Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday

April 16, 2017

Repent, Rebirth, Reconcile, Rejoice, Redemption, Resurrection

empty-tomb-clip-art-cliparts-co-TgOHAC-clipartScripture References:

Acts 10:34-43
Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever! Let Israel say, ‘His steadfast love endures forever.’
Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Save us, we beseech you, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!

Colossians 3:1-11 (1-4)
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

John 20:1-18 (11-18)
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

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Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
—Mary Elizabeth Frye

As we pray Him, Jesus is our
Refuge from the fallen age;
Peace is with us ‘mid the flaming
Centuries of war and rage
Infinite, the God we see,
Framer of eternity;
He will never cease to be
Who evermore has been.

Christ of mercy without measure,
Filing sea and sky and earth,
Christ, the everlasting treasure,
We extol your matchless worth!
Yesterday, the spotless Lamb,
Still today, the Son of Man,
Evermore the Great I Am,
Beginning unto end.
—Johanna Anderson

 

dove

Holy Week, Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday, April 15, 2017

Repent, Rebirth, Reconcile, Rejoice, Redemption, Restore

Scripture References:

Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-24 (19-24)
The thought of my affliction and my homelessness is wormwood and gall!
My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16
In you, O Lord, I seek refuge;
do not let me be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me.
Incline your ear to me;
rescue me speedily.
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me.
You are indeed my rock and my fortress;
for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,
take me out of the net that is hidden for me,
for you are my refuge.
My times are in your hand;
Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.
Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your steadfast love.

1 Peter 4:1-8
Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same intention (for whoever has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin), so as to live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God. You have already spent enough time in doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry. They are surprised that you no longer join them in the same excesses of dissipation, and so they blaspheme. But they will have to give an account to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead, so that, though they had been judged in the flesh as everyone is judged, they might live in the spirit as God does.

The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.

Matthew 27:57-66 (57-61)
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

 

“Learning to Wait in the Dark: A Holy Saturday Reflection”
By Barbara Brown Taylor

Resurrection is always announced with Easter lilies, the sound of trumpets, bright streaming light. But it did not happen that way. Whatever happened to Jesus between Saturday and Sunday, it happened in the dark, with the smell of damp stone and dug earth in the air. It happened where no one but him could talk about it later, and he did not talk about it—at least not so anyone could explain it to anyone else.

That is what Holy Saturday has taught me about being a Christian. Between the great dramas of life, there is almost always a time of empty waiting—with nothing to do and no church service to help—a time when it is necessary to come up with your own words and see how they sound with no other sounds to cover them up. If you are willing to rest in this Sabbath, where you cannot see your hand in front of your face and none of your self-protective labors can do you one bit of good, then you may come as close to the Christ as you will ever get—there in that quiet cave where you wait to see how the Maker of All Life will choose to come to you in the dark.

The Challenge of Easter
By N.T. Wright

Following Christ in the power of the Spirit means bringing to our world the shape of the gospel: forgiveness, the best news that anyone can ever hear, for all who yearn for it; and judgment for all who insist on dehumanizing themselves and others by their continuing pride, injustice and greed.

Your calling may be to find new ways to tell the story of redemption, to create fresh symbols that will speak of a home for the homeless, the end of exile, the replanting of the garden, the rebuilding of the house.

Holy Week, Good Friday

Good Friday, April 14, 2017

Repent, Rebirth, Reconcile, Rejoice, Redemption, Restore

cross

“Do Not Be Afraid”
Words by Gerard Markland, based on Isaiah 43
Musical setting by Philip Stopford

Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you.
I have called you by your name;
you are mine.
When you walk through the waters,
I’ll be with you;
you will never sink beneath the waves.
When the fire is burning all around you,
you will never be consumed by the flames.
When the fear of loneliness is looming,
then remember I am at your side.
When you dwell in the exile of a stranger,
remember you are precious in my eyes.
You are mine, O my child,
I am your Father,
and I love you with a perfect love.

Benediction
By Reverend John Claypool
Depart now in the fellowship of God the Father, and as you go remember: in the goodness of God you were born into this world; by the grace of God you have been kept all the day long, even unto this hour; and by the love of God, fully revealed in the face of Jesus, you are being redeemed. Amen.

Holy Week, Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday, April 13, 2017

Repent, Rebirth, Reconcile, Rejoice, Redemption, Restore

Scripture References:

Exodus 12:1-14 (11-14)
This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the passover of the Lord. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgements: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.

Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19 (1-2)
I love the Lord, because he has heard
     my voice and my supplications.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
     therefore I will call on him as long as I live.

