Journey to Jerusalem

We are near the end of our Lenten Journey. Up to this point, the path has been pretty well-paved; a comfortable path for walking with a group of people and to stop and admire the view and drink in the goodness of our story together. But now the road begins to narrow and we face some obstacles. Read about Jesus’ three year stint Teaching, Preaching, and Healing in the 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.

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 Four: The Way
Jesus’ Preaching, Teaching, and Healing

This portion of our journey contains the most scriptures and traditions — I mean, everyone has their favorite story of Jesus preaching, teaching or healing over what Matthew and Luke portray to be about three years’ time. And the coolest thing about it is that from his first public statements in Luke to his incredible preaching in Matthew, Jesus speaks truth in words that are clear and loud and always right in the midst of the people. The regular people: fishermen, teachers, tax collectors, sinners, adulterers, slaves and citizens. He starts it out in Luke with these powerful words from Isaiah 61:

‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me

to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives

and recovery of sight to the blind,

to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’

“Today,” Jesus told them — “Today this is all coming true because I’m here.”

And starting from there that is precisely what he did. With his disciples in tow, Jesus traveled from town to town, sometimes teaching in the synagogues, but mostly on the plains and lakeshores and mountainsides where the ordinary Joe’s could be found. Jesus had a terrific knack for finding hurting people right where they were hurting.

He preached to the hungry people, and followed it up with a feast of fish and loaves. He encountered lepers and demoniacs and restored them to wholeness right then and there. In the heat of the day, at the place where she most felt shame, he restored a woman at the well to fellowship within her community, and gained an incredible evangelist in the process. Because of her, John 4’s woman at the well story ends with this testimony, “They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Saviour of the world.’”

So Jesus became known for all these things, and people really loved him and followed him closely, and spread the word about him. Not because he was selling out the Coliseum or Arenas or Amphitheatres; because he met them where they were.

And Jesus still meets us where we are. We don’t have to be anywhere special to be in the presence of Jesus. He comes and is present, invited or not (Erasmus wrote these words on his home: VOCATUS ATQUE NON VOCATUS DEUS ADERIT “bidden or unbidden, God is present”). We just need to stop and take note of his presence. We also need to remember that he will meet us in our deepest hurts, and will restore us to wholeness if we allow it.

This part of the journey has reminded us that we too need to encounter Jesus, allow him to heal us, and then continue on with even more determination and passion. So keep your eyes and hearts open! Jesus is in our midst even now, waiting to take away our burdens and pains even though he has plenty of his own to bear.

I’ll give you one last quote, by one of my preferred writers/theologians Frederich Buechner. He says it so eloquently I can’t really top it:

JESUS IS APT TO COME, into the very midst of life at its most real and inescapable. Not in a blaze of unearthly light, not in the midst of a sermon, not in the throes of some kind of religious daydream, but . . . at supper time, or walking along a road. This is the element that all the stories about Christ’s return to life have in common: Mary waiting at the empty tomb and suddenly turning around to see somebody standing there—someone she thought at first was the gardener; all the disciples except Thomas hiding out in a locked house, and then his coming and standing in the midst; and later, when Thomas was there, his coming again and standing in the midst; Peter taking his boat back after a night at sea, and there on the shore, near a little fire of coals, a familiar figure asking, “Children, have you any fish?”; the two men at Emmaus who knew him in the breaking of the bread. He never approached from on high, but always in the midst, in the midst of people, in the midst of real life and the questions that real life asks.

– F. Buechner, originally published in The Magnificent Defeat

With Assurance,

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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