A Note from Pastor Jenni

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April 10, 2024

This week I am spending quality time amongst the Redwood trees in the Santa Cruz mountains of Northern California.  This is one of my favorite places ON EARTH!  I love the smell, the crisp morning air, and being able to spend time basking in the beauty of God’s creation! 

I am attending an annual pastor’s conference with many friends and colleagues that I attended seminary with decades ago.  It is always such a wonderful time to connect with colleagues, share ministry resources, support one another, laugh together, and “unplug” from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

My goal for this week away is twofold.  First, is to rest!  To take time to let my mind and body relax after the busyness leading up to Easter.  Second, is to reset!  To find my center and retune myself – body, mind, and spirit – so that I am restored and ready to give my best to serving God at Emmanuel.

As a part of this week, I will be circling back to focus on my star word for 2024,  Imagine!  I will continue to dream and think of all the possibilities we can achieve when we rely on God to fulfill them.  I will continue to ponder new ways to partner with our leaders and with you on how to make them a reality.  I believe this is such a great word for this year as we continue this adventure of ministry together.  As we reflect on who we are as a church and imagine the possibilities as we begin to live that out together. 

On Sunday, April 21, I invite you to join in worship and be prepared to stay after for a “State of the Church address.”  Our Treasurer, Tom Jenney will give us a brief report on how we are doing financially thus far this year.  We are also planning a time for Q & A as we look forward and dream together about who we are as a church and how God is using us in our community.  I believe this is an important conversation for the life of our community of faith and look forward to hearing from you.

Ephesians 3:20 - Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine.  What a great reminder that God is able to do so much more than we could possibly imagine…when we let God be God!  What a beautiful word of encouragement to put our hopes and dreams in the hands of the One who created the world!  What a wonderful thought to continue to carry forward as we look to  a future into this new year that is filled with so much opportunity and potential!

Blessings,

Pastor Jenni

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Eph 3:21)

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April 3, 2024

Christ is Risen!  He is Risen indeed!  There is something about Easter morning worship that is like no other and this Easter celebration did not disappoint!  It was truly a beautiful Easter celebration we had on Sunday.  It was such a joy to see new friends, visiting family, and old friends as we gathered for worship.  The gift of music was amazing as our Brass+ played, our choir sang, and we all lifted our voices in praise!

The Easter excitement continues over the next few weeks as we continue to hear of Jesus post-resurrection encounters with his disciples.  This week we “see” Jesus alongside Thomas.  Thomas gets a bad rap as we know and often refer to him as Doubting Thomas!  I believe that Thomas represents many of us in our moments of doubt and disbelief.  He was overwhelmed by grief and was not present when Jesus appeared to the disciples the first time.  I like to think that maybe he thought it was an April Fool’s prank as the other disciples recounted Jesus’ appearance.  But how many times have we uttered the words, “I won’t believe it until I see it with my own eyes!”  This was Thomas’ response.  His doubt was met with an invitation to touch the wounds of Jesus!  Can you even imagine what that must have been like!

How are you like Thomas?  What doubts are you holding on to?  What are you waiting to “see with your own eyes” before you believe?  Friends, seeing isn’t always believing!  Faith is a step forward even when our vision is cloudy. 

Easter Blessings,

Pastor Jenni

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands.
Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 
Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
John 20:27-29

March 27, 2024

When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of Glory died.
My richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride.

Issac Watts penned those words in 1707.  They are such powerful words that tell the amazing story.  As I look ahead to the events of Holy Week those words play in my mind.

The excitement and joy of Palm Sunday still lingers in my mind, as our children presented the Palm Sunday story.  Their joy was contagious as they sang and shouted “Hosanna!  Hosanna in the Highest!” as Jesus rode into the Sanctuary on his Donkey (bike)!

Soon, on Maundy Thursday, we will gather again to remember Jesus’ final gathering with his disciples in the Upper Room.  The joy of the Passover feast turning into the somberness of the Last Supper. “This is my body, broken for you. This is my blood, shed for the forgiveness of your sins.” The confusion as Jesus tells of his betrayal by one of the twelve. How quickly things change as the plan is set in motion. How quickly joy turns to sorrow and hope turns into despair. Our worship will walk us through Jesus final hours, from the celebration of the Last Supper to his final words from the cross as the gathering darkness falls upon us.

Good Friday I invite you to come for a time of meditation and prayer as you walk The Journey to the Cross.  These experiential prayer stations will take us on a journey with Jesus from the Garden to the Tomb.   

My hope is that you find time this week to pause and remember the importance of all that happened this week in the life of Jesus.  This is the week that changed our lives.  This is what our faith is all about – Jesus' incredible love for each one of us that he was willing to die a horrible death. 

Love so amazing so divine.  Demands my soul my life my all

Blessings,
Pastor Jenni

P.S. I look forward with great anticipation to celebrating Resurrection Sunday with you and your loved ones!  

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities:
the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
 - Isaiah 53:5

March 20, 2024

This Sunday we begin the long road to Easter.  Holy week is my favorite time of the entire church year!  I have always loved every moment of it from the pomp and pageantry of Palm Sunday to the solemnity of Good Friday to the celebration of Resurrection Sunday. 

There is something so special about Palm Sunday with the waving of the palm branches by the children as we sing hymns of Jesus Triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  The joyfulness of that moment as we sing and shout, Hosanna! Hosanna!  Hosanna! 

Then there are the emotions of the disciples as they celebrate the Passover feast.  The joy around the table takes a sharp turn as Jesus speaks of what is to take place in the next few hours.  It is the somberness of Maundy Thursday that finds me catching my breath, as we share in the Last Supper, remembering the sacrifice Christ would make for us. 

Then to the agony of the garden, as Jesus prays so hard he sweats blood.  There in the Mount of Olives, with Olive trees that are bent and gnarled, Jesus wrestles with what is to come.  It is there that he prays for us, for those that would follow.  It is there in the garden that he accepts his destiny, the excruciating pain and agony that is to come.

From the Garden things move fast.  A trial, a mockery of a trial really, as Jesus goes from authority to authority with no one wanting to make the final decision.  Finally, after hours of standing and questioning, Pilate gives the final decision to the people…Crucify Him! The crowd that only a few short days earlier was shouting, Hosanna, is now chanting Crucify Him!

The long road then leads to the cross.  Capital punishment that was saved for the most heinous of criminals.  It is on that hill, on that cross, that Christ’s life had been leading to from the moment of his birth.  It is Finished, were the last words he spoke that day.

But the story doesn’t end there…it is to be continued.  (I don’t want to spoil the ending!) 

Holy Week for me is about the anticipation of what is to come.  We know the story, we know the happy ending, but my challenge to us to not to rush to the end but instead may we sit together, with all the emotions that come as Jesus walks the long road ahead.  Palm Sunday is just the beginning…looking forward to starting this journey with you this week!

Blessings,

Pastor Jenni

“Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
 - Mark 11:10

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