Live Fully Into Easter

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. Colossians 3:1-4

The Apostle Paul’s wise counsel to the Colossians is to “Think about the things above and not the things on earth.” Here, Paul’s message is one that urges us to celebrate now – however incompletely – what is still a future event. The empty tomb, found by Mary Magdalene, the other woman, Simon Peter, and the “other disciple,” testifies to the fact that resurrection is a present reality.  Every believer’s new and redeemed life already exists.  At the same time, the church lives in a post-resurrection age that has only just been inaugurated.  The “glory” of all those things we “seek above’ is still in the future.  What has been “completed” still remains “incomplete.”

Thus, dying with Christ, entering into that tomb with Jesus on Good Friday, is the way we as Christians annually remind ourselves of the “completing” power of the risen Christ.

Certainly we all have “incompletes” in our lives that need completion.  Having no idea of what “incompletes’ might be keeping you from growing into the fullness of faith and/or the life God has purposed for you, let me offer a few  general questions for you to consider:

· Relational incompletes—do you have unresolved conflicts with someone, or do you have feelings that have not been expressed?

· Integrity incompletes—do you have trouble keeping agreements, or being truthful about people, places, and things?

· Career incompletes – do you continue to work in a job you hate, or do you fail to do the best job you can?

· Financial incompletes—do you have debts that are mounting, and do you have trouble saving as you know you should?

· Physical incompletes – do you eat and drink things that you know are bad for you, and do you continue to put off committing yourself to a healthy lifestyle?

· Personal incompletes – do you avoid dreaming like you once did, especially dreaming that impossible dream that once set you on fire?

· Spiritual incompletes – do you wish to commit 100% to God, yet fail to follow a disciplined walk with Christ through daily prayer, Bible study and intentionally meeting in group fellowship with others?

The Easter event is not just a story to enjoy or a set of doctrines to recite. It is a way of living, a way that encompasses who we are and what we do every day of the week, every week of the year.  The open tomb on Easter morning, forces us to face the “incompletes” in our lives. The open tomb assures us of God’s promise to turn all our “incompletes” into “completes.” Easter means we are reborn with a specific mission – to seek out this Christ who once lives again, and to allow this Christ to transform our “incomplete” lives into “completes.”

Remember the Easter event is not just about Jesus; it is about us.  Jesus has already claimed his new life; now is our chance.

Remember also, the Easter event is not just some past event that is long over and done; it is about our claiming a future that sees our best days as being always ahead of us.

With that in mind, I certainly have some things I know I need to get done to fully live into Easter! What about you?  Let’s get it done!

Rev. Myron F. McCoy

Possibilities of New Life

“. . . unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:24)

Can you imagine what planetary life would be like if creatures were not mortal and all the organisms that have ever been born on earth had never died? Think of the amoebas, star fish, whales, dinosaurs, pre- humans, and humans all attempting to feed themselves with the limited resources of our very small planet! They are stacked with skyscrapers rearing from both land and sea to accommodate the billions upon billions of organisms created and procreated by the life process. That would be impossible. And, even if this were possible, it would not be a desirable quality of life.

Jesus talks of death, utilizing the imagery of nature in which death and life are always cycling back and forth, reminding us that a seed dies in the ground and comes up again with new life.  And, how grateful we are when we think of something like the miracle of a single corn kernel that mushrooms into a tall stalk, reaching up to the heavens while stretching out its offering of ears of corn with kernels plentiful enough to delight a family at mealtime.

Yet in the Great Creator’s scheme of things, seeds are not the only elements of creation that face death, as we are dying all the time.  We all lose about 100,000 cells per second, and we are fortunate in reproducing almost as many. Hence, healthy bodies are a constant cycle of dying cells and the rebirth of new ones. Some scientists suggest that the human body regenerates every seven years. Cells, however, that don’t die off in a normal cycle are a real problem.  Such cells are more often related to diseases like cancer that can become problematic as they block healthy reproduction.

A failure to let go and let some things die can also be a spiritual disease, as well, as important new life can’t take place without some things dying.  For instance, a failure to forgive can lead to an unhealthy mutation of a relationship as anger and bitterness ravage the spirit like a festering, growing tumor. Holding on to regrets can squeeze out hope before the energy of new life can be pumped through.  Similarly, trying to control events and others can lead to frustration, excessive stress, and rock-bottom exhaustion that “stomps out” the “new” we would desire. Hence, forgiveness and letting go of control are extremely important spiritual exercises in the art of dying so that new life can abound.

Years ago the Denver Zoo had a difficult decision to make. They were offered the gift of a beautiful, large polar bear, but there was no existing room for the bear. At the time of the gift, the board of Directors was in the middle of a fundraising campaign to renovate the zoo. They changed the strategy to include a magnificent habitat for the polar bear in their renovation plans.

In the meantime, the bear was put in a small, temporary cage. The space was so small that the bear could take three steps, turn around and walk three steps back.

Because of unforeseen delays the construction took three years, but its new home was indeed grand: waterfalls, spaciousness, and caves. The polar bear entered its new home, looked around, took three steps, turned around, took three steps back, and turned around.

This can be a parable of human life and even complex organizations like the church. Be open to the possibility of new life!

Jesus said,
“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.”

Myron F. McCoy

Making and Multiplying

Sermons, talks, and books on discipleship usually give a basic definition of a disciple as a “learner.” However, I think the New Testament gives us a more thrilling and dynamic definition of a disciple and the cost that follows. Take, for example, the parable of the soils in Matthew 13. How do we know a disciple from a learner? Matthew 13:23 says, “He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” A disciple is, by nature or by definition, a multiplier.

Jesus summons or invites his first disciples to become part of a kingdom movement when he said, “Come follow me.” He later commissioned these followers in Matthew 28:19 by saying, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Jesus placed the disciple-making process upon those who followed him then and as followers of Jesus today, we, the church, are actively engaged in doing our part in “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

Speaking from an education ministry perspective, discipleship is a process of faith formation and spiritual growth. We are in the business of kingdom building through multiplication (mentioned earlier) from “cradle to grave.” So how are we doing here at Hyde Park Community church?

Every infant baptism is the beginning journey, the entry point of discipleship in the church. I’m excited to share that our preschool is not only preparing our children for school, but developing the faith of our “littlest ones” each week through a time of chapel worship and Bible lessons. The children in our Sunday school classes, at an early age, are learning through creative teaching how to pray and to give to missions. Our confirmation teenagers just returned from a retreat last weekend that prepares them to make a public profession of faith and to join the church. Many of our Connect Groups are reading and reflecting upon prayer as a Lenten practice, and others are engaged in the Ultimate Adventure devotional online. Our adult Sunday school classes are all focused on engaging topics and books that are faith-forming. Thursday Edition and our First Friday Night Group have speakers that share their faith stories and experiences. UMW members are active in their circles in spiritual formation and in developing relationships.

As disciples, we are continually on this journey of spiritual development and faith formation. As the church, we do have a mission to “multiply,” not only members, but to make disciples. Our discipleship process is in place. The challenge before us as a church is to become more “intentional and invitational in our discipleship.”

I encourage you to “personally invite” a family member or friend to join us on the journey during Lent and Easter. There are a variety of services or classes offered. Let’s “multiply” the number of people who will worship with us during this holy season. Disciples have a role to play in the work of God’s kingdom. Christ is counting on us to keep his church alive!

Rev. Dave Weaver