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Do You Understand What I Have Done For You?

6th Sunday of Lent

John 13:1—35

It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.  The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’ “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”

After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.” Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”  Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.

So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.

When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.

“My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

A Covenant Prayer In The Wesleyan Tradition

34th Day of Lent

A Covenant Prayer In The Wesleyan Tradition

I am no longer my own, but thine

Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,

exalted for thee or brought low for thee.

Let me be full, let me be empty.

Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things

to thy pleasure and disposal.

And now, O glorious and blessed God,

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.

And the covenant which I have made on earth,

let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

The United Methodist Hymnal, p. 607

 

As we prepare for Holy Week, you are invited to dinner in Fellowship Hall at 5:30 pm and to a performance of Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem in D minor, Op. 48, which will begin at 7 pm in the Sanctuary. This musical offering is being presented by the Chancel Choirs of Grace and St. Thomas United Methodist Churches appropriate for the season.

How Can I Help Others?

33rd Day of Lent

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:16

A question that I feel God asks me all the time is “how will that help others?” How would it help, how does it help, what can you do to help someone in need? It doesn’t matter who and it doesn’t matter how but just in what way could you help someone?

What you do doesn’t have to be big, doesn’t have to be small but in what way - anyway - could you help them. It could be helping someone who is poor by donating money or helping someone who broke their leg. There are more than 1,000,000 ways for you to help someone, but which one should you choose?

I mean I wish I could do them all. You try and you try to do them all but there are more than a thousand. How is one small person supposed to help more than a thousand other people? How am I supposed to do that?

The answer is I’m not, everyone is. I don’t have to be the only one, everyone could help. If everyone helps someone at least twice a day the world would grow stronger and fill with love. Everyone could help others, it doesn’t matter if you’re a dog or a cat or whatever you are you could help make this a better place in Jesus’s name.

Prayer: Dear Lord, lead me to help others and let me be a spark that lights a fire for your precious will to be done. Amen

Emily Miller

(age 10)

Which Road, Lord?

32nd Day of Lent

And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20b  

….. for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. Philippians 4:11b

On August 26, 1984 I walked into the delivery room of Prince William Hospital at around 12:10 pm and delivered my son, Matt, weighing 2lb 12oz. He was three months premature and the hospital did not have the technology needed to help him breathe resulting in what was diagnosed six months later as cerebral palsy. My life changed that day in ways I could never have imagined. This new world was filled with doctors and therapists and surgeons and teachers and aids.

My prayer from the time of the diagnosis wasn’t for a miracle to cure Matt. What I prayed for was to be able to accept whatever this new life threw at me. And I clung to God’s promise to be with me always. But to my surprise God performed miracle after miracle. God placed in my life supportive physical therapists and later understanding teachers, aids, doctors and a wonderful high school case manager. All of whom saw the boy and not the disability.

One of the greatest blessings was when He whispered much needed encouragement to me in a letter from my father in June of 1985 a month after the diagnosis of cerebral palsy. In the letter my father wrote “Remember that everyone during a lifetime is going to have problems; no one can escape them. Your happiness in life will depend not on avoiding problems, but in how you handle them. It is possible that great problems can bring great joy.” That note in that letter made all the difference and enabled me to deal with the new world I now lived in. Those words have allowed me to say with conviction “[I am learning] to be content in whatever my circumstances”.

I have come to see the challenges of my son’s disability not so much as a storm that I have weathered, but instead as the road Robert Frost described in his poem. “Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less travelled by and that has made all the difference.”

Prayer: Always faithful Father, thank You for always being with us in all our circumstances. Help us to recognize Your blessings especially when they are hidden by the storms of life.   Amen

Paula Renfro

What is My Calling?

31st Day of Lent

Go and chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. Philippians 3:14 

When I think of questions God asks me, I think it is simple. He just wants me to love HIM (put HIM first in my life) and obey HIM (do what he asks me to do and be the person He wants me to be. Relative to this, the questions I and many people ask HIM are things like “what is my calling – I will do it if I knew what it was. Tell me God what do you want me to do.”  

