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Lent 2015 Devotional

February 17

Pre-season Celebration


February 18



February 19

Walk on the Good Way


February 20

One Minute


February 21

Study Hard!


February 22

Oh the Pain, Oh the Joy


February 23

Hall of Faith


February 24

Earthly Kingdoms


February 25

God Reveals His Path for Us


February 26

A Pelican in South Dakota


February 27

Forty Days in the Desert


February 28

The Way


March 1

Blessed Destination


March 2

One Lost, Now Found


March 3

Following and Serving 


Click here to read more about our devotion writers. 

Table of Contents

Click on the title to be taken to the devotion you'd like to read. 

Click the cross on the bottom of each page to return to the table of contents. 

March 4



March 5

The Strength to Forgive


March 6

What Do We Owe?


March 7



March 8

The Way of God


March 9

Muslims are People Too


March 10

Walking with Joy


March 11

Undistinguished Travelers


March 12

The Father and the Son and Us


March 13

Baby Grace, A True Story


March 14

God is the Omega


March 15

Our Ultimate Care-Giver


March 16

Creative Convictions


March 17

St. Patrick's Breastplate


March 18

God is Faithful




March 19

Is It I Lord?


March 20

New Life is Possible


March 21

Healing and Hope


March 22-24

Southwell Litany


March 25

The Road Less Traveled


March 26

You Have Not Because You Ask Not


March 27

See and Follow


March 28

The Ultimate Question



March 29 - Palm Sunday

Road Joy


March 30

Longing to Live


March 31

Work with a Purpose


April 1

Revival in My Heart


April 2 - Maunday Thursday



April 3 - Good Friday

From Joy to Despair


April 4 - Holy Saturday

Lamb of God


April 5 - Easter Sunday

The Road to Resurrection

INTRODUCTION The walk path journey road begins with a bon voyage party called Shrove Tuesday Then the hard work of traveling down the Lenten Road begins Like marathon runners we begin another season of spring training for eternal life Each of these devotions written for you by a fellow traveler in the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches is meant to spur you on to rejuvenate you to give you staying power faithfulness and fellowship to let you know that you are not alone but in company with other Congregational pilgrims who are supporting you even as you support them Onward and upward We welcome new writers and are grateful for the faithfulness of those who write regularly Each time we start to put together the Lent Devotional we hold our breath and pray Will 47 devotionals come in What if they don t And sometimes they don t If you have never written a devotional please consider doing so At the Annual Gathering in Omaha Nebraska ten people participated in a Charrette Using computers brought for the occasion the participants busily put together entries that are in this edition Did you notice that there was an on line edition of the Lent Devotional in 2014 It was posted on the naccc org web site under resources We are hoping to increase the on line presence of these Devotionals in new and exciting ways To all who write read and pray over these Devotions thank you Rev Dr Lori Wiley Lead Editor Rev Terry Bobzien Technical Editor
INTRODUCTION The walk    path    journey    road    begins with a bon voyage party called Shrove Tuesday. Then the hard wo...
Shrove Tuesday 2 17 15 Pre season Celebration Eat drink and be merry Luke 12 19 Valentine s was three days ago We are still on a sugar high and this is the day to clean out the refrigerator of all those sweet calorie rich foods before Lent begins tomorrow Shrove Tuesday is a celebration of the end of foolishness over eating indulging ourselves and self serving choices Mardi Gras in New Orleans exemplifies the essence of what Shrove Tuesday has been turned into even as many aspects of it disgust us Live it up one last day before your mission trip toward eternity Shrove Tuesday also known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday historically was the day for eating up all the fatty foods made with fat drippings shortening and butter before starting a more stringent and simple diet during Lent So binge eating is in order even if we don t quite agree with the excesses of Bourbon Street Tradition has it that pancakes historically deep fried like doughnuts were served in a Pancake Meal on Shrove Tuesday Many churches today have continued the custom and you might do the same It could be a social event a fundraiser or a contest for Madcap Pancakes where each contestant uses a basic pancake recipe or mix but adds creative ingredients such as cinnamon bananas cornmeal food coloring or chocolate chips and names the pancake The story is that the Pancake Meal began when a housewife running late in her baking heard the church bells calling her to the Shrove Tuesday service She ran out of her house still wearing her apron and head scarf holding the frying pan with a pancake in it as she dashed to the church where she was greeted with much surprise and chuckles from the congregation Shrove Tuesday is a time for hilarity laughter and fun Pancake races contests to flip pancakes in the air and other jovial games are in order PRAYER O God of laughter and all things good we appreciate humor we enjoy life and the bounty of Your blessings that give us great pleasure Prepare our hearts for the upcoming season of Lent AMEN
Shrove Tuesday  2.17.15 Pre-season Celebration  Eat, drink and be merry.  Luke 12 19  Valentine   s was three days ago. We...
Ash Wednesday 2 18 15 God saved you by God s grace when you believed And you can t take credit for this it is a gift from God Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done so none of us can boast about it For we are God s masterpiece God has created us anew in Christ Jesus so we can do the good things God planned for us long ago Ephesians 2 8 10 Alleluia At night as I lay in bed I ask the Lord to clear my head Of all the shameful things I ve said and done The hearts I ve bruised With the words I ve used The chance to help but I refused Forgive me Lord I am a guilty one Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia Thank you Lord the guilt has passed My head is clear I sleep at last And when tomorrow comes I ll be renewed I ll speak kind words make my patience last I ll help before I m even asked Praise God You ve changed my attitude Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia The sun comes up I m feeling fine Secure to know His hand holds mine And all I have to do is follow But all too soon in too little time I ve said something that s so unkind Those promises I made are sounding hollow Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia It has to look like I don t care But that s not true the love is there Why so hard to live a life worth saving To accept the gift God wants to share And keep on sinning that s not fair But God s great love is truly not enslaving Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia Keep trying God seems to say I ll encourage you show you the way I am with you you are always in My embrace I know your heart I hear you pray Remember this and don t dismay The price was paid and you are Saved by Grace Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia Mrs Margie Lank First Congregational Church Pittsfield NH
Ash Wednesday  2.18.15  God saved you by God   s grace when you believed. And you can t take credit for this  it is a gift...
Thursday after Ash Wednesday 2 19 15 WALK ON THE GOOD WAY This is what the Lord says Stand at the crossroads and look ask for the ancient paths ask where the good way is and walk in it and you will find rest for your souls Jeremiah 6 16 Lent is something like this On Ash Wednesday a group of already weary hikers stand on top of a great mountain As they look out and onward they see off in the distance the hill of Golgotha rising against the sky They gaze at it with wide eyes and aching shoulders for it is there where they can unburden themselves of their heavy gear and lead like shoes But what lies between the heavy here and the glorious there is a deep valley one of great shadows and hidden places The prophet Jeremiah tells us that rest is ahead but most certainly not yet Now is the time for taking stock of our resources as we take those first few descending steps And that is where we stand today taking stock Are we traveling into the valley alone or is there a friend at our side Do we have the Word of God in hand to keep us upright in moments when we may stumble Do we have a Living Water in our canteen to sustain us on the journey Jeremiah says Stop Look around Walk on the good way The days ahead will be filled with exploring dark places and asking for God s great light to shine on the Good Way But for now as we begin our descent let us look around and walk in a good way PRAYER Giver of Rest we see You We see the cross that pulls us on down the road We call to You today to strengthen us for what is ahead to brighten the next step to keep us upright and moving forward Giver of Rest it is toward You that we head Sustain us along the way Amen Sarah Gladstone CFTS Graduate 2014 Hampshire Colony Congregational Church Princeton IL Rev SarahGladstone gmail com
Thursday after Ash Wednesday  2.19.15  WALK ON THE GOOD WAY This is what the Lord says     Stand at the crossroads and loo...
Friday after Ash Wednesday 2 20 15 One Minute Jesus came and found them sleeping and said to Peter Simon are you asleep Could you not keep awake one hour Mark 14 37 Time is an important part of the Garden of Gethsemane It was an important part of Jesus and the disciples lives And it is an important part of each of our lives Without soon waiting life crashes into endless curves with no conductor Time awakes ticking and moves ahead in a respectful prayerful stillness The clock ticks loudly in the dead of night Waiting veils the narrow road ahead in questions and mystery but mostly apprehension Scattered bodies slumped over in sleep soon bring the realization that help for them is an unrealistic expectation This was the Garden of Gethsemane Gethsemane was a shroud of waiting like a breath stopped waiting for a decision Imagine behind the scenes Jesus pleading with God for the cup to pass from Him Jesus runs through feelings of prayerful respectful sorrowful hopeful submissive insightful watchful accepting resigned betrayed strong abandoned ready and finally back to waiting Waiting is a daunting task not for the faint of heart Waiting is a serious decision an action Waiting might be one of the greatest lessons in Lent Spiritual journeys offer opportunities for growth and walks with God More important they offer time to sit back be still and trust God I am challenging myself to give God one minute wait times during Lent Can you wait just one minute PRAYER Dear God In the quietness of Your spirit may I find the strength to know Your will In Jesus Name Thy Will be done Amen Mary McAliley Center Congregational Church Atlanta GA MaryMcAliley aol com
Friday after Ash Wednesday  2.20.15  One Minute Jesus came and found them sleeping  and said to Peter,    Simon, are you a...
First Saturday of Lent 2 21 15 Study Hard Why do we have to know this I will give them a heart to know me that I am the Lord They will be my people and I will be their God for they will return to me with all their heart Jeremiah 24 7 I have been a high school science teacher for 21 years and still love my work However I do know the topics of discussion required in my classroom based on the State and National Content Standards for science education can be quite a bore for many of my students Sometimes when I am teaching how to balance chemical reactions or the biochemical pathways of photosynthesis and cellular respiration I am bored too I try to make learning meaningful for these adolescents but often still hear the question Why do we have to know this stuff I am sympathetic to these questions and sometimes give an answer to justify the tedious content Other times I just tell the students they have to know it to pass the Graduation Test However there is something that every Christian needs to know to pass a graduation test to heaven The most important exam of our lives Of course it is that Jesus died on a cross and rose again to save our souls for all eternity It is important during Lent to take the time to seriously consider the sacrifice that Christ made for us on that cross As we walk the road to Resurrection Sunday we take the time to ponder the enormity of Christ s sacrifice for all of us It is easy to get bogged down with the details of church events at this time of year Just don t forget to remember the reason for the season and the significance of Christ s sacrifice PRAYER Dear Lord help me pass the test for graduation by knowing what you have done to save my soul and provide me with eternal life Amen Dr Lisa Bircher Grace Church Columbiana OH Lisa Bircher epschools k12 oh us
First Saturday of Lent  2.21.15 Study Hard     Why do we have to know this      I will give them a heart to know me, that ...
First Sunday of Lent 2 22 15 Oh the Pain Oh the Joy When the days drew near for Jesus to be received up Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem Luke 9 51 RSV On our Lenten journey we do as Christ and the disciples did We turn our faces towards Jerusalem and walk there over the next forty days until we come to that Event that changed the world We know what we will see there a sinless human being falsely accused betrayed by a friend misunderstood by followers mocked flogged and nailed to a cross And yet we continue to go there Why I go there sometimes to be reminded that my small sins as I like to think of them made up some of those thorns nails and stripes that afflicted Christ s body and caused such pain I go sometimes to hear Jesus speak those glorious words spoken while hanging there in such agony Forgive them I go to be reminded of what my salvation cost At the site I am forced to my knees to ask forgiveness seek strength and be filled with a power to overcome the evil of this world I then run with all my might to find that tomb that empty tomb the tomb in which the evil of this world and the evil one thought they had buried my hope and peace I go to the tomb to remind myself that evil was and is defeated by a resurrected Lord PRAYER Dear Lord please give me the strength to truly face the cross with all its pain and all it joys so I will do Your will whatever the cost and You can make me a mouthpiece for You Amen Pastor Bill Rafuse Rapid River Congregational Church Rapid River MI wrafuse charter net
