The fasting of Lent is over. Happy Easter Sunday! Let's celebrate the resurrection with EASTERFEST at Wesley starting at 11:00am. We will enjoy worship, a free Hawaiian BBQ style lunch, games, music, and fun together.
March 31, 2018 • Casey Grennan
Reflection for the Day Before Easter Imagine this...it’s the day after you watched the person you believed was going to redeem the world be crucified. How do you feel? He said something about coming back to life, but that’s impossible, right? There’s no way. You watched him die. What does your life mean now? How do you feel? Are you holding onto hope? Are you fearful of what’s to come? Are you uncertain of what you believe? We know now that Jesus did as he promised and rose from the grave three days after he was crucified. But imagine if you were alive at the time of the disciples. Imagine not knowing that the best was yet to come. Would you be angry? Would you be worried? I think it’s easy for us now, 2,000-some years later, to romanticize the idea of the cross and the resurrection. We write it off nonchalantly as something that just happened, no big deal. We believe the resurrection at face value and don’t ask questions. But it is a big deal! That kind of thing had never happened, and has never happened again. It’s not just something anyone can do, unless apparently if you’re Jon Snow (just kidding). Seriously though, it was a big statement. Just as Jesus promised, he rose from the grave and proved he was God’s Son. He brought hope and restoration to a world that was maybe unsure of what was going to happen. He brought belief back to the skeptics, reassurance to the faithful, and hope back to the hopeless. Jesus’s death and resurrection was a symbol of the hope we have in Him for redemption and everlasting life. It’s rightfully still being celebrated to this day. In fact, we’re gonna celebrate with a big ol’ party tomorrow! But imagine those days in waiting. Imagine not knowing that the greatest gift was about to be fulfilled. I think the biggest symbol of the resurrection is hope, and it’s something that we can carry with us in our everyday lives, not only at Easter. The resurrection is a reminder that hope is worth holding onto- even if you can’t see what’s to come. It is a reminder to hope even when the future seems scary. It is a reminder to hope even if you think you can’t go on another day. It is a reminder that the waiting will be worth it. There is hope in the promise of the cross. Hold onto it. The best things are yet to come.
March 30, 2018 • Vicki Kiser
John 18:1-19:42 (NLT) Carrying the Cross Pain is described by Webster’s Dictionary as localized physical suffering associated with bodily disorder (such as a disease or an injury) or acute mental or emotional distress or suffering. Pain is a feeling that most humans will avoid at all cost. We like comfort, whether it is in the form of a hug from a friend, a warm blanket at night, or sense of security in our life choices. Our need to feel comfortable and secure is good most of the time, but there are times when it can hold us back, especially when it relates to pursuing our faith and glorifying God’s will. God has a plan for us and that plan often requires us to step out of our ‘comfort’ zones. Being that we are creatures of comfort, the unknown scares us. Although the unknown of God’s plan may be unnerving, we are called to trust God. Let’s take a second to gather our thoughts…First we are asked to step out of our comfort zones, then God also expects us to trust an infinite and all powerful being that we’ve never met in person. If I was not a believer, and you told me that I would probably call you crazy. Plot twist, we do see him and we interact with him every time we speak to people. We have amazing examples of his work right in front of us, all you have to do is look around you and truly see yourself when you look in the mirror every morning. Jesus’s crucifixion is on of the best examples of following God’s will. Would we normally put ourselves in a position to be ridiculed and humiliated? No, but Jesus did willingly. Would we volunteer to go to jail for a crime we did not commit? No, but Jesus did without thinking twice. Would we choose to die in one of the most excruciating ways in order to save the lives of millions? A very selfless act that most wouldn’t do, but Jesus did. The events leading up to Jesus’ death were far from ‘good’. In less than 24 hours, Jesus’ own disciple, Peter, denied knowing him three times, he was arrested, questioned by Caiaphas, ridiculed by Pontius Pilate for his lack of loyal followers, mocked, and belittled. He experienced immense pain and suffering while he had to carry his own cross to the place where he knew his life would end. Jesus did not have to endure any of these events. He could have easily disobeyed God and ran away from his calling. God may never ask you to fulfill a calling as severe as Jesus’, but we are asked to carry the cross willingly like Jesus. So we have to ask ourselves, do we have it in us to carry the cross with Jesus like Simon did (Simon was pulled out of the crowd and demanded to help Jesus carry the cross)? Are we willing to publicly align ourselves with Jesus no matter what the rest of the world thinks? Will we get ‘dirty’ for the sake of the gospel? Do we have it in us to follow Jesus’ example and submit ourselves to God even when it gets tough? Now that we know its okay to step out of our comfort zone and trust God, the answer should always be yes.
