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Home meditation March 29,2020

Chilmark Community Church 

March 29, 2020, Fifth Sunday in Lent

Rev. Ernest Belisle, Pastor

 

Opening Prayer:

O God, source of all life, we thank you for your abiding presence.  Sometimes life seems unbearable and we struggle with the burdens of life and death. We try desperately to be in control. Set us free, in mind body and spirit O God, from all our worries and insecurities. Free us now from a wandering mind and a restless heart that we might worship you in spirit and in truth. Renew within us an awareness of who we are as God’s people. May this be a time of new life and new resolution to live in and through the One who came not to be served but to serve.  Amen.

 

Meditation for the Week

Today we give thanks that God is our strength and shield. With the hymn writer Martin J. Nystrom, we can sing:  As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs after you. You alone are my heart’s desire, and I long to worship you. You alone are my strength, my shield; to you alone may my spirit yield. You alone are my heart’s desire, and I long to worship you.

Our scripture reading for the day assures us that in Christ there is certainty in life and through death. The reading is for the fifth Sunday of Lent in the A Cycle of the Revised Common Lectionary from the Gospel according to St. John’s Gospel chapter 11 verses 1-45.  What an event!  Jesus, having left the Bethany area (near Jerusalem) because of threats on his life received a call to return, from Mary and Martha, because his friend, Lazarus, was extremely ill and near death (corona virus?).  After Lazarus’ death, Jesus decided to return to Mary and Martha, against the advice of his disciples.  When he arrived, Martha scolded him, Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.  Mildly suggesting, why bother to come now that he is dead for three days.  Jesus was genuinely moved, his answer to Martha was, Your brother will rise again… I am the resurrection and the life.  Those who believe in me, even though they die, yet they will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?’’Jesus then went to the tomb (with a group following him) and asked that the stone be rolled away. There were, at first, some objections because of the stench and contamination that would come from the tomb. Eventually, the stone was rolled away and Jesus ordered, in a loud and passionate voice, “Lazarus, come out!” Lazarus came out in the manner in which he was placed in tomb; bound head, hands and feet with burial cloth.  Jesus ordered, “Unbind him, and set him free.”

This is a significant and extraordinary event for many reasons.  Here are a few:

  1. a) That Lazarus was dead for three days makes the point that he was not in a coma; he was really dead. (This is no making believe, it is a spiritual account! The implication is that many are dead and entombed; while there are also those who are out of the tomb but still wrapped in their death cloth.)
  2. b) That Jesus was willing to risk his life and return to the area demonstrates Jesus’ love for his friend. (Jesus risked/gave his life for all the world.)
  3. c) That Jesus was able to raise Lazarus from the dead displayed Jesus’ power over death and the grave. (Jesus/God still has power over spiritual and physical death.)
  4. d) That Jesus ordered himunbound from his death clothreveals Jesus’ desire to set him free from the marks of death to live a new life in Jesus the Christ. (Jesus still orders us unbound from the things that bind us in death and to death.)

To all of us in this time of uncertainty, disease and death may we hear the words of Jesus, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Those who believe in me, even though they die, yet they will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?”… “Unbind him/her, and set him/her free.”

Let us remember that it is in Christ that we find new life spiritually and physically; even in this time of disease and death. We are a people of LIFE.  Hear the words and thought of Cardinal John Henry Newman who advised, “Fear not of death, but fear rather, that when you come to the end of your earthly journey you find out that you never have lived.” Yes, so afraid of death that we never lived – if so our whole earthly sojourn becomes one long morbid journey because of the fear of death, because of a lack of faith and trust in God: the All-Mighty, All Loving, All Powerful God of heaven and earth and the universe. So in these times of lock down and social distancing let us remember to do our best to find life – joy, peace and love in our family, our loved ones and our God.  We journey with Jesus through hardships, sacrifices and even death, from Galilee to Jerusalem and then to new life.

