What Wondrous Love is This?—Lent Devotions 2017
From Your Editors:
Your co-editors,
Terry Bobzien Carol Taylor
It is our pleasure once again to offer you this collection of
writings from your friends across the nation. The NACCC
thrives on our intentional fellowship, and our contributors
have done their best to bring you thoughtful expressions of
the Lenten season. It has been said that when you hold one
of these booklets, you hold the whole NACCC in your hand!
The many personalities and variety of thought in our
Association shine through. May your personal devotions be
blessed as you use this booklet, and may your bond with
other Congregationalists be deepened as we seek God’s
presence daily.
We offer our deepest gratitude to all who have been
faithfully writing and submitting devotional works for this
series. Please consider contributing to future editions of our
Devotionals by writing one or more. Guidelines and
deadlines for Advent 2017 and Lent 2018 can be found at
the back of this booklet. We look forward to hearing from
you! Or come to our writing workshop at the Annual
Meeting and Conference in June, 2017!
March 1, 2017 Ash Wednesday
What Wondrous Love is This?
Create in me a clean heart, O God, Cast me not away from your
presence,
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and renew a right spirit
within me.
And take not your Holy Spirit from me. And uphold me with a
willing spirit. –Psalm 51: 10-12 (ESV)
I find that life creates clutter. We collect appointments and
commitments, assignments and due dates. I easily can find my
mind filled with the clutter so that I have trouble focusing on what
is most important; my day to day activities vs. my spiritual walk
with God. Activities can be checked off at the end of the day with
either immediate satisfaction or a sense of guilt. My spiritual walk
however, requires time, quiet, listening, prayer, reading, and
focus on my communication with God.
What a relief that God can create in me a clean heart and right
spirit. His broom sweeps out the cluttered corners of my life. He
will not cast me away into the noise and confusion. My focus
becomes "the other" who is my God. My comfort is in the
presence of the Holy Spirit. With this right spirit, I can discern the
deeper meaning in my life and spend time with my God.
Prayer: Holy and Loving God, I want to be more attentive to your
directions and presence in my life. The noise and clutter distract
me from You. It is so easy to be doing instead of listening to You.
Help me during this Lenten season to listen to you with all of my
mind, heart, and spirit. Help me to be still and learn to praise you
with a right spirit. Thank you Oh Lord. Amen.
Diane Forster-Burke
First Congregational Church
Salt Lake City, UT
Cburke_5@msn.com
March 2, 2017 First Thursday of Lent
The Power of Punctuation
When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body
puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be
to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
–1 Corinthians 15:54-57 (NRSV)
For me, 2016 was not an easy year. My dad fell in mid-May, breaking
his pelvis and a rib. While in the hospital recovering, he developed
pneumonia. That, coupled with worsening congestive heart failure,
brought his earthly life to an end within just a few days―in fact, the day
before Memorial Day. He was 89. As an unmarried only child with no
offspring, I leaned heavily on good friends during the months that
followed.
Then, at the end of November, someone that many of us in the NACCC
“family” knew and loved passed away suddenly. Rev. Karl D. Schimpf
was a long-time pastor, mentor, friend, and colleague―of mine, and of
many (no doubt some who are reading this). His death was a shock. He
was just 74, and still quite active. Though retired, he continued to guest
preach at various churches and attend clergy gatherings.
In this day and age, we’ve become pretty “freestyle” when it comes to
punctuation. We use it creatively, but not always correctly. In many
cases, as we text and tweet, we forego punctuation altogether. But
sometimes, punctuation can make a world of difference. As I think
about my dad, and as I think about Karl, I’m reminded of how I
concluded my Easter sermon almost a year ago: “God has―once and
for all―made death itself to be a comma and not a period. Hallelujah!
Amen.”
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for taking the finality out of all that we so often
perceive to be endings―even death itself. What
wondrous love is this! Amen.
Rev. Rob Fredrickson
Associate Minister
Ozaukee Congregational Church
Grafton, WI
rcf474@gmail.com
March 3, 2017 First Friday of Lent
Greater Love
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's
friends. —John 15:13
This scripture has become very real to me! A gentleman in his
50s came to me one Sunday morning and asked me to pray with
him. He said he had been more sick than even his wife knew. He
had a mass that the doctors believed was cancer and was
scheduled for surgery on Monday morning. He had a couple
things he wanted me to promise. First, that I would tell his wife
not to throw away that suit jacket that she hates because he had
enough money in the pocket to cover his funeral expenses
should he die. Secondly, he wanted me to preach his funeral and
tell his 7 brothers and sisters that he was willing to die if it would
result in them accepting Jesus as their Savior. I promised him
that I would follow his wishes!
He had the surgery and died on Saturday of the same week. I
told his wife about the jacket and I also told her his other request.
At his funeral I read John 15:13 and told his brothers and sisters
that he had loved them so much that he was willing to die if that
is what it took for them to submit to Jesus. It didn’t happen that
day, but within a few months every one of his brothers and
sisters started attending church and gave their hearts to God.
Jesus Christ was willing to lay down his life for you and me,
because He loved us so much! What a sacrifice! We have the
choice to accept it or reject. What is your choice?
Prayer: Father, It is so hard to fathom how much you love us!
Help us to accept your love and sacrifice, and
respond by committing our lives fully to you, so
that in good times or bad, others can see your
love in us. Amen.
Pastor Eric Hickman
Tipton Community Congregational Church
Tipton, MI
ehickman@yahoo.com
March 4, 2017 First Saturday of Lent
No Ordinary Kind of Love
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved
you. —John 15:12 (NRSV)
Christ-like love has no restrictions, no condition, and no exemptions.
It is not a suggestion. It is not a recommendation. It is not a proposal
you might want to consider. Jesus gives us the ultimate
commandment. We are to offer love to others to the same degree
he extended to each of us.
It is a simple order that allows for no exemptions. Jesus is specific
about the degree of love he expects us to extend. He is also clear
about the recipients of this brand of love. There are no conditions,
no restrictions, and no prerequisites regarding whom we love. He
just said “another.”
Wondrous love is unlike ordinary love in its inclusiveness. Jesus did
not go to the cross with a list limiting who would benefit from his
ultimate act of love. Neither did he suggest some degree of
brokenness would be greater than his love could remedy. There was
one truth that propelled Jesus to lug that cross out to Calvary’s hill. It
was his certainty that his love was sufficient for all earthly
brokenness. No one, and no measure of sin, would be excluded.
That is truly wondrous love!
Jesus simply said, “Love in the same manner, the same magnitude,
and with the same openness to all that I have given to each of you.”
Wondrous love knows no boundaries. Skin color, ethnicity, gender,
age, political persuasion do not matter. All that matters to wondrous
love is the enthusiasm and the honesty we offer it to all we meet
along life’s journey.
PRAYER: Loving God, help us to love even the unlikable with the
same intensity you loved us in our most
unlovable hour. Help us to look beyond our petty
opinions that we might live out truly wondrous
love. Amen.
Jerrold Jones
First Congregational Church
of Greenville, Ret’d.,
Greenville, MI
daclamrev1@gmail.com
March 5, 2017 First Sunday of Lent
Satisfied by Living Water
I was thirsty and you gave me drink.” Matthew 25:35b
My strength was gone as in the summer heat. –Psalm 32:4b
In my part of the country, summer is very, very warm: highs
above 115 degrees in mid-afternoon. Temperatures are often
above 85 degrees, even at night. The heat saps one’s strength
and can melt one’s will to do anything productive―to eat, drink,
work―even to pray. Without air conditioning and frequent
hydration, it is easy to lose focus, lose energy, even to suffer
heatstroke. Physical and spiritual torpor result.
Psalm 32 reminds, however, that even in difficult and wearying
times, God’s hand is upon us, encouraging us to rise above our
present circumstances. It reminds us that Christ’s unconditional
love provides us with living water, so that in the Arizona desert
or wherever we may be, we are satisfied.
Prayer: Dear Lord, when our strength seems gone, when we feel
we can go no further, we know that you are there to lift us up, to
satisfy our thirst, and to renew a right spirit within us. Thank you
for your hand of comfort that gives us the strength we need each
day. Amen.
Randy Asendorf
Congregational Church of Sun City
Sun City, AZ
rasendorf@gmail.com
March 6, 2017 First Monday of Lent
The Importance of the Cross
Scripture: I Corinthians 1:18-25
The Apostle Paul had the singular ability to have one foot firmly
placed in the Jewish culture and the other foot just as firmly
placed in the Greco-Roman world. This is clearly seen in the first
chapter of his letter to the church at Corinth. He states that the
Jews look for signs and wonders. They wanted to see the power
of God manifested in the world. The Greeks sought after wisdom.
They wanted to know the secrets of the world.
Paul points out in-light of these realities the Jews saw the cross
as weakness and the Greeks saw the cross as so much
foolishness.
Only the worst of the worst died upon a cross. To the first century
mind the very thought of crucifixion was a horrifying and terribly
grotesque affair. The fact that the Lord, Jesus Christ, was
crucified upon a cross, at the hands of the Roman authorities,
was almost more than the early church could comprehend. It
would be better to quickly pass by the crucifixion on the way to
the resurrection. But Paul shouts NO. He says, “For indeed Jews
ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach
Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles
foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and
Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
Let us pray: As we move, each day through this Lenten season,
may we become more and more aware of the suffering Christ
was willing to endure for each of us. May we be reminded that
Christ died for both Jew and Greek, for both free and slave, for
both female and male. May we be as bold as the
Apostle Paul in declaring that it is in the crucified
Christ that we find your power and your wisdom
onto salvation. In the name of the risen Lord we
pray. Amen.
