Thursday, April 13, 2017

Easter Letters to Jesus...

Twenty years ago during Easter weekend 1997, John and I hosted a family reunion.  We decided to have a special Easter service which could be prepared ahead of time in order not to create too much stressful work on that Sunday morning during the reunion but would share meaningful, biblical content.
Imagine this fireplace empty without wood burning

While pondering what we could prepare, I imagined the stone, empty, open fireplace of the reunion site as an "empty tomb."  Next I imagined that many of Jesus' contemporaries probably would have gone to that tomb when they heard of his resurrection.  Who would some of those people have been and what would they have thought?  Wouldn't they have had many emotions - excitement, gratitude, fear, surprise...?  And wouldn't they have had hope that they would soon see Jesus again; be able to talk to him and know positively for themselves that he was alive?  Weren't they also probably thinking about things they would want to say to him - feelings to express, memories to share, mistakes for which to apologize...

But what about those of us who live 2000 years after Jesus resurrection?  Don't we also have much which we would love to communicate to Jesus as we remember his great sacrifice in order to become our Savior?

So my thoughts led me to write first person monologues from the point of view of a person who could have gone to the empty tomb that first Easter morning.  I wrote the monologues as "Letters to Jesus".  That way each performer that weekend could read their thoughts instead of being required to memorize the words they were sharing as the "sermon" for that Easter service.

Those members of our family who shared that day, dressed in period clothing for the sharing of their "Letter to Jesus" as one of his family or friends 2000 years ago.  After they finished sharing that letter, they removed some of their costume and became themselves.  As that person they continued to share a second "Letter to Jesus" as themselves - 2000 years later.

I wrote 7 monologues.  We used 5 of those that Sunday in 1997.  Links to the whole set will follow.  Should you be interested in using these monologues during your personal Easter celebration, you have my permission.  If you do, I would welcome a comment communicating your experience.

The tomb IS empty! It IS true! As soon as I heard the news of the resurrection, I just had to come here and see for myself. I was so afraid it was a trick; someone's imagination. You see, I'm Mary, Jesus' mother. If you're a mother you can probably imagine how I've been feeling since last Friday, what with the crucifixion and all but now - THIS. I could hardly believe it when I heard it. I just had to come and check for myself and see if the tomb really was empty...Link


The tomb IS empty! It IS true! I was here earlier this morning after the women brought us the news of the resurrection, but I wanted to come back - to spend some time alone to contemplate the wonder of this day. You see, I am John, the beloved friend of Jesus and brother of James... Link



The tomb is empty! It IS true! I was here earlier this morning after the women brought me the news of Jesus' resurrection but I wanted to come back for a few moments by myself. You see, I am Peter, a close friend of Jesus. I have mixed emotions as I stand here this morning. I am thrilled that He is alive! This is more wonderful news than anything I could ever imagine, but, I also have a heaviness in my heart...Link 


The tomb IS empty! It IS true! I just knew Jesus would rise from the dead. I knew he had that incredible power. You see, I am Martha, the sister of Mary and Lazarus. We were all such good friends of Jesus. He often stayed with us but the thing that endears me most to him is what he did for Lazarus after he had been dead for four days. He brought him back to life...Link 


The tomb IS empty! It IS true! The news was brought to our home earlier today and mom is so thrilled but the rest of us don't really know what to think. You see, I am James, the brother of Jesus. Our family has been together since Jesus' death on Friday. There have been so many things to talk about, so many feelings we have. This crucifixion has been really difficult for all of us but especially me because I was closest in age to Jesus. I have been trying to be the brave big brother but it hasn't been easy. You see, I have a lot of questions about who Jesus really is...Link


The tomb IS empty! It IS true! On my way to the temple this morning, I learned that something has happened which has created great excitement in Jerusalem today. It is being reported that there's been a resurrection from the dead - Jesus of Nazareth has risen from the dead! I decided I just had to come here for myself and make sure Jesus' grave really was empty. You see, I am Josephine, the woman who was ill for 12 years with hemorrhaging...Link


The tomb IS empty! It IS true! As I was hanging out my laundry this morning, Maria from across the street came to tell me the good news that Jesus had come back to life. A number of people had seen and talked to him. I was so excited when I heard it. I just knew something miraculous like that would happen to him. But I really wanted to see for myself - to make sure this was not just someone's hallucination. What Jesus did for me, was so remarkable that words hardly begin to express my gratitude. You see, I am Eva, the woman caught in the act of adultery and brought before Jesus...Link
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I believe in Jesus' death and resurrection.  
I believe in his offer of salvation to all who receive him. 
Easter 2017 is a wonderful time to begin a relationship 
with Jesus if you haven't done so already.

