t-com:vml" xmlns:o="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40"> 2004 Lenten Devotional
North Port Community
United Church of Christ

"So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you."  John 16:22

2004 Lenten Devotional North Port CommunityUnited Church of Christ

February 29,2004
Dear Members and Friends:

On behalf of the Board of Deacons of North Port Community United Church of Christ, I am delighted to introduce to you our first Lenten Devotional created by members and friends of our congregation. We hope this booklet will be a meaningful resource to you as you journey through the Lenten season in the weeks ahead. This devotional includes:

• Recommended daily scripture readings for the Lenten season.

• Readings on a variety of spiritual topics.

• Special readings, at the end of the devotional, for use on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.

Where possible, we have noted who submitted or wrote each piece. I believe you will find an interesting and powerful mix of spiritual wisdom in these writings. Reading through the devotional will help all of us to understand and appreciate the beauty and depth of our congregation's theological and spiritual diversity. This devotional also serves to remind us that the Spirit is very much alive, not just on Sunday mornings, but every day in the lives and hearts of the members and friends of our church family.

Thanks be to God!

It is my prayer that this new resource, which we hope will become a Lenten tradition, will inspire you to know God in a more powerful and personal way in the days ahead. Perhaps, as you read through the devotionals, you will be inspired to write something of your own which can be included in next year's Lenten Devotional.

In God's Grace, Rev. Evan Farrar Pastor

The 2004 Lenten Devotional was created by the Board of Deacons of the North Port Community United Church of Christ located at 3450 S. Biscayne in North Port, Florida.

Special thanks to all our contributors and Patti Bourque, for editing and designing this publication. For additional copies or information, please contact us at:

P.O. Box 7221
North Port, FL 34287-0221
Telephone:   941-426-5580
Fax:         941-426-7370
E-Mail:     postmaster@northportcommunityucc.org
Website:     www.northportcommunityucc.org


Suggestions for Daily Scripture Reading

I selected a scripture reading for every day of the Lenten season so that, if you wish, you can read a scripture daily beginning Sunday, February 29. The list hopefully accomplishes two goals. First, to help us recall a sense of the power of the teachings of Jesus. Second, to help us remember the journey to the cross. I have used selections from all four Gospels and, at times, have offered several Gospel versions of the same event. Do not feel bound by this list! Feel free, as the Spirit moves you, to vary the readings and add others. The point is to keep yourself in the Word during this Lenten journey.

Here are some suggestions I hope might help you to make the most of your scripture:

  • Commit to a regular time to read your scripture selection. Morning? Night? Whatever is convenient for you. Try and choose a time and place where you will not be easily distracted.

  • Pick a good translation to use. In worship, we use the New Revised Standard Version. But the New Living Translation and the Message are good options if you are looking for a Bible which is a little easier to read-but still solid in terms of scholarship. You might want to consider purchasing a study Bible which can be a great learning  tool. If you would like a recommendation, let me know.

    • It" you can, read with others. A spouse. A friend. A fellow church member. It helps to read with others because we are more likely to read if we know someone else is expecting us to read with them. Also, you can discuss together what you are reading. We grow in many ways when we study scripture together.

    • You also should not hesitate to mark passages you are reading. Underline key phrases (or different phrases in different versions of a story). Note areas you want to come back to or study more. Write your comments or questions in the margins.

    • You might want to start a Lenten Journal. In the journal you can write down responses to your reading, experiences you have in worship, and questions and comments for follow up. You will be amazed by how much you will note if you keep a journal for the full 43 days.

    • Enjoy the experience! This is all about getting to know Jesus better. The more we understand and know him, the more Jesus empowers us. Blessings to you on this Lenten journey.
    -Rev. Farrar

    Don't forget to worship during the Lenten Season! In addition to Sunday Morning worship, special opportunities include our monthly Prayer Service held the first Thursday of every month at 7PM. Also stay alert for announcements about the exciting schedule of Holy Week services we are planning!     

