“On the Road to Easter” was the title of today’s sermon by Rev. Steve Hundley at our Madison Valley Presbyterian Church in Ennis, Montana
Come join me as we EMBRACE the JOURNEY
Lent is upon us and Easter is only two weeks away. Next week we’ll celebrate Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem that day.
Jesus arrived in glory. Then, we see Jesus carry His cross to Golgotha. We’ll journey to where they’ll bury His body in the rocky tomb Before Easter will finally dawn. The journey is a painful one – A time when His family thinks He’s gone.
It reminds me that life Is a journey of great proportion And we have markers along the way. Some show where others made their fortune. But few of us have monuments Built to mark our stopping places – Like Lewis and Clark’s various markers And Jesus’ stopping spots – sacred spaces.
Our journey needs places of rest – Places where we feel lifted up The way Golgotha lifts us to Jesus Knowing His death & resurrection gifted us.
Jesus spoke about His death But the disciples didn’t want to hear. They thought of death as an enemy. Jesus said death means resurrection’s near.
Like a seed buried in the ground, We must die and be buried to rise. Jesus told His disciples He’d draw The world to Himself with words so wise.
He spoke of His death as if He had already died. He said His death would serve God’s purpose. His impact continues to grow – He is not dead!
As Easter approaches, we look At the cross and make our way To the Light; it illumines our path To His miracle that happened Easter Day.
Hallelujah! Easter is coming! Embrace the Journey. Amen
Thanks for joining me on JanBeek today. Have a beautiful Sunday afternoon/evening.
Do you focus easily? Do you see things with clarity? Do you hear with understanding? Do you embrace the concept of focus?
Today’s sermon at Madison Valley Presbyterian Church focused on the cross… but not just any old cross … the cross of Christ, the one on which He died for us. The one we are to pick up and carry. Here are the notes I took as I focused and listened to Rev. Steve Hundley preach on the subject: “The Cross of Christ”
The disciples heard Jesus say, “Take up your cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24-26 says, 24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
What does it mean today to believe And to accept Jesus – take His cross? We’d like Jesus to be specific. Would carrying it be like an albatross? He said “Take up YOUR cross. But, not ANY cross… What’s the difference? My cross can be quite worldly. Do I carry it with reverence?
The world we live in is full Of crosses in every size and form. How do we know we’re carrying The one meant for us when we were born? The cross that brings healing And restoration to our world Is the one Jesus asks us to carry, Not the cross of destruction hurled.
A cross of love and reconciliation Can be used and turned to mean Violence or passivity, both can Represent abuse and pain. Don’t lean On a fatalistic cross – or else You’ll find despair and even death. Instead, pick up Christ’s cross. It’ll bring peace to your last breath.
The Bible reassures us that Pain and suffering will be ours; But God will meet us where we are. We’ll receive the peace He showers On us when we take His cross And follow Him and His voice. Let’s FOCUS on God’s saving promise. Take up His True Cross. It’s your choice!
Thank you for sharing our worship service notes and one of our hymns with me today. I hope you are able to find church family with whom to worship in these pandemic days.
If you’d like to join our ZOOM service next Sunday, send me your e-mail and I’ll forward the ZOOM invitation, bulletin and song sheet to you.
That’s me up there taking this picture with Bob beside me! ZOOM with us. We’re an informal bunch! Share, drink your coffee, ask questions… FOCUS on the message
Thanks for visiting with JanBeek today. Have a beautiful Sunday afternoon/evening. See ya tomorrow.
P.S. – Here is another version of “Were You There?” Soooo Beautiful!!
My high school buddy from the Stone Age, Doris, sent me a story today. It was written by a guy (no name available) who recalled an experience that stuck with him and changed him forever.
Did the title of this blog draw you in? Stay with me.
The story writer told about the way a young Downs Syndrome man impacted the hearts of all he touched. I was moved by the story – and decided it was too good to keep to myself. I hope it touches your heart, too.
Nicky’s Lesson for Us All
In 1979, I was managing a Wendy’s in Port Richey, Florida. Unlike today, staffing was never a real problem, but I was searching for a someone to work 3 hours a day only at lunch. I went thru all my applications and most were all looking for full time or at least 20 hours per week. I found one however, buried at the bottom of a four inch stack, that was only looking for lunch part time.
His name was Nicky. Hadn’t met him but thought I would give him a call and see if he could stop by for an interview. When I called, he wasn’t in but his mom said she would make sure he would be there. At the appointed time, Nicky walked in. One of those moments when my heart went in my throat. Nicky suffered from Downs Syndrome. His physical appearance was a giveaway and his speech only reinforced the obvious. I was young and very sheltered. Had never interacted on a professional level with a developmentally disabled person. I had no clue what to do, so I went ahead and interviewed him. He was a wonderful young man. Great outlook. Task focused. Excited to be alive. For only reasons God knew at that time, I hired him for 3 hours a day, 3 days a week to run a grill.
I let the staff know what to expect. Predictably the crew made sure I got the message, “No one wants to work with a retard.” To this day I find that word offensive. We had a crew meeting, cleared the air, and prepared for his arrival.
