We're so glad you've joined us today!
CHURCH JOYS AND CONCERNS
Birthdays: Gabriel Molla, Butch Ward, Bruce Burnfield, James O’Hara, Bryan Miles, Savannah Hathaway, Gavin Hathaway
Anniversary: Dana and Billie Wilson
Congratulations to Don and Karen Hanes on a new Grandson, Cash Michael Posey born on 2/8/21.
Lenten Bible Study: Finding Hope Through Prayers of Lament
Biblical laments are prayers that can be spoken, sung, painted, or communicated in some other way to God. Lament is a response to a momentous occasion of grief over which we have no control. For Lent this year, we will have a weekly online Bible study centering on prayers of lament, based on the current Horizons Bible Study, Into the Light. Each Wednesday of Lent, starting on February 17, a new lesson will be posted online to the same page that has our Sunday School lessons and worship services. This will be available throughout the day. These will include scripture passages, a lesson, and an opportunity to practice lament. You may share your laments, as you choose. If you have questions, please contact Nellie Baker or Christine Welling.
We added Cody Clifford (Lois Miller’s grandson) to our prayer list this week. He was taken by ambulance from the pediatrician’s office to Children’s Hospital with Diabetic Ketoacidosis. Please pray for Cody and his family as they learn to live with this new diagnosis.
Doug Ward’s infection in his knee is clear doctor wants to wait until May 6th to do a total knee replacement.
Roma Grose is home recuperating from her hip replacement.
John West’s gallbladder surgery went well.
Ed Horne is recuperating from back surgery, please pray this will take care of the pain he has been experiencing in his legs.
Remember our continuing prayer list.
Roma Grose, Ruth Hampe, Susan Schively, Jimmy Davis, Judy Donaldson, Margo Johnson, Melissa Pedigo, Aaron Blake, Lisa Phillips, Mickey Gubitti, Chip Rogers, Dixie Avoila, Dennis McWreath, Chuck Warlow, Chuck Dicks, Randy Moore, Margaret Knabenshue, Janet Schively, Mary Ann Durila, Patty Nagey, Dr. Craig Fox, Karen Eisiminger, Kelley Gump, Mary Ann McFeeley, Ed Horne, Donna West, June and Keith McGill, Dianna Donaldson, Chuck Montecello, Glenn Miles, Dave Cummings, Doug Ward, Mark Knabenshue, Rick McFeeley, Deron Wood, Susan Alberti, Bryan Dunn, Dana Wilson, Marge McWreath, Tim Knabenshue, Jack Burnfield, Debbie Rugg, Joyce Pastorchalk, Reba Flowers and Jackson Corwin (3 years old).
When we meet in person, we share our joys and concerns together. Consider your past week, and what joys and concerns you have. These might be for yourself, for someone else, or for a community. If you would like, you can share these in the comments so that we can all pray. The God of the universe invites us to talk with Him at anytime and anywhere about anything and everything (source). When you are ready, pray this prayer below (fromhere), including your requests and those that have been shared.
O God of truth, prepare our minds
To hear and heed your holy word;
Fill every heart that longs for you
With your mysterious presence, Lord.
Almighty Father, with your Son
And blessed Spirit, hear our prayer:
Teach us to love eternal truth
And seek its freedom everywhere.
[include your prayers here]
This week's scripture passages are Luke 8:1-3; Mark 15:40; and John 20:10-18.
This week's lesson is about women who provided to support to Jesus' ministry, in particular Mary Magdalene. Jesus traveled around Galilee, doing ministry that included teaching, healing, and casting out demons. He traveled with a large group that included the core twelve disciples and others. The opportunity for women to play a prominent role in Jesus' ministry made it unusual. Jerusalem had no famous women rabbis. The Jewish high council, the Sanhedrin, had no female members. The prominent sects, the Sadducees and the Pharisees, were made up of men only.
The inclusion of women who were not the wives or other family of the disciples was even more unusual. Mary Magdalene (her name comes from the town she was from, Magdala) was one of these women. She has been especially misunderstood throughout history. There are quite a few made-up stories about her (see here for a nice summary). Yet the actual biblical accounts about Mary Magdalene are sparse on details and have none of these legendary elements.
Our books makes a point about who Mary Magdalene is not.
Women in Jesus' Ministry
Our passage in Luke gives us a broad descriptions of Jesus' ministry. We are all familiar with the idea that Jesus and his twelve (male) disciples traveled around teaching and healing. However, it also points out that other people followed Jesus in his travels, including women. The introduction for today discussed why this was unusual for the time. The three women mentioned by name here are Mary Magdalene, Joanna the wife of Chuza, and Susanna.
We will talk about Mary Magdalene's experience in the last passage. Joanna, as the wife of the manager of Herod's household, probably had resources to contribute to the costs of taking care of the traveling group. We do not know who Susanna was, as she is not mentioned elsewhere.
Today's scripture then jumps to the crucifixion in the book of Mark. Similar descriptions exist in all three gospels (see Matthew 27:55-56; Mark 15:40-41; Luke 23:48-49; John 19:25-27). Women who followed Jesus and his disciples watched the crucifixion. In some descriptions, the women watch from a distance, while in others they are close enough to hear Jesus speak. However, it is the women who refuse to abandon Jesus. Only the passage from John mentions any of the disciples being present.
Directly after these passages, the women watch to see where Jesus' body is taken. Then, they make plans to take care of his body, with customary spices, for burial.
Mary, Jesus' Witness
The last passage in our lesson, from John, takes place on the morning of the resurrection. Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb, and doesn't find Jesus' body. She sees angels instead. Then, she sees someone she assumes is the gardener. Until he speaks to her, calling her by name, Mary does not know that this person is Jesus.
In this passage, Mary Magdalene is the person who first witnesses Jesus. She is the one who reports what has happened to the disciples.
We often portray nonbelievers who come to church as "seekers." We say that those who seek Jesus will find him. In today's story, Mary Magdalene, a firm disciple and believer, was a seeker in a different sense: she sought Jesus' body and was not easily dissuaded from her quest. But that quest was mistaken, for there was no longer a body.
Try as she might, Mary did not find Jesus. He found her. Jesus had first found Mary to deliver her from demonization. He then found her weeping in a tomb, a woman for whom the recent days had been a dark nightmare.
Isaiah promised, "[God] will come to save you," (Isaiah 35:4). As it was with Mary, so it is with us: If we seek Jesus but don't find him, it may be because our search is based on a mistaken idea. We clear up any mistakes by reading the facts of Jesus' life, death, resurrection, and ascension in the Bible. That's where hearing his call starts. This made me think about a quote from Father Richard Rohr:
Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity (it did not need changing)!
Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God.
In today's scripture, women support Jesus and the disciples in many ways. These are often "behind-the-scenes," in ways that are not necessarily public knowledge. In what ways can you improve your behind-the-scenes support of your church's ministries?
Father, we thank you for the hope we have through your Son Jesus, a hope that overcomes our fears. May we -- like Mary and the other women who followed Jesus throughout his ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection -- never lose our desire to serve you. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
This week's benediction is from the New Living Translation.
Next week's lesson will be on Acts 18:1-3, 18-21, 24-26; Romans 16:3-4.
We are a small, rural Presbyterian church in southwestern Pennsylvania.