Rev. Lowell Linden
First Congregational Church of Redlands
Redlands, CA
lowelllinden@icloud.com
March 7, 2017 First Tuesday of Lent
Wondrous Gifts
“…the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ,
abounded for the many.” —Romans 5:15b
Many years ago, my mom gave me one of the greatest gifts I’ve
ever been given. Barbie was relatively new in the 1960’s but she
was certainly the most popular doll in our neighborhood. One
Christmas morning I received an entire Barbie wardrobe, from
sun dresses and prom dresses to jeans and tops; everything
imaginable to clothe my favorite doll. I spent hours dressing and
redressing Barbie in the outfits my mother had made.
Years later, I ran across that wardrobe one afternoon and began
to look closely at the items it contained. The detail in those tiny
garments was remarkable. Suddenly it hit me how much time
and effort it had taken my mom to make them. I visualized her
spending countless hours cutting the different fabrics and then
sitting at her sewing machine to lovingly stitch them together. I
was overwhelmed with emotion.
Just like those Barbie clothes, we can gladly accept the gift of
grace without thinking about the details of the gift. Jesus Christ
hung on the cross and died an incredibly painful death on our
behalf. The glory of the resurrection is that, through His undying
grace, we are forgiven – again and again and again. His grace
covers all of our sin. His grace is the outward reality of His love
for us. We can become overwhelmed with emotion when we
spend time contemplating the magnitude of this gift so freely
given. During this Lenten season, thankfully consider what this
incredible gift means to you.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we give You thanks for each of the gifts
You’ve given to us, but especially for the gift of Your grace.
Overwhelm us with the knowledge of what You
sacrificed to forever cover and forgive our sins.
In the Sweet Name of Jesus we pray, Amen.
Chris Murphy, Pastor
Horton Congregational Church
Horton, MI
murphy1978@aol.com
March 8, 2017 Second Wednesday of Lent
Temptation
One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes
from he mouth of God…Do not put the Lord your God to the test…
Worship the lord your God, and serve only Him.
—Matthew 4:1-11, selected verses
We are all familiar with temptation. Sometimes it is overt, sometimes
it sneaks up on us. Either way, many factors come into play when
we are trying to figure out how to resist, or whether or not something
is truly a temptation.
We take our clues for these questions directly from Jesus as He is
tempted in the wilderness. By human standards, all that Jesus was
offered by the personification of evil was far too good to be true and
Jesus knew it. How did He know? Jesus knew from the source of
the temptation. And, how did Jesus respond? He responded to
temptation with scripture.
We can do the same. We know if something is truly a temptation or
not when we consider the source. That will tell us what we want to
know. And, we can find the strength for resistance in God’s Word.
What I like to do is choose a few favorite scripture passages and let
them be my guides in times of temptation. You could do the same.
After you have considered the source, remember your favorite
scriptures. Meditate on them for a moment and then ask yourself if
you are still tempted. If you are, try another one of your favorite
passages. Meditate and pray. When we give ourselves time with
God and God’s Word, temptation diminishes and strength increases.
Let us pray: God of Grace, may your Holy Word guide us in times of
temptation. Open our eyes and ears to recognized temptation when
it comes. Help us to be strengthened by your will and way in these
difficult times. In the glory of Christ we
pray. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Cynthia Bacon Hammer
Heritage Congregational Church
Madison, WI
cabaconhammer@gmail.com
March 9, 2017 Second Thursday of Lent
A love communicated with only five words.
Scripture: John 8:1-11
The story of the woman caught in adultery is a powerful one. There are
some key points, that we have a tendency to miss when reading it.
First, you need to notice that she was caught. She wasn’t framed, she
wasn’t innocent, she was caught, guilty of this great sin. So, we can
imagine that she was terrified and ashamed. Can you even wonder
what thoughts were going through her head? They were ready to stone
her to death, think of her with her eyes tightly closed just waiting for the
first rock to hit. She might have even been praying for some act of
mercy, that maybe the first stone would knock her completely
unconscious.
Then Jesus shows up. We will never know what He wrote in the sand
but everyone starts to leave. The woman hears this, realizes eventually
that it’s just her and Jesus.
Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has
no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
Then Jesus responds with just five words that communicate a love, a
grace, and a forgiveness that only He can show.
Then neither do I condemn you.”
Many times in our lives we are going to meet people that are great
sinners, guilty of some of the most heinous things imaginable. Yet, they
are loved by God. They were created by Him and they are worth more
than they could ever imagine.
When Jesus says to the woman, “leave your life of sin” He says it
because of the love He has for her. He says it because she’s worth
more than she could ever imagine.
Prayer: May God give you opportunities to show love to people, to
remind them that they are worth more than they
can ever imagine, and let this small devotional
today remind you are the same, that you are
loved, that you are believed in. May you feel His
arms around you today. Amen.
Rev. Justin Neirer
Sandstone Congregational Church
Jackson, MI
theoutreachguy@hotmail.com
March 10, 2017 Second Friday of Lent
Seeing Face to Face
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know
in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
—1 Corinthians 13:12 (ESV)
During the worship service that closed our regional church meeting,
I looked up at the clear glass in the high, vaulted ceiling. As it got
dark outside, the glass skylights began to subtly reflect the
congregation below. The pastor's message was that each of us is a
child of God, every human on earth!
At the close of the service, one of the worship leaders prayed, “Keep
us faithful to you, Lord, until we see you face to face.” As she
prayed, I looked up at the reflections of the large congregation, and
realized that we were indeed seeing God face-to-face...in each
other! We see God face-to-face every day, in our friends, neighbors,
and strangers. We see God even in the person who we dislike...yes,
that one, too is a child of God. Even the person who hurt us through
words or deeds, is a child of God. Sadly, we are all flawed and we
act out of our flaws more often than we'd like. Nevertheless, Child of
God is in fact who we all are. As children resemble their parents, so
we are the Face of God as well.
In our busy lives, we don't always remember this, and we may forget
to treat each other as the face of God. Perhaps if each of us paused
during the day to take a deep breath, say a quick prayer, even to
read a bit of scripture during a break (there's an “app” for that!), we
will do better at remembering that we are seeing God face to face.
As we reach out in more loving ways, we know that the actions of a
few can indeed spread far and wide, like ripples on a lake!
Prayer: Holy God, help us to pause to remember that everyone,
even the ones with whom we struggle to get along,
is your child, as we are. Remind us that we see
You face to face, and to reach out in Your love
every day. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Pastor Carol P. Taylor
Growth Ministry Council
United Church of Beloit
Beloit, WI
jazzytay@gmail.com
March 11, 2017 Second Saturday of Lent
Feed My Sheep
Peter do you love me? Peter said: “Lord you know all things; you
know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” –John 21:17
Life just keeps throwing you curves and you can’t seem to win.
You left your job to follow a dream and it just ended abruptly, you
realize you disappointed a friend, and someone you’re close to
just died very unexpectedly. And you wonder, “Will I ever catch a
break?”
Does this sound like your life or one of a friend? I was actually
thinking of Peter as he watched Christ die on the cross. All those
feelings we face in life, Peter faced that weekend; it is no wonder
he was in the upper room in fear and disappointment and
returned to fishing.
Even the empty tomb wasn’t enough to help him dig out of the
“valley” he was in. However, he had an encounter with Christ
where he found forgiveness that came from a wondrous love that
Christ has for all His children. Christ let him know He loved him
and trusted him by telling him to feed His sheep.
This same wondrous love is ours – proved by the fact that even
though we caused His pain and death to pay for our sins, He
calls us to “feed His sheep”. Let us commit to share this
“wondrous love” by sharing the truth of the cross and empty tomb
in words and deeds.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for loving me enough to go to the
cross in my place and thank you for trusting me enough to feed
your sheep. Help me show the world around me your wondrous
love with my words and in my actions.
Rev. Bill Rafuse
Rapid River Congregational Church
Rapid River, MI
wrafuse@charter.net
March 12, 2017 Second Sunday of Lent
Facing the Sorrow, Remembering the Joy
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son.
—John 3:16a
In December, during Advent, when the candles were lit in the
Advent wreath, next to it was the table set for the Lord’s Supper.
On one hand we were celebrating the coming of the Messiah,
born to Mary; on the other, we were remembering the Messiah’s
last meal with His disciples. One event would bring great joy as
our Lord came to earth, the other deep sorrow as our Lord was
preparing to meet His death. And while the placement of the
table and the Advent wreath next to one another, both physically
and spiritually, might have seemed discordant, it is only because
Jesus would come to die for us that we celebrate His birth. One
leads to the other and back again.
What wondrous love is this that comes down from heaven to be
born to a poor but faithful family expressly to die so that we might
have salvation? What wondrous love knows the wooden manger
will become a wooden cross? That the song of angels will
become the silence of the tomb? We fall on our knees in awe
and repentance at such love.
We do not turn from the sorrow, neither do we forget the joy. We
live out our faith within the mystery of such a wondrous love.