Maundy Thursday • March 29, 2018 • Colby Long
Matthew 26: 36-46 In the passage, Jesus brings along three of the disciples to pray in Gethsemane, following the Passover Supper. At this point, Jesus has already told the disciples that they would desert him this night. As Jesus prays, time and time again the disciples with Jesus are falling asleep in the Garden. Jesus calls them to “pray that you may not come into the time of trial”. Jesus comes back again and finds them sleeping another time. Jesus continues praying. Jesus finds them asleep again and pleads, “Are you still sleeping? … See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.” It sure does feel like the hour is at hand, doesn’t it? Every day there is a new fight, a new voice needing to be heard. In Western Christianity the hour is at hand for the church to be working for freedom, liberation, and equality for all peoples. Jesus has fed us. Washed our feet. Invited us alongside him in the fight. Called us to action. And yet somehow, we keep falling asleep. The hour is at hand for good works to be done. As Methodists we claim that “the Table” is long enough for everybody to have a place at it, but what work are we doing to get these people to the table? The political landscape is stacked against us. Churches are closing left and right. But Jesus is calling us to stand up, pray, and act because the hour is at hand. I pray that we do not sleep. The work is hard and grief is inevitable, but Jesus has called us to good works right now. Let’s be a community that is not asleep when people come to us in need. Instead let’s become alive. “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman
March 28, 2018 • Laura Kelly
Mark 10:17-31 I’ve been thinking a lot lately about questions - the kind of questions we ask ourselves, the kind of questions we ask others, and the kind of questions we ask God. Jesus compels human beings to ask the existential questions - in this case - about salvation. What must these mortal bones do to enter the kingdom of God? Jesus’ answer reminds us that it is God’s powerful act of grace that is the focus here. God acts in ways that are beyond comprehension - even our broken, sinful, chaotic selves are ushered into God’s loving presence. The vision of God’s abundant grace made known - that is, the “Kingdom of God,” - is revealed by God’s salvific essence alone. All things are possible with God! But that doesn’t mean human beings can’t be changed by God’s powerful grace. To truly embrace God’s kingdom is to respond, to live differently into the wholeness and healing that such powerful love evokes. So we respond with gratitude - we respond by following the Holy Spirit through the Holy Week to the cross. We respond by asking how we can humble ourselves further. We ask ourselves what is it we are holding onto that muddies our vision of God’s love? Is it greed? Popularity? Resentment? Fear? Anger? What are we so afraid of losing that we are willing to miss the bigger picture of a God that ushers us closer to the cross, who asks us to respond to the ineffable grace we have received with humble love and devotion - of God and neighbor. So, what questions are you asking this Holy Week? There is beauty in knowing that no matter what questions we seek, Holy Week and Easter Sunday point us toward an answer that beckons our participation: the Kingdom of God’s own love is approaching and a new day is dawning.
March 27, 2018 • Father Gavin
Holy Week starts with the triumphant procession of Jesus into Jerusalem. [Two days ago was] Palm Sunday: He enters the city with the knowledge of what is to come: His painful journey to Calvary, His crucifixion and death, the miracle of His Resurrection and ultimately the redemption offered to all humanity through these events. Our Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving over the past 5 weeks, have prepared us to follow Jesus on this journey. A journey where He does not allow the glory of Palm Sunday to distract Him, but rather humbles Himself for our sake and invites us to follow His path. 'If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me' (Mt 16:24). In this final week before Easter, let us reflect on the profound gift given to us by God – the sacrifice of His Son; and let us pray for the grace to follow Jesus’ path. It is only through the Cross of Jesus that we are redeemed from sin and can hope to be in God’s presence for all eternity. May you and your family have a blessed Palm Sunday and a Holy Week filled with God’s abundant graces. -Father Garvin Augustine, Executive Director of Mustard Seed Communities International, an organization and community with whom Wesley has established a long-standing relationship.
