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Advent 2009

We live in the darkness of sin and brokenness yet we live in hope.

A messenger calls us to repent; to turn back to the Lord who is gracious and merciful.

Salvation is near!  The star takes on the shape of a cross.  God will save us!

God has come in human flesh to tell us of God’s great love for us; to teach us how to live; to save us for an eternity with God.

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Lent/Easter 2010
We gathered around the Jordan River to remember our baptism.  We recall that we are drowning in sin and God reaches out to save us.  We live in a God-initiated relationship that cannot be broken.  God calls us to repent; to return to the Lord.  God is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  We rise in baptismal purity our sin is washed away.  We are a new creation.  All of this is possible through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ.  This news is so great the river bursts into a garden.

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Extra! Extra! Pray All About It!
Prayer changes situations and
it changes the people who are praying.

We may begin praying for what we believe is needed and a new understanding begins to emerge. Whenever Jesus faced a challenge the first thing Jesus did was pray. Jesus prayed often; sometimes he spent all night in prayer. He knew that this time would help him understand what God wanted done and that it would strengthen him for what was coming. People were invited to “pray the news” reading the news prayerfully praying for our communities and the world that God loves so dearly. Paul urges us to “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17) we can be assured that God will listen unceasingly.

The Holy Spirit is depicted as a Dove made from newspapers and each week headlines were added to the worship space uniting the concerns we experience with the Spirit who lifts our prayers and guides our understanding.

Advent 2010
During our Advent journey 2010 we used road signs to highlight the Gospel.

We were urged toward caution, to keep awake and be attentive to God. As we approach Bethlehem we will meet the fierce love of God. This is not what we are expecting. Bethlehem is not the destination but the beginning of Jesus' journey toward Jerusalem.

There is road work ahead for us, just as God's great love is revealed to us we bear God's love to the world as we help our neighbor.

The Spirit calls us to slow down, to hear God calling us and to take a detour, come to the baptismal font where your sins are washed away, eternal life and salvation are assured; the U-turn calls us to return to God where we are made God's beloved children forever. God knows that we need signs to help us.

God sends the sign of all signs, God in the flesh; God with us, Emmanuel!
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Lent 2011


Week 1 our sinfulness is exposed; we turn away from God, we try to be God.  Jesus is tempted to trust himself to meet his needs rather than to trust God, he turns toward God for all that he needs showing us the way back to God.

Week 2 God sent Jesus not to condemn us but to save God's beloved children.  We can trust God's promises because they rest on grace.

Week 3 Living water is offered to us without regard to our sins, God's love is poured into us; we are made whole; we are healed.

Week 4 I was blind but now I see.  God calls broken people and gives us grace.

Week 5 God's Spirit breathes life into our dry bones and through baptism gives us eternal life.

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Summer 2011 Dwelling in the goodness of Creation

❦    God created light and separated the light from the darkness giving us Day and Night.

❦    God created sky and separated the waters under the sky. 

❦    God created land and separated land and seas.  God filled the land with plants and trees of every kind.

❦    God created the sun and moon and stars.

❦    God created birds and fish.

❦    God created every kind of land animal and finalized the work of creation creating human beings in God’s own image.

❦     When creation was completed God rested and took delight in the goodness of creation.  God entrusted the care of creation to humankind and God gave the Sabbath as a gift.  This day is to be set apart from other days, it is a day of rest and renewal, a day to be in communion with God, a day to delight in the goodness of creation and the people we love.

Advent 2011

      Advent is more than a time to prepare for Christmas.  The coming of God in the flesh took place over 2000 years ago.  God came as Jesus to tell us how much God loves us and to teach us how to live with each other.       
      Knowing that the Messiah has already come, we look for Emmanuel, God With Us, in our everyday lives.  God is always with us as someone in need.  God is visible in those who may be invisible to us, the hungry, the poor, the lonely and the sick.  “I was hungry and you gave me food…  Lord, when did we see you hungry, a stranger, or sick?  When you did it to the least of these, you did it to me.”  (Matthew 25:35-40)  To see Jesus our Emmanuel look at the broken people and places longing to be made whole.
      God is also visible in the world seen as those who serve others.  God’s Spirit moves hearts and hands to help, gives hope in the face of difficulty, and gives strength to face our challenges.  We are called to "see Christ" in our neighbor and to "be Christ" to our neighbor, especially to the least of these.
      Advent is the time we see the in-breaking of the kingdom.  Jesus was a friend to the outcast, an advocate to the poor; he fed and healed people in need.  We see those signs happening now in our world even as we wait for God to fully restore all of creation to its original goodness.  As members of God’s kingdom we live in Advent throughout the year.
     
“And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.” Mark 13:37.  Keep alert to see God at work in the world bringing hope and help and healing.  Be encouraged to stay strong in hope as we wait for God to fulfill God’s promises to us—we know that God always keeps promises. 

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Lent 2012 God's Covenantal Love
     On each Sunday of Lent we examined a covenant that God made; covenants that are still ours today.  Each one was initiated by God and motivated by God’s incomprehensible love toward us. 
     Not long after humankind was created God’s heart was grieved because of the evil in the world.  God sent a flood to drown evil saving a family who walked in God’s ways.  God made a covenant with all of creation never to destroy life again. We and all of creation are bound together. 
     Next, God made a covenant with Sarah and Abraham to begin a family that would grow into nations bound to God. 
     God worked to form the Israelites into God’s holy people that will love God with all their being and love their neighbors as themselves.  God gave them a guide to the good life; the Ten Commandments. 
     The people broke God’s laws and God sent punishment.  Yet God saved God’s people again; look at a bronze serpent on a pole and live. 
     God made a new covenant unlike the previous ones; which God’s people broke.  God writes it on our hearts; “I will be your God, and you shall be my people.”  God does not stop loving us or trying to guide our living.  What an amazing God we have.
     We know we need a Savior; we cry out Hosanna (Save Us) as Jesus enters Jerusalem.  
     Our contemplation of God’s covenants has deepened our understanding of God’s love and faithfulness.  We turn to the cross to see the full measure of God's love.  
     God raises Jesus from the dead.  Sin and death are defeated.  Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love for us; God will not abandon us.  We pray that God who dwells in our hearts will help us to live as God’s people loving God above all and loving our neighbors as God loves each of us.
   
     God saves us in baptism and makes us part of the family of God.  Our identity as God’s beloved children is established forever.  God wants us to thrive so God gives us the commandments to teach us how to love so that we live well in God’s shalom (peace).  We look to Jesus on the cross and we are saved.  We are marked by the cross of Christ forever.  Our sins are forgiven and we have the promise of eternal life.  We remember the new covenant in Jesus’ blood, shed for each of us.  We live in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection.


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Bethesda Lutheran Church      East Chruch, Congregational      Address: 455 Island Pond Rd.  Springfield, MA 01118      Ph: 413-733-4494      Email: Admin@BethesdaSpringfield.org