Wednesday, March 18, 2020

WEEKLY FRAMEWORK:
Just outside of Jerusalem, Jesus performed a miracle that changed a man's life forever. For 38 years, this man was unable to walk. But when Jesus said, "Get up," the man was healed. However, it's what Jesus said next that made this miracle a clear sign of who Jesus really was.

Wednesday's Devotional
Based on Pastor Eric's daily study guide
Read John 5:1-9

If you've ever been drawn in by one of those clickbait-y headlines (and let's be honest: who hasn't?), you may have found yourself on a website that gives the story one line at a time; and to get the next line you have to click a button to go to a new web page. Oh, and you may have noticed that almost everything on the page other than that one line of the story is surrounded by ads.

It's a money making tactic! Every page you click on means another dollar for the website that's hosting the story. They know that if they make the good part available too soon, you'll leave their site; you have to keep clicking to find the answer to the question that drew you in when you clicked on the link.
From this and other tactics that have changed the way that we take in a story in modern times, we can miss important information and nuance in the stories the Bible is telling us.

The Bible has many instances of information that, in our temporal distance from the period when the events took place, we quickly disregard. In this passage, it's easy to glance past the context of the story to get to the "good part".

In the scripture passage for today, we go back to the story of Jesus asking a paralyzed man if he wants to be healed. Leading up to Jesus' question is information that, in our haste to get to the meat of the story, we skim over: the location of the pool (near the Sheep Gate, in the north city wall), the name of the pool (Bethsaida), and a physical description of the pool (5 porches and a crowd of sick people).

Why these details? They begged the ancient reader or listener to check it out for themselves! This isn't some far-off place in a remote town. Plenty of people would have passed by this place every day. Even moreso, the detail about the man - that he'd been sick for 38 years - may have even identified who he was to some people.

Suddenly what seems superfluous becomes a vital signal that when John wrote his gospel, he was serious about getting people to understand who Jesus was. John is intentional in crafting the story he wants people to hear about the Healer; and he wants the person taking in the story to examine the proof he offers.

But there's something else that John sneaks in... it might even be the biggest detail of all. We'll dive into that tomorrow.

What are details of life that you may have overlooked or taken for granted that are coming to the forefront in the midst of the current crisis? How can you begin to live each day intentionally?

For Reflection:
In verse 9, notice how quickly the author (John) pivots from the miraculous healing to the fact that this happened on the Sabbath. What does this say about the main reason John captured this story?

A note from the Rev. Steve Morton, our North District Superintendent:

"I will repay you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, which I sent against you;
You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God!"
(Joel 2:25-26a)

How strange and unique is the writing of the lesser prophet, Joel! Sometime in the mid-fifth century BC, a swarm of locusts - the likes of which had never been seen before, nor would ever come again (2:2b) - had invaded without warning and brought an economic and spiritual crisis all across the land.

Without minimizing the people's sense of panic, the prophet nevertheless calls them to a path of resolution. How? 'Through fasting, lamentation, prayer...and calm (1:14, 2:12, 2:21). And a profound reminder: "The Lord is a refuge for his people; a stronghold for the people of Israel." (3:16b)

These are remarkable days in America, the likes of which we've not seen before....and a particular challenge to the churches in the land. Gathering the people in solemn assembly (Joel 2:15-16) is pretty-much basic to what we do (!) - sometimes even in groups of more than fifty (50) - and yet for a season right now, we're being called to re-think "Church."

Know that the Bishop and cabinet are in solidarity with you in prayer, and seek to stay connected in whatever means are appropriate for us.

These are crazy days, to be sure. If you find yourself with an extra fifteen minutes to spare, read though the prophecy of Joel in its entirely (a mere three chapters). It's scary and exciting and honest. Linger on each line, and ponder your favorite.

Mine?

"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." (2:32a)

~ Steve



Previously shared study resources:
The Women Who Knew, produced by EPAUMC North District
Our God, Our Help in Ages Past video reflection from Bishop Peggy Johnson

For SPARK (3-4yr olds)
Download this week's Parent Cue

For BLAST (PreK- 5th grades)
Read Mark 11:25

Do you sometimes treat God like a vending machine with your prayers? If you put in the time to ask for what you want (like putting a coin into a vending machine) then you'll get back what you've asked for (like a coke or package of chips). The point of prayer isn't to get God to do what we want. The point of prayer is to change us, to make us more like Jesus. 

