SYMBOLS OF EASTER
EGGS: Easter eggs came into being as a symbol of new life. There is an old, old Christian legend that the Virgin Mary gave eggs to the Roman soldiers who captured her son, Jesus. In return for the gifts, she begged them not to crucify him. As she begged, and the soldiers kept refusing her request, that legend says that she cried tears which fell upon the eggs. Her tears turned into brightly coloured spots, and that's why the custom of colouring and decorating eggs remains today.
WHITE LILY: The white lily represents the clean, pure life that comes to believers through the resurrection of their Lord, Jesus Christ. Lilies were said to be found growing in the garden of Gethsemane after Christ's agony Tradition has it that the traditional white blooms sprang up where drops of Christ's sweat fell to the ground in his final hours of sorrow. At Eastertime, many churches decorate with white lilies to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus and the hope of life everlasting.
THE CROSS: The cross is a reminder to Christians that Jesus beat death when He was resurrected from His grave. The symbolism of life over death reminds Christians of Jesus' victory over death and the new life and hope the victory brings to humanity. In the end, the cross is the ultimate demonstration of God's power.
THE LAMB: The lamb is a symbol of gentleness of character and patience uder suffering. It signifies purity, meekness and sacrifice. Easter Day, which commemorates the resurrection of Jesus three days after the crucifixion, is observed with religious zeal. The lamb represents Jesus and relates his death to that of the lamb sacrificed on the first Passover. Christians traditionally refer to Jesus as the "Lamb of God."
THE ROOSTER: The rooster has been the symbol of the rising sun and the start of a new day. The symbol of the rooster may also be a reminder that the disciple Peter was told that he would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed.
THE BUTTERFLY: Butterflies are considered excellent symbols of Easter as their life cycle, according to Christian belief, mirrors the life of Jesus. The caterpillar stage of the butterfly signifies Jesus' birth on earth, while the cocoon stage signifies the crucifixion and His temporary absence from the world. The transformation of a butterfly and its flight towards the sky indicates Jesus' resurrection and His rise towards the heavens and the Holy Father.
THE EASTER BUNNY: The Easter Bunny, also called the Spring Bunny, is considered to be a symbol of new life and abundance. As Christians, we are to multiply our number by spreading the Good News. The bunny, or rabbit, represents the renewal of life and promotes the fertility of crops, animals and people.
Today's first reading is from Isaiah 52, verse 7.
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"
And from the New Testament, Romans 6, verses 3-7.
Don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the Glory ofthe Father, we too may have a new life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like, his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin - because anyone who has dies has been set free from sin.
And from the Book of John, verses 19-23.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."
AT EASTERTIME read by Barbara
This short story was written by Ruby Lee Mitchell, a little known author from Mississippi.
Easter is still the wondrous miracle it was on that early morning, centuries ago, when our Saviour left empty his dark and dismal tomb.
Our hearts swell with joy when we think of the triumph of His resurrection. It makes one realize that though He may be entombed by sin and degradation, He can emerge as white and shining as the angel who spoke those always remembered words, "He is risen. He is not here."
Eastertime is a time of rebirth. It means green things springing up, thrusting through what was snowy frozen earth not long ago, to leaf and flower.
We can sense the stirring of new life everywhere, of roots underground eager to break through their dark realms to cover the cold brown earth with fresh new grass that gleams in the sunlight.
The bright spring flowers are pure joy. There is enchantment in watching bare, drab tress as the first faint green appears; as the tiny heart runs to meet the spring, we, too, like to meet it in dress that honours such royalty. Leaves grow and grow to look like pale green smoke weaving delicate patterns against the blue spring sky; as they end at last, proudly flaunting their dark glossy full-grown leaves for the coming summer's comfort and glory. All this, too, is a miracle.
Eastertime is the sunshine and the showers and the soft blue velvet sky which for long winter months was often dull and grey.
Surely countless millions feel the same. For what other reasons would multitudes crowd the churches, cathedrals and chapels over most of the world on Easter Sunday?
Is there any wonder when Easter comes that we should want to change to bright and colourful array? The earth does that and as the heart runs to meet the spring, we, too, like to meet it in dress that honours such royalty.
But most of all, above everything else, Eastertime is a refreshing of the soul, a renewal of our love for God, of our Christian fellowship, and of our Christian vows.
We go to receive the great blessings that Easter brings, for the belief in a Risen Christ, for the special meaning that Easter has for hearts that believe.
Easter is a time for rejoicing. It is the promise and the power and the glory.
We Serve A Risen Saviour
All but four of the major world religions are based on mere philosophical propositions. Of the four that are based on personalities rather then philosophies, only Christianity claims an empty tomb for its founder. In 1900 BC Judaism's Father Abraham died. In 483 BC Buddhist writings say Buddha died. On June 6, 632 AD Mohammed died. In 33. in the year of our Lord, Jesus died but came back to life appearing to 500 people over a period of 40 days.
