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Day 31 - Wednesday, 3/20

 How Will You Believe What I Say?

John 5:30-47

There must have been times in Jesus’ ministry when he wondered what it would take to get through to his disciples. What would it take for them to understand who he really was, and what he was sent to earth to do? Why wouldn’t they listen? When would they finally understand?

Maybe it was easier for the disciples to believe Jesus after he was crucified, died, and raised to life again. Maybe then they finally understood. This week we will look at five questions—transformative, personal, and empowering questions—that Jesus asked when he appeared to his followers after the resurrection.

Let’s set the stage for these questions. Luke 24:13-35 tells the story of two disciples walking on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. One of them is named Cleopas. The other is not even named. These two followers of Jesus were not part of the inner circle of twelve disciples. They were just ordinary people who had followed Jesus.

They were just like us.

In Jerusalem, Cleopas and the other disciple had witnessed the horror of Jesus’ crucifixion. They must have believed that his death on the cross was simply the end of the story. In their grief, they felt defeated and deflated, betrayed and let down. They felt like failures because their friend and Lord had been crucified.

Then someone joined them on the road. Though they didn’t recognize him at first, when they looked back later they realized that their “hearts burned” as they walked and talked with Jesus.

On the road to Emmaus Jesus gave these two followers vision and direction, new meaning and purpose. Seeing their Lord, now risen from the dead, set their hearts on fire.

How will you believe what Jesus says?

Questions to Ponder

  • When have you felt like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, meandering through life without a clear sense of vision and purpose? What did you learn from this experience?
  • What would it take for you to be set on fire for your faith?

Prayer for Today

Dear Jesus, I believe that you died on the cross and were raised to life again. Guide me on the road with you, and help me to follow you all the days of my life. In your holy name. Amen.

Day 25 - Wednesday, 3/13

Do You Love [Agape] Me?

John 21:1-16

Do you love Jesus?

It’s an important question. In fact, it’s a fundamental, transformative question. Do you love Jesus? 

Today’s Scripture reading is from John 21, the last chapter in John’s Gospel. Jesus appears to his disciples after he has been raised from the dead, and he asks Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” And he asks a second time. And a third time.

Tomorrow we’ll take a closer look at these three questions from Jesus. Today let’s take a closer look at Peter.

In many ways we might say Peter is the premier disciple. Whenever the disciples are named in the Gospels, Simon Peter is first on the list. He has the courage to get out of a boat and walk on water toward Jesus. Jesus renames him Cephas, the “rock,” and says he will build his church on Peter’s declaration that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. Peter is always there by Jesus’ side.

But there are many “lows” in Peter’s life too. On the stormy seas, when Peter takes his eyes off Jesus, he begins to sink into the turbulent water. When he hears that Jesus will suffer, he says, “God forbid, no!” When Jesus is on trial, he denies even knowing Jesus—not once, but three times. 

Maybe that’s why Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” Jesus gives Peter not one, not two, but three opportunities to redeem himself after denying Jesus three times.      

Do you love Jesus? Even if you’ve had “lows” in your life when you’ve taken your eyes off Jesus, you can still say “Yes.” Even if you’ve had “lows” in your life when you’ve flat-out denied Jesus, you can still say “Yes.” God, after all, is a God of second chances, and a third….

 

Questions to Ponder

  • What helps you to keep your eyes on Jesus?
  • In your opinion, why did Jesus give Peter a second and third chance? When have you been given a second chance, and what did you do with it?

 

Prayer for Today

O God, you have prepared for those who love you joys beyond understanding. Pour into our hearts such love for you that, loving you above all things, we may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lordwho lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Thrivent Choice®

nullStrengthening communities. Changing lives.

Thrivent Choice, the member-advised charitable grant program from Thrivent Financial, continues to be a welcome funding source for churches and nonprofit organizations nationwide. 

If you are an eligible Thrivent member, you likely are aware of this easy, convenient way to help make a difference for organizations you care about. The Thrivent Choice program offers a way for eligible members to recommend where Thrivent Financial distributes some of its charitable grant funds each year.