March 26, 2018 • Zach Hutchinson
Mark 10: 1-16 There is a certain wisdom that children have. It’s one that isn’t hindered by knowing too much, or being afraid of social impressions, or overthinking their choices. Children’s wisdom remembers that some things are just done, without too much thought or reasoning, like running in an open field or weaving through a crowd for a better look at the center of the gathering*. I can remember witnessing this wisdom on my first day of pre-school. My teacher greeted me and introduced me to another kid in the class to show me where everything was. We didn’t size each other up; he didn’t give me the ‘inside scoop;’ he didn’t balk at having to be stuck with a task; he simply walked by my side and we talked to each other without pretense or requirement. He showed me around and became my friend because it was simply the thing to do, and that simple understanding is something that has stuck with me. It was a profound and elegant wisdom that I have only now just begun to recognize. Sometimes I think this must be the wisdom Jesus embodies and taps into when he addresses crowds and the teachers of the Law: the childlike wisdom that doesn’t puff itself up, or have a hidden agenda, or ask for attention. Instead, the words and wisdom of Jesus, Child of God, rides the assured wave of the Holy Spirit, saying what he needs to say and doing what he knows to do. How else could an un-married, un-divorced 30-something give such deep perspective on people’s relationships? My guess is that in this first scene of the passage in which Jesus is speaking the crowd about divorce, his only perspective was his own parents’ marriage (Mary and Joseph), one that we know contains deep commitment and trust in God. Jesus has the perspective and wisdom of a child when it comes to marriage and divorce: 2 people are drawn together by God to become 1 together and that’s it; the collective becomes the union; the multiple becomes the single. And separating from that means separating from God. Even when we remember that the context of the time, both the Ancient Hebrew understanding of marriage and the Greco-Roman perspective within which Jesus lived, is different from our own, this notion still can come across as harsh. That’s why I love the story at the end of the passage, Jesus welcoming those children, straining at the edges of the crowd, looking at him between people’s legs, or behind the disciples that tried to keep them from him. Jesus welcomes those children who represent the very essence of his brand of wisdom. Jesus lets us adults, looking from within the crowd, in on what he and the children already know: we are drawn to both God and each other as God’s children, nothing more or less; when we enter God’s Kingdom, it is as daughters and sons of God. Children’s wisdom leaves no understanding of divorce or separation, but rather of cooperation and unification. Children’s wisdom reaches out a hand, whether to receive a blessing from a Jewish rabbi revealing new teaching from old, or to show the new kid around the classroom. Children’s wisdom races towards God, our Father, our Mother, our Creator. Children’s wisdom depends on God, knowing that even in the scariest places, the Spirit of God is there for the journey. In the desert of Lent, may you find the wisdom of your inner child. May you learn towards whom, what, or where God is drawing you. But most of all, may you take one step closer towards entering the Kingdom of God by receiving it as a little child. *or organizing and marching in defense of social change and their very lives.
Join us for worship today at Wesley. It's Palm Sunday! Only one more week until the Easter celebration.
Serving with Habitat • March 24, 2018
No written devotional today. We have invited our community to go and serve with a Habitat for Humanity project today. We are leaving from Wesley at 7:30am.
March 23, 2018 • Christy Trimm
John 6:16-21 We aren’t strong enough to push against the wind and rain life gives us. As much as we like to think we are, we are literally not strong enough to individually beat the storm. There’s a limit to our physical, emotional, financial, and intellectual abilities. But God is strong enough. Our God is not limited physically, emotionally, financially, or intellectually. He is not limited by time, space, or matter. Our God is limitless. The same man who stopped an inclement storm for the disciples can stop the storms in our lives. Maybe you read this and it sounds cliche, but it’s true! We don’t have to take our storms on alone. Jesus says he will take them on for us, if we just let him! Isn’t that amazing? All we have to do is allow him to take control. While this sounds easier than it actually is, when we give our struggles to Jesus he takes the weight off of our shoulders. Our storm becomes His storm, and to Him each each storm is a rain drop. It’s time to give God control and stop fighting battles that we can’t win alone. Allow God to feed your soul with his peace and security as he takes control and conquers our storms. What are the storms of your life and how you can give them to God? How can we be praying for the storms of our friends and our community?