First Sunday of Lent  2.22.15  Oh the Pain, Oh the Joy When the days drew near for Jesus to be received up, Jesus set his ...
First Monday of Lent 2 23 15 Hall of Faith Look to Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God Hebrews 12 2 My persuasion is that Jesus Christ serves not only as the object of faith but as an example of faith It is not only okay but Biblical to look to Christ for inspiration as an example of faith Not that the Son of God had to have faith the way we do but Jesus serves as an example for us This idea is prevalent in Hebrews In my mind it is unfortunate that there is a chapter dividing the Hall of Faith in the 11 th chapter from the beginning of the 12th chapter Jesus Christ is the ultimate example for our inspiration regarding faith At the end of a long list of those who endured hardships in hope of a better and heavenly country we have the ultimate Person of Faith Christ who endured the cross because of the joy ahead It seems likely that Christ had known about the cross long before those last days in Jerusalem In some sense I m not qualified to speak on Jesus shifted from his main goal of proclaiming the kingdom to going to the place where he would be crucified We see twice in Luke 9 that Jesus had set his face toward Jerusalem And if I am reading Hebrews correctly we are to follow his example in setting our faces like flint towards obedience to God at any cost Why Just because it s right No the gospel is never without motivation We have faith in the joy ahead of us as Jesus did and we too can endure in some lesser degree I will move here from mere encouragement to challenge Will you follow Christ s example and set your face to Jerusalem If you will find others who want to do the same and start living intentionally sacrificially because of the joy ahead PRAYER O Founder of our faith as we contemplate Your life and death strengthen our resolve to be like You give us the courage to endure our crosses We welcome Your perfecting of our faith AMEN Grace and Peace Luken Pride Youth Minister First Congregational Church Kingston NH lukenpridenh gmail com blog www growingsouls org
First Monday of Lent  2.23.15  Hall of Faith Look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that w...
First Tuesday of Lent 2 24 15 Earthly Kingdoms The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand Mark 1 15 When was the last time you put any thought into your kingdom Each of us has one you know It is the boundary line around our space wherever and however we delineate it Yet we rarely use this archaic term in our language today since it conjures up thoughts of kings and knights and moats We begin identifying our kingdom as very young children Remember that imaginary line in the back seat of the car that no one was supposed to cross As older children we had the physical boundary of our bedroom door which could be opened to let others in or closed to keep them out Today as adults we survey and stake our property and sometimes put fences around the perimeter to mark our kingdom Even the animal kingdom oh we do use that word today recognizes boundaries and claims ownership over their territory Jesus came with the amazingly Good News that God s Kingdom is now available to us Jesus birth death and resurrection opened the doors of Heaven and altered the course of history Heaven holds the throne of God but God s Kingdom now reaches every corner here on earth As we grow closer to Jesus through our individual spiritual formation we begin to realize the truth of the reality of Christ s Kingdom We begin to live up to Kingdom standards in this life through living by the example found in the life of Jesus PRAYER Lord Jesus with Your guidance we will ask ourselves daily throughout this Lenten Season Am I walking through my kingdom in the light of Yours Please help me to be aware that who and what I influence is a direct reflection on You and Your Kingdom In Your Name we pray Amen Chris Murphy Horton Congregational Church Horton MI Murphy1978 aol com
First Tuesday of Lent  2.24.15 Earthly Kingdoms  The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand.  Mark 1 15  When...
Wednesday First Week of Lent 2 25 15 God Reveals His Path for Us Seek God s will in all you do and God will show you which path to take Proverbs 3 6 I remember when my husband and I received the unexpected call of God to move from our home and family in San Diego to Los Angeles to pursue attending seminary There was no burning bush that commanded us to pack our belongings no echoing voice that prodded us to apply for job transfers to the greater Los Angeles no pillar of cloud that directed us on the freeway 405 North But there was a still small voice that spoke through the details of deadlines and even though our hopes and dreams It said quietly and plainly Go I will be with you Armed with God s grace and mercy we did and were blessed with more than our own hopes and dreams could ever imagine There were times of struggle through change and loneliness but nothing that exceeded what God s Loving Hand could extend to us The Bible tells us that our LORD works all things together for the good of those who love God As we grew in our knowledge of God we grew closer to understanding how God wants to use us for his Glory How blessed we are to be able to simply rely on God s direction and guidance God reveals his will to those who are obedient to him It is through obedience to God that we as believers can begin to understand God s purpose for our lives PRAYER Lord a mere glimpse of Your infinite Wisdom far exceeds my highest understanding of the world in which I live Therefore let me not seek to do anything more than rely on You and the path that You have set before me Grant me a desire to seek glorifying You in all situations In the Holy Name of Your Son Jesus Christ AMEN Nina Solomona Congregational Church of the Messiah Los Angeles CA nc solomona gmail com
Wednesday, First Week of Lent  2.25.15  God Reveals His Path for Us Seek God   s will in all you do, and God will show you...
Thursday First Week of Lent 2 26 15 A Pelican in South Dakota As they were walking along someone said to Jesus I will follow you wherever you go But Jesus replied Foxes have dens to live in and birds have nests but the Son of a Human has no place even to lay his head Luke 9 57 58 This past summer I took the family on a road trip through the wild frontier that land that is often thought of as the road not traveled It didn t take us long to discover we weren t the only inhabitants wandering off the interstate choosing instead to take the back roads through the rolling hills and plains There in the middle of nowhere sat a pelican in a small pond How on earth did a pelican find its way to South Dakota Did it wake up and say I have had enough of this place and take off for parts unknown Or did something else motivate it to leave behind the world it knew in search of something better Did it understand the hardships ahead if it chose to stay Or was the peaceful feeling of floating freely in its own pond sufficient So many of us wish to follow Jesus but have no idea what that really means or where it will take us Jesus is quick to remind us of what may have to be sacrificed Become homeless Leave your family Sell all your stuff Quit your job This is not as easy as we might hope Lent is a time when we are called to give up something The sacrifices we make are in remembrance of the sacrifice made by Jesus during his life on this earth and the ultimate sacrifice of his very life on the cross We are called to follow Jesus even if it means giving up life s comforts for the unknown where there is a different kind of peace We have no idea where the road will take us or what pond we might find ourselves in but we go with the assurance that following Jesus will lead to a peace that passes understanding PRAYER Lead us Lord Jesus Give us the courage as followers of You to take the unknown road even when it means uncertainties Remind us of the benefits and the promise of Your peace Amen Ian Macdonald CFTS Graduate 2014 First Congregational Church Greenville MI iamianmacdonald mac com
Thursday, First Week of Lent  2.26.15  A Pelican in South Dakota As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus,  I wil...
Friday First Week of Lent 2 27 15 Forty Days in the Desert So as the Holy Spirit says Today if you hear God s voice do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion during the time of testing in the desert where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did So I declared on oath in my anger They shall never enter my rest Hebrews 3 7 9 11 NIV The Israelites traveled in the desert for forty years enroute to the Promised Land We are traveling through forty days of Lent in our own desert Like the Israelites we have access to hearing the voice of the Lord and like the Israelites we may resist the message of God That generation which had heard God s voice on Mt Sinai because of lack of faith did not make it into the Promised Land Israelites both believers and unbelievers were all the beneficiaries of God s graces The same powerful miracles brought blessing for all of them God gave them manna meat and water But while their needs were supplied they could not control their discontent They grumbled and disbelieved And we do the very same thing As we travel through our desert we complain It was better in Egypt Or it is better somewhere else and not where we are Our bodies may obey but our hearts may not PRAYER Dear Holy Spirit bend the stubborn heart and will melt the frozen warm the chill guide the steps that go astray From a prayer by Stephen Langton Rev Steven DeGangi First Congregational Church Peterson IA Steven DeGangi gmail com
Friday, First Week of Lent  2.27.15  Forty Days in the Desert So, as the Holy Spirit says     Today, if you hear God   s v...
Saturday First Week of Lent 2 28 15 The Way You know the way to where I am going No we don t know Lord Thomas said We have no idea where you are going so how can we know the way Jesus told Thomas I am the way the truth and the life No one can come to the Father except through me John 14 4 6 I can t believe there is only one way to heaven said the young woman riding in the car with me Has anyone ever said that to you How can good people who are atheists or belong to another religion be sent to hell just because they don t believe in Jesus My question is this Why has Jesus grand and glorious statement been twisted by many into an accusation of God s cruelty The way to get to heaven has been described The true Fountain of Youth eternal life living forever what everyone wants To escape death and deterioration Anyone can come to the Father through Jesus If someone finds a cure for cancer will our reaction be Do I have to use it Why can t I be cured another way How cruel to say this is the only cure Why should I take this cure when there are people in other parts of the world who don t seem to have access Instead we celebrate and rejoice saying There is a way Jesus is the way We are so blessed to be shown and then given the Way free of charge paid for by Jesus death on the cross Thomas who was at a loss in this passage discovered The Way in the flesh after Jesus resurrection and worshipped Jesus with the words My Lord and my God Let us do the same and proclaim to everyone we meet Did you know there is a Way to attain immortality to live forever To go to heaven It s accessible and free Spread the Good News PRAYER Thank you Jesus for being the Way making yourself the path to our resurrection Amen Rev Dr Lori Wiley Dean Congregational Christian Partnerships Gilmanton Community Church Gilmanton Iron Works NH loriwiley7 gmail com
Saturday, First Week of Lent  2.28.15 The Way     You know the way to where I am going.   No, we don t know, Lord,  Thomas...
Second Sunday of Lent 3 1 15 Blessed Destination The path of life leads upward for the wise they leave the grave behind Proverbs 15 24 I ve lived long enough to attend quite a number of funerals and have felt the finality of the grave the body of the deceased forever still in juxtaposition to the animation of life within the beings of all those present in honor of the dead person When my Dad passed into Glory my sister and I with our families carried our Dad from the hearse to the gravesite The finality of the scene was again clearly felt After final words and prayers his body was lowered into the grave and ceremonial bits of dirt were cast upon the lowered casket Then we all began to leave a picture of the living leaving the dead and the grave behind Knowing and believing in the redemptive work of Christ Jesus on the Cross ensures Believers that the journey their dead body takes to the grave will not include them For it is God s promise to every Believer that in the very instant of our death our souls the essence of our beings are immediately transported to God in heaven to live in the presence and glory of God life without end It is only the body that remains to be returned to the dust of its origin It is our blessed hope that death a consequence of sin will not disannul our eternal inheritance of Life in Christ Jesus PRAYER Father thank You for securing and also revealing the blessed hope we have in Your Son Jesus Christ our blessed Savior Amen CCP Congregational Christian Partnerships First Congregational Church Kingston NH hc6645 gmail com
Second Sunday of Lent  3.1.15  Blessed Destination The path of life leads upward for the wise  they leave the grave behind...