Scriptures Readings for the Lenten Season

Day l:  Mark 13:32-37 Day 2:  John 12:44-50 Day 3:  Luke 15:11-32 Day 4:  Luke 4:1-13
Day 5:  Luke 6:1-5
Day 6:  Mark 5:1-20
Day 7:  Matthew 17:1-13
Day 8:  John 4:1-42 Day 9:  John 11:1-16
Day 10: Mark 4:10-20
Day 11: Mark 10:17-28 Day 12: John 13:1-20 Day 13: John 13:31-34 Day 14: Luke 17: 1-10

Day 15: Luke 18:31-34
Day 16: Mark 11-.27-33 Day 17: Mark 13:1-13 Day 18: Mark 11:1-11 Day 19: Mark 14:12-21 Day 20: Mark 14:22-25 Day 21: Mark 14:26-31
Day 22: Mark 14:32-42 Day 23: Luke 22:1-6
Day 24: Luke 22:24-30
Day 25: Luke 22:31-34 Day 26: Luke 22:39-45 Day 27: Matthew 26:47-56 Day 28: Matthew 26:57-68
Day 29: Mark 14:53-65 Day 30: Mark 14:66-72 Day 31: Mark 15:1-15 Day 32: Mark 15:16-29 Day 33: Luke 23:6-12 Day 34: Luke 23:13-25
Day 35: John 18:12-14
Day 36: John 19:1-16 Day 37: Matthew 27:1-10
Day 38: Matthew 27:15-23
Day 39: Matthew 27:32-44 Day 40-Maundy Thursday: Matthew 26:26-30, 47-55 Day 41-Good Friday:  Luke 23:44-49 Day 42-Holy Saturday Mark 15:33-41
Easter Sunday    Luke 24:1-53


"Jesus' own message was not for the fainthearted or the cynical. He spoke to all those willing to open their eyes to see and their ears to hear, to refine their senses and attune their minds and hearts to the divine kingdom in their midst. Now, as Rabbi Jesus' movement enters its third millennium, its great goal has yet to be achieved: to share Jesus' vision with all humanity, that it may enter through the gates of heaven and be transformed by the energy of God."-Bruce Chilton, Rabbi Jesus

Why Lent?
By Bill Vannoy

We celebrate lent because it speaks to us about our Messiah. The days prior to Easter were difficult days for Jesus. His people rejected and doubted Him. He was tortured and chastised by almost everyone. He suffered horrible pain. The nailed him to a cross and crucified him. They sought to kill what was good.

God intervened and resurrected Him and made Him the Christ of Glory. Now he sits at God's right hand with all power over sin and death. He is the one to whom we claim redemption from sin by faith and by believing in him. To Christ be the Glory.

My Solemn Vows
By Doris A. Orth
Submitted by Winona Vannoy

May everything I say and do,
Dear God, reflect my love for You
And as I'm walking down life's road
let me share someone's heavy load.
May what I do to others be
What I would have them do to me.
May I show kindness every day
To everyone who comes my way,
And God, please walk beside me now-
And help me keep each solemn vow.

Oh, Say Can You See?

We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Few of us think of the opening lines of our national anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner," as being related to spiritual devotion-and yet they certainly may be!

"Oh, Say, can you see,
By the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed
At the twilight's last gleaming..."

The composer of these lines, Francis Scott Key, had stood on the ramparts of a ship and witnessed a fierce naval battle. By the last rays of sunset, he had seen "Old Glory" waving from a distant fort. Through the night, he had caught glimpses of his nation's flag during flashes of light from bursting cannons. But...would he see his flag, the symbol of his freedom, flying at dawn? Or would he see another flag flying in its place, the battle lost?

He declares the answer in a later verse:

"The star-spangled banner
In triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free And the home of the brave;

Our level of faith at the close of a day may be very much like that of Francis Scott Key on that fateful night. We may have been in a battle against the enemy of our soul, have felt God's presence in our lives, but the attack has been so strong that we are tossing and turning during the night, wondering what the morning will bring.

When sunlight breaks through at dawn, the light of God's truth says: You are alive, God is still with you, and you will not be defeated!

While the war may not be over, yesterday's battle is finished. God is still on His throne. You are still His child. He has not abandoned you.

Face today with courage! Remember these lines as a member of  the "nation" of Christ's own body of believers, the Church:

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto,
"In God is our trust."

by Rev. Max Kapp

Often I have felt that I must praise my world
For what my eyes have seen these many years,
And what my heart has loved.
And often I have tried to start my lines:

"Dear earth," I say,
And then I pause
To look once more.
Soon I am bemused
And far away in wonder.
So I never get beyond "Dear Earth."

From a small book published on Martha's Vineyard a few years
before death in 1979. Rev. Kapp was a Universalist Minister.
This poem was submitted by his son, Martin, who is a member
of our congregation.

