Resurrection Hope, Resurrection Living

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! This is the proclamation of the women who visited the tomb of Jesus that first Easter morning. This is the great Easter proclamation of the first century church, and the church of the twenty-first century! It is a proclamation of a current reality and a future hope. God makes all things new, re-creating, and calling us to be partners in God’s re-creation!

However, from the time of the Epicurean philosophers to the “age of enlightenment,” and continuing into the twenty-first century, there are voices that would have us believe that God is not actively involved with God’s creation but has created and left us to our own devices; God is separated from the world, and remains uninvolved with the world. Therefore, if true, the resurrection of Jesus couldn’t possibly have anything to do with us today.

In his book, Surprised By Hope, Bishop N.T. Wright offers the following:

“Who, after all, was it who didn’t want the dead to be raised? Not simply the intellectually timid or the rationalists. It was, and is, those in power, the social and intellectual tyrants and bullies; the Caesars who would be threatened by a Lord of the world who had defeated the tyrant’s last weapon, death itself; the Herods who would be horrified at the postmortem validation of the true King of the Jews. And this is the point where believing in the resurrection of Jesus suddenly ceases to be a matter of inquiring about an odd event in the first century and becomes a matter of rediscovering hope in the twenty-first century. Hope is what you get when you suddenly realize that different worldview is possible, a worldview in which the rich, the powerful, and the unscrupulous do not after all have the last word. The same worldview shift that is demanded by the resurrection of Jesus is the shift that will enable us to transform the world.” (P.75)

Resurrection hope transforms our worldview; we are partners in God’s new creation. I look forward to seeing you in Church as we proclaim with the women at the tomb: Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! And thus we go into the world to be agents of resurrection hope and transformation!

Easter Sunday: Our choirs and pipe organ will enhance worship at 8:00 and 9:30 am, with brass at 9:30 am. Worship @ 11, a multi-media service, will feature Brenda Portman on the organ, “One Accord”, under the direction of Tom Jordan, and our music team of instrumentals and vocalists, led by Dave Colaw.

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

Jesus: A Jewish Rabbi with a Twist

He did things rabbis did. Teaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath, Jesus embraced tradition. He also practiced what Luke Powery, of Duke University, calls “traditioned innovation.” Powery describes it:

Jesus embodies a both-and, not an either-or posture.

Jesus works within a tradition but is not enslaved by it. He is free from it, though he respects it.

Historian Jaroslav Pelikan, a former professor at Yale, explains the difference between tradition and traditionalism:

“Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.”

It was Jesus’ innovation, the fresh understand of God’s Law, that got him in trouble with the religious authorities. Jesus stepped into our lives to bring life-giving character to tradition, freeing us from rules that bind us with God’s grace that sets us free.

As we enter Holy Week, I invite you to come and walk with Jesus. On Maundy Thursday, a new, creative service with four dramatic readings from gifted laity, will bless us. Friday we will gather around the cross to remember the precious sacrifice of our Savior. Sunday morning we will celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus.

As we enter Holy Week, I look forward to walking with you and our Savior, Jesus, whose love liberates us from death itself and leads us to life.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Jesus and the Law

Jesus teaches: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them”. The laws of Moses and the teachings of the Prophets had one purpose, and the entirety of scripture reflects this purpose. Jesus said all the commandments are summed up in the “Great Commandment”: Love God and love those God loves! Likewise, Jesus in John’s Gospel gives us a new commandment, one that encompasses the great commandment and reframes it for all who claim to follow him: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)

Michael Yaconelli in his book, “Messy Spirituality” writes,
“When Jesus and his followers show up, it isn’t long before people start pointing fingers and calling names. Jesus was called all kinds of names: wine-bibber (what is a wine-bibber, anyway?), Sabbath breaker, blasphemer. Over the centuries, religious people have refined name-calling to an art. The name most commonly used today? Unspiritual!. . . One day we decided to become a follower of Christ, to seek his presence in our lives, and were doing our best to keep Jesus in our sights when we were shocked to discover our fellow “classmates” calling us names. “Ungodly. Uncommitted. Poor example. Unspiritual. Carnal. Unbiblical.” In other words, “you are ‘doing God’ all wrong.” (P.45 and 47)

The voices are many that, like the Pharisees, want to tell us we are “doing God all wrong”. As you journey with Jesus this Lent, listen to the only voice that matters, Jesus. Journey with Jesus and hear His call of redemption, and restoration; His call to be loved and to love.

I look forward to our continued journey through Lent. A journey that takes us from the road of ridicule, name calling, and spiritual bullying, to traveling the way of Love. Jesus reminds us, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35). Life lived from the mount of beatitudes; it’s all about love.

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

It’s Mine!

If you observe a two-year old with their favorite toy, you will notice that they are not eager to share. At some level they are fearful that someone will come and take away their toy. At that young age, they cannot understand how sharing works. The toy can be enjoyed by another without it’s being taken away, removed forever.

This weekend we will receive an offering for “One Great Hour of Sharing.” Its purpose is to empower, provide water, supply food, and give relief from disasters.

Here are a few ways that this offering makes an impact:

In southeastern Michigan, three months after massive flooding, 900 homes needed mucking out. One Great Hour of Sharing provided training and support to help these communities with long-term recovery needs.

In eastern Kenya, people in Mbangulo went hungry without enough water to cook food. The task of fetching water took most of the day; women were at risk for sexual assault on their long journey to obtain water. One Great Hour of Sharing supported the building of a dam to provide living-giving water to their community.

Ersi Biliu and her husband in Timor, Indonesia could only afford to buy one packet of vegetable seeds at a time. After harvesting their meager crop of vegetables, to feed their six children, they simply went without. One Great Hour of Sharing provided them with several seek packets and nutrition education.

This Sunday you can make a difference! Your Gift to One Great Hour of Sharing will bring water, food, and hope to many in need.

I am looking forward to celebrating the Lord’s Day with you this Sunday.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns