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Journey From Bethlehem to Jerusalem

Our Lenten journey so far has taken us from Bethlehem to Egypt to Nazareth and to Jerusalem; from the calm banks of the Jordan River to the dangerous wilderness; this week we find ourselves on the shores of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus calls out “Follow Me” (see article below).

You will benefit the most from this journey if you participate in the activities beyond Sunday worship. There are plenty of opportunities; just check out our trip itinerary:

Tuesday Noon (lunch provided)
or Tuesday Evening (5:30 — 6:30)
Our Tuesday Lenten study will include deeper readings of the scriptures from the previous Sunday. You will also get to engage in “Prayer Centers” from week to week that will guide you to a deeper prayer experience. If you are unable to attend on Tuesdays, the Prayer Centers will be open when the office is open during the week, and study guides will be available to help you through the centers.

The Banner
Each week we will be coloring in a beautiful banner designed by local artist and CEH Member Laura Veenstra. Each week at the Service Station, the prayer centers, and during our Lenten Study time, we will be coloring in a section of the banner that coordinates with the week’s theme. The banner will hang during our worship services to be a visual reminder of where we are headed in our journey.

The Cross
There is a cross that was fashioned from the CEH Christmas Tree (thank you Stephen Eddy!) that will journey from the foyer to the Chancel throughout Lent. As we progress on our journey through Jesus’ life, we will be bringing the cross closer and closer to the front of our sanctuary as a reminder where we are headed. There will be activities throughout the worship service, focusing on the cross, that give you an opportunity to deepen your commitment to Christ.

GPS
Each week you will receive a “Grow, Pray, Study” Guide to deepen your understanding of the life of Christ. Like a GPS Navigation system, your GPS will guide you through this journey.

Compass Clips
The kaleidoscopes during Advent were so successful, we looked for an appropriate symbol to hold onto for this Lenten Journey. The children will be receiving their own “Compass clip” that they can put on their backpack or carry in their pocket. This compass will be representative of needing God’s guidance and direction in our lives. These are available for adults if you would like a physical reminder to let God be your guide through life.

“Meeting Jesus” Lenten Devotional
The 2017 “Presbyterians Today” Lenten Devotional contains 47 short, 1st Person Readings from people who encountered Jesus. This is an excellent way to challenge yourself to daily contemplation on the Word and on the life of Christ.

Holy Week Services
We will have our regular Monday and Tuesday studies, with an additional service on Maundy Thursday, and an ecumenical service at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Granby for Good Friday.

Easter Vigil
We will cover the darkest hours of our faith with prayer, from Friday night after the Good Friday service through sunrise on Easter morning. You can sign up for a one (or more) hour slot during which you can pray and be in meditation. Pastor Paula will make a Prayer Vigil Guide for your time of prayer. Don’t worry! The guide really helps you through the hour of prayer and meditation.

Resurrection Day (Easter!)
Sunrise Service, followed by a breakfast will begin our day with worship and fellowship. After breakfast, we are sponsoring an Easter Egg hunt for our entire community, in hopes that they might stick around for the rest of our festivities. Our Service Station will be really amazing for this holiest of days, so plan to come at 9:10 if you would like to participate in being the hands and feet of Christ to a hurting world as we make “Gift of the Heart Kits” for the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.
Our 10 AM service will be an incredible celebration of the empty tomb, beginning in the Fellowship Hall and moving to the sanctuary to roll the stone away!

All of these resources can also be emailed or mailed if you cannot pick one up from the church.

With Encouragement for the Journey,

Rev. Paula

***
Lent Three: Follow Me
Jesus Calls His Disciples

Follow Me
We’ve arrived at our place in the story where Jesus calls his disciples. Note — he did not call the powerful, learned, scholars of his time. He did not call the wealthy tradesmen, the honorable Scribes, Pharisees, or teachers.

Jesus went to a lakeshore and called some fishermen. And, without hesitancy or questions they put down their nets and followed him (Matthew 4:18-22). Later in Matthew (9:9-13), Jesus calls “Matthew” the tax collector and Matthew, without hesitancy, got up and followed Jesus.

It’s pretty cool the way this rag tag bunch of followers just fell in line behind Jesus, because in nearly every other call narrative in our scriptures, the King, Prophet, Judge, Leader being called make excuses for not following — they claim their own faults and shortcomings. They speak their deepest feelings of inadequacy honestly to God, and every time, God promises them they are the person for the job.

