Lenten Study 2023, Week Four

Our journey through Psalms will begin March 1st and run for five weeks. During our study we will look at how the book was used by the Hebrew people and continues to be used by Jewish and Christian believers today. We will use the different genres of poetry found throughout as our entry point into these ancient texts.

YouTube videos with accompanying study guides will be uploaded every Wednesday until Holy Week.

Sunday Reflection – Lent IV, March 19, 2023


Jesus heals a blind man

John As Jesus walked along, he saw a man who had been blind since birth. Jesus’ disciples asked, “Teacher, why was this man born blind? Was it because he or his parents sinned?”

“No, it wasn’t!” Jesus answered. “But because of his blindness, you will see God work a miracle for him. As long as it is day, we must do what the one who sent me wants me to do. When night comes, no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light for the world.”

After Jesus said this, he spit on the ground. He made some mud and smeared it on the man’s eyes. Then he said, “Go wash off the mud in Siloam Pool.” The man went and washed in Siloam, which means “One Who Is Sent.” When he had washed off the mud, he could see.

The man’s neighbors and the people who had seen him begging wondered if he really could be the same man. Some of them said he was the same beggar, while others said he only looked like him. But he told them, “I am that man.”

10 “Then how can you see?” they asked.

11 He answered, “Someone named Jesus made some mud and smeared it on my eyes. He told me to go and wash it off in Siloam Pool. When I did, I could see.”

12 “Where is he now?” they asked.

“I don’t know,” he answered.

13-14 The day when Jesus made the mud and healed the man was a Sabbath. So the people took the man to the Pharisees. 15 They asked him how he was able to see, and he answered, “Jesus made some mud and smeared it on my eyes. Then after I washed it off, I could see.”

16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man Jesus doesn’t come from God. If he did, he would not break the law of the Sabbath.”

Others asked, “How could someone who is a sinner work such a miracle?”

Since the Pharisees could not agree among themselves, 17 they asked the man, “What do you say about this one who healed your eyes?”

“He is a prophet!” the man told them.

18 But the Jewish leaders would not believe that the man had once been blind. They sent for his parents 19 and asked them, “Is this the son that you said was born blind? How can he now see?”

20 The man’s parents answered, “We are certain that he is our son, and we know that he was born blind. 21 But we don’t know how he got his sight or who gave it to him. Ask him! He is old enough to speak for himself.”

22-23 The man’s parents said this because they were afraid of their leaders. The leaders had already agreed that no one was to have anything to do with anyone who said Jesus was the Messiah.

24 The leaders called the man back and said, “Swear by God to tell the truth! We know that Jesus is a sinner.”

25 The man replied, “I don’t know if he is a sinner or not. All I know is that I used to be blind, but now I can see!”

26 “What did he do to you?” they asked. “How did he heal your eyes?”

27 The man answered, “I have already told you once, and you refused to listen. Why do you want me to tell you again? Do you also want to become his disciples?”

28 The leaders insulted the man and said, “You are his follower! We are followers of Moses. 29 We are sure God spoke to Moses, but we don’t even know where Jesus comes from.”

30 “How strange!” the man replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from. 31 We know that God listens only to people who love and obey him. God doesn’t listen to sinners. 32 And this is the first time in history anyone has ever given sight to someone born blind. 33 Jesus could not do anything unless he came from God.”

34 The leaders told the man, “You have been a sinner since the day you were born! Do you think you can teach us anything?” Then they said, “You can never come back into any of our synagogues!”

35 When Jesus heard what had happened, he went and found the man. Then Jesus asked, “Do you have faith in the Son of Man?”

36 He replied, “Sir, if you will tell me who he is, I will put my faith in him.”

37 “You have already seen him,” Jesus answered, “and right now he is talking with you.”

38 The man said, “Lord, I put my faith in you!” Then he worshiped Jesus.

39 Jesus told him, “I came to judge the people of this world. I am here to give sight to the blind and to make blind everyone who can see.”

40 When the Pharisees heard Jesus say this, they asked, “Are we blind?”

41 Jesus answered, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty. But now that you claim to see, you will keep on being guilty.”

Performed by Margaret Whisselle

Kids Korner: Jesus makes a blind man see (Lent IV, March 19th)

Read John 9:1-41 with your family.

Sometimes, no matter how much we want to believe in miracles, it is very hard to do. That is what is happening in our story today. This is another long story from the Gospel of John. All of the stories in John teach about how much God loves the world. And these are lessons that usually confuse those in charge because they have a very narrow way of understanding God. They want to believe, but they seem more focused on rules than acts of helping. So when Jesus helps peopled, they automatically try to find what is wrong rather than being happy for the person being helped.

