After an amazing weekend with 6 incredible young adults from EOCC, I came home and found myself at Northern Lights sitting with two families who lost or were in the process of losing a loved one. During my time with one of the families a passage from this weekend, Jeremiah 31, came to mind out of their grief. ;“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” This led to a conversation, almost a mini service. right there at the hospital.
When Jesus was to leave the disciples He said; "it is good for you that I leave, because unless I leave, I cannot send my Spirit who will lead you into full communion, to the full truth, to the full betrothal." (or engagement) Jesus knew that those He loved would be happier in life with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus' concern for His disciples is still prevalent today. Jesus came to show us the Father, His love and His vision to tell us that we are beloved by God the Father. Even before you were born, Jeremiah says God knew and loved you. God's love preceded anything you have experienced and He will continue to love you after your physical passing. This is your identity now. You are a child of God from before you were born through, well, forever. As the scripture puts it from eternity to eternity.
The weekend with our young adults talked about pausing, giving thanks even in the tough moments, and the noisiness of this world. Pause, and know we are God's children first. He loved us first before everything else. If you are struggling, hurting, or confused take time and look at creation and know that God loves you now and always will. Even death cannot take that away so let our lives say thank you in all situations. God bless, Pastor Carl
Father, may all honor be Yours on this day. May my lips and actions glorify Your name. Lord, as I come before you this morning, awaken my call to serve. Help me see your presence in all the happenings around me. Lord, I know in my heart Your love is beyond measure and Your concern for my well being is real. May I take to heart Your teachings and commands as they are for my own good. Lord, I pray for the children of this world who are not getting the opportunity to learn about a love that runs deeper than what we can know otherwise. Father, forgive me in my sinfulness, may I not judge others lest I be judged. Lord, I thank you for the many You have surrounded me with that reminds me of Your grace. Thank you for Jesus as it is in His name I pray. Amen
Nelson Mandela once said, " I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." In many ways I believe fear could be our greatest enemy. It can compromise your values, take away your peace, steal the promises of joy and hope and paralyze your faith. Fear can control your words, actions and negatively affect our every day living. Fear can only be overcome by a greater force, our faith in God the Father.
In our scriptures we hear Jesus say often in many different ways to "fear not". He knew how fear could cripple ones journey and their faith. I believe His deeper meaning in saying "fear not" was so we wouldn't miss the blessings of God in our lives. In Him telling us and the angels of the Lord telling us means, like many in the Bible, we have the capability to defeat it. I once read that "fear not" or words of that nature occurs at least 365 times. Interesting number since we have one "fear not" for each day.
But how do we fight fear? With our faith, our fellowship as a community of believers and putting our faith into words and our words into loving action. When fear enters your life remember the teachings of Jesus, read the words of Jesus and say to yourself; I will trust my God, I will not fear.
I pray you may join us for this Second Sunday of Lent.
Father, may all honor and glory be yours. Lord help me not to be afraid for the simple reason that you are with me. Show me how to think on good things and not the things that produce fear. Give me courage to face all that may want to hold me captive. Lord, I know you have given me all I need to overcome, you have given me your promises and I have seen them come to fruition. Father, let me have your peace and wisdom and when I am tempted to fear or be overwhelmed by darkness i will look to you. You make me secure, you give me strength, may I trust. Father I lift this up to you in Jesus' name. Amen
God of the covenant,
in the glory of the cross
your Son embraced the power of death
and broke its hold over your people.
In this time of repentance,
draw all people to yourself,
that we who confess Jesus as Lord
may put aside the deeds of death
and accept the life of your kingdom. Amen.
First Sunday of Lent
As we come into our first Sunday in Lent we read the parable found in Luke 13:5-9
5 “No, I tell you, but unless you change your hearts and lives, you will die just as they did.” 6 Jesus told this parable: “A man owned a fig tree planted in his vineyard. He came looking for fruit on it and found none. 7 He said to his gardener, ‘Look, I’ve come looking for fruit on this fig tree for the past three years, and I’ve never found any. Cut it down! Why should it continue depleting the soil’s nutrients?’ 8 The gardener responded, ‘Lord, give it one more year, and I will dig around it and give it fertilizer. 9 Maybe it will produce fruit next year; if not, then you can cut it down.’”
