3rd Sunday in Lent

Almighty God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Second Sunday in Lent

PICK UP YOUR CROSS AND FOLLOW ME
(Based on Mark 8:31-38)
(Safiyah Fosua)

Leader: Jesus said: “Pick up your cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34)
People: What does it mean to carry a cross?
Leader: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it.” Your way is the road less traveled. (Matthew 7:13)
People: How shall we carry this cross?
Leader: Jesus said: “go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor… then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21)
People: We are called to love one another and to be willing to give something of ourselves to others.
Leader: It takes strength to carry a cross; more than we have, sometimes more than we want.
People: God of Mercy, give us the strength to walk in your way, to carry the cross, to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Amen.

Valentine’s Day Reflection

1 John 4:10 

Real love isn’t our love for God, but his love for us. God sent his Son to be the sacrifice by which our sins are forgiven.

Image result for valentines day images

Today’s Devotional

Depending on when you read this devotion, Valentine’s Day is being celebrated around the world. Some people honor another on this day with chocolates, flowers and/or quality time with the person. Others will not have such a positive experience and may feel left out of all the love shared on this day. But whether a person celebrates this day or not, the fact remains that each person on the planet is loved by God … a lot.

Our verse for the day addresses love, real love. Not the love that is manufactured by Wall Street or hormones. Real love gives all, and the best, it has for another. Real love is sacrificial and holds nothing back. It does what is best for another and does what is needed or the other, no matter what.

This verse speaks to real love starting with God toward us. This love God has for us is not a love from lack as is the case so many times for humans. It is not a love to be returned as if it were some kind of business transaction. It is not a love that even needs to be reciprocated. Love simply gives for love’s sake.

The verse continues with what this love God has for us gives … His Son. If we stopped there with the verse it would be a quaint thought, a Hallmark moment, but it would be empty like a hollow chocolate cross. To be real or true love, it must give of itself sacrificially. And so, God gave His Son willingly and Jesus gave Himself willingly for us. Again, that is so sweet…but it is not what the verse states. God gave Jesus to die, to be a sacrifice, for us…for our sins (Romans 5:8). Now that is an impressive and humbling kind of love. It is said that someone asked how much Jesus loved them and He stretched out His arms on the cross and said, “this much.” Regardless of your position on the doctrine of Christ’s death on the cross, you can see clearly that this is a love that will not stop at anything to show itself. It is a tangible and memorable gift that not only is for Christ-followers now but will be our gift for eternity plus.

Now that is a real loving gift.

— Bianca Elliott, pastor
Linwood UMC

belliott@greatplainsumc.org

*Devotion originally posted 2/14/2020

Prayer for Reflection

Thank You, God, for not simply telling us how much You love us but showing Your love to the uttermost. Thank You, Jesus, for loving us that much too.

A Prayer

A LITANY IN HONOR OF AFRICAN AMERICANS IN STEM

BY STEPHON CARLISLE VOID

God of mercy and love, we thank you for your vison to give us the gifts of science, technology, engineering, and math. Through the gift of discovery, we learn more about how your world works every day. So many of these bright minds overcame racial and social injustice to make contributions to the world through STEM disciplines.

Lord, we thank you for your vision.

We thank you for the innovative thinkers and inventors such as George Washington Carver, Charles Drew, Lewis Latimer, Garret Morgan, Daniel Hale Williams, Madam C.J. Walker, Benjamin Banneker, Elijah McCoy, Jan Matzeliger, Fred Jones, Lonnie Johnson, and countless others. Because of their vison, our world is a better place.

Lord, we thank you for their vision.

We thank you for men and women architects like the ancient Egyptians, Beverly Greene, Norma Sklarek, Danita M. Brown, John Chase, Marshall Purnell, Robert R. Taylor, Walter T. Bailey, and others for filling our skies with great works structural art. Because of their vision, our world is a beautiful place.

Lord, we thank you for their vision.

We thank you for men and women astronauts such as Guion Bluford, Ronald McNair, Frederick D. Gregory, Charles F. Bolden, Jr., Dr. Mae Jemison, Stephanie Wilson, Joan Higginbotham, Yvonne Cagle, and Jeanette J. Epps. We thank you for mathematicians Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson. Because of their hard work and vision, we can reach for the stars and enjoy the universe you created.

Lord, we thank you for their vision.

We thank you for the bright minds of Percy Julian, Ernest E. Just, Neil deGrasse Tyson, St. Elmo Brady, Lloyd Hall, Marie Daly, and Joseph Graves. Because of their devotion to biology, chemistry, and physics, we understand your world on a microscopic level.

Lord, we thank you for their vision.

God of all knowledge, we thank for these great leaders and their contributions to make this world a better place. We acknowledge that without your input, none of these innovators would exist. May their dedication to learn about the unknown inspire others to appreciate the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math in our lives. May you continue to be our light of wisdom and knowledge in this ever-changing world that you blessed us with.

Amen.

Transfiguration Sunday

O God, who on the holy mount revealed to chosen witnesses your well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty; who with you, O Father, and you, O Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.