Nicky showed up for work right on time. He was so excited to be working. He stood at the time clock literally shaking with anticipation. He clocked in and started his training. Couldn’t multi-task, but was a machine on the grill.
Now for the fascinating part… Back in that day, there were no computer screens to work from. Every order was called out by the cashier. It required a great deal of concentration on the part of all production staff to get the order right. While Nicky was training during his first shift, the sandwich maker next to him asked the grillman/trainer what was on the next sandwich. Nicky replied, “single, no pickle no onion.” A few minutes later it happened again. It was then that we discovered Nicky had a hidden and valuable skill. He memorized everything he heard! Photographic hearing! WHAT A SKILL SET.
It took 3 days and every sandwich maker requested to work with Nicky. He immediately was accepted by the entire crew. After his shift he would join the rest of his crew family, drinking Coke like it was water! It was then that they discovered another Rainman-esque trait. Nicky was a walking/talking perpetual calendar! With a perpetual calendar as a reference, they would sit for hours asking him what day of the week was December 22, 1847. He never missed. This uncanny trait mesmerized the crew.
His mom would come in at 2 to pick him up. More times than not, the crew would be back there with him hamming it up. As I went to get him from the back, his mom said something I will never forget. “Let him stay there as long as he wants. He has never been accepted anywhere like he has been here.”
I excused myself and dried my eyes, humbled and broken-hearted at the lesson I just learned. Nicky had a profound impact on that store. His presence changed a lot of people. Today I believe with every fiber of my body that Nicky’s hiring was no accident. God’s timing and will are perfect.
This Christmas, I hope we all understand what we are celebrating. We are all like Nicky. We each have our shortcomings. We each have our strong points. But we are all of value. God made us that way and God doesn’t make mistakes. Nicky certainly wasn’t a mistake. He was a valuable gift that I am forever grateful for.
We are celebrating the birth of the ONE that leveled the playing field for all of us. God doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, republican or democrat, or black or white. He doesn’t care if your chromosome structure is perfect. He doesn’t care what level of education you have attained. He cares about your heart. He wants us all to love and appreciate the gift HE gave us on Christmas, His son, the Savior, our salvation. His Son that was born to die for our sins. To pay our debt. To provide us a path for eternity.
So this Christmas, let’s check our hearts. There is a little bit of Nicky in all of us and I suspect there is a Nicky somewhere in your life who is looking for the chance to be embraced. Thank God for that. Thank God for His perfect gift, Christ Jesus.
Another of my high school friends, Kristy, sent me this sketch done by a 93-year-old friend of hers. What a wonderful rendition of that glorious Christmas Day! Like those two doves, my husband, Bob, and I are sitting in the rafters, peering down on that magical scene – marveling at the love Christ brought down to earth. Grateful for those who share His love in stories, words and actions.
Ready to Learn
May we all be like the workers in that restaurant long ago – ready to learn to love, learn to accept, learn to wrap our arms around the most vulnerable. May we learn to see one another through Jesus glasses, from the inside out.
My resolution for 2020 was to “Walk the Talk.” Little did I know when I created those 20/20 Perfect Vision glasses last January 1st what a challenge that would be!
I posted the picture of that little girl in early January, determined to talk less and to do more.
No Way of Knowing
I had no way of knowing when we celebrated the first of five planned Lenten breakfasts leading up to Easter that it would be our last. COVID-19 hit, our gatherings were shut down, and social distancing eliminated these opportunities.
Time to read more, time to think more, time to reflect on stories like the one at the top of this blog.
How will you spend the rest of this 2020 year? What will you do to Walk the Talk and Show the Love of Christ with those you meet? Think about it.
I love you. Thanks for taking time to read JanBeek. I hope it inspires you. Bee well! Bee LOVE.
This morning was the first of six community Lenten breakfasts. We held it at our church. The next five will be at five other churches in Ennis and Jeffers, Montana. Our topic today was HOPE. About 40 friends from around the community gathered to kick off this Lenten season with food and music, and a message of Hope, delivered by our Rev. Steve Hundley.
Our faithful friend, George and his wife, Lucy, arrived about 5:30 AM to set up the food, make the coffee and get ready for the 7:00 AM crowd.
After breakfast, in preparation for Steve’s message of HOPE, we sang this wonderful hymn. It lends direction to our hopes for this Lenten season and everyday… especially in this world of hatred, injury, doubt, despair, darkness, and sadness. Let us determine to be the peace we seek to find.
So that’s the food and friends and music. What about the feathers? Yesterday I told you about my friend, Bernie, who is in the hospital and has set up quite an artistic “mess” on his tray table. Let me show you:
He has quite a menagerie of feathers there. Look at the flies he is able to create with them:
Yes, WOW!! That’s the feathers… and their creative use for catching some mighty big trout!
But what about the mustangs? Well, our Ennis High School mascot is the Mustang. When I drove by the school this morning, I had to top and take a picture for you of these MAGNIFICENT bronze mustangs. They were created by a local artist (Ennis is an art town with 6 art galleries in a place with a population of less than 1,000).
I’ll try to find out the sculptor’s name and let you know later. It’s important to give him/her credit!
But for now, I am headed to my TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) group. I hope I didn’t gain too much with those scrumptious egg casseroles this morning. I had to try a little of each!
Look for that trophy again… I want to be the biggest loser. I have 6 more pounds to take off to get back to my goal weight.
Lent is upon us.
It is a 40 day period when we prepare for the coming of Easter.
One way to prepare is to practice the art of self-examination.
Look deeply into yourself.
Be prepared to acknowledge your areas of struggle.
Invite God to help you over the hurdles.
In Soul Feast by Marjorie J. Thompson, we are reminded that we cannot escape from God’s all-seeing eye. She writes, “When we feel searched and known by a gracious God, we are both moved and enabled to search our own hearts honestly.”
A promise to give up something for Lent
needs to be a promise to rid ourselves
of something that we obsess about.
We need to cleanse our bodies and souls of something that distracts us
from focusing on the meaning of this season
in preparation for the sacrifice of the “Bread of Life”
who gave His body for our salvation.
If spiritual discipline is what fasting is supposed to be about, does giving up something you can do without really do the trick?
Looking at Lent through the eyes of Marjorie J. Thompson,
who wrote the book “Soul Feast,”
I began to understand
the concept of fasting a little better.
She wrote, “… the discipline of fasting…
has to do with the critical dynamic
of accepting those limits that are life-restoring.”
She went on to caution us,
“Do not underestimate what God can
accomplish in you through the consistent offering
of such a discipline.”
The discipline is that of “self-emptying.”
What is Self-Emptying?
Self-emptying is “giving up something” –
but it doesn’t have to be food!
Fasting from a particular food we crave
is NOT the ONLY way to acknowledge the onset of Lent.
Let’s decide to “self-empty” of something.
The word Lent was derived from a Saxon word meaning “spring.” In the early church, Lent was viewed as a spritual spring, a time of light and joy in the renewal of the soul’s life. James Earl Massey wrote, “Fasting is not a renunciation of life; it is a means by which new life is released within us.”
What can we give up in order to release new life in us?
More Than Food!
Fasting is about more than food. It is about hungering for the things that matter most. It is about abstaining from those activities that pull us away from what we know we OUGHT to be doing.
What about fasting from constantly checking your cell phone?
What about fasting from daily absorption in the “breaking news” – the TV?
What about giving up the tendency to let our minds wander when in fact we want to be meditating and entering into prayful communion with God?
How about a fast from negativity or criticism?Those are some of the things we can “give up” without giving up the intent of Lent.
To Give or to Give Up?
But what about GIVING instead (or in addition to) giving up? What might I GIVE to honor God during this season of Lent?
A couple of years ago, I read in a Guideposts Magazine about a woman who had spent the 40 days of Lent in what I thought was a very unique way. She created a list of 40 people who made a difference in her life. These people who positively influenced her were from every walk of life – family, work, church, childhood friends, neighbors, teachers, etc. Once she generated her list, she wrote a letter a day. In her notes, she told each of them how important they were in her life, how much she appreciated them, how grateful she was for what they meant to her.
I read that and thought, “I can do that!
I can think of 40 people who deserve a thank you
from me for what they have done in my life.”
My trouble was, however, limiting the list to just 40. When you stop and think about it, I bet you can easily name 40 or more who have touched your life in a meaningful way. I had to make some of the names “couples.” Then, I was able to begin my 40 days of letter writing. It was a wonderful act of “giving” – and filled the time I might have been eating that food I crave!
Yes, you can give – and give up – at the same time.
What will you do to honor this season, to create a time of “interior spring cleaning” that leads to God in the core of your being while making your life more nourishing for others?
Think about it… and tell me what you come up with in the comments below,
This is the season of Lent. It’s the nine weeks leading up to Easter when we prepare for the remembrance of Christ’s death and resurrection by focusing on the Good News of His life. Here are my sermon notes from yesterday’s Lenten message delivered by Pastor Jean Johnson at the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church. It’s worth pondering.
I have Good News to share today: Jesus came to us with JOY to proclaim! He was rejected for the words He spoke, Rejected for His deeds in God’s name.
Cruelty, rejection, brutality could not Turn God against us – no way! The horrible, humiliating crucifixion Did not stop God, who is with us this day.
God has drawn nearer to us; He has taken up residency in this place. He is busy continuing to create for us Our future in a blessed, glorious, eternal space.
Faith comes through hearing, so we sit And listen to preaching and reading Of the scripture and reflections on The Word. It’s the Good New we are hearing and heeding.
Or are we?
What are we doing to Live His Word and prepare our hearts for Him today? I am praying for my life to be a reflection of Christ’s teaching, a mirror of love that reflects the fruits of the spirit: love, compassion, generosity, gentleness, self-control, gratitude, joy, and kindness. Join me, my friends, as we pray together for the Good News to sink in and Christ’s life to find full meaning in our hearts. Have a happy and reflective Lenten Season!