Update Newsletter

March 2020 Volume 43 Number 4


Church Cancellations Due to Virus

      Pastor Jeff Linthicum released a statement on Friday, March 13th, explaining the extent and logic behind suspending group gatherings at First Mennonite Church, including all services. He stated these precautions came upon the recommendation of the governor of Indiana, asking groups of 250 or more to refrain from meeting, and for the overall health of the congregation as the Covid-19 virus continues to spread.
      The church staff is offering some creative and useful resources to church members during this time. A few are listed below and more can be found through the church’s website, social media posts, or via email.
• Livestreaming services from First Mennonite Church can be accessed through http://www.firstmennonite.org.
• The church library is open during business hours.
• Church tithing carries on in three ways. Tithes can be sent in the mail using offering envelopes mailed directly to the church office at 566 W Main St., Berne, IN 46711. Tithes can also be left in the boxes outside the church offices. Online giving is possible through BillPay or an automatic deposit through your banking account.
• RightNow Media offers a library of streaming Bible studies to inspire your faith anytime. First Mennonite Church purchased a one-year subscription effective March 15th for members in order to encourage spiritual growth in the absence of our gatherings. An email from the church office allows you access to rightnowmedia.org. Contact Chris Hyman at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you did not receive an email.
• Resurrection Eggs for kids in celebration of Easter will be an option beginning Palm Sunday and through the following week. A plastic tub of these eggs containing lessons from the Easter story will sit outside the church at the handicap entrance. Updates about these and other useful information will be passed along via email, social media, or the church website.
• Cultivate a missional mindset, praying fervently for overseas missionaries with concerns about the virus. Also pray how you can minister in power to those around you through this uncertain time.


Stations of the Cross

     The Stations of the Cross will look different this year. Physical stations in the church building will not run as they have in the past. They were slated to open through the week of April 5th-11th to prepare the congregation for a meaningful Easter celebration.
      Please consider using the following information to recreate the stations in your own home. The following step-by-step instructions, meditations, and activities were taken from the binders used at the Stations of the Cross, written by Darren Kloepper several years ago.

Station #1: Jesus Anointed
1. Read Matthew 26:6-13
2. Meditate on the text
3. Consider: Beautiful things are often extravagant. The expensive perfume Mary brought to Jesus was worth a year’s wages. When she astonished everyone by pouring it all out for Jesus, the worth of her Savior exceeded her selfishness. In the same way, Jesus was about to pour out a gift so precious that even the angels looked on in silence and disbelief.
4. Reflect:
a. What is your most treasured possession?
b. Would you give it up for Jesus?
c. While Mary’s pouring out of her prized possession was called a waste, consider the thought that anything NOT surrendered to Jesus ultimately becomes a waste. Nothing poured out to Jesus will be forgotten. Let Mary’s legacy challenge you, but also look to Jesus, who poured His life out for your forgiveness. He gave up everything for you. Will you hear His voice and surrender all and follow Him?

Station #2: The Last Supper
1. Items to consider gathering: bread and juice for communion
2. Read Matthew 26:17-31
3. Meditate on the text.
4. Consider: Jesus had so much to explain. He knew that His disciples wouldn’t understand most of it, even if He had spoken of these truths in the past.

5. The bread symbolized His body given for our redemption. The cup stood for His blood, shed for our forgiveness. The world would never know of a greater love, love that was willing to give his life even after looking into the eyes of those around the table who were about to forsake Him.
6. Take and eat the bread.
7. Take and drink the cup.
8. The ultimate sacrifice has been given for you. It’s only through this amazing gift that we can stand before the Father, forgiven and free!

Station #3: Jesus in Gethsemane
1. Read Matthew 26:36-46
2. Meditate on the text.
3. Consider: While the disciples couldn’t say awake, Jesus knew full well that they were all about to run away. The Old Testament prophecies wrote of it and the Father said it. The prayer repeated three times resulting in so much anxiety would not be granted. There was no other way. The surrender to the Father’s will was what He came to do. The weight of the world was upon His shoulders.
4. Think about the words, “Not my will but Your will be done.” Jesus gave up heaven itself and became a servant.
a. As followers of Jesus how can we do anything less?
b. Have we surrendered to the Father’s will?
c. Do we even seek the Lord’s plans for our lives?
5. This is the place where we surrender too.