Eligible benefit members are designated Choice Dollars® that they can direct, thereby recommending charitable grant funding for their choice among thousands of enrolled churches and nonprofit organizations, including Bethany Lutheran Church. Earlier this month we received funds totaling $448.00 from six of our members. We know you have many choices through this program but would greatly appreciate your helping us reach our goal of $2,000.

If you are eligible to participate in Choice Dollars, or are uncertain about your eligibility, visit Thrivent.com/thriventchoice. Or contact your local Thrivent Financial representative.

Choice Dollars designated to eligible benefit members in 2015 must be directed by March 31, 2016.

 

2015 CHOICE DOLLARS®

EXPIRE SOON

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ACT NOW!

Thrivent Financial members have until March 31 to direct any remaining 2015 Choice Dollars®. After that date, Choice Dollars® will expire. Remind members about the positive impact they can make by directing Choice Dollars® to Bethany Lutheran Church.

DON’T FORGET

There are FREE promotion materials on the Thrivent Choice page on Thrivent.com to help you educate and remind your supporters about Thrivent Choice®.

SHARE THE GOOD NEWS!

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Appleton, Wisconsin • Minneapolis, Minnesota
Thrivent.com • 800-847-4836  

Thrivent Financial

The Thrivent Choice® charitable grant program engages Thrivent members and chapters in providing grants that support charitable activities, furthering Thrivent's mission and its purposes under state law. All grants are made at the sole discretion of Thrivent. Directing Choice Dollars® is subject to the program'sterms and conditions available at Thrivent.com/thriventchoice.

Palm Sunday Coat Collection, March 20

nullWhen Jesus entered Jerusalem on a colt, the people threw their coats on the ground before him as a sign of respect. This year Bethany will be collecting coats on Palm Sunday to give to Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights.

As you are spring cleaning, look through your closets for coats, especially coats for smaller children, to donate (gently used with no holes, rips, or dirt). 

Please bring your coat donation to church on Palm Sunday to lay down in the front of church as a sign of respect for Jesus and his love and compassion for those in need.

We are also looking for individuals to bag the coats after 10:30 am worship on Palm Sunday, March 20, and deliver the coats on Monday, March 21 to Chicago.

Sign up on the tall bulletin insert or contact Pr. Cathy (cathy.daharsh@bethanylc.com) if you are available help.

Thank you. 

Holy Week and Easter Services

Palm and Passion Sunday, March 20 at 9:00 AM and 10:30 AM (Only two services.)

The Palm Sunday service will include the reading of the Passion of Christ through the service, from Palm Sunday through GoodFriday. The service will be out of order compared to a normal Sunday so as to incorporate the service with the story that we know so well.

We will begin our service in Luther Hall and process with palms into the sanctuary (worship space). The procession will be led by the Middle School Musicians, Sonshine Singers, and the Sunday School Children. Those who have brought coats to donate to Heartland Alliance will lay down those coats in the front of church as a sign of respect for Jesus and his love and compassion for those in need. The Bethany Choir will sing at both services.

Maundy Thursday, March 24 at 11:00 AM and 7:00 PM

During the Maundy Thursday service we will observe the “Last Supper of Our Lord.” The 11 AM service will include handwashing of congregation members and the 7 PM service will include foot washing of students who participated in the Holy Communion Class. The Bell Canto Choir will ring during the 7:00 PM service. We will end both services with the “Stripping of the Altar.”

Good Friday, March 25 at 7:00 PM

Good Friday’s Service of Darkness, we will read the “Seven Last Words of Christ” and focus on the “Cross of Christ.” Liturgical Vision Dancers will create scenes through their dance telling the story of Jesus. The Bethany choir will accompany the dancers.

Easter Vigil, March 26 at 7:00 PM

The Holy Saturday service will begin outside with “New Fire” and process into the sanctuary (worship space) with the congregation carrying handheld candles. The service will include the “Reaffirmation of Baptism” followed by the first communion of Easter. After the service there will be a celebration reception with champagne and appetizers in the Gathering Area.

Easter Sunday, March 27 at 8:30 AM and 10:30 AM

Easter Sunday service will begin with an Easter Witness Monologue and the Vision Dancers. The celebration of the “Resurrection of Our Lord” will also include brass and timpani, the Bethany Choir, and the Bell Canto Choir. Between services the youth will be serving an Easter Breakfast from 9:30 – 10:30 AM.

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