John 3:16New International Version (NIV)

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.

Romans 10:9-10New International Version (NIV)

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 

Contact me should you have questions or comments.  Have a wonderful Easter.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Our 50th Wedding Anniversary...


John Charles Worden
This adorable little boy...

































Linda Louise Groves

                           ...and this adorable little girl...































                                                ...grew up with these siblings....
l-r:  Jim, John and Cynthia Worden
l-r:  Barbara, Linda, Margelyn, James (Jim), and Kathleen Groves
 ...met at the University of Wisconsin in Madison...

...knew each other for 3 years;  
dated for two years...
...got engaged...
Newly engaged couple...

Set the date and got married August 20, 1966...

...at Faith Baptist Church, Madison, WI

Wedding party...  Calligraphy by John M. Worden...
Prayer for God's blessing and leading was essential from the beginning...
John wrote our vows with collaboration from me...
It was such a happy and holy day...

Parents:  James & Edna Groves, John & Linda, Kay & John M. Worden
Grandparents:  Irene Worden, Lady Mae Stiles, J&L, Ludvick & Tillie Matson, 
Amanda & Bill Groves
20 years later we looked like this...
49 years later we looked like this...
50 years later we looked like this at Laity Lodge Family Camp in early July 2016...
1-r back row:  John G., Stephen (16), Phillip (18), James
l-r front row:  Lydia (13),  Diane, Linda, John, Cozzie (nearly 6), Sarah, Joanna (15)


It is impossible to summarize 50 years of life in a brief paragraph.  What I can say is that we are very grateful that we have done life together with the same or very similar goals and ideas.  We have never doubted that the Lord was with us and caring for us even when there were 
  • job changes and losses, 
  • cross country & cross cultural moves
  • parenting challenges, 
  • health issues,
  • child's heartaches...
We have weathered the ups and downs together and with God guiding and providing.

We don't expect to have another 50 years of marriage but we are looking forward to as many more years as God provides for us.  

And hopefully we will take seriously God's teaching from:
Psalm 78: 4a-7
...we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.  He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.  Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.
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It is our prayerful hope that all the generations of family who come after us will chose to receive God's free gift of salvation and will follow the Lord all the days of their lives 
as they love, serve and make Him known in their families and around the world.

Our hearts are filled with gratitude on this our 
50th Wedding Anniversary.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Josephine, Woman Who Had Bled For 12 Years - An Easter Monologue...

To learn more about the original purpose for writing these monologues, 
see the blog posted on  March 3, 2016  

JOSEPHINE, WOMAN WHO HAD BLED FOR 12 YEARS
MONOLOGUE FOR EASTER

The tomb IS empty!  It IS true!  On my way to the temple this morning, I learned that something has happened which has created great excitement in Jerusalem today.  It is being reported that there's been a resurrection from the dead - Jesus of Nazareth has risen from the dead!  I decided I just had to come here for myself and make sure Jesus' grave really was empty.  You see, I am Josephine, the woman who was ill for 12 years with hemorrhaging.  He miraculously healed me one day and I just knew he really was the Messiah, the Anointed One of Israel. There have been many things I wanted to tell him, so I have written him a letter.  Let me read it to you.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

John, Beloved Disciple, Brother of James - An Easter Monologue...

To learn more about the original purpose for writing these monologues, 
see the blog posted on  March 3, 2016  

JOHN, BELOVED DISCIPLE, BROTHER OF JAMES
The tomb IS empty! It IS true! I was here earlier this morning after the women brought us the news of the resurrection, but I wanted to come back - to spend some time alone to contemplate the wonder of this day. You see, I am John, the beloved friend of Jesus and brother of James. After being here earlier today, I decided to put some of my thoughts into a letter to Jesus. There are so many things I've always wanted to say to Him.