Prayer: Holy Lord, in these weeks of Lent, we ponder the
mystery of Your great love for us. We bow before You in humility,
accepting this love that brings both joy and sorrow. In Your holy
name we pray. Amen.
Rev. Rae H. Munsell
Mohegan Congregational Church
Uncasville, CT
revraemunsell@gmail.com
March 13, 2017 Second Monday of Lent
The Mountain of Calvary
I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!
He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.
The Lord himself watches over you!
The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.
The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever. –Psalm 121 (NLT)
In the days of the old western movies, whenever the settlers
were in trouble, the cavalry would come charging out of the hills.
As a small child, this was so exciting to watch and I would cheer
the rescue. Now, here we are faced with another mountain and
another rescue. But instead of cavalry it is Calvary that can, and
will, do the rescuing. The Psalmist said the Messiah would not let
us stumble, would always watch over us, and would stand
protectively by our side. What was true in his day remains true
forever. Let us find comfort and peace in the fact that the Lord
watches over our comings and goings both now and forever.
Prayer: Father God, may we, like the Psalmist, find our strength
and help from the mountains. May Mount
Calvary always be our source for redemption,
direction, and hope. In thankfulness for Christ
we praise you. Amen.
Rev. Robert W. Ripley
First Congregational Church of Rochester
Rochester, MA
pastorbob.ripley@gmail.com
March 14, 2017 Second Tuesday of Lent
One Simple Act
Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a
multitude of sins.—1 Peter 4:8 (NRSV)
When I read the scripture above, I was reminded of a TV
commercial, from a few years back, that showed one simple act of
kindness and how that one simple act impacted many people. I can’t
remember what the commercial was promoting, but the visuals in
that ad were unforgettable for me.
The commercial showed how someone performing simple acts of
kindness, such as opening a door for another, picking up something
that someone dropped, or picking up a piece of trash and putting it
in a trash container. These simple acts not only impacted the one
person receiving the kindness, but also those who observed the
acts.
In our daily lives we see many acts of unkindness and we may
dismiss them or look past them, but when you observe a simple act
of kindness it will stay with you. We may never know if our simple
act of kindness impacted one person or if it impacted many. We do
not need to know who received our love/kindness or who observed
that act. Our simple expression of love could impact more people
than we can imagine. What better way to honor the one that
demonstrated how we should live, than to share our love with one
another. What Wondrous Love is This?
Prayer: Lord, as we go through our busy lives each day, help us to
keep in mind that one simple act of love can spread to a multitude of
people. Help us see the opportunities to demonstrate our love for
one another. Amen.
Rev. Jerry Turner
Arbor Grove Congregational Church
Jackson, Michigan
jerryturner4705@gmail.com
March 15, 2017 Third Wednesday of Lent
For Great is God’s Steadfast Love
Praise the Lord, all you nations!
Extol him, all you peoples!
For great is his steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord! —Psalm 117 (NRSV)
There are many people to whom I say, “I love you.” For me, that list
begins with my family. I have been saying “I love you” to Vicki since we
met in 1973 and married in 1974. I added our sons, Adam and Joshua,
since they were born. When our sons married, their wives, Jill and Tina,
became an important part of the group to whom I communicated my
love.
Yet, with all those years of saying “I love you” to very important people
in my life, I realize how imperfect my love for them is. I can say the
words with the best of intentions, but I often act and speak from selfish
desires or interests and not with the best interests of my family in mind.
Sometimes, through my actions or words, it is hard to tell if I really do
love anyone else besides me.
The good news for us all as people of faith is that God’s steadfast love
is a perfected love. God does not speak to me or act without always
seeking the very best for me as the object of God’s love. God’s love
remains a constant touch stone in my life and in all of our lives.
Throughout the Hebrew scripture, this is a powerful and redemptive
theme.
The even better news for us all as people of faith is that perfected
divine love became incarnate in the life, the teachings, and the actions
of Jesus the Christ. Because great is God’s steadfast love for us, we
join together in worship of our God.
Loving God, help transform my life so that I, too,
may love others as you love me. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Michael Chittum
Executive Director
NACCC and Congregational Foundation
mchittum@naccc.org
March 16, 2017 Third Thursday of Lent
What Wondrous Love is This?
"What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul! What wondrous
love is this, O my soul!” "What Wondrous Love is This" is a hymn we
usually sing at one of the Holy Week services each year. Upon
doing some research on the origin of the hymn, I learned it is one of
the best known of our authentic American folk hymns. It first
appeared in 1835 in a collection titled "Southern Harmony" by
William Walker. These simply stated words with the appealing music
have since ministered to people everywhere
Many of us probably remember the first song we learned when we,
as children began attending Sunday School, which was "Jesus
Loves Me". We still teach it today. It has been a favorite of children
all through the years, I believe. I'm teaching it now to my great-
grandson, who is going on three.
One of the first Bible verses we learned in Sunday School was John
3:16, For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son,
that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have
everlasting life. My Sunday School students always learned that
verse.
Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:37 direct us to Love the Lord your God
with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
"Not father or mother has loved you as God has, for it was that you
might be happy. He gave His only son. When he bowed His head in
the death hour, love solemnized its triumph: the sacrifice there was
complete". Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Nothing could stop Jesus from dying for you and nothing will keep
Him from loving you.— Romans 8:32 (NIV)
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I am so thankful for the personal
assurance of your eternal love for me. Help me, dear Lord to always
share your everlasting love with others. In
Jesus' name, Amen.
Marian Gier
First Congregational Church of Pittsford
Pittsford, MI
corine01@frontier.com
March 17, 2017 Third Friday of Lent
Blessed by Angels
He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with
the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.—Mark 1:1:13
Even though it has been 27 years of (mostly!) blessings, I still
remember the fear and the loss I felt when my newborn son was placed
in my arms. The pediatrician looked softly into my eyes and
pronounced, “Congratulations, you have a beautiful son.” Without
skipping a beat or changing his tone, he continued, “And we suspect he
has Down Syndrome.” My mind and soul raced with disbelief and fear
– lots of fear. I speculated, “Were people going to take advantage of
him? Would they rob him, or worse yet abuse him in some way? How
was I going to protect him from the world?”
The pediatrician continued with more difficult news. It was going to take
six weeks for the test results to come back. During those six weeks, I
felt like I was in a mental wilderness. There were times I wished this
precious soul was never sent to us. Then I would feel guilty. Every day
was an uncertainty and I would scrutinize that beautiful little face
looking for the tell -tale face of a child with Down Syndrome.
Finally, the day arrived and the results were in. My husband and I drove
to the clinic with our precious son. Our pediatrician confirmed the
diagnosis we had feared. My child’s entire world made its final shift into
reality. He in fact, had Down Syndrome. There are many maladies that
accompany Down Syndrome and I was afraid of all of them.
As I searched for balance in the whirlwind of my thoughts, the
pediatrician drew me back to my child. He put him in my arms as he
had those six long weeks ago, and said “Don’t be afraid. You can’t see
it now, but you have been given a gift. This child will teach you so
much. During his teenage years, I promise he will be a joy. I cannot
make that promise about your other two children. He does not come to
the table with an empty plate, in fact he will fill you with unimagined
insight and love.”
It is 27 years later and I know what a wise man the pediatrician was. I
cannot imagine what life would be without my beautiful son. He has
made me a much better person and has inspired happiness to all who
meet him. Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow!
Prayer: Loving God, may we always be reminded of the blessings we
may have in every circumstance of life. Thank you for the blessings
which can be found in every human being. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Sharon Binger
People’s Congregational Church
Bayport, MN
ltlyfreely@gmail.com
March 18, 2017 Third Saturday of Lent
Hearing the Shepherd
Jews who were assembled for the Feast of Dedication in
Jerusalem gathered around Jesus as he spoke these words: “My
sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
—John 10:27
So often words like the ones in today’s verse go misunderstood. I
have always liked the images this verse brings about in my own
mind. When we are born, we understand our world first through
sounds. We hear first. We hear the voices of the ones we feel
most secure with and in that hearing, we love them. We hear and
love our parents, our siblings, our extended families, and so on.
As we get older we hear and begin to trust our teachers and
mentors. Sometimes we have one or two of these whom we love.
This is the love Jesus is speaking about because it is centered in
our ability to not only hear but also to follow. As we are growing
up and we find people we trust and love, we begin to emulate
them because they first loved us and showed us ways to live rich
in love. Jesus understands this golden piece of wisdom and
shares it with all who are gathered to hear his words. That
includes us, too. In our hearing of his words, we too will follow
him.
We are told that when we die, our hearing is the last of our
senses to leave us. When my life is over, I wish to hear my
friends and family say to me “thank you for your loving kindness”
and from Jesus “today, you will be with me in Paradise.” This is
the wondrous love I live in daily.
Prayer: Jesus, help me to always hear your words. Give me
strength to follow you. All the days of my life.
Amen.
Pastor Bob Higle
Plymouth Congregational Church
Lansing, MI
pastor@plymouthlansing.org
March 19, 2017 Third Sunday of Lent
Remembering
Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love, for
they have been of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth or
my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember
me, for your goodness' sake, O Lord. – Psalm 25:6-7
We recognize Lent as a time of reflection and repentance in
preparation for our celebration on Easter of God's great work of
salvation. Thus, we are more mindful of our sins during this
season; we remember our sins, sometimes all too well, so we
can be penitent. While we do not neglect praying for others, we
emphasize praying for ourselves so that we may be more faithful
in our Christian walk. During Lent, we remember much, but we
should also realize that God remembers as well.
