Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Great News of the Resurrection

Easter Sunday March 31
The landscape is still a blanket of snow so that the children’s Easter Egg Hunt before the service took place in the sanctuary. Energy was abundant as we gathered on this special morning to celebrate the true birth of the church, the Resurrection of our Savior, the day that everything in history changed.

Darlene and Drake began the service with a song of the Lord’s life, death and promise of His return as a lead-in to the singing of several hymns that have become classic for this season.

A number of new members were received into our church family this morning: the Stockes, Curt and Melissa Fernandez, Dewey Johnson , and Jeff Larsen

The Trio beautifully sang “I’ll Rise Again” as the offering was taken, a wonderful song and especially suited for this morning’s service of celebration.

Duayne read this morning’s Scripture from John 20:1-18 and then Ed Newman sang the familiar classic The Holy City. After a time of prayer, Drake and Megan performed a heartfelt, beautiful song of the power of the cross, and of Christ who became sin for us, paving a way for us to enter God’s family through His shed blood. Death is crushed through death… and life is ours to live. Amazing story, amazing love.

The event that happened on this day is the pivotal point of all history. But the story as related in the Gospel of Mark has an unusual conclusion Brad read for us Mark 16:1-8 which ends with the women fleeing in silence fearing to say a word to anyone. Some people don’t like this ending and have added what seems a better ending…

Christianity traces its history to a moment in time, to a single day. The four biographies of the life of Jesus and most of the events recorded about His life occurred during the last week of his life. When the resurrection took place the women who discovered that He was was not there knew it was true, but weren’t sure that it was good news.

There was a backstory to the resurrection story that is critical to understanding this event. Many people in those days had different conceptions about death including belief in an underworld. Most peoples believed life was an endless cycle.

Jewish people, on the other hand, believed that there was a great God who created all things and that one day this good God would step in and right all wrongs, heal creation and resurrect His people to enjoy the new creation. Where they got it wrong was that they believed it would all happen at the end of history, ushering us into the age to come. And it would be a group deal…. all would experience it together.

Jesus broke the rules. There was a different outcome than expected.

When Jesus said that He was going to die, the disciples were disheartened, even abandoned Him. But suddenly they changed, evidence that something spectacular must have happened. People in ancient times were not ignorant. They believed dead things stayed dead.

N.T.Wright notes that there were many messianic movements in those days. In every case the Roman authorities crucified these would-be messiahs. In only one instance did a Messiah rise from the dead…

The tomb was empty and afterward Jesus appeared to His followers. Both events were necessary. Jesus not only appeared to his disciples but to hundreds of others. If the tomb had been empty and no one saw Him after, the tomb could have been robbed. If the Romans could have produced a body, they would have.

The empty tomb was first witnessed by women. It's interesting that in those days, during court proceedings the testimony of women had no value. But the age to come had been inaugurated and its first witnesses were women.

The new life and the people of God are a resurrection community… It was not the end of the world, but the beginning of something more significant. Furthermore, Christ’s followers understood that it wasn’t just Jesus’ death. It was their death, too. He took the nails we deserved.

Brad concluded with a story about a man who'd spent much of his life living far from God. Over time he came to realize the limits of his own self-sufficiency and pride. He'd been to Bible camp, had spent years telling himself he needed more information before he could follow God, but eventually he became aware that it was a commitment issue. He'd never really surrendered his life to God.

The resurrection story is not just a moment in history. It involves us, and it's a step we need to take...  Have you taken that step?

Resurrection is not Good News only, it is True News. Guilt cannot separate you from God. You do not have to live in fear… You have a resurrection coming… Whoever you are, wherever you are, if you have taken a new step of faith, you have a resurrection coming…

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday

Your faithful blogger is writing this from Tampa. There are a few givens That I can imagine here... There is snow on the ground and it's still cold, but Pastor Brad greeted us warmly. The children waving palm branches always brings a special glow into the sanctuary.

Amongst the announcements... There will be a Good Friday service again this year. And we hope you'll join us for an Easter Sunday breakfast/brunch with an Easter Egg Hunt for the children.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Jesus Is Lord: His Supremacy and Sufficiency

Fifteen below on some thermometers this morning, but we're a hearty breed in the Northland and Pastor Brad welcomed us warmly. "Good morning! Or in the vernacular of the day, 'Top o’ the morning to you.'" His theme, he said, would address the gap between who we are and who we wish we were… drawn once more from Paul's letter to the Colossians.

