Jesus tells the story of a person who owns a vineyard and who was surprisingly generous. (Matt: 20:1-16) While a vineyard is not really a garden per say it does contain plants. Anyway, this vineyard owner needed help with the harvest and went out early in the morning to hire laborers and agreed to give them the usual day's pay. Every three hours during the day he went out again and hired more men. Then, a surprising thing happened. The latecomers received a full day's pay, even though they had only worked a short time. So did those who came at noon. When the early hires came they expected to be paid more. Hadn't they earned it? But they received only the amount originally agreed to. Was that fair?
In our human state of thinking we would say this was not fair. But Jesus is illustrating a different kind of economics. He is asking us to think about what is unfair. Did he not pay those who he agreed to pay their wage? Did he take any money from one to give to another? No. God is letting us know that we all equal in what we deserve. Jesus invites us all to come to him and see how God acts with surprising generosity. Not because of who we are, but who God is.
Today as we journey together may we extend the love God has blessed you with to all people so they may also reap a bountiful harvest. May we rejoice in what God has done for us and rejoice for what others have received as well For God is good. In Christ, PC
Almighty God I pray Psalm 91 to you this morning. May we be under your shield. Lord, I pray for this world. I pray for those who are sick, those who lives have been turned upside down and for those who are scared. Lord Father, you know my heart and all I ask for You to protect. I also pray for the good that has come from this time of change, may we not forget this when we do come out of the darkness. Lord, I ask you to forgive me, I thank you for the technology that allowed me to be with my brothers yesterday morning. I thank you for the peace I have through Your Son Jesus, through whom I lift these prayers to You. Amen
Yesterday someone mentioned how much this pandemic must have been like the Great Depression in the way fear can take over for some. I am one who loves to learn from history but I am not keen on comparing the past with today. I try not to compare one persons illness with my experiences. Because it took me x number of days to heal that it would take the same for everyone. But the conversation did make me think of King David and how he would in times of trouble often remember what God had done for him before. This memory would help him trust God is and will continue to bless. it brought to him peace and comfort.
Yesterday, someone mentioned how much this pandemic must have been like the Great Depression in the way fear can take over for some. I am one who loves to learn from history, but I am not keen on comparing the past with today. I try not to compare one person’s illness with my experiences: “Because it took me ‘X’ number of days to heal that it would take the same for everyone.” But the conversation did make me think of King David and how, in times of trouble, he would often remember what God had done for him before. This memory would help him trust that God does and will continue to bless. it brought to him peace and comfort.
On a Saturday back in 1933, our President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave a speech about the times they were going through. I find what he said then comforting today.
"This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. No need, we shrink from honestly facing the conditions in our country today, this great nation will endure, as it has endured and will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
As I read this again, I found it interesting that when Roosevelt delivered this speech, he had been in a wheelchair for the past 12 years, a victim of polio. As history would unfold, it would be 22 more years before a vaccine would be created for the disease. Still, President Roosevelt knew that in times of crisis, fear can be as much an enemy as whatever actually caused the crisis because fear can stall or completely stop the effort to find a solution. I would add that anger, indifference, burying your head, or thinking “it will not affect me” is just as dangerous.
Scripture tells us that King David knew his fear, anger or lack of action would also bring about his demise; so he turned to God for strength. He remembered what God had done.
Today, let us, God's children, remember what God has done for us in the past as well as what He is doing for us today. I believe that God blesses us with knowledge, progress and hope. It is God in whom we must trust; not by sitting and doing nothing and waiting, but by knowing that He has given man the ability to learn and develop.
With the corona virus a reality, as life is challenging right now, it might be important to remember that we have a history of rising to this type of challenge. God has blessed us with miracles. Polio is one example, but it hasn't been the only dire puzzle we have solved. During the past century, vaccines for yellow fever, anthrax, and cholera were created. Scientists have engineered vaccines for diphtheria, typhoid, whooping cough, and the Spanish flu. Once enigmas, tuberculosis, encephalitis, and rabies have now been defeated. Chickenpox, mumps, rubella, and measles are no longer a threat to schoolchildren; and today, the vaccinations for all four viruses are combined into a single dose. Smallpox was estimated to have killed 500 million people in the last 100 years of its existence. However, due to the creation and application of a vaccine, the World Health Organization certified in 1980 that smallpox had been eradicated from the earth. There are vaccinations for hepatitis A and B, meningitis, pneumonia, Hong Kong flu, and swine flu. Adapted from an article by A. Andrews
Today, the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, is now the number one priority of scientists and researchers all over the world. In addition, history shows that they're better equipped and more knowledgeable than ever about how to deal with the challenge we face. The coronavirus will be the next to fall.
