This is What Anointing Looks Like ~ April 2015 ~ Scriptures, Reflections, and Prayers for Faith UMC’s 2015 Mission and Vision

April 2015

This is What Anointing Looks Like

Scriptures, Reflections, & Prayers for Faith UMC’s Mission & Vision

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me……. Isaiah 61: 1

What does it mean: that the Lord has anointed me? Does it mean that I have been especially chosen? Does it mean that I have been especially blessed? Does it mean that God has something special that He wants me to do?

oil_11349cp (1)I believe that it means all of the above and that it is not just ME. He means ALL of us. We are all special in God’s sight and we all have a very special job to do.

I would like to share a special story from last Easter. Our oldest daughter, Shannon, was running her fourth Boston Marathon. She had crossed the finish line the year before about two hours before the bombing (a blessing in itself). In 2014 the race was actually on Easter weekend and we were attending church at The Old South Church located at the finish line. Each of the runners in attendance was presented with a hand knitted scarf. People from all over the world had knitted the scarves to wrap love around the runners and to encourage them to not be afraid. They had been anointed by God to do that knitting. It was something special that God wanted them to do.

I know that the knitters were blessed because Shannon was able to contact the lady who made her scarf and they have become very close friends.

God anoints us ALL. God anoints us all in very different ways. It could be in knitting a scarf, it could be in reading a story to a child, it could be in fixing dinner for a friend who is ill. The point is that WE are blessed when we are anointed and what could be better than to have the Spirit of the Lord upon us?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank You for all of the ways that You bless us. Please help us to bless others in any way we can.

Sharon McConnell, Faith UMC Sunday School Teacher

April’s prayer focus: Risen Lord, anoint us and our community each day to know your love and grace in new and deeper ways.

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Holy Saturday Easter Vigil, Walking in Hope

Scripture tells us that during the crucifixion darkness came over the land.

The sun had stopped shining.

The moment Jesus breathed his last breath the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

The earth shook and the rocks split.

 Ayear0819gcJesus taught His disciples, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise. But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.” Mark 9:31-32

Then it happened – their Lord was betrayed, tortured, killed!

Did they now understand Jesus’ teachings? Or did they begin to doubt and question? Shrouded by grief and despair, what do the disciples do now?

Shocked…..confused…..frightened…..hopeless…..helpless

Are you familiar with any of these emotions?

Can you imagine what the disciples experienced at Jesus’ death? They had submitted their lives to this man and watched with horror as he submitted to death.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this, was it?

When Jesus said he was going away, surely he didn’t mean it would be like this. What happened?

 WAITING in ANGUISH AT THE STONE-SEALED TOMB

When have you experienced these emotions? When has your faith been shaken?

What unimaginable & unbearable situations have rocked your life?

  • Someone you love dies.
  • A car accident takes the life of a teenager.
  • Your spouse is unfaithful.
  • A young woman is raped and murdered.
  • A baby dies.
  • Your job is terminated.
  • A friend betrays you.
  • Destruction: Fire, Tornado, Earthquake, Flooding, Tsunamis, Hurricane
  • Addiction: Drugs, Alcohol, Gambling, etc
  • Suicide
  • Divorce
  • An eviction or foreclosure letter arrives in the mail.
  • The diagnosis of life-changing illness such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Cancer, Autism, Heart Disease, Disability, etc.

When have you walked in the valley of the shadow of death and longed for green pastures?Do you believe God knows your pain? Do you believe that Jesus understands your suffering?  How do you make it through the dark nights in your life? Where is your hope when all hope is gone? Do you believe God’s promise to be with you ALWAYS?

Do you believe your Savior will NEVER fail you? Even when it seems that all hope is gone?

HOLD ON…..There is HOPE!

Jesus is the Light of the World! Light overcomes the deepest darkness!  In Christ we have victory over death!

Spend some time praying about the doubts, despair, questions, tragedies, hardships, suffering you are facing in your life. Where do you place your hope and faith?

Spend a moment reflecting on the symbols of Christ’s crucifixion: the cross, crown of thorns, nails and hammer, the stone sealing the tomb.

Nothing was able to defeat Jesus! Not even death!

