The is the longest Lent I've ever experienced-- but this, too, shall pass!
March 31, 2020-- Psalm 130:5 reads, "I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope (NIV)." I am eagerly anticipating the ending of Lent. I gave up chocolate for Lent, and I'm really missing it right now! With everything going on in the world, I could really use some chocolate; however, I will wait until Easter to break my Lenten chocolate fast because I know that despite the fact that this Lent feels EXTRA LONG, it will eventually come to an end. This too shall pass. Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again! But in the meantime, it is extra challenging to watch Jeff eat all the chocolate he wants!
For more daily devotions, visit our website at: https://www.ccumc.us/online-lent-daily-devotions
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Please stop what you are doing every day at 5PM and pray for five minutes with us! (Click the following video to play)
1 Thessalonians 5:17 says that we should, "Pray without ceasing." I love to play the piano-- but I'm not very good. I need lots and lots and LOTS of practice. I spend hours on the piano bench in order to play even the simplest song, and then I always get stage fright when performing in front of people (or the camera! Please excuse my little mistakes in this video!). It takes lots of practice to become skilled at anything, and that includes being a good Christian! During this time we are physically apart, I would like to invite you to unite with our church family in prayer. Stop what you are doing every day at five in the afternoon. Just five minutes a day can make a big difference, just like how constant practice can make a huge impact in someone's musicianship. Please know that we are united in prayer even when we are physically separate. The church is not a building-- it is a people. Let us be a people united in prayer.
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Recording of Worship Service for Sunday, March 29th.
In her children's sermon, Rev. Rebecc's Wise (Stuffed) Owl teaches us about the stages of grief. In today's Gospel story, we hear about Mary and Martha, who were also grieving. Jesus offers us comfort during our time of mourning. You are invited to pray with us five minutes every day at five pm. Remember-- we are never alone. The church is not a building, the church is a people. Let us be a people united in prayer!
Rev. Rebecca offers a word of encouragement based on the story of how Jesus raised his friend, Lazarus, from the dead in the Gospel according to John.
This sermon was written for the people of Llyswen & Christ Community UMC, Altoona, PA. Although our church buildings might look empty, it is important to remember that we are never alone. God is always with us and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and our Helper, is always with us. This week's scripture reading is from John and it tells us the story of Lazarus. You are invited to pray for five minutes every day at 5 PM with us. Although we cannot physically gather for worship, we are a people united in prayer. More sermons and daily devotions at our website at www.ccumc.us
John 11:1-44, NIV (From Bible Gateway)
The Death of Lazarus11 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”
9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”
11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.
14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
Jesus Comforts the Sisters of Lazarus17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[b] from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
Alex Schnaubelt plays & sings his "COVID-19 Etude"
We laughed so hard making this video! We hope that it makes you smile as well. During these frightening times, it gives us comfort remember that God holds all of us in the palm of God's hand.
Rev. Rebecca's husband just found out he was "furloughed." She likes to learn new words-- but not this way. This pandemic is impacting all of us in unforeseen ways. This can be scary, but God reassures us that we do not have to be afraid.
Today is Jeff's first official day of being furloughed. Rebecca learned what the word “furlough, “ means, “laid off from work without pay.” It is a scary feeling. As the current pandemic stretches on and on, It is impacting all of us in many unforeseen ways. But we do not have to be afraid. Love always lasts. Love drives out fear. God loves us, so we always have hope.
Join us as we sing some good old-fashioned hymns, Rev. Rebecca shares a children's message with a stuffed sheep, and we take time to pray for everyone impacted by the current pandemic.
Rev. Rebecca is an ordained elder serving in the Susquehanna Conference. She serves Christ Community UMC and Llyswen UMC in the Altoona District. She is the author of The United Methodist Church and Disability and Hope for the Broken: Using Writing to Find God's Grace (coming soon from Touch Point Press).