by Sharon Luckenbaugh 
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. (Ephesians 1:7-8)
Lately in my leisurely reading there has been an underlying theme of God’s grace. Maybe it’s the Holy Spirit gently nudging me to extend that same grace to some squirrelly kids at school, the impatient driver who was riding my bumper on the way to work, and the loved ones God has blessed me with. Grace is God’s free gift of unmerited favor and love to those who accept Him. Receiving the grace of God does not mean we simply live our lives as we please, being thankful that we’re forgiven. Those who accept His free gift of salvation are instructed to extend grace to others.
In Max Lucado’s book, Grace, More than We Deserve, Greater than We Imagine, the author describes the horrible massacre of innocent Amish children while attending the West Nickel Mines Amish School in Lancaster County, PA. As neighbors to Lancaster, you may recall the tragic event of October 2, 2006. In the days that followed, I remember watching the news and hearing local and national commentators express amazement over the Amish community’s testimony of grace. They remained peaceful and composed, while extending kindness and forgiveness. Lucado writes, “Half of those in attendance of the shooter’s funeral were Amish. An Amish midwife, who helped deliver several of the schoolgirls who died, prepared a meal for the shooter’s family.”
Our world asks, “How could they do that in the midst of great loss, hurt, and grief?”
Lucado explains, “Grace is not blind. It sees the hurt full well. But grace chooses to see God’s forgiveness even more. It refuses to let hurts poison the heart. Where grace is lacking, bitterness abounds. Where grace abounds, forgiveness grows.”
Lucado references Hebrews 12:15, See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. The Amish community, despite the painful loss of loved ones, demonstrated God’s grace to the world in powerful and practical ways.
For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father” Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son.” (Hebrews 1:1-5)
Jesus is everything!


Dearly Beloved

by Joe Becker
To address anyone as “Dearly Beloved” should, by grace, and due course, reveal a spray of ’playful light’ about the text. These days, however, such an address may appear as far from an inkstand as 1976, when the term ‘inkjet’ was first coined. Within our generation pens are no more quickened, neither yielded or wielded to write much at all. Cursive writing seems cursed by the cursor and any playful light gets produced by some “icon” or “emoji”. And when that is mixed with a velocity so adverse to one’s being still, I can only throw fits against such wit foreign to my own. Then the Holy Spirit, once so intercessional to the letter of conversation, seems to succumb even further to my ineptitude with and dislike of electronic devices. Would I then grieve the Holy Spirit?
So I retreat to the book shelf, in search of some comfort, outside the realm of cell phones and the world of pixels. There is my Lord’s heart, as revealed to Elisabeth Elliott. She has written in the context of God’s Word on being still.
“We can know only that Eternal Love is wiser than us, and we bow in adoration of that Loving Wisdom. Response is what matters. All events serve His Will.” (Elisabeth Elliott, Be Still My Soul, 2003)
Now in all this dressage, when the Pastor and others face the congregation, quite nearly pleading for contributions to our Lenten Devotional, it behooves us to Respond.
Dearly Beloved, take the time to perhaps pen a letter. It may become your joy to share in the ministry of our annual devotional. It bolsters our growth, unity, and fellowship here at CABC.


What Is The Meaning of Easter

by Terry Hess
Easter is an annual celebration observed by much of the Christian church, commemorating Christ’s resurrection. Modern observance of Easter represents a convergence of three traditions.
1. The Hebrew Passover, celebrated during Nisan, the first month of the Hebrew Lunar calendar.
2. The Christian commemoration of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, which took place at the feast of Passover.
3. The Norse Ostara, or Eostra, from which the name Easter is derived. This is a pagan festival of spring which fell at the vernal equinox, March 21.
Prominent symbols in this celebration of the resurrection of nature after the winter were rabbits, signifying fecundity, which means the ability to produce an abundance of offspring or new growth. It can also mean the ability to produce many new ideas. Another symbol is eggs, colored like the rays of the returning sun and the northern lights or aurora borealis. The eggs also represent new life.
The fixing of the date of the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection was the occasion of much controversy in the early church. One group insisted that the festival fall on a Sunday, since the Lord rose on the first day of the week. The opposition insisted that it be coordinated with the Jewish Passover, which might fall on any day of the week.
In AD 325, the Council of Nicaea decreed that the resurrection would ordinarily be celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox. If, however, the full moon fell on a Sunday, the celebration was to be postponed a week to avoid coincidence with the Jewish Passover. This method of reckoning the date of Easter, which is still in use, means that Easter may fall at any time within the 35 day period between March 22 and April 25.
Regardless of all this information, an easier way to describe Easter is this: Easter is the most important and oldest festival of the Christian church and it celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.


