Advent Daily Devotional: WEEK of HOPE – DAY 5 – Thurs, Dec 2

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. — Isaiah 40:31

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? — Psalm 27:1

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Watch the edge of the candle flame. It shifts. Changes color. Jumps and flickers. It seems to be alive.

            In your own body, your heart leaps. Your breath catches. You, too, are alive.

            Writer and researcher Lee Daniel Kravetz suggests that during the urgency of crisis and other life-changing events, we especially seek hope. Such experiences shift ‘our focus to the legacy we’ll leave … It pushes us to ask the question, “What is truly important to me?”’ Extreme circumstances or changes in perspective cause such clarification of our priorities.

            What has become important to you over the past year or more? What, in this season, arises to claim your energy and imagination? Part of hope is channeling your time and resources into those areas of your life that matter the most and offer the greatest sense of purpose.

            Let your flame be fed by what you value above all else. — Rev Gail

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Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality. — Jonas Salk

Light must come from inside. You cannot ask the darkness to leave; you must turn on the light. —Sogyal Rinpoche

Lenten Devotional – Thurs, Mar 11: FILLED

As he talked to the people of his time, Jesus used imagery that helped them identify with the conditions of humanity: those who would receive the blessing. Hunger. Thirst. The same metaphors translate well for modern folks.

We understand such deep and essential needs. Authors of the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Biblical commentaries write about this Beatitude by including it among the three earlier ones that addressed being poor in spirit, mournful, and meek. These scholars say that those who receive the first four blessings are “conscious of their need of salvation” and that they do not yet act as if they are “possessed of it.”

They’re metaphorically empty. And they know it. And somehow, this need or ‘lack’ is always creating space for the presence of God in their lives. Our lives. Remember, this blessing extends down through generations to embrace us, too.

Folks who are about to be ‘filled’ are among those in the early stages of the twelve-step recovery model: a helpful way to compare the journey through the Beatitudes. They’re in need. They’ve admitted to that need. They’ve named the nature of their issues and challenges. They have handed over their lives and wellbeing to redemptive relationships, such as Godself. They long for help. If they identify as Christians, they have turned themselves toward God — their source of a holistic wellspring — for that help.

If we’re longing for a healthy and sustainable relationship with Godself, mirrored in our self-care and ethical connections to other people, then the answer to our desire is to experience a wholeness of connection that satisfies what seems missing in our lives. That’s what being ‘filled’ means. That’s the blessing.

It’s an easy metaphor to understand. Harder to live out.

Think of this desire as life-threatening. As vital as lack of food or water would be.

You need to be filled. Fulfilled. The promise of the Beatitude is that the need is met. More than met, by forming a relationship with Godself.

Our desire to be in relationship with God, when fulfilled, is satisfied in such a way that it may remain sated. It continually renews wellbeing. We’ll probably have relapses. Bumps along the way.

Yet our holistic connection to God restores equilibrium. In such conditions, we can care for ourselves and others, because we are anchored in a bond with Godself.

Of course, the human experience, named at the start of the blessing, is that we’re constantly wanting. We start out empty: devouring and processing whatever we can imbibe. In a sense, that’s how we learn.

Even if we want good, healthy, ethical conditions and outcomes and connections, we’re on the empty end of the equation, wishing for fulfillment. And we’re perpetually out of balance, we cannot stand alone: we need to be in relationship.

Simply wanting to be connected to God turns us in a life-affirming direction. It won’t be easy or absolute. The state of reaching toward God, as God leans close to meet us where we are, remains part of our journey. Apparently, we must exercise the option to say yes, over and over.

While we’re always invited to belong to God, the choice remains ours. The opportunity to say yes — or not — is within our power. So the only one who gets in the way of the relationship with God is us and our human experience.

God always draws close. Pursues us. Never backs down. Never gives up. Always shows up. And that presence … that’s what fulfills. And fills. — Rev Gail

MEDITATIONS:

Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you’re living? — Bob Marley

Man is the only animal whose desires increase as they are fed; the only animal that is never satisfied. — Henry George

To be satisfied with a little, is the greatest wisdom; and he that increaseth his riches, increaseth his cares; but a contented mind is a hidden treasure, and trouble findeth it not. — Akhenaton

You must accept that you might fail; then, if you do your best and still don’t win, at least you can be satisfied that you’ve tried. If you don’t accept failure as a possibility, you don’t set high goals, you don’t branch out, you don’t try – you don’t take the risk. — Rosalynn Carter

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. — John Piper

Challenge or Question: When do you feel that you are enough? How does that reflect on your connection to Godself? What gifts have you received that allow you to experience that feeling of contentment, fulfillment, satisfaction, and being enough?

HOLY WEEK with JCC: April 8-12 (Easter)

Do you need support of any kind? We have volunteers ready to assist with errands, access to emergency supplies, and Rev Gail is available for emotional and spiritual companionship. Email the church:  [email protected].

Wed, April 8

  • LIFT your SPIRITS (via ZOOM) – firepit & beverages
    6pm • ZOOM LINK: zoom.us/j/170985789 (password required)
    Social gathering. Option: Call in via touch-tone phone: 929.436.2866, meeting ID: 170985789, (password required – contact [email protected])

Thurs, April 9

  • MAUNDY THURSDAY GATHERING (via ZOOM)
    7pm • ZOOM LINK: zoom.us/j/467763000 (password required).
    Plan to celebrate an after-dinner ritual of washing hands (symbolic of foot-washing), stripping altar, and putting out candles as darkness falls and we enter the Triduum: three holy days of Easter weekend. Option: call in via touch-tone phone: 929.436.2866, meeting ID: 467763000 (password required – contact: [email protected])).

