Gardens can certainly be a source of joy. They can also be a source of disappointment. You can relax and take a breath in a garden. You can also strain your back and become exhausted under the hot sun. Gardens can provide food for our bodies and beauty for our souls.
Looking at the garden Lent can be a gardening time. Coming as spring draws near, it offers an opportunity for thinking how our lives can be more productive and satisfying. We have come a long way from the Advent/Christmastide season's hope and promise to a far different place. This is a time for "digging in", because it takes work to reap a rich harvest.
As winter snow melts and freezing temperatures moderate a bit, fields and gardens often look pretty bleak and baron. Old remnants of bushes and skeletons of leaves provide only memories of things that once grew. In our personal lives, we may feel that we have come a long way from the Garden of Eden. The ashes of Ash Wednesday, the 26th, symbolize some of this deadness-lack of vitality so to speak.
Lent is a time to work on our personal gardens. One of the wonderful things about faith is its reminder that we can always make a fresh start. Human lives are a lot like perennials. They may look dead at times, but there is life within them waiting for renewal. The sun of God's wisdom awakens us. The shower of God's love start our juices flowing again. A new day, season begins from the ashes of bleakness.
Whatever our age or position we hold in life, growth is possible. we need to weed out those things that hinder us, that absorb our time and energies, but are not productive nor of God's call. Loosen up the soil around us, so that we are open to receive the goodness of God's providence. Please don't let the lenten Season simply happen. Use it for starting new growth, new thoughts, a new way in letting God nourish your spirit!
The Word of God often says; Do not be afraid." Let us enter this Lenten season open to where God wants us both individually and corporately. God has blessed us. Hope to see you this morning as we look at the mountain top.
Almighty God, as I enter this Lenten season help my heart to be open to hearing and feeling Your Word in my life. Renew me Father. Lor, I pray the lenten services we share with our sister churches are full of others who want ot grow this Lenten season. Bless us Lord, as we walk htis road to calvary together. Lord I thank you in the name of Your Son, Amen
Matthew 8:1-4 1 Now when Jesus had come down from the mountain, large crowds followed him. 2 A man with a skin disease came, kneeled before him, and said, “Lord, if you want, you can make me clean.” 3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched him, saying, “I do want to. Become clean.” Instantly his skin disease was cleansed. 4 Jesus said to him, “Don’t say anything to anyone. Instead, go and show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded. This will be a testimony to them.”
Luke 17:11-1911 On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten men with skin diseases approached him. Keeping their distance from him, 13 they raised their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, show us mercy!”
14 When Jesus saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” As they left, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw that he had been healed, returned and praised God with a loud voice. 16 He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus replied, “Weren’t ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 No one returned to praise God except this foreigner?” 19 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up and go. Your faith has healed you.”
In the time of Jesus, people called any visible skin disease leprosy. The Old Testament book of Leviticus called for isolating anyone with skin disease to keep it from spreading. It was a dreaded condition others did not want to have. Thus, it was stunning, even forbidden, when “Jesus reached out his hand, and touched” the man in Matthew's Gospel and said, “Become clean.” Jesus also healed ten “lepers.” Some were Israelite, at least one a despised Samaritan, bonded by their shunned and outcast status.
This disease banded the lepers into an atypical group. Jews with a Samaritan. The gospels tell us Jesus was also not typical as he neither shunned lepers or Samaritans in His ministry. Here again Jesus demonstrates looking beyond the surface differences and accepting them anyways. These and other passages should bring light to our practices, knowingly or unknowingly about how we shun. Social shunning still goes on in 2020, based on race, age, gender, socio-economic or educational level, religion, sexual orientation, disability, and even personal quirks, political beliefs, or looks. Have you ever been shunned? Have you ever shunned someone? How is God calling you to live up to Jesus' examples in touching the lepers today?
I pray you are able to join us as we celebrate one of our missions here at EOCC; The Boys Scouts of America.
Father, may I look to your Word and look honestly where I am at. May I see clearly the direction Your Son leads and may I obediently work my was there. Lord, Forgive me for my sinfulness, my hesitation (doubts) to the truth of what the Holy Spirit convicts me of. Lord, I ask you to bless this congregation, my family and those I do not know. I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen
I love using sticky note to remind me of the many things going on in life. Bottom of my computer screen, on my desk and inside my doors have seen sticky notes on them. In a Bible verse I was reading this week it reminded me like a sticky note does something important in life.
Luke 22:19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
Of course we hear these words often times during our communion or the Lord's supper. However, maybe these words should be like a sticky note every time we eat.
Every piece of bread or drink should be a reminder that just like our physical bodies need substance to live, our souls need Jesus' sacrifice to live eternally as well as today. Last night we came together and shared a filling meal with family. I can not imagine anyone went away hungry. As I stood in the background I could hear Jesus' words, '‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.'” John 6:35
Like the supper last night, we need to gather with our Savior as he will fill our souls if we allow. Every meal, drink or snack should be like a sticky note reminding us that we need to fill our souls with the one who made life possible.
Almighty God, your Son reminds us that like the food we need to sustain our physical bodies we also need you to sustain our spiritual life. Father, may we be reminded by the Holy Spirit of Jesus' teachings and Your commandments. Lord, forgive me of my sins and may I be reminded constantly of the importance of gathering with You and Your people in worship and prayer. Father, I ask this in the name of Your Son Jesus, Amen
John 20:19-22 19 It was still the first day of the week. That evening, while the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.--
This passage is telling us that Jesus' resurrection was simply the beginning of God's work needed done. This is why, on the night when the risen Christ finally appeared to his disciples, he breathed on them and said, "As the father sent me, so I am sending you." (John 20:21). What Jesus began, we’re meant to complete. Like the movie,"MIssion Impossible" might say, if you choose this mission? Our mission within the church is to bring the Word of God to all people. It is not to fix, judge, condemn or belittle but to do as Jesus began for all people.
So it begs the question to be asked; How can you be part of Jesus' work of restoring, not just people, but the whole world to what the Creator intended?
Almighty God,thank you for winning the biggest victory of all on my behalf. Thank you for calling me to grow, stretch and become more than I am as I join in your victorious work. Lord, may you bless the work of EOCC as we answer your call to go out and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In your Son's name i pray, Amen.
Meet the pastor
Rev. Pastor Carl Schreiber has been serving East Orrington Congregational Church (EOCC) since March 12, 2006