Category: News

Jacob & Joseph by Chaplain Dwight

I like to joke that fashion sense is not one of my spiritual gifts. Let’s just say that I am indebted to my wife for lots of help in that area. I still have bad memories of a lime green leisure suit paired with a floral shirt. That memory lingered thanks to being featured in a family photo that hung in the hallway for decades.

In our study this week, Jacob gives Joseph a coat of many colors. It was more than a simple gift from a loving father. It was a long-sleeved garment worn by the nobility of the day. It was a symbol of authority and favored position within the family. It marked Joseph as the future leader of the household, even though he was far from the firstborn. He was the firstborn of Rachel, and that was the key distinction that mattered to Jacob.

The coat immediately set Joseph apart from his brothers and exempted him from the menial tasks of farming and shepherding. This fueled the jealousy and hatred the other brothers had for Joseph, leading to his being sold into slavery.

Jacob ended the chapter mourning what he believed was the death of Joseph. He was deceived by his sons, much like he had deceived his father to steal the blessing from Esau. In a sense, he is reaping what he has sown. I hope you have avoided favoritism, and not been caught in its effects. Thank goodness God has loved us with an everlasting love, and He does not show partiality. Show that love to those around you this week

I can open the pickle jar! by Rev. Helen T.

Helen T.

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed that pictures of me look more and more like an an old lady, bent over at the hips and slouching with rounded shoulders as I walk.  I was not happy and for the last couple of years, at least, I’ve tried to pay attention to my posture: stand up straight, shoulders back, as my dear friend and the daughter of a fellow resident told her mother when she walked, “Mom, lead with your thighs!”

I’ve not had much success—until now!  It’s not all of the time, but I find myself doing that more and more.  My back is straight up from my hips and my shoulders are back.  It still takes concentration and real effort.  Habits are hard to break.   I’m really happy about this and intend to keep it up!  I can breathe better.  

It’s also clear to me why now, all of a sudden, I can do it more with much less effort.  It’s the Stretch and Flex class!  I’ve been doing that since I moved in almost ten years ago.  But Lori’s classes are more strenuous.  And I think that is especially true of the core-strengthening ones.  I’m working harder and get tireder. It feels like as my core gets stronger, it’s just natural to stand more erectly with shoulders back.  Classes are also fun and interesting.  We rarely use the “rubber bands”, “jump ropes” and barbells the same way from day to day.  

More benefit, I was looking for a book the other day on the bottom shelf of our library.  I sat down on the floor to look.  Then I got up all by myself without hanging on to anything!  Yay!  And I’ve not had to ask for help to open the pickle jar or any other.  I don’t like getting up early enough for 9:00 o’clock classes.  But I don’t want to miss Stretch and Flex!  And if you see me slouching down the hall,  please remind me to straighten up!!

Jacob Wrestles God by Chaplain Dwight

Recently, I started a character study. I’m continuing with Jacob as he is a fascinating one. The Bible has a wonderful way of presenting all the heroes of the faith—flaws and all. Jacob is, in many ways, the father of Israel (his sons are the heads of the 12 tribes).

Jacob Wrestles God — Genesis 32 One of my favorite Scriptures is Proverbs 3:5-6. It exhorts us to trust in the Lord and not to lean on our own understanding. This is a constant battle for us, and certainly for Jacob. God delights in taking the self-reliant (Moses, Peter, Paul, etc., etc.) and humbling them (us) so they (we) could be of greater use.

Genesis 32 is Jacob’s greatest struggle and his finest hour. He begins the chapter as Jacob, the self-reliant schemer facing a return to his homeland and a confrontation with Esau. He ends the chapter with a new name, a new limp, and a greater understanding of dependence on God.

At the beginning of the chapter, Jacob ignores an early sign from God (v1), prays to God out of fear (“save me…for I am afraid, v 11), and implements a plan to pacify Esau. This plan leaves him alone, separated from his family and his possessions. (v 24).

At his darkest hour, he begins a lengthy wrestling match with “a man.” Jacob holds on for dear life, asking for a Blessing. He is asked his name. This is basically a confession, because Jacob means “heel catcher, deceiver” Now, Jacob cries out for a change. And he gets it. His name is changed to Israel, “God’s fighter,” or “He struggles with God.” Really, God would now fight for Israel. The new nation that Jacob heads must also rely on God to fight for them.

Jacob names the place Peniel, because he had seen the face of God and been spared. His limp would be a constant reminder to trust in the Lord, and not to lean on his own understanding. How are you doing with that struggle? Trust God with your situation, whatever it is.

I Found Peace Again

My Love for Brill Chapel started almost as soon as I moved into Epworth Villa, when fellow Resident, Jimette invited me to join the choir. I was somewhat adrift in regard to my allegiance to a church, because my long time and beloved home church was in the throes of dissolution and I felt disconnected. When I became familiar with Brill and started singing in the choir, I found that peace again, that comes with knowing you have a spiritual home.