Remember Jesus’ word, “Unbind …set … free!” The scripture reading suggests: Be not bound by death or the fear of death. (Of course, I am not suggesting we discontinue our physical practice of social distancing!) Let us remain spiritually connected through prayer, meditation and thinking of each other.

You, O Christ, are in us, in our hospitals, in our nurses and doctors, in your Church, in your world, and in you we find ‘the resurrection and the life.’

Sincerely,

Your Brother in Christ,

Ernest Belisle (Pastor)

Prayer with you family or alone:

Leader: Be with us O Lord as we pray this prayer.

From the swirling chaos of the primeval waters you brought forth light and life, O Lord.

All: One thing I know, though I be dead as Lazarus, you loved me so much that you brought me back to life, unbound me and set me free to eat and drink, sing and dance with you in your house.

Leader: From the mud of the earth you brought into being one who is intended to see what you see, O Lord.

All: One thing I know, though I be dead as Lazarus, you loved me so much that you brought me back to life, unbound me and set me free to eat and drink, sing and dance with you in your house.

Leader: From my sisters’ prayers and tears for a sick and dying brother you have called my name that I may be a witness to your glorious power, O Lord.

All: One thing I know, though I be dead as Lazarus, you loved me so much that you brought me back to life, unbound me and set me free to eat and drink, sing and dance with you in your house.

 

Pastor: Send forth your Holy Spirit on me and on all your people in ways yet unimagined, that through this time of chaos and confusion we will be opened, and, will see your heart at work in me and in the world. May we not hold back but cry out loudly:

All: You are the Resurrection and the Life, O Christ, my God.

 

Your Personal Prayers:

 

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,

On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,

As we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

 

The Hymn for the day:

         Jesus, Joy of Our Desiring         UMH644

(Martin Janus, 1661; trans. anon.)

 

  1. Jesus, joy of our desiring, holy wisdom, love most bright; drawn by thee, our souls aspiring soar to uncreated light.

Word of God, our flesh that fashioned, with the fire of life impassioned, striving still to truths unknown, soaring, dying round thy throne.

 

  1. Through the way where hope is guiding, hark, what peaceful music

 rings; where the flock, in thee confiding, drink of joy from deathless springs.

Theirs is beauty’s fairest pleasure; theirs is wisdom’s holiest treasure.

            Thou dost ever lead thine own in the love of joys

         unknown.

 

Closing Prayer and Benediction

Love mercy, deal justly, practice patience, and live peacefully with all.  Know that Jesus is our Resurrection and Life; in him we can find new Life in troubled times; in the name of the God our Father and Mother, in the name of the Son Jesus the Christ our Brother, and in the name of the Holy Spirit our Comforter.  Amen.

Benediction:                   Traditional Irish Melody

May the road continue smooth before you;

             May there be enough light along the way;

May peace greet you at every crossroad

             And joy accompany you to the end.

Through whatever pain and suffering is yours to endure,

             Know that God is in it with you.

Amen

Chilmark Community Church

March 15, Worship from Home

Chilmark Community Church

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Third Sunday in the Lenten Season

“In nearness shall Thy voice be heard;

Spirit to spirit Thou doth speak.”

(Alfred Henry Vine)

 

Scripture Reading for the day is from St John 4: 5-42

We are happy you are reading, reflecting and worshiping from home.   Our Scripture reading for reflection is from the Gospel according to St. John. It tells the story of the Samaritan woman who met Jesus at Jacob’s well as he was travelling through Samaria on his way to Jerusalem.  (Please read the record of the event from the Gospel.)

Water and Food are two basic human needs. In the Gospel narrative the woman, like Nicodemus (last week’s reading), misses the point regarding spiritual things.  When Jesus offered her “living water” but she thought it was physical water from Jacob’s well.  She saw and thought of only the physical and not the spiritual. “Everyone who drinks of this water will never thirst again,” said Jesus.  The woman light-heartedly asked Jesus to give her that living water so that she would have no more need to return to the well.  Jesus spoke of the water that quenches our spiritual thirst and yearning.  Jeremiah noted that “it is the Lord who is the fountain of living water.”  Jesus pointed to the Messianic age in which, “They shall not hunger and thirst” any more (Isaiah 49:10).