Fri, April 10

  • BREAKFAST with REV GAIL (via ZOOM)
    8am •  ZOOM LINK: zoom.us/j/170985789 (password required)
    Social gathering. Option: Call in via touch-tone phone: 929.436.2866, meeting ID: 170985789 (password required – contact [email protected])
  • WAY of the CROSS
    Live-streaming via  Facebook.com/JacksonCommunityChurchJCC website
    Virtual contemplative journey through stations of the cross. Share where you would direct your prayers for each station of the cross, Rev Gail will post reflections at different Jackson and Bartlett locations to symbolize each station of the cross. This will take place throughout the week, but we especially welcome your comments during the hours of Christ’s crucifixion and death. We will use Marcia McFee / Design Worship Studio materials to focus. 
  • LAST SEVEN WORDS Holy Friday Event (via ZOOM)
    5pm • ZOOM LINK: zoom.us/j/531729008) (password required)
    Reflect on the events of Holy Friday through the last seven words of Christ. Option: Call in via touch-tone phone: 929.436.2866, meeting ID: 531729008 (password required – contact: [email protected])

EASTER SUNDAY, April 12

  • VIRTUAL SUNRISE SERVICE (via livestream to Facebook/JacksonCommunityChurchJCC website)
    6am • Go outside, bring your phone, and share sunrise together! Brief sunrise reflection.
  • VIRTUAL EASTER BREAKFAST (via ZOOM)
    8am • ZOOM LINK: zoom.us/j/142985761 (password required)
    Gathering to celebrate Easter with breakfast (bring your own to the Zoom gathering), conversation, readings & prayer. Option: Call on touch-tone phone: 929.436.2866, meeting ID# 142985761 (password required – contact: [email protected])
  • CHOIR PRACTICE (via ZOOM)
    9:15am • ZOOM LINK: zoom.us/j/142985761 (password required)
    Choir practice with choir director Billy Carleton and music director Alan Labrie. Option: Call on touch-tone phone: 929.436.2866, meeting ID# 142985761 (password required – contact: [email protected])
  • VIRTUAL EASTER SERVICE (via ZOOM)
    10:30am • ZOOM LINK: zoom.us/j/142985761 (password required)
    Join us for worship, special music including flute duet by Lauren Weeder & Jeanette Heidmann, choral performance by JCC’s choir & harp with Dominique Dodge, plus prayer, reflection and interactive transformation of the cross with butterflies on this special Easter Sunday! Service will also be live-streamed to website and Facebook, and afterward, recordings of service will be posted to FB, youtube, vimeo. Option: Call on touch-tone phone: 929.436.2866, meeting ID# 142985761. (password required – contact: [email protected])
  • BUTTERFLY the CROSS
    All Day • Jackson Community Church (outside)
    All day on Easter Sunday, you may add a butterfly to the cross, which will stand outside the church (weather permitting), or take one home, if you need an Easter symbol. If you can’t be here, send us your prayers and we’ll add your butterfly for you.

Palm Sunday Schedule

Palm Sunday: April 5
SCHEDULE
8am GATHERING

9am CHOIR REHEARSAL

10:30am WORSHIP

POST-WORSHIP VIRTUAL COFFEE HOUR: 

  • To give you a chance to connect, we’ll keep the worship Zoom space open for an extra 10-15 minutes as a virtual “hospitality interlude” after the postlude. You are welcome to remain online and chat awhile. Remember to bring your own cup of tea or coffee along.

Other Palm Sunday Notes:

PALMS: We’re inviting people to pick up palms inside the front entrance to the church between Friday and Saturday. The stalks have been separated into individual bundles, so you may take your own palms without touching other bundles. Or simply bring your own available greenery (pine boughs or leafy branches work) from your garden, yard to the Zoom worship. We’ll use the palms or greenery during worship.
      Alternately, you can download a coloring page ( pattern 1 | pattern 2 | pattern 3 ) for a palm leaf and make one out of paper!
      You’re also invited to place some palms or greenery on your front doors as a sign of hope and solidarity for Holy Week. See more about this idea.

SPECIAL MUSIC: Different Jackson and Bartlett families and individuals have been recording music for worship. Expect some upbeat and meditative musicthis week and for Easter.

COMMUNION ELEMENTS: Additionally, this Sunday is communion. Some people have been preparing for worship by lighting a candle (please attend to safety if you do this) or placing flowers and/or Bibles nearby. We also suggest having an offering jar/glass ready, as a visual reminder to continue supporting the church. These details create a worship-centered atmosphere. For this Sunday, if you want to partake of communion,  please have these suggested elements ready:

  • Small piece of toast or bread, crackers, tortilla chips, or cookies (whatever you might have available).
  • Water, juice, or wine in a glass

We will bless the elements during the online worship. And share them together.

SUPPORT & BLESSINGS
Meanwhile, if you need support, you can reach out to the church by email or contact Rev Gail directly!

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