If we want to be more like Jesus, the number one thing we have to take a look at is how we're treating other people. This is especially true when it comes to how we forgive and move on. Is there anyone you're refusing to forgive? Why?

Fill in the blank in the prayer below, asking God to help you take the first step to  forgive this week.

"God, this week, I'm really frustrated with _______________. 
You already know what happened and why I'm upset. 
Can you please help me take the first step to forgive? 
I don't want to stay mad but I need your help. Thanks
for loving me God and for choosing to forgive every 
time I mess up. In Jesus' name, amen."


Missed the video lessons shared on Monday?
When praying for our first responders, also include those who must keep working during this time to keep us fed, informed, warm, etc. These people are on the frontline, too. Please pray for their safety and for the safety of the families they go home to at night.
from Connie Miller

Dear God, We confess our need for you today. We need your healing and your grace. We need hope restored. We need to be reminded that you work on behalf of those you love, constantly, powerfully, completely. Forgive us for trying to fix our situations all on our own. Forgive us for running all different directions and spinning our wheels to find help, when true help and healing must be found first in You. Forgive us for forgetting how much we need you, above everyone and everything else. We come to you and bring you the places we are hurting. You see where no one else is able to fully see or understand. You know the pain we've carried. The burdens. The cares. You know where we need to be set free.

We ask for your healing and grace to cover every broken place. Every wound. Every heartache. Thank you that you are able to do far more than we could ever imagine. Thank you for your Mighty Power that acts on behalf of your children. We reach out to you, and know that you are restoring and redeeming every place of difficulty, every battle, for your greater glory. Thank you that you will never waste our pain and suffering. We love you. We need you today.  In Jesus' Name, Amen



A note on prayers: to respect confidentiality, we will not be sharing specific prayer requests via email; however our prayer team is still actively praying for every request that they receive. If you have a prayer request, send it to the prayer team at prayer@asburylv.org.


Our Keep in Touch team is still striving to connect with those in our congregation who are sick or hospitalized, even in the absence of physical visits. Those members who are visited monthly will be "visited" by phone. Say a special prayer of thanks for these individuals who help care for those among us who are ill!
Precautions related to the coronavirus will have an impact on our activities and gatherings. We recognize that they may also have a negative impact on our giving. Please continue to give and support our ministries as you are able. You can visit asburylv.org/give to give a one-time or recurring gift on PushPay, our online giving portal; or you can mail a check to the church.

Rev. Steve Morton, our District Superintendent, reminds us that "[we as] Christians GIVE not because of the church's need to receive... but because of OUR need to say "Thank You" to an amazingly-generous God - and in the midst of national crisis, that good news has not changed!"

Although our activities may be curtailed for a time, our fixed expenses for our ministries and building operations continue. Also, we value our staff, who will continue to be here to support you; and they will continue to be compensated in full. 

Thank you for your continued support!

Catch up on past announcements, devotionals, and resources at  asburylv.org/coronavirus .



All updates regarding Asbury's response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) will also be shared at that page; as well as via email blast and on our social media feeds ( Facebook and Twitter).



Asbury's building is officially closed and has been deep cleaned. We are asking that no one enter the building until it reopens (at this point the target date is Sunday, March 29).



Please know that during the time that the office is closed, all calls to Asbury are being received by our answering service, as there is no one available in the office to take your call. Any messages you leave with the answering service are forwarded to us and we will relay your message to the appropriate staff member to respond to you as soon as possible.



Cancelled/Postponed Events
Include, but not limited to:
UMW Communion Breakfast
Children's Ministries' Communion Workshop
Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings
Men's Group Tour to Mack Museum
Reschedule dates (if applicable) will be communicated when available.
No physical meetings are being held at Asbury or off-site; but please check with your group/Circle leader to see if there are plans for your group to connect online.

Connect with us online
www.asburylv.org