First United Methodist Church

Daily Lent Devotions (Apr. 1-5)

April 1

Scripture:

Mark 9:30-50 focus on 9:33-41 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Jesus Again Foretells His Death and Resurrection

They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it;  for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

Who Is the Greatest?

Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

Another Exorcist

John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

Temptations to Sin

“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

“For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

Devotions:

What does it mean to welcome a child? One thing is for sure: Children are disruptive. Jesus’s birth disrupted the world and turned the old order upside down. The disciples just don’t get it, do they? Here they are jockeying for position as the greatest, and Jesus must remind them that he is God incarnate. In this new world order, hierarchies no longer matter, but faithfulness and serving others does.

Jesus has given each of us authority to serve in his name. Notice the ways you are equipped and gifted to serve. Pray for an opportunity to serve another person in Jesus’s name today.

~Barbie Boyd


April 2

Scripture:

Mark 10:1-16 focus on 10:1-12 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Teaching about Divorce

He left that place and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan. And crowds again gathered around him; and, as was his custom, he again taught them.

Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Jesus Blesses Little Children

People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

Devotions:

“Missing the Mark”

Divorce is a topic that is never a joy to talk about. In fact, most people would say they actively avoid the subject, which can be especially true in the Church. So, when Mark 10 features a “teaching about divorce”, people often bristle. But Mark 10:1-12 has less to do about the law, and more to do with the heart. While the debate on how divorce should be handled can go on and on, let us choose to instead view this passage through the lens of Jesus. The passage tells us that the Pharisees arrived to test him. There were, even two-thousand years ago, polarized views on divorce. Then Jesus answers by both upholding the authority of the Law to which the Pharisees were devoted, but also clarifying why the Law through Moses said what it does about divorce. He says, “because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment” (v.5). Perhaps we should find ways of reconciling relationships, healing brokenness, and softening our hearts instead of desiring to be “right”. In doing so, we allow the grace and love that Jesus shows to be at the very center of who we are.

~Gabe Glass


April 3

Scripture:

Mark 10:17-31 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Rich Man

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

Devotions:

We shouldn’t be too hard on the rich man. After all, he came running up to Jesus, seeking him out to ask an important theological question. Like many of us, the rich man was leading a “good” life. He hadn’t broken any of the commandments. But he didn’t feel satisfied; he felt there was still something missing in his relationship with God. He asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” In response Jesus challenges him – and us – to live a life that goes beyond passively obeying rules. Following Jesus means doing things, being active, being intentional, being willing to use what we have for the good of others, getting rid of excess stuff in our lives so that we make room for Him. The rich man ultimately wasn’t willing to do that. Are we?

~Nancy Constant


April 4

Scripture:

Mark 10:32-45 focus on 10:35-45 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

A Third Time Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.”

The Request of James and John

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Devotions:

Sometimes questions that can be viewed as offensive, can be an avenue to learn extraordinary values. Jesus can handle our tough questions! James and John’s inquiry of greatness created a pathway for Jesus to instruct to all of us the significance of servant leadership. In the kingdom of God, true greatness is only exhibited through service to others.

~Rev. Rick Jones


April 5

Scriptures:

Mark 10:46-52 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Healing of Blind Bartimaeus

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.”  So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

Mark 10:46-52 New International Version (NIV)

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”  “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

Devotions:

Cheer Up!

There are numerous phrases that are extraordinary in these verses. First, since the man was blind and couldn’t see, he listened for Jesus.  When he heard that it was Jesus, he didn’t whisper or ask someone else to help him.  Instead, he shouted and called Jesus by name, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!” When people rebuked him and told him to be quiet, did he get discouraged, give up and listen to the crowd? No! He shouted even more!!

Next, when Jesus stopped and asked His disciples to call him, they said to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” That expression is something we ought to say to each other every single day! The Lord called each of us by name. We are His chosen ones and He set us apart before we were born. Every day we should remember to cheer up and jump to our feet, as He has called us by name.