Station #4: Jesus’ Arrest
1. Read Matthew 26:47-68
2. Meditate on the text.
3. Consider: The precious blood began to flow here. Jesus could have called down legions of angels to fight in His defense. For the soldiers, Jesus was just another worthless Jewish criminal and they would gleefully introduce him to Roman crucifixion and the tools of torture. Often the severity of the flogging experienced here would result in death of the one condemned.
4. Reflection:
a. Do you question God’s love for you?
b. What more could Jesus have done for you?
c. How can you show God your love?
d. How can you honor the sacrifice of Jesus with your life choices from this moment on?
5. Make a decision today that will not cause His suffering to be in vain.

Station #5: Peter’s Denial
1. Items to consider gathering: a mirror and a dry-erase marker or paper and pencil.
2. Read Matthew 26:69-75
3. Meditate on the text.
4. Consider: Peter thought he would stand when all others would fall. But when the time came, Peter denied. As a follower of Jesus, Peter had heard Jesus say, “If you deny me before men, I will deny you before the Father.” Now those words became a weight with the potential to crush his spirit. Yet even the worst of sinners can be forgiven. Peter found that to be true. So can you.
5. There is something powerful about gazing at your image in a mirror.
a. Take a long look at yourself.
b. Think about how God sees you.
c. Who are you?
d. How have you denied Jesus?
6. Take a dry-erase marker and write your confessions on the mirror (or write them down on paper with pen or pencil). The person you have been in the past doesn’t have to define you for the rest of your life. Yes, we have all denied Jesus just like Peter. But Peter experienced the greatest gift he would ever imagine. He was restored. You can be restored too.
7. Confess here and weep bitterly, but leave with a renewed love for God that results in a life devoted to Him.

Station #6: Jesus Mocked and the Crown of Thorns
1. Items to consider gathering: a way to watch an online video.
2. Read: Matthew 27:27-31
3. Meditate on the text.
4. Consider: When we hear others ridicule and accuse us of something we know we didn’t do, we’re very quick to declare our innocence. Jesus was the only one who was sinless, yet He endured the mocking of mere mortals. He fell silent when the insults overwhelmed. Wounds from physical sufferings are painful indeed, but often the emotional scars from hatred and rejection are far worse.
5. Watch “Stations of the Cross : Jesus Is Beaten and Crowned” on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-6TPIo1F9o
6. Jesus didn’t deserve any of it, yet for your sake, He took it all. Jesus humbled Himself in a way that deity should never have to. Nothing like this has ever happened before. God in the flesh was enduring the insults from His own creation so that He could make them pure and dwell with them forever. What kind of God is this?

Station #7: Jesus’ Crucifixion and Death
1. Items to consider gathering: two pieces of wood to make a cross. A hammer and nails. Red paint (or pen, or marker, or chalk) and a large piece of white paper (or canvas or notebook paper)
2. Read Matthew 27:32-50
3. Meditate on the text.
4. Consider: The cross was always the plan, Jesus came to this earth to seek and to save what was lost. The cross was the only way to reconcile sinful men to a Holy God. The cross reveals both the justice and love of God. Sin would be punished and love would be shown. And with justice being served and the penalty of sin satisfied, the Father could look upon those who embrace Christ with forgiveness. Jesus took our place on the cross and now we can be declared innocent of all sin. His blood washed away every sin and every stain.
5. With the hammer, strike three nails, three times each, into the cross. Listen to the sound. This is the sound of His suffering and our pardon.
6. Take the red paint (or pen, or marker, or chalk) and write one of your sins that Jesus washed away.
7. It’s absolutely true! The blood of Jesus has paid the price. Jesus paid for our sins in full. It is finished! †