There is the larger theological question of the nature of the souls of human beings and the nature of the Divine Soul (Holy Spirit) and how these two relate to each other. Paul, in his epistle to the Romans 8:16 noted that “it is that very Spirit (God’s Spirit) bearing witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ”.  Your soul and my soul are connected to God’s Holy Spirit and in constant communication.

Along with this there is also the question of God granting us free will.  In the midst of our Spirit to spirit connection God grants freedom of will.  So it was for Adam and Eve. So it was for the Israelites in the desert, so it was for the people of Jesus’ time and so it is for us today.  Think of our biggest human struggle and how crucial today’s reading is to the question:  “Who/What satisfies our deepest needs: “living water,” wine, strong drink or what?” Every human soul is thirsty and needs to be quenched at the fountain of “living water” given in God through Jesus Christ.

May God’s Divine Spirit continue to speak to your spirit and mine in this time of uncertainty and dread.

Richest blessing as we travel the road Jesus walked during this holy Lenten Season!

 

Let us Pray:

Almighty and everlasting God,

giver of health and salvation,

we give thank for your presents with us in times of both health and illness.

As your holy apostles anointed many who were ill,

so pour out your Holy Spirit on us and especially on those who are ill, afraid or mourning the passing of a loved one.

Increase our faith and confirm our hope in you,

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen

The Lord’s Prayer:                 

Our Father, who art in heaven,

     Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,

On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,

As we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.

Amen.

Bishop’s New Year’s Greeting

Jan. 1, 2020

Dear Beloved in Christ:

Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The house in which I grew up in India did not have electricity until I was five years old. In fact, many homes in my village did not have electricity until I was in my early teens. A large number of households relied on kerosene lamps to provide light at night.

In those days, I was impressed by the faithfulness of people who went out every day at dusk to light lamps on the posts and then again at dawn to extinguish them. Whole communities and families relied on faithfulness to this task for their wellbeing.

The lamps saved us from the danger of falls and gave direction in the darkness as people walked from place to place. They provided protection from snakes and other creatures for those who walked barefoot. When visitors came to the village at night, they could count on someone accompanying them with a torch. Even strangers were offered this hospitality when they passed through.

When I was 10 years old, I visited a lighthouse. The lighthouse operator pointed out a huge rock in the midst of the sea. He explained that it is difficult for those who navigate the waters at night to see the rocks. His responsibility was to alert sea captains to the danger ahead and to help them navigate safely through those waters. Failure to light the way could result in shipwreck and/or the loss of life.

As we enter a new year, we are reminded that none of us knows what obstacles lie ahead. Our faith reminds us that we are given a light to guide our way.

The Psalmist said, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

John’s gospel begins, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  All things came into being through him … What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:1, 3-5)

The mystery and miracle of the incarnation is this: Jesus, the Word of God, with God from the beginning, was and is manifested as the light of all people.

Yet, God’s Word is not only revealed in Jesus. God’s Word is made manifest through us and all creation. We are at once born of the light, recipients of the light, and bearers of the light. Let us live into this amazing mystery of God!

Gracious God,
who created all things —
thank you for your grace which
has brought us to the dawn
of another year —

We do not know what lies ahead,
but we do know,
you are our Creator;
we are yours,
made to bear the light
by being the light
with Jesus
in the world —

Open us to
the mystery of
your Word made flesh
in your creation,
in Jesus,
in us —

In the name of
God, the Word,
Creator of all things;
Jesus, one with God from the beginning,
Word made flesh;
Spirit, present within and through us,
now and forever.
Amen.

Prema joins me in wishing you and your loved ones a happy and blessed New Year!

In Christ’s love,

Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar


 

Bishop’s Advent Message

Dec. 1, 2019

Dear Beloved in Christ:

Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Someone I met in Hawaii recently shared that local drivers generally do not honk. If someone honks, they assume it is a tourist. Hawaiians do not rush; they are polite to other drivers and allow the motorist in front of them to take his or her own time.