Dear Jesus, my friend,
I recall so clearly that day three years ago as James and I were fishing with our dad and you came by and called us to follow you. We never hesitated a moment - we were eager to join you, Peter and Andrew in whatever adventure was about to take place.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Eva, Woman Caught In Adultery - An Easter Monologue...

To learn more about the original purpose for writing these monologues, 
see the blog posted on  March 3, 2016  

EVA, WOMAN CAUGHT IN ADULTERY
The tomb IS empty! It IS true! As I was hanging out my laundry this morning, Maria from across the street came to tell me the good news that Jesus had come back to life. A number of people had seen and talked to him. I was so excited when I heard it. I just knew something miraculous like that would happen to him. But I really wanted to see for myself - to make sure this was not just someone's hallucination. What Jesus did for me, was so remarkable that words hardly begin to express my gratitude. You see, I am Eva, the woman caught in the act of adultery and brought before Jesus. I have always wanted an opportunity to thank him for what he did for me that day so I've written him a letter.

Dear Jesus, my rescuer,
This letter in many ways is not going to be easy for me to write. I am now a changed person but I am a woman with a shameful past. I cannot defend my former behavior but I do want to explain some things and let you know what a tremendous difference you have made in my life.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

James, Brother of Jesus - An Easter Monologue...

 To learn more about the original purpose for writing these monologues, 
see the blog posted on March 3, 2016. 

JAMES, BROTHER OF JESUS
The tomb IS empty! It IS true! The news was brought to our home earlier today and mom is so thrilled but the rest of us don't really know what to think. You see, I am James, the brother of Jesus. Our family has been together since Jesus' death on Friday. There have been so many things to talk about, so many feelings we have. This crucifixion has been really difficult for all of us but especially me because I was closest in age to Jesus. I have been trying to be the brave big brother but it hasn't been easy. You see, I have a lot of questions about who Jesus really is. But let me read you a letter I've written to him. There are so many things I want to say to him.
 

Dear Jesus, My brother,
The news came to us earlier today that your grave was found empty this morning. Some are saying that there's been a resurrection; that you have come back to life. Several of the women even claim they've seen you. They also seem to think they've talked to you and some angels. I really don't know what to think. I wish I were able to sort this out in my head and know for certain whether or not you really are the Messiah you claimed to be. I was so positive until this morning that I had the truth about you and now I am completely confused.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Martha, Sister of Lazarus and Mary - An Easter Monologue...

To learn more about the original purpose for writing these monologues, 
see the blog posted on March 3, 2016. 

Dear Jesus, the Raiser of the dead,
You have made such a difference in my life. I can't imagine where I  would be today if it weren't for you and your willingness to confront me about the things that are really important in life. Do you remember that day that you and your twelve apostles were passing through Bethany

Friday, March 4, 2016

Peter, The Big Fisherman and a Disciple of Jesus - An Easter Monologue...

To learn more about the original purpose for writing this monologue, 
see the blog posted on March 3, 2016. 

PETER, THE BIG FISHERMAN AND A DISCIPLE OF JESUS
The tomb is empty! It IS true! I was here earlier this morning after the women brought me the news of Jesus' resurrection but I wanted to come back for a few moments by myself. You see, I am Peter, a close friend of Jesus. I have mixed emotions as I stand here this morning. I am thrilled that He is alive! This is more wonderful news than anything I could ever imagine, but, I also have a heaviness in my heart. I have not been a faithful friend - but let me explain what I mean in a letter I've written to Jesus. There are so many things I've always wanted to say to Him - perhaps you'll understand more clearly after you hear what I have written.

Dear Jesus, my friend;
Three years ago when my brother Andrew came to me with the news that he had found the Messiah, I followed him immediately to you. You asked us to leave our fishing career and follow you so that you could make us fishers of men. I had no idea at that time what was coming down the pike, but the commercial fishing business was getting pretty boring and following you seemed exciting and adventurous. I always liked excitement and adventure! And have things ever been exciting and adventurous since I decided to follow you?!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Mary, the Mother of Jesus - an Easter Monologue...


Within the past few days, I received an email request asking permission to use the 
Easter Monologues in an Easter service this year which I had written 19 years ago.  
Because of that request, I will again post these timeless monologues on my blog.  
I begin with an explanation of why they were composed originally. 