The Psalmist had three specific requests as God was
remembering. First, that God would be mindful of God's mercy
and steadfast love. Second, that God would NOT remember the
sins that the Psalmist had committed. Finally, that God would
think of and remember the Psalmist personally apart from
anything the Psalmist may have done.
In Lent, especially, aren't these things I should pray? While I
know that God will act with mercy and steadfast love because of
who God is, I give voice to that hope because I need the
reassurance of hearing it said. As God acts mercifully to me, I
know that God desires to pardon all of my iniquity. My hope is
that God will think of the “me” that I truly am and the “me” I can
become as I am faithful to God instead of only remembering my
sins. As we pray during Lent, may we remember.
Prayer: Remember us, O Lord, and hear our prayers. We give
thanks for your mercy and ask that you give
us strength to be more faithful. AMEN.
Rev. Dr. Michael Chittum
Executive Director
NACCC and Congregational Foundation
mchittum@naccc.org
March 20, 2017 Third Monday of Lent
God Saw a Cross
Love never fails.—1 Corinthians 13:8
I recently read a love letter to a man named Jimmy, it read, “Dearest
Jimmy, No words could ever express the great unhappiness I've felt
since breaking our engagement. Please say you'll take me back. No
one could ever take your place in my heart, so please forgive me. I
love you, I love you, I love you! Yours forever, Marie. P.S., And
congratulations on winning the state lottery.”
I am pretty sure that is not the love expressed in First Corinthians
13. God has loved us even when we have nothing to offer Him. He
has loved us when we were acting very unlovable.
The love of God is very adequately described in a song I recently
came across, called “God Saw A Cross” by Rodney Griffin.
When Adam saw his wife sin in the garden, in the distance
God saw a cross.
When Cain killed his brother, God was watching and God
saw a cross.
When Moses slew the Egyptian man in anger, God saw a
cross.
When David chose Bathsheba over honor, God saw a cross.
God saw a cross being raised on the horizon.
God saw His Son being slain for one and all.
God saw His blood being shed for my redemption.
For every sin and every failure God saw a cross.
Prayer: Father, we have failed You often, but You have still loved
us. Help us in our daily struggles to hold tight to Your love and love
you back. May Your will be accomplished in our lives. Amen.
Pastor Eric Hickman
Tipton Community Congregational Church
Tipton, MI
ehickman@yahoo.com
March 21, 2017 Third Tuesday of Lent
Sacrificial Love
He said to the man who could not move his body, “I say to you,
get up. Take your bed and go to your home.” At once the sick
man got up in front of them. He took his bed and went to his
home thanking God. –Luke 5:24b-26 (NLV)
The all-giving sacrificial love of Jesus is almost more than our
limited human minds can comprehend. How could He give up
everything for all of us? How can we ever hope to emulate that
kind of sublimation of individual wants and desires to the needs
of others? And yet, people do, in admittedly limited fashion, every
day.
Cathy was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at age four. By 30,
her kidneys were failing. Her younger brother, a gym teacher,
donated one of his kidneys, restoring her to hope and life. Eleven
years later, that kidney was failing, ravaged by the anti-rejection
medications that also kept it functioning. Her older sister stepped
up to donate one of her kidneys, again giving Cathy at least a
few more years. Cathy has about her a kind of aura, a golden
glow of gratefulness and delight in living. Though she has lost
most of her sight, some of her hearing, and has trouble walking,
her smile lights up a room. Her sense of humor, her laughter, her
kindness, are all inspirations to those of us who would complain
about the petty problems of life.
Her siblings gave of themselves to save her. Christ gave all of
himself to save us. What are we willing to give so that others may
live a little better, a little longer, and more aware of the wondrous
love of God?
Prayer: Lord, guide our steps to walk in the way of Christ. May
we be givers of life and love, and may those
who see us see Christ within us. Amen.
Dr. Helen T. Gierke
First Congregational Church
Cape Coral FL
htg_thd@yahoo.com
March 22, 2017 Fourth Wednesday of Lent
He Let Me Go Free
“…where are your accusers; has no one condemned you?...No
one, Lord,” and Jesus said…”Neither do I condemn you; go and
sin no more.” —John 8:10-11
Jim told our Bible Study group an amazing story of when he was
twenty-five and his older brother, John, was twenty-seven. For
years, John’s rebellious attitude brought heartache to his mother;
finally culminating in John’s arrest. Because Jim and John looked
alike, John’s lawyer came up with a scheme to keep John out of
prison. With his mother’s consent, Jim took his brother’s place in
the police line-up, thereby tricking the crime victim into declaring
Jim the perpetrator. Because Jim was innocent of the crime, the
lawyer was able to free him of all charges. And the scheme
worked; John walked away free because his brother took his
guilt, if only for a short time.
As Jim told his story of 50 years ago, we couldn’t help but
connect his story of substitution with the substitution of Christ on
the Cross so we could go free! Wonderfully, Jesus’ substitution
for us is no ruse! We are guilty sinners, every one of us, and the
death penalty pronounced upon us is justified. Our sin debt must
be paid for, and only Jesus has the holiness to meet the payment
requirement. Though others may hurl accusations upon us, our
Father in heaven has silenced them all, for He has washed us
clean in the precious blood of His Son; and if the Son has set us
free, then we are free indeed (John 8:36).
Prayer: Oh, thank You, Father, for Your great love for us
manifested in the unspeakable gift of Your Son, Jesus, Amen.
Helen Cunningham
First Congregational Church
Kingston, NH
hc6645@gmail.com
March 23, 2017 Fourth Thursday of Lent
K.I.S.S.
Abide in Me and I in you. —John 15:4
It was in a Chaplain’s office at a Juvenile Correctional Center
where I first saw the sign. I was a Parole Supervisor in the facility
and about to begin my unit of Clinical Pastoral Education as well.
On the wall, in big letters was this sign that said simply K.I.S.S.
with nothing else on the sign. In a facility where youth, many of
whom have committed very adult crimes, are housed, I had some
questions about this. Upon questioning, I learned that the sign
meant, “Keep It Simple, Stupid.”
With children and many youth who are very concrete thinkers,
keeping things simple is a given. But then, are we any more than
children in our faith? Did Jesus not teach a straight-forward and
simple faith? “Abide in Me and I in you”; “...as often as you eat
this bread and drink this cup, do it in remembrance of Me”;
“...love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all your
soul….and love your neighbor as yourself.”
A favorite hymn is the Shaker melody, “’Tis The Gift To Be
Simple.” In this Lenten season, it is always helpful to remember
that the faith is as simple as we allow it to be. We are the ones
who make it complicated with our rules and assumptions and
conditions and….. We have but to live the simplicity of the faith to
receive the promise.
Prayer: Lord, when I try to complicate my relationship with You,
please remind me to KISS and get on with the life You have
given to me. Amen.
Rev. Bobbie Chapman
Founders Congregational Church
Harwinton, CT
revbac@aol.com
March 24, 2017 Fourth Friday of Lent
What Wondrous Love is This?
What wondrous love is this, my Lord, that met me in my need
And left me better than I was, my heart of stone redeemed!
What gracious love is this, my Friend, that laid His own life down
So I could rise and live for God no longer barred nor bound!
What winsome love is the, my Grace, that woos my heart from sin
And changes me toward godly ways and makes me new within!
What shining love was this, O Light, that lit the God-ward path
By teaching me to live in love and manifest my faith!
What serving love is this, O Christ, that stooped down on its knees
To wash the feet of weary ones and lift with words of peace!
What saving love is this, O Lamb, that bore the cross for me
Who died in love so I could live and lives to set me free!
What filling love was this, Good Bread, that satisfies my soul,
Strengthening and blessing me, so my heart is whole!
What sweet’ning love is this, Good Wine, that makes my spirit sweet
To live for You in heart’ning grace with all I come to meet!
What wondrous love this truly is - mercies great and small;
The grace that You have shown to me, You offer, Lord, to all!
Prayer: Dear Lord of Love, grant us the measure of Your love that
will redeem, transform, restore, renew, and transform us. May we be
instruments, channels and conduits of your love. May we love as we
have been loved in Christ. Amen
Rev. Jack Brown, Retired.
Olivet Congregational Church
Olivet, MI
Pilgrim_pastor@hotmail.com
March 25, 2017 Fourth Saturday of Lent
The Right Time
But when the priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat
down at the right hand of God.— Hebrews 10:12 (NIV)
Since I was about five years old, it has been an activity every summer
for me and other family members to pick huckleberries. My family has
been doing this for about 130 years. We hike up a steep hill behind the
Presidio of Monterey, avoiding the poison oak. Pines creak as they
sway in the wind. jays call, squirrels chatter, and the fragrance of yerba
buena perfumes the air.
Huckleberries are cousins to blueberries, but darker, smaller, and more
tart. They make excellent pies. Some years are better for the berries
than others. Often, my southern California cousins ask for a report on
the current year’s crop.
One year, I told my cousin Chet (a Baptist minister) that the berries did
not look good. Later, he brought his large family up to pick berries, and
they found an abundance. Of course, Chet ridiculed me mercilessly. As
it happened, though, that one day was exceptional. It stood out from all
the days before and after. It was the one perfect day.