Thank God for the HOPE that is yours in Christ! Praise God for the hope and promise we have because our Savior lives!

Light a candle and watch how the light illuminates the room. As the light fills the room, so may our hope. Each moment carries us closer to the ultimate triumph of God. As the light grows, so will our joy.

REJOICE, knowing that you walk in hope!

OUR SAVIOR LIVES! CHRIST IS RISEN! ALLELUIA!

Kathy Schmucker, Spiritual Formation Director, Faith UMC

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Experience Holy Week 2015

holyweek_3791cp (1)Holy Week is the last week of Lent commemorating the events of Jesus’ last week before His death and Resurrection. It is a week to remember Jesus in a special way. Beginning with Palm Sunday, we follow Jesus throughout the week to the celebration of the Passover where Jesus washed his disciple’s feet and instituted the Sacrament of Holy Communion, to his arrest and death on Good Friday, culminating in his rising from death on Easter Sunday.

Holy Week is the most sacred and important week in the Christian year.  It is a special time for us to remember Jesus’ actions, explore and reflect on his message, and discover ways to live as his disciples. It’s a time to share the mystery, passion, and love of our Lord with our families and friends and experience His love and grace personally and in community with others.  It is a time to give thanks to the One who loves us so much He sent His one and only Son to be the sacrifice for our sins so that we might have eternal life!

Below is a daily devotional scripture reading to guide you in your journey through Holy Week. Click on the link to download or scroll to the end of the page to read right here.

Journey Through Holy Week

Clink on the links below to download resources to help you experience this sacred and holy week with your families.

Resurrection Cookies

Empty Tomb Biscuits

Celebrate Jesus Week – Suggestions for families, including ideas for those who are traveling during Holy Week: http://worshipingwithchildren.blogspot.com/2013/03/celebrating-jesus-week-lent-is.html

Observing Holy Week in the Home:  http://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/observing-holy-week-in-the-home

Resurrection Eggs: http://www.thissimplehome.com/2012/03/homemade-resurrection-eggs-printable.html

How to Make a Cross Out of a Palm Branch:http://www.goodtrueandbeautiful.com/2010/03/make-cross-out-of-palm-branch/

http://www.kidssundayschool.com/Gradeschool/Crafts/1craft08.php

Prayers for the Days of Holy Week:  http://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/prayers-for-the-days-of-holy-week

Holy Week Scriptures:  http://alivenow.upperroom.org/2015/02/15/2015-holy-week-scriptures/

Lenten/Holy Week Prayers: http://alivenow.upperroom.org/2015/01/23/lenten-prayers-2015/

Helping Children Observe Lent and Holy Week: http://www.growproclaimserve.com/articles/308/2013/02-22/helping-children-observe-lent

Visit Faith UMC’s website, www.faithumchurch.org, for information about Holy Week services and activities. Click here for Faith UMC’s Easter Holy Week 2015 Flyer

May God richly bless you as you journey with Christ through Holy Week!
Kathy Schmucker, Spiritual Formation Director, Faith United Methodist Church
 

Journey Through Holy Week

Palm Sunday – Read Mark 11.  Jesus triumphantly enters Jerusalem riding on a donkey where he was greeted joyously by the crowd.

Holy Monday – Read Matthew 21:12-13.  This day is traditionally remembered as the day when Jesus chased the money changers out of the Temple.

Holy Tuesday – This day is remembered as the day that Jesus preached and taught in Jerusalem.  Look through the Gospel of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John reflecting on some of Jesus’ teachings.  Read about the greatest commandments in Matthew 22:34-40. Show love to someone today.

Holy Wednesday- Read Matthew 26:14.  Also known as Spy Wednesday, the day when Judas Iscariot agrees to betray Jesus.

Maundy Thursday – Read John 13:3-9, Matthew 26:26-28, & John 13:34-35.  This day is also called Holy Thursday or Great Thursday.  The word Maundy comes from the Latin word for command, derived from Jesus mandate to love one another as He has loved us.

This day celebrates the Last Supper Jesus had with the disciples. After washing the disciple’s feet, Jesus celebrated the Feast of the Passover, instituting the Sacrament of Holy Communion.  Afterwards, while praying in Gethsemane with his disciples, Jesus was arrested.

