Update from Pastor
Happy Friday, Greenwoods Family!
John’s account of Jesus’ arrest at the Garden of Gethsemane (John 18), has always mystified me. Here’s the passage in particular that’s eluded me for quite some time, until now. John 18:4-9 reads, “Then Jesus, because he knew everything that was going to happen to him, came and asked them, “Who are you looking for?” They replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He told them, “I am he.” (Now Judas, the one who betrayed him, was standing there with them.) So when Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they retreated and fell to the ground. Then Jesus asked them again, “Who are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.” Jesus replied, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, let these men go.” He said this to fulfill the word he had spoken, “I have not lost a single one of those whom you gave me.”
I’ve never understood why, when Jesus identified Himself to the soldiers, we’re told that “they retreated and fell to the ground.” I haven’t found a commentary yet that satisfactorily addresses this. So, as I pray any good scholar would do, I went back to the original language, and as always, I learned something extraordinary. If we were to translate word-for-word what Jesus says when He identifies Himself, this is what we would get, “He told them, ‘I am.’” Many English translations add in the he (“I am he”) for clarity. But the original language translates, literally, “I am the one who is.” Does this sound familiar? Immediately, I thought of Exodus 3:14, where Moses asked God, “Whom shall I say has sent me?” And God responds, “Tell Pharoah I AM sent you.” Literally, “I am the one who is.” This is God’s Holy Name. And then it hit me, John’s gospel in particular is all about us understanding that Jesus is Who He says He says, that Jesus is God.
So, when God reveals Himself on earth, it’s called a theophany. It’s the theological term used when God physically appears in our reality. I believe that’s what happened in Genesis when God storms into the Garden after Adam and Eve sinned. It explains why they hid. When God reveals Himself, the earth shakes. When God appeared to Elijah, we’re told about thunder, lightning, earthquakes, and winds as God presence passed him by. Thus, Jesus identifying Himself to His captors is a theophany. That’s why no one could stand! I believe when Jesus said I Am, the ground shook because He affirmed Himself as God. It reminded of Philippians 2:10, which says, “… that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth…” Even Jesus’ captors, even His betrayer, had to bow at God’s Name! And that’s why no one could stand in the presence of the revealed God!
Praise God for His Word, that continues to affirm itself and prove Who He is!
As Memorial Day approaches, would you all please make sure to pray the following prayer over the weekend and on Memorial Day?
Memorial Day Prayer
Gracious God, as we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy every day, we think of how they have followed in the footsteps of Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Please hold our servicemen and women and their families in Your strong arms. Cover them with Your sheltering grace, and Your presence as they stand in the gap for our protection. We also remember the families of our troops. We ask for Your unique blessings to fill their homes, and we pray Your peace, provision, and strength will fill their lives. May the members of our armed forces be supplied with courage to face each day, and may they trust in the Your mighty power to accomplish each task. Let our military brothers and sisters feel our love and support. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Be safe, be blessed, and be encouraged, everyone! – Pastor Trip
Thanks to all of you who responded to our request for input about reopening the church. We are taking all of your responses very seriously. The Elders met last night to pray and discuss how the church might be reopened considering the recently established Massachusetts guidelines for churches. Those guidelines are very strict and detailed, but we believe we can negotiate the issues and establish our own guidelines that respect the legal requirements, but most importantly, God’s call to our church. As a result, we have set a tentative date for reopening the church on Sunday, June 14th. The CDC is expected to provide updated mandates for churches on a national level momentarily, and the states will be expected to follow suit. That is why June 14 is a tentative date, which takes into consideration the constantly changing nature of the situation. However, we hope to finalize the guidelines for Greenwoods during the coming week, and will send them out to the congregation as soon as they are completed. Please continue to be in prayer for the Elders as we try to negotiate these very tricky issues for our church and church family. In the meantime, Pastor Trip will continue to post an online service on the church website just prior to 10:30 AM each Sunday in order to maintain, as much as possible, the sense of worshiping together as a church family. Go to:www.greenwoodschurch.com for the Sunday service and for up to date announcements.
Thank you for your faithfulness in giving! We are receiving your checks by mail and your online donations when you use the green “GIVE” option on the GCC website. Because of your ongoing commitments, we can pay our Pastor, our bills, and the monthly support, for our eleven missionaries. Checks can be mailed to the church at 355 Clayton Road, P.O. Box 346, Ashley Falls, MA, 01222. All donations are gratefully received and promptly applied to Greenwoods Kingdom work!
The Sheffield Food Pantry has indicated that, for the time being, they have adequate supplies and financial reserves. However, Fishes and Loaves Food Pantry in Canaan still has an immediate and growing need for food donations: dry cereal, pasta and sauce, canned tuna fish, and canned soup. Food may be dropped off at Pilgrim House, 30 Granite Ave., Canaan, on Tuesdays from 9:00 A.M. – 7:00 P.M. If you are unable to deliver food yourself, call Chuck Lewis to pick up your food donations and take them there.
Betsy Garcia is making non-sterile face masks. She will sew one for anyone who is in need. Seniors and those with compromised immune systems have preference at this point. Please contact her if you need any. Thank you, Betsy!
Pray This Week For
Each other – Connect and ask how you can pray for one another. Please hold all those who work on the frontline of healthcare, grocery, emergency services, and other essential services in your prayers.
Recently From Our Missionaries
El Rancho del Rey, Santiago, Nuevo Leon, Mexico: Everyone is currently healthy. There are still ten boys in residence during this time along with staff. Local schools will continue to stay closed for now, so the El Rancho staff continues with “home schooling”. It is unclear yet what the summer plans will be for these boys. Some may need to stay at El Rancho. Locally they expect some restrictions to ease soon, as there are few cases of COVID 19 in Santiago, unlike Mexico City. Food and supply donations have been received from a local group in Santiago and from Back-to-Back ministries. There will be extra expenses if they need to stay open all summer and take care of their staff as well. The new courtyard work is complete, thanks to Mike Mino and the boys working together. There was a bathroom plumbing failure this week in one of the buildings that required major repair work. Mike is heading back to the Boston area in mid-June and will have to self-quarantine. Susan will stay longer, but may need a new VISA.
Tabitha’s Heart, Calcutta, India: Following a typhoon this week in Calcutta, they have not had power for three nights – most companies have had 50% of their towers destroyed and it is not certain when power will be restored. They are carrying buckets of water from a nearby well and it is very hot. Rachel has no phone service, so she can’t post and make replies right now. We are grateful she could finagle to get out get this message out. The airport is under water and the state has been devastated. Rachel has had four of the boys staying with her for almost two months, pretty much confined indoors during this time of restrictions. She says they have created so many different games to play, get their homework done willingly, and help with the house chores. They pray for their country and its people every night and have grown in so many ways. “There is a lot of hardship and heaviness here right now, but these four are my joy in the midst of it all!”
In His Name,
Greenwoods Community Church Pastor & Elders
(Pastor Trip Weiler & Elders: John Campbell, Mike Conlogue, Geoff Drury, Chuck Lewis & Jesse Midwood)