Tuesday, March 31, 2020

There are many products we buy, use, and put our confidence in without having all the information or fully understanding how they work. In the Gospel of John, we see a man begin to follow Jesus based on limited information. This man, who was born blind, said he only knew one main thing-and that one thing was enough to make him curious about who Jesus really was.

Tuesday's Devotional
Based on Pastor Eric's daily study guide

It's easy to get caught up in the individual big stories of the Bible and miss both the overall narrative and the small subtleties. Beyond telling us the story of God's people searching for a Messiah, and the story of our redemption through Jesus, the Bible is filled with turns of phrase and subtle threads that point to God's creativity and intentional storytelling.

In writing about the story of Jesus healing the blind man, John throws in a note about the meaning of the name of the pool where Jesus directed the man to wash: Siloam, which means sent (v7). Why include this note? For one thing, it would almost certainly be lost on us all these centuries later had he not recorded it. But it also helps point to the larger narrative of Jesus' story. Jesus is sent by God. He begins his ministry by being baptized by his cousin John in the Jordan River  and the Spirit of God comes to him . His first miracle involves water , he calls his first disciples along a shoreline , he teaches about thirsting for living water rather than still water  and last week we read about another healing he did, also by a pool .

Water is a central part of Jesus' ministry and teaching.

Maybe even more interesting, though, is what Siloam was used for. InterVarsity Press' Bible Background Commentary on the New Testament tells us that

"Siloam was used as a water supply and for baptizing converts to Judaism, [but] it has more direct significance here. This was probably still the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles (7:2, 37), and the water of Siloam was the sacred water used for this feast. Here Jesus employs the ritual water (cf. 2:6; 3:5), but it works only because the man is "sent."

So picture that Jesus has used this water, meant for sustenance and for bringing people into Judaism; and he's used it to show where we are to look for our eternal sustenance and healing. Once again, God shows us that something new is happening.

Take some time today to consider both the big and subtle things God is doing in your life. Where is God compelling you to be "sent"?

For Reflection:
* What are some details about this story that would lead a reader to believe this actually happened?
* In verse 2, there was an assumption that sin and suffering were connected. Were you raised to believe that?
* In verse 3, Jesus said purpose can be found in the lifelong suffering of the blind man. How does it resonate with you that suffering might have a purpose?
* Similar to the sign from John 5, Jesus seems to violate the Sabbath tradition held by the Pharisees. Why does John continue to mention this?

Previously shared study resources:
The Women Who Knew, produced by EPAUMC North District
 From  Hari & Richal Ghimire, Batulechour Church, Pokhara, Nepal

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are well and hope you are also well. This is a [difficult] time though our God is all above the situation. We are hearing the virus is spreading unexpectedly in all the world. We have some cases of corona virus [in Nepal]. Government has announced a lockdown [in] the country for a week so, we are inside the house. Church service has closed but we are encouraging church family to stay in home and pray. We need to pray for each other.
This the crucial time to go near to our God. We are praying for you, Asbury family and all US family. Today our family in fasting prayer. Yes, indeed we have to join our hands and raise our voices to our almighty God. He is in control and He does know what has been going on. We humbly join with you and we lift our hands to God.
In Him
Hari and Richal and Batulechour Church family

We invite you to send notes of support and encouragement to the mission partners whose stories we've been sharing. Simply respond to this email with your message and we'll make sure it's passed along!

Don't forget to send your pictures or videos of palms to Miss Pam!

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

For BLAST (PreK- 5th grades)

What are some chores you're responsible for around your house?

What are some chores your mom or dad are responsible for?

According to this verse, whose job is it to judge? Is it yours? Nope, it's God's job. When someone says or does something unkind, you could choose to stay mad. Or you could choose to let God be the judge. It's His job anyway.

God sees and knows all. You can talk to Him and tell Him why you're mad and ask Him to help you decide to forgive. As you pray today, tell God why you're angry or sad. Talk about what happened and how you want to forgive but it's hard. Ask Him to do His job (the judging part) and help you do yours (the forgiving part) so you don't miss out.

Missed this week's video lessons shared on Sunday (for week of 3/29)?
We realize that your personal financial landscape may have drastically changed in these few short weeks; but if you are able to continue to financially support the ministries of Asbury, please prayerfully consider doing so.

We strongly encourage you to give online through PushPay, our online giving portal, at asburylv.org/give, but you can also mail your weekly envelopes or a check in to the church office.

Your contributions will continue to help support the worship and ministries of Asbury. Additionally, we are retaining our commitment to compensating our staff at this time.

Thank you for your continued support!

We ask for your healing hands to be with the hands of the doctors, nurses, and first responders who are helping to heal those afflicted by this virus.
Provide them knowledge, wisdom, courage, supplication, and health to handle all that they face today and in the weeks to come.

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.

If you are experiencing loneliness, or spiritual and emotional distress during these challenging days, you are not alone. Your pastors are praying for you.  Please reach out to Pastor Barbara at  blee@asburylv.org . She has been making calls for encouragement, counsel and prayer. If you are aware of someone in the congregation you are concerned about, please ask that individual's permission and then pass along your concern to Pastor Barbara.

We want to encourage you during this time to continue to stay connected with others, particularly those who might need help - not just Asbury congregants, but neighbors and homebound friends. A phone call, email, or text is always a safe way to connect! Always be aware of your own safety and the safety of those you're helping!

We know that these stressful times have and will cause hardships for some in our community. The following groups, recommended by Asbury in Mission (AIM), have resources available for assistance if you or someone you know has a need:

Kingdom Life Family Center Food Bank
4333 Lime Kiln Rd, Orefield, PA 18069
1401 Linden Street, Allentown, PA 18102

AIM also reminds us that while volunteer opportunities are few due to the current crisis, our mission partners can still be supported financially. Learn more about all of our AIM mission partners at  asburylv.org/aim.

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.  Members known to be hospitalized and/or sick and 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!

Asbury's building is closed through (and including) Sunday, April 5. Read more at asburylv.org/200324update. The building has been deep cleaned and we are asking that no one enter the building until it reopens.

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).

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.

Asbury is now a drop-off site for home-sewn masks for Lehigh Valley Health Network. The collection bin is located at the doors by the upper entrance to the building. If you're able to sew masks, but not able to deliver, or if you need assistance picking up supplies, email Pastor Barbara to get connected with a helper.


St. Luke's is also collecting personal protective equipment (PPE). Learn more about the items they're accepting and their drop-off locations (their Care Now urgent care locations in Allentown, Whitehall, Bethlehem, and more) on their website.

Cancelled/Postponed Events
Include, but not limited to:
Children's Ministries' Easter Celebration (postponed)
Jubilation Ringers Spring Concerts (cancelled)
April Blood Drive (cancelled) - please consider giving at one of their physical locations (Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Reading) in this critical time of need.
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.

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