Second Monday of Lent 3 2 15 Once Lost Now Found The Lord is good and does what is right the Lord shows the proper path to those who go astray Psalm 25 8 Have you ever gotten lost I mean really lost So lost that you had to stop and ask a complete stranger for directions Or your GPS said recalculating with every direction you tried I really don t like that feeling But then when the information from the stranger that is supposed to help me find where I am going when that is wrong and I am worse off than before ugh We are human and we mistakenly make wrong turns sometimes a lot of them I am so grateful that God is good and does what is right When I go astray when I start to follow the wrong path and end up lost God shows me the proper path Sometimes the proper path is painful discouraging or it disciplines us but it is always tempered with grace God s grace that is greater than all our wrong turns When we find out we are lost and we seek directions from the WayMaker we can trust that we will not stay lost The path may be unclear Like our GPS it may make the way visible only one step at a time but the Lord is good and does what is right PRAYER Thank you Lord for being the true example of good Thank you for showing me the proper path Forgive me for straying trying to make my own way and help me to follow the path You have set before me Amen Jami Backell Warden Community Church Warden WA Jamibackl gmail com
Second Monday of Lent  3.2.15  Once Lost, Now Found The Lord is good and does what is right  the Lord shows the proper pat...
Second Tuesday of Lent 3 3 15 Following and Serving Whoever wants to serve me must follow me so that my servant will be with me where I am And my Father will honor anyone who serves me John 12 26 T E V In today s scripture even Greeks were seeking to know Jesus Jesus answer was Follow me God honors us when we follow Jesus but following Jesus on the road to the resurrection is more than tagging along as viewers of the journey We must follow Jesus lead and stick close stay with him as we seek to serve Jesus The journey may not be easy but there can be no higher calling than to be a servant of Jesus We are to be witnesses to Jesus work in the world without thought of who we were before We are now Jesus hands and feet doing the works of service or servanthood that the Father honors We can testify as first hand witnesses to the wonderful ways God works in our lives Recently my daughter a devoted Christian saw evidence on my computer of people being profoundly unkind Enraged she exclaimed Those people are awful I don t even care if their actions lead them into Hell We continued our work on the computer and suddenly she said Mom God just told me to bless them Well okay God I ask for your blessing on those people I ll trust You to change their hearts She became calmer and at peace This is following Jesus and serving PRAYER Heavenly Father we ask you to help us follow Jesus on the difficult road that leads to resurrection Keep us faithful in serving Jesus In Jesus name we pray AMEN Janet E Keyes Robbins Memorial Church Greenfield MA janet e keyes gmail com
Second Tuesday of Lent  3.3.15  Following and Serving Whoever wants to serve me must follow me, so that my servant will be...
Wednesday Second Week of Lent 3 4 15 Courage Purim Queen Esther s Holy Day begins this evening and continues tomorrow Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai Go gather together all the Jews who are in Susa and fast for me Do not eat or drink for three days night or day I and my attendants will fast as you do When this is done I will go to the king even though it is against the law And if I perish I perish Esther 4 15 16 NIV I lived in Hawaii for several years and attended Waikane Congregational Church on the windward side of Oahu It was a very small church that could trace its roots to the early missionaries from Boston One of my favorite stories of those early days of Christianity in the Sandwich Islands was about Queen Kapiolani Kapiolani became a fearless advocate of the new religion Christianity and it was truly inspiring to see with what eagerness and interest she sought to impress her subjects with her own convictions of truth In the year 1824 she determined to break the spell of the belief in Pele the dread goddess of the volcano For this purpose she made a journey of nearly one hundred miles chiefly on foot to the great crater of Kilauea She forbade her attendants to give the customary offering of ohelo berries to the goddess and even ate them in defiance of Pele s supposed wrath Despite the terrified entreaties of her friends and attendants she descended alone to the depths of the crater saying I worship Jehovah He kindled these fires I fear not Pele She knelt in prayer to the true God and sang a Christian hymn Traditionally the hymn Kapiolani sang at the crater was Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah From a memorial prepared by Mrs Persis Taylor in 1896 PRAYER Thank you Lord for the examples we have of Christian leaders such as Queen Kapiolani and Queen Esther who could have chosen an easy road but instead followed the nudging of the Spirit to break through the barricades of superstition and fear blocking the Road to Resurrection Sunday for many of their people Amen Linda Timmer Little Washington Congregational Church Mansfield OH lindatimmer gmail com
Wednesday, Second Week of Lent  3. 4.15  Courage  Purim, Queen Esther   s Holy Day, begins this evening and continues tomo...
Thursday Second Week of Lent 3 5 15 The Strength to Forgive Forgive and you will be forgiven Luke 6 37 People make mistakes We all do at one point or another in our lives right Sometimes we make minor mainly harmless mistakes like forgetting to put the washed laundry into the dryer right away or accidentally dropping spare change when we thought we placed it in our pocket These are either insignificant or pretty easy to correct causing no real long term damage no big deal if we re out 25 cents Other times people make big mistakes like being distracted while driving and getting in a car wreck or lying to the boss These are major problems which may lead to being fired sued injured or even to death not as easily forgiven offences if your family is on the receiving end Still yet there are some of us that for unknown reasons purposely hurt others through physical verbal or emotional abuse Even less forgivable right Jesus tells us that the only way for us to be forgiven for our mistakes or sins is for us first to forgive the sins committed by others Jesus does not make exceptions He does not tell us Forgive all except murderers or all except thieves and misers Where we might falter in weakness Christ shows us how When Jesus is betrayed nailed to the cross and crucified while suffering on the cross Jesus calls out for God to forgive those who have sinned against him and against God We may be tempted to curse the impatient driver who cuts us off in the parking lot But God calls us to forgive We may find our colleague s political ranting distasteful but Christ calls us to forgive We may feel pain and anguish when someone has harmed us or our family But the Holy Spirit helps us have forgiving hearts In this Lenten season we anticipate the glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ who died to save us that we may be forgiven Yes many of us will make mistakes between now and Easter Sunday After all we re not perfect But we can take our cue from the One that is PRAYER Lord we pray at this Lenten time of meditation and reflection that you fill us with the Holy Spirit so we may have the strength to forgive We thank you for the example of Your one and only Son Jesus Christ who has shown and continues to show us how to love so completely that we can forgive all wrongs against us AMEN Joel K Boyd Seminarian First Congregational Church of Wauwatosa WI Communications Specialist Faith Community Church Franklin WI M Div student Western Theological Seminary Holland MI joelkennethboyd gmail com
Thursday, Second Week of Lent  3.5.15  The Strength to Forgive    Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Luke 6 37  People ma...
Friday Second Week of Lent 3 6 15 What do we owe For you were like sheep going astray but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls 1Peter 2 25 This year we commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the war in Europe and the liberation of the concentration camps We will hear again the stories of those who chose to take the place of Jews and others in the death lines We may even watch Schindler s List again We will shake our heads and wonder at both the depravity and heroism of that time A long time ago Someone else took our place in a death line bore our sins and by his stripes we were healed Because Jesus paid the price we have the option of accepting the gift of eternal life but what do we owe Is anything without price This is Lent a time for self examination and change It is a time to examine our souls Is it well or are they disquieted How is our prayer life hit or miss or a sacred part of our day How is our worship attendance our caring for others Are they our usual practice or only if asked and then with resentment Do we talk the talk and also walk the walk Do we need to change PRAYER O Lord Jesus as we commemorate the heroes of recent history don t let us forget the One who paid the Ultimate Price for us Jesus paid it all all to him I owe May our lives show gratitude for the price You paid at the cross Amen Rev Bobbie Chapman Founders Congregational Church Harwinton CT revbac aol com
Friday, Second Week of Lent  3.6.15  What do we owe  For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to th...
Saturday Second Week of Lent Time Change 3 7 15 Lengthen I have a baptism to be baptized with and how great is my distress until it is accomplished Luke 12 50 This is the other purple season on the traditional Church calendar During Advent the beginning of the Church year we look forward with eager anticipation and joy to a birth as we commemorate the Lord s advent into the world at Bethlehem and also remember Christ s promise to come again in a second advent During Lent by contrast we look forward with great solemnity to a death We know that shortly before the Lenten season is over it will be Good Friday the anniversary of our Savior s death date And for most of human history people have feared death with great distress perhaps similar to the great distress Jesus described about himself in Luke 12 50 In our church we used to light a wreath of Lenten candles parallel to the Advent wreath However I never liked the liturgy that we followed in that ritual The language spoke of the days growing darker as we approach Good Friday But that is not what is happening at this time of year the days are really growing lighter and the word Lent is related to our Modern English words length and lengthen The days are lengthening staying light longer as we approach spring and Resurrection Sunday So even built into the word Lent itself there is hope Even in this solemn season there is great hope expectation and joy We see beyond the death of our beloved Jesus to his glorious resurrection And ever since Jesus rose from the dead those who have trusted him do not have to fear death Death can now be seen as the doorway through which we go back to our Lord PRAYER Lord Jesus words are not enough to express our great gratitude for Your undergoing a baptism of blood on the cross to pay for our sins and for Your rising in order to communicate that You had achieved a great victory over death itself In the Name of the Father 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
Saturday, Second Week of Lent  Time Change   3.7.15  Lengthen I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my di...
Third Sunday of Lent 3 8 15 The Way of God They said to him Teacher we know that you are sincere and show deference to no one for you do not regard people with partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with truth Mark 12 14 Jesus knew the way of God in truth and we can follow in the same way on the road to Resurrection if we stop and ask God for directions to keep us on track According to a study done in 2010 men drive 276 more miles in a year because they do not stop and ask for directions This costs them an average 3 000 per year in fuel use vehicle wear and tear and other factors It s a common joke between men and women that men refuse to stop and ask for directions One child came home from Sunday School and her Mom asked So what did you learn in Sunday School today Well replied the little girl my teacher said that the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years because Moses wouldn t stop and ask for directions Jesus of course knew the way he was taking but he still took time to discuss things with his Heavenly Father along the way The Herodians in our text above though they were the enemies of Jesus were able to say truthfully of Jesus that he knew the way of God The way of God was not an easy road for our Savior The Resurrection lay at the end of the road but the way he had to go down to get there was not an easy one By grace through faith we have the hope of life with the Creator in eternity but the way to get there is not always easy Lent commemorates the 40 days of temptation that Jesus endured It reminds us that we too must contend with temptation and trials all along the way Sometimes it seems that we will never get to the end so along the way it s good to keep in touch with God to make sure we re truthfully following the way of God PRAYER Lord Jesus You followed in the way of God though the road to Your resurrection included many trials As we follow in the same way help us by Your Spirit to overcome temptation so that we too may come to Resurrection Amen Garry Fisher Pastor Community Congregational Church South Bend IN gfish52 gmail com
Third Sunday of Lent  3.8.15  The Way of God They said to him,    Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and show deferenc...
Third Monday of Lent 3 9 15 Muslims are People too As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when with them so will I look after my sheep I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness Ezekiel 34 12 At a recent family gathering my uncle made the statement that Muslims must be so hard to communicate with because they are set in what they believe and their beliefs are so different from ours It is true that there are cultural as well as theological differences between Muslims and Christians but there are some steps which will help us to reach Muslims for Christ 1 When we are sharing with them from a Bible be careful how we treat the Bible If we show disrespect for God s word by laying it on the floor or on a chair especially if we sit on it we will convince any Muslim not to listen to us They are taught to respect the Quran deeply and expect no less from us with our Holy Bible 2 When we refer to a prophet we should say peace be upon him or pbuh for short This also denotes respect for God s people Muslims know Jesus as Isa peace be upon him Isaiah as Ishaq peace be upon him and so on 3 Use scriptures such as John 12 26 instead of John 3 16 Muslims are more interested in God s honor than God s love I have done some limited study on this subject Please feel free to email me for a copy of An Unfortunate Truth This is my original work which I use on some occasions to reach out to Muslims in Muslim countries My payment will be any soul which makes Heaven because of its use PRAYER Dear Jesus thank you for the opportunity to reach all for whom You died including our Muslim neighbors Please help us to be effective in this Please help each of us to be beacons drawing the lost sheep to You In Jesus mighty name Amen Pat Hysom First Congregational Church Newton Campus Kingston NH pchysom7 yahoo com