March 22, 2018 • Anna Harding
Mark 9:42-50 As humans, we are drawn to desires, wants, and needs. Today, we compare ourselves based off likes on Instagram; seek acceptance in others; and live in a world with one foot in a virtual reality. We seek instant gratification and worth in numbers; perhaps doing things we would have never done otherwise for the love from peers, calculated by people we have barely met. In these verses, we examine the temptation of sin and the implications this can have with our relationship with God. It begins with God calling forth those who purposely try to inhibit and detest those who follow him. God also utilizes the analogy of letting go the toxicity that could be preventing you from furthering your relationship with him. “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off.” What is distracting you? What is keeping you from heaven? Would you remove things closest to you if they kept you from God? Perhaps not your hands, but stop hanging with your close friends if they were leading you down a distracting path? Instead of your eyes, would you delete your social media accounts because it makes you covet worldly matters?
March 21, 2018 • Rachael Hope Kurtz
Mark 9:30-41 Love is never wasted. Amongst the disciples’ confusion and the removal of demons (by someone who is apparently not associated with the group), Jesus picks up a child and tells them that whoever welcomes a child also welcomes Him. What is it about being like children is Jesus getting at? Perhaps, unlike the disciples in this passage, children will ask questions when they do not understand. Or conceivably Jesus was making the point that arguing about who is the greatest doesn’t leave room for humility and empathy. At the end of this passage Jesus says that “whoever is not against us is for us”, as if He’s saying “listen ya’ll, you should take what you can get.” When was the last time you listened, REALLY LISTENED, to someone’s opinion (about politics, religion, eating meat, etc.) that wasn’t the same as yours? If we’re to be like children, should we not be open to all kinds of possibilities? More importantly, should we not be open to the humility and empathy that come with true relationship? After all, our hearts are never wasted, just expanded. Consider what it means for you to welcome people who you see yourself as greater-than this Lenten season. God, teach us to open our hearts to those who we don’t understand and the ones who are difficult for us to love. Amen.
March 20, 2018 • Michael Harding
John 8: 46-59 This is another example of why you don’t want to get into an argument with Jesus. Now to be fair, Jesus did arrive to the Mount of Olives bent on challenging some core tenets of Judaism. Being as this was a temple full of Jewish scholars, this is understandably upsetting. This dissolves into each side saying the other is “of the devil” until someone picks up rocks to throw at Jesus. This unfortunate escalation is all too common in the way that arguments progress. This came about through the Jews misinterpreting what Jesus meant about his followers never seeing death. They were upset that Abraham and the prophets had experienced mortal death, not grasping how Jesus viewed life as surpassing mortality. It is far too easy to lash out as the Jews did in this scenario when someone challenges your beliefs, be it religious or otherwise. A fine line must be traversed as Jesus does here. You must have the compassion and empathy to listen to those who argue against you but have the confidence to stand your ground in a room who would convince you otherwise. Is there a belief/way of life that you feel is currently being questioned and challenged? How are you handling this? Jesus ends by stating “before Abraham was, I am”, how is God underlying your belief and how is glory being directed to Him? “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me”
March 19, 2018 • Maggie Mauldin
Mark 7: 24-37 In these two Jesus miracle stories in Mark, demons are expelled by words and bodies are healed by a touch. In my head, these two phrases belong in the works of JK Rowling. Mark basically describes Dementors and Madam Pomfrey, respectfully. Surely, this is about magic? Except, Jesus isn’t a wizard. It’s easy to just hear and accept that Jesus performed miracles. The actions are miraculous because something or someone was one way one moment and different the next, just because it was willed. But have you ever let that sink in? That Jesus does what mere humans could only create stories about? That he defies the laws of science and medicine of the universe? We’ve all heard that Jesus is God and man. That doesn’t make it 50/50. Jesus is complete, not half of anything. He is 100% God and 100% human. This means Jesus wrote the laws of the universe, is greater than the universe itself, set everything within it into motion. I am one to believe that God created and is science. God handwrote the language of our being that we call genome sequences. The wizardry described by countless novelists has nothing to do with science. Jesus isn’t a wizard. Jesus is real.
No worship today a Wesley, but find a local church to attend this Sunday morning. Use the Sabbath day to pause and rest during this busy time. Every Sunday is a mini-Easter, so take a break from your fasting from Lent! We are praying for safe travels as people travel to Tallahassee as Spring Break ends. Hope you had a good break!