I am finding more and more as I get older that God rarely speaks in a baritone voice saying “DO THIS” but often speaks through thoughts, people and just an inner knowing of what I should do. I also believe that if we are in the right place with GOD, (talking to HIM, listening, slowing down and paying attention), HE our callings will be there at that time. We may have different and conflicting callings as different times. We may be called to be a professional accountant and a foster parent at the same time. It is not one or the other but both. HE is only asking us to do the best we can in the place where we are, and to reach out to others and show them HIS great love, mercy and grace.

Prayer: Lord, help me to understand that my calling does not have to be some big one-time thing but to just do the best I can in the place I am in to reflect your love to this world. Amen

Lori Perez

Why Me, Lord?

30th Day of Lent

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10  

There is a song our praise band sings every now and then called “Why Me Lord?” and every time I hear, or sing this song, the words tend to sink deep within my heart.

The song asks the question of what have I ever done to deserve the love and kindness that God has bestowed on me? I sometimes look at all the good around my life, and all the good things that have happened in my life, and I feel humbled, because the world around us every day can bring so much tragedy, heartbreak and pain.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have known hardship in my life, but I know my hardship is nothing compared to what others have seen, or felt, so I ask, “Why Me Lord?” What makes me so special? Why have you laid a path of kindness, serenity, understanding, when there are some who feel abandoned, and not worthy? Why do I walk in your light, while others feel like they are alone in the dark? Why do I feel my cup running over with your love, while some are dying of thirst for it?

So…Why me Lord? I can only reconcile that answer in one way, you have shown me the path so I can light it for others, you have given me kindness and love, that I can spread it across your world, and you fill my cup, so it can be poured out for those around me.

Prayer: “So now that I know, that I needed you so, Help me Jesus, my soul’s in your hands”

Merv Lyle

Why Do I Deserve You?

29th Day of Lent

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28

Many of us have muttered the question “why me Lord?” in desperation. Why did I get that diagnosis? Why did my relationship fail? Why did I not get that job? Why do bad things always happen to me?

The truth is that we live in an imperfect world. The Bible tells us that it rains on the just and the unjust both. The question is who do you trust when those bad things happen to us? Do you reach out to God in your time of need, or do you try to be only self-reliant?

Several years ago, I was struggling and unhappy with my job. I worked more hours than anyone should have to, did not get to spend much time with my family, and worked for a supervisor I did not trust and wondered each day if it would be my last. I was burnt out in my field. Some days I would call my wife Abby from work and tell her I could not do it anymore, that I was about to walk out and head home. She would of course calm me down and tell me to hang in there and things would get better. I tried to be self-reliant and find a new job on my own but to no avail.

In my final hour of desperation, I turned to the Lord and admitted I could not do it on my own. I sat alone late at night and prayed like I never had before. I prayed for God’s help to either get me out of my current job or give me the strength to persevere. I am not really sure how long I prayed but I know that when I finished God lead me to search on a website I had never looked before and find a job opportunity that applications were due within the next 30 minutes. As I frantically applied online before the deadline my question of “why me Lord?” changed. It was no longer a question of why these bad things were happening to me, but what have I done to deserve the blessings he was bestowing on me.

Kris Kristofferson wrote one of my favorite songs titled “Why Me Lord?” The song contains lyrics such as

“Why me Lord? What have I ever done to deserve even one of the pleasures I’ve know and “maybe Lord, I can show someone else what I’ve been through myself on my way back to you.”

I think Kris may be on to something - that it is through our testimony of us overcoming challenges through Christ that can be shared with others. We don’t deserve it, we cannot do anything to ever deserve it, but there is God’s grace for us none the less.

In John 9, Jesus heals a blind man who did nothing to deserve being blind, and when Jesus was asked why the man was blind he answered “So you can see who I am.” Jesus healed him so the man and all those around would know that He was who He said He was and spread the word that Christ is Lord.

Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, may we remember that you have a plan and we each have a part in it. We may not always see the reasoning for the part we play, but let us play it none the less and share our experiences with others to spread your name throughout the land. May your precious will be done. Amen

Rodney Miller

Who Do You Say That I Am?