~Debra Edgar


*The Scriptural passages are selected from the Lectionary on Mark, Year B. As a result some of the passages will be out of the normal order they are usually read.  


Promiseland Toy Box


Serving During Lent

UP Orlando Family Night
Friday, Apr. 12, 5:30-8:00pm, United Against Poverty 

Families can join in for pizza dinner & a short orientation before going in to the UP Orlando Cost-Share Grocery Store to serve for the night. Jobs include straightening & organizing shelves, clean up, stocking shelves, etc. 

Register Here

Walking Slowly Commitment

During the Town Hall Meeting, Pastor David challenged us to commit to Walking Slowly. As member of this family, I will:
  • Have a cup of coffee/tea with someone very different from me.
  • Spend time in scripture, beginning with the first five book of the Bible (Pentateuch).
  • Continue to walk with this family through joyful and difficult conversations.
  • Pray for someone whose opinion is different than mine.
  • Learn about this church and/or any other church I choose to attend.
  • Pray for our church to honor Christ’s call and be loving and gracious to one another.

Daily Lent Devotions (Mar. 25-29)

March 25

Scripture:

Mark 7:1-13 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Tradition of the Elders

Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”  He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,

‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.’

You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”

Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition!  For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban’ (that is, an offering to God)—  then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this.”

Devotion:

What “religious rules” do we break so that we can — above all else — build relationships with Others? This is counterintuitive because we value holiness, living the Way, and attending to and behaving normatively within our Vibrant Family at FUMCWP. Yet Jesus condemns (us) the religious people for using scripture to divide themselves (ourselves) from others. Christianity means Love of God and Love of Other. All. Everyone Else. Those People. We can no longer be in ministry to people or be in ministry for people. As His disciples, we are in ministry WITH people. Let’s break some rules together and be transformed!

~Rev. Michele Van Son Neill


March 26

Scripture:

Mark 7:14-23 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”

When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, “Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly.  All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Devotion:

The Jewish authorities of the day, scribes and the Pharisees, are concerned with maintaining the religious traditions, that they perceive as what makes them devout and virtuous.  Yet they follow these traditions in a way that they lose the heart behind all these traditions.  They use them to exclude people by deciding who is “in” and who is not “in.”  Jesus challenges them by paraphrasing the words of the prophet Isaiah in 29:13 “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

~Rev. Gary Rideout


March 27

Scripture:

Mark 7:24-37 focus on 7:24-30 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith

From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet.  Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Jesus Cures a Deaf Man

Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue.  Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

Devotion:

At first glance, Jesus’ response to the Syrophoenician woman’s request was at best hurtful and a bit disconcerting however that did not stop her from approaching the Christ.  Her daughter needed healing to be whole and she believed Jesus was the healer. The gentile woman had faith in the man Jesus, the Son of God, when the disciples and religious leaders doubted the Divine presence. Her faith and trust that God’s grace was for all people, regardless of gender, status, or culture, was rewarded by the blessed healing of her daughter. God’s grace abounds for all people.

~Denise Meyer


March 28

Scripture:

Mark 8:1-30 focus on 8:22-30 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Feeding the Four Thousand

In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way—and some of them have come from a great distance.” His disciples replied, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.”  Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Now there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.

The Demand for a Sign

The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.”  And he left them, and getting into the boat again, he went across to the other side.

The Yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod

Now the disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.  And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out—beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” They said to one another, “It is because we have no bread.” And becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?  Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember?  When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” They said to him, “Twelve.”  “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” And they said to him, “Seven.”  Then he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

Jesus Cures a Blind Man at Bethsaida

 They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Can you see anything?” And the man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.  Then he sent him away to his home, saying, “Do not even go into the village.”

Peter’s Declaration about Jesus

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

Devotion:

1) I am moved by the friends of the blind man. They believe with all their heart that Jesus can help their friend, and take him to Jesus. Are there signs in my life that cause others to believe that Jesus has made a difference in me, and can do the same in theirs? Witness – I’m always a witness.

2) I am moved by the blind man. He wants to see – and not just see, but see clearly. Boy, do I appreciate the patience of Jesus when I ask and ask for clarity! He gently takes me by the hand, opens my eyes to what’s already in front of me, and beckons, “You want more? Come deeper.” Learning – I’m always learning.

~Laura-Grace Anderson


March 29

Scripture:

Mark 9:2-29 focus on 9:2-13 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Transfiguration

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

The Coming of Elijah

As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.  So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.  Then they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”  He said to them, “Elijah is indeed coming first to restore all things. How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written about him.”

The Healing of a Boy with a Spirit

When they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. When the whole crowd saw him, they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet him. He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.”  He answered them, “You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.  Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood.  It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.”  Jesus said to him, “If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.”  Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!”  When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You spirit that keeps this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!”  After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.”  But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand. When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “This kind can come out only through prayer.”

Devotion:

I love verse 6 of this passage, it is one of those places that I feel particularly close to Peter. Peter starts talking before he had thought everything through. We have picked up that Peter is a verbal processor. Sometimes this is good, “you are the Messiah,” sometimes not, rebuking Jesus, leading to the stinging, “get behind me Satan,” line. Mark covers for him but I can relate to the feeling of being completely overwhelmed and feeling that I have to say or do something.

We are not called to memorialize Christ by building monuments. But recognize that Jesus is revealing that he is fulfilling what was written in Malachi 4, that God himself would return to his people and that Elijah (John the Baptist) had declared this coming. Jesus doesn’t want Peter to build a temple, but to rest in the supernatural revelation that God came down. God came down so that we would recognize God’s love for us and realize that we have already been made into temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19).

~Rev. Craig Blocher


*The Scriptural passages are selected from the Lectionary on Mark, Year B. As a result some of the passages will be out of the normal order they are usually read.  


Promiseland Toy Box


Serving During Lent

Serve and Celebrate: A Grand Opening
Saturday, Mar. 30, 10:00-2:00pm, Reeves Property
  • #LunchBag – 10:00am-12:00pm
    Working with Stacey Marini and her volunteer team, we will assemble 200-300 bagged lunches and deliver to the homeless in downtown Orlando. This is a great event for family members of all ages, truly acting as the hands & feet of Christ in serving others.
  • Open House – 10:00am-2:00pm
    Take a tour of our campus to see the new home for TCA.
  • Free Lunch Food! – 11:00am-2:00pm

EXPANDING the KINGDOM of GOD  

Every week a group of 13 Christ-like Servants from our church family volunteer with children and teachers at Killarney Elementary School. Killarney, an Orange County Public School, is racially and culturally diverse with 99% of the children on free and reduced lunch.  Twenty five percent of the children are homeless living in the motels off Lee Road.  The rate of homeless children at Killarney is the highest in Orange County Public Schools.

These committed volunteers have contributed over 250 hours of instructional time since beginning this partnership in October.  Most of our group assist children with reading.  Several of the volunteers have taken additional training in an Orange County program, Read to Succeed.  This program has proved effective in improving vocabulary and fluency of first and second graders who are struggling readers.

The Killarney partnership is an effort to address the purposes of both the Diversity Team and Local Missions.  Through Missions our church provided Killarney students with school supplies that were collected in August.  Hannah Circle has given the school $500 which is being used for critical parent engagement and involvement activities.  This partnership has given our volunteers an opportunity to build a bridge across the racial divide in our community and grown in the understanding of those who are different resulting in an expanded view of the Kingdom of God and our vibrant family.

Daily Lent Devotions (Mar. 18-22)

March 18 

Scripture:

Mark 5:1-20 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Jesus Heals the Gerasene Demoniac

They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him.  He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; and he shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he had said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding;  and the unclean spirits begged him, “Send us into the swine; let us enter them.” So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea.

 The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it. Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighborhood. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. But Jesus refused, and said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.