Third Monday of Lent  3.9.15 Muslims are People too  As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when with them, so will...
Third Tuesday of Lent 3 10 15 Walking with Joy You have made known to me the path of life you will fill me with joy in Your Presence with eternal pleasures at Your right hand You will not abandon me to the grave nor will You let Your Holy One see decay Psalm 16 10 11 I love going for long walks around my neighborhood a peninsula just south of Boston No matter where I walk I find the water I ve never lived this close to the ocean and am continually amazed at the changeable water and sky Some days they are sparkling and blue Others display breath taking dappled green waves and scudding clouds And then there s the tide so as I walk I see the ebb and flow over the shore and marshes The path changes from paved to dirt and back and the scenery changes and the weather changes dynamic and flowing beautiful and challenging Every moment there is something new some slight change that catches my breath The road of Lent is full of changeability as life ebbs and flows Disciplines we thought would be easy turn hard and we wonder how or if we will manage to keep them to the end The psalmist points out that You have made known to me the path of life and so we try to walk it But how often do we focus on how sore our feet are or how cold the wind is The psalmist reminds us that God will fill me with joy in Your Presence that the walk is not merely something to be done but the joy of being with the Lord of my life and the King of the Universe No matter where we walk the living water of Christ is before us and God s Presence is true security and joy PRAYER Dearest Lord today I want to walk with You to be aware of You Help me look for the joy You place in my life to delight in Your Presence and to trust in You Amen Rev Doug Gray Pastor First Church of Squantum Congregational Quincy MA dgray1620 gmail com
Third Tuesday of Lent  3.10.15  Walking with Joy You have made known to me the path of life  you will fill me with joy in ...
Wednesday Third Week of Lent 3 11 15 Undistinguished travelers Jesus went on to say This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless enabled by the Father From this time many of Jesus disciples turned back and no longer followed Jesus John 6 65 66 NIV We come to the Lord Jesus Christ through many avenues Perhaps we have been lifelong members of the church and we have consistent and meaningful church experiences Perhaps we have become believers in Christ at a later point in life Maybe we have had some crisis that has suddenly given us insights into what is really important Perhaps we have vacillated in our faith through the years and we are now convinced regarding what we believe The Gospel of John gives us a glimpse of many who had been following Christ Then when Jesus indicated that the Father must enable them in order to follow they quit They had been perceiving that something was special about themselves as followers They had tradition a good family they were intelligent or well read in the Scriptures they had some special noble qualities that made them good followers But all of these qualities did not cause them to be followers of Jesus We are incapable of moving along the road to resurrection Sunday on our own No one can come to Jesus unless enabled by the Father Many may follow but few are chosen to walk on the road to Resurrection Sunday PRAYER Lord grant me a pure repentant and humble heart in my faith and devotion to You May I become as the little child You took in Your arms and blessed Amen Rev Steven DeGangi First Congregational Church Peterson IA Steven DeGangi gmail com
Wednesday, Third Week of Lent  3.11.15  Undistinguished travelers Jesus went on to say,    This is why I told you that no ...
Thursday Third Week of Lent 3 12 15 The Father and the Son and Us For the Lord has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one the Lord has not hidden his face from the afflicted one but has listened to his cry for help Psalm 22 24 NIV Perhaps you have heard it preached that in crying My God my God why have you forsaken me Jesus was screaming in despair because according to such preaching the Father turned away from his Son in order not to see his Son stained with the accumulated sins of humanity As a result the Son supposedly had the unprecedented anguish of separation from his Father There are good theological reasons to question this widespread teaching But more simply all we have to do is to remember that Jesus cry from the cross was a quotation of Psalm 22 1 My God my God why have you forsaken me Many if not most of Jesus hearers would have known the rest of the Psalm by heart When we read all of Psalm 22 we find that it is not a hopeless cry at all but a testimony to the Lord s faithfulness toward God s people Not only did the Father never desert the Son for even an instant but we who are in Christ can be equally sure that God has never turned and never will turn his face away from us either Jesus cry from the cross is not an expression of despair but a testimony of hope PRAYER Father God thank You that You did not forsake Your Son for a moment and that You are always with us as well Through Your Son Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit forever and ever Amen Rev Dr Robert Hellam Church of the Oaks Del Rey Oaks CA bchellam pacbell net
Thursday, Third Week of Lent  3.12.15  The Father and the Son and Us For the Lord has not despised or disdained the suffer...
Friday Third Week of Lent 3 13 15 Baby Grace a true story Being found in human form though he was in the form of God he did not count equity with God a thing to be grasped being born in the likeness of humans humbled himself and became obedient unto death even death on a cross Philippians 2 6 The night was still cool as the end of winter drew near and the renewal of spring and life danced in the air Hope hovered over the small southern town as it did every year at this time of year with the promise of new life as the budding trees began to peep through creating wonderment and joy with their new birth This magic comes every year to all places but there are always times which seem like perhaps the magic has rested and stayed a little longer for whatever reason the magic seems more special This was one of those nights There was nothing that appeared to be any different than other early spring nights no spectacular events or so it would seem just a calmness that hovered with its majestic stillness over the city And in this calmness lay the meaning of the night For those who listened carefully could hear the voice of God The streets were empty with only the slow motion of a passing car every now and then disturbing its stillness If you listened carefully you could hear the light shuffle of the old man Some knew him as just an aging disabled veteran who made his living doing odd jobs and who often followed this or whatever paths life demanded There was nothing particularly special about him except that he seemed to live and survive without boasting of his humility Perhaps his status in society taught him this perhaps the wisdom of many solitary walks down familiar paths strewn with unfamiliar wonders for whatever reason the old man lived on the promise of God and was blessed with an inner voice centered in his being Few knew the gift the old man carried since he never spoke of it he just walked and listened That night a breeze cleared the air of all previous sounds announcing the clarity of the voice that spoke within The old man was approaching the aging cemetery as the voice bellowed and stilled within him Go into the cemetery and you will receive a sign of my favor upon you and upon all who listen for Me Obeying the voice he had grown to trust the old man hastened his pace to the cemetery Entering the moonlit cemetery his eyes fell on a tiny bundle resting
Friday, Third Week of Lent  3.13.15  Baby Grace, a true story Being found in human form though he was in the form of God, ...
Baby Grace cont against a monument Following the over grown path to the monument the gravel was crisp beneath his uneven stride the wind soft on his aged face but his attention never left the bundle As he peeped into the covers his heart warmed at the sight of the meaning of life He gently cradled the newborn baby girl experiencing at once the whimper in his arms and the trumpeting in his soul Together they rested against the tombstone The voices mingled like a melody and counter melody while he began to sing Baby Grace how sweet the sound This was the sign There could be no more perfect place for a baby to be abandoned than at the foot of a tombstone because life is its most divine in the presence of death As the old man cuddled the baby and shuffled back down the path he had followed there his mind wondered to a time many years ago He thought of another early spring night that had witnessed this special meaning another small town where hope hovered on the still night air another time when God promised assurance of favor through a time and in a place where death reigned another symbol that life is its most divine in the presence of death And as the old man walked with the baby along the deserted street he thought he could hear the singing of angels And in the distance was that a cross radiating that he saw Perhaps it was just the night lights playing tricks on his eyes Anyway the baby in his arms was real and tonight was real and the voice inside of him was real and God s grace was real As the old man entered the police station to ask for help for the abandoned baby an officer approached him Never lifting his eyes from the warm bundle the old man said Her name is Grace Baby Grace She was a news story the next day Many read the story or saw it on TV but only the old man knew the special meaning of Baby Grace And even today there are those who do not know the magic of the early Spring night so long ago when God s grace blessed humankind as his Son faced death and redeemed us with his favor The paradox of the baby at the tombstone gives us an insight to the basic structure of the mind of Christ who humbled himself by becoming one of us even though life meant death Mary McAliley Center Congregational Church Atlanta GA MaryMcAliley aol com
Baby Grace, cont.  against a monument. Following the over-grown path to the monument, the gravel was crisp beneath his une...
Saturday Third Week of Lent 3 14 15 God is the Omega Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life as clear as crystal flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city On each side of the river stood the tree of life bearing twelve crops of fruit yielding its fruit every month And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations No longer will there be any curse The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city and his servants will serve him They will see his face and his name will be on their foreheads There will be no more night They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun for the Lord God will give them light And they will reign forever and ever Revelation 22 1 5 I love to think about God being at the end of all things Much the same as God being there at the beginning it is clear to me that God intends to be there at the end too Regardless of how we think it ends or how the world ends in reality God will be there and something beyond the world s imagination will occur I am also thankful that God has been a part of all my endings in life If I think about losses in my life God was there When I finished school when I concluded pastorates when I moved God has been there to greet me and help me close the door Recently I drove away from my old hometown for the last time and my heart was full of emotion and thanksgiving I left it just the way I began the first day I moved in I drove into town praying and I left town praying And in that moment I had a profound realization that God was present walking away with me to something new I can t wait till the day I take my last breath I hope I go praying then too I anticipate opening my eyes from that prayer to actually seeing the Lord smiling back God is the author of endings and I am so glad he is with me in them all PRAYER Lord God you are the Alpha and Omega the beginning and the end You hold in Your hands the keys of life and death You remain with us and continue to love us in life and in death Help us to trust in your goodness and to claim your promise of life everlasting through Jesus Christ Amen Pastor Stu Merkel Faith Community Church Franklin WI stumerkel gmail com
Saturday, Third Week of Lent  3.14.15  God is the Omega Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear ...
Fourth Sunday of Lent 3 15 15 Our Ultimate Care giver Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you the Lord will never let the righteous be shaken Psalm 55 22 I take care of my mom full time am responsible for all of her care It is not in my nature to be a care giver I have to be very deliberate in making sure that all of Mom s needs are met Sometimes this reminds me of Mary Jesus mother and all of the things she did for him as his mother It also reminds me of our Lord and his promise to care for us Our Lord is the ultimate care giver There is no item in our lives too small for our Lord who cares that our thumb is throbbing from a hammer s contact the doctor just gave us an unwelcomed diagnosis of cancer or our beloved pet just died Peter who was imprisoned and eventually executed for his faith tells us I Peter 5 7 Cast all your anxiety on Christ because he cares for you I cannot imagine what it is like to be in fear of my life because of my faith even though I know that many people are in that situation today The apostle Peter knew what it was like and yet he had confidence in God s care for him and all of us PRAYER Dear Heavenly Father thank you for the care giving that You provide to all of us You continue to love and care for us whether or not we remember to express our thanks for it Please accept our love and appreciation for all that You do for all of us In Jesus mighty name Amen Pat Hysom First Congregational Church Newton Campus Kingston NH pchysom7 yahoo com
Fourth Sunday of Lent  3.15.15  Our Ultimate Care-giver Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you  the Lord will...
Fourth Monday of Lent 3 16 15 Creative Convictions Woe to the land of whirring wings along the rivers of Cush which sends envoys by sea in papyrus boats over the water Go swift messengers to a people tall and smoothskinned to a people feared far and wide an aggressive nation of strange speech whose land is divided by rivers At that time gifts will be brought to the Lord Almighty the gifts will be brought to Mount Zion the place of the Name of the Lord Almighty Isaiah 18 NIV This scripture is prophecy about Cush Most biblical scholars say Cush is Ethiopia or the Arabian Peninsula or the area on one side or the other or both sides of the Red Sea or maybe even Persia and India and maybe the swift messengers were the Phoenicians The scholars also say there is no prophesy about North America in the Bible But I have always thought the tall and smooth skinned people whose land is divided by rivers sounds like North America Even though that conclusion has no scholarly support the scholars can t seem to agree on what the correct conclusion is So I invoke the Congregational trump card from our Church Constitution This church grants to each individual the right to his her interpretations of the principals of the Christian religion and respects him her in his her honest conviction We each have a right to listen to the Voice of the Spirit in us We each build our own relationship with God As we each have an independent relationship with God we must choose the path we follow Even though we worship together and pray together we must each choose to follow Jesus individually We follow our own road to Resurrection Sunday blessed that the road is through the cross and we each approach heaven through Jesus only That being said I stand by my belief that Isaiah 18 is about North Americans PRAYER Thank you for the gift of your Son who opens our hearts and minds to listen to the Voice of the Spirit within and who helps us stay true to our honest convictions who holds us when we need it and carries us when we are too tired to continue and who protects us always Amen Linda Timmer Little Washington Congregational Church Mansfield OH lindatimmer gmail com
Fourth Monday of Lent  3.16.15  Creative Convictions Woe to the land of whirring wings along the rivers of Cush, which sen...
Fourth Tuesday of Lent St Patrick s Day 3 17 15 St Patrick s Breastplate Your road led through the sea your pathway through the mighty waters a pathway no one knew was there You led your people along that road like a flock of sheep Psalm 77 19 I arise today Through the strength of Christ and his Baptism Through the strength of Christ s Crucifixion with his Burial Through the strength of Christ s Resurrection I arise today Through God s strength to pilot me God s might to uphold me God s wisdom to guide me God s eye to look before me God s ear to hear me God s word to speak to me God s hand to guard me God s way to lie before me God s shield to protect me Against snares of the devil Against temptations of vices Against inclinations of nature Against everyone who shall wish me ill Afar and near Alone or in a crowd Christ protect me today from St Patrick s Breastplate
Fourth Tuesday of Lent St. Patrick   s Day  3.17.15  St. Patrick   s Breastplate Your road led through the sea, your pathw...
Wednesday Fourth Week of Lent 3 18 15 God is Faithful No in all these things we are more than conquerors through the One who loved us For I am convinced that neither death nor life neither angels nor demons neither the present nor the future nor any powers neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord Romans 8 37 39 NIV I realize that I have had only glimpses of what God is really like God is Creator bird song and sunsets especially touch me God is Spirit energy and love and hope God s love is a Mystery to me I was created in God s image yet Why do you bother with me Why take a second look my way Psalm 8 6 The Message I easily recite my failings faithlessness lack of compassion arrogance Even so what I know for sure is that God is faithful I don t need to know anything else PRAYER I thank you O God that nothing can ever separate me from Your love During trials and joys Your love holds me firmly and never lets me go In Your Son s name Amen Rev Kathleen Sell Faith Community Church Franklin WI
Wednesday, Fourth Week of Lent  3.18.15 God is Faithful  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through the O...
Thursday Fourth Week of Lent 3 19 15 Is it I Lord Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified Very truly I tell you one of you is going to betray me John 13 21 To enhance your devotional read the entire chapter Last year Lynn the boys and I were flying home from California It was the last leg of our trip and we boarded the plane in Denver We were flying Southwest Airlines and seating is first come first served Lynn and I found the last two seats together in the back row of the plane Everyone was boarded when the check in attendant went to the front of the plane and announced that there was a mother and young child that needed to sit together In order to get them on the plane some passengers who had a middle seat open between them would have to move I could tell from the tone of the flight attendant s voice that this had happened before and getting people to move seats was going to be difficult even though there were still around ten to fifteen middle seats open on the plane She asked for any volunteer willing to move to a middle seat to raise their hand No one raised their hand Except for one an elderly Catholic nun Where was the kindness and compassion We live in a world where we betray Jesus all too often We know we are guilty of letting Jesus down None of us can say that we would raise our hand to do the most honorable thing every time When Jesus gathered the disciples together in the upper room for the Last Supper and said One of you will betray me the disciples were upset The thought that they might betray Jesus bothered them I can t help but think that I too betray Jesus Imagine Jesus dipping the bread and turning towards you If my suspicions are right and we are honest knowing what we do about ourselves we would all assume it was us God knows our wayward hearts and still sent Jesus to save us Watching him be betrayed by others is sad Betraying him myself is disheartening Yet he still died for me Amazing PRAYER Thank you God for sending Jesus Forgive me for betraying him again and again with my words and my deeds May the significance of Your death Jesus weigh on my heart and help me be more faithful every day AMEN Pastor Stu Merkel Faith Community Church stumerkel gmail com
Thursday, Fourth Week of Lent  3.19.15 Is it I Lord   Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified,    Very truly I tell you...
Friday Fourth Week of Lent First Day of Spring 3 20 15 New Life Is Possible Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ In God s great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead 1 Peter 1 3 4 Early this morning on the way over to the church I heard the singing of birds in the trees and I actually walked on grass Something new after months of walking on snow in a silence that reminded one of death We are now approaching the season of new life not just as spring begins to bring new flowers and baby animals to life but as we celebrate God s wonderful gifts of the cross and the empty tomb The cross shows us new life because through it we can be changed from slaves of sin to freedom from sin The tomb because it shows us that life here is not the end but we have a promise of a life beyond the grave The Bible teaches us in Romans 3 23 For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God And also in Romans we learn that as a result of our sins we all deserve death not just in this life but eternally Romans 6 23 For the wages of sin is death The cross and the empty tomb are reminders of the end of the verse where God promises But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord Every person s sins deserve death Christ took our penalty on himself and died in our place and now offers us eternal life through his resurrection How do we receive it you ask The easy answer is by faith The Bible puts it simply in Ephesians 2 8 For by grace are you saved by faith And how do you take this step Well the Bible says in Romans 10 9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead You shall be saved As we begin this time of new beginning or new life may each bird s song each whisper of the leaves or vision of the cross and the empty tomb call us to new life through faith in Jesus who has shown us that new life is possible PRAYER O God of the Seasons thank you for the promise of spring for new life in the world around us Thank you Jesus for coming to this earth to give us life in this world and the next We embrace it AMEN Pastor Bill Rafuse Rapid River Congregational Church Rapid River MI wrafuse charter net
Friday, Fourth Week of Lent  First Day of Spring  3.20.15  New Life Is Possible Praise be to the God and Father of our Lor...
Saturday Fourth Week of Lent 3 21 15 Healing and Hope So I prophesied as I had been commanded and as I prophesied suddenly there was a noise a rattling and the bones came together bone to its bone Ezekiel 37 7 NRSV This past summer at the ripe old age of 47 I broke my very first bone the tip section of my left index finger It happened on a worksite in Pittsburgh while serving with Hosanna Industries but it was in no way anyone s fault but mine The Hosanna staff had done an excellent and thorough job of training us This mishap was entirely the result of my misguided initiative Simply put a big rock my small brain a comminuted fracture Over the years I ve had all sorts of tears strains and sprains I ve messed up tendons ligaments and muscles I ve damaged various body parts knee ankle heel elbow shoulder neck and back But this was my first official broken bone To be honest this was one of the least painful injuries I ve ever suffered Yes six weeks in a splint was awkward No guitar No two handed backhands Annoyingly slow and error ridden typing on the computer keyboard But the pain was minimal and I learned that bones are remarkably resilient They typically knit themselves back together and with remarkable speed It seems like they recover more swiftly than soft tissue Our bones form the foundational structure of our bodies But the soul is even more foundational to the self And the soul like bone is remarkably resilient Grief anger betrayal fear guilt shame despair these and other big rocks occasionally fall on us They can hurt or even break our souls But breaks knit back together There is healing and there is hope PRAYER Holy God even though big rocks sometimes fall upon us as we walk life s path still we thank you We re grateful for your constant presence and unconditional love We re grateful for the resilience and adaptability to cope with the impact We re grateful that guided by your Spirit we can sometimes even learn valuable lessons from those big rocks We re grateful for healing and we re grateful for hope We pray in the name of Christ Jesus Amen Rev Rob Fredrickson Ozaukee Congregational Church Grafton WI rob occhurch org
Saturday, Fourth Week of Lent  3.21.15  Healing and Hope So I prophesied as I had been commanded  and as I prophesied, sud...
Fifth Sunday of Lent 3 22 15 Southwell Litany Composed by George Riddell First Bishop of Southwell England This Litany is read in unison at each Quiet Day of the Congregational Society of Retreat Guides and was furnished by Rev Dr Charles Packer Chaplain of the Society It seems to be especially appropriate during this Lenten Season From moral weakness from hesitation from fear of persons and dread of responsibility Strengthen us with courage to speak the truth in love and self control And alike from the weakness of hasty violence and from the weakness of moral cowardice SAVE US AND HELP US O LORD From weakness of judgment from the indecision that can make no choice and from the irresolution that carries no choice into act Strengthen our eyes to see and our will to choose the right And from losing opportunities to serve you and from perplexing ourselves and others with uncertainties SAVE US AND HELP US O LORD From infirmity of purpose from want of earnest care and interest from sluggish indolence and slack indifference and from all spiritual deadness of heart SAVE US AND HELP US O LORD From dullness of conscience from feeble sense of duty from thoughtless disregard of consequences to others from a low idea of the obligations of our calling and from half heartedness in our service SAVE US AND HELP US O LORD From weariness in continuing struggles from dependency in failure and disappointment from overburdened sense of unworthiness from morbid fancies of imaginary back sliding raise us to a lively hope in mercy and in the power of faith And from all exaggerated fears and vexations SAVE US AND HELP US O LORD From self conceit vanity and boasting from delight in supposed success and superiority Raise us to the modesty and humility of true sense and taste and reality And from all the harms and hindrances of offensive manners and self assertion SAVE US AND HELP US O LORD
Fifth Sunday of Lent  3.22.15  Southwell Litany Composed by George Riddell, First Bishop of Southwell England This Litany ...