5th Sunday of Lent

Mark 8:27-38

5th SundayJesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”  They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”  “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him. He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.  But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”    

Letter from Doug Rachford - March 1994

28th Day of Lent

Letter from Doug Rachford, Chairman, Council on Ministries - March 1994

Dear Members of Manassas St. Thomas,

I am honored to have this opportunity to address our church family, both now and in the future, to reflect on where we are and what we would like to become. The precipitating event for this letter is the dedication of our new building. Planning and building this facility has been the primary focus of this church for three years. The expectations for what will happen now that we are finally in the “new building” are extremely high. Since the merger of the St. Thomas and Manassas churches four years ago, we have undergone tremendous changes. We sold our campus on Westmoreland Drive and consolidated into the small church building on this property during the building of the new facility.

During this time we have been forced to put every square inch of space to use, making do with cramped conditions and looking forward to the time we could spread out again. Most of us have heard “when we get into the new building” so many times that we wanted to scream. We have prayed, pledged, and planned until we thought we could do it no more. The Lord sustained us through every moment. It has certainly given me new respect for the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years.

Every group and ministry at Manassas St. Thomas is now anticipating what it can do with this new space. Many of us have high hopes for how God will use us and this wonderful resource that He has given us. We now want to turn our attention from building a structure to building a church. That is, building up the body of Christ. Those of you reading this letter in the future will be the judges of whether we were successful.

We pray that 25 years from now you can say that we have been, and still are, a church where the gospel of Jesus Christ is the central focus of our preaching, teaching and doing. We hope to be strong in our membership, in our attendance, in our Bible studies, and in our presence in the community. We want to be known for excellent programs for children, youth, singles, couples, and older persons that provide practical Christian help for each person in their every day lives. We will strive to include and encourage people of all racial and ethnic groups, people with disabilities, and people who have felt left out elsewhere. We want to be a warm and welcoming church. An area in which we are currently weak and feel lead to be strong is missions and outreach. We want to follow the Lord’s commands in spreading the gospel and in helping others.

Manassas St. Thomas is a vital and loving family today. We pray that the Lord will provide even greater blessings on the Manassas St. Thomas of the future and that 25 years from now, you will still have this wonderful sense of community.

Sincerely,

Doug Rachford

Chairman, Council on Ministries

How Can I Share His Love?

27th Day of Lent

…in Him, we live and move and have our being … for we are also His offspring. Acts 17:28

God asks us to love Him and to follow the example of His Son, Jesus Christ. I ask God “How can I share Your Love and promises with others?"

Through the years, I have come to know that I must continually stand on the Word of God and remember His promises to me and to all who follow Him. Everyday life often gets in my way and I lose focus on my commitment to God. I have to STOP and intentionally make “every thought captive” to God’s will. I must remember scriptures that will keep me on track by “renewing my mind” to acknowledge the will of God (Romans 12:2). I am encouraged because I know that God is with me all the time and will place me in contact with those people, and other creatures in need of His love and nurture.

Prayer: Creator God, we praise you for Your Almighty Power in the Universe. We thank you for loving us so that we may share Your love with others. In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen

Helen Stidham

Do You Love Me?

26th Day of Lent

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”  The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”   Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” John 21:15-25

Do you love me? The question I ask of God in the depths of my despair and the question He asks me in answer to my prayers. I can think of times when I felt there was nowhere on earth I could turn for relief or comfort, times when I was on the brink of hopelessness, and then like a switch the Holy Spirit gently nudges me to remember my faith and I ask God, “Why is this happening, don’t you love me?” In an instant he responds with a beautiful sunset to remind me of his awesome power or the memory of scripture that in that moment profoundly speaks to the issue. Sometimes He leads me to a brother or sister that can offer comfort or assistance or allows me to witness the actions of another to guide me by example.

In all cases, when I ask, God’s answer is a resounding, “YES, I love you.” He never lets me down and I am left at peace wondering why I waited so long to invite my Savior into the conversation. I can also think of times when I needed discernment on a particular issue and have not been able to come to a decision on my own. I pray for the answer and God responds with the question, “Do you love, me?” Of course, my response is yes, and in that moment I remember His attributes. I think of His wisdom and His unconditional love. I think of His sacrifice and the promises He has kept. I know he has already shown me the answer through His example and my decisions can be made with confidence if they are made with the encouragement of His love. Through His Spirit I am compelled to see a proper way forward and am encouraged to obey His will. He is my map and my compass when I stop to ask for directions.  