We do that too. So much of the time rather than believing that God is active in our lives, we look for reasons that good or bad things happen for others. We look at our own lives and wonder why those good things didn’t happen for us, and use that as proof that God really isn’t involved.

Instead we should look at miracles as not big things, but little things every day. Most people who talk about God working big things in their lives are people who had big problems to start. When our problems are smaller, it’s hard to see God doing miracles for us too. But small things happen every day:

  • People obey the road signs so it’s safe to cross the road
  • Rain helps the flowers grow and washes away dirt
  • Saying nice words makes people and animals happy

What are some other everyday miracles?

Lenten Study 2023, Week Three

Our journey through Psalms will begin March 1st and run for five weeks. During our study we will look at how the book was used by the Hebrew people and continues to be used by Jewish and Christian believers today. We will use the different genres of poetry found throughout as our entry point into these ancient texts.

YouTube videos with accompanying study guides will be uploaded every Wednesday until Holy Week.

Sunday Reflection – Lent III, March 12, 2023


Jesus and the Samaritan Woman

John Jesus knew that the Pharisees had heard that he was winning and baptizing more followers than John was. But Jesus’ disciples were really the ones doing the baptizing, and not Jesus himself.

Jesus left Judea and started for Galilee again. This time he had to go through Samaria,  and on his way he came to the town of Sychar. It was near the field that Jacob had long ago given to his son Joseph. 6-8 The well that Jacob had dug was still there, and Jesus sat down beside it because he was tired from traveling. It was noon, and after Jesus’ disciples had gone into town to buy some food, a Samaritan woman came to draw water from the well.

Jesus asked her, “Would you please give me a drink of water?”

 “You are a Jew,” she replied, “and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink of water when Jews and Samaritans won’t have anything to do with each other?”

10 Jesus answered, “You don’t know what God wants to give you, and you don’t know who is asking you for a drink. If you did, you would ask me for the water that gives life.”

11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you don’t even have a bucket, and the well is deep. Where are you going to get this life-giving water? 12 Our ancestor Jacob dug this well for us, and his family and animals got water from it. Are you greater than Jacob?”

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again. 14 But no one who drinks the water I give will ever be thirsty again. The water I give will become in that person a flowing fountain that gives eternal life.”

15 The woman replied, “Sir, please give me a drink of that water! Then I won’t get thirsty and have to come to this well again.”

16 Jesus told her, “Go and bring your husband.”

17-18 The woman answered, “I don’t have a husband.”

“That’s right,” Jesus replied, “you’re telling the truth. You don’t have a husband. You have already been married five times, and the man you are now living with isn’t your husband.”

19 The woman said, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. 20 My ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews say Jerusalem is the only place to worship.”

21 Jesus said to her:

Believe me, the time is coming when you won’t worship the Father either on this mountain or in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans don’t really know the one you worship. But we Jews do know the God we worship, and by using us, God will save the world. 23 But a time is coming, and it is already here! Even now the true worshipers are being led by the Spirit to worship the Father according to the truth. These are the ones the Father is seeking to worship him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship God must be led by the Spirit to worship him according to the truth.

25 The woman said, “I know that the Messiah will come. He is the one we call Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

26 “I am that one,” Jesus told her, “and I am speaking to you now.”

27 The disciples returned about this time and were surprised to find Jesus talking with a woman. But none of them asked him what he wanted or why he was talking with her.

28 The woman left her water jar and ran back into town, where she said to the people, 29 “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! Could he be the Messiah?” 30 Everyone in town went out to see Jesus.

31 While this was happening, Jesus’ disciples were saying to him, “Teacher, please eat something.”

32 But Jesus told them, “I have food you don’t know anything about.”

33 His disciples started asking each other, “Has someone brought him something to eat?”

34 Jesus said:

My food is to do what God wants! He is the one who sent me, and I must finish the work that he gave me to do. 35 You may say there are still four months until harvest time. But I tell you to look, and you will see that the fields are ripe and ready to harvest.

36 Even now the harvest workers are receiving their reward by gathering a harvest that brings eternal life. Then everyone who planted the seed and everyone who harvests the crop will celebrate together. 37 So the saying proves true, “Some plant the seed, and others harvest the crop.” 38 I am sending you to harvest crops in fields where others have done all the hard work.