Fifth Monday of Lent Southwell Litany cont 3 23 15 From affectation and untruth conscious or unconscious from pretence and hypocrisy from impulsive self adaptation to the moment to please persons or make circumstances easy Strengthen us to true simplicity and from all false appearances SAVE US AND HELP US O LORD From love of flattery from over ready belief in praise from dislike of criticism and from the comfort of self deception in persuading ourselves that others think better of us than we are SAVE US AND HELP US O LORD From all love of display and sacrifice to popularity from thinking of ourselves and forgetting You in our worship Hold our minds in spiritual reverence and from self glorification in all our words and works SAVE US AND HELP US O LORD From jealousy whether of equals or superiors from grudging others success from impatience of submission and eagerness for authority Give us the spirit of common fellowship to share loyally with fellow workers in all true proportion and from all insubordination to just law and proper authority SAVE US AND HELP US O LORD From all hasty utterances of impatience from the retort of irritation and the taunt of sarcasm from all infirmity of temper in provoking or being provoked and from all idle words that may do hurt SAVE US AND HELP US O LORD In all times of temptation to follow pleasure to leave duty for amusement to indulge in distraction dissipation dishonesty or debt or to degrade our high calling and forget our solemn vows And in all times of frailty in our flesh SAVE US AND HELP US O LORD In all times of ignorance and perplexity as to what is right and best to do Direct us with wisdom to judge aright and order our ways and overrule our circumstances by your good Providence and in all our mistakes and misunderstandings SAVE US AND HELP US O LORD From strife partisanship and division from magnifying our certainties to condemn all differences from building systems to exclude all challenges and from all arrogance in our dealings with others SAVE US AND HELP US O LORD
Fifth Monday of Lent  Southwell Litany cont.  3.23.15  From affectation and untruth, conscious or unconscious, from preten...
Fifth Tuesday of Lent Southwell Litany cont 3 24 15 From pride and self will from the desire to have our way in all things from overweening love of our own ideas and blindness to the value of others from resentment against opposition and contempt for the claims of others Enlarge the generosity of our hearts and enlighten the fairness of our judgments and from all selfish arbitrariness of temper SAVE US AND HELP US O LORD Give us knowledge of ourselves our power and weaknesses our spirit our sympathy and imagination our knowledge our truth Teach us by the standard of your Word by the judgments of others by examination of ourselves Give us an earnest desire to strengthen ourselves continually by study diligence prayer and meditation And from all fancies delusions and prejudices of habit or temper or society SAVE US AND HELP US O LORD Give us true knowledge of others in their difference from us and in their likeness to us that we may deal with their real selves measuring their feelings by our own but patiently considering their varied lives and thoughts and circumstance And in all our dealings with them from false judgments of our own from misplaced trust and distrust from misplaced giving and refusing from misplaced praise and blame SAVE US AND HELP US O LORD Chiefly we pray that we may know You and see You in all Your works always feel Your presence near hear You and know Your call Let Your Spirit be our will Your Word our word And in all our shortcomings and infirmities may we have sure faith in Your mercy SAVE US AND HELP US O LORD Finally we pray blot out our past transgressions heal the evils of our past negligence and ignorance and help us to amend our past mistakes and misunderstandings Uplift our hearts to new love new energy new devotion that we may be unburdened from the grief and shame of past unfaithfulness and go forth in Your strength to persevere through success and failure through good report and evil report even to the end And in all time of our tribulation and in all time of our prosperity SAVE US AND HELP US O LORD
Fifth Tuesday of Lent  Southwell Litany cont.  3.24.15  From pride and self-will, from the desire to have our way in all t...
Wednesday Fifth Week of Lent 3 25 15 The Road Less Traveled The wind blows wherever it pleases You hear its sound but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going So it is with everyone born of the Spirit John 3 8 NIV I have always been drawn to artwork that depicts roads leading off into the distance off into unseen places One s imagination is drawn into the work and moves beyond the canvas into places yet unknown Lent is like that We travel the road to the resurrection as a direction of faith We use the six weeks to go deeper into our faith knowing that Resurrection Sunday is the final destination but unsure of the path we will take As we travel farther the road can often seem unfamiliar dangerous even We are not sure how we will come to the cross and to the resurrection but we commit to walking the road to making the journey to sharing in the mystery and the pain walking in faith That is exactly what the Lenten journey is all about We must end up at our final destination different from the person we were when we began If we allow ourselves to travel that road we find ourselves changed by the journey and drawn closer to the One whose resurrection we celebrate PRAYER Our Lord we walk this road of faith leading to Your resurrection We walk in trust that You will lead us deeper in our faith and into our commitment to You Amen Pastor Rae H Munsell Mohegan Congregational Church Uncasville CT revrae ct metrocast net
Wednesday, Fifth Week of Lent  3.25.15  The Road Less Traveled The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but...
Thursday Fifth Week of Lent 3 26 15 You Have Not Because You Ask Not Jesus and his disciples left that place and passed through Galilee Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were because he was teaching his disciples Jesus said to them The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men They will kill him and after three days he will rise But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it Mark 9 30 34 I was finishing up working on a case of a young teen who had found himself homeless Our team had been working hard to get him into a safe living environment He was attending school daily and had won our hearts right from the start When he was introduced to his new apartment he was overwhelmed We reviewed his responsibilities and told him he had to make sure to call the utility company right away He said he would We gave him the keys and left On Monday I received a call from the management company The young man had called him and asked What s a utility It seems that there had been many parts of his orientation that he didn t understand and was afraid to ask All day I had such an empty feeling that in our own excitement we had not met his needs If we had taken those few minutes to encourage him to ask the questions that he needed to ask the experience would have been different and more fulfilling for him What anxiety had he felt in wondering what the next day would bring We are fortunate that unlike the disciples we know exactly what Jesus meant when he said those words We have full understanding of the price that he was about to pay for us I often wonder how different things would have been if they had asked the questions that they held back Would their knowledge have changed the course of our religious history If you had been present with Jesus would you have asked the questions PRAYER Thank you Jesus for your patience with our pride in pretending to understand what we do not Give us the courage and humility to ask the hard questions knowing You sent your Holy Spirit to lead us into All Truth if we will only ask May this Lenten season be a time of asking about those things we don t understand AMEN Barbara Morrison First Church of Christ Congregational Lynn MA Lilac1233 verizon net
Thursday, Fifth Week of Lent  3.26.15  You Have Not Because You Ask Not Jesus and his disciples left that place and passed...
Friday Fifth Week of Lent 3 27 15 See and Follow Go said Jesus your faith has healed you Immediately the person who had been blind received his sight and followed Jesus along the road Mark 10 52 NIV As my husband and I arrived at the hotel for the Annual Meeting in Omaha Nebraska last summer carrying our stuff from the car we were confused as to which direction to go Then we spotted the sign with an arrow pointing the way to the registration desk We chuckled at ourselves saying Read the sign Our eyes were opened when we looked up and looked for the signs There are so many times we try to do something and are unsuccessful because we don t look or can t see Digging something out of a purse or reaching in a cupboard finding something in the car under the seat even walking next door to a neighbor s house at night We depend on being able to see more than we realize When Jesus healed the blind person that person could then see and was able to follow Jesus We too need to be able to see Jesus in order to follow him We see Jesus when we read the Bible do our daily devotions and take time to pray We see Jesus in others who follow him We see Jesus in those whom we serve by sharing our blessings through visitation and helping to feed and clothe those in need We see Jesus as we watch the new life of spring And when we see him we too want to follow PRAYER Dearest Lord help us to see You and follow You more closely every day AMEN Carol Taylor Licensed Lay Minister United Church of Beloit Beloit WI jazzytay gmail com
Friday, Fifth Week of Lent  3.27.15  See and Follow  Go,  said Jesus,  your faith has healed you.  Immediately the person ...
Saturday Fifth Week of Lent 3 28 15 The Ultimate Question Jesus said to Martha I am the resurrection and the life The one who believes in me will live even though that person dies and whoever lives and believes in me will never die Do you believe this John 11 25 26 Do you believe this is the ultimate question of the Christian faith If you do not believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life if you believe that we only live as temporary physical bodies If you do not believe Jesus is the Christ where is our hope Where is our future Martha was bereft Her brother had died and her efforts to get Jesus to come in a timely manner had proved fruitless But in the end Jesus is the giver of life both here and beyond When we part with someone through death do we believe Are we able to say Go with Jesus Are we able to let go trusting that the Lord s plan for them and for us is best even when we cannot see beyond the grave How do we answer Jesus ultimate question for ourselves and those we love PRAYER O Lord I do believe Help me to squelch the rumblings of disbelief coming from my grief as life changes and the people dear to me transition from this world to the next Amen Rev Bobbie Chapman Founders Congregational Church Harwinton CT revbac aol com
Saturday, Fifth Week of Lent  3.28.15 The Ultimate Question  Jesus said to Martha,  I am the resurrection and the life. Th...
Palm Sunday 3 29 15 Road Joy Rejoice in the Lord always again I will say Rejoice Philippians 4 4 A number of years ago I was taking a short trip into southern Indiana I expected to have a long boring two to three hour drive to get to my next destination It was not that the drive thus far had been particularly dull but it had been mostly highway or interstate Much to my surprise southern Indiana was full of hills and valleys trees and rivers twists and turns The journey was anything but predictable In fact I had to pay extremely close attention to where the road was taking me or I might have been in trouble I remember exclaiming to myself in great delight I didn t know all of this was in Indiana We hear a lot about road rage about drivers being angered by the actions of other drivers or just the flow of traffic itself People can get quite heated on the road to their destination The account of Palm Sunday however to me expresses road joy All of these people with all of their varying expectations of who Jesus was and what Jesus sought to do led them to exult with the waving of palm branches and the laying of cloaks Hosanna Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord Hosanna in the highest heaven Mark 11 9 10 As much as Jesus might have dreaded going to Jerusalem Palm Sunday could have been previewing a week of trial despair pain and death but instead was a joyful culmination of his earthly ministry and a foreshadowing of when Jesus would be the One True King It is sometimes challenging to find joy while following the cross However ultimately the road to resurrection is a road to joy and we are blessed when we are able to recognize and embrace opportunities to rejoice in it Prayer O God Who Inspires Hosannas May the way to Easter Sunday the road to resurrection move us to many emotions during this Holy Week Especially may we be able to feel the joy of being in the presence of your Son Christ Jesus who entered Jerusalem to give us life Amen Rev Dr Charles A Packer Chaplain Director Congregational Society of Classical Retreat Guides Rockwood First Congregational Church Rockwood MI rfcc netzero com
Palm Sunday  3.29.15 Road Joy  Rejoice in the Lord always  again I will say, Rejoice.  Philippians 4 4  A number of years ...
Holy Week Monday 3 30 15 Longing to Live Why do you look for the living among the dead Luke 24 5 NIV Why look for what is alive among what is dead Going to mourn a loss rather than accept the miraculous these women in a confused place of personal pain and exceptional emptiness felt that the best they could do in the worst of times was to offer their care But God had something far more beautiful planned for their mourning God had the revelation of a risen Son When we consider the nature of the resurrection and our own journey towards the same it is necessary to address the brokenness of their shattered path In other words what the witnesses to the empty tomb discovered was not just an absent Jesus but a reflection upon their own beliefs yearning to be alive in the graceless graveyard of their limited lives The Road to the Resurrection is a redemptive journey that will challenge who we are and what we believe The collective question of an anxious world is singular in its expression is there a Redeemer Such is the fundamental question posed to everyone who encounters the troubling reality of a risen Christ This Road to the Resurrection then is more than a tired treading in a trackless waste of frequent worry and occasional wonder It is the astonishing affirmation of an incredible truth that meeting us in the dark places of our lives is a great Savior one who promised not just that we would have trouble in the world but that he overcame the same The road to being resurrected has already been walked We merely place our feet in Jesus steps I pray that when we reach the point of accepting death we discover the One who is alive is there to greet us as he did the troubled women at the tomb PRAYER Risen Lord let us never labor among the tombs when offered the chance to follow a living Jesus AMEN Rev James Backing Baleville Congregational Christian Church Newton NJ revjb outlook com