The Hope Found In The Easter Message

by Pastor Bob Coddington
With the birth of Jesus came a Hope for mankind. As Jesus began His teaching, this spark of hope ignited a glowing flame. Then came Calvary and the day we know as “Good Friday.” With this event, the flame was replaced with fear, the likes of which had not been seen before.
The darkness, which was seen by those at Calvary during the Crucifixion, could be seen in the hearts and minds of those witnessing that event.
When we are motivated by confusion and fear, we tend to lose our hope. The only thing that can restore hope and eliminate fear is the Easter Message.
Right in the very midst of the things that would bring this fear and confusion we find the Scriptures telling us, “Don’t be afraid.”
For God has not given His people the spirit of fear, but He has given to them a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)
God’s message is clear, then and now.
Fear not, for I have redeemed thee, you are mine! (Isaiah 43:1)
Here are some additional scriptures that you might find helpful.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)
Dear Lord, Thanks for the Scriptures that remind us that you are in control, that our fear can be minimized if we but look to the Heavens and place our trust totally in You, the HOPE of all mankind.


Am I Listening When God Speaks?

by Deb Seibert 

I like to take notes from sermons then record some of the teaching points in my journal as a reminder. So one day last summer I was recording some of these notes from our pastor’s sermon, “What part of my life shows that I love Jesus?” The corresponding verse was 2 Corinthians 5:14, which tells us the love of Christ controls or compels us—His love fuels our passion and motivates us. I finished my writing that day, asking God to work through me to help others. Then I was on to a day of errands, a long list of things to accomplish.

Prior to leaving, I prayed over the order of my tasks then got in my car to head to Nunda fruit farm. God arranged my schedule to stop there first so my path would cross with a dear young Mennonite mother. She was buying a peck of peaches and apples so I asked her what she planned to do with all the fruit. Her reply was that she has ten children and she was buying the fruit (seconds) merely to eat—they would go through it quickly. I said, “God bless you!” and she replied, “Thank you, we need God’s blessings!” I paid for my peaches, got in my car and headed to Hanover for the rest of my errands.

But as I drove off, I heard God speak, “You have missed the opportunity that I gave you to help others.” Suddenly it dawned on me…why was I just kind to this family—why did I not pay for her fruit? She has ten children! Tears started rolling down my cheeks and I wondered why the thought had not come to me sooner. I had a little money in my wallet but I thought that by the time I turned around and went back she would be gone. NO—no excuses; the Spirit was working on my heart.

Immediately I turned my car around and when I arrived back to the parking lot of Nunda, I was overjoyed to see the dear mother in her car. I felt my heart soften as I heard God say, “Give her the money that is in your wallet—ALL of it!” I approached her car, tapped on the window and said, “This morning I told God I would help someone, and you are the one He chose.”

I handed her the money and she thanked me with a surprised look on her face. But she was not as thankful as I. I got in my car, thanking Him for working through me and not allowing me to miss the opportunity which He had provided to bring Him glory.

Lord, thank you for the great example of Jesus. He always listened to you and did what you commanded, even to the point of giving it all—His very life—for each one of us.


Life Lessons from a Coconut Custodian

by Carl, the Coconut Custodian

It might be nutty… but hear me out. During my brief time at CABC, I have had the opportunity to observe how people interact around here and we’re not as different as you might think.

Coconuts are known for being a bit hard on their exterior…a bit rough around the edges…designed, purposefully, to keep people out. If, in a moment of weakness, you have ever tried to crack into one of us, you will find that it takes a bit of work. We don’t open up without a fight. And, if we do open up, it may get a bit messy.
I have found some people are like that too. They may have an outside that tends to keep people at a distance. People may look hard on the outside. From the outside, some people may not look worth the effort.
True, it may take some work to get to know them. But outer appearances don’t tell the whole story. It reminds me of something Samuel once said, that “man looks at the outer appearance.” Now, I know he was talking about a good, strong-looking outer appearance but the same can be true about a gruff outer appearance…or a “fine” outer appearance. “I’m fine, you’re fine, she’s fine, we’re all fine!” A “fine” exterior can just as easily hide a broken and searching heart as a strong or gruff exterior. You see, our gaze doesn’t always penetrate the way God’s does. Samuel went on to say that “the Lord looks at the heart.” What we show to the world isn’t all there is to us.
That brings me to the second point. You know what else is true about coconuts? Under that rough, hard exterior lies a sweet core. Like the sweetness inside each coconut, every person in the whole world is made in the image of God. What’s more, every Christian carries the spark of the Holy Spirit in them. To love others is to love God. Jesus says that loving each other is the way that the world will know that we are His disciples.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 12:34-35)
So the next time you run into someone who is difficult to love, remember your good friend, Carl the Coconut Custodian. We are all worth the effort to love. In fact, the Master commands it.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39)
I don’t know about you…but I think the best way to honor Christ’s sacrifice at Easter is to do our best to live like Him…to love others in such a way that they don’t see us but see Christ within us.
If anyone says, ‘I know Him,’ but does not keep His commandments, he is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone keeps His word, the love of God has been truly perfected in Him. By this we know that we are in Him: Whoever claims to abide in Him must walk as Jesus walked. (1 John 2:4-6)