1 Corinthians 15, verse 14 states: "And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."
Springtime is on our doorstep; the time of year when we start thinking about creepy, crawly caterpillars on the ground. We all have a childhood memory of picking up a caterpillar and watching it crawl slowly and softly across our hand. Time goes by, and the caterpillar goes into a cool place, a cocoon. It lives in that cocoon for what seems like forever to a child, and when the caterpillar emerges, it has become a beautiful butterfly.
On Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is typically the most well-attended Sunday service of the year for Christian churches. People come to church to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus. Many consider Easter as the most holy of religious holidays.
The purpose of Easter is the victory celebration telling of the power of God. The power that took the dead body of Jesus and transformed Him, metamorphosed Him, transfigured Him into a glorious resurrection body. The purpose of Easter is God telling us He can create life out of death. The purpose of Easter is to convince us that creepy, crawly caterpillars become transformed into beautiful butterflies. The purpose of Easter is to convince us that there will be a time in our lives when we too shall be transformed into something absolutely beautiful and magnificent.
Easter should be more than just another holiday to a Christian. It is Resurrection Sunday, the Sunday set aside to recognize the resurrection of our Lord. God sent His word in the form of a child, born to the Virgin Mary as the only begotten Son of God. He lived a very short time on earth, having been a carpenter, and then a messenger for God. He was crucified, nailing all Our sins to the cross, covering them with His precious blood. If we believe in Him, accept His gift of salvation, then we too will see Him in all His glory one day.
I would like to share a butterfly story with you. This is a stoty from Dr. Kubler Ross and her book, Death and Dying. There was a little girl, a first grader, who was having trouble at school, and the teacher felt that she might be having emotional problems. The child was invited in to talk with a sensitive teacher. The school started to discover that this
little girl was handling enormous emotional challenges. Her mother was sick in the hospital and was dying of cancer. The little girl knew that something was very wrong, because she could see that her father was upset, and this, of course, made the little girl upset too. An appointment was set up for the little girl to meet with a psychologist. The little girl was asked to draw a picture. She drew a stick figure with red legs, and off to the side was a very black coloured square. The psychologist looked at the drawing and asked:
"Well, my little friend, what does your drawing mean?" The little girl explained that the stick figure was her mother and that the red legs meant that her mother would never be able to take her to the park again, because she knew her mother's legs were bleeding. "And what is that black square in the corner?" asked the psychologist. The little girl explained that the black square was the dining room table and that it was turned upside down. She said that her Mommy would not be able to eat meals with her again. Then the psychologist said, "you know that your mother is dying, don't you." The little girl replied "Yes." The psychologist asked the little girl if she would like to talk about it, and the little girl began to talk about the death of her mother. Towards the close of the conversation, the psychologist said to her, "Well, what it's going to be like is this: your mother will go into a cocoon and someday your mother will be like a butterfly." The little girl said, "Oh, that's wonderful that my Mommy will be like a butterfly, but butterflies flyaway, and I don't want Mommy to flyaway from me." The next day the psychologist got the little girl. They picked some daffodils and went to see the child's mother in the hospital. The little girl looked into the room, she hadn't seen her mother for such a long time. She ran into the room and giving her mother a big kiss and the bunch of daffodils, she whispered into her mother's ear, "Mommy, you're going to become like a butterfly." And the mother said, "I know, I know." And she hugged her little girl, smiled and cried.
This is a daffodil bulb. Have you ever seen anyone hold up a daffodil bulb and exclaim to you how beautiful it looks? Have you ever seen a vase of arranged daffodil bulbs displayed proudly in someone's home? Well, of course you haven't. Indeed, we would have to say that there is no comparison between the brown, dried bulb and the transformed, exquisite beauty of the daffodil flower. It is one of God's miracles. And so it is that the Good News of Easter is obvious. God does this a million times a day:
Transforming bulbs into flowers, caterpillars into butterflies ... transforming that which appears to be dead into a new, glorious life.
Easter is an invitation for us to believe like a child, to have childlike faith that the resurrection is true. The little first grader was told her mother would become like a butterfly, and the little girl believed it was true, that her mother would become like a butterfly. Easter is an invitation for us to believe like children, simply and naively to believe that God works great miracles, transforming caterpillars into butterflies, bulbs into daffodils, and earthly, physical bodies into everlasting spiritual bodies.
We all know that Easter is the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in the Christian tradition. It symbolically represents the most important event in the Christian calendar, and forms part of a longer Easter festival that includes Lent, as well as Jesus' life immediately before the Crucifixion. Easter also represents the symbolic rebirth of spring from winter, and a continuing celebration of annual growth and change.