God invented time. He stands over it. He knows the exact, perfect time
for any particular event. At just the right time, His Son came to earth.
And at just the right time, His Son died to save us. God, the Lord of
time, knew from all eternity the time of your birth and the time of your
new birth.
Prayer: Father God, thank you that all times are in your hand. Thank
you for sending our Savior at just the right time. In the name of the Fa-
ther, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Robert Hellam
Church of the Oaks
Del Rey Oaks, CA
bchellam@pacbell.net
March 26, 2017 Fourth Sunday of Lent
The Love of a Pet
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the
greatest of these is love.–I Corinthians 13:13.
I love cats! I have always loved cats since I was a wee babe
when my mom introduced me to her cat, Sam the Siamese. I
have had a cat in all the houses in which I have ever lived. To
me, a house is not a home without a cat. My husband agrees
and we sometimes boast to friends who have not visited our
home that it is decorated in “early cat décor.”
The reasons we love cats are threefold. First cats love you
absolutely. They find a place on your lap or at your side that is
comfortable and warm. Second, they do not argue or bicker with
you or create much noise whatsoever in the home. Finally, they
view us as the most important humans in the world.
I believe the love God has for us is much like the love of a cat.
God loves us so much that he sent his only son, Jesus to die for
us. That is a lot of love! I think the absolute love of a cat is like
the love God has for us. No matter how many times we mess up
and break God’s heart, as long as we repent and ask for
forgiveness, we are forgiven with that wondrous love He freely
gives. That is the greatest love of all!
Prayer: Dear God, thank you so much for your wondrous love!
Thank you for sending Jesus to be born in a manger, to live on
earth as a human like me and then to die on the cross for all our
sins. As a human on this earth, help me to learn to love
absolutely and to forgive all those who have wronged me in the
past, present and future.
Dr. Lisa Bircher
Grace Church
Columbiana, OH
Lisa.Bircher@epschools.k12.oh.us
March 27, 2017 Fourth Monday of Lent
Time of Change
In everything give thanks.—1Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV)
When things are going well, it's easy to give thanks, but when
things go wrong, do we blame God? “Why did you do this to
me??”
God gave us an intellect to figure things out. Mine tells me that
God's not out there planning negative things for us. Things just
happen. God is a loving God.
It might be our attitude that's part of the cause for good or bad.
And some say there is no bad. It's just my judgment that makes it
seem bad to me. For example, one wants rain to water plants,
another wants no rain at their picnic. It's the timing. The rain isn't
what is bad.
So does prayer work? Can we ask God for help? Maybe we ask
for help in appreciating the good in things that aren't what we
asked for. Questions we need to ask ourselves when things
aren't going the way we want could be:
“What am I to learn from this?” or,
“What do I need to experience for my soul growth?”
It may not be pleasant. It may not be what I selfishly want, but it
might be for my overall good. So we might pray for the best
possible outcome for ourselves and others.
Let us pray: Lord, in this season of Lent, a time of change,
change our attitude that we may see God's goodness in all, not
only in things that happen, but also in people that I must interact
with. They are God's creations too and I can learn from them,
sometimes what not to do, sometimes how to act kindly to others.
In all things, in all situations, we give thanks. Amen.
Phyllis Agers
First Congregational Church
Salida, CA
p.agers@juno.com
March 28, 2017 Fourth Tuesday of Lent
Use Your Words
The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.
—John1:14a
When parents encourage children to communicate in order to be
understood, they will say, “Use your words.” In the beginning,
Christ used words to bring all created things into existence. God
wanted to communicate His love for us, so He appointed
prophets to proclaim His promise of the coming Messiah, the
Lord’s Christ, His anointed One, the Savior of the world, the
Word of God. The Old Testament declares this promise, but
millennia would pass before the promise would be fulfilled. In
fulfillment of His promise, God the Father prepared a body for
Christ, and the Word of God became flesh in the holy person of
Jesus!
Jesus is the express image of God; the Word not only evidenced
in creation but now visible and accessible in human form. One
Easter Sunday, a pastor wanted to show the congregation that
Christ Jesus is the exact image of God, so he held up his cell
phone and said, “Jesus is God’s selfie!” Everyone in the
congregation with a cell phone immediately understood the visual
aid he provided. Jesus is, indeed, the exact image of His Father
God in heaven. God sent His Word so that we might fully
understand the message; the Good News that Christ came in the
flesh to reconcile sinners to Himself in order to redeem us and
make us His very own children!
Prayer: Father, You have made Your loving intent for us very
clear in sending Your Word into the world that we might believe
and know You forever. Thank You, Amen.
Helen Cunningham
First Congregational Church
Kingston, NH 03848
hc6645@gmail.com
March 29, 2017 Fifth Wednesday of Lent
Hope and Love
For thou, O Lord, art my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
But I will hope continually, and will praise thee yet more and
more. –Psalm 71, verses 5 and 14.
It appears that the Lenten Season for our family brings news that
is not so good. In 2010 I wrote a Lenten devotional about “The
Scent” of my father’s life. It was during that Lenten season that
we learned of my father’s cancer. Well, six years later we learned
that my sister’s cancer has reared its ugly head again. She had
already gone through all the cancer treatments, reconstructive
surgery and remission only to have it return. This is after my
sister had already gone through two open skull surgeries many
years ago for an operation to remove an aneurysm behind each
eye. She has gone through so much for just one person. She
once stated that she was tired of looking at death in the face.
One can only imagine how Jesus must have felt looking at death
in the face. He also has gone through so much for just one
person. Without the love of our God and without the love of our
Lord Jesus for us, how could we know and understand the
meaning of love? No matter what, the wonderful love of God and
Son will see us through, even looking at death in the face.
Prayer: Father God, I come into your presence so aware of my
human frailty and yet overwhelmed by your love for me. I thank
you that there is no human experience that I might walk through
where your love cannot reach me. Teach me today to love you
more. Help me to rest in that love that asks nothing more than
the simple trusting heart of a child. In Jesus' name, Amen
Beverley Gill
Treasurer & Trustee
Ventnor Community Church
Ventnor, NJ
bev@tdassoc.com
March 30, 2017 Fifth Thursday of Lent
God Loves Me!
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life
for the sheep.–John 10:11.
The scripture above was the theme for one of the days for our
community Vacation Bible School (VBS) this past summer. I love
teaching VBS. It is refreshing, exciting, and revitalizes my faith as
I consider familiar bible stories from the perspective of a child. I
never know what questions children will ask about those stories.
Indeed, whenever I am reviewing these Bible stories to prepare
for VBS, it is a challenge to make the lessons relevant and
cognizant to a group of 4
tth
graders. (I am a high school teacher
by training and experience so teaching younger children is
indeed a stretch!)
This year when teaching about the story of “Jesus and the
Miraculous Catch of Fish” (John 21:1-14 NIV) I was trying to
impress on the children that in this story, Jesus was appearing to
the disciples after his death on the cross. In the story, the
disciples do not recognize Jesus while he stood on the shore and
the children had a hard time understanding this. They asked me:
“Did Jesus look different?” “Did the disciples think He was a
ghost?” “Why didn’t Jesus just walk on the water again to get to
the disciples in the fishing boat?” “Why does putting the net on
the other side of the boat matter in catching fish?” It is interesting
to consider the questions these 4
th
graders had in trying to wrap
their minds around this simple story of the love Jesus has for the
disciples and all of us. I think it is difficult for even adults to
understand what wondrous love Jesus has for all of us. In reality,
it is difficult for us to conceive of the depth of His love, no matter
how much bible study we do.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for loving all of
us so much no matter what! Your love is so
deep and I thank you for loving me with all my
imperfections and foibles.
Dr. Lisa Bircher
Grace Church
Columbiana, OH
Lisa.Bircher@epschools.k12.oh.us
March 31, 2017 Fifth Friday of Lent
NOT ANY- NONE
If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.
— Matthew 21: 22
I was a heavy smoker and had been for more than twenty years. I
had heard the Surgeon General warnings about tobacco, seen
the pictures of lungs assaulted with tobacco smoke and watched
people die agonizing deaths to lung cancer due to smoking. The
Lord had long been nagging me to do something about my
cigarette abuse but it was a form of self-medication and
arrogance and entitlement and ego and….. I also knew that to
stop a nicotine habit can be extremely difficult.
I had read and heard the Scriptures many times, “Ask and it will
be given to you; seek and you will find;” etc. I was also aware that
what you asked for, what you sought must be of God and not
some whim or self-centered desire. I knew that when you asked
God, you had to be willing to accept and fully embrace God’s
response and understanding of the need. Sometimes healing is
only in the resurrection. I also knew that to go to God over this
issue I would need to be willing to rid myself of all of the garbage
that had gotten me to this place.
I left the rubbish of the arrogance, entitlement, ego behind and
prayed for God’s help in dealing with the physical withdrawal from
tobacco, for it is not that I do not do pain well, it is that I do not do
pain at all. I promised God that with God’s help I would quit if that
was God’s will. It was February 19, 1985 and I have not had a
cigarette since nor even one moment of physical withdrawal.
Prayer: Lord, I come to You believing and
trusting, in Jesus Name. Amen.