Good Friday – Read John 19:16-18.  On this day we remember the crucifixion, when Jesus died on the cross for our sins.

Holy Saturday – Read Luke 23:50-55.  The day after Jesus died when his body lay buried in the tomb.  Because this day was the Sabbath, the women couldn’t go to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body until the next day.

Easter Sunday – Read John 20.  This is the third day from the day when Jesus died.  The day that Mary Magdalene and Mary discovered that Jesus is alive! Filled with joy, they ran to tell others.  We are commissioned to do the same.  Christ the Lord is risen today!  Alleluia!

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Liturgy of the Hours – An Ancient Spiritual Practice for Today’s Busy Lifestyle

“Evening, and morning, and at noon will I pray, and cry aloud;
and he shall hear my voice.” -Psalm 55:17

Faith’s Lenten Vespers service included a representation of the ancient spiritual practice known as the Liturgy of the Hours. As disciples of Christ we are called to practice basic spiritual disciplines. John Wesley, founder of Methodism, called these spiritual practices Means of Grace. Engaging in spiritual practices might even be thought of as keeping an appointment with God.

Liturgy of the Hours is a spiritual practice also known as the Daily Office, the Divine Office, Praying the Hours or Fixed-Hour Prayers.  No matter what name is used to describe this spiritual practice, the purpose of this spiritual discipline is to consecrate time, all time, as God’s time. Below is additional information about this spiritual practice that you may want to consider exploring in your personal devotion time.

Liturgy of the Hours is rooted in the Jewish tradition of fixed daily prayer and has been adapted by Christians over the centuries. Monastics in the Benedictine tradition are largely responsible for integrating the Daily Office into Christian daily life. Traditionally, the Daily Office consisted of praying seven times a day starting with Vespers at sunset.

The prayer times practiced by Benedictines are:

  • Night prayers known as Vigils
  • Waking up prayers, Lauds
  • Prayers for beginning work, Prime
  • Giving-thanks prayers in mid-morning, Terce
  • Noon-day prayer of commitment, Sext
  • Mid-afternoon prayer, None
  • Evening prayer of stillness, Vespers
  • Going to sleep prayer of trust, Compline

Many of us will look at the list and feel overwhelmed. But the beauty of this spiritual practice is that we can begin where we are.  Begin by identifying one fixed time of prayer during your day, perhaps morning. Then add one more prayer time, perhaps in the middle of the day as a reminder that time is a gift made for God, work, and relationships with God and others. This intentional time of prayer doesn’t need to be long. It can  simply be a minute or two to stop and turn to God in the midst of your day.

Fixed-hour prayers help us to develop regular and consistent patterns of tending to God throughout the day. Praying in these fixed hours is a way of honoring an intentional moment with God. You may want to consider setting a timer to remind you of your intention to pray.  As we make time to stop and pray throughout our busy days, prayer and time with God becomes a priority in our lives. We may even begin to realize that God is with us when the busy demands of our daily lives cause us to feel frantic and overwhelmed. Praying fixed hours helps us to turn our hearts to God throughout our day and begin to cultivate an awareness of God’s presence in all time and all things.

Prayers for fixed hours can be spontaneous or liturgical. We can pray scripture, memorized prayers, or simply pray what is on our hearts.  Suggestions include: The Lord’s Prayer, praying the Psalms, the Shema or Greatest Commandment, singing a hymn, intercessory prayer for family, friends, church, and community, praying a breath prayer or walking a pocket-sized labyrinth with your finger. The Upper Room magazine Devozine offers some suggestions and resources for praying the Liturgy of the Hours at http://devozine.upperroom.org/spiritual-practices/the-liturgy-of-the-hours/pray_11847

Remember that this practice is not so much about praying in a certain way as it is about making intentional time in your day to spend in God’s presence a priority for your daily living. May God bless you as you seek to draw closer to Christ throughout your day!

Kathy Schmucker, Spiritual Formation Director, Faith United Methodist Church

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This is What Anointing Looks Like ~ March 2015 ~ Scriptures, Reflections, and Prayers for Faith UMC’s 2015 Mission and Vision

March 2015

This is What Anointing Looks Like

Scriptures, Reflections, & Prayers for Faith UMC’s Mission & Vision

“Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair.”  John 12:3

Mary showed Jesus the ultimate respect when she anointed His feet with costly perfume.  What a gift she gave Jesus – a gift no one else gave Him.

