Palm Sunday

During the season of Lent, we journey with Jesus through The Last Week

Palm Sunday

Read Mark 11:1-11

HosannaPalm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, the most sacred week of the Christian year. On Palm Sunday, we remember the day when Jesus entered Jerusalem to celebrate Passover with his disciples.  As Jesus entered the town, a large crowd gathered to welcome him. People began to throw their coats on the road in front of Jesus. They cut branches from the trees and waved them and began to shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord.” The word Hosanna means ‘save now, we pray.’ We shout Hosanna today as we remember during Holy Week that Jesus came so that he could save us.

The procession that welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem was not the only procession happening in Jerusalem on that day. Pilot was leading another procession on the opposite side of the city. A procession fueled by fear that there would be an uprising against the Roman government born out of a desire for freedom from oppression. In just a few short days, Jesus would go from being praised by a crowd waving palm branches to the cross.

Questions for Reflection:

  • Consider these two processions that happened in Jerusalem. To what extent do you follow one, the other, or perhaps even both?
  • As you sing and shout Hosanna this week, how does the meaning of the word hosanna resonate with you today? What prayer is swelling in your heart as you speak the words hosanna, save now, we pray?

 Spiritual Practice: Journaling

Journaling Holy WeekJournaling as a spiritual practice can be a creative way to spend time with God. In the pages of a journal you can record your prayers and reflect on scriptures, your life and faith journey. A journal can be a place to share your concerns, fears, and challenges as well as expressions of gratitude, celebrations and God Sightings, or ways you see God at work in your life or in the world. Journaling as a spiritual practice is less about the art of writing and more about connecting with God.

One blessing of journaling is being able to look back at previous writings and discover evidence of your spiritual growth, new insight on scripture, comfort in how God is with you in challenging times, and ways you experience hope and faith in God.

Spiritual journaling also doesn’t just happen with words. A spiritual journal can also be done using drawings and pictures, and photography. Use whatever creative means speaks to your soul and helps you to express your thoughts, prayers and feelings to God.

Holy Week provides an ideal opportunity to begin a new spiritual practice by journaling about each day of Holy Week. Set aside a few minutes each day to reflect on the events of Jesus’ last week. Record or illustrate your questions, express your thoughts and consider how these events impact your life and faith journey today. Spiritual journaling can also be a way to express your prayers, concerns and even gratitude as we journey through the Coronavirus pandemic.

Share your thoughts about the spiritual practice of journaling or responses to this week’s Lent Reflection questions by emailing or texting Kathy Schmucker (kschmucker@faithumchurch.org, 330-224-6138) or Pastor Steve (sstultzcostello@faithumchurch.org, 330-224-7337). You are also welcome to share on social media @faithnorthcanton.

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Holy Monday and Tuesday

During the season of Lent, we journey with Jesus through The Last Week

Holy Monday and Tuesday: Called to Faith in God

Read Mark 11:12-25

Holy Monday is traditionally remembered as the day that Jesus chased the money changers out of the temple. Holy Tuesday is remembered as a day that Jesus preached and taught in Jerusalem.

Jesus.Temple.Lent5When Jesus and his disciples go to the temple, Jesus is angered at what he sees. He drives people out and overturns the tables. Jesus was angry at the people taking advantage of those who wanted to offer gifts to God. It is hard to see Jesus angry. Perhaps Jesus’ passion is an act of love, standing up for those who were being treated unfairly. An act of love soon to be followed by the greatest act of love as Jesus gives his life for us. Jesus’ actions in the temple prompted the questioning of his authority. Jesus continued to preach and teach while the chief priests and scribes looked for ways to stop him. In his teaching, Jesus reminds his disciples, and each of us, to have faith in God. And that with faith in God, anything is possible.

Questions for Reflection:

  • What can you do this week to show love for someone you see being treated unfairly? How can you be the voice of the voiceless?
  • Why was it important to Jesus that his disciples have faith in God?
  • What does it mean to you to be called to faith in God?

 

Prayer Walk: A prayer walk is a spiritual exercise that consists of walking and praying at the same time. It is a walk in which you are intentionally noticing your surroundings, God’s creation, and the people living and working as you walk.

Prayer WAlkWalk through your neighborhood, being sure to practice physical distancing, and spend some time noticing God’s creation. Stop and thank God for the gifts you find in nature. Pray for the families living in the homes you walk past. Pray for local businesses and schools. Pray for your community and those who serve in your community.

Pay attention to what you see on your walk. How does what you see inspire your faith journey? Look for ways you see good in the world. Where do you see God at work? Do you notice any needs or someone or something that could use some assistance? Pray about how God might be calling you to make a difference in your community.

If you are unable to leave your home, you can prayer walk through your house by walking through each room and praying for the people who gather in each space.

At the end of your prayer walk, reflect on all that you noticed and the things that moved you to pray. Thank God for all that he reveals to you on your prayer walk!