Smashed dreams, the end of what might have been,
Wishing for a different ending-utter sadness!

In my own life I have witnessed the breakdown of a marriage, struggled with emotional scars, experienced the let-down of unrealized dreams and the wish to have things turn out differently somehow. We all have. But as life goes on I can recognize the makings of a plan in my life that is being worked out day by day and year by year. I can even say now that it has been a blessing to have traveled this way-experiencing those sad and trying times in my life. We were never promised a life-time of fairness, good fortune and never ending happiness. It is by keeping on, hanging on, and looking to Jesus that we will finally find peace of mind, understanding and calm waters. The hope that I have now is made possible by the sacrifice of my Lord and Savior. He relates to my lifetime experiences. He went through similar experiences himself. He not only wept over Jerusalem but for me and with me.

Thanks be to God who gives us the victory.
-By Sharon Miller

To be a. star, you must shine your own light, follow your own path, and don't "worry about the darkness, for that is when stars shine brightest!          

Walk with Love

I wonder what this road will hold,
That I must walk today,
And what my fortunes are to be,
Along its varied ways;
I wonder what each bend will hide -
That only love can see -
And which, of joys—that I may find -
Are only meant for me?


Whatever are my fates today,
I'll walk it to its end
And I will seek and find the loaves
That hide around each bend,
For I will walk with love, in heart -
As God would have me do -
And He will light each fond of love
He fashioned, made and grew

Michael Dubina
Submitted by Helen Benny

Note: Helen is a charter member of our congregation
This is a reading from one of several devotional book
she reads from daily.


From "Song of Myself by W. Whitman
.....The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever it was it lead forward life,
And does not wait at the end to arrest it;
And ceased the moment life appeared.
All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different form what anyone supposed,
And luckier....
Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four,
And each moment then,
In the faces of men and women I see God,
          And in my own face in the glass.
I find letters from God dropt in the street,
          and every one is signed by God's name,
And I leave them where they are, for
          I know that where so'er I go,
Others will punctually come forever and ever.

Submitted by Shirley Morse


Following in His Footsteps

By Sharon Miller

"Then I, the King, shall say to those at my right, 'Come, blessed of my Father, into the Kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world. For I was hungry and you fed me; I was thirsty and you gave me water; I was a stranger and you invited me into your homes; naked and you clothed me; sick ad in prison, and you visited me.' then these righteous ones will reply, 'Sir, when did we ever see you hungry an feed you? Or thirsty and give you anything, to drink? Or a stranger, and help you? Or naked, and clothe you? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you? ' And I, the King, will tell them, "When you did it to these my brothers you were doing it to me!'"

            Matthew 25: 34-40 (The Living Bible)

            When I think about the season of Lent I think of——

  Personal Sacrifice

The Cross

The passion of Jesus

 Being in the Spirit of Jesus

Looking Beyond ourselves



Preferring others Self denial

Making a difference


Following Christ's example


And then, I think of the gifts that Jesus has bestowed on me and the inspiration His life is to me. From His birth to His death He worked untiringly for all of humanity, from the richest to he poorest. His heart went out in sympathy to those who could not help themselves. He was their voice and their advocate. He was the perfect example about making a difference in the lives of others, challenging the status quo and showing the way to those suffering in our society. Now, today, He continues to inspire the best in the human spirit.

ECHO is a Christian organization dedicated to fighting world hunger through innovative ideas, information, seeds and agricultural training. Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization—provides solutions to agricultural problems! Wow! What a challenge and what an opportunity to make a real difference.

Some of the happiest hours I spend are the hours spent thinking about how to make ECHO easy to understand for children, working on echo's Vacation Bible School curriculum or doing a kids tour through the Global Village. What a privilege to work with the next generation as they try to understand the problem of world hunger, increase their world- mindedness, catch the spirit of service to others and prepare for solving this worldwide scourge. I am only one link or one puzzle piece in the growing chain of volunteers at ECHO, but I am one part of the body of Christ and I do have a part to play. It makes me feel so good just working in my own comer doing what I can to increase awareness and help stamp out world hunger. In my own way I can make a difference. My personal motto is: "Together We Can".

"..He has told you what he wants, and this is it:

            To be fair and just and merciful,
            And to walk humbly with your God. "
            Micah 6:8 (The Living Bible)

It is my prayer that I will listen for God's voice and follow His leading in my life. I want to be His hands and feet. May I carry those in need in my heart, be their advocate and learn to love them as He did, even as I am loved by our Heavenly Father. Amen.