I am willing for these to be used to glorify the Lord.
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My family and I hosted a family reunion weekend during the celebration of Easter 19 years ago. As I prepared events for that weekend, I knew that the Sunday morning worship service should reflect our family's commitment to Biblical truth. I also knew that it would be best if preparation for the service could take place in advance so that our focus that weekend could be on enjoying time with all the family members who would be gathering from all parts of the country as well as at least one from overseas. I pondered the fact that the Bible tells the story of people who actually saw the empty tomb and came to believe in Christ's resurrection and his divinity because of it. But 2000 years later, others believe in Jesus' resurrection based on the Biblical account of the empty tomb.

I decided that our beliefs could be conveyed through a drama. I would compose "Letters to Jesus" written by someone who could actually have gone to the tomb that first Easter to see that the grave was empty. I could also compose another "Letter to Jesus" from a present day person who had chosen to believe because of trusting the truth of scripture.

Members of my immediate family became the actors who portrayed the Biblical character who wrote a letter to Jesus upon learning of the resurrection. The actor read the letter to those gathered, removed their costume and became themselves - a present day believer who also wanted to read a letter they'd written to Jesus in order to convey personal gratitude for what he meant to them.

I selected seven Biblical characters; some of whom I gave a name because their Biblical story does not include a personal name. For our worship event that Easter Sunday morning, we used five performers.

My heart is filled with gratitude as I contemplate the immense sacrifice made by Jesus on my behalf. I am not worthy of forgiveness but my life has been changed because I have received that free gift which was made possible by Christ's death. I will be posting the "Letters to Jesus" on this blog over the next week. We begin with:


*****************************************************
MARY, THE MOTHER OF JESUS
EASTER MONOLOGUE


The tomb IS empty! It IS true! As soon as I heard the news of the resurrection, I just had to come here and see for myself. I was so afraid it was a trick; someone's imagination. You see, I'm Mary, Jesus' mother. If you're a mother you can probably imagine how I've been feeling since last Friday, what with the crucifixion and all but now - THIS. I could hardly believe it when I heard it. I just had to come and check for myself and see if the tomb really was empty. I want to read something to you. I've written a letter to my son which I hope to give him later today. He is busy with Peter and John and the others, I know, but I'm sure there will be a moment when we can be together for a few minutes. I can't wait to see him and once again give him a hug.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Summarizing and Sharing the Worden's 2015...

I am retired so I have nothing to do!!!  That is so not true - fortunately.  How our lives could be so full and busy is perhaps difficult to understand but it is the case for us.  That is my explanation for not posting our Christmas letter on this blog until today.  So here it is.  Old news for some but others may not have heard anything from us for a long time.  Hope you enjoy reading about and seeing some photos of our lives during 2015.
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Dear Family and Friends,                              December 2015
Matthew 1: 21-23
”She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet.23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

Christmas is the season when we prepare for, remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus.  This baby boy was welcomed by many but his sinless earthly life would be willingly ended by crucifixion.  And that sacrifice would be the price He paid so that those who believe in Him can receive forgiveness for sin.  How grateful we are to know and experience this gift of salvation. 
Rear L-R: John C., John G, Phillip, 16, Stephen, 15 (in Dec. 2014)
Front: Linda, Sarah, Diane, Lydia, 11, Joanna, 13, Constantine, 4, James

We celebrated Christmas 2014 in Detroit, MI.  Son John, Diane, Phillip, 17, Stephen, 16, Joanna, 15 and Lydia, 12, (current ages) stopped for a couple of days as they drove from their home in Richmond, VA to the home of Diane’s parents in Crookston, MN.  John continues with Chick-fil-A and Diane teaches kindergarten at Veritas School where those four grandchildren are students.  It’s a busy family with very active children – soccer, basketball, volleyball, cross-country, school, work at CFA, church... 
A happy hockey player...

James and Constantine, 5, continue living in Detroit where they proudly embrace all seasons – especially hockey.  James works as Administrative Assistant to the Director of the Charlotte Mason ElementarySchool.  Constantine is in a Pre-K class at the Waldorf School.

We returned to Detroit in February to provide support for James due to a snow-boarding accident in January which resulted in 6 fractured ribs, internal bleeding, a broken thumb and a couple of surgeries during the spring.  He has healed well and had excellent medical care.