It’s a good lesson for us. We make excuses all the time for why we can’t be better disciples. This word “disciple” is not one to be taken lightly. A disciple is not just one who follows along and listens and does whatever their teacher tells them; a disciple indicates a dedicated student who will live and eat and breathe and travel with their teacher, following so closely they will be “covered in the dust of their Rabbi.”

I think that would be the best compliment of all time — for someone to say, “Paula — you’re just filthy from the dust of Jesus.” In Jesus’ time, that meant the dust from a leper colony and a cemetery where a crazy, possessed man flailed around naked; the sun-drenched dust of a lonely well outside of Samaria; the dust from a public courtyard where everyone laid down their stone and walked away from a woman caught in adultery; the dusty remnants of mud that had been spread over a blind man’s eyes; and the dust from the place of the skulls, where I may have watched with horror as my Rabbi was put to death in a heinous and public display of Roman power.

What would that filth look like today? Well, if I were really following Jesus closely, that dust would certainly contain traces of places that I’m pretty much unwilling to go. After all, Jesus went to the most despised and forgotten people, and I stick with my own kind most every day. The dust of our Rabbi today might have the sand and construction rubble from war-torn Syria; dry and desperate dirt from our southern-most border, where drug wars rage and children are sold off into human trafficking; the smoke and remains of a village in Uganda where child soldiers’ families were murdered and the children carried away to become monsters for the cause of the LRA. I think if I followed Jesus closely enough, my body would bear the soot and grime from too many nights on the streets of a big city, and my nails and hands would be caked with the sticky garbage from the dumpster where I dug for my dinner.

But you know what? Something we can learn from what those fishermen, taxmen, sinners, skeptics and saints brought with them is this: they heard the call, they came, and they brought their “not good enough” selves with openness and willingness to serve. And don’t we all have that? We may not be called to walk into war-torn countries and save the children there, but we may be called to do something even more difficult in the daily practice of it: love our neighbors as ourselves. Walk alongside those in our own community who are hurting and needy and learn how we can serve them. Use our skills and talents and time right where we are, wherever we may be, and with whomever we may interact.

Each week following the sermon, we’ve participated in an activity to get us up and moving, and to consider our own commitment on this journey. On Sunday, as we considered Jesus’ call to “Follow Me,” I asked those in attendance to take a paper footprint and write on it the gifts, skills, talents they bring when they follow Jesus. Our activity this week produced some amazing results. Do you see that picture above with all the footsteps? You probably can’t tell, but there were about 80 more footprints sprinkled at the foot of the cross. And on each of those footprints are the gifts, skills, trades, talents that you bring with you as you follow Jesus.

I didn’t ask congregants to write what they lack; I asked congregants to write what they bring. And you know what? With the incredible gifts and talents written on those footprints, I think we could change the world, friends! We are incredibly blessed with countless gifts and visions. Don’t believe me? Here’s a sampling of what CEH has to offer this world:
“Willingness to serve.”
“I can lift up my voice and bring the gift of song — singing God’s praises to those who enjoy His word in song.”
“My faithfulness and love of my Lord!”
“My enthusiasm for life and attempts to make it better.”
“My kindness to others and the interest that I show to new people I meet.”
“My love of my world and the nature around me. May I always treat it with respect.”
“Oh Lord — what I bring . . . .all my imperfections, but mostly I bring my GREAT LOVE for you. You move me, mold me, and hold me. I bring my heart, and only pray you will help me bring all the brokenness into place to serve you better.”
“What I can bring? Skills to articulate to others.”
“Knowing I fall short; knowing you love me anyway.”
“Love.”
“Encouragement.”
“Great listener that can make people open up and smile or laugh.”
“Humor, laughter.”
“Smiles.”
“Willingness.”
“Forgiveness.”
“Compassion for others.”

What a list! There are more and more skills, gifts, humble offerings, and mostly an incredible desire to follow closely and faithfully than I could list here. I’m going to keep these footprints for a long time, and read over them, praying for the talents you are all willing to share in your pursuit of your Rabbi. I will pray that you understand your gifts are good enough and exactly what God needs to complete this Kingdom.

Together, may we follow our Rabbi so closely, we will be covered in his dust. And as we follow, let us do so with an acute awareness that God Calls us and uses us, even in our weaknesses and fallibility.

With Confidence,

Rev. Paula

Prayer Stations
doodle prayer 2017
Using Psalm 32 to “Doodle Pray.”
Last week’s prayer station is still available, and will be through the rest of Lent. “Doodle Prayers” give you a chance to sit in silent contemplation and draw out the thoughts and words that God is putting on your heart during prayer time. Give it a try! Leave your artwork for others to admire. 🙂

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