What is the ending to this parable? In truth it is an unfinished parable waiting for an ending. "Give it one more year" if it then does not produce fruit cut it down. Of course Jesus is talking about himself and when Jesus told this story he was on His way to Jerusalem where he would die on the cross. Jesus had been preaching, healing and ministering for about three years. The leaders became more insistent and determined to do away with Jesus than they were when he first began. This parable would have challenge those hearing him speak.
The gardener however pleaded to give one more year to bear fruit. This open ended parable should speak to all of us who are following Jesus. It begs the question during this Lenten journey; how will I finish the unfinished parable in my life?
This parable is the perfect parable to begin discernment as we journey toward the cross and then Easter morning. I hope it lures you into thinking a little deeper about the fruits you bear. God bless you and I really hope we see each other this morning as we look at Luke's Gospel.
Father, Abba, I come before you this morning asking you with trepidation and excitement to dig up the soil around me, to add the ingredients I need and water me. Help me in this my Lord so I may do Your work with You and my life may the bear the fruits that will please You. Father I ask you to bless my Lenten journey, to bless our Eccumenical services and our studies being offered here at EOCC. May they be true to Your Word. Father thank you for the gifts of fellowship that I have through this church, my family and the community in which I live. Forgive me when I get down and when I sin. I ask this in the name of Your Son jesus. Amen.
A Lenten Prayer
Father in the heavens above my Lenten season begins. It is a time to be with you, Lord, and with Your Son in a special way, a time to pray, to fast, and thus to follow you on your way to Jerusalem, to Golgotha, and to the final victory over death.
I am still so divided. I truly want to follow you, but I also want to follow my own desires and lend an ear to the voices that speak about prestige, success, pleasure, power, and influence. Help me to become deaf to these voices and more attentive to your voice, which calls me to choose the narrow road to life.
I know that Lent is going to be a very hard time for me. The choice for your way has to be made every moment of my life. I have to choose thoughts that are your thoughts, words that are your words, and actions that are your actions. There are not times or places without choices. And I know how deeply I resist choosing you.
Please, Lord, be with me at every moment and in every place. Be with my church family as well. Give me the strength and the courage to live this season faithfully, so that, when Easter comes, I will be able to taste with joy the new life that you have prepared for me now and forever more. Amen.
When you read about Jesus in scripture do you find any running theme in all four gospels? Although written to different groups and from different perspectives we learn Jesus was concerned with only one things really. That was to do the will of the Father. In fact, this desire to be obedient to the Father is impressive to say the least. From His first quoted words in the Temple where he said; Luke 2:49, “Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father’s affairs?” to the words we are journeying to this Lenten season that says: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” Luke 23: 46.
My own father said to me after I had my first child that your children will learn more seeing what you do than what you say. No truer statement can be said. Jesus In the early parts of Johns gospel 5: 19 says “The Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees the Father doing” It is through strict obedience that God's will is the will of Jesus. If we had to say one word about Jesus I think a case could be made for the word, obedient. The center of his life is this obedient relationship with the Father.
In our world obedience has a negative connotation in many ways. But none of this negativity applies to Jesus' obedience or our call to obedience. His obedience; a total, fearless listening to his loving Father.Making a choice above all the noise of this world to what He sees the Father doing.
As we begin our journey in Lent may we ask ourselves are we being obedient to the Father's will. Are we spending time with Him in prayer, worship and fellowship. If not, let us start. I pray I will see you this morning as we come to the Table of grace in our worship
Amazing God, I too see how my following your Word brings me peace and a joy that can be found no where else. I pray that I may grow closer through my relationship with the Holy Spirit, fellowship here at EOCC and in my daily walk. Father may your will be done in my life. I pray all this in the name of Jesus, Amen.
Meet the pastor
Rev. Pastor Carl Schreiber has been serving East Orrington Congregational Church (EOCC) since March 12, 2006