes fixed on you, to the glory of your name. In Christ we pray, Amen.
Thursday, April 19, 2018
2 Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. 3 He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. 4 He commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and to obey his laws and commands. 5 He removed the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah, and the kingdom was at peace under him. 6 He built up the fortified cities of Judah, since the land was at peace. No one was at war with him during those years, for the Lord gave him rest.
7 “Let us build up these towns,” he said to Judah, “and put walls around them, with towers, gates and bars. The land is still ours, because we have sought the Lord our God; we sought him and he has given us rest on every side.” So they built and prospered.
Good king, bad kings, sort of like good cops and bad cops. Asa was a good king, among a whole slew of bad kings. Good kings were obedient to God. They rid the country of idol worship – the foreign altars, sacred stones and Asherah poles. They commanded the people to seek God again. And in return, God allowed the country to be at peace.
Certainly, like kings, back then there were good people and bad people – those who sought the Lord and those who strayed from God to worship at pagan altars. But according to the faithfulness of the king is how the country went in the eyes of the Lord. I guess that’s not so far different from today. Our country’s leaders influence how the nation goes, whether we sacrifice or not for the greater good, whether we endeavor to serve those in need, support our troops, police and community safety forces. People during WWII made sacrifices I can’t imagine we would ever make again, but the leaders of our country led the way.
When we seek the Lord, when we strive to be obedient to God’s will, God will give us rest, peace within our hearts. No matter the circumstances before us, when God is with us, we will have all the resources we need to be strong.
What joy, Lord, when we trust in you! We receive blessings beyond measure when we seek you and allow you to guide us in right paths. Help us be your witness in all we do today. We pray in the grace of our savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Then Solomon began to build the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David. It was on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the place provided by David. 2 He began building on the second day of the second month in the fourth year of his reign.
3 The foundation Solomon laid for building the temple of God was sixty cubits long and twenty cubits wide (using the cubit of the old standard). 4 The portico at the front of the temple was twenty cubits long across the width of the building and twenty cubits high.
He overlaid the inside with pure gold. 5 He paneled the main hall with juniper and covered it with fine gold and decorated it with palm tree and chain designs. 6 He adorned the temple with precious stones. And the gold he used was gold of Parvaim.7 He overlaid the ceiling beams, doorframes, walls and doors of the temple with gold, and he carved cherubim on the walls.
Look up Mount Moriah, and you will see it is considered one of the most hotly contested places on earth – holy in the eyes of Christians, Jews and Muslims. On the top of Mount Moriah in Jerusalem is the site where Solomon built the temple, but Mount Moriah’s significance goes back to Genesis, chapter 22. This is where God commanded Abraham to take his only son, Isaac, to be offered as a burnt offering. Abraham bound Isaac and was ready, knife in hand, to do as God commanded, when God’s angel intervened and gave him a ram to sacrifice instead. Abraham named this place with words meaning, “The Lord will provide,” and God established a covenant with Abraham and his descendents.
It was around a thousand years later that King David bought this area that had been used for a threshing floor in order to build an altar to God. Then Solomon built the temple to God. That temple was destroyed by the Babylonian armies, and rebuilt following the exile. It was destroyed again in 70 AD. All that is left is the Western Wall, known as the Wailing Wall.
Prophecy in Daniel says a third temple will be built on that site, even though that area is now controlled by Muslims. We cannot see now the plans God has – for the temple and for God’s Judgment in the Last Days. All we can do is put our trust in Him and His Word. “God’s will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
God of power and might, your will reigns supreme, even if we cannot see its entirety. Obstacles that seem insurmountable to us will be revealed in your perfect time. We give to you today our problems and concerns, trusting that you will find a way through them. Strengthen us in trust, in hope, and in your power, to believe you can accomplish what we cannot now see. All praise is yours, in Jesus Christ. Amen.
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. 12 He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Akbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: 13 “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”
The Bible has been a world-wide best-selling book for many years, but imagine if there was but one copy and that Bible became lost, stuck in some unused closet and forgotten. Years passed. The country’s leadership changed over time. A new president decided to make some repairs on the state religious center and in the process this old book, the Bible, was found. This leader read the book and wept to think how far the country had strayed from the precepts of God’s word. The president asked some religious professionals to talk to God about the problem.