Would we do the same?

oil_11349cp (1)God anoints us to go out and serve, to spread the Good News, to use the talents He gives us to bring Jesus Christ into the lives of others.  And, we glorify Him in doing so.  It is the ultimate respect we can give Him.

Each time I serve on an Emmaus team I get commissioned to serve.  Part of the commissioning is to be anointed with oil to serve Him in whatever way He wants me to serve.  Most of the time I lead the music, the worship, the praise of our Lord on the weekend.  What a blessing it is for me to be able to do that.  I am blessing others and being blessed in return.

God gives me what I need to serve Him. He continues to provide me with a love for Him that I can share through praise and music – in Kairos, on the Praise Team, in my quiet time.  He is an awesome God.

I feel that I am giving Him the ultimate respect when I praise, when I sing, when I play an instrument, when I worship Him.

He gives us all different talents and ways to serve Him.  He anoints us, sometimes through others, to be His servants.  Go serve Him with a willing heart, knowing that you are giving Him the ultimate respect in serving Him with the talents He has given you.

Prayer: Lord, please accept our gifts as we serve you each and every day.  Help us to listen to You and to follow You – as we help others see You more clearly.  Amen. 

  Pam Wig, Faith UMC’s Devotion Resource Coordinator

March’s prayer focus: Lord of Abundance, anoint our worship ministries and choirs that we may be transformed by your grace.

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This Is What Anointing Looks Like ~ Scriptures, Reflections, and Prayers for Faith UMC’s 2015 Mission and Vision – Introduction

This Is What Anointing Looks Like

Throughout 2015, Faith UMC’s Spiritual Formation Ministry Team will offer a collection of scripture, prayers, and reflections as a resource to guide the worshiping community of Faith UMC in prayerfully living out this year’s mission focus.

May  you be richly blessed as you seek to draw closer to God and discover the ways that God has anointed you to serve in fulfilling our mission to make and mature disciples of  Jesus Christ.

Faith UMC’s 2015 Mission Focus:

“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 favor.” Luke 4:18-19, NRSV

 Anoint                                                                                                            [uhnoint]  ~ to dedicate to the service of God

 What does anointing look like?

Church people use buzz words. These concepts either fly under the radar or go over people’s heads. The sad thing about using words which only “insiders” can understand is that the thing being represented loses its ability to really represent anything. The practicality and power of ‘anointing’ is often misunderstood or over looked in the life of one who is loved by God for these very reasons. Showing, rather than defining, provides clarity and enticement so that all may claim their own anointing by the Spirit for the sake of God’s kingdom.

An anointing always:

Celebrates the past, present and future work of Christ in and through ordinary people on behalf of others for the sake of each and all God’s children to heal and restore to God’s intentions of abundant and everlasting life.

This is what an anointing looks like in the life of the community of Faith UMC:

  • The Spiritual Formation and Youth Ministry Teams are working together to respond to a call for “transition” ministries for those who are moving from children’s ministries to youth and from youth to young adult .
  • The Service in Mission Team has secured an accredidation with the Red Cross so that Faith can serve as an emergency shelter.
  • Three faithful servants have responded to the opportunity to drive the church bus to transport residents of care facilities to worship on Sunday mornings.
  • 40+ children and adults designed and led worship on Ash Wednesday to usher us into the season of Lent.
  • 150+ students know their intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual selves to be nurtured and tended through the ministry of Faith Friends Preschool and Learning Center

oil_11349cp (1)The Holy Spirit created a buzz when Jesus was anointed for kingdom service in the world. Let us claim the Spirit’s anointing upon each and every one of us so that what we pray may indeed be realized, “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”

Cara Stultz Costello, Co-Pastor

Look for monthly devotions beginning with March 2015 that will reflect on the monthly scriptures and prayers found in the 2015 Living Faith Calendar. These devotions can be found under the category Ministry Team Resources or Devotions.