Prayer: I pray that in each day you will turn to God and allow him to reveal his love to you and that in each day you will choose to make decisions that show your love for Him.

Bill Coppa

Where Else Could We Go?

25th Day of Lent

You do not want to leave too, do you?”, Jesus asked the Twelve.  Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal lifeWe have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God. John 6:67-69

Why aren’t you helping me? How do I do this? Why us? Why me? These are some questions that we ask God every day.

We ask God so many questions because we doubt. We doubt everything that He created, including ourselves. Sometimes we doubt Him. Even as Christians, we still have a hard time believing that He is watching over us and loving us when we see crimes and terrorism happen all around the world. He is always there. When He asks us questions in the Bible, or when we are praying with him, they always make you doubt yourself. The questions are not meant for us to get mad, but for us to understand the love He has for you.

The way I ask Him the most questions is through prayer. Not when I pray over dinner, but a one-on-one conversation. I constantly repeat myself and I know that He hears these questions all the time. My questions are more like pleas, words without meaning. That’s how I feel about my questions. Even though I know that he values each question as valuable as the next, I still doubt. Why? Why do I doubt? Why do you doubt? Why do we doubt? It is a character trait that we all have. Even though we believe in Him, doubt overcomes our belief. We just have to keep praying. Stop doubting and start believing.

Prayer: God, help us know that you value our questions no matter how silly they might seem. Let us understand your questions you have for us, and to stop doubting and start believing. Amen

Milan Steen

(Age 13)

What Can I Do?

24th Day of Lent

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28

Over the years I have asked God many questions and I think that He has asked me many questions.

I had the privilege to serve as chair on Staff Parish Relations, but I was looking forward to taking a little breather from church duties. Pastor Abi asked me if I would serve on the Nominations Committee and that I wouldn’t have to do anything until later in the year. I was fine with that!

Imagine my surprise when a couple of weeks before Christmas this thought pops into my head “I wonder about Lay Leader”? I have held a lot of positions in our church but never Lay Leader. I didn’t think I wanted to do that now, so I quickly shrugged it off and told myself to put that thought away. Besides there are other people more qualified to fill that position. I busied myself with thoughts of Christmas (and whatever Mary wanted me to do) and didn’t think about it again.

The following week I have this nagging thought about Lay Leader again and I say to myself “No I don’t think so”. But it is still hanging back in my mind.

The next week I was in talking with Pastor Abi. After we had finished and I was getting up to leave Pastor Abi says,” I have one other thing to talk to you about.” I sat back down and she says”, what do you think about being the Lay Leader in a year or so? You would be the third one.” I looked at her and thought, okay what is going on? I hadn’t told anyone about what I had been thinking, not even Mary, so I was really surprised. Pastor Abi said that my name had come up in Nominations Committee. She said she told the committee she wouldn’t ask Gordon to do anything else, but she felt that she should. So I accepted. I didn’t feel that I could say no.

I have been meeting with Deb and Jenny (the other Lay Leaders) and Pastor Abi; I feel that I have made the right decision. I have written Lenten devotionals in the past, but at times have procrastinated. This year I have been reminding folks to turn in their devotionals.

I am excited to see where the next couple of years will lead me.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for all of the blessings that you shower on me each day. Help me to stop and listen when that voice in my head starts pushing me along. Amen

Gordon Haines

Can the Blind Lead the Blind?

23rd Day of Lent

Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?” Luke 6:39

I found this question to be both obvious and challenging. It is amazing how often I make a quick judgment about someone, or something, where I have not taken the time to investigate beyond the first impression.

Unfortunately, I tend to be unfairly critical when I only see the surface layer and as a consequence, I jump to conclusions that are suboptimal. My ego then gets in the way, and it really is a gamble as to whether I am leading the blind to the pit or not (At this point, I am asking God to have patience with me as I do damage control from falling into the pit).

