Seeing is Believing

Easter Sunday
Scripture: St. Luke 24:1-12

The Jewish sabbath is our Saturday.  It was the last day of the week and it commemorates the rest of God after the work of creation.

The Christian sabbath, Sunday, is the first day of the week and it commemorates the resurrection of Jesus.

It was on our Sunday the women went to the tomb to attend the caring of the last rites for a loved one who was dead, embalming and anointing His body with spices and wrapping in white cloth.
The tomb had been sealed with a great cylinder-like stone at its entrance. But, when the women arrived, they discovered the stone had been rolled away.

The all-important and shattering question in this story is the question of the 2 men who appeared dressed in white raiment, who asked the women, “Why are you looking for him who is alive among the dead?”

The real problem yet today is many of us are still looking for Jesus among the dead. There are those who regard Jesus as the greatest man and noblest hero who ever lived, as one who lived the loveliest life that has ever been lived on earth and who died. That will not do!  Jesus is not dead!  He is not just a hero of the past; he is a living presence today.

There are those who regard Jesus as a man whose life must be studied and whose words must be examined and whose teaching must be analyzed.

There is a tendency of some to think of Christianity and Christ as something to be studied. Beyond any doubt, study is necessary, but Jesus is not someone to be studied. He is much more. Jesus is someone to be met and lived with everyday of our lives. He is not just a figure in a book, even though this book is the greatest book ever written and is still the best seller of the year 2000 years after His death and resurrection.

There are those who see Jesus as the perfect pattern and example for this life. He is that, but it remains true that a perfect example may be the most heartbreaking thing in the world. For centuries, the birds gave man the example of flight, yet it took until this modern time before men could fly around the world, but also walk on the face of the moon.

Jesus Christ is not simply the model for life itself; He is the living presence of life itself. It may well be that our Christianity lacked that essential something because we are still looking for Him who is alive among the dead.

We have built multi-million dollar showplaces and called the church, in the very shadow of poverty and starvation of many, at the very doorsteps of his house with locked doors, chained doors, and bars on the window to keep out those who need him most because they don’t measure up to our standard of Christianity.

We hear the cries of many who are in desperate need, causing our lord to still be tortured and hanging on the cross or lying dead in a stone cold grave.

This Easter season I sense that above the noise of society, Jesus whispers softly,  “Christians, wake up. I need your support to aid me that all my children might have all that is needed, for the simplest needs for this life until i return to establish my kingdom on earth.”

We have built multi-million dollar showplaces and labeled them as holy churches at the very site of a poverty stricken world, yet Easter is the reality that we worship and serve a risen Lord, the one and only loving father of all persons and all nations.

Let us pray.


Easter Sunrise Service
Scripture: John 20:1-10

Easter is the day we retell the story of the resurrection of Jesus Christ with great hymns sung, joy bells ringing, choirs singing, and people dressed up in their finest and rejoicing.

Some Gospels accounts feature spectacular earthquakes and angels in lightning-white clothes.

Others preach the tomb empty,  with Mary standing at its entrance and Peter and John running to the tomb, where they hear the news, look in, and run back to the city. Many sermons reach their climax as they hear that the risen lord has appeared.

While it is in John’s gospel, he seems to say, "Wait, there is more."

For some reason he puts Mary center stage at the entry of the tomb. While she looks inside, Jesus appears and calls her by name.  Then he says, “Do not hold on to me.”

It is here that John begins to build a 3-point sermon:

  1. Death
  2. Resurrection
  3. Ascension.

He tells Mary to go and tell Jesus' disciples, “his brothers”, that he was going to ascend. The good news this Easter Sunday is the empty tomb and a resurrected Lord.

Sometimes we cling only to part of a Gospel story. Sentimentality surrounds the Christmas and Easter holidays. At Christmas we like gifts and we want Jesus to remain a cute infant with chubby cheeks who never grows up to become our redeeming lord.

Easter is a time to celebrate the resurrected Christ. Why, we are tuned in on new clothes and Easter bonnets, egg hunt and large family gatherings after church, and don’t forget sunrise breakfast! Easter is a time to celebrate and rejoice that the best is yet to come: a risen Lord who wants to live in our hearts and lives each and everyday until we meet Him face-to-face in the heavenly kingdom.