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Burying the Alleluia: A Lenten Spiritual Practice

Burying Alleluia SanctuaryFaith’s worship and spiritual formation staff is introducing our congregation to the Lenten spiritual practice of Burying the Alleluia this Lent. While the practice of Burying the Alleluia might be new to Faith UMC, it is an ancient Christian tradition practiced in many faith traditions. Read on to learn more about this Lenten spiritual practice.

Alleluia is a word heard throughout the Christian world regardless of language. Alleluia is the Greek and Latin form of the Hebrew word Hallelujah, a word meaning praise the Lord. In the Western world, Alleluia came to be associated with the celebration of the most important season of the Church year, Easter. The association of Alleluia with Easter led to the custom of intentionally omitting it from liturgy during Lent.  It’s a kind of verbal fast, not with the intention of depressing the mood of our worship services, but instead to create a sense of anticipation and greater joy when the familiar praise word returns on Easter morning.

Burying the Alleluia is a Christian custom that dates back to medieval times. It is rooted in the practices of liturgical churches that refrain from reciting their usual “Alleluia!” after the Gospel reading during the season of Lent. The intention of this practice is not to be archaic or dismal, but rather to be a practice that enriches our spiritual lives as we anticipate Easter.  Lent is a season of preparation in which we prepare for Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday. Alleluia is a special word used to jubilantly proclaim Jesus is risen! The practice of burying the Alleluia invites us to refrain from using this word during Lent so we can save it for the special celebration on Easter.  The intention is to let the word rest so that when it reappears on Easter we might hear it anew and experience the joy of Christ’s resurrection in renewed and meaningful ways.

Burying the Alleluia is not about abstaining from praising and expressing our love and devotion to God. Both secular and religious traditions have customs that if celebrated every day would no longer be special (Singing of Happy Birthday, Christmas Tree, etc). Saving the singing of “Happy Birthday” for birthdays and decorating a Christmas tree for Christmas helps us to know those are special times of celebration. The same can be true for burying the Alleluia.

How might the practice of burying the Alleluia during the season of Lent, to reserve it for use on Easter morning, enhance our celebration of the resurrection of Christ on Easter?

Burying the Alleluia is a practice that helps worshipers of all ages recognize the transition from one season of the Church year to another. The practice of physically burying the Alleluia is especially meaningful for children. In connection with the ancient tradition of ‘Burying the Alleluia’ for the season of Lent, the worshiping community at Faith UMC will bury the Alleluia throughout our worship to reflect the focus on introspection, reflection, and waiting during our Lenten season. We will be singing the Doxology to an alternate tune which lifts praise to the Triune God – sans Alleluia. We will await to uncover the Alleluia on Easter, the celebration of our risen Lord.

Burying Alleluia FLCLook for the return of the Alleluia on Easter Sunday to be a celebration of great joy! Until then, let us use this season of Lent to not just focus on the joy of Christ’s resurrection, but to reflect on the life of Christ and the great sacrifice of love Jesus made on the cross for us. Instead of the Alleluia, let us focus on living and loving as Jesus has taught us. Let us focus on God’s love as we remember Jesus on our journey to Easter this Lent. Let’s anticipate celebrating anew when the Alleluia returns on Easter morning!

Lord Jesus, It is our joy to sing and say ‘Alleluia’ in celebration of your love. But we don’t want to take your love for granted. So, during the days of Lent, we say good-bye to ‘Alleluia’ so that we may take it up anew on Easter. Amen.

(Prayer adapted from http://www.gbod.org/resources/burying-the-alleluia-during-lent)

Resources:

http://www.gbod.org/resources/burying-the-alleluia-during-lent

http://littlepeoplebigword.com/tag/bury-the-alleluia/

http://worshipingwithchildren.blogspot.com/2014/01/burying-alleluia-for-lent.html

http://fullhomelydivinity.org/Lenten%20customs.htm

http://www.buildfaith.org/2011/02/02/saying-goodbye-to-the-alleluia/

http://www.buildfaith.org/2012/02/04/farewell-alleluia/

http://catechistsjourney.loyolapress.com/2009/02/4040-lenten-activities-bury-the-alleluia/

http://www.epicenter.org/why-do-we-bury-the-alleluia/

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