Sarah, in her sixth year as the librarian at Fort Sam Houston Elementary in San Antonio, joined us for another Detroit trip in early May.  At that time, we attended the wedding of niece Jessica Worden to Mark Jones.  It was a lovely time with many Worden family members.  
Front row L-R:  Cindi Worden Peterson, Mark Jones, Jessica Worden-Jones, Sarah Worden, Linda Worden
Rear L-R:  Bill Peterson, Ethan Worden, John G. Worden, John C Worden, James & Constantine Worden
Team of 7
June 19th we headed back to Moldova for our tenth summer mission trip to that small, eastern European country which we have come to love so dearly.  Sarah and James were part of our team of seven.  Our work was nearly the same as it has been in the past but we had a Day-Camp program 
Precious song leaders...

Boys spending some of their free time to memorize verses.
in a town instead of a camp.  It kept us very busy but we experienced much joy and strength for all the activities and teaching and loving that we were able to do.  One priceless part of the week was introducing scripture memory to eager children who willingly participated.  We posted memory verses on windows and handed out a take home page so that children could accomplish the task.  
Practicing John 3:16
Our last day of this week held many moments when we saw God opening the hearts of many of the children so that they were ready to become one of his followers.  That story is told on my blog and you'll find it with the link I'm sharing here.  
Each day I added an update with photos to a blog post.  If interested, you can read about it on the blog.
Before returning to the states, we stayed in Kiev, Ukraine for a few days.  It was relaxing and beautiful in that city.
  Sharing the time with two of our children made it extra special. We were especially thankful for James’ level of proficiency in Russian as it was a huge help in navigating and enjoying our time there.  My blog includes more photos and details about those days also.
Relaxing in a Kiev Botanical Garden

With Mom for after surgery check up
Joanna starting vollelyball
Our travels continued in August and September.  We spent two weeks in Richmond, VA to give our son John’s family support as they got ready for the school year and as Stephen recovered from jaw surgery.  He needed alignment of his jaw in order to prevent nighttime teeth grinding.  He learned to enjoy his food in liquid form for six weeks.  It was intensely busy but also lots of fun. 
Game night with Grandpa

Sibs at home church in Winona, MN
From VA we flew to WI.  There we joined Linda’s siblings and spouses for a family reunion.  We had great times of story- telling and traveling backroads to reminisce.  
Sibs at Cross Ridge School where all attended the one-room elementary school
Cross Ridge School reunion
Fountain City Farm Fest - Jim Groves and childhood classmate, Myron Bork
Matson counsins enjoy brunch at Borgen's in Westby, WI
Jim and I with our birthplace farm in the background outside of Viroqua, WI
Farm home where I spent most of my growing up years outside of Fountain City, WI
Thanksgiving was spent in Detroit along with Sarah.  Son John, along with Phillip and Stephen, joined son James and us for a Redwings hockey game and family fun before they experienced a College Day in PA.  

James, Constantine and Sarah on Farnsworth in Detroit

Grandpa and Cozzie
Grandma and Cozzie
Cozzie and Mish Mish
Baking pumpkin pie
We will drive to Richmond, VA for Christmas with stops along the way to visit family in Houston, TX, Nashville and Piney Flats, TN.  Sarah will join us for the travel and James will fly in for the time in VA.
With my brother, his wife, their daughter and her son.
With my Aunt Ming and one of her granddaughters in Nashville, TN
With cousins in Nashville, TN
With John's sister, Cindi Peterson, in Piney Flats, TN 
With son John and his family in Richmond, VA
James, Sarah, John C, Linda and John G. Worden
All the Wordens that were in Richmond for Christmas

It has been another year of good health, meaningful ways to serve the Lord through our church, in our community and in work.  Linda continues as a Hostess at Laity Lodge.  John is completing another year as president of the board for the Pregnancy Center in Kerrville.  God has been blessing and expanding that ministry.  He will rotate off in March 2016 as he completes six years on the board.  John’s Parkinson’s is under control with his 3 medications and seems not to be advancing at this time.  For that we are very grateful.

You are welcome in TX.        Come see us.  Find us on Facebook:  Linda Groves Worden