Share pictures and stories of from your prayer walk or responses to this week’s Lent Reflection questions by emailing or texting Kathy Schmucker (kschmucker@faithumchurch.org, 330-224-6138) or Pastor Steve (sstultzcostello@faithumchurch.org, 330-224-7337). You are also welcome to share on social media @faithnorthcanton.

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Holy Wednesday

During the season of Lent, we journey with Jesus through The Last Week

 Holy Wednesday

Read Mark 14:1-11, Mark 8:29-37

 Holy Wednesday, the Wednesday before Easter, is also known as Good Wednesday or Spy Wednesday. Spy Wednesday because it was on this day that Judas agreed to betray Jesus.

mary anointing imageWhile Jesus was in Bethany, enjoying a meal with his disciples, a woman brought a jar of very expensive perfume and poured it on Jesus’ head. The Scent filled the entire house. The disciple’s scoffed, especially Judas, because they thought this was a waste of money. But Jesus defended the woman’s actions saying she had done a good service for him, preparing his body beforehand for burial. He went on to say that wherever good news is shared in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.

Questions for Reflection:

  • Think of a time when someone did something very extravagant for you. What gestures make you feel loved?
  • What can you do to show love and extravagant generosity for someone today?
  • Bake cookies or bread. What does it feel like for the smell to fill the whole house?
  • During these events on Holy Wednesday, we see the woman as a representation of the best of discipleship and Judas as a representation of the worst of discipleship. Nevertheless, Jesus welcomed both to the table. Even though Jesus knew Judas would betray him, Jesus offered him the bread and the cup anyways. What do Jesus’ actions tell you about who Jesus welcomes? What does it mean to know that despite our actions, for better or worse, Jesus welcomes us, all of us, anyways?
  • Jesus is the best example of the fullness of God. In the stories of the woman and Judas on Holy Wednesday, Jesus holds up a mirror for us. Look in Jesus’ mirror. What do you see in light of the love of Christ?

Create a Sacred Space in Your Home

Home Worship Space 1Since it may be some time before we can gather in Faith United’s worship spaces, consider creating a sacred space in your home. Use the space for family devotions, prayer, and perhaps watch Worship by Wire here on Sundays and Wednesdays. The space doesn’t have to be large. It could be a small table or small area of the floor. What might you include in your sacred space? A Bible, a candle, a cross, spring flowers from your garden, pillow, prayer shawl, or a picture? Consider making a cross together as a family from sticks found in your yard. Draw or paint a picture of your family’s worship, a favorite scripture or images of God.

Share pictures and stories of your family’s Sacred Space or responses to this week’s Lent Reflection questions by emailing or texting Kathy Schmucker (kschmucker@faithumchurch.org, 330-224-6138) or Pastor Steve (sstultzcostello@faithumchurch.org, 330-224-7337). You are also welcome to share on social media @faithnorthcanton.

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Maundy Thursday: Free to Follow

During the season of Lent, we journey with Jesus through The Last Week

Maundy Thursday: Free to Follow

passover_18546c (1)Read Mark 14:12-72

Maundy comes from the Latin mandatum, which means commandment, and refers to John 13:34 where Jesus commands his disciples to love one another, “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other.”

On the Thursday before Easter, the night before Jesus’ death, Jesus shared his final meal with his disciples. During this meal Jesus did many things to prepare his disciples for his death and for a new time when he would not physically be with them. On Maundy Thursday, we remember Jesus wearing a servant’s apron and washing his disciples’ feet, giving this command to love one another. During the Passover meal, Jesus takes the bread and tells his disciples “this is my body given for you” and shares the cup, saying “this is the cup of the new covenant poured out for you.” This new command is the beginning of the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion. This is also a night of prayer in the garden and when disciples ran away in fear.

Questions for Reflection:

  • In what ways do you remember Jesus?
  • When you falter on your journey, what helps you to get back up and follow Jesus?
  • What inspires your desire to learn more about Jesus and the wonders of this amazing love?

 A Love Feast

Participating in a Love Feast as a family can be a beautiful way to share in faith and fellowship with friends and loved ones. The Love Feast, or Agape Meal, is an opportunity to remember meals that Jesus shared with his disciples as your family comes together for fellowship and to pray, read scripture, sing songs, share, and celebrate how God is at work in your lives.

Your family love feast can consist of whatever foods your family may like.  You may want to read this week’s scripture together, sing a favorite hymn and pray.

meal_18864bcIn the tradition of the Love Feast, have each person share what God has been doing in their lives. Share something good they see in the world or in their life. Talk about the hope and trust they place in God for the future.  You may want to celebrate by responding to each other with Amen, Hallelujah, Praise the Lord, or other responses as the Spirit moves.