Submitted by Agnes Bushey

A Meditation
Max Erhrmann

Let me do my work each day: and if the darkened hours of despair overcome me, may I not forget the strength that comforted me in the desolation of other times.

May I still remember the bright hours that found me walking over the silent hills of my childhood, or dreaming on the margin of the quiet river, when a light glowed within me and I promised my early God to have courage amid the tempests of the changing years. Spare me from bitterness and from the sharp passions of unguarded moments. May I not forget that poverty and riches are of the spirit. Though the world knows me not, may my thoughts and actions be such as shall keep me friendly with myself.

Lift my eyes from the earth, and let me not forget the uses of the stars. Forbid that I should judge others lest I condemn myself. Let me not follow the clamor of the world but walk calmly in my path.

Give me a few friends who will love me for what I am; and keep ever burning before my vagrant steps the kindly light of hope. And though age and infirmity overtake me, and I come not within sight of the castle of my dreams, teach me still to be thankful for life, and for time's olden memories that are good and sweet: and may the evening twilight find me gentle still.

The "Meditation" is a favorite of mine and I consult it often when I
am questioning my path and directions.
-Submitted by Martin Kapp

                TRUTH BY THE SCRIPTURE

                  The Lord's Prayer

"Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed by they name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever. Amen. "Matthew 6:9-13

A young man was being tried for committing a robbery. An elderly woman was a defense witness and said the young man could not be guilty because she had seen him less than five minutes before the robbery at a location from which he could not have committed the robbery in the time frame the prosecution stated.

The Prosecutor challenged her saying, "you probably don't know how long a minute is let alone five minutes". The lady said, "Time me". The Prosecutor- said, "O.K., tell us exactly when a minute is up". A hush came over the courtroom as the Prosecutor kept time. At 59 seconds the lady said, "Time  up". The Prosecutor announced 59 seconds has elapsed. The Judge, Jury, Prosecutor, Defense Lawyer and audience were amazed. The young man was acquitted by the Jury.

In the courthouse corridors the defense witness was asked how she knew a minute of time had gone by. She said, "When I was a little girl my Mother told me it only took twenty seconds to say the Lord's Prayer. I just said the Lord's Prayer in my mind three times.

Prayer is not only powerful; in this case there was truth as well. The power truth and reality of prayer is very important to Christians at Lent as well as the whole year.

"Lord, as I search for meaning and understanding during this season, guide me to the truths that you wish me to know. May I not only understand but may I seek ways to put these truths into practice."

- By Alden Miller


A Blessing of Thanksgiving

Lord today I am so truly thankful for so many things.
You have blessed me in so many ways.

I thank you for the wonderful country I live in... and for all its many heroes.

I thank you Lord for my wonderful family and friends.
They are my greatest blessing.
Thank you Lord for the creatures you have put on earth for us all.
They teach us so much, unconditional love, loyalty, and under-standing.
I ask you Lord for all who suffer with illness have this day be free from pain.
Thank You Lord for all who have tables filled with food and some- one to share it with.
And those that have no family or food, Lord I ask that you comfort them.
I Thank You Lord for the time I had with my loved ones that have gone to be with you.
They shall always be loved and greatly missed.
Thank You Lord for allowing me to have love and understanding in my heart.
It is these many blessings that make my humble life happy and fulfilled. Thank You Lord.... Amen
Author Unknown

Ralph Rooney submitted this prayer which his family uses every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas

From Words to Love By.......Mother Teresa

At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received how much money we have made how many great things we have done.

We will be judged by

"I was hungry and you gave me food
I was naked and you clothed me
I was homeless and you took me in
Hungry not only for bread
- but hungry for love
Naked not only for clothing
- but naked of human dignity and respect
Homeless not only for want of a room of bricks
- but homeless because of rejection.
This is Christ in distressing disguise.

Submitted by Lyman Farrar

What is Love

We perhaps will not get far in answering this question if we only look in magazines, newspapers, etc. or if you look for answers in the movies or on TV. A wonderful answer is found in THE NEW TESTAMENT, particularly in the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The story of the life of Jesus is a perfect example of real love. He demonstrated love for all people even to the time just prior to his death on the cross when He said, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing".