Holy Week Monday  3.30.15  Longing to Live Why do you look for the living among the dead   Luke 24 5, NIV  Why look for wh...
Holy Week Tuesday 3 31 15 Work with a Purpose And if Christ has not been raised our preaching is useless and so is your faith 1 Corinthians 15 14 There are many activities that can weary the soul useless and unproductive activity is one of them There is a story told of prisoners who were ordered to move a pile of large stones from one location to another They assumed that their labor had a higher goal perhaps the stones would serve as a foundation for some structure However upon completion of this arduous task they were ordered to carry the stones back to their original location The process was ordered and repeated simply as a tool to discourage the souls of those engaged in this profitless labor By God s design the desire to work toward a meaningful goal has been woven into the heart of every human being The apostle Paul uses this truth when preaching the importance of Christ s resurrection from the dead as the purpose and reason for faith in Christ s redemptive work on the Cross The Cross is the vehicle upon which Christ suffered and died in our place so that we might be eternally freed from sin its guilt and its consequence of death So it was Christ s death for ours our sin debt paid in full but where is life eternal That was secured for every believer through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead showing that Jesus substitutionary death was sufficient for cancelling our debt and sufficient to give us eternal life beyond the grave never to die again Jesus resurrection testifies that his work on the Cross was not an empty and tragic event Jesus died for a purpose to redeem everyone who believes the purpose of bringing us eternal salvation and an inheritance forever in heaven PRAYER Gracious God thank You for the Cross and the empty grave our debt paid for and our future with You forever secure Amen Helen Cunningham CCP Congregational Christian Partnerships First Congregational Church Kingston NH hc6645 gmail com
Holy Week Tuesday  3.31.15  Work with a Purpose And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your...
Holy Week Wednesday 4 1 15 Revival in My Heart A voice cries In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD make straight in the desert a highway for our God Isaiah 40 3 RSV Robin Mark in his song REVIVAL 1998 Daybreak Music Ltd expanded Isaiah s and John s words to I hear the voice of one crying I hear the voice of one crying Prepare ye Prepare ye the way of the Lord Make His path straight Make straight His path in the wilderness And let His light shine Let His light shine in the darkness And let Your rain fall Let Your rain fall in this desert This call is for us to look inward before we go outward The Road to Resurrection is about a true heart revival our response to God s calling and then letting God help with clearing and leveling the pathway of our life As God s light shines with illumination sufficient for each day God then gives the rainfall of daily grace enabling us to walk and even lead others Every journey begins with the first step The Road to Resurrection is toward Revival in my heart because of wilderness road work and daily rainfalls of grace While some call it a fool s errand we know better PRAYER Lord God make straight Your path in the wilderness my heart and life and then help me to be a voice and guide to others Rev J R McAliley III Center Congregational Church Atlanta GA jrmcalileyiii netscape net
Holy Week Wednesday  4.1.15 Revival in My Heart.  A voice cries     In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make st...
Maundy Thursday 4 2 15 Maundy Thursday comes from the Latin mandatum novum meaning new commandment On that last evening Jesus said A new commandment I give you that you love one another as I have loved you John 13 34 And in Jesus final prayer he prayed that they may be one as we are one John 17 22 United United is a word with special meaning to me In 2012 my church Second Congregational merged with First Presbyterian to become the United Church of Beloit Wisconsin We spent much time in prayer and discussion during the merger process in order to unite well to become one church What did we have in common How were we different Were our differences mutually exclusive or could our diversity enrich the union And there were some things we each had to give up as non essentials to our mission and purpose The merger was like a marriage the bringing together or uniting two different but similar families For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father now we also may live new lives Since we have been united with Christ in his death we will also be raised to life as Christ was Romans 6 5 Scripture teaches that through baptism we become united with Christ s death In an immersion baptism a person goes under the water symbolizing Christ s burial in the tomb We are one with Christ dying to selfishness and pride So too we are united one with Christ in the resurrection having new life and when we reach the end of our lives on earth we will unite forever with our Loving Lord Jesus What an incredible beautiful promise this is Our United Church symbolizes the new life in Christ that comes from dying and being raised by the glorious power of the Father PRAYER Holy God I thank you that as we unite with Christ in death we are raised to new life I thank you for our United Church Amen Carol Taylor Licensed Lay Minister United Church of Beloit Beloit WI jazzytay gmail com
Maundy Thursday  4.2.15  Maundy Thursday comes from the Latin mandatum novum meaning new commandment. On that last evening...
Good Friday 4 3 15 From Joy to Despair My God my God why have you forsaken me Why are you so far from saving me from the words of my groaning Psalm 22 1 My son s voice sounded so anguished when I called him and his wife to wish them a happy anniversary I could only make out through his sobs that my daughter in law was taken to the emergency room for what was to be diagnosed as a postpartum breakdown It seemed like the darkest day of his life Only the Sunday before we were all ecstatic over the birth of our first grandson It had been the happiest day of Brian s life I rushed home from our vacation to be with our son and his little family and was met with Brian s despairing questions Why does God hate me Where is God For me his questions were ones that we all have asked sometime in our lives even if we profess to place our trust in God trust in the words of Jesus and rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us Where are you God when I need you the most My son s feelings must pale in comparison to the disciples emotions as they saw their beloved Master on the cross Was it not just one week before that the crowd praised Him with shouts of Hallelujah Did they not think that was the happiest day of Jesus life And now this was the darkest of all days It did seem to them in some way that the trust in Jesus whom they followed for three years was a mistake We can never see in our sense of abandonment that God is right there with us He carried the pain of our despair on the cross He forgave us our moments and there will be many of doubt by giving his life for us As on that first Easter morning may our trials end with our seeing God s perfect plan that leads us to eternal life PRAYER Gracious Father we thank you for Your presence with us as we face trials both big and small in this earthly life We face them with joy knowing that Your plan for us is perfect in every way and leads us to life eternal AMEN Connie Hellam Church of the Oaks Del Rey Oaks CA bchellam pacbell net
Good Friday  4.3.15  From Joy to Despair My God, my God, why have you forsaken me  Why are you so far from saving me, from...
Holy Saturday and Passover 4 4 15 Lamb of God Oppressed and afflicted he did not open his mouth he was led like a lamb to the slaughter and as a sheep before its shearers is silent so he did not open his mouth Isaiah 53 7 When I think of Jesus being compared to a lamb I think of how helpless a little lamb is I think of how it will baa for its mother and there s nothing the mother can do She has no way to protect her baby Jesus allowed himself to be led He allowed himself to be led to his slaughter But Jesus was not helpless He was in reality practicing true humility because he could have rebelled broken the ropes that bound him commanded ten thousand angels to rescue him beat up the bad guys and risen into the sky right then and there Christ chose this awesome humility and humility is an amazing quality that allows us to be silent when we know we could win the argument or could destroy someone easily with mean words or physical retaliation Jesus instead accepted all that went on and kept silent chose to be silent for our sake chose to be led spit on and crucified for us That is true humility and love We too are compared to sheep Isaiah 53 6 All of us like sheep have strayed away We have left God s paths to follow our own When I think of how we are like sheep I think of jumpy unstable animals that are harmless and helpless My father s two sheep Johnny and Mary were very difficult to work with because they were frightened of everything They were super sensitive and would run to the other end of the fence line whenever we entered the pasture Running was their only defense They couldn t eat or sleep when they were unsettled and every little thing seemed to unsettle them Sound familiar And yet God loves us so much he sent his Son Jesus to rescue us PRAYER Jesus as we live in this world may we take the higher path willing to be silent in times when we could so easily destroy others May we practice Your kind of humility and choose to be silent even when accused unfairly Help us to suffer in silence for Your sake just as You did for our sake We thank you for being both the Lamb of God and the Good Shepherd In Your name Amen Rev Dr Marilyn Danielson First Congregational Church Portland MI portlandpastor yahoo com
Holy Saturday and Passover  4.4.15 Lamb of God  Oppressed and afflicted, he did not open his mouth  he was led like a lamb...
Easter Resurrection Sunday 4 5 14 The Road to Resurrection Did not our heart burn within us while he talked with us by the way and while he opened to us the Scriptures And they rose up the same hour and returned to Jerusalem Luke 24 32 33 KJV In this age of Twitter and other networking media it s not unusual to have strangers following you and wonder what you re doing thinking or talking about Yet this episode always strikes me where these two disheartened and dejected disciples commiserating over the events of Jesus betrayal capture trial crucifixion and disappearance find themselves followed as they walk down the road The stranger proceeds to join them to reveal he has been eavesdropping and asks for details about their private conversation This encounter takes several odd turns and climaxes with their recognizing the stranger as Jesus only to have him vanish before their very eyes Their response is the kicker here They didn t say Did you see that or I can t believe what just happened No they responded to the Word of God from the mouth of God Did not our hearts burn within us When was the last time you felt your heart aflame by the majestic power of the Word Or does Scripture have such familiarity that it washes over you like tepid water Perhaps God s promises have not come to full fruition in your life or at least not the way you wanted or when you were hoping and they have left you rather cold Let us listen anew Let us hasten to believe and let our faith be fanned into flame a flame that drives us to share the Good News with others as we go forth on this Resurrection Sunday PRAYER Dear Lord let it be so Amen Pastor Eliot Wimbush First Congregational Church Maywood IL Elliotvhm aol com
Easter  Resurrection Sunday  4.5.14  The Road to Resurrection Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by...
Margie Lank Margie wrote the devotion for Ash Wednesday Sarah Gladstone Sarah graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary in 2012 and is pastor of Hampshire Colony Congregational Church She is currently attempting to turn an energetic fur ball into a trained therapy animal Sarah participated in the Charrette in Omaha last summer Sarah wrote the devotion for Thursday February 19th Mary McAliley Mary is employed by Emory University She was appointed by the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Executive Vice President for Health Affairs to the University Strategic Planning Committee s Societies in Conflict and Transition Group Upon a request by the White House she worked with President Clinton to create elements for his website for Internet Day She was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the Communication Council of The Atlanta Project Mary developed two cable plants and programming for both residential and academic facilities She brought satellite and video conferencing to the campus created and developed Emory s Multimedia Centers and classrooms and simultaneous electronic classes around the world She led Emory University s partnership with Apple Computing to webcast the 1996 Olympics Mary met her husband J R in Cana in Galilee in the Wedding Chapel She is a Pastor s Spouse at Center Congregational Church Atlanta GA Mary wrote devotions for February 20th and March 13th
Margie Lank Margie wrote the devotion for Ash Wednesday.  Sarah Gladstone Sarah graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary...
