April 8th News and Notes

Worship

Due to the stay at home order and continuing health concerns due to Covid-19, we will continue to worship online for the foreseeable future.  The Board will reevaluate at the end of April.

Holy Week

Join us as we journey through Holy Week.  Next week, Monday April 6th – Thursday April 9th, at 7:30, we will have a study based on “Entering the Passion of Jesus” by Amy Jill-Levine.  You can join us through Zoom at https://zoom.us/j/159967508

Stay at Home Order

Maryland, DC, and Virginia have issued stay at home orders enforcable by fines and/or jail time.  If you need to be out on essential business, please let Chris know and he can send you a letter to protect you while out.

Worship Opportunities

Until we are able to worship together, we will worship through Zoom on Sunday mornings at 10:00, You can sign in with this link – https://zoom.us/j/159967508 or call  in at 1-301-715-8592, using meeting ID 159 967 508. When it prompts you for a user id, simply hit the pound sign.  We will try worshiping by Zoom this Sunday at 10:00 using the same link.  A video of Sunday worship will be sent out shortly after it is completed.

Giving

Several people have asked how they can continue to make their tithes and offerings while we are not meeting in person.  There are several ways.  You can mail a check to the church.  You can give online through paypal https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=KJTC62AUPNWCE&source=url   You can also set up a payment through your banks online bill pay feature.  Paypal charges the church approximately 3%, so please consider either consider giving through one of the other two ways or adding 3% to your offering to offset the fee.

Cure for isolation

Many of our members may feel isolated.  We have had someone step up and offer to try and teach zoom, google hangouts, facetime or other tech programs to better reach out to friends and family.  If you would like help with that, please email me at ckdeacon@yahoo.com and I will set up a time.

Assistance

If any of our members who are “at risk” do not feel safe running errands, we have put together a team to help you out.  Please email me at ckdeacon@yahoo.com and I will put you in touch with them.

Christmas in April

Christmas in April has been cancelled for this year due to the stay at home order.

 

April 12th Easter Devotional

Worst. Ending. Ever

Robb McCoy

Mark 16:1-8

The most remarkable part of this passage is not what is here, but what is missing. This is not how the story is supposed to go, is it? There is no weeping Mary being comforted by the gardener. There is no race to the tomb or clean linen folded up. There is no fish breakfast or walk to Emmaus. There isn’t even Jesus! What kind of Easter story is this?

There is an empty tomb. There is a strange man with words of reassurance, but it ends with fear and silence. The story ends with the words “they said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.” Worst. Ending. Ever.

This is actually the perfect ending to the Gospel of Mark, because it is no ending at all. Today, on Easter, we decide. Is Jesus alive? If not, go about your lives unchanged. If Jesus is dead, then that is the end of the story. Go home, and worry no more about this strange man from Galilee.

But the man said “Go back to Galilee.” Go back to where it all began and Jesus will meet you there. Go back to the beginning of the story. Remember the first words of the Gospel of Mark, “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” Those words did not describe the first chapter of Mark. They are the title of the whole book. Mark has no ending because the truth is, it is just the beginning. This is the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ. We who wake up on Easter morning are the ones who write the rest of the story. Go and live the good news. Go and write your ending.

Go and Tell!

Robb McCoy is the pastor of Two Rivers UMC in Rock Island, Illinois; and a producer of the Pulpit Fiction Podcast.

©2020 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group.  This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

April 11th Lenten Devotional

Graphic Reminders

Judith Johnson-Siebold

Psalm 22:1-2, 14-21

One of the wonderful things about Scripture is its ability to put into words those feelings and experiences for which our words seem insufficient. We may say we have a headache, or our knees hurt, but there’s more to our malady than physical pain; there’s also an emotional content brought on by the pain and our response to it. Psalm 22 is a particularly good example of Scripture’s ability to verbalize that emotional content.

In verse 1 the author describes a feeling of abandonment, of feeling alone with their pain. Verses 14-18 use highly graphic language to further describe their feelings. “Many bulls surround me…ripping and tearing, I’m poured out like water… my bones have fallen apart…my heart is like wax, it melts inside me…I can count all my bones…” How powerful these images are, possibly describing our experiences of being engulfed by a pounding headache, or weakened by an infection, or impatient for a broken bone to heal, or overwhelmed by fear, or despairing by unwanted weight loss. We know these feelings.

But the Scripture doesn’t stop with just the present painful situation; it goes on to present the solution. Verses 19-21 remind us that God is not far away and unconcerned with our suffering. Rather, God is a present strength and does not abandon us. God’s Presence also has emotional content, and we are encouraged by the knowledge that God is with us.

O Holy One, when we are in pain help us to trust that You are with us, upholding us, and strengthening us, and when we know of others who are in pain, help us bring the good  news of your Presence to them, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Rev. Judith Johnson-Siebold, Ph.D. is a United Methodist clergywoman in the Upper New York Conference who writes children’s books.

©2020 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group.  This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

April 10th Lenten Devotional

Untitled

John W Stevens

Mark 15:16-39

When are we forced to carry the cross when we don’t feel ready or we have no desire?

Simon of Cyrene, a passerby, is “compelled” to carry the cross that was meant for Jesus. In other words, Roman soldiers forced Simon to carry this cross, whether he was ready or not.

When are we forced to carry the cross when we don’t feel ready or we have no desire?