~ Brad noted the upcoming Easter Week services to look forward to. Next Sunday we will celebrate Palm Sunday… There will be a Good Friday Service, as has been a tradition we're inviting congregational members to bring Easter Lilies on Easter Sunday.
~ There will be a Breakfast Banquet Easter Sunday and we need help with setup and cleanup. There is a sign up sheet in the back. There will be an Easter Egg Hunt, also.
~ The Leadership Council will be meeting Tuesday.
~ Girls Art Club will be next Sunday. Bring a bag lunch.
~ More information will be coming about the Capital Campaign. Brad shared that he is excited not just what we are doing but the manner in which it is being done.

Drake led the worship time this morning. The offering was taken afterward followed by a time of prayer.

Jesus Is Lord: His Supremacy and Sufficiency

Brad began by reading Colossians 1:15-22. Often when we talk about Jesus as Lord we only think of our sins being forgiven. But His Lordship is so much more.

In the a number of stories were used to illustrate the brokenness of our world, from a Darwin observation to a scene in the film Grand Canyon. Ultimately, all of these examples add up to the obvious observation that the world is a mess. Darwin drew the conclusion that he was unable to see the goodness of God in His creation.

Why is the world such a mess? How could God be good and things be so awry?

Verse 22 of the Colossians passage speaks of a reconciliation. Reconciling, however, is an acknowledgement that something is broken. All of creation will be reconciled… Romans 8:19ff states that the whole creation is groaning, longing for that day of reconciliation when all will be made right.

As Danny Glover states in Grand Canyon, “The world ain’t supposed to work like this…”

Bible has a name for all the brokenness in the world and it is the word sin. Everything is part of the cycle of sin and death. There is too much misery in the world… because this ain’t the world it’s supposed to be. We’ve been made for a different world, a better world. There will be no more death or crying or pain.

We get to decide… to be part of God’s work of reconciliation.

How do we get from brokenness to restoration? Three parts to this.

Resurrection  Christ is the beginning… Jesus is the first-born to break out of the cycle of sin and death

Incarnation  For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him

Crucifixion  God made peace through His blood, on the cross.

Blood: death by violence
Cross: humiliation

In verse 21 & 22 it is written, "Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[a] your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— " Paul goes from the big story to make it personal for you and me…

What happens when you give your heart?
1. Forgiven
2. Share in the resurrected life
3. New community… I belong to something bigger than myself
4. End "You"… You become one of God’s instruments to become active in restoring this broken world.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 2:17)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A New Covenant

Today is the 3rd Sunday in Lent. Pastor Shannon welcomed us and noted his intention to talk about remembering… and the covenant.   

Brad began by thanking us for our participation in the Assessment. 89% responded, which is exceptional. "We are poised to move forward."

Wednesday we will go through the results of the Assessment… come if you are able.

Thursday evening there will be a meeting of the Building committee, Capital committee and Leadership committee.
Thursday, “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage” with Curt Fernandez

The puppets were back to invite us for the Forget Winter party, this time Squeaky the mouse and his friend Baldy the Eagle. Our "Forget Winter" Party will begin Sayurday at 6:00 p.m.  Dress for summer. Anyone interested in helping set up, come Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m.

After a time of worship Pastor Brad delivered the sermon.

A New Covenant

We began with the story of Noah where Brad highlighted Genesis 8:1. “But God remembered Noah.”

Memory is important. It's how we live and learn and grow and it is an essential part of life. Korsakoff's syndrome, which occurs when people have a thiamine deficiency due to severe alcohol abuse and/or severe malnutrition, destroys bug chunks of memory.

The story of Noah appears in Genesis 6 to 9. God remembered Noah. God remembered… did not forget.

Brad cited several passages where God remembered, beginning with Genesis 9:16… "Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth."

In Gen 30:22... "Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive."

In Exodus 2:24, 25 “God heard their groaning and remembered His covenant."

The phrase “God remembers” appears 74 times in the Bible. It is synonymous with “God will act.”
God’s remembering does something, results in action. It is not just a mental activity.

A covenant means “I will be with you to the end.” God made a covenant with Israel to this end.

It is in the Genesis account the covenant is first mentioned, Genesis 6:18 There are three things to notice.
1. The Covenant is God’s doing, not ours. God initiates it.
2. It’s always two-sided. God wants something from us.
3. A covenant is all about love.

Punishment doesn’t change us. Love alone reaches deep inside to change us for real.

A Christian can’t understand the covenant without understanding Jesus and the cross. Jesus’s death was a substitution. Because of the New Covenant we have been grafted into this covenant God made with Israel.

God loves us not as a chore, but because He delights in us. The signs are important though. “Whenever I see a rainbow I will remember the covenant."

As we prepare for the Lord's Supper… what if the bread and wine are not only symbols for us, but also for God. By faith we share in this covenant relationship with God.