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Devo

Devotional

Our congregation, pastors, and staff write devotionals to help us experience the seasons of Lent (before Easter) and Advent (before Christmas) more fully. They are posted below with the most recent on top and do not post until the season begins.

Sunday, April 1 | Easter Sunday

1 Corinthians 15:4
“…and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures…”

DEVOTION BY Drew Sams
A truth that echoes across the cosmos is condensed into this brief and powerful verse. Paul (who is writing a letter to a gathering of Christians in the first century town of Corinth) reminds them, and us, of this paradigm shifting truth.

Life springs up only if it is first buried in death.

The Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) had communicated this recipe for redemption in many ways through many people over thousands of years, and Paul is reminding them and us that “JESUS IS RISEN!”

We see this powerful truth echoed in gardens, meadows, and forests around the world. For a plant, flower, or tree to spring up in life, it must first be buried in death. Think of the imagery of a seed buried in the ground. For a while, you can’t see it, and it gives the illusion that nothing is happening. But, with the right conditions, it breaks free from the ground and springs up as God designed it to.

Every seed planted that springs up from the ground is reflecting the Gospel. The good news is that Jesus was buried and rose again AND that Jesus says we too will be united with Him in new life if we are willing to die to our self-focused ways.

INTRODUCTION
My name is Drew Sams and I first was invited to attend Bel Air Church as a college student in 1999. It has been an amazing and unforgettable journey as I now get to serve as senior pastor at the church that led me to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior so many years ago. In addition to being connected to the church as the senior pastor, I have deeply enjoyed being in a couples life group with my wife, Erika, as well as be connected to the vitality of our preschool as Judah graduated from there last year, with Barrett close on his heels.

MY MEAL MEMORY
My favorite meal memories have been with Erika, my boys, my sister, brother-in-law, and my parents at their mountain home in Big Bear. Not only are the made-from-scratch meals phenomenally creative and mouth-watering even years later in my memories, but there is a “foraging” activity that I get to do on a regular basis. We hop in my parents Jeep, take the dirt roads into the forest, and we look for dried Manzanita, flowers, and branches with berries that we harvest and bring back home. We then arrange them in what becomes an interwoven canopy through the arms of the iron chandelier above our large dining room table.

As we linger over a long meal reflecting on whatever comes to mind, we are reminded of the gift of food, family, and fellowship with a God who is the true “master of the feast.”

As we venture beyond Lent into the rest of the year, my prayer and hope is that you and I would continue to join Jesus at the table!

Saturday, March 31

John 8:32
“and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

DEVOTION BY Rev. Care Crawford

Some call this day “silent Saturday.” The truth about this day is it brings us one day closer to true freedom. For freedom Christ has set us free. For so many of us, we live outside the “truth”- the truth that we are God’s beloved, the truth that Jesus went to the cross for us. Truth brings freedom. Do you ever find yourself saying something to yourself, oh not out loud, but that inner voice which speaks untruths about who you are? Sometimes we tell ourselves we are not good enough, or good looking enough or smart enough or … ?

God’s truth is He gave us Jesus and wants to have relationship with us. God’s plan is to have a life WITH HIM!

As you prepare for Easter Sunday, take some time to sit and be still with God. What are the places in your life where you do not feel free? Is it an unfreedom of a sin you have committed or a lie you have told yourself? Is it an unfreedom of a broken place in your life which God longs to heal?

What is your image and picture of true freedom? Can you draw it? Can you describe it?

In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” What way are you heading today- toward Jesus or away from Him?
What is the truth Jesus can speak to you today? And what is the LIFE Jesus is offering? Come to the table and sit with Jesus. Feast with Him. Let Him provide bread for the journey and strength for the day.

INTRODUCTION
My name is Care Crawford, and I am one of the Associate Pastors here at Bel Air. My current position is in Spiritual Formation and Soul Care. I have served at the church for many years and have found the deep gifts of the family of God in this community.

MY MEAL MEMORY
A memorable meal was taking Communion with children in the balcony of the chapel here are church. The children and I came into the service and went upstairs to participate in Communion. When the plate of bread cubes was passed, a little boy took it and passed it to his neighbor and asked, “Is that all we get?” Immediately his friend sitting next to him said, “Don’t worry, it is all you need!” How profound, he understood! As the plates of little plastic cups were passed, each child held their wee cups and seem so pleased to have it. And when I looked down the row of the pew I noticed children clinking their plastic communion cups with each other and saying, “Cheers!” Well I was struck, clearly they had learned this somewhere. But in the midst of that communion meal, we are given something to say cheers, and thanks for. The bread, the cup- enough. And with the cheers that we get all the provisions Jesus has for us, not just bread and juice, but even eternal life.