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Wear RED and bring some extra money.  

This coming Sunday is PentecostOn this day long ago the Church was born. In celebration of the Church’s birthday, wear something red to worship.  In our worship Sunday, we will recall the gift of God’s Spirit to Jesus’ disciples. We will rejoice in the Spirit’s continuing comfort, guidance, and intercession for us today.

Be sure to bring your checkbooks or cash. The children will be handing out red envelopes.  Everyone is invited to place an additional donation to the church budget in the envelope as an expression of our continual gratitude for our church.  The children will be collecting the special red envelopes at the end of worship.

Why all the RED? The color RED is used for Pentecost because it is the same color as fire.  Fire is a symbol of God’s Spirit, for the New Testament says that on the Day of Pentecost, tongues of fire rested on the believing crowd in Jerusalem and they were filled with God’s Spirit (Acts 2:1-4).

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Reflections on Matthew 26-27 for Holy Week.

Monday, Vulnerability and Trust.

Jesus serves the disciples a meal—the Passover meal.  When have you set your own interest aside and become vulnerable so you might serve others?

Tuesday, Disguise and Concealment.

When soldiers come to arrest Jesus, all the disciples vanish. Peter tried to hang around, but pretended he did not know Jesus.  When have you hidden from others that you are a Christian?

Wednesday, Fear.  

Standing in the courtyard outside of Caiaphas’ house, Peter is almost paralyzed by fear. He is eager to find out what is happening to Jesus, but he panics when others start to recognize him as one of Jesus’ followers.  When has fear paralyzed your faith?

Thursday, Scorn and Mockery.

The governor’s soldiers put a scarlet robe around Jesus and a crown of thorns on his head to mock him.  When have you participated in putting down and mocking others?

Friday, Authority and Protection.  

Soldiers lead Jesus to Golgatha to be crucified. Soldiers nail him to the cross. Soldiers cast lots for his clothes. Soldiers keep watch over him as he dies on the cross.  When have you used your power and authority over others to protect your priorities?

Saturday, A Clean Linen Cloth.  

Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man and a disciple of Jesus, wraps Jesus’ body in a clean linen cloth and lays him in a new tomb.  How can you give out of your abundance to care for others?

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Daily Readings for Lent 2017

The following daily readings are from Isaiah, Genesis and Proverbs. They have been chosen especially for Lent to help us confront the stark reality of our own potential for good and for evil.  Read the passages prayerfully. Allow them to lead you into careful self-examination. Ask yourself daily; against what evil does the prophet Isaiah warn? What new beginnings are needed in my life which mirror those I read about in Genesis? What wisdom from Proverbs clarifies me?

May the scriptures below create in us true repentance, a hunger and thirst for God, and a desire that our whole lives might be infused with God. Grace and peace, Tonya and Jeffrey

Week One

2/27     Isaiah 1:1-18            Genesis 1:1-13            Proverbs 1:1-20

2/28     Isaiah 1:21-31          Genesis 1:14-23         Proverbs 1:20-33

3/1       Isaiah 2:1-12             Genesis 1:24-2:3       Proverbs 2:1-22

3/2       Isaiah 2:17-22         Genesis 2:4-19           Proverbs 3:1-18

3/3       Isaiah 3:13-15           Genesis 2:20-25        Proverbs 3:19-34

3/4       Isaiah 4:2-6             Psalm 51:1-12

Week Two

3/6       Isaiah 5:1-7              Genesis 3:1-21            Proverbs 3:34-4:9

3/7       Isaiah 5:7-16            Genesis 3:22-4:7       Proverbs 4:10-22

3/8       Isaiah 5:18-25          Genesis 4:8-15           Proverbs 5:1-15

3/9       Isaiah 6:1-12            Genesis 4:16-26         Proverbs 5:15-6:3

3/9       Isaiah 7:1-15            Genesis 5:1-24            Proverbs 6:3-20

3/10     Isaiah 8:11-15          Genesis 5:32-6:8        Proverbs 6:20-7:1

3/11     Isaiah 8:16-22         Psalm 51:1-12

Week Three

3/13     Isaiah 9:1-7             Genesis 6:9-22            Proverbs 8:1-21

3/14     Isaiah 9:8-10:4      Genesis 7:1-15              Proverbs 8:32-9:11

3/15     Isaiah 10:12-20      Genesis 7:6-9              Proverbs 9:12-18

3/16     Isaiah 11:11-16        Genesis 7:11-8:3         Proverbs 10:1-22

3/17     Isaiah 12:1-6           Genesis 8:4-21            Proverbs 10:31-11:12

3/18     Isaiah 113:2-11         Psalm 51:1-12

Week Four

3/20     Isaiah 14:24-32      Genesis 8:21-9:7        Proverbs 11:19-12:6

3/21     Isaiah 25:1-9           Genesis 9:8-17            Proverbs 12:8-22

3/22     Isaiah 27:1-9          Genesis 9:18-10:1       Proverbs 12:23-13:9

3/23     Isaiah 28:14-22      Genesis 10:32-11:9     Proverbs 13:19-14:6

3/24     Isaiah 28:23-29     Genesis 12:1-7             Proverbs 14:15-26

3/25     Isaiah 29:13-23      Psalm 51:1-12

Week Five

3/27     Isaiah 40:18-24     Genesis 13:12-18         Proverbs 14:27-15:4

3/28     Isaiah 40:25-31      Genesis 15:1-15           Proverbs 15:7-19

3/29     Isaiah 41:4-13         Genesis 17:1-9            Proverbs 15:20-16:9

3/30     Isaiah 42:5-13         Genesis 18:20-33       Proverbs 16:17-17:17

3/31     Isaiah 42:14-17       Genesis 22:1-18          Proverbs 17:17-18:5

4/1       Isaiah 45:11-17        Psalm 51:1-12

Week Six

4/3       Isaiah 49:1-44        Genesis 27:1-41          Proverbs 19:16-25

4/4       Isaiah 49:6-11        Genesis 31:3-16           Proverbs 21:3-21

4/5       Isaiah 58:1-12         Genesis 43:26-31, 45:1-16     Proverbs 21:23-22:4