I Corinthians 11:23-26
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

communion 

John 13:1-17, 31b-35 (12-17, 31-35)
After he (Jesus) had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’

 

Soul Among Lions: Musings of a Bootleg Preacher
By Will Campbell

Jesus said nothing about ideology or gravity of offense. We are to be with the prisoners because they are prisoners—be they governors, Klansmen, or innocent victims. That notion began with a sweet child in a manager. It was sealed with a swarthy, sweaty, bloody convict hanging on a cross.

Miss Velma Westbury used to say, “If you just love the folks what’s easy to love, that really ain’t no love at all.” She said, “If you love one, you have to love ‘em all.” That is the radical message of Easter. That is the glad tidings of Christmas.

Of course, some folks said Miss Velma was crazy.

love one another

The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming
By Henri Nouwen

God rejoices when one repentant sinner returns. Statistically that is not very interesting. But for God, numbers never seem to matter. Who knows whether the world is kept from destruction because of one, two, or three people who have continued to pray when the rest of humanity has lost hope and dissipated itself? From God’s perspective, one hidden act of repentance, one little gesture of selfless love, one moment of true forgiveness is all that is needed to bring God from his throne to run to his returning son and to fill the heavens with sounds of divine joy.

Holy Week, Wednesday

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

 Repent, Rebirth, Reconcile, Rejoice, Redemption, Restore

Scripture References:

Isaiah 50:4-9a (7-9a)
The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together.
Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me.
It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty?
All of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up.

Psalm 70
To the leader. Of David, for the memorial offering.
Be pleased, O God, to deliver me. O Lord, make haste to help me!
Let those be put to shame and confusion who seek my life.
Let those be turned back and brought to dishonor who desire to hurt me.
Let those who say, ‘Aha, Aha!’ turn back because of their shame.
Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you.
Let those who love your salvation say evermore, ‘God is great!’
But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay!

Hebrews 12:1-3
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.

John 13:21-32
Jesus Foretells His Betrayal
After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, ‘Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.’ The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, ‘Do quickly what you are going to do.’ Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, ‘Buy what we need for the festival’; or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
 
The New Commandment
When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.

Rec-BW1

Fred Rogers

I believe that appreciation is a holy thing—that when we look for what’s best in a person, we happen to be with at the moment, we’re doing what God does all the time. So in loving and appreciating our neighbor, we’re participating in something sacred.

 

The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays
Wendell Berry

I take literally the statement in the Gospel of John that God loves the world. I believe that the world was created and approved by love, that it subsists, coheres, and endures by love, and that, insofar as it is redeemable, it can be redeemed only by love. I believe that divine love, incarnate and indwelling in the world, summons the world always toward wholeness, which ultimately is reconciliation and atonement with God.

Holy Week, Tuesday

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Repent, Rebirth, Reconcile, Rejoice, Redemption, Restore

Scripture References:

Isaiah 42:1-9 (5-9)
And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honoured in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength—he says,

“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

Psalm 71:1-14 (1-3)
In you, O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me and save me. Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.

1 Corinthians 1:18-31 (18-20)
For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

John 12:20-36 (20-26, 35-36)
Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip. Who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will be servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.

Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.

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Opening Blind Eyes

By John Claypool

Comments on the story of the Prodigal Son:

Thomas Merton called this recognition (the awareness of what already exists) the breakthrough to the Already—one of the crucial moments in the process of redemption.

It did not take the prodigal long to find out that he was not nearly as smart or as powerful as he had thought, nor was life as responsive to his wishes as he had supposed…When a famine struck the land, he—Jewish lad that he was—was reduced to having to tend pigs. In a word, the prodigal had become “demythologized”—all the grandiose images of himself were shattered, and he came face to face with the fact of his limits: He could not do everything. It was a stunning revelation, but it was the beginning of a process that Jesus describes as “coming to himself.” For the first time, the boy really began to be aware of life the way it really is.

That is what Christian redemption is all about. We do not need to seek somewhere else or acquire something else—we need only become aware of what already is.

The prodigal did not outgrow all his illusions, once he began to become more aware. In fact, he did what most people do: He went from one extreme to the other. He who once had imaged himself as a superman now saw himself only as a hired servant. The father, who had seemed the epitome of dullness (to the Prodigal) a short time before, now looked very appealing as an absolute authority. So with great desire to reenter the womb psychologically—to become an infant again—the prodigal headed back home. There, phase two of his redemptive/awakening was accomplished.

[The father induced] the prodigal to become aware of what already was, rather than to feel the need to acquire something he did not have. He did not suddenly become the son of his father when he awakened to his true identity. He had always been that son.

At a functional level, this must be one of the meanings of the term born again. I believe it refers to the process in which the risen Christ goes all the way back into our lives, into those places where we have made erroneous judgments, and there he helps us relearn ourselves.

Holy Week, Monday

Monday, April 10, 2017

Repent, Rebirth, Reconcile, Rejoice, Redemption, Restore

Scripture References:

Isaiah 42:1-9 (5-9)
Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it:

I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness,
I have taken you by the hand and kept you;

I have given you as a covenant to the people,
a light to the nations,
to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.