The Offertory Hymn Pastor Cara and Cindy Wilcox shared during this week’s worship video is a beautiful table grace that can be sung or spoken during your family Love Feast:

Be present at our table, Lord; Be here and everywhere adored;
Thy creatures bless, and grant that we May feast in paradise with Thee.

(John Cenick, UMH 621)

Learn more about The Love Feast here – https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/the-love-feast.

Share pictures and stories of your family’s Love Feast or responses to this week’s Lent Reflection questions by emailing or texting Kathy Schmucker (kschmucker@faithumchurch.org, 330-224-6138) or Pastor Steve (sstultzcostello@faithumchurch.org, 330-224-7337). You are also welcome to share on social media @faithnorthcanton.

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Ash Wednesday Heart Prayer Bracelets

IMG_1950 (002)It’s a simple piece of jute twine. Cut by the hands of eager children excited to serve as worship leaders for Faith’s Ash Wednesday service. A heart bead was added to remind us that we are called to enter the season of Lent with all our heart. A prayer knot was tied in each bracelet in contemplation of the person who would receive it.

The twine is rough and prickly. The jute twine bracelet is a symbol given to remind us of the ancient Biblical practice of seeking repentance by wearing sackcloth and ashes.

“Then I turned to the Lord God, to seek an answer by prayer and supplication with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, keeping covenant and steadfast love with those who love you and keep your commandments, we have sinned and done wrong, acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and ordinances.” Daniel 9:3-5

The jute prayer bracelets are a visual and sensory reminder to help us turn from those things that keep us from God and focus on living and loving like Jesus. And so we wear these Lenten prayer bracelets as we turn to God this Lent, seeking and praying and surrendering ourselves to the Lord.

We are reminded of Daniel’s words and pray them as our own, “Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, … we have sinned and done wrong, acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and ordinances.”

We reflect on the ways we have fallen short. We repent and reflect on the ways our hearts have become hardened to even those seemingly innocent sins like gossip, jealousy, judgment and indifference. We repent and reflect on who we are in Christ.

We remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us.

The Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation given because we are God’s beloved children.

We look towards Easter and remember God’s promises.

Lent is a journey, a season to refocus and renew our faith commitment and allow God to change our hearts and shape and mold us to be what God has created us to be.

Lent is a season to immerse ourselves in the words of Jesus.

 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me…” (Luke 4:18)

As we feel the prickly rub from our Ash Wednesday jute bracelets against our skin throughout these 40 days of Lent, let us be reminded of God’s call to “Return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12).

child of God

 

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Prayer Prism

Prayer Prism
“What came into being through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.” – John 1: 4-5

journey-into-faith-ship-logo-pictureFaith UMC has claimed the image of a ship to represent our journey into faith. Several centuries ago, mariners installed prisms on the decks of their ships to illuminate the dark spaces below deck.
On the journey with Jesus we receive in him God’s life-light. In the light of Christ we come to view ourselves as restored children of God.
img_8280The purpose of a prism was not simply illumination. A prism is a tool. Because of the prism of the church, the light of Christ enters the darkness in our hearts and in the world. We are invited to receive and be illuminated by His light. We are invited to share the light!


Prayer Prism kits are available at Faith UMC! Attached to each card is a cord and a small prism. We invite you to thread the prism bead onto the cord and tie 2 prayer knots on each side of the prism bead. Wear your prism or hang it in your home or car as a daily reminder to receive and be illuminated by Christ’s light.

First Knot—Thank God for the gift of Christ’s light.
Second Knot—Ask God to illuminate Christ’s light in your heart and life.
Prism bead— Pray that Christ’s light will shine prismatically into the world.
Third Knot—Pray for Christ’s Light to illuminate into our community and the world through the ministries of Faith UMC.
Fourth Knot—Ask God to help you share Christ’s light with others.prayer-prism

Let us receive the Light of Christ anew and shine it prismatically into the world!

Arise and Shine! Your Light has Come!

By Kathy Schumcker, inspired by Pastor Cara Stultz Costello’s 2016 Faith UMC Christmas Letter
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Write a Psalm of Praise

WRITE A PSALM OF PRAISE

Praise The Lord Oh My Soul

Read Luke 1:39-56

Consider Mary’s relationship with the Lord.

Reread Mary’s Song (vs. 46 – 55).  Mary’s song of praise, known as The Magnificat, invites us to participate with God in his mission for the world.

What does The Magnificat say about the heart of God?

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you reflect on your relationship with God. Reflect on times you have experienced overflowing love and joy.  Reflect on the ways you have been overwhelmed by injustice in the world today. How is God calling you to participate in his mission for the world?

For what specifically will you sing this week as you prepare for God to come near?

Try to put your thoughts into a sentence of praise to the Lord and write your own psalm of praise.  Make it a  shared  or community psalm by inviting your family, friends, or small group members to add a line to the psalm. Share your thoughts on social media with #FaithUMCAdvent!

The Lord has done great things for us!

magnify_5508c

 

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