So what is our role? Pray and listen to the experts; use common sense. We know what God has done in the past and this should bring hope. We know that we have a home waiting for us and this should bring peace. and I believe that He is there for us today. Is there a lesson in this? I believe there is, but that is another devotion.
Let us continue to call each other and simply check in. Let us be the hands and feet of Jesus, not thinking we are immune, but within the parameters of what the experts are telling us to do. Remember, the church is here and we are ready to help in whatever way we can. Pass this on. See you on line Sunday morning at 10. EOCCME.COM under the worship tab.
Fourth Sunday of Lent
Late Thursday afternoon I went down and checked on Nancy's blueberry bushes I planted late last summer. New buds were on each plant and the stems are looked healthy. I was thrilled. I did everything right to protect them and this time it payed off. Jesus told a story that reflects the nature of life. A man planted some wheat, good seed, he did everything right, but he had an enemy who wished him harm. The enemy caused weeds amidst the wheat. The workers wanted to pull them but the landowner stopped them for fear that the whole crop might be lost. (Matt 13:24-30)
This is life. In the process of trying to make our lives all they can be, we run into a lot of opposition. It comes in the evils and shallow values all around us: greed. self-seeking, fear and even natural problems like we are facing today. The tares in the scripture today were unwanted and harmful grasses that looked a lot like grain as they were growing, but were easily distinguished when fully grown. Money, social position and power look good and enticing, but we lose out, when they become the goals in themselves and lure us away from life's lasting treasures.
What do we do if we discover that some these tares have indeed invaded our life? Whether they are life's natural problems like illnesses; this virus or are more virulent societal evils like greed, dishonesty or gossip, how do we live in God. Certainly the things we can weed out, do so. However, this parable warns us against spending our time fretting about them and dealing only with the weeds.
What I see in the story is my God reminding me to use my time and efforts for cultivating what is good. Life is not perfect. We are not in the Garden of Eden. But we must resist the evil of skepticism, anger or giving up which threaten the good we do have. Reap the good things that still grow in out lives, showing the evil and the bad they cannot win against our spirit.
Folks, as we live through these times of uncertainty may we all focus on the good we do have. May we concentrate on the positives and the goodness of our God. May we reach out as we can to those in need. Most importantly, may we continue to give God all glory and honor as we bring our prayers to Him.
Almighty God, I praise your Holy name. As I face this climate of fear may I bring into it hope found in Your son Jesus. May I remain faithful to my belief and see the good. I see people helping people however they can. Food still being delivered to others, calls being made, prayers being shared. Lord, may my fear keep me vigilant to the dangers but let it not Lord, consume me. Keep me Lord focused on the good for I know the day will come when the good and bad will be separated for all to see. May my faith remain strong. Lord, I pray for our medical professionals, first responders, social workers, politicians and now our military. I pray for their safety as they combat this virus, I pray for your peace and wisdom to lead them. Father, I pray this in Your Son's Holy name. Amen
Third Sunday of Lent
Thinking about gardens during the lenten season, we come to a parable of jesus that concerns not an entire garden but one plant within the garden. Its seeds are tiny but the plant can grow to be the largest plant in the garden by far.It of course ifs the mustard seed, an herb, a condiment, seasoning that adds spice to life, w well at least the hamburger. Jesus said, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed , you will say to this mountain; "move from here" and it will do so. Matt 17:20. He also uses this symbol fro the growth of his whole mission. "The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed- smallest of all seeds, but when grown it becomes tree and birds make nests in its branches. Matt 13: 31-32
Creative use of the lenten journey can be like planting a mustard seed. I believe each of us has so much more potential than we ever realize and Lent is a time for considering how we can live more fully. I have heard it said, in all of history only Jesus ever lived up to His fullest potential. Even if that is true and we cannot measure up to his example, his life is a wonderful guide for us in terms of trust in God, understanding of life's meaning and heartfelt compassion fro those around us.
But Lent is also a time for the Church worldwide to celebrate as one. Christ's followers are called to bring the reign of God into fulfillment. Jesus did not simply come for the twelve or the hundreds that heard Him speak. His message and His life are the mustard seed that can grow and spread throughout the earth. In this time of worry, even panic, we as children of Christ Holy Church are called to offer shade, hope and a vision. We have a story to tell the nations. It is not only a story of Jesus, but an insight into the abundant life God blesses us with. Through faith, through our Lenten journey and by the grace of God may we be a place of rest for those who are struggling. Our world can become so much greater if we allow our seed of faith to grow. God bless you and be safe, use common sense in these uncharted waters.