I am the Lord, that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to idols.

See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth, I tell you of them.

Psalm 36:5-11  (7-9)
How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.

Hebrews 9:11-15 (15)
For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, because a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant.

John 12:1-11 (1-8)
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, ‘Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?’ (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.’

Monday

Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference?
By Philip Yancey

“Just As We Are: Guilty”
Besides being good theology, confession makes for good psychology. As Frederick Buechner notes, God asked Adam and Eve two penetrating questions after their first act of disobedience: “Where are you?” and “What is this you have done?” Therapists, he remarks, have been asking the same questions ever since. “Where are you?” exposes the present reality. They are hiding, naked, ravaged by never-before-known feelings of guilt and shame. “What is this that you have done?” exposes the past.

“Coming Together: Friendship”
I bring to God my failures and sins (confession, repentance) as well as my triumphs and joys (praise, thanksgiving). I bring to God my worries and concerns (petition, intercession). The very attempt to hide something from God is folly, for God knows all of who I am: the hon ne [the part of myself that takes place on the inside], as well as the tatemae, [the part of myself I let people see on the outside], the genetics as well as the environment, the thoughts and motives as well as the actions.

Palm Sunday

April 9, 2017

Repent, Rebirth, Reconcile, Rejoice, Redemption, Restore

Scripture References:

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever! Let Israel say, ‘His steadfast love endures forever.’

Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Save us, we beseech you, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!

Matthew 21:1-11

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethpage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!’ When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’

Palm Leaf Cross

When I was in college, I wandered and struggled through many aspects of life. School was not easy for me, church was not easy for me, and my depression was often out of control.

So much of the theology I heard at the time seemed to me to contradict itself: the God of John 3:16 was also the God of Romans 6:23, and I could not understand how or why that could be. Both verses deal with the death of Jesus, but John 3:16 focuses on the gift of the cross and Romans 6:23 focuses on the necessity of the cross because of human’s sin. While both verses may be true, John 3:16 drew me closer to God because I desperately needed to hear of his love while Romans 6:23 pushed me away because it encouraged the guilt within me to take over.

I despised the Lenten season because everything was dull and dreary and highlighted every dark feeling in my soul.

Towards the end of college, I started to hear God’s call for me to think about a life in ministry and my faith journey started to be re-formed. God drew me towards people who were not always able to care for themselves. And with each encounter, I began to understand Jesus and his sacrifice differently. My theology formed around those people because they showed me how to see the world differently and thus, they showed me how to see Jesus differently.

How did the power-less see Jesus; how did Jesus find them? What about the home-less, the family-less, the uneducated, the dying? How could Jesus find the church-less?

If I believed that Jesus seeks us until the end, and I did, and I am confident in that, then truth, truth with a capital “T,” I reasoned, must be found both inside and outside the church walls. Jesus must search for us

And if I believed that God used all people, no matter their sins—choice or quantity—then I needed to consider that God might use me, and that God might use them.

And lastly, if I believed that God was still active in this world today, and I did, then I needed to consider that there might be modern day prophets who also spoke Truth.

Let me be clear—I believe in the Bible first and foremost. And any Truth that may exist apart from the Bible needs to be considered with a great deal of discernment through both study and experience.

For me, all God’s children have a part in this Faith story and they all, we all, have something to contribute to the furthering of the story. Whether we be scholars, dreamers, humble souls, or wild spirits, whether we be philosophers, songwriters, adventurers, or pioneers, we all have something to offer to one another.

Including people in the story is the beginning of my approach to evangelism and it was the way I found my way to an individual relationship with God. The beginning of someone’s walk with Jesus must be rooted in love because that is how the story itself begins! For God so loved, He created!

The Lenten season became very important to me and I now look to this time of year with some eagerness. I feel enriched by meditation, fasting, prayer, and study, and not overcome by guilt. I love to read from a variety of sources and I love to see how God might speak to me through them—through you!

Tell me about kindness, Glen Campbell. Tell me about reconciliation, Will Campbell.

Teach me about repentance, Henri Nouwen. Teach me to learn from the night, Barbara Brown Taylor.

Sing songs of lament with me, Shepherd David. Teach me to rejoice in singing, Fannie Crosby.

Teach me to consider creation, Henry David Thoreau. Teach me to be bold in my faith, Wendell Berry.

Teach me to hold the hand of the dying, Mother Teresa. Teach me to preach to the living, Dr. Claypool.

Let me learn from your wrestling with God, Jacob, son of Isaac. Let me learn about God’s love, Saint Paul.

Help me to be more selfless, Mary Beth Roland. Help me to be more passionate about discipleship, Dianne Escobar. Help me to love more fiercely, Ernie Forrester.