Can a blind man lead a blind man? Why not? With God, all things are possible including helping us see beyond the time pressures and social biases that we self impose into our lives. Indeed, we ask God to help us see more clearly.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to not negatively prejudge others. Help us to take the time to look beyond with a positive attitude. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Metta Tanikawa

What Are You Looking For?

4th Sunday of Lent

John 1:29—42

4th SundayThe next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.

Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).

Letters from Youth - March 1994

22nd Day of Lent

Letter from Gabriel Hollinger, Junior High President - March 1994

Dear Future,

                 Hello! I’m Gabriel Hollinger, President of the Junior High Youth group. Right now we have 14-15 people come to J.H. youth group and 3 leaders. We are pretty active in activities. Today we are going to Skate City on Mathis Ave. I hope to still be a member of this church when this time-capsule is opened. I hope you guys enjoy this “new” church as much as we do.

Your “Old” friend,

Gabriel Hollinger

 

Letter from Sara Sears (now Boyd), Senior High President - March 1994

To the future;

There are so many dreams and expectations for our new church. Each person has a different picture. For me this picture is one of a large and united church. I hope that the youth group will grow and become very active in the church. This is my picture for the future that I hope to see very soon.

Yours in Christ,

Sara Sears

Senior High President

Who Touched Me?

21st Day of Lent

When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my clothes?’” Mark 5:27-30

“Who touched my clothes?” That is a question that Jesus asked when a sick, desperate woman touched the Lord’s cloak. He felt the power go out of him and asked that question. He was on his way to heal the little daughter of Jairus, who was the synagogue ruler.

A large crowd was following Jesus to see if he could really heal the little girl. People who were in the crowd were all around Jesus, likely brushing up against him as they went along. He must have sounded silly when he stopped and said, “Who touched my clothes?”

The woman had so much faith that by touching Jesus she would be healed. As soon as he asked that, the woman collapsed at his feet and spoke the whole truth. Jesus looked at her and said, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be free from your suffering.”

Jesus knew who touched him, so why would he ask that question? The woman was most likely an outcast due to her condition. She was probably shamed and shunned by everyone else in the community. Jesus probably wanted her healing to be public, so that she could be restored to the community, and so that others would believe in God, too. See, Jesus doesn’t just care about your physical health, he cares about your emotional, financial, social, and spiritual wellbeing as well. He took the time to make the woman acceptable in the eyes of the community. He healed her in more ways than one.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I know that you watch over us and care for us in more ways than one. Help us be mindful of it all the time. I thank you for all that you have done to ensure my wellbeing, and I ask you to do the same to those in need of it. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Pavel Steen

(Age 15)

Why Are You Crying?

40th Day of Lent

John 20:1– 18

6th Sunday

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying. Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). 17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

How Much Do I Believe?

20th Day of Lent

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. Matthew 22:35-40

When thinking of what God asks us, I am immediately drawn to the some of the most fundamental questions around Christianity: Do I believe? Do I love God first and foremost with all of my heart? Do I show His love through my thoughts and actions? The short answers are: Yes; Yes but not all of the time; and Yes but not nearly enough.

I DO and have believed in God since I was baptized some 25 years ago. I have experienced God and His love for me in a myriad of ways. From having Him put people in my daily path at the right time and place to having the perfect song on the radio, God is all around me constantly. He will never turn away from me. God is love!

I DO love God first and will all of my heart. I praise Him daily. He has given me so much and I praise Him for my life.   At times though, I turn away from God. I pray and hope that I don’t but I am a sinner and continue to sin. I pray for forgiveness and for my sinning to be less frequent. God will not give up on me and I won’t give up on myself either no matter how many times I fall off the righteous path.

I DO show His love through my thoughts and actions. I pray for a whole litany of issues and people daily. I take seriously the notion that we are each are the hands and feet of Christ. To say that this is a daily part of my life is not bravado but something I know I need and in turn Christ needs from me. Unfortunately, I fall short daily as well. I know that I can and should do more.