Rev. Bobbie Chapman
Founders Congregational Church
Harwinton, CT
revbac@aol.com
April 1, 2017 Fifth Saturday of Lent
Scandalon
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the
debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the
world?
—1 Corinthians 1:20, (ESV)
The reflection I chose for today, April Fool’s Day, comes from the words and
music of Michael Card.
Seems I've imagined Him all of my life as the wisest of all of mankind,
But if God's Holy wisdom is foolish to men he must have seemed out of His
mind,
For even His family said He was mad, and the priests said a demon's to blame
But God in the form of this angry young man could not have seemed perfectly
sane.
When we in our foolishness thought we were wise, he played the fool and He
opened our eyes,
When we in our weakness believed we were strong he became helpless to
show we were wrong,
And so we follow God's own fool for only the foolish can tell
Believe the unbelievable and come be a fool as well.
So come lose your life for a carpenter's son, for a madman who died for a
dream,
And you'll have the faith His first followers had and you'll feel the weight of the
beam,
So surrender the hunger to say you must know, have the courage to say I
believe.
For the power of paradox opens your eyes and blinds those who say they can
see.
Let us pray: So let us follow God's own Fool for only the
foolish can tell
Let us believe the unbelievable, and come be a fool as
well. Amen
Pastor Bob Higle,
Plymouth Congregational Church
Lansing, MI
pastor@plymouthlansing.org
April 2, 2017 Fifth Sunday of Lent
Released
"I am the Resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he
die, yet he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never
die. Do you believe this?” —John 11:25-26
Like many of you, I grew up in the church. My father, Rev. Dr. Harold H.
Clark pastored the same small Baptist church for 44 years. The first
place I was taken after birth was the church, and we were there every
time the doors were open and more. I was taught about God, Jesus, the
prophets, apostles and of course the basic doctrines of Christianity: the
virgin birth of Christ, his death, burial and resurrection.
I lost my dad in February of 2008 and was devastated. I'd already lost
my mother in 2006 and I was closer to her. Mom was often the go-
between for my dad and me growing up, because we rarely agreed on
anything. It was the emptiest time of my life and I was faced with the
question, "Will I ever see them again?' The writer in Job asks, "If
mortals die, will they live again?" When we lose a loved one, we fall
back on what we were taught. Lent was just beginning and I tried to
console myself with reading the Bible and devotionals, but I found no
comfort. It was the emptiest time in my life and I remember telling my
wife that I felt like an orphan.
Easter Sunday came and sometime during morning worship, I
embraced the Resurrection. Or maybe it embraced me; I'm not sure
and I can't explain it. But it became real for me for the first time in my
life, more than just doctrine or dogma we're supposed to believe. Like
many of you who have traveled this road, I had been in a prison of
doubt. The lyrics to one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs come to mind.
In I Shall Be Released Dylan sings, "I see my light come shining from
the west to the east. Any day now, any day now, I shall be released." I
saw the "light" that Easter morning and was released from my doubts
and fears.
Jesus said in John 11:25-26, "I am the Resurrection and the life; he
who believes in me, though he die, yet he shall live. And whoever lives
and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
Yes Lord. I believe.
"All of us go down to the dust, yet even at the grave we make our song;
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
Mark Clark
Pine Hill Congregational Church
West Bloomfield, Michigan
April 3, 2017 Fifth Monday of Lent
Drop the Weapon
Let anyone of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone
at her. —John 8:7
Jesus’ seemingly strange invitation should make each of us
pause at the thought of bringing down justice or taking revenge
on someone else, whether or not our assessment of an offense
is accurate. Perhaps societal manners would prevent us from
taking action, but Jesus’ words penetrate deep into the human
soul revealing a sinful attitude that is way past manners. The
point of His invitation clearly reveals the lack of mercy in the
human heart.
The complete passage, in John 8:2-11, speaks of a woman who
was set up by Jewish leaders who desired to catch Jesus in a
religious dilemma whereby they could form an accusation against
Him. They presented an adulterous woman, taken in the act, and
demanded that Jesus pronounce justice upon her. They
expected He would be caught between ordering her death,
according to the Law of Moses, or releasing her thereby
becoming a law-breaker Himself. They did not expect that their
own sinfulness would be revealed nor did they expect to witness
the amazing mercy of the Savior who came into the world not to
condemn but to save (John 3:17).
Sadly, we have no record of what happened to the man who
accepted the role of the adulterous partner. But we can have
confidence that Jesus always deals with penitent sinners in a
manner that is loving, forgiving, and restorative.
Prayer: Thank You, Jesus, that You are truly
the Way, the Truth, and the Life!
Helen Cunningham
First Congregational Church
Kingston, NH
hc6645@gmail.com
April 4, 2017 Fifth Tuesday of Lent
A Foot-Washer for Christ
Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our
Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might
deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of
God and our Father.— Galatians 1:3-4
The will of God is that Jesus save us from our sin through His
death on the cross.
Can a person “Un-Sin?” The obvious answer is, “No.” Looking in
our own hearts, we find, “I have sinned against God and my
neighbor.” And yet, we know, “I can never un-sin.”
Then, what hope is there in this life? Without grace, there is
none. The beauty of the Gospel is the message of grace offered
by Jesus Christ, and the gift of forgiveness He offers to anyone
who will receive it. We preach and teach of this Amazing Grace
regularly. It is our practice of forgiveness on the personal level
that often seems to fall short. Think of Jesus’ washing of the
Disciples’ feet (John 13) – Peter’s and Judas’ especially. It was
the promise of hope, even in the aftermath of later sin and
betrayal made by both. The only difference was their willingness
to receive the ultimate benefit.
If we submit our lives to Christ, He will wash our feet too. We are
commanded by Him to offer this same gift to each other. We can
be the emissaries of Christ that helps lead another brother or
sister back into the fellowship of faith. Let us encourage you to
renew your life in Christ and to become a “Foot-Washer” with us.
Prayer: Dear God, as you wash away our sins with your blood,
help us to reach out to our sisters and bothers with the same
promise of hope and understanding in Christ’s love. Amen.
Rev. J.R. and Mary McAliley
Center Congregational Church
Atlanta, GA
JRMcAlileyIII@netscape.net
MaryMcAliley@aol.com
April 5, 2017 Sixth Wednesday of Lent
Should We Love Monsters?
Read: Luke 8:26-39
For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man.
Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and
foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been
driven by the demon into solitary places. —Luke 8:29
Should the love we have for others be so great that we can love even
the most evil of people?
The other night I was reading a book to my four year old son and in it
there was definitely a good guy and a bad guy. To be specific, there
was a good ninja and a bad ninja.
Once in awhile I like to ask him questions that will get him thinking. That
night I asked, “should we love the bad guy?”
“No daddy, he’s the bad guy,” was his response.
For a four year old, things like that are very black and white, but are
they such for us as followers and believers in Christ?
Have you even known a monster? I have. He was the band director in
my high school. I wasn’t one of his victims but I have friends who were.
He was a monster, a predator; he was a level of evil and perversion I
hope to never come across ever again. Should I love him? Should I
pray for him?
In the book of Luke, Jesus comes across a man who is processed by a
legion of demons. The man Jesus met was pure evil, every nuance of
his being was dedicated to the enemy of love.
At the end of the passage we see a complete transformation in the
man. This man whom people chained up, who was kept with their dead,
was now sitting with Jesus having a conversation and I imagine he was
probably smiling.
Can my love transform a monster? We are called to go out into the
world and make disciples and in that world there
will be a lot of monsters. Do you think we should
love them?
Prayer: Holy God, help us to pray for and even
love those who seem entirely unlovable. In Jesus'
Name, Amen.
Rev. Justin Neirer
Sandstone Congregational Church
Jackson, MI
theoutreachguy@hotmail.com
April 6, 2017 Sixth Thursday of Lent
His Place
My son became very depressed in second grade. Because he
was depressed, he was drawing gravestones with his name on
them. He went through counseling and was even medicated. By
third grade he was doing much better and loved his teacher, but I
received a call to pastor a church that would require a move. I
was worried that the transition would cause a setback. After
consulting his counselor I accepted the call.
I didn’t tell my son until the last minute. I did however begin work
on making his transition a good one. I met with his new teacher
and explained the situation. I also worked hard on his bedroom to
make it a dream room for him. He was a NASCAR fan, so I got
checkered flag curtains, sheets and bedspread. His pillow case
was a picture of his favorite NASCAR driver. He had a NASCAR
clock and throw rugs. The entire room was NASCAR.
On his first day at the new house, I told him to close his eyes,
take my hand and follow me. I took him to his room and had him
open his eyes. He cried when he saw it, he was so excited.
Jesus said “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
-–John 14:3
What a sacrifice of love our Savior made for us! Are we willing to
accept His loving sacrifice and follow Him?
Prayer: Father, sometimes we forget just how much You love us.
Help us to never forget the sacrifice of love You made for us on
Calvary! Give us the strength to close our eyes and hold Your
hand in faith, till You lead us to the place You have prepared for
us! Amen.