Devotion:

The first 20 verses of Mark tell a very interesting story. The first verse informs us that Jesus and his disciples “went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.” The lake they crossed was the Sea of Galilee. Jesus took his disciples out of their known, Jewish world, across a treacherous lake, to the predominantly Greek town of Gerasa, part of the Decapolis. There, they met a man possessed by impure spirits. Jesus healed the man, sending the spirits into a herd of pigs where they promptly drowned themselves. To our modern ears it’s a very weird story, but notice this: Jesus called his followers out of their comfortable and familiar world, to go to an unknown place, where they ministered to the distressed and oppressed. Perhaps God isn’t calling you to cross a great sea, or be like Mother Teresa, who left her native land at 18 never to return. But maybe he’s calling you to show compassion to the least of these, to minister to the downtrodden, in the foreign and alien places right here in Central Florida. A few ideas? The Family Promise ministry offers help to the homeless. Restoration Circle serves those impacted by human trafficking. [anything else we want to add?]

~Bob Atchison


March 19

Scripture:

Mark 5:21-43 focus on 5:25-34 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

A Girl Restored to Life and a Woman Healed

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.”  So he went with him.

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years.  She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’”  He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Devotion:

Jesus Raises a Dead Girl and Heals a Sick Woman

Key line: “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

My Response: In Dr. Eben Alexander’s book, Proof of Heaven, he talks about the placebo effect, specifically how researchers have to overcome the 30% or so benefit attributed to a patient believing they were receiving helpful medicine.  Often this is viewed as an obstacle to the study.  What if we paused here instead and said, my goodness, look at the underlying power of belief! What if truly believing is like touching Jesus’ clothes? Jesus tells us that freedom from our suffering is not only possible, but something he deeply desires for us.  Will it look the exact way we want it to? Maybe not, but if we truly believe in the healing peace only God brings, it is ours.

~Jen Richardson


March 20

Scripture:

Mark 6:1-29 focus on 6:14-29 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Rejection of Jesus at Nazareth

He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.

The Mission of the Twelve

Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

The Death of John the Baptist

King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”

For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her.  For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee.  When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”  The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

Devotion:

Guarding Our Words

Mark 6:14-29 is a graphic scene that recalls what happens to John the Baptist as Jesus continues to grow in renown throughout the land. King Herod is put into an impossible situation and was “greatly distressed” when his respect of John comes into conflict with an oath made to a guest at his birthday banquet. This oath was unbreakable, and made under circumstances that were not the most righteous. What can we gain from this telling of John the Baptist’s death? Perhaps we can reflect on how what we say matters, and because it matters, we should guard our words carefully. At times we become caught up in an emotional response to a situation, and we may speak out of turn, or say something we didn’t intend. Other times we say things and never fully realize the extent or effect the words have on a person. Let us not fall into the same predicament as King Herod, and be mindful of the power words have, so that we might live into the fullness of what God has for us.

Psalm 141:3 “Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

~Gabe Glass


March 21

Scripture:

Mark 6:30-44 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Feeding the Five Thousand

The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.  Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them.  As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” When they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.

Devotion:

How often do we find ourselves exhausted and desire to withdraw and rest? Perhaps it’s just my personality, but I have this feeling all the time. Today, I read that God is a God of plenty. Even though Jesus and the disciples were heading for rest when the crowd waylaid them, God provided plenty with which to feed them and all the people. My prayer today is that we all experience even a taste of the abundance God holds for us, and in turn can share that grace with someone else.

~ David Witwer

 


March 22

Scripture:

Mark 6:45-56 focus on 6:45-52 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Jesus Walks on the Water

Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray.

When evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the sea. He intended to pass them by. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

Healing the Sick in Gennesaret

When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.

Devotion:

This passage teaches us the lesson of faith during a storm. Everyone will experience times of adversity and hardship, and it may feel like God has abandoned us.  But we have hope: Jesus is aware of and concerned about our struggles. He is present with us in the storm. All we need to do is invite him into our boat.