4/6       Isaiah 65:8-16        Genesis 46:1-7            Proverbs 23:15-24:5

4/7       Isaiah 66:13-16      Genesis 49:33-50:26     Proverbs 31:8-31

4/8       Isaiah 66:18-24     Psalm 51:1-12

Week Seven

4/10     Isaiah 42:1-9          Psalm 36:5-11              John 12:1-11

4/11     Isaiah 49:1-7           Psalm 71:1-14              John 12:20-36

4/12     Isaiah 50:4-9a        Psalm 70                       John 13:21-32

4/13     Exodus 12:1-4, 11-14    Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19        John 3:1-17, 31b-35

4/14     Isaiah 52:13-53:12        Psalm 22                 John 18:1-19:42

4/15     Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-24        Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16            Matthew 27:57-66

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Time to Pray

Daniel 9:4b-19 is a prayer Daniel offers to God during the time when praying to anyone other than the king was illegal.  Daniel kept on praying to God anyway.

This prayer Daniel offers in the evening, the time of day when sacrifices would have been made at the temple before it was ruined.  The prayer begins with confession.  The people have abandoned God and now they are facing the harsh life that comes with no regard for God.  They accept responsibility for not living up to the ideals of God.  At the end of the prayer Daniel offers words beyond confession.  Here we find an example of how to cope and respond through prayer to spiritual and physical loss.  When great uncertainty and doubt weigh on us and fear starts to set in, may we pray,

“O, our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to [my] prayer of request, and for your own sake, Lord, let your face shine on [us].  Incline your ear, O my God, and hear.  Open your eyes and look at our [ruin] and the [people] who bear your name.  We do not present our prayers of request before you on the grounds of our righteousness, but on the ground of your great mercies.  O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, listen and act and do not delay!  For your own sake, O my God, because … your people bear your name!”

The Lord responds, as always the Lord does!  Gabriel comes to Daniel in swift flight and says, “Daniel I have now come out to give you wisdom and understanding.  At the beginning of your prayer of request a word went out, and I have come to declare it, for you are greatly beloved.”

If the Lord responded quickly to Daniel’s prayer of request, the Lord will respond quickly to us as well, for we, like Daniel, are greatly beloved by God.  Wisdom and understanding are offered from the Lord God when uncertainty and doubt weigh upon us.  When fear starts to take hold, remember that God is compassionate and cares for us.

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Daniel 5.  The new king in Babylon was too busy focusing on himself and his future to care about what had happened to leaders who came before him.  He choose not to remember  what happened to former king Nebuchadnezzar when he oppressed the people and set justice aside.  He also showed no respect for the Most High God who gave King Neb a 2nd chance.  Instead the new king entrusted himself and his kingdom to empty gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood and stone.  He led the people to praise these gods while drinking from the vessels that had been taken from our God’s temple in Jerusalem.

Temptations to praise the empty gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood and stone seem silly to us today.  But we do find ourselves from time to time entrusting ourselves to other empty “gods,” like $, social positions, jobs, grades, efficiency, control, good health, peace, happiness… When these fall apart, we realize what we had been building our lives upon.

Let us trust in God first and foremost and build our lives upon the One who created us, redeemed us and sustains us.  Proverbs 3:5-6 teaches us to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and not to rely upon ourselves. Acknowledge the Lord in everything you do and the Lord will guide your steps.  Trust in the Lord!  Trust in the Lord….

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Daniel and his three friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah on the basis of their good looks and smarts were selected to serve in the Babylonian king’s palace.  (Daniel 1) It wasn’t a choice they made, but a choice made for them. In order to keep them strong and healthy, the selected men were served a daily meal from the king’s kitchen.  But these four guys chose to refuse this food.  It’s not that the king’s food tasted bad, but for them it was not the kind of food a follower of the Lord God would eat. Daniel and his friends were mindful of their Creator God through their eating and they wanted to keep up that discipline.  We might ask what’s so wrong with eating different foods?  But for Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, this kind of food was going against what a loyal follower of God would eat.  Times are different these days and we are not required to follow dietary laws in order to keep our faith alive.  But we still must remain mindful of our choices, actions and desires making sure they communicate to ourselves and the world that our loyalty lies with the Lord God.  What “royal food” is tempting you today and pulling you away from God?  Pray and ask God to help you remain faithful in all things.

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Evergreens

We had a blast decorating the sanctuary last night for Christmas!  Among many things, we remembered why we use evergreens to adorn the sanctuary.  After the autumn winds and the rain strip the trees of their brilliantly colored leaves, the only color remaining on the hillsides now comes from the patches of evergreen trees and shrubs.  They remain green in all seasons. We could see the green brilliantly this morning in the golden sunlight!  Evergreens serve as a symbol of our faith and God.  We worship and put our trust in a God who is everlasting, a God that will never die away, a God who is present with us even during the coldest, darkest seasons of our lives.  May the pines, hollies, hemlocks and laurels remind us of God this season.

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