 
The Best Distraction

“Jesus answered them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.’” Luke 5:31
     Covid-19 Virus currently tops the news headlines in every paper, television broadcast, and online news source. The masses wiped clean the grocers’ shelves in order to “hunker down” and government officials are recommending social distancing. All of these changes rushed into the community seemingly overnight.
      When our college-age daughter came home for her one-week spring break on March 8th, we embraced it, knowing she would enjoy home-cooked meals, family game nights, and watching her siblings’ activities for such a short week before she moved back into her routine and university world. But wow, what a change we have seen in the past week! Amid concerns of the virus, she is now home indefinitely, along with our other four school-aged children!
      Our schedule is often the primary distractor from ministry and sharing the gospel with those around us. We run on gazelle-like legs from event to event, some of them church related, but many of them not. No wiggle room remains in such a schedule, certainly not enough to slow down and recognize the hurting and broken in our community. Every so often, exhaustion sets in and I pause enough to rest and thank the Lord for health and then run along again.
      All of a sudden, however, the schedule changed. We are no longer running around. The opposite holds true now, with time on my hands in my own home, I pray for the elimination of this virus in our county, state, country, and world. Desperate people all around me are panicking and fearful. The events and activities in my schedule are no longer my biggest distraction, it’s the world around me full of fear and for once in my life, I am strong, but I am still.
      I know what to do. I pray with power for protection, faith, and healing. I extend hands of service and feet willing to deliver groceries or necessities for those who cannot risk going out. Jesus entered the world to serve those needing Him and His example is clear. Unlike the distractions of family activities and community events, this distraction points me toward ministry every time. Although the virus itself cannot be considered good, the response of believers around the world can. Jesus responded to desperation, and I am called to respond to the desperate today. Covid-19 may be the best distraction because rather than turning inward and round and round, I turn outward to my neighbor, my community, and my world with the power of Jesus Christ. †


Sunshine Hour

March has 5 Tuesdays = Sunshine Hour Hymn Sing! Singers join us in the Chapel on March 31 at 6:15 for the 6:30 broadcast of the Sunshine Hour. Those watching at Swiss Village and those listening at home on the scanner don’t forget to “tune us in” and enjoy hymns, Scripture, and special “live” music. (Pending approval, check listings upon date.) †


Homegoing

      Floine Ruth Dynes, 98, of Geneva, Indiana passed away early Friday morning, March 6, 2020, at Swiss Village in Berne.
      She was born on October 29, 1921, in Adams County, Indiana to Joel and Cora (Winteregg) Neuenschwander. Floine was united in marriage to George Dynes on December 30, 1950, in Adams County, Indiana and he preceded her in death on June 11, 2019.
      She was a faithful member of First Mennonite Church. Floine played an intricate role in assisting on the family farm and was a homemaker.
      She is survived by three sons, Sheldon Dynes of New Castle, Indiana, Brian Dynes of Berne, Indiana, and Ted (Barbara A.) Dynes of Decatur, Indiana; sister, Margie (Bill) Simon of Berne, Indiana; nine grandchildren, Matt (Karen) Dynes, Michelle (Steve) Cobb, Dr. Jennifer (Trent) McCormick, Andrew Dynes, Joseph Dynes, Daniel Dynes, Seth Dynes, Olivia Dynes, and Joshua Dynes; and six great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by three brothers, Sherman, Delmar, and LeDale Neuenschwander and four sisters, Vergene, Romona, Ellowyne, and Willodyne. †

Notes of Appreciation

Hello from the Netherlands! We are settling in here and adjusting to our new "home" with help from our family here.
A big thank you to our Berne church family and friends for all the prayers, cards, money donations, gifts and so much more. Words of encouragement, faith, and a lot of love helped us so much! And a big thank you to our Sunday School Class Family Faith builders, we are so grateful for them as well! Thank you to the Prayer Shawl Ministry, and to Pastor Jeff and Pastor Jim.
It truly is a blessing to know you all, and for that we give God all the glory!
"We have everything we need to live a life that pleases God"! 2 Peter 1:3.
Jack, Carola, Thom, Cindy and Lars In 't Groen †

Among Our People

Sharon Wheeler was at Lutheran for tests and treatment of stomach pains from Feb. 2-7.
Logan Sprunger was at AMH because of a fall and pneumonia from Feb. 27-March 4. He transferred to Swiss Village for rehab.
Brandon Hill had back surgery at St. Vincent’s Indianapolis March 2 and came home on March 4.
Barb Lehman had outpatient hip replacement at Lutheran on March 2.
Renee Liechty was a patient at AMH with pneumonia.
Dan Dawson was a patient at AMH from March 6-11 after breaking his hip in a fall and needing surgery. He was transferred to Swiss Village for continuing care. †