Sitting around the table at coffee hour, after church, as we were known to do, talking about all kinds of problems that were facing our town, words were thrown out like, “those people.” You know, “those people,” who have already compelled an image to be placed in your mind and heart. Was I being compelled or just asked to carry the cross that belongs to Jesus?

When are we forced to carry the cross when we don’t feel ready or we have no desire?

Every single day. We are forced to carry the cross of Jesus. Perhaps, if I am lucky, I have a desire to reach out. Perhaps if I am lucky, I might feel a bit ready. But most of the times, I do not.

Here is the Good News. On this side of the empty tomb, we are not alone when we carry the cross. It is Jesus Christ who carries the cross with us. We will stumble. We will struggle with our desire. But Jesus compels us, as his followers in this world to pick up the cross. As so we do. Knowing that Jesus walks with us.

Prayer: Jesus, carrying the cross is scary work. Help me. Amen.

John W. Stevens is pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, located in Oregon City, Oregon. He enjoys coffee, sleight of hand magic, and Jesus.

©2020 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group.  This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

April 9th Lenten Devotional

Denial Hurts

Jo Mead

Mark 14:22-42

JI have said words in a time of emotion that I failed to live into. It is so easy to speak words yet harder to live into the promise of the words. In times of trial and hardship I have said “you are in my prayers”, yet I didn’t actually pray. In times of hardship I have said, “Please call me if you need anything” which gets me off the hook for thinking of ways to help my friend. In fact, it puts the burden on my friend to tell me what I can do. Jesus says to his closest followers even you will deny me. Those words hurt Peter and the others as they had just finished a beautiful meal together. And maybe, Jesus says the same to us today. We have denied the life and passion of Christ when we continue our ways without regard to the environment. We deny Christ when we stand in silence as laws are enacted to push our siblings into cages, health care is a bargaining tool and sexuality is commodity. We deny Jesus has changed our lives and purpose in life when clean water is at risk for many in our world and we continue to add chemicals to the ground which may never be pure again. Our world is at risk and yet pretend as if we are unable to make changes which give future generations hope for their lives. We must open our eyes and hearts to follow the life of Jesus to finding shalom for all.

Lord, show me your way today. Give me courage to say yes to you. Amen.

Reverend Jo Mead serves the Great Plains Conference of the United Methodist Church in Wichita, Kansas at University United Methodist Church. A place where all people are  welcomed in the spirit of shalom.

©2020 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group.  This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

April 8th Lenten Devotional

Room at the Table

Chad Pierce

Mark 14:17-21

Jesus was no stranger to awkward dinner conversations. He had a habit of dining with people you would not expect. From tax collectors and sinners to Pharisees, Jesus had a way of drawing all people in. I would imagine that his “last supper” with the disciples might have been the worst. Surrounded by his closest followers he dined with those who not only misunderstood him but who would ultimately betray him?

I wonder what Jesus thought as he heard one disciple after another righteously affirm that they could never betray him? I wonder if he longed to dine once again with the sinners and tax collectors? At least they weren’t hypocrites. I wonder if there was part of Jesus that just wanted to ask some of the disciples like Judas to leave, or at least go sit on the other side of the room?

He didn’t. God doesn’t. That’s not who God is. Lent reminds us that it is when we are at our worst that Christ meets us with his outstretched arms. Just as Christ welcomed the sleepy ones, the disowning ones, the frightened ones, the betrayers to his last meal, he continues to call sinners to the feast of his table. Christ’s suffering was meant to break down barriers between us and God and between one another.

In Lent we are reminded that we are welcome at Christ’s table not because of who we are but because of who God is. In Lent we are also called to set our tables after the table of Christ. I wonder if all are welcome at our tables?

Pray that God would open your heart to someone who is not currently welcome at your table.

Rev. Dr. Chad Pierce is the Pastor of Faith Christian Reformed Church in Holland, MI.

©2020 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group.  This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

April 7th Lenten Devotional

The Passover Lamb

Anne Knighten

Mark 14:12-16

As the disciples follow Jesus’ instructions about finding a place to celebrate the Passover, they may have wondered how Jesus seemed to know exactly what was going to happen. How did he know that a man with a water jug would lead them to a house where a guest room was already prepared? If he knew such things, what else might be possible? Would he soon reveal himself as the longawaited Messiah and free them from the bondage of the Roman Empire? And when he did, what might their role in his kingdom be? I doubt that they had any understanding that in preparing for this Passover meal, they were helping to prepare for Jesus’ death. They could not have seen how Jesus would become the new Passover lamb.

When the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, God commanded that every Israelite household was to slaughter a year-old male lamb that had no defect, putting some of its blood on the doorposts and lintel of their houses. When the angel of the Lord saw the blood, he passed over the house and did not inflict the tenth and most terrible of the plagues: the death of the firstborn. The Israelites were commanded to celebrate Passover to remember how God led them out of slavery. When we see Jesus as the new Passover lamb, we acknowledge that his body was given for us, that his blood was shed for us. He is the unblemished one, the one without defect, whose blood on the doorposts and lintel of our hearts saves us from destruction and frees us from the bondage of sin.

Listen to “Lamb of God” by Twila Paris. You can find it in many hymnals, on YouTube, and where Christian music is sold.

Anne Knighten is a senior in the MDiv-Distributive Learning program at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN. She and her husband live in Redlands, CA.

©2020 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group.  This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.