This is what happened in the reign of King Josiah. He undertook repairs to the Temple. He listened to the words of God in the Book of the Law. He initiated a conversation with God. He inquired of the priests to find out what God had to say about how the people had abandoned Him. There was a female prophet named Huldah, who gave God’s reply. Josiah humbled himself before the Lord, and tore his robes as a symbol of his sorrow over the sins of his people. Therefore he would live a long life and be buried in peace. Because of his faithfulness, the disaster awaiting Israel would be delayed.
Many people can bring on disaster, when as a culture, they allow wrong to be perpetuated. But one good person can turn the tide. Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14) Take the narrow path – the right one. God is waiting for you there.
Dear God, I can make choices that are good, or choices that do harm. Help me stand up for you, even if I am one against many. Let me take the narrow road of life, in Jesus Christ. Amen.
Monday, April 16, 2018
27 Then the king of Assyria gave this order: “Have one of the priests you took captive from Samaria go back to live there and teach the people what the god of the land requires.” 28 So one of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria came to live in Bethel and taught them how to worship the Lord.
The Assyrians conquered the southern kingdom of Israel, and the Israelites were taken into exile. People from other countries came in to replace the Israelites, people who did not know or worship the Lord. It was perceived that God sent lions there to kill people because of their lack of faith. So the king of Assyria issued what seemed to be a practical solution – send a priest there to teach the people what the Lord requires.
The king of Assyria was not a man of faith. He just wanted to solve a problem, namely to stop the lions from killing inhabitants. If God sent the lions, then he would send a priest to teach the people how to obey God. Ultimately, this plan did not work, because the inhabitants continued to worship in the ways they formerly did.
But his plan made me consider that God can and does use many sorts of people to accomplish his will. The king of Assyria did not care which faith the people there practiced, as long as order was maintained and threats were removed. Yet he brought back a priest to teach people about how to worship God. His plan was good, even if the people did not remain faithful.
We have our opinions about persons in positions of leadership and whether we think they are doing good work or not. We can forget that God can and does use people in authority to accomplish God’s will, whether or not these leaders are themselves people of faith. Pray for our leaders, but also give praise to God, for God’s plan is always bigger and higher and better than ours. Stay faithful and continue to worship the Lord. Whether a current leader is one you admire or not, pray that God’s will be done.
Gracious God, we pray for those in political office in our community, state, and nation. We pray that we will keep our eyes fixed on you through all the circumstances of our lives. Help us continue to trust in your power to bring good, no matter which political party our leaders adhere to, and no matter whether they are believers or not. This we pray in Christ’s name. Amen.
Sunday, April 15, 2018
The company of the prophets said to Elisha, “Look, the place where we meet with you is too small for us. 2 Let us go to the Jordan, where each of us can get a pole; and let us build a place there for us to meet.”
And he said, “Go.”
3 Then one of them said, “Won’t you please come with your servants?”
“I will,” Elisha replied. 4 And he went with them.
They went to the Jordan and began to cut down trees. 5 As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head fell into the water. “Oh no, my lord!” he cried out. “It was borrowed!”
6 The man of God asked, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float. 7 “Lift it out,” he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it.
A seemingly innocent story of a simple miracle, but I once heard profound parallels with this story and how to grow spiritually. The story begins with a problem. The company of prophets told Elisha that their meeting place was too small to accommodate them. Together they were committed to working to build a new place, each of them bringing materials. Elisha was planning to send them off, but they entreated Elisha to come with them as well, so he did. We are strong as we work together towards a common goal, as it is determined to be.
Another problem arose when an ax head fell into the water, and worse that it was borrowed and needed to be returned to its owner. Until this point, the company of prophets and Elisha were using their God-given intellect and muscle to implement their plan. Suddenly, solving the problem was beyond their capabilities. Ever had this happen to you? God so needs to be in the middle of what we do. Funny that it takes a problem to realize this truth!
Elisha, God’s representative, was able to make the iron ax head float. Then Elisha told the man to lift it out of the water. That reminds me that God is asking us to listen to his word, his guidance, his plans for us. When we obey, when we take action in line with what God wants for us, we give God the praise. So many times Jesus did the same thing – requesting some action from one who asked something of him. How do we demonstrate faith? What will we do today to show God our heart will obey?
God of love and mercy, you make amazing plans for us. You ask us to work together to accomplish your goals. You want to be in the middle of all we do. May all we do today be done as you wish for us. Keep us listening; keep us in line with your will. Let us give you all praise in Jesus Christ our Savior. 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