Love has been portrayed in so many different ways throughout the ages that it is perhaps understandable that we just don't always get it right. Perhaps the best description is found in the written words of the Apostk Paul in 1st. Corinthians Chapter 13:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophesy, and understand all mysteries and all knowl- edge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, and is not puffed up; does not behave rudely does not seek it's own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come then that which is in part will be done away.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I am also known.

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is
That is love.

    Submitted by Don Graves



Heaven is not reached by a single bound.

But we build the ladder by which we rise from the lowly earth to the vaulted skies. And we mount to its summit round by round.

Author: Unknown
Submitted by Shirley Morse




It was not only Judas who betrayed Christ. It was every single
one of his twelve disciples. It was all the people who had fol-
lowed him from town to town, asking for miracles, but who
abandoned him when the chief priests and the doctors turned
against him. it was all those who had strewed palms and gar-
ments under his feet as he entered Jerusalem. His last few days
on earth were days of abandonment and terrible loneliness.

After Jesus had eaten the Passover feast with his disciples, he
told them, "A new commandment give I unto you, that you
love one another. As I have loved you, so are you to love one
another." He told them that he would leave his peace with
them. "Let not your heart be troubled," he encouraged them.
Do not be afraid."

Did they not hear? Did they not understand?

Do we hear? Do we understand?

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way. Isaiah 53:6

Submitted by Don Graves


Listen to the Exhortation of the Dawn!
Look to this day!
For it is Life, the very Life of Life.
In its brief course lie all the
Varieties and Realities of your existence:
The bliss of growth,
The glory of action,
The splendor of beauty;
For yesterday is but a Dream
And Tomorrow is only a vision;
But Today well lived makes
Ever Yesterday a dream of happiness,
Find every Tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well therefore to this Day!
Such is the Salvation of Dawn!





Who would live to learn of truth
Must live to learn of sorrow,
Who would know of naught but youth
Had best be dead tomorrow.
Submitted by Shirley Morse



    The Gift of An Angel By Your Side

May you always have an angel by your side.
Watching out for you in all the things you do.
Reminding you to keep believing in brighter days.
Finding ways for your wishes and dreams to come true.
Giving you hope that is as certain as the sun.
Giving you the strength of serenity as your guide.
May you always have love and comfort and courage.

May you always have an angel by your side.
Someone there to catch you if you fall.
Encouraging your dreams.
Inspiriting your happiness.
Holding your hand and helping you through it all.
In all of our days, our lives are always changing.
Tears come along as well as smiles.
Along the roads you travel, may the miles be a
thousand times more lovely and lonely.
May they give you gifts that never, ever end:
Someone wonderful to love and a dear friend in
whom you can confide.
May you have rainbows after every storm.
May you have hopes to keep you safe and warm.

And may you always have an angel by your side.

Emilia Larson


A Precious Hymn

When still a young boy, my family used to visit some friends
who lived in a Massachusetts mill town. The depression was a
serious problem in all parts of the country, but particularly hard
in towns where textile mills were by far the major employer.
Your wealth was often measured not by the amount of your
savings account (because you didn't have any), but rather by the

number of canned foods you might have on your shelves.

On Sunday evening before my family left for home, we would
all gather around an old piano and the man of the house would
lead us in the singing of hymns. The Old Rugged Cross was a
favorite then and its words bear rethinking now.

Verses 3 and 4

In the old rugged cross stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see;

For 'twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died
To pardon and sanctify me.


So I'll cherish the old rugged cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchanged it some day for a crown.

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true,
It's shame and reproach gladly bear,
Then He'll call me some day to my home far away
Where His glory forever I'll share.

Words and Music for the hymn by George Bennard, 1913

Submitted By Don Graves

'The Lord comforts his people and will have pity on those who suffer.'" Isaiah 49:13

"I want you to know what happens to a Christian when he dies so that when it happens, you will not be full of sorrow, as those are who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died then came back to life again, we can also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him all the Christians who have died." I Thessalonians 4:13-14,

A Poem read April 19, 2003 at Memorial Service in Goshen, Indiana for Ryan James by his father, James Lyie Mosser. Jim said these words came to him when he was outside one night looking to the heavens. He was mourning the loss of his youngest son.

I was not ready

Born to us, a blessing from God.
Ryan, my son, my friend.
You were very special and deeply loved.
I was not ready.

You were joy, laughter, and tears.
You were sensitive and had hard times.
Did I comfort you enough?
Why didn't I protect you?
I was not ready.