And when I fail to be kind, to be real, or to be Christ-like, help me understand the power of the cross, dear Lord. Lead me through a Lenten season so that I might understand the power of your grace. Amen.

—Stephanie

Great Are You Lord
As Sung By Casting Crowns,
Songwriter, Mark Hall

You give life. You are love.
You bring light to the darkness.
You give hope. You restore
Every heart that is broken.

Great are you, Lord.

It’s your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise.
We pour out our praise
It’s your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
To You only.

All the earth will shout
Your praise
Our hearts will cry
These bones will sing

Great are You, Lord.
Palm Sunday

Fifth Sunday in Lent

April 2, 2017

Repent, Rebirth, Reconcile, Rejoice, Redemption, Restore

Scripture References:

Ezekiel 37:1-14
Therefore prophesy, and say to them, “Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act,” says the Lord.

Psalm 130 (5-8)
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem. It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.

Romans 8:6-11 (6)
To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

John 11:1-45 (31-37,43-45)
The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

When he (Jesus) had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

Tomb

To Dream as God Dreams
By Porter Taylor
“Look—Weep—Live”

And here’s the good news: love brings life out of death. If we are willing to go to the cross and not run away to weep at the tomb, the love brings forth resurrected life.

Jesus cries out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” And he comes. He comes bound in strips of cloth…Lazarus comes out because he hears the voice of love calling him. Maybe this story is not about something Jesus does to Lazarus, but something Jesus does with Lazarus, as Barbara Brown Taylor writes in God in Pain. Love is what calls us out of death into new life…Love brings us into resurrection—new life—different life.

Saved By His Life
By Theodore R. Clark

Jesus taught that anyone seeking forgiveness in humility and sincerity could experience the forgiveness of God. He always taught that the forgiveness of God was spontaneous and direct to anyone seeking pardon for wrongs committed. He always stressed that God’s only “demand” was that He be permitted to “give” to those who would come in repentance and humility to His “throne of grace.” However, he did not picture God as a passive pouting potentate who waits for repentant subjects to come crawling before Him begging for forgiveness; rather, he pictured God as the heavenly Father who comes to sinful man, seeking him out and offering forgiveness to him. In other words, God’s forgiveness is not “demand” but “gift.” God’s forgiveness is a liberating and creating power offered to men of faith. God’s forgiveness cannot be bought; it can only be experienced through faith and love.

sim5var25

I Dare You to Move
Songwriter, Jonathan Foreman

Chorus: I dare you to move
I dare you to move
I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor
I dare you to move
I dare you to move
Like today never happened
Today never happened before

Verse 2: Welcome to the fallout
Welcome to resistance
The tension is here
The tension is here
Between who you are and who you could be
Between how it is and how it should be

Bridge: Maybe redemption has stories to tell
Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell
Where can you run to escape from yourself?
Where you gonna go?
Where you gonna go?
Salvation is here

Fourth Sunday in Lent

March 26, 2017

Repent, Rebirth, Reconcile, Rejoice, Redemption, Restore

Scripture References:

1 Samuel 16:1-13 (11-12)
Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.”

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and you staff—the comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

Ephesians 5:8-14 (8-9, 14)
For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light—for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.

For everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”jesus_heals_a_blind_man_by_eikonik-d5u2a1i

John 9:1-41 (5, 7, 35-38)                                 
The Voice Translation

“Whenever I (Jesus) am in the world, I am the light of the world.” After He said these things, He spat on the ground and mixed saliva and dirt to form mud, which He smeared across the blind man’s eyes.

Jesus: “Go, wash yourself in the pool of Siloam.”

Siloam means “sent,” and its name reminded us that his healing was sent by God.  The man went, washed, and returned to Jesus, his eyes now alive with sight.

Townspeople and the Pharisees could not believe that the man had been healed by Jesus so they questioned the man twice. The man insisted that it was Jesus and that he had been healed on the Sabbath. The Pharisees became mad that the man was lecturing them and sent him away.

Jesus heard what had happened and sought out the man.

Jesus: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

Man: “I want to believe, Lord, Who is He?”

Jesus: “You have seen His face with your new eyes, and you are talking to Him now.”

Formerly Blind Man: “Lord, I do believe.”

The man bowed low to worship Jesus.

 

“The Peace of Wild Things”
Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where to wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

 

“Try a Little Kindness”
Glen Campbell

If you see your brother standing by the road
With a heavy load from the seeds he’s sowed
And if you see your sister falling by the way
Just stop and say, you’re going the wrong way

Don’t walk around the down and out
Lend a helping hand instead of doubt
And the kindness that you show every day
Will help someone along their way

You got to try a little kindness
Yes show a little kindness
Just shine your light for everyone to see
And if you try a little kindness
Then you’ll overlook the blindness
Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets