Sunday, April 27, 2014

Now What?

The cold grey morning stands in contrast to the warmth within our sanctuary as Pastor Brad welcomes us with a comment that the snow is gone and now we only have ice.  It is the second Sunday of Easter.

Semi-annual meeting after church including election of new leaders.
Cheryl noted that Thursday is last day for cheap rates for Covenant Park Bible Camp.
There will be a 4th of July Family Camp
Finally, Covenant Park is having a fund raiser, 5K walk or 20K bike ride.
John Vanderscheuren is putting together a church softball team. See John.
Callie Johnson shared a series of pictures that tell the most important Bible story.

Chuck, Darlene and Ken sang the beautiful One Scarred Hand.

Chuck surprised Gwen by calling her up to sing the ever so beautiful In Christ Alone with them. "No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me... no scheme of man can ever pluck me from His hand, till He returns or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I stand."

Alf Haugsand shared about the work of the Gideons. Gideons are an international collective of laymen in distributing Bibles to over 199 countries worldwide at a rate of 2.7 Scriptures per second a year. He told a story about a teacher in New Zealand who was hostile when the Gideons were there one year but whose heart was softened by reading the Scriptures being handed out.

In many countries the Bibles can be freely distributed in places we cannot in this country. The people are hungry for the Word. 100% of all giving goes to Bibles and Bible distribution.

The trio sang The Jericho Road while our offering was taken.

Before identifying prayer needs Darlene shared that today she and Chuck are celebrating 40 wonderful years together. The list of needs is long and many people carrying burdens.

Now What?

The week after Easter there are fewer flowers, fewer dresses, fewer people... but the needs are as real after Easter as they were before Easter. Realities of unemployment, divorce, illness, broken hopes continue. In the first days after Jesus' resurrection, even the disciples struggled with what it was all about.

This morning Brad wanted to share thoughts based on John 20:19-22, specifically three portions.

1. "Peace be with you."
It was a standard phrase of greeting at the time, but Jesus appeared and said it a second time because this was the very thing the disciples needed to hear. The disciples abandoned Him but instead of rebuking them He demonstrated His patience, His commitment...

The risen Jesus, present with us here, says "Peace be with you." Who amongst us has lived a perfect life since last Sunday?

The cross shows that our sins are not insignificant. They are costly. But Jesus says, "My Peace be with you." You are accepted, not rejected. Don't be anxious. Don't be afraid.

2. "As the Father sent Me, I am sending you."
This must have been a bit baffling to hear. "Remember the job that was given to Me? I am passing it on to you." Jesus came back from death and hell itself, but now He passes the ball to the B-team.

Jesus had previously told them, "You will be My witnesses... to the ends of the earth." Now He's saying, "It's your turn."

God is in the same business today. Now it's our turn. He's not adding to our busy schedule. He is giving our current schedule a new purpose. Every relationship and situation you are in, you are given an opportunity to demonstrate that He is who He says He is, a God who is there. You are His evidence that our God is still in the resurrection business. God is saying, "I am 100% invested in you, and in showing the world that no life is too far out of reach." God is a good God, a forgiving God.

We are a "sent out" community. Our life is not about Sunday worship but about what we do between Sundays out in the world.

3. 'Receive the Holy Spirit."
This third phrase is the essential key to what followed. He breathes on them and says, "Receive the Holy Spirit." Receive the gift of God's presence, God Himself, to be our advocate in every situation.

You don't need to prove you can do it on your own. Jesus had already said, "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes."

You will be the evidence, the living witness. Easter is not a holiday. It's what followed Easter that is the story.

How will we respond to the reality of Jesus' resurrection?

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