Almighty God, as I continue to journey this Lenten season may I not be distracted by outside concerns and remain focused on the relationship I want/need in you. Father, guide me and the church I serve as we look and make decisions that will affect this family and the community which I live. Lord, forgive me my sins, my tresspasses against others and lead me and those I love through the adversity that lies ahead. father, bless us today and always in the name of Your son I ask. Amen
Second Sunday of Lent
As we continue in Lent there is parable that seems almost tailor made for Lent. It is about gardening. Gardeners know that that seeds grow better in some spots than in others. In the same way, lent can be a very productive time for some people,while others gain little from it. The parable suggests some reasons for this.
Jesus describes how a man went out to plant his field. Some of the seed fell on the road where the birds came and ate it. other seed fell among the rocks; even it they started to grow they would soon wither and die. Some fell into soil, but the thorns crowded the good ones out. Other seed fell on fertile ground and produced a rewarding harvest later on. ( Mark 4:1-9)
Many of us as we approach the Lenten Season have our appointment books already full and our routines down. Our minds are cluttered in the everyday doings of life. Unless we make a special effort, thoughts of enriching our inner life and nourishing our souls meet the same fate as the seeds. Seeds among the thorns lose out because of our busyness. Rocky soil is our cluttered mind etc... If we do not make the effort the Lenten journey is just another time of year.
In gardening terms, we have to put down the hoe for a bit to enjoy the beauty that is growing. In life, we must put away our schedule, the busyness and the clutter and take time for quiet reflection to make our remaining time more productive. Jesus came that we might have abundant life.I know this in my life. It took me a long time to discover Jesus was not talking about material things or jobs but an inner life that supersedes everything. An undercurrent of peace, hope and love that makes our soil fertile. It is said, "today is the first day of the rest of your life." Perhaps this Lenten season can be the beginning of a new style of life, full of purpose, productivity and beauty. Yesterday at men's group one said: this Lenten season I am taking time to see Communion in a deeper and more meaningful light. He has set aside the hecticness of life and decided to focus on what is most important; his relationship with God.
Hope to see you this morning as we continue our Lenten journey.
Gracious Father I seek Your peace. Help me slow down enough to learn and find the abundance you speak of. Help me Lord to focus on the good and how I can play a roll in Your kingdom. Father, forgive me of my sins and wipe away my transgressions. I pray this in Jesus' name, Amen.
First Sunday of Lent
In the beginning....The Bible tells us that life began in a garden. In today's world with all the bickering about the nature of God's creating we often miss the beautiful and rich symbolism of the creation story. I believe God intended and still does for our world to be like a beautiful garden. God has provided everything that is needed for the human population to be nourished in body and spirit. We have been given wisdom, wealth and much more to develop ways for this to happen even today.
But like it is told Adam and Eve disobeyed God's instructions to them and out of greed ate from the forbidden tree. How well does this still play out in human greed today and disobedience to God's love. How often do we convince ourselves this won't really matter in the life of things.
Working in my garden at home this kind of thinking produces much less crop in the end. Oh, I don't need to water today or weed or feed. The truth is I need to keep up daily with the work that needs to be done. Vacations, while they are wonderful and needed is most disastrous for the plants, yet with hard work and prayer they can be healed. This is no different in our life with God. If we spend time everyday feeding, watering and weeding our lives before God we too remain much more healthy than we would be otherwise. Yet we know too many neglect this obedient care. Many reading this may be on vacation and that is okay because God is still ready to renew and replenish the health of the soul missing.
I believe God's garden was to be a place for all people to be. Where each plant was cared for and loved, fed and nourished daily. I believe our Father is calling us this Lenten season to look carefully at our own gardens. Are we loving each other as commanded? Are we sharing as Jesus shared? Are we committed to regaining the beauty and the peace in the garden as God intended? I believe It is going to require a great willingness to share our bounties. To ask God to become the focal point of our lives trusting and relying on the nourishment He alone can provide. Join with me this Lenten season and let us work side by side, digging up the old soil, cultivating the new and being part of the beauty God intended from the beginning. Hope to see you this morning as we gather at the Table to partake of the bountiful harvest of God's grace.
Almighty God as I reflect upon the gardens of life may you walk with me. Lord, it is many times in the garden that I come and hear your voice in this loud world. May this journey of Lent bring me back to your garden of love and hope and reveal to me where I am the weed. Help me Father, to see my short comings and how through Your grace and tenderness I am not simply pulled and discarded but nourished to be more productive and more like Christ. Father, I ask for the strength to let go of what is Yours and freely give to others as You have called me to do. Help me examine the life you have blessed me with and know that I belong to You as do the ones I love and want to protect. Lord God, forgive me for doing as Adam did; disobedient to Your Word. Restore me to Your garden so I can be useful and fully engaged in this world today. Lord, I pray this in Your Son's Holy name. Amen
Meet the pastor
Rev. Pastor Carl Schreiber has been serving East Orrington Congregational Church (EOCC) since March 12, 2006