Rev. & Mrs. Kenneth Fellenbaum

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Milford, Connecticut, United States

Bible Verse of the Day

Monday, June 12, 2017

Literary "Offering" on the Occasion of Christian Community Actions' 50th Anniversary

The Blessings of Hope

 by Rev. L. Kenneth Fellenbaum, Wildermere Beach Congregational Church, Milford, CT 

For those possessing hope, there are many blessings. When we have hope, it gives us the strength to persevere – to keep going. People with hope, even a little of it, will keep working at their life situations. Without hope, folks sink into despair and desperation. One of the most important things we can do for fellow human beings is to give and build hope.

Christian Community Action has certainly done just that during its 50 years of existence. Besides helping with housing, food and other essentials for life, CCA has given hope to the New Haven Community. They have done so by showing love and concern – in actions. That is what love truly is – positive steps and actions. This in turn then imparts hope to those on the receiving end.
To know that others care and are concerned… and are “there” for them… in their time of need gives “hurting” people the impetus to “pull themselves up by the bootstraps” as the saying goes. The first word represented by the letter “C” in CCA is “Christian.” Helping others and instilling “hope” is the Christian thing to do. It’s what Jesus Christ did while he was here on earth and what he continues to do through his body which is the Church.
The Apostle Paul wrote numerous verses regarding “hope.” He learned these things from of a life of service that also involved suffering (hard times) See Romans 5:1-5. Suffering through difficult times and seeing God’s help and assistance (usually through others) produces hope in our lives. As we have experienced lessons before – we have hope moving forward.
A word about Biblical hope – it can be defined as a “confident expectation.” It’s a sure thing – just not yet realized! This is different from the secular meaning of hope which is basically “wishful” thinking.
Paul also stated this about hope: “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance (perseverance) and the encouragement of the Scripture (God’s acts in history and his promises) we might have “HOPE” (Romans 15:4). Paul concludes by sharing “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust (have faith) in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
The Lord wants us to have an abundant life (John 10:10) so our lives may “overflow” and bless others. CCA has demonstrated this through it’s years of service. May God continue to use you in giving the great quality – “HOPE.”

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Things Borrowed - A donkey, a room, a tomb

[This message appeared as a blog in the Mennonite World Review online edition; and in the "Faith Matters" column of the New Haven Register - early Sunday, April 16, 2017]

What do these “things borrowed” have in common? This year during lent (days leading up to Holy Week), while re-reading the accounts of Jesus’ last days before his crucifixion, several things jumped off the pages of the Gospels to me. Specifically, they were the things borrowed by the Lord – a young donkey, a large upper room and a new tomb.

Why did Jesus borrow these things? The simple answer is because he needed them and did not own them. I grew up in a farming community in the 1950s in Pennsylvania. It was common for people to borrow tools and implements they needed from time to time from neighbors. If you needed something you didn’t own, then you just asked a neighbor who was in possession of the item. In those days people were less affluent and seemed to be willing to share more. 

We shouldn’t be surprised that the Lord, who had to borrow a coin to illustrate a point about paying taxes (Matthew 22:19); did not own many material things. When he died, the only item he possessed of real value was his robe (John 19:24).

The first thing he borrowed was a “young donkey” (Mark 11:2-3). Jesus used the animal for transportation as he rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. It turns out that this act was the fulfillment of a Biblical prophecy recorded in Zechariah 9:9. It was a donkey that had never been ridden. Donkeys were a common animal, symbolic of humility and peace unlike horses which were generally associated with war.

Secondly, there was the “large upper room” where Jesus and his disciples gathered for the Last Supper. The Lord was from Galilee and when he traveled to Jerusalem he frequently stayed in nearby Bethany at the home of his friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus. However, for the Passover meal he would have needed a room large enough to accommodate himself and his 12 disciples. He sent 2 of his followers ahead to secure a large furnished room (Mark 14:13-15).

Thirdly, we note the “new hewn tomb” that was used for his burial. Unlike the donkey and the upper room, Jesus had nothing to do with acquiring the tomb. Joseph of Arimathea (NW of Jerusalem), a rich follower of Jesus, asked Pilate for the body of Jesus to prepare him for burial and to place in his own new tomb (Matthew 27:57-60). The tomb was only used for three days.

What is to be gleaned in meaning from these borrowed things? In our materialistic age with an emphasis on newer, bigger, and better things, there’s a lesson to be learned. This life is transitory – we are all just passing through on our way to an eternal destiny. Do we really need all the “stuff” that we acquire and accumulate? Perhaps borrowing and loaning are actions for better stewardship of our time and money.