Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Following Jesus' crucifixion, his followers expected what anyone expects after someone dies: that the person would remain that way. But one of Jesus' followers, John, gave an eyewitness account that summarized the main event surrounding Christianity: Jesus rose from the dead. In this seventh and final sign that John documents, he makes the case that Jesus is exactly who he claimed to be.

Tuesday's Devotional
Based on Pastor Eric's daily study guide
Our "always-on" modern culture has played the dual roles of connecting us while also creating more opportunities for deception to take place. Images are easily manipulated, words are twisted, and the ability to disseminate falsehoods is easier than ever.
On the other hand, we also have more tools at our disposal to examine claims and determine whether those claims are true, false, or somewhere in between.
Picture how different the scene at the empty tomb would have been if it happened with today's technology: Mary Magdalene FaceTimes with the disciples to show them the empty tomb. Peter and John run out, not to see it for themselves, but to take pictures and put them on Instagram. Thomas checks WebMD to see if you can live with a hole in your hand.
But - irreverence aside - the disciples didn't have these tools available to them; and they had good reason to have questions about Jesus' resurrection: after all, some of them had seen his crucifixion and death with their own eyes.
So, instead, they needed proof. They needed to see everything with their own eyes to verify the story. Peter and John couldn't take Mary Magdalene at her word, they needed to see the empty tomb for themselves. Thomas didn't believe the disciples that Jesus had to appear to him, he needed to see Jesus himself; and parts of Jesus that proved the crucifixion, at that.
Peter, John, and Thomas found the initial claims that they doubted to be true. And, suddenly, we find that a story that we, too, might have questioned, is supported almost exponentially by more eyewitnesses.
What proof do you need to know that something is true? What are the things that we can learn from the stories of Mary Magdalene, Peter, John, and Thomas as we, too, seek the truth?
For Reflection:
* What are some details about this story that would lead a reader to believe this actually happened?
* What stands out to you about these passages?
* Who can you relate to most from these passages: Peter, John, or Thomas? What makes you say that?

For SPARK (3-4yr olds)

For BLAST (PreK- 5th grades)

Do you know what the word "pride" means? Pride says, "Look at me, I'm awesome. Everything I do is awesome. And you will be awesome too if you hang out around me."

That's the opposite of how Jesus acted while on earth. Instead of showing off who He was (the SON of God!) or what He could do (like healing the sick or giving sight to the blind), Jesus was humble. He was the most important person in every room He ever entered and yet He never asked for special treatment.

Following Jesus means that we do our best to act and live the way He did. Instead of constantly trying to get what we think we deserve, Jesus followers should be flipping that idea to give others what they deserve. Jesus put us first. And when we follow Him, we can do the same for others.

Grab some friends and play a game of follow the leader. Make sure you are never the leader, always the follower.

Thank God for sending His only Son, Jesus, to show us how to live. Ask Him to help you put others first, just as Jesus did.

Rather have all of this week's BLAST devotionals at once? Get them here

Lord Jesus,
Teach us how to examine things thoroughly, yet know that your word is true.
Help us to remember that you have defeated death so that we can have life.

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.


A reminder that the deadline for the UMW Koch Scholarship is this Wednesday, April 15. Learn more about scholarships at asburylv.org/scholarships. Questions regarding the Koch Scholarship can be directed to Linda McCreight at lindamcc@ptd.net.

We've received the following message from Rise Against Hunger:

We are delighted to announce that the meals from your Rise Against Hunger Experience on 2/29/2020 have been shipped in a container totaling 285,120 meals from our Philadelphia warehouse. The meals will be received by our in-country partner Family Legacy Missions in Zambia.

Thank you to all who took part in this life-changing experience!

Sarah Circle will meet at 7:00PM (please note the time change) on Wednesday, April 15, 2020. The meeting will be held via a ZOOM set up by Peg French. Discussion will be on Guideposts 7 and 8 of the study book The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown with a subtitle of "Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are - Your Guide to a Wholehearted Life". Debbie Holt will facilitate.  Interested in joining? Please contact Deb McCleary (djmccleary76@msn.com) for details as to how to connect. All women are cordially invited to join!

Asbury's building is now closed indefinitely. When the time comes to re-open, rest assured we will send that communication as far in advance as possible (and very ready to celebrate gathering again!).

For the safety of all, and to keep Asbury's building virus-free, access to the building is now limited to office and custodial staff only. All other key cards have been deactivated. Should you need to gain access to the building, please contact Israel Olivieri, Business Manager, at  iolivieri@asburylv.org.

Asbury will be helping Salem UMC by delivering needed food items to their Food Bank on April 18. Donations are being collected from 4:00 - 6:00 PM on Thursday and Friday April 16 & 17.  Please drop off your non-perishable donations at the upper level entrance at Asbury. Volunteers will be practicing proper social distancing during the collection period. Please help our center city friends by generously giving!

Summer Camping registration is underway! Camps realize that the future is full of uncertainties and are considering alternative plans, including some offering full refunds if camps are cancelled. Visit the individual camp sites to learn more about their camps and their policies related to COVID-19:
Gretna Glen: Main Site | COVID-19 Response  
Pocono Plateau: Main Site | COVID-19 Response
Camp Innabah: Main Site | COVID-19 Response

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 them,  email Pastor Barbara to get connected with a helper. We do not have supplies available to offer; but could help coordinate a pickup for an order you place at a local fabric or craft store that's offering curbside pickup.


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:
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
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.

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.

If you are in a position to donate to the food banks, please be aware of the following information about donations:
Kingdom Life Family Center in Orefield wants people to make an appointment to drop off food on a Tuesday morning.  Call 610-398-0111
Salem United Methodist Church in Allentown, Food bank can take donations in the morning by appointment only.  Call Rev. Navin Satyarvata 610-432-2577

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!
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