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.
Recently I heard of the saying, the House of Love, representing our heavenly home awaiting us. Many of you have heard me say that I believe that it is a reality to feel the presence of heaven, House of Love, here on earth. The peace many seek is within the presence of God here. This house of love is in His voice, His Word and His Son. Recently when my daughter was told she has cancer and she would need surgery and radiation I desperately needed to hear the voice that told Zechariah, do not be afraid, have no fear. Or the voice that told Mary, Do not be afraid for you will bear a son and you will name him Jesus. The voice the women heard when they saw the stone was rolled away, Do not be afraid, do not be afraid..."Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Deut. 31
Through God's voice I was quickly comforted. This house of love was not simply a place of the afterlife, beyond this world, it is the place Jesus offered me in that moment through my faith. In the midst of the shock I was reminded that my Savior was also there. He was and is speaking the words, do not be afraid for I am with you. In that moment and since, I have been reminded this "house of Love" is God. I am sheltered in His abundant love and grace. However, it goes further. This house of love is also manifested in God's people here at EOCC. Through your faith I gain strength and I hear the words, do not be afraid being spoken. This same voice carries my daughter, my family and everyone who puts their trust in God. In the midst of anxiousness, worry and yes fear, we have a house of love to retreat into today. A house built upon the promises of our Savior and the Father. With God all things all possible. I hope to see you all later this morning. It's only rain!!!! Thank you Lord...
Almighty God, your voice is calming. Your Word is the peace we often seek. Hearing the prophets of old, the Psalmists reminding us to remember what you have done and the love Jesus brought. All of this Lord is built upon love. It is a house that you have blessed us with to find security, hope and guidance in this puzzling world. Father, I thank you for this gift. I thank you for the strength I witness in my families. Lord may all honor and glory be yours. I pray for people who are struggling with life, I pray for the sadness people must cope with. I pray for forgiveness of my sins. Lord, you are an awesome God and I humbly ask these prayers in Your Son's mighty name. Amen.
I, like many who will read this devotion read the Palms often in our personal devotions. I am not sure how may times over the years I have read Psalm 46 but the other day I read it a little differently. I am not surprised as it is the "living Word of God."
Verse 4 declares there is a river that gladdens God's city but there is no river that flows through the earthly city of Jerusalem. which leads me to believe "God's city" wasn't one limited to an earthly location but more of a poetic image of our God caring for all of God's people. This river the Psalmist spoke of looked back to creation, in the garden, (Gen: 2:10) and forward to our ultimate victory in God, ( Rev: 22:1-3) The Palmist is telling us that God's river of life, steadfast river of love is flowing through God into our hearts. It is not an earthly river but one of divine nature that even if the world is falling apart the Kingdom will not.
As I sit and close my eyes for a moment I can picture Psalm 23 better. I can feel a peace deeper and I know my God is with me. What helps you let God's steadfast river of love pour strength and comfort into your heart? I would love to hear from you.
My God, may all honor and glory be yours. May my heart be made pure through the forgiveness Your Son has blessed us with. Lord Jesus, you know firsthand about the joys and sorrows that are part of the deal of being human. Teach me how to look to you as my light and strength even at the most frightening and worrisome times. Lord, bless my families and look upon us with mercy and grace. Father I ask for special prayers of healing to my youngest, your child Kortnee. I asking for comfort to those in need and safe travel for those who will be on the roads later. Lord I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Last Wednesday at Vespers I posed the question as to where our home is? It is in this thought process that I also ask; to whom do we belong? Myself, the World or God? Of the three I would say that in the course of everyday life I belong more to the world or myself than to God. I say this because the ebb and flow of people in my life often translates into my anxiousness,anger and depression. A little pat on the back, or praise lifts me up quickly or an accomplishment/success gets me excited. In truth it takes little to lift us up or thrust us downward. Almost like a small boat on the water at the mercy of the waves. The amount of energy spent on keeping some kind of balance, pleasing or appeasing others, and preventing ourselves from being tipped over shows that much of our life is simply a struggle to survive and remain upright. It is not a Holy struggle but a struggle, a mistaken struggle I would say, that it is the world that defines us.
As long as we belong to this world, to ourselves we will remain captive. But when we live belonging to God, who loves us unconditionally, we can actually live as He calls us to. In our Baptism, Jesus calls us to move from belonging to the world to belonging to God. Makes me wonder, do we truly believe we are God's family and He is our Father or do we belong to the world?
Almighty God, I know that I belong to you and life would be so much better if I could live in that knowledge completely. Please forgive me Lord for my weakness and my sins. Help me grow. Father, protect all those working tonight keeping the roads clear, may they return to their families and homes safely. Father, I pray this and all things in and through Your Son Jesus' name, Amen.
Romans 8:14-18, 31-32
14 All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons and daughters. 15 You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back again into fear, but you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as his children. With this Spirit, we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The same Spirit agrees with our spirit, that we are God’s children. 17 But if we are children, we are also heirs. We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ, if we really suffer with him so that we can also be glorified with him.
18 I believe that the present suffering is nothing compared to the coming glory that is going to be revealed to us.
31 So what are we going to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He didn’t spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. Won’t he also freely give us all things with him?
Anyone reading the Epistles, the letters,would notice Paul preached Jesus. No matter the situation,location or danger Paul preached the good news of Jesus. Even when he faced Hebrew religious leaders who vigorously opposed him or Roman officials who would imprison and ultimately execute him, he spoke and taught Jesus is the way. No matter how powerful the force against him, Paul, refused to let fear govern his life or determine what he would do. This was more than just stubbornness or resolve. It was a conviction he felt within and his letter to Christians in Rome he states this conviction clearly: “If God is for us, who is against us?”