Pastor Eric Hickman
Tipton Community Congregational Church
Tipton, MI
ehickman@yahoo.com
April 7, 2017 Sixth Friday of Lent
More than a Minor Disturbance
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on
earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed
in heaven.Matthew16:19 (NRSV)
Every year millions of Christians visit the Holy Land. On any given day, dozens
of buses belch out thousands of visitors from all over the world at the gates of
Jerusalem’s Old City. They see the Western Wall, the Garden of Gethsemane,
the Mount of Olives, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and walk up the Via
Dolorosa. Some are seeking an epiphany. Some are searching for a deeper
meaning. Some are content to simply walk where Jesus walked.
The Via Dolorosa follows the path that Jesus dragged the cross up to Golgotha.
It is a narrow street that only accommodates foot traffic. Along each side of this
narrow path are vendors hawking all manner of goods. Along the Way of Tears
one can purchase a carved olive wood cross, costume jewelry, and an endless
variety of other souvenirs.
Jerusalem’s busy market place has probably changed little since Jesus trudged
up this street. Likely the vendors on that long ago Friday paid scant attention to
this Jew on his way to Calvary. It was just another day; just another enemy of
the State about to pay the ultimate price for sedition.
Curiously, today’s pilgrim tourists draw far more attention from the vendors than
Jesus did. We cause a minor disturbance. The street merchants shout, show
off their goods, and do everything possible to attract the tourists’ attention.
It is a bit of a tragedy that only our economic potential causes a minor
disturbance. What if an intolerance of greed and oppression caused a
disturbance? Consider the uproar that a cry for peace on earth might create.
What if we disturbed the world with our demands for justice for all God’s
children? Just imagine the disruption if we truly lived up to Jesus‘ great
commandment to love one another. A minor disturbance in Christ’s name could
make a major change in our world.
Prayer: Loving God, in our daily trudge it is easy to
overlook the wondrous love you have lavished upon us.
Stir in our hearts a willingness to model Christ. Create
within us a passion to be more Christ-like in every way
possible. Amen.
Rev. Jerrold Jones, Retired
First Congregational Church of Greenville
Greenville, MI
declamrev1@gmail.com
April 8, 2017 Sixth Saturday of Lent
Spring Cleaning and Spirit Cleaning
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
—Psalm 51:10 (KJV)
I grew up in New Jersey among relatives from the Netherlands.
Although I never knew my grandmother on my mother’s side, my
mother would speak about her ways. Whether it was a tradition
only with the Dutch – I have a feeling it’s not – every spring, my
mother would begin the “spring cleaning” rituals. She'd have my
sister and me start by taking all of the good china from the china
cabinet, washing and drying it, cleaning the shelves and putting
everything back. This usually came during our Easter week
break. We would have to tackle our bedrooms next and clean out
the closets and dressers, wash the windows and curtains and
thoroughly dust, polish and vacuum. We would take our beds
apart and air out our pillows, blankets and spreads, then turn the
mattresses.
All these years later as I undertake my own spring cleaning, I
can’t help but think what a good time it is to clean out the
cobwebs of my soul and invite the fresh air of the Holy Spirit to
energize and invigorate me again. It’s a perfect time to toss out
the sins of resentment, envy, greed and pride that clutter my life
and be “renewed with a right spirit within.”
How much better you, too, will feel, if like me, you can go to bed
revitalized and restored, knowing the dust bunnies of your life
have been cleaned out. I encourage you to do your spring
cleaning, whatever that means to you, and remember to do a
little cleaning out in your life; entreat the Holy Spirit to come in
and refresh your soul!
Prayer: O God, clean out whatever there is
in my life that keeps me from having a pure
relationship with you. Renew and refresh
me with your Holy Spirit. Amen.
Nella Hobson
First Congregational Church
Pittsfield, NH
nella176@gmail.com
April 9, 2017 Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday
THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE
Each of you should look out not only to your own interests, but
also to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that
was in Christ Jesus, —Philippians 2:4-5 (NIV)
Lent is a time of solemn reflection on the stories of the events
leading to the betrayal, arrest, trial, sentencing and crucifixion of
Jesus. In many stories, this would be the end of the story, but we
know the rest of the story. Resurrection Sunday, Easter, is a time
of joy and celebration, because God’s Love for us is greater than
death, and Christ is the living proof.
Each day we have opportunities to share God’s Love with others.
We will never know what a simple act of kindness may mean to
the receiving person. There are so many people today that don’t
see God’s love for them. Let that Love be reflected through each
one of us.
As we go about our busy daily lives, let us remember to smile at
those we meet or pass on the street, let someone go ahead of
you in a checkout lane (yes, really), offer a hand to steady
someone going up or down stairs. These are all acts of sharing
God’s Love. Take a little time at the end of each day to reflect on
the acts of kindness and Love you shared with someone. What
wondrous love is this?
Prayer: Gracious and mighty God, open my eyes to see the
opportunities of sharing your Love with someone, a stranger, a
friend, a family member. The greatest gift I have received is your
Love and I want to share it with others. Amen.
Rev. Jerry Turner
Arbor Grove Congregational Church
Jackson, MI
jerryturner4705@gmail.com
April 10, 2017 Monday of Holy Week
Passover begins tonight at sundown.
Seder
And these words which I command you today shall be in your
heart.
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall
talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the
way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”
-
Deuteronomy 11
Whenever I read these words, or use them as translated years
later in the Gospels, I actually think not only of baptisms but of
SEDER.
The first invitation I received to celebrate Seder was when I was
serving Newbury Congregational Church. A young Jewish boy
was attending our youth group and his parents invited me to their
home for Seder. The second occasion was years later when the
Jewish community in Nantucket invited me to their annual Seder,
held at the Jared Coffin House. The third occasion was when our
church asked for a Jewish family to host the Seder meal in
Bennett Hall. In all three instances the celebrants re-enacted the
meal as if we were in a home where children and adults were
recounting the story of the Seder meal.
Like other religious rites, the re-enactment of this story was both
didactic and emotional. Each part of the meal had historical and
religious meaning. The common thread of each one of these
Seders is the affirmation that the family is the most effective
venue for teaching the faith. And, I could not help but wonder,
given the changes in the matrices of the family, how often
Christian families teach their children the
stories of faith at home.
Prayer: Almighty and gracious God, give
families the courage to teach the lessons of
our faith in the most creative ways they can.
Amen
Rev. Dr. Thomas M Richard
First Congregational Church
Marshfield, MA
April 11, 2017 Tuesday of Holy Week
What Wondrous Love is This?
Then Moses said to the people, “Commemorate this day, the day
you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the
LORD brought you out of it with a mighty hand. On that day tell your
son, ‘I do this because of what the LORD did for me when I came
out of Egypt.’. —Exodus 13:3a,8 (NIV)
The Lord is gracious and kind; powerful and mighty; faithful and
true! Throughout the generations God has entered into covenant
with His people and brought forth the fulfillment of His promises in
astounding ways! We praise God for the Passover Lamb, the Total
Atonement for our sins, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior!
Were it not for God's divine intervention, our Jewish ancestors’ faith
and identity as God’s people would not have become what it is.
Rather, they would have remained slaves in Egypt, with broken
spirits, oppressed and suffering under pagan rule.
But, what wondrous love is this! The Lord God granted unto them
freedom, liberation, and deliverance!! And that this wondrous love
shall be known to the generations, Moses instructs God's people to
'commemorate this day'. And so it is, at Passover Seder, our
ancestors pass their story of freedom to the generations, and honor
God for all He has done.
‘And honor God for all He has done.’ Amazing, gracious, loving God
~ what wondrous love is this? For now God has freed us not only
from earthly bonds of slavery, but from being held eternally captive
by sin! Salvation has come! The perfect Passover Lamb, the Lamb
of God, Jesus Christ has given all that we might have Eternal Life!!
Prayer: Gracious God, We praise you for the wondrous gift of love in
Jesus Christ! No longer are we slaves held captive and oppressed!
We ask in Jesus name, that we may share throughout the
generations, the message of God’s people
redeemed! Amen.
Rev. Lin E. McGee
Chaplain, PreciousStars.com
Winsted, CT
Rev.Lin.McGee@gmail.com
April 12, 2017 Wednesday of Holy Week
Kataluma
As the Passover approached, Jesus sent two of his disciples into
the city to seek his “kataluma” (usually translated: “guest room”) in
which he could share this meal with them.—Mark 14:14; Luke 22:11
Although the disciples were shown to a large upper room (anogeon
mega in Greek) prepared for them, it was not what Jesus directed
them to ask for. In fact, Jesus, knowing this was his last meal with
his followers, did not ask for a banquet hall or suite, but for the place
in an inn or hostel where the open stalls of the animals are located,
the place where tired, dusty travelers unburden themselves and
care for their beasts. Except in this place in our Scriptures, the word
“kataluma” occurs only one other time--as the designation of the
‘inn’ in Bethlehem, where “the Virgin Mother brought forth her first-
born Son, and laid Him in a manger.” (Luke 2:7)
Perhaps you wonder what Jesus thought as He spent those final
hours with His followers. He was poised to enter the final battle and,
after His sacrificial death and resurrection, take His place of royalty.
Yet He who had been born in a lowly stable where the animals were
kept, His earthly ministry and mission now drawing to completion,
was content to ask for His last meal in a “kataluma.” This symbol of
His humility is so often missed.