Photo: The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, Rembrandt

~Kathy Scanlon


*The Scriptural passages are selected from the Lectionary on Mark, Year B. As a result some of the passages will be out of the normal order they are usually read.  


Promiseland Toy Box


Serving During Lent

Serve and Celebrate: A Grand Opening
Saturday, Mar. 30, 10:00-2:00pm, Reeves Property
  • #LunchBag – 10:00am-12:00pm
    Working with Stacey Marini and her volunteer team, we will assemble 200-300 bagged lunches and deliver to the homeless in downtown Orlando. This is a great event for family members of all ages, truly acting as the hands & feet of Christ in serving others.
  • Open House – 10:00am-2:00pm
    Take a tour of our campus to see the new home for TCA.
  • Free Lunch Food! – 11:00am-2:00pm

Hannah’s Closet Success ?️

Thank you to all who contributed to another successful Hannah’s Closet sale! This year we raised $12k for our ministry, in addition to the thousands of items donated to local children. The money raised will be donated to local charities supporting women and children in need. If you’re interested in learning more about Hannah, or becoming involved, please reach out to Jennifer Richardson at [email protected]. We meet on the first Tuesday each month in the Fellowship Hall, childcare is provided.

Serve and Celebrate: A Grand Opening

It’s here! Trinity Christian Academy has move from South Street to our new campus in the Colonialtown Neighborhood. To kick off the celebration there will be a grand opening event on Mar. 30 from 10am-2pm. Come tour our campus to see what God’s work has done for this facility and program. A free lunch will be served from 11am-2pm. We encourage our members to extend a welcome and show support for this positive transition.

We will also take this opportunity to serve our community with #LunchBag. Working with Stacey Marini and her volunteer team, we will assemble over 200 bagged lunches for the homeless in downtown Orlando. This is a great opportunity for family members of all ages, truly acting as the hands and feet of Christ in serving others. Register here to serve.

Daily Lent Devotions (Mar. 11-15)

March 11

Scripture:

Mark 2:18-28 focus 2:18-22 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Question about Fasting
Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.

“No one sews a piece of un shrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”

Pronouncement about the Sabbath
One sabbath he was going through the grain fields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”

Devotion:

A Discipleship Lesson – Tradition vs Change

After reading the scripture in Mark 2:18-22, I reflected on my first experience with the sacred practice of Fasting. Do you recall your first experience? What meaning does it hold for you? The church I grew up in did not practice the tradition of placing the Ash Mark on foreheads, nor did they encourage fasting. A few years ago, I attended my first Ash Wednesday evening service at FUMCWP. It was a beautiful and meaningful experience, moderated by Pastor Gary Rideout. Since that time, I have been looking for examples to help me to understand its importance to my Faith Walk. In today’s reading–V.19–20 there is an example where Jesus used challenges He faced from traditional religious leaders on its practice, as a teachable moment for the Disciples. He understood what was in store for them after He left. He wanted to prepare them to become teachers who could build the Kingdom. For me, a key context for all His teaching to the disciples can be traced back to words he spoke during the Sermon on the Mount–The Beatitudes: Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. Mathew 5:17

Jesus understood the tactic of the Pharisees was to find ways to maintain their power by dividing and conquering–causing doubt and dissent between Jesus and the Disciples. When they thought Christ was in error, they spoke to the Disciples. When they thought the Disciples in error, they spoke to Christ. This is the issue revealed in Verse 18 of today’s scripture. Christ was called out for ignoring the traditional Form of fasting by violating the Letter of the law–the dates, times, places, etc. He chose to respond by refocusing His answer on fulfilling the Spirit of the law–discovering the Love of God.

