My favorite hymn: He Lives! by Pastor Laura

“Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!” Luke 24:5-6

My favorite hymn is He Lives! I have wonderful memories of joyously singing this hymn on Easter Sunday mornings with my children. Rather than look for Easter eggs, we would wake up and run around the backyard shouting “He lives! He lives!” and singing this hymn.

That is one of the great things about this hymn; it is a joyous proclamation of a life-changing truth. Jesus lives, and because he lives, everything is changed. Death has no power over us for in the resurrection, Jesus defeated death for us all and offers us eternal life. Sometimes we can go through our days feeling burdened and overwhelmed much like the women who arrived at the tomb with their heads cast down on Easter morning. On days like that, I can hear Jesus asking me, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?” The Jesus who rose from the tomb defeating death is still alive and will defeat any other burden or challenge I may face if I only put my trust in Him. “He lives!” and that makes all the difference in my attitude, in my day, and in my life.

The other thing that I love about this hymn is how personal it is. “He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way… You ask me how I know He lives. He lives within my heart!” I know Jesus lives not because of what I was taught in Sunday school, or heard in sermons, or learned in seminary. I know Jesus lives because I feel His presence with me every moment. I see Him at work in the world and in my life through the Holy Spirit. My relationship with Christ is a personal one, and like all meaningful relationships, it is one that I must treasure and tend carefully every day. He lives! That changes everything for me, so I will joyously sing that Good News for the world so that others might know for themselves the gift of abundant life that is Jesus Christ. — Chaplain Laura

My Favorite Hymn: Because He Lives by Rev. Marilyn Williams

“Because He Lives” are powerful words to me. I could simply say it’s a favorite hymn because of the title. I remind myself every day — well, I try to — that a living Christ is always among us. God has created Kingdom on earth for us to live, breathe, love, and learn, to experience joy in our lives with our families, with one another, and with all creation. That means living peacefully and graciously with one another and taking care of our planet.
I believe that which God has created, God expects us to care for, nurture, and love. Should God have expectations of us? Some might say no, it is not required. I would say absolutely yes. If you want to feel the fullness of God’s grace, let God know of your gratitude for the gift of the Holy Spirit, left for each of us through the promise of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Every generation has experienced something which required people to fight, conquer, and survive. It seems as though we have endless wars somewhere in the world. Most recently the world has had to battle a lethal virus called Covid-19 which is still lingering in many places including the United States. Because we know He lives, we can have the calm assurance that we can indeed prevail through uncertain times. Because He lives, we can face all the tomorrows without fear.
Because He lives, the Holy Spirit keeps working within us, and every day that we acknowledge He lives is a day of joy in our hearts. God indeed is in control, counting on us to be His marketing disciples. How? Bellowing or softly expounding, “Because He Lives,” we too live in his grace and glory.
— Rev. Marilyn Williams

BancFirst at Epworth Villa!

One of the best amenities that our residents have is BancFirst. For those that no longer drive, the bank branch still allows for Independence. And for those that do drive, it’s such a convenience to be able to do their banking at “home!” Not to mention, the attention and friendship that our banker, Anita shares with everyone who walks in the door. We are so lucky. Thanks, BancFirst!

My Favorite Hymn: Freely, Freely by Delphine Jewell

Chaplain Laura made the announcement at our choir practice that the focus for resident feedback for the month of July is to be “our favorite hymn.” Actually, I have several “favorite” hymns, but the first one that popped into my head was Freely, Freely.

When I was getting ready to retire from Northern Oklahoma College as chair of the Department of Nursing, naturally my thoughts turned to “what do I do next?” I had served as a missionary of the United Methodist Church in Nigeria in my younger years and continued to have a passion for “mission.” I was still very healthy and capable and wondered if the Lord might still have a place for me on the mission field. There was a part of me that kept saying “yes,” but another part seemed to keep questioning if one should pursue such a challenge at 62 years old. I kept praying for guidance.

Then one Sunday, the hymn Freely, Freely was sung, and God let me know that we were singing it as an answer to my prayer. I had been so blessed in my life to have been provided an opportunity for obtaining education and experience in nursing and nursing education. I had been blessed with good health and a love for mission. Truly, I had “freely received.” Why should I NOT say “yes” to God and pursue returning to the mission field and “freely give.”

I reached out to the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church and was assured there was a place for me to return to the mission field as a nurse educator. I was assigned to go to Zimbabwe, Africa, to be in charge of a nursing school that desperately needed a director. What a blessing that was. Once again, “freely” I received. — Delphine Jewell

Freely, Freely
Words and Music by Carol Owens
God forgave my sin in Jesus’ name, I’ve been born again in Jesus’ name,
And in Jesus’ name I come to you, to share his love as he told me to.
He said, “Freely, freely you have received, freely, freely give.
Go in my name, and because you believe, others will know that I live.

My Love Song To Music by Jane Lepak

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing;
Know ye that the Lord he is God: It is he that hath made us and not we ourselves;
We are his people and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise,
Be thankful unto him and bless his name.
For the Lord is good, his mercy is everlasting,
and his truth endureth to all the generations.
— Psalm 100

Music has always been part of my life. In my childhood, there were Community Concerts in my hometown, Ft. Smith, Arkansas. Later, I sang in the choir at the Episcopal church. The Methodist hymnal is familiar because I also attended the Methodist Church with my paternal grandmother. Summer camp for 7 years introduced me to gospel music which I have grown to love even more in the past 10 years.

Jane Lepak

I studied music therapy in the training to be a counselor and therapist. Music can help to lower one’s blood pressure and heart rate. In working with those affected by addiction, I used a film from PBS and Bill Moyers which tells the story of the hymn Amazing Grace and the man who wrote it, John Newton. He had a spiritual awakening due to a prayer he had said during a storm at sea. Because he survived, he changed his ways from being a slave trader sea captain to a believer in God. The film goes on to show how Amazing Grace has influenced people all over the world. It is a powerful example of how great words of redemption with a haunting melody can stir one’s soul to heal.

Recently at Epworth Villa, I have joined the choir and received so much pleasure from the hymns we sing. Our choir director, Ginger, reminds us that we are singing a prayer. Those tunes and words play in my mind all week long. Thursdays at 3:30 in Brill Chapel the Vespers service is so precious. It lifts me up in Spirit. Thanks be to God for music!