Dr Lisa Bircher Dr Bircher is a science teacher In 2012 she completed her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Science Education at Kent State University She chose to stay in K 12 teaching I really enjoy interacting with the students and even chose to teach swimming in the summer to stay sharp for teaching in the academic year I really love teaching Lisa has been married 23 years has 5 beautiful cats enjoys sewing paper crafting cross stitch writing both academic and personal projects swimming kayaking hiking in the woods Lisa wrote the devotion for February 21st Pastor Bill Rafuse Pastor Bill was born in Norwood MA in 1951 graduated from Weymouth High School Weymouth MA 1969 served in the U S Army 1970 1973 and graduated Berkshire Christian College in Lenox MA in 1980 He was ordained 1981 at Windsor Congregational Church where he served until 1985 Then he served as Pastor at Bozrah Centre Congregational Church Bozrah CT from 1985 1994 followed by a pastorate at Goshen Congregational Church Lebanon from CT 19941996 He is presently pastor at Rapid River Congregational Church Rapid River MI 1996 Pastor Bill Rafuse is a regular writer for the devotionals and has had many positions in the NACCC He is married to Donna and has four children and seven grandchildren Bill wrote devotions for February 22nd and March 20th Luken Pride Luke is the Youth Pastor at the First Congregational Church of Kingston He is also attending Reformed Theological Seminary Luke wrote the February 23rd devotion
Dr. Lisa Bircher Dr. Bircher is a science teacher. In 2012 she completed her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction with ...
Chris Murphy Chris been married to her high school sweetheart Chuck for 36 years They have two grown children with families of their own and through them God has shown Chris and Chuck God s greatest gifts i e three precious grandchildren They have been members of Horton Congregational Church for over 25 years and love their church family Chris has been teaching a course on the Spiritual Disciplines for several years and has been honored to walk along side some amazing brothers and sisters in Christ through this opportunity She is so grateful for all of God s blessings in her life Chris wrote the devotion for February 24th Nina Solomona Nina enjoys music and writing and most of all serving in ministry at Messiah alongside her best friend and husband She joined the Charrette in Omaha Nebraska Nina wrote the February 25th devotion Ian MacDonald Ian is an ex advertising executive and CFTS graduate He is the father of three amazing children and the husband of the most amazing woman He joined the Charrette in Omaha Nebraska Ian is the writer of the February 26th devotion
Chris Murphy Chris been married to her high school sweetheart, Chuck, for 36 years. They have two grown children with fami...
Rev Steven DeGangi Reverend DeGangi is currently working on his Doctor of Ministry from the Sioux Falls Seminary Sioux Falls South Dakota He is expecting to graduate in 2016 His doctoral project will focus on preaching He received his Master of Divinity from Wake Forest University Divinity School in Winston Salem North Carolina Prior to earning his divinity degree Steven was in a secular career He worked at the government facilities in Oak Ridge Tennessee in organizational improvement work and other areas He came to Oak Ridge after earning an MBA from Vanderbilt University in Nashville Tennessee His undergraduate degree was from Florida State University in Tallahassee Florida Rev deGangi and his wife Claire feel very blessed to be a part of the Peterson church and community family Steven wrote the February 27th and March 11th devotions Rev Dr Lori Wiley Rev Dr Lori Wiley is from New Hampshire a second career pastor first career educator who has served as Interim at 6 churches in NH MA OR and CA She earned a PhD from Boston College and an MDiv from Gordon Conwell and graduated as a CFTS student in 2000 Presently she serves as Dean of the Institute for Learning of Vermont and NH She also serves as Chair of Congregational Christian Partnerships Lori is married to Lloyd a retired police officer who is preparing for the ministry He is presently serving a church in Lyme NH near the Dartmouth College campus They have two children and one grandchild Sammy age 2 who spends 3 days a week with them Lori is presently teaching Bible to 4 classes of preschoolers is teaching Foundations of Christianity at the NH State Prison for Women and Ethics for Pastors in Concord NH Lori wrote the February 28th devotion and is the Lead Editor of the Lent devotional
Rev. Steven DeGangi Reverend DeGangi is currently working on his Doctor of Ministry from the Sioux Falls Seminary, Sioux F...
Helen Cunningham Helen is Co Founder of Congregational Christian Partnerships and leads Quiet Renewal Retreats She and her husband Peter are snowbirds dividing their time between New Hampshire and Florida In addition Helen goes on a yearly missions trip to Jamaica She has taken a grandchild with her these past two years Helen went on a missions trip to Africa with Rev Arthur Rouner She serves on the Board of an NACCC African church in Portland Maine Helen is a woman of many talents She enjoys singing and has served as soloist for weddings and other special occasions She is a Prayer Warrior who has faithfully met with her weekly prayer group She has granddaughters that she adores and a very intelligent husband who has chosen to specialize in technology during his retirement So Helen has her own website When you see her at the Annual Meeting Conference in Salt Lake City ask her about her little red Mustang convertible Helen is the writer of the March 1st and March 31st devotions Jami Backell Jami has been married to her husband Ed Pastor of Warden Congregational Church for 25 years She works part time as a substitute teacher for Warden Middle School and is also the Director of the STATIC Youth Ministry She loves to write and is involved in community theatre Jami wrote the March 2nd devotion Janet E Keyes Janet Keyes selects and sings anthems for Robbins Memorial Congregational Church and sometimes composes extra verses for hymns She also serves as a deacon as church clerk and as one of the makers of Robbins Church s famous apple pies Janet also volunteers one morning per week at the local hospital s lobby information desk Every Monday she serves as leader for the writing group Well Done Writers at the local senior center In her spare time she loves spending time with her husband children and grandkids She oversees the church s website and loves water therapy at the Y Janet is the writer of the March 3rd devotion
Helen Cunningham Helen is Co-Founder of Congregational Christian Partnerships, and leads Quiet Renewal Retreats. She and h...
Linda Timmer Linda s first job was as a hula dancer When she was 4 years old she and her next door neighbor were hula dancers at the Grand Opening of a local gas station She once was a stringer for a local radio station and flew to Panama with the local Air National Guard on a media event Linda was part of the planning team that wrote the Master Plan for the roll out of passenger screening at all the commercial airports in the US following the September 11 2001 attacks Linda wrote the March 4th and March 16th devotions Joel K Boyd Joel wrote the devotion for March 5th Rev Bobbie Chapman Bobbie is a retired social worker a supervisor in the Child Welfare Department She does consulting work in churches and associations across denominations on church conflict conflict mediation stewardship church growth and personal family money management She leads workshops and retreats designed for the individual group Bobbie has the greatest nieces nephews and even greats She has served the NACCC on many boards and committees and is a resource to many Bobbie wrote the March 6th and March 28th devotions
Linda Timmer Linda   s first job was as a hula dancer. When she was 4 years old, she and her next door neighbor were hula ...
Rev Dr Robert Hellam Pastor Bob is married to Connie see her Good Friday devotion He likes poetry spent 21 years in the Federal Civil Service and taught at a Christian School for 15 years He also serves as Chaplain in the California State Military Reserve Bob wrote the March 7th and March 12th devotions Pastor Gerry Fisher Gerry is the writer of the March 8th devotion Pat Hysom Pat wrote devotions for March 9th and March 15th Rev Doug Gray Doug is a third generation pastor does devotions on long walks has three kids and a passion for watching people say Aha about God He is interested in the intersection of science and faith Doug wrote the devotion March 10th Pastor Stu Merkel Pastor Stu is a regular contributor to the devotionals Now his own church First Community Church in Franklin WI publishes its own devotional Pastor Stu is a life long NACCCer and hails from Pilgrim Congregational Church in Pomona CA He has been married to his wife Lynn for 31 years They have two adult sons Peter and Greg Stu is the writer of the March 14th and March 19th devotions
Rev. Dr. Robert Hellam Pastor Bob is married to Connie  see her Good Friday devotion . He likes poetry, spent 21 years in ...
Rev Rob Fredrickson Pastor Rob Fredrickson has worked in youth ministry since 1986 Rob graduate of the University of Wisconsin Madison as he says the finest institution of higher education on the face of the planet and Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston Illinois Rob is a baseball basketball and football fan and enjoys playing tennis guitar and trivia He has led mission trips to Mission Mazahua in Mexico the Honduran Congregational Mission and various domestic destinations Rob wrote the devotion for March 21st Pastor Rae H Munsell Pastor Rae Munsell has been married to husband Mark for 16 years She has three grown step children Her hobbies are reading writing and walking Rae is the writer of the March 25th devotion Barbara Morrison Barbara lives with her dog Brady She doesn t use Facebook but he does She is social worker and in her downtime enjoys baking reading about history and playing golf Barbara serves on many community boards and committees She helps unaccompanied youth in her community Barbara wrote the March 26th devotion Carol Taylor Carol is a Licensed Lay Minister married to Martin having two grown sons and one cat She loves travelling especially to NACCC meetings Carol participated in the Charrette in Omaha Carol wrote devotions for March 27th and Maunday Thursday
Rev. Rob Fredrickson Pastor Rob Fredrickson has worked in youth ministry since 1986. Rob graduate of the University of Wis...
Rev Dr Charles A Packer Charles is a former CFTS graduate who has served in many capacities with the NACCC He is best known for being the Chaplain of the Congregational Society for Classical Retreat Guides He has organized many retreats including the Quiet Day held on Friday before the Annual Meeting Conference Charles is the devotion writer for Palm Sunday Rev James Backing Rev Backing started working and attending college for nursing at age sixteen He plays the piano in a time signature described by the organist and those attempting to sing as James Time Rev Backing was baptized in Devil s Lake Michigan any significance to the name He was ordained by Council in his home church First Congregational Church of Hudson Michigan which was also his first parish but despite being the Ordained lead pastor of a congregation having a Master s of Divinity five units of Clinical Pastoral Education CPE and being in the middle of doctoral work he still has to hum the ABC song every time he arranges a bibliography His sense of humor and humility are obvious in sharing these facts about himself James wrote the devotion for March 30th Rev J R McAliley III J R grew up Navy from birth to USNA 74 and now retired services Along with serving as a line officer and later as a chaplain in the U S Navy he is most blessed to have been in ordained ministry since 1983 He enjoyed growing up around the world lived in the Philippines Turkey Cyprus and Japan and in six States J R has been blessed with eight opportunities to tour the Holy Lands and Turkey and Greece He met his wife Mary also a devotion writer while hosting a tour in Israel They are blessed with five children and three grandchildren J R is the writer of the devotion for April 1st
Rev. Dr. Charles A. Packer Charles is a former CFTS graduate who has served in many capacities with the NACCC. He is best ...
Connie Hellam Connie Hellam is married to fellow devotion writer Pastor Bob Hellam They have two sons and three grandchildren Their grandson Cooper was born just before the Annual Meeting Conference in Omaha and she went home to help with his care Connie teaches at Monterey Bay Christian School Connie is the writer of the devotion for Good Friday Rev Dr Marilyn Danielson Marilyn s faith journey to the pulpit was a series of interesting stops and growth along the way She grew up in a small town Gibraltar Michigan and spent most of her adult life living around that area Marilyn also spent four years in Alabama where she really began her spiritual journey She was a Certified Dental Surgical Assistant in a periodontist office for almost 15 years She also served for a period of time as Chucky Cheez the famous Showbiz Rat in a suburb of Detroit Marilyn and her husband Warren have 5 grown children and 10 grandchildren Marilyn is the writer of the devotion for Holy Saturday Pastor Elliot Wimbush Elliot is the husband of Marijo They have been married for 27 years He is also the father of Aaron Caleb and Sam and has two cats George and Gracie and a black Lab named Jetta Elliot is the 20th Pastor of Maywood Illinois first church Raised in a Baptist church he served in a Catholic church for 28 years and was called to a pastorate in 2006 Elliot says he is a high school theatre teacher at heart and uses all the skills God has allowed him to gain in his ministry Elliot is the writer of the devotion for Easter Sunday THANK YOU to all of our writers
Connie Hellam Connie Hellam is married to fellow devotion writer, Pastor Bob Hellam. They have two sons and three grandchi...
A publication of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches 8473 South Howell Avenue PO Box 288 Oak Creek WI 53154 0288 414 764 1620 www naccc org naccc naccc org
A publication of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches 8473 South Howell Avenue PO Box 288 Oak Cre...