Blessed? — This week at ELC

Java PrintingSo often we hear people talk about being blessed only when things are going their way.  Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount challenged his hearers with a description of a very different set of values, and we are still challenged by those words today.

Worship this week:

Saturday — 5:00 p.m. in the chapel

Sunday — 8:30 a.m. Traditional Worship

9:30 a.m. — Sunday School

10:30 a.m. — Contemporary Worship

Devotions for the week:

Every culture has some variation of a hierarchical social structure that is critical, or even unjust to its weakest members. In Jesus’ day, those who were meek, ill, grieving, poor, or perceived as weak were the ones most likely to suffer from social inequities. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount promised those at the bottom of the social structure that there was a reward for them that would surpass any they could receive here on earth. The gifts of God’s kingdom would be abundant for them. His words gave hope to those who may have long abandoned hope.

This story does not seek to condemn those whose lives appear blessed in the eyes of the world. Instead, it seeks to offer hope to anyone who suffers any affliction of body, mind, or spirit. It encourages us to be kind and gentle to those whose suffering is greater than ours, and gratefully to accept the help and care from those whose suffering is less.

Follow these stories of Jesus’ sermon on the mountain.

Sunday, Matthew 5:1-20, Beatitudes

Monday, Psalm 1:1-3, Psalm

Tuesday, Matthew 5:21-26, Concerning Anger

Wednesday, Matthew 5:27-32, Concerning Adultery and Divorce

Thursday, Matthew 5:33-42, Concerning Oaths and Retaliation

Friday, Matthew 5:43-48, Love for Enemies

Saturday, Matthew 6:1-6, Concerning Almsgiving

  • What does Jesus’ sermon tell us about the nature of God? What is God’s role in our world? What is our role?

Do: Set your week’s grocery budget at half of what you normally spend. Find ways to provide for yourself and/or your household with this lowered budget. Reflect on the challenges and joys of this activity.

In the wilderness — This week at ELC

temptationIn the wilderness the devil tempts Jesus in a variety of ways, but the Jesus relies on God’s word and promise to expose the devil’s lies. How equipped are we to stand up to those same temptations?

Worship with Holy Communion this week:

Saturday  — 5:00 p.m. in the chapel

Sunday — 8:30 a.m. — Traditional Worship

9:30 a.m. Sunday School

10:30 a.m. Contemporary Worship

Devotions for the week:

January 18, 2014 – Temptation in the Wilderness

Reflect: Reflect on Sunday’s reading – Matthew 4:1-17

 Jesus began his ministry with 40 days of fasting and praying. During that time, the devil took advantage of his weakened physical state to attempt to tempt Jesus to abandon God and worship him.

The first temptation preyed on his hunger, tempting him to break his God-honoring fast. The second temptation preyed on his ego, tempting him to prove that he was God’s son. The final temptation preyed on his ambition, tempting him to give up God in exchange for the whole world. But Jesus resisted each temptation, knowing that the rewards of heaven far outweighed any temporary satisfaction earthly desires could offer.

Follow these stories of temptation and Jesus’ early ministry.

Sunday, Matthew 4:1-17, Tempted in the Wilderness

Monday, Psalm 91:9-12, Psalm

Tuesday, Genesis 1:26-27, Creation of Humanity

Wednesday, Genesis 3:1-7, Temptation in the Garden of Eden

Thursday, Deuteronomy 8:1-10, A Warning from God

Friday, Matthew 4:18-22, Jesus Calls the First Disciples

Saturday, Matthew 4:23-25, Jesus Ministers to Crowds of People

  • How does temptation help or hinder people’s relationships with God?
  • What tempts you the most? How can your faith help you resist temptation?

Choose one temptation to resist this week. Look at the challenge not as a punishment, but as an opportunity to be free from the object of your temptation. Notice how you feel after one week of abstinence.

“With whom I am well pleased”…. This Week at ELC

Matthew3_17Perhaps we don’t hear it often or clearly enough, but we too are God’s ‘beloved’.