In verse 19, Christ models a way to teach others to rethink their traditions for fasting by describing the role of a bridegroom at a wedding celebration, a scene that many of us can fondly recall. For me, it is a memory of a few years ago, when our youngest son married the love of his life in a sacred ceremony to seal a life-long commitment. This vow was consummated, by a minister, outside under the Fall canopy of the Aspens, by a crystal stream, at the foot of the majestic Colorado Rocky Mountains. A large gathering of family and friends, many from FUMCWP, were in attendance to witness and experience a joyful celebration of the beginning of a new life for the bride and groom. In the example that Christ uses, He is the bridegroom. To symbolize the spirit of the sacred occasion, all are dressed in new clothes, the celebrants are served new wine in new skins and the Bridegroom remains with them to share the joy. Christ used these powerful, inspirational images to let His antagonists understand He was not advocating an end to fasting. He knew that the sacred practice had lost its original meaning by only focusing on the ritual of right Form. Time after time, Christ used these challenges to tradition to refocus on their essential meaning–their essence. He understood that authentic Fasting could enable humbling ourselves to a point where we realize we need something more for our lives than water, food, and shelter. His message was consistent with His mission to bring the Kingdom of God to earth. It will be accomplished by teaching us to meet our need to establish a communion with, and dependence on God. For this season of Lent, I am refocusing on the power of the ancient tradition of fasting. I want it to help me become aware of my need to hunger for the word and meaning of God. My prayer is to engender another new beginning for my life, one that will help me experience the joy of knowing and sharing, as a Disciple, the love of God.

~Dr. Michael Korminicki


March 12

Scripture:

Mark 3:1-19 focus on 3:13-19 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Man with a Withered Hand
Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

A Multitude at the Seaside
Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him; hearing all that he was doing, they came to him in great numbers from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region around Tyre and Sidon. He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him; for he had cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him. Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, “You are the Son of God!” But he sternly ordered them not to make him known.

Jesus Appoints the Twelve
He went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, and to have authority to cast out demons. So he appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Devotion:

This passage says that Jesus went up on a mountainside to call those whom he wanted to be his followers, his disciples. Seemingly from this perspective, he saw the multitudes from which he could choose his followers.  Jesus ventures beyond his own circle of family members and friends and reaches out to those who are harassed and helpless, those yearning for hope and a better day. Jesus didn’t see people by their place in society, he saw each as a person and had compassion for them.

~Rev. Gary Rideout


March 13

Scripture:

Mark 3:20-35 focus on 3:20-30 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Jesus and Beelzebul

Then he went home; and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered. “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

The True Kindred of Jesus

Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Devotion:

This scripture reading reminds me of the all too familiar modern cry, “Fake news!” That’s a cry which diverts people’s attention away from what they wanted to know. Jesus was at the peak of his popularity. He was attracting huge crowds. The word was out that he was teaching and healing. His enemies could only claim that it was not true. As we attempt the Christian life let us check within our hearts to see if it is Jesus teaching and healing us.

O Jesus, Holy Spirit, let your image be so strongly in my heart this day, that I may recognize  You in the midst of this chaotic world. Amen

~Rev. Robbi Walker


March 14

Scripture:

Mark 4:1-20 focus on 4:1-9 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Parable of the Sower
Again he began to teach beside the sea. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”

The Purpose of the Parables
When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that ‘they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand; so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.’”

And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word.These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing. And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”

Devotion:

Imagine you are standing on the boat looking over Jesus’s shoulder. You see the massive and diverse crowd of people who have gathered from far and near. Some have come in desperate need of healing; others are there to oppose and challenge him. As Jesus speaks, this parable comes to life. He is the Sower, generously spreading the seed, the Word of God, to all who are open to hearing and receiving it. The message Jesus brings cannot be confined to the temple and is not only for the religious elite, much to their dismay.

How does reflecting on this passage from Jesus’s perspective encourage you to share the Word of God more freely? Is it possible your approach has been overly narrow- have you ever tried too hard to predetermine where the “good soil” is before sowing any seeds?

~Barbie Boyd


March 15

Scripture:

Mark 4:21-41 focus on 4:35-41 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

A Lamp under a Bushel Basket

He said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand? For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. For to those who have, more will be given; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.”