Jesus Washed His Disciples' Feet

Holy Thursday
Scripture: John 13

Can you imagine how you would feel to have jesus, our lord, kneel before you, and wash your feet?
  • how humbling
  • how loving
  • how powerful
This is how Jesus wants us to serve one another, just as he has served us.

When we remember Jesus' death at passover time, we recall His broken body for each one of us and the spilled blood for each of us so that God through the person of Jesus of Nazareth delivered us, the people of God, from the slavery of sin and spiritual death.

We replace the passover celebration, seeing Jesus embodied as the lamb of God sacrificed for our sins, offering us an abundant life here on earth, and eternal life in the heavenly kingdom.

It is through Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, we have been offered the cup of salvation.

Guilty Hands

Passion/Palm Sunday
Scripture: St. Luke 22:14-23

Jesus did not wait until the last moment to make plans for future actions. He told His disciples to go into the city to make preparations for the Passover celebration.

Passover is an ancient Jewish celebration. For the blood of the lamb was shed for the remission of the sins of the people.

He had asked a friend to make plans for the final meal with His disciples at Passover. He told them to go into the city and find a man carrying a water pot on his head. “When you find him, ask him where the upper room is being prepared for Jesus and us and follow him there. Now, most houses were a single-level, one-room house. If there was a second storey, the second room was smaller than the first and could only be reached by an outside staircase.

Jesus’ preplanning was due to the city being overcrowded with the crowds coming for Passover celebration.

As they gathered for the supper meal, Jesus used the ancient symbols to give it a new meaning. He said of the bread, “This is my body.” Here is exactly what is meant by a sacrament.

See, a sacrament is something usually an ordinary item that has acquired a special meaning far beyond itself. There’s nothing especially theological or mysterious about these objects. Every household has a drawer full of items that can only be called junk, yet we will not throw any of the items away. They have special meaning for us, and from time to time we want to touch them and hold them in our hands, because they remind us of a past joy and fond memories of a special friend or parted loved one. They are common things because they have a special meaning far beyond their worth. That is what a sacrament is.

Jesus took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is a new covenant, made at the cost of my spilled blood.” In a biblical sense, a covenant is a relationship between man and God. God graciously approached man, wherein as man promises to keep and obey God’s laws. (Exodus 24:1-8)

All the Jewish sacrifices were designed to restore a relationship broken by man, which was to be redeemed by God to be perfect once again.

It is here that Jesus was and still is saying, “by My life and by My blood…

“I have made it possible for you to have a new relationship between yourself and God the Father.”

We are all sinners; that is true. But because we have acknowledged that Jesus has died for our sins and God the Father is no longer our enemy; rather, He is a precious friend. Jesus died knowing how easily a human can slip into the pitfalls of sin, forgetting that the Father loves him and will forgive him if he confesses his sin by the cleansing blood of His precious Son, Jesus Christ.

All sin is wiped away, granting us a new, abundant, and eternal life. It is through the tragic death of Jesus and His blessed resurrection from the dead that we who are traitors can emerge from our sinful nature and become the sons and daughters of a loving God. Once our hands were guilty of sin, causing our spiritual deaths, but the blood of Jesus Christ cleansed them, making them white as snow.

Let us pray!

Rich Perfume

5th Sunday of Lent
Scripture: St. John 12:1-8

We enter the house of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary as they are preparing a dinner party. Lazarus, the disciples, and Jesus were lounging, preparing for the dinner feast.

We see that Martha once again is doing her thing, preparing to serve a meal to her guests. This is a special meal for it is passover time.

Mary enters the room going straight to Jesus, stooping down, pouring costly perfume on his feet, and wiping the excess off with her hair.

The whole house is filled with the aroma of the perfume. The action of the room changes instantly. Judas begins to complain about the waste of the costly perfume. He states that it could have been sold to feed the poor. The value of that perfume was a year’s wages for most men. The aroma of the perfume has filled the room like the presence felt in a worship service when the presence of the living Lord fills our lives.