When Jesus was baptized, his public ministry began. He helped people to understand that righteous living was necessary, not for eternal salvation, but for the well-being of the human community.

Worship this week:

Saturday – 5:00 p.m. in the chapel

Sunday – 8:30 a.m. – Traditional Worship

9:30 a.m. – Sunday School and New Member Orientation

10:30 a.m. – Contemporary Worship

Devotions for the week:

January 11, 2014 –   “Jesus Baptism”

Reflect: Reflect on Sunday’s reading.Matthew 3:1-17

Study: Study the reading and consider the background.

John the Baptist was a prophet at the time of Jesus. He baptized in the Jordan River, asking people to repent for their sins. He knew Jesus was coming. He also knew that when Jesus started baptizing, it would be even more powerful. Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.

John gathered followers, baptizing them into a life of righteous living. Religious and political leaders who arrived at the Jordan River were reprimanded for their lack of righteous living. When Jesus was baptized, his public ministry began. He helped people to understand that righteous living was necessary, not for eternal salvation, but for the well-being of the human community.

Read about prophesies that promised a Messiah from King David’s heir.

Sunday, Matthew 3:1-17, Jesus’ Baptism

Monday, Psalm 2:7-8, Psalm

Tuesday, Judges 13:1-7, The Birth of Samson

Wednesday, Isaiah 11:1-9, God’s Peaceful Kingdom

Thursday, Zechariah 3:1-10, Joshua and Satan

Friday, Numbers 31:21-24, Cleansing by Fire

Saturday, Isaiah 40:1-11, A Voice in the Wilderness

  • What did God promise the people? How does the story of Jesus’ baptism connect with the prophetic scripture readings?
  • How does your community of faith honor its baptismal promises for those who are baptized?
  • How do you claim God’s baptismal promises in your daily life? What difference does your baptism make in your life?

A Newborn King and a Worldly Tyrant – This week at ELC

matthew-2-13-23

The Holy Family is caught up in the fear and violence of the day. But God speaks in dreams and vision to preserve the Holy Family from the plans of Herod. Where might God be speaking to us today?

Worship with Holy Communion this week:

Saturday – 5:00 p.m. in the chapel

Sunday – 8:30 a.m. Traditional Worship

9:30 a.m. – Sunday School resumes

10:30 a.m. – Contemporary Worship

Devotions for the week of  January 4, 2014 

“The Flight to Egypt”

Reflect: Reflect on Sunday’s reading – Matthew 2:13-23

Study: Study the reading and consider the background.

Sometime within the first two years of Jesus’ birth, King Herod was alerted to the presence of a baby who was born destined to be king. To ensure the baby king would never rule, King Herod had all children under two killed.

But Herod would not touch Jesus. An angel of God warned Joseph in a dream to take Jesus and Mary to Egypt, where they would be safe from King Herod. They remained in Egypt until King Herod died. Again, an angel came to Joseph in a dream to announce it was safe to return to their homeland. Joseph, Mary, and Jesus settled in Nazareth.

God speaks to us in many ways. To Joseph, God spoke in a dream. Often God speaks to us through other people and events. Other times God speaks through stories, sermons, or Bible readings. Sometimes God speaks in the still, small voice inside of us that we hear through prayer and meditation.

Read: Follow the stories of God’s people in Egypt.

Sunday, Matthew 2:13-23, Flight to Egypt

Monday, Psalm 11:1-3, Psalm

Tuesday, Exodus 1:8-22, Israelites are Oppressed

Wednesday, Exodus 2:1-11, Birth of Moses

Thursday, Exodus 12:29-32, Death of the Firstborn

Friday, Hosea 11:1-12, A Promise Out of Egypt

Saturday, Jeremiah 31:15-17, Rachel Laments Her Children

  • What does it say about Jesus that his story looks like the story of Moses, whom the Jews honored and revered as holy?
  • What geographic locations hold special meaning to those in your community? What makes those places special? How do you celebrate those places?
  • Reflect on where you anticipate your life’s journey will take you in the coming year. What are you anxious about? What are you looking forward to?