This description of Hawaiian drivers reminded me of a conversation I had with a church leader about the way we move through Advent. In essence, he said, we rush through Advent — going from one party to another, racing to finish Christmas shopping, hurrying to put up a Christmas tree, scrambling to mail Christmas cards, stressing over preparing food for family and guests. After all these rushed preparations, we greet this joyous and important day with low spirits and fatigued bodies.

I thought further about the contrast between these two ways of navigating through life in general and Advent in particular.

Our commercialized celebrations cause us to honk our way through Advent; to act like tourists rather than residents of God’s realm — pushing our way through crowds, hurrying the motorist in front of us, rushing to be fully prepared by Christmas Day.

Sadly, and ironically, it is precisely our rushing and honking our way through our preparations for Christmas that cause us to miss it! We miss the arrival of the Christ, who has already come again in the people in front of us.

My prayer this Advent is that we cease our anxious honking and wait with anticipation – “Prepare Him come” with open hearts and see Christ where he is – here and now – in the great gift that has already arrived: It is the motorist in front of us, those around our table, and everyone we meet.

In Christ’s love,

Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar

 

ADVENT PRAYER

 

Loving God made flesh —

as we rush through the days of Advent

busy about many things –

our minds full,

our hearts racing,

our bodies weary,

from the mad pursuit to prepare for Christmas,

 

slow us down

wake us up

open our eyes

to see you right here, right now

in front of us

 

in the lines of traffic

we want to rush past

 

in the preparations

we want to finish

 

in the people we want

to move out of our way

 

in order to meet you —

who has already come

to this place,

to this moment

right here

right now –

Love made flesh, dwelling among us.

 

We pray through Christ

who lives and reigns

with you

and the Holy Spirit.

Amen

 

November 26 Italian Night

Tom Ruimerman once more produced the grand finale to the Pizza Night season. (People always look awkward eating..my apologies)..but there were 4 tables of  happy eaters.DSCF0421November 26 BNovember 26 AMany thanks to Julie Flanders for fetching pizza from Rocco’s in her nifty red insulated bag for the past many Tuesdays.

Onward to 5:30 pm Tuesday “Community Suppers”.  From soup to Leg of Lamb…

(stay tuned)

2019 Children’s Fair

June 15 was a perfect day.  Everett and his grandmother, Kim, were the first arrivals (and helpers).DSCF0009The games were prepared: Oscar, the GrouchDSCF0347 (2)Face Painting: DSCF0348cup cakes and badminton and  bean bag toss and ducklings to be netted from a pool..and the bounce house.DSCF0359 (2)And the people came and sweet children, all well behaved.DSCF0358 The cup cakes to decorate beneath the tree are a hit.DSCF0355Thanks to all the helpers and Julie for organizing!DSCF0350 (2)

Rev. Steven Chambers 10/22/18

DSCF0198What a privilege it was to hear Rev. Steven Chambers this morning.  No one slept through that sermon!  It touched so many themes that we’ve discussed in the past year.  We  were really inspired.

Thanks to Lorna for bringing him to the island this summer for the Teen Camp Meeting and for Rev. Charlotte for inviting him to preach in Chilmark.  We enjoyed meeting his Mother, Sister and Niece , Hannah, who came all the way from R.I. this morning for the service.DSCF0201Another special blessing this day was the music Lia Kahler offered, her amazing voice filling the sanctuary with Spirit.

Ahn and Bodge visit

July saw the return of two of our previous pastors.  Seongmoon Ahn and his family returned to celebrate his ordination with us, his first congregation.

0708181102-1-1Sien and Soyune have a new brother since living in Chilmark.  Hasty photo doesn’t do them justice.

Arlene Bodge joined us for worship another Sunday and the congregation was thrilled to see her well  there as well as at the sunset worship service in Oak Bluffs that was part of the youth camp meeting that weekend.

We’ve been blessed with these lovely leaders!