I took the course offered on the beautiful and meaningful stained glass windows and celebrated even more cause to feel the peace of this lovely place in my new home. I felt part of Epworth and the choir and the enjoyment of Brill almost immediately, and was so pleased to add this new dimension to my life.

Jacob & God by Chaplain Dwight

Last week, I started a character study. I’m continuing with Jacob as he is a fascinating one. The Bible has a wonderful way of presenting all the heroes of the faith—flaws and all. Jacob is, in many ways, the father of Israel (his sons are the heads of the 12 tribes).

Put yourself in Jacob’s shoes (Genesis 28.) He is most likely exhausted from 4-5 days of travel: alone, away from family for the first time. Esau’s death threat ringing in his ears, facing an uncertain future in a foreign land. He desperately needs to be assured of God’s presence and grace – and that is exactly what he gets. Dreaming of a ladder into heaven, Jacob receives a simple reminder that God is present. He is not an aloof God, but one who is involved with His creation.

For the first time, Jacob listens to God. God promises that even with Jacob’s history of deceit, the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant belonged to him. To top it off, God promises protection and a safe return home. Jacob’s response? In a word, WORSHIP. Jacob sets up a memorial stone and names the place Bethel (House of God): committing himself to God and vowing if God would do as He promised, Jacob would enter a covenant with Him. I think this is not a bargaining session. “If” could also be translated, “since.” Since God promises these things, Jacob is devoted to Him. With faith starting right here in Bethel, Abraham and Isaac’s God is now Jacob’s God. Faith is a personal reality.

Some of my greatest experiences with God are when I am at my lowest point. Think back to what God has done for you. Thank Him for His grace, His presence, His assurance in your life. And remember, He is there with you with whatever you face today.

I’m a Believer -Linda L.

A couple of years ago, I kicked up my exercise routine to a higher level but did not change my eating habits.  A previous cholesterol test was borderline elevated and the doctor recommended either exercise or take a pill.  I opted for the exercise.  A repeat test, about six months ago, indicated that my cholesterol was lower than it had been in the past 20 years!  And my recent bone density showed improvement as well.  I’m a believer!

Jacob & Esau by Chaplain Dwight

This week, I’m starting character studies and Jacob is a fascinating one. The Bible has a wonderful way of presenting all the heroes of the faith—flaws and all. Jacob is, in many ways, the father of Israel (his sons are the heads of the 12 tribes).

The Scripture reading (Gen 25:19-34) highlights the beginning of Jacob’s relationship with his twin brother Esau—not one of his finer moments. Jacob and Esau were far from identical. Jacob means “cheater, heel grabber.” He is Mom’s favorite. He was gentle and stays at home to help. Esau is the red headed hunter, Isaac’s (Dad’s) favorite.

Jacob lived up to his name by maneuvering to get the birthright from Esau for a bowl of stew, and later, with the help of his mother—Rebekah, stole the family blessing. Now, if you look further in the story, Jacob paid for these actions. He fled for his life, and spent almost a lifetime estranged from his brother Esau. Following suit, Jacob’s own children mistreat his beloved youngest son, Joseph, and then lied to Jacob (Israel) about Joseph’s death when they sold him into slavery. It is a good read if you like mysteries, love stories, tragedy, adventure and is full of life lessons and God’s blessings

Seeing the sibling rivalry between these brothers makes me grateful for my close relationship with my two older brothers. We have always had a great relationship. They were groomsmen in my wedding. We have never had a serious fight or estrangement in our relationship. Take time to reflect on your relationship with your brothers or sisters. Be thankful for them. Talk about them with others. If you need to reconcile, please do so.

A New Perspective

By Roberta Maloney

I moved to Epworth Villa seven and a half years ago following the loss of my husband after almost 50 years of wonderful marriage. On my first night here, I was sitting in my cottage feeling desperately alone and unhappy. It was after 11pm when I had this inspiration to take a walk over to the main building. As I wandered down the hall, I came to the Brill Chapel which, to my surprise was lighted and open. Feeling welcome, I went in, took a seat, and spent some time allowing my eyes to travel around the beautiful surroundings. I looked up at the cross on the window and told the Lord how much I appreciated His guiding me to this wonderful spot. I talked with Him and asked Him to pass my thoughts on to my husband. It was amazing to me how comforted I felt. In the following years, I made a regular habit of visiting with the Lord in the chapel and do so today. My religion since childhood has been Catholic, but I must say participating in the services at Epworth has given me a huge respect for a variety of other faiths. I’ve learned that no matter what we call ourselves, we all worship the same God, and Brill Chapel is a wonderful place in which to do it.