1 Corinthians 15 tells of the resurrection of Christ. Paul explains why the resurrection is important to believers in a very practical way. Christ's resurrection is the central teaching of Christianity. According to Paul, if Christ wasn't resurrected, then Christianity is a complete sham; all who believe in Christ for salvation are still in their sins and to be pitied if Christ was not raised.
For those of us who are believers, the resurrection is extremely important. The resurrection of Christ is the ultimate reassurance to all believers that death has finally been defeated. We will all be resurrected, just as Christ was. Once we understand that Easter is a celebration of the defeat of death, we will fmally understand why we celebrate this Holy Day. Easter celebrates new life. Jesus was dead and buried, but the love of God is stronger and powerful than even death. God brought Jesus back to life to live with Him forever.
This is the moment that defines history and sets us free to be people of hope and forgiveness. The great mystery of faith is once again proclaimed to all the world - that all the world might listen and know the truth that Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. This is the centre and heart of our faith.
In Jesus' resurrection, God is doing something new. We have the answer to unlock all our problems - problems of abuse, violence, anger, work, money, and the list goes on. All these problems can be answered in the resurrection of Jesus and the new life He offers us. Living in the resurrection, a family can be suddenly transformed. Where there was once anger and hatred, the love of God and forgiveness can be the guiding principles.
Where can you see the living God? Where can you see the hope and new life that the women testified to on that day when they saw the empty tomb and knew that Jesus was alive? Where can you see that hope in a world that seems to be covered in the shadow of evil and hatred and revenge?
Where can we look for hope - The absolute assurance that God is with us and fills the heart with gifts of love and grace? We can look here, in this very room, for stories of new life and rebirth, of God's hope and grace. There are examples all around us: all the people whose faithful attendance at worship creates this community of faith. There IS hope in the world - there is faith in the world, but you must look for it and see the resurrection of Jesus in a new light - in the light of our own lives and the choices that we make.
The amazing choice is not the choices that we make, but the one that God makes for us. God chose us to be His ambassadors of love and grace and service. God chose us to instruct others, to show them that life has meaning, a meaning that is seen after we look into the tomb and realize that Jesus is alive; and because Jesus is alive, then we are also alive, alive to love and praise, alive to he servants of God, alive to be the ones who help change and shift the world away from the destruction and violence that seems to appear on our television screens as news every night.
The message of the empty tomb is still proclaimed - the empty tomb is still empty and the message of God's love is still here among us. Jesus is alive. His word is true and His identity as the one and only begotten Son of God is true and known to all. The tomb is empty, and God's love triumphs over human selfishness and hatred and forces of evil around us. We will always find hope in the empty tomb and the great proclamation of faith that Christ is risen.
I have one more butterfly story that I'd like to share with you. There was a caterpillar crawling across a Persian rug. The caterpillar crawled for what he thought was 75 years. He was crawling all over that Persian rug, but he could only see one colour at a time. First he saw the blues, and then the oranges, the yellows, the reds, the purples, the deep violets, the greens. He saw one colour at a time and said, "Oh, what a beautiful world I'm on. Look at all that colour." He lived for what he thought was a very long time, 60, 70, 80 years - a blink in God's time, but long for the caterpillar. Finally he crawled off the Persian rug and he became a cocoon and hibernated. Although he didn't realize, the cocoon was part of the miracle, and then there was another miracle and he came out of the cocoon as a butterfly, a monarch butterfly. He fluttered up higher and higher and he looked down at the Persian rug for the first time and saw it in its total magnificent splendour. What a sight he saw. For the first time in his existence, he saw the meaning of his whole life; he saw the past and the present like he had never seen it before ... and Jesus said, "Those who have hears to hear, listen to the meaning of this parable."
Easter is inviting us to believe in the powers of God to create magnificent new life, to believe the miracle that God transforms caterpillars into butterflies, to believe the miracle that God transforms earthly bodies into heavenly bodies. We must strive to live daily for Christ, serving Him by the power of His resurrected life. Our hearts should be so full of the joy of the Lord that it overflows into our daily life. Thanks be to God for a Risen Saviour!
JESUS LAST WEEK
It’s amazing how most of us love a parade! I remember back when I was just a 12 year old kid in Verdun, the Catholics church held their annual Corpus Christi parade.
All us protestants kids would run up and down the sidewalks, our face beat red from excitement-clapping our hands and waving as the cadet bugle band passed by-- To this day I still get goose bumps when I hear the Elgin marching Pipers through town.
When it comes to a parade people don’t change, back over 2000 years, Jesus is entering Jerusalem-What a glorious day for a Parade-- people are shouting and waving branches, children running back and forth helping lay shawls down on the ground for Jesus’ donkey to walk on. The air is filled with the promise-- full of expectation of what Jesus has come to do.
On that Palm Sunday the crowd sang for joy and shouted out the words of an O.T. Psalm
'Hosannah, LORD, Hosannah! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
What a glorious day!!
But the events of the week to come would really surprise these