Prayer: Father God, thank you for your humble willingness to come
to and care for the least of us. Help us to be willing to follow your
example and bear each other’s burdens and to do this in a true spirit
of humility. Amen
Rev. J.R. and Mary McAliley
Center Congregational Church
Atlanta, GA
JRMcAlileyIII@netscape.net
MaryMcAliley@aol.com
April 13, 2017 Maundy Thursday
Like Drops of Blood
He himself withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt
down, and began to pray: ‘Father, if it be your will, take this cup
from me. Yet not my will but yours be done.’ And now there
appeared to him an angel from heaven bringing him strength,
and in anguish of spirit he prayed the more urgently; and his
sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
― Luke 22:44 (REB)
If you know me, you’re probably well aware that I have the rather
dubious gift of prodigious perspiration. Simply put, I sweat more
than anyone else I know. When I play tennis, run, or participate
in other athletic activities, I’m drenched in short order. But I can
also break a good sweat just walking, or playing guitar, or folding
laundry, or preaching―even in the winter time. This “gift” of mine
can make for some social awkwardness. It can be inconvenient,
annoying, and at times frustrating.
I know all too well what it feels like to be either physically or
emotionally stressed to the point of uncontrollable sweating. But
even I can’t really relate to Jesus’ state of sweatiness as
described by Luke. Were the drops in fact red? Were they of a
thicker consistency? Some argue that Luke simply used a simile
to foreshadow the crucifixion. But I can’t help but wonder if there
was something qualitatively more intense about Jesus’
perspiration that night than anything I can even imagine.
And, if so, what wondrous love is this?
O God, it seems your Son experienced that night an anguish of
the spirit beyond anything we can conceive. Thank you for his
wondrous love, his obedience, his faithfulness, and his sacrifice.
Amen.
Rev. Rob Fredrickson
Associate Minister
Ozaukee Congregational Church
Grafton, WI
rcf474@gmail.com
April 14, 2017 Good Friday
An Unexpected Change of Heart
Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch
over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were
terrified and said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”
—Matthew 27:54 (NRSV)
.... he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!” —Mark 15:39 (NRSV)
....(he) said, “Certainly this man was innocent.” —Luke 23:47 (NRSV)
All three Gospel writers record the story of the Roman centurion
standing at the foot of the cross. It is a fair guess to think this particular
Roman commander was a veteran of many crucifixions. The grisly
events of this Friday were just part of the job. He had seen worse.
Today’s recipients of Rome’s ugly form of capital punishment were two
thieves and a man claiming to be God’s Son. Just another day’s work
on a bleak hillside for this seasoned executioner.
Yet, on this day the Roman soldier’s hardened heart was moved. Luke
records the centurion’s words as: “Certainly this man was innocent.”
Matthew and Mark agree the seasoned centurion said, “Truly this man
was God’s Son!”
In either case, this commander risked his life. To declare that Rome
had executed an innocent man was an act of sedition. To publicly
confess his belief that this was God’s Son, was an even worse claim in
the eyes of his peers. To imply that Caesar’s agent had made a grave
error put this officer’s career and life in jeopardy.
What could have possibly moved this dedicated executioner of
enemies of the State to confess Jesus as God’s Son?
There is only one explanation. It was unyielding, inexplicable,
unmerited, immeasurable, and wondrous love. It is the only kind of
love that centuries later still moves hearts and lives in unexpected
ways.
PRAYER: Loving God, help me to keep an open
heart today; one that stands ready to receive
your will and to be changed by your wondrous
love. Amen.
Rev. Jerrold Jones
First Congregational Church
of Greenville, Ret’d.
Greenville, MI
daclamrev1@gmail.com
April 15, 2017 Holy Saturday
Bearing Any Cost
We all like sheep have gone astray... And the Lord has laid on
Him the iniquity of us all.—Isaiah 53:6
My heart aches when I think of the cruelty that was involved in
the time of the Savior's crucifixion. I have two sons, and I cannot
in my wildest dreams imagine saying, "Here, take them. Beat
them, humiliate them, strip them, torture and kill them, because I
love you even though any of you will never understand or even
care." What kind of love is this that God would sacrifice His very
own Son for us? I believe many people just can't believe God
would do such a thing for them. We all know ourselves, and there
are times I wouldn't give a nickel for myself, but God gave it all,
the very best for me and you. What wondrous love is this?
Prayer: Oh my Lord and Savior, I am so humbled by this won-
drous love. I know I don't deserve it, couldn't pay for it or can
barely understand it, but I fall on my knees and thank You for it.
Lord Jesus, help me to pass Your love forward. This much, I can
do. In Jesus, the precious Son's name, Amen
Rev. Dr. Marilyn Danielson
First Congregational Church of Portland
Portland, MI
Portlandpastor@yahoo.com
April 16, 2017 Easter Sunday
Easter—What an Event!.
The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to
them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.’
Luke 24.5.
Easter is the singular event in history. Resurrection from the dead. Only God can
accomplish something as extraordinary. The resurrected Christ was experienced by
Mary, the mother of Jesus, the twelve apostles, hundreds as diverse as the two walking
to Emmaus, Paul, and others. Based upon their contact with the resurrected Jesus,
many of those individuals willingly chose to be martyred than to recant their relationship
with Jesus: so was the power of His resurrection to them.
Over thousands of years people have relied upon the first-hand testimony of the people
who encountered the living Christ. Even now people are giving their lives for Jesus in
both our civilized and uncivilized world because of their proclamation of Jesus. Their
faith remains strong even to death. Our conviction is with them as we celebrate the
victory over bodily death. As humans we somehow know there is another spiritual world
out there. As humans we have a sense of a life beyond what we can see. As humans
we have an inkling of a life after death. Because of Jesus we have been taught that all
of this is true: there are many mansions awaiting us, there is meaningful prayerful
communication with the divine, there is life after death, and Jesus is awaiting us.
The cause for celebration is not limited to a later time. The cause for celebration is that
life as we know it at this time, today, is different because of Jesus’ life and resurrection.
We have confirmation of being loved by God. We are a people held close to God. We
are a redeemed people. Every single person who lives, who has lived, and who will live,
has the dignity of being a child of God, called to resurrection upon our death.
Paul uses the term ‘sleeping’ when referring to bodily death. For him, our body sleeps,
while our souls are in the closest of union with God the Father, Jesus the Savior, and
the Holy Spirit. Easter is the time for us to celebrate that almighty God’s bond with us is
brought about through the life, death, and resurrection of the divine Son of God, Jesus
the Christ. Alleluia!
Prayer: Lord, so often your Son has reassured us not to be afraid, but we, like the
women who came to the tomb, are terrified of the unknown, the unusual, the
miraculous, the divine working in your creation. Give us the
grace to understand that your love will comfort us, and with
your love we will grasp that we your children are in your
home, and in the heart of your Son Jesus, and there is no
reason to be terrified. We pray this under the guidance of
your Holy Spirit in the name of your Son, Jesus the Christ.
Amen.
Rev. Dr. Barry W. Szymanski, J.D
First Congregational Church of Wauwatosa
Wauwatosa, WI
barrywszymanski@sbcglobal.net
We Can Use Your Help!
We are eager to receive your devotional writings to help with this sharing of our faith during the
seasons of Advent and Lent. After thinking about the theme of the booklet, pray about how you
can best communicate some aspect of your faith life for the benefit of other Congregationalists. If
you have an inspirational moment, consider writing for the booklet for next year while we’re in the
Lent season this year.
Here are the details for upcoming devotional booklets:
Advent 2017: Theme: He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Is. 9:6b) We encourage exploration on the theme of the
names and titles of Jesus the Christ, and please use your choice of whichever scripture reference
speaks to you in the translation of your choice.
Deadline August 15, 2017.
Email your Advent 2017 entry to nacccadvent17devo@gmail.com.
Lent 2018: Theme: Take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16)
Deadline October 15, 2017
The Lent email address is naccclent18devo@gmail.com.
The separate email addresses have been established to streamline our file-keeping for each
booklet. Please use those addresses only for sending in your devotional writings. For questions
or clarification, please contact Terry Bobzien at terrybob@gmail.com or Carol Taylor at
jazzytay@gmail.com.
We are aware of some submissions getting lost in recent years, and we are sincerely sorry for
the errors. If you become aware of any that have not been used, please remind us, and we will
track it down, or you can send it again to the email address above for the appropriate booklet and
we will use it next year. We deeply appreciate the work of all of our devotional writers!
We also want to convey that our intention is to honor the breadth of the deeply-held theological
viewpoints of our membership and our congregations. Throughout our booklets, you will
intentionally find a wide range of expressions of faith. As Congregationalists, we are spiritually
challenged and strengthened through the sharing of our theology.
As you prepare to write, please frame a central thought which contributes to the theme of the
booklet.
Here are the things we need:
Title Scripture verse(s) The body of the text
A short prayer Your name Your church and its location
Your email (if you do not want it published, let us know)
Your home or cell phone (not for publication, but to contact you if we have a question)
A total word count of 300 to 400 words, title, scripture, body, name and church included.
A recent picture, please (not essential). You may check with Terry to ask if yours is on file
(4 years archived).
Your editors will proofread for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and will make minimal correction
to flow or thought. We want your voice to come through these devotionals!
Blessings to you all,
Carol and Terry
National Association of
Congregational Christian Churches
8473 South Howell Avenue
P. O. Box 288
Oak Creek, WI 53154-0288
414.764.1620
www.naccc.org
naccc@naccc.org