As we journey together in 2020 may we be convicted to preach, to live not in fear but in triumph. May we be God's hands and feet, his compassion and love to this world. Even to those who may oppose us. Hope to see you this morning as we study John 1:1-14
Almighty God as I journey with you may I do so without trepidation of voicing my faith in you. I thank you Lord for the gift of community I enjoy here at EOCC. I thank you for my family and friends that surround me with positive energy and forgiveness. Lord, I pray for Elaine and all who find themselves on our prayer list. I pray for the hungry and homeless, the tired and hungry. Father, I ask you to forgive me of my sins as I seek a closer relationship with you. I ask this and pray all things in the name of Jesus. Amen
LUKE 6:38 (NIV) A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
As I look back on 2019 and think about the past year I realize that the best gift I have to give others is my relationship with Jesus Christ. A relationship that defines my joy and my sorrows, my peace and upheaval, my understanding that we have been given new life as well as the love that only comes from God. I say this because as I think about those who have lifted me up this past year, those that have blessed my life are the ones who were willing to share their life with me. They shared their relationship with Jesus, their struggles and achievements, questions and frustrations. I believe as we share with each other our own journey we give of ourselves and that is the best gift going. Thank you.
As we say good bye to 2019 may we welcome 2020 committed to a deeper relationship with God and the desire to grow together in Christ. Merry Christmas and a safe and a safe and happy new year. Hope to see you later this morning.
Almighty God , my Lord and Savior Jesus, as the old year passes and a new year will soon take place I once again come before you seeking a better relationship. Father, I know the snows will come and go, flowers will again bloom and fade away. We will have hot days and cold days, raining and dry and they will be according to your order and time. Lord, help me accept that I do not have control over life but only how I live my life. May it be one glorifying your name above all others; may I give you all honor and glory; may my tongue be tamed and my temper be dormant. As I travel with my daughter through cancer this upcoming year may our faith be prevalent at all times. I ask you Lord, to bring about a positive outcome and bless her with your healing. Lord I pray for my families of faith and blood. May we all prosper in faith this coming year. Lord forgive me of my sins as I seek You in prayer through your Son Jesus. Amen
Deuteronomy 30:19–20a 19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.
God makes it very clear that we need to choose life. As I grow I am becoming more aware that every moment I breath I must make the choice between life and death, Joy and sadness; my Savior or the world. One choice brings about a death, a heart which something is dying. Whereas choosing life is living in joy where the heart is open to something new being born.
As I grow deeper into my faith relationship the understanding that this life is about making choices to be with God or away from God becomes more evident. There will be mood swings, there will be moments that I can not control but within each moment we have the choice to choose life or death. The more I have let emotions be; the more I am able to bring a joy into each situation. Reality is that God has allowed both life and death, blessing and curses and we must choose what we will focus on.
As we prepare ourselves once again to meet the Christ child may we recommit ourselves to be focused on His teachings and love that brings life. I look forward to seeing you later this morning.
Almighty God, may all honor and glory be yours this day. Father, I pray for Your church here today. I pray for the people, both far and near. Lord bless us and help us on our journey. May we listen to Your voice in this noisy world. Lord, I pray that in the year that lies ahead we will see growth spiritually. Lead us oh King. Father, I seek forgiveness of my sins, I seek restoration and peace both for myself, this church, this nation and the world around me. I pray this in your Son's Holiest of names, Amen.
Luke 1:39-55 39 Mary got up and hurried to a city in the Judean highlands. 40 She entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 With a loud voice she blurted out, “God has blessed you above all women, and he has blessed the child you carry. 43 Why do I have this honor, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45 Happy is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill the promises he made to her.”
46 Mary said,
“With all my heart I glorify the Lord! 47 In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior.
48 He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant. Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored 49 because the mighty one has done great things for me. Holy is his name.
50 He shows mercy to everyone, from one generation to the next, who honors him as God.
51He has shown strength with his arm. He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations.
52 He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty-handed.
54 He has come to the aid of his servant Israel, remembering his mercy,
55 just as he promised to our ancestors, to Abraham and to Abraham’s descendants forever".
In the time of Jesus women were second-or third class citizens. In this story we find Mary pregnant, without a husband needing her cousins support and joyfulness as she journeyed what would have taken 8-10 days. As Mary sang the song above how God lifts up the lowly, she was a living example of that. She exalted in God's reversal of human values. "he has pulled the powerful down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly." Verse 52. Even before the birth God was turning things around to see His love and how He valued her, no matter what her social status was.
From the moment Jesus was conceived He changed the lives of those who chose to call Him Lord. Elizabeth was the first and then throughout the gospels it said women were the first witnesses proclaiming Jesus's resurrection. As I read the passage above it brought questions to my mind: How does me calling Jesus "Lord" mean giving up the right to live my life any way I please? In what ways has Jesus' lordship changed my life, brining with it joy, hope ,peace and a deeper knowledge of love.
I believe Mary knew that the King she bore would change realities that had always seemed to rule the day. As we prepare for the coming of our King how willing are you to join in Mary's and those who call Him Lord joy and commitment to God's purpose to lift up the lowly; to fill the hungry with good things? Let this Advent season be a time of change and let us be a people of compassion.
Lord God, A simple girl is used to change the world through Your Son. She reminds me Father, that I have, as all do, a purpose and You will lift us up. Lord, I pray for my family at this time. I give you thanks for the blessings I have all around me and I ask that I continue to see these blessings during every moment of my life. Father, I have chosen to call you Lord of my Lord. Lift me up and carry me through. Forgive me my sins this day I pray. Lord, I pray and ask all things 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