You left that night as normal.
We said our few words.
I rushed to your side.
"We are here, we love you."
I was not ready.

You left us to be alone too soon.
My heart is broken.
You were torn from me.
I loved and miss you so much!
I was not ready to say "Goodbye".

Submitted by Joan Mosser

Lord make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
0 Divine Master, grant that I may not
So much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love,
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life

-Saint Francis of Assisi

Submitted by Lyman Farrar

Thoughts About Palm Sunday

"0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! "

                      Matthew 23:3 7 (KJV)

I can just picture this familiar barnyard scene in my mind's eye— the visual image of a mother hen lovingly gathering her little brood of baby chicks, cradling them lovingly and safely under her wings, warming them with her own warmth and protecting them from harm and danger with her own body. It is a gentle and sweet sight. Now, I can picture Jesus sitting on a colt over-looking the city of Jerusalem after an exhilarating parade through the streets and out the gates of the city followed by throngs of people and little children shouting, "Hosanna, Hosanna! " as they laid palm branches and cloaks down in front of Him as he passed by. On this know over-looking the city before Him Jesus' thoughts must have been whirling. Thoughts of excitement, thoughts of resolution, thoughts of commitment and thoughts of foreboding and sad- ness. In fact, He was so sad that He wept and cried out broken heartedly, "0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem the city that kills the prophets, and stones all those God sends to her! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn't let me. "

Matthew 23:37 (The Living Bible)

                  by Sharon Miller

Maundy Thursday Reading

God says, "I am your God and will be faithful to you even when you won't be faithful to me." Through human history, this divine faithfulness is shown to us in God's increasing desire for intimacy. At first God was the God for us, our protector and shield. Then, when Jesus came, God became the God with us, our companion and friend. Finally, when Jesus sent his Spirit, God was revealed to us as the God within us, our very breath and heartbeat.

Our life is full of brokenness-broken relationships, broken promises, broken expectations. How can we live that brokenness without becoming bitter and resentful except by returning again and again to God's faithful presence in our lives? Without this "place" of return, our journey easily leads us to darkness and despair. But with this safe and solid home, we can keep renewing our faith and keep trusting that the many setbacks of life move us forward to an always greater bond with the God of the covenant. —Henri Nouwen

Note: During his lifetime Henri Nouwen was considered one of the most important spiritual teachers in the Christian community. He was highly respected in ecumenical and interfaith circles. Nouwen was a Catholic Priest.

Good Friday Reading

The cross is at the center. As I look at the large crucifix, I remember how it came to us. Four years ago a Franciscan priest, Father Pancratius, whom I met in Freiburg while he was dying of cancer, said to me, "Henri, I want to give you this crucifix before I die. I want you to give it a place among your people with disabilities."

He told me the story of the crucifix. When many years ago he went to Croatia with a group of young Germans to help restore a church that was destroyed during World War II, they found the crucifix under the rubble. The pastor, grateful for the German gesture of reconciliation, gave it to Father Pancratius. There were no crossbeams, just the wood-carved body...

Good Friday is more than reliving the passion of Jesus; it is entering into solidarity with the passion of all people of our planet, whether in the past, the present, or the future. In Jesus all human suffering is collected. The broken heart of Jesus is the broken heart of God. The broken heart of God is the broken heart of the world.

                    -Henri Nouwen

Easter Sunday Reading


As I walked through the dark woods at the end of this Easter Day, full of intimate joy, I heard you call Mary Magdalene by her name and heard how you called from the shore of the lake to your friends to throw out their nets. I also saw you entering the closed room where your disciples were gathered in fear. I saw you appearing on the mountain and at the outskirts of the village. How intimate these events really are. They are like special favors to dear friends. They were not done to impress or overwhelm anyone, but simply to show that your love is stronger than death. 0 Lord, I know now that it is in silence, in a quiet moment, in a forgotten comer that you will meet me, call me by name and speak to me a word of peace. It is in my stillest hour that you become the risen Lord to me.

-Henri Nouwen

Why do you look for the living among the dead?

He is not here but has risen.  Luke 24:5



North Port Community Church Homepage

Amistad • Church Information • Church Photo • Community Care Team • Church News • Coming Events • Directory • Family Ministry • Feedback • Jacob Circle • Prayer Request • Sermons • Special Events • Web Site Tools and Tips • 2004 Lenten Devotional