What questions do I ask God? What questions do I NOT ask God? God is my father and creator of everything I know and experience in life. He is like Wikipedia on steroids devoid of knowledge gaps and false or missing citations. While I ask God about a lot, I also ask for God’s will to be done and for my eyes to be fixed on Him. For example, when my mother became seriously ill, I asked God for Mom to have strength to battle her ailments and not to lose her faith in Him. I also asked God for me and my family and friends to have the strength to see my mother’s journey through the end with love. I finally asked God to use Mom’s journey to inspire others to seek Him. I ask God tons but I have no expectations that He will respond when I want Him to or I will always understand. I get that I am merely a human and that God IS God. I know that he loves me and that is enough for me to know and comprehend most times.

Prayer: Abba, we love you. We praise you. May we always open our hearts and minds to feel and hear you. May we not turn away from you and trust in your love for us. Amen.

Joe Steen

Scripture of Christ’s Crucifixion Luke 18:1—19:42

Good Friday, 39th Day of Lent

Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.   So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Luke 19:16—19

On this most somber of days during the season of Lent, you are invited to read the account of Christ’s crucifixion for yourself from the Gospel of Luke.   Like Peter, in what ways do you deny Christ? What needs to be crucified in you that resurrection and new life might be possible? In what ways do you need to be forgiven by Christ? And to whom do you need to offer forgiveness as you consider the sacrifice Christ made on the cross? Take a few moments to journal your thoughts or write a prayer to God…

Holy Week Schedule

easter holy week sm2

Lenten Devotional Intro

lenten devotional

A Word of Orientation to This Year’s Lenten Devotional

Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday.  Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lencten which means “spring.”  The season is a preparation for celebrating Easter.  Historically, Lent began as a period of fasting and preparation for baptism by converts to the Christian faith and then became a time for penance by all Christians.  Because Sundays are always little Easters, the penitential spirit of Lent should be tempered with joyful expectation of the Resurrection.  In other words, we observe a holy Lent with a perspective and understanding of the end of the story -- Jesus rises from the grave and conquers death!  This orients us and helps us stay focused on what’s most important.

As you move through the season of Lent, you will notice that we are also moving through the witness of Scripture.  We have organized the devotions from the members and staff of St. Thomas in order of the books of the Bible — moving from Genesis and the Old Testament into the Gospels and the letters of Paul in the New Testament.  Because this is our 25th year of ministry in our current building and sanctuary, we have also included four letters from the youth and adult leaders of the congregation that helped to build our church in 1994.  These letters were part of the time capsule that was opened at our 25th Anniversary Celebration on March 3, 2019.  You are invited to ponder their hopes and dreams for us now as the future congregation to whom they were writing.  What questions might arise for us about our identity, calling, and ministry in this particular time and place?

Lastly, you will notice artwork woven throughout the devotional this year in connection with the Sunday Scripture readings that will be explored in worship each week as we move through the questions God asks us.  Each of these images was chosen by members on the team of volunteers who serve on the newly convened Worship Design Team.  This faithful group works in tandem with the Senior Pastor and the Worship Committee to help plan and execute the creative elements that are woven into each new sermon series. 

During the season of Lent, you will notice that the brass elements we typically use in worship have been removed from the altar and the Sanctuary — the altar cross, the candle stick holders, and the offering plates.  Instead, somber colors such as purple and ash gray and rough-textured cloth, candlesticks and baskets are being used to help us remember the rough journey Christ took to the cross.  And, a new, simple wooden cross was created to help us remember the wooden cross that Jesus was nailed to on Good Friday.  In these ways, through artwork, worship elements, and the devotions you’ll find that the people of St. Thomas have shared their gifts and their faith so that we might grow in grace and deepen our spiritual practices both individually and together. 

To God be the glory!  Amen!

Worship

Sundays:

8:15 AM Traditional 
9:40 AM Contemporary 
11:00 AM Traditional

Tuesdays:

6:30 PM Prayer and Communion 
(September - May)

Contact

St. Thomas UMC
8899 Sudley Road
Manassas, VA 20110
703-368-5161
info@stthomasumc.org 

Our Haymarket Campus

Worship: Sundays at 10 AM
Haymarket Elementary School

Office:15000 Washington Street
Suite 206  (Above Town Hall)
Haymarket, VA 20169

haymarketchurch.org

 

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