What Does Believing in Jesus Mean?

Dear Friends,

One of the most famous verses in the Christian Bible is John 3:16, which reads, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”

The founder of Lutheranism called this the gospel in a sentence. This verse is so known in Christian circles that you’ll see it posted at football games and on the sides of trucks.

They are trying to send the message that there is only one path to heaven through a belief in and public confession of Jesus. You can see from this passage that you could draw that conclusion.

This past week began a Lenten Bible Study of the book of John. I encourage you to join next week if you can. In our discussion with Steve and Natasha, we pondered this passage, and Steve asked, “What does believing in Jesus mean?” 

This is a profound question. Too often, this verse has been used for exclusion when the message of Jesus is inclusion. So, what exactly does it mean to believe in Jesus?

This raises some powerful questions, then. What does this verse mean? Who was Jesus? What does believing in Jesus mean to us today? This Sunday, I’ll explore who Jesus was and what it means to believe in him. I hope you can join.

Praying for Ross and Louise Capon

This past week I officiated at the memorial service for Jeanne Inman the mother of Louise Capon. It was a lovely service filled with friends and family who all shared their memories of this incredible women. Please keep Ross and Louise and their family in your prayers.

Quote from the service:

“…In Jeanne, there was a powerful connection between her heart and into her hands. She showed this by creating quilts, baking cakes, and cooking meals. Whether it was an offering of music or the incredible crop out of her garden that summer, Jeanne always looked for ways to give to others. She served in her community as the co-clerk of Bethesda Friends, the local library, or preparing costumes by hand for a play. In all she did, she was remembered as a patient teacher.

She knew that Christmas and New Year’s Eve could be two of the loneliest nights for people, so; she hosted suppers where everyone could come by and feel connected and loved…”

Lou Tafel

Good news, Lou Tafel is out of the hospital and recovering nicely at home. Continue to keep him in your prayers.

Comings and Goings

The wedding I did last weekend went well. I’m grateful to our guest speaker Parris Simms for leading the service last week. This week I’ll be in Chicago at the Citizens University gathering. Citizens University is one of the nation’s premier civil society organizations under the leadership of Eric Liu. It’s an excellent chance to learn what cutting-edge leaders are doing to rebuild our civil society.

Have a blessed week,


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Readings for The Coming Sunday:

John 3:1-21

New International Version

Jesus Teaches Nicodemus

1 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” 4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. 10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things, and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 

19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

Matthew 7:21

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” 

Swedenborg Insight

True Christianity 3

“By means of his human manifestation, which was divine truth, Jehovah God lifted this pending damnation and redeemed both people and angels. Afterward, in his human manifestation, he united divine truth to divine goodness, or divine wisdom to divine love. In this way he returned to the divine nature that he had had from eternity, together with and in the human manifestation, which had been glorified.” 

Last Sunday:

Last week we were joined by executive coach and educator, Parris Simms who shared her powerful and emotional personal testimony, with some lessons learned on what can help our light to shine, even in the darkest hour.

Thank to all who joined us, and the great discussion that followed the sermon!

A link to the recording of last Sunday's message can be found here.

Lenten Bible Study at CHC

Please join our Lenten Bible Study on Mondays at 6 PM EST. This Monday, we will cover John 4 through 7, so please read it before you join.

You can join using the link provided below.

Link to Join Bible Study

Join the CHC Cultural Translation Program Pilot

Our Cultural Translation workshop is completely booked for March. However, there are two spots left in the April training. I encourage those in our community to join the pilot and give us feedback. This is our community’s effort to offer concrete strategies to overcome toxic polarization and increase respect for diversity. You can sign up below.

Click for More Information and to Apply

Video Available for the Memorial Service for Congressman Jim Kolbe

The church hosted a memorial service for Jim Kolbe last month, and the service video is now out (linked below).

Thanks to Jimmy Cox for managing the almost 400 attendees! Thanks also to Ross Capon and Malcolm Peck for serving as head ushers.

Click Here to Watch the Video

Living for Liza: A Ukrainian Mother's Journey of Love and Defiance

*Jason Bellini, one of our church members, let us know with us that he shared Rev. Tafel's sermon on "What Happens to Us When We Die" with Irina as a way to support her in her grieving process.

Article by Jason Bellini and Dmytro Horyevoy

March 2, 2023

It was an attack that horrified the world. A Russian missile struck a town in central Ukraine, far from the front lines, killing 23 people. 

Iryna Dmytrieva was injured in the attack and her 4-year-old, Liza, was killed. 

Dmytrieva has been receiving medical care in Vienna, Austria, but she plans to go back to Ukraine, for the first time since the attack, to mark her daughter's birthday. 

The world knew Liza as a girl pushing a pink stroller, before a Russian missile took her life. Liza became a symbol of the savagery of war and undeniable evidence of Russian President Vladimir Putin's crimes against humanity. 

But to her mother, the four-year-old with Down syndrome is much more than a victim and a symbol. 

"Liza gave us so much love," Dmytrieva said through a translator. "I have never felt like this in my life."

"When she was alive, I dreamed that her example would instill faith in parents who have special children — that anything is possible," Dmytrieva added.

Dmytrieva survived the attack with life-threatening injuries. She's able to walk again, but shrapnel still bulges from her wrist. 

On the day of the attack, Dmytrieva said she remembers seeing a rocket flying above their heads. 

"I thought that this was probably [the] end," she said. "I bent over the baby carriage to shield her. And there was an explosion."

Click Here to Continue Reading

Thought for the Week:

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