The Parable of the Growing Seed

He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

The Use of Parables

With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

Jesus Stills a Storm

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Devotion:

Theory and practice
I often wrestle with the feeling that I have to have everything all figured out, particularly in matters of faith. Mark reminds us in this passage that Jesus often does not give easy answers. Jesus shares a series of parables that were not fully grasped by his audience, and Jesus is fine with that. Jesus seems to be more comfortable with mystery than we tend to be.Immediately following this teaching, Jesus heads out with the disciples in a boat and get caught in a storm. Despite learning at the feet of Jesus, and seeing him preform miracles for others, once they have to put this faith into practice in the face of their storm they freak out. Jesus can handle our questions, and our fear in the storms of life, we need only to return to the one with power to quiet the storm.

~Rev. Craig Blocher

(Additional readings for Saturday, March 16- Mark 31-38)


*The Scriptural passages are selected from the Lectionary on Mark, Year B. As a result some of the passages will be out of the normal order they are usually read.  


Promiseland Toy Box Video 


Serving During Lent

Serve and Celebrate: A Grand Opening
Saturday, Mar. 30, 10:00-2:00pm, Reeves Property
  • #LunchBag – 10:00am-12:00pm
    Working with Stacey Marini and her volunteer team, we will assemble 200-300 bagged lunches and deliver to the homeless in downtown Orlando. This is a great event for family members of all ages, truly acting as the hands & feet of Christ in serving others.
  • Open House – 10:00am-2:00pm
    Take a tour of our campus to see the new home for TCA.
  • Free Lunch Food! – 11:00am-2:00pm

Response to the General Conference Vote

 

Dear Church Family,

The General Conference in St. Louis is over. Representatives from around the globe have voted to uphold our denomination’s prohibition of gay marriage and ordination of our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQIA community. In addition, they voted to increase accountability and consequences for clergy and Bishops who do not align with this stance. While a majority of United Methodist Churches in the North America favored a more inclusive approach, we are a global church. Our sister churches in Africa, Eastern Europe and the Philippines were strongly united in their belief that the traditional stance of the United Methodist Church should remain.

Personally, I am very disappointed. I am saddened that after all that has happened, we are even farther apart from each other. I lament the hurt that has been experienced by brothers and sisters in every part of the church – as well as in our community. I regret the damage to the church’s reputation with those in future generations. The world is now focused on our brokenness and not upon the tremendous amount of healing and service we do as God’s people.

In the coming days it will be important to refrain from embracing oversimplifications. We must not assume that people who supported the Traditional Plan dislike LGBTQIA persons or don’t want them in church.  At the same time, we must not assume that people who supported greater inclusivity do not care about holiness or the Bible.

I recognize that with each potential outcome, a different part of our church family would have been hurt and angry. That said, I believe that we must pay special attention to the pain of our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQIA community – as well as those who love them. Our brothers and sisters need to hear from us: you are an integral part of our church! You are loved and you are welcome! I echo the words of Bishop Carter who said, “You are of sacred worth. You are not the problem. You are not out there. You have been in every church I have ever served. You have blessed me and our family. Your gifts strengthen the church.”

Please know that it will be several months until we are able to understand the full consequence of this recent vote. Several of the items, including about 40% of the Traditional Plan (upholding our traditional stance), still needs to be reviewed by the Judicial Council. They will decide which parts of the plan are valid under our denomination’s constitution.

In the meantime, please plan to attend our church-wide Town Hall Meeting at 6:00pm on March 13th. At that time, we will be unpacking what has happened as well as discussing the future. I am convinced that this special General Conference gathering will have a significant impact on how our church will function and look in the future. At the same time, I believe that God is drawing all of creation to a conclusion around His throne. And that the church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, will be His chosen instrument to accomplish this. Our task is to keep in step with the Spirit. Please be in prayer that we do.

May God give us His grace and peace for the journey ahead,

Pastor David