That presence should help us to realize and know the depth that Jesus paid for our salvation. The atmosphere is like the living presence of Jesus in that room. Mary has stepped out on pure faith. For no woman at that day would have touched the feet of a man who was not her husband.

Likewise, wiping his feet with her hair meant she let her hair down and let it flow freely, which was a sign of a sinful street woman. She is so spiritually in love with the Lord that she is not concerned about what others might think of her.

Judas is showing his true colors, that he is the black sheep of the group.

Some scholars thoughts here might have been that he knew Judas’ ability to be the keeper of a groups finances and how to use them wisely. Or did Jesus, knowing that Judas would be the one to betray Him, offering him an opportunity to change his heart’s actions?

I believe there comes and opportunity to do something for Jesus that is out of our character as a whole. We should not hesitate or worry about that action, caring what others might think for we are doing it for him and no one else. Other’s human reactions should not stop or force us not to accomplish that which our heart tells us to do.

I recall an event when a lady stated to me that she was proud of her husband who was a pastor, stating that he never entered a beer joint. My reaction was that perhaps he should have. She let me have it with both barrels!

I said, “I beg your pardon. You were right. Perhaps if he had entered that den of iniquity he might have yielded to that temptation.”

She abruptly turned her back and silently walked away. I paused for a moment for silent prayer, saying, “Lord, I hope I did the right thing.”

Mary was willing to risk her reputation to serve the Lord. Best giving is an act of faith when it is done for our Lord. All of us need to get out of our comfort zone from time to time as we faithfully serve the Lord.

I am sure that Jesus did this quite frequently to remain faithful to His heavenly Father’s will, especially at His crucifixion and death on the cross. May we each do likewise as his faithful followers. Let us pray.

The Prodigal Returns

4th Sunday of Lent
Scripture: Luke 15:11-32

The prodigal son took his inheritance and went into the world of temptation and lost all his earthly goods.

Our chapter begins as the pharisees and teachers of the law accuse Jesus of eating with sinners.
Jesus replied with the story of the prodigal son.

We are all prodigals, sons and daughters of the living God.

Hear this true story of a prodigal daughter as she begins her spiritual journey back into the family of God. She states, “I knew I could go home and I knew my parents would take me back into their home and love me. The welcome I dreaded was the one from my church before I felt the pull of the world. How would they accept me, knowing what I had done?”

She told her pastor, “I know I’m going to return to the church, but this is not the right time for me to do that.”  Her pastor said, “Why not?” She answered, “It is just not the right time now.”

“Why not?” he asked her as he sobbed bitterly. Calmingly her pastor said, “Marcy, when could possibly be a better time to join the church family. When could you need a church family more than you need one right now?”

The prodigal daughter was welcomed home with open arms and hugs.

“Now no one in the church family had a fatted calf to slaughter for celebration upon my return,” she said, “but they did take me out to lunch after worship, each Sunday for many weeks, seeing that I had proper food. Instead of a robe to cover my ragged clothes and a ring for my finger, the women of the church offered me used clothes and a necklace with a cross on it, reminding me that I was a child of God.”

“Years later I suspect that all their loves and gifts is what drove me to become a pastor. I know God’s love is a powerful gift that he offers to all prodigals who come home.”

The Lord uses great hymns of faith of the church to awaken us and prepare us for His service.

“Amazing grace,
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me”
was written by John Newton, a former slave trader.

“Come as you are. That’s how I want you.”
by diedre rowne. This song is beautiful, gentle, simple, and good for starting someone on a new spiritual journey.

“God Has Laid a Feasting Table”
by Shawn Whelan. This is an invitational message inviting all to come and feast at his holy table.

“Welcome Me Back Home”
By Paul Summerville. A loving song about god’s love that comes out to meet us on our return from the pitfalls of life.

“God Is Still Waiting”
By Carl P. Daw. God is waiting for us for he keeps the promise he has made to all of us.  He will never leave us or forsake us.

“In Christ There Is a Table Set for All”
By Robert Stample. This makes us mindful that the communion table is offered for all of us as a gift from our savior and his great love for each and every one of us.

I encourage all who are present in this worship service today to become a guest of our Lord as we share this holy sacrament with him and one another. Amen!