39 A lot of Samaritans in that town put their faith in Jesus because the woman had said, “This man told me everything I have ever done.” 40 They came and asked him to stay in their town, and he stayed on for two days.

41 Many more Samaritans put their faith in Jesus because of what they heard him say. 42 They told the woman, “We no longer have faith in Jesus just because of what you told us. We have heard him ourselves, and we are certain that he is the Savior of the world!”

Performed by Margaret Whisselle

Kids Korner: Nicodemus (Lent III, March 12th)

Read John 4:1-42 with your family.

The Samaritan woman Jesus met at the well was well respected by her community as well as by Jesus. When she asked questions he answered, and when she was confused he explained in more detail.

Imagine a woman who had to go to the well every day for water and never having enough, being told there was Living Water that would always be available to her. It’s understandable that she thought Jesus was talking about the water in the well beside them, and she wanted that. Even after Jesus told her the water was a spiritual experience that would always make her soul feel better the way water made her throat fell better, she wanted it. She knew that promise was from the Messiah, and Jesus told her that was who he was. She was overjoyed. She understood. She got her friends to come and talk to Jesus, too.

The disciples were confused by Jesus talking to a woman alone, because that usually wasn’t done in their society, but they didn’t challenge Jesus. They listened as Jesus explained what had happened in terms of harvest. The disciples didn’t understand, so Jesus explained it in more detail. Jesus explained that the harvesting they had to do was gathering people and telling them about God’s love.

People are ‘thirsty’ for the love of God. They want to know they matter and that they are loved. It is up to us, just like the disciples, to tell people how much God loves them. And when these people have their own experience of God’s love, they will tell others, too.

Lenten Study 2023

Our journey through Psalms will begin March 1st and run for five weeks. During our study we will look at how the book was used by the Hebrew people and continues to be used by Jewish and Christian believers today. We will use the different genres of poetry found throughout as our entry point into these ancient texts.

YouTube videos with accompanying study guides will be uploaded every Wednesday until Holy Week.

Sunday Reflection – Lent II, March 5, 2023


Jesus and Nicodemus

John There was a man named Nicodemus who was a Pharisee and a Jewish leader. One night he went to Jesus and said, “Rabbi, we know that God has sent you to teach us. You could not work these miracles, unless God were with you.”

Jesus replied, “I tell you for certain that you must be born from above before you can see God’s kingdom!”

Nicodemus asked, “How can a grown man ever be born a second time?”

Jesus answered:

I tell you for certain that before you can get into God’s kingdom, you must be born not only by water, but by the Spirit. Humans give life to their children. Yet only God’s Spirit can change you into a child of God. Don’t be surprised when I say that you must be born from above. Only God’s Spirit gives new life. The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants to. You can hear the wind, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going.

“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

10 Jesus replied:

How can you be a teacher of Israel and not know these things? 11 I tell you for certain we know what we are talking about because we have seen it ourselves. But none of you will accept what we say. 12  If you don’t believe when I talk to you about things on earth, how can you possibly believe if I talk to you about things in heaven?

13  No one has gone up to heaven except the Son of Man, who came down from there. 14  And the Son of Man must be lifted up, just as the metal snake was lifted up by Moses in the desert. 15 Then everyone who has faith in the Son of Man will have eternal life.

16 God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die. 17 God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them! 

Performed by Margaret Whisselle

Kids Korner: Nicodemus (Lent II, March 5th)

Read John 3:1-17 with your family.

There are two big parts in this story, first Nicodemus trying to understand what it means to be ‘born from above’ (or born again), and the second is verse 16 where we hear God so loved the world that God gave the only son, that whoever has faith in him will have eternal life.

Both of these have been used by people to hurt others, and that shows they don’t understand God’s message at all.

First, to be ‘born from above’ or ‘born again’, means that when we believe in Jesus and follow what he taught us, it’s like we become a new person. Jesus calls us to be different, to love people and help people. “Born again” does not mean you stop being yourself or stop talking to your friends and family, just that the way you behave and the way you talk to others will change.

Second, God loving the world and expecting faith in Jesus does not mean we have to be Christian. The Christian church didn’t even exist when those words were written in the Gospel of John. What it does mean is having faith in God’s love, and Jesus shows us God’s love.

Many people just stay at verse 16 but don’t go on to verse 17, which says that God isn’t going to judge or punish the world. We forget that sometimes. When we fail to follow Jesus teachings, we are always given another chance to try. God wants the world to be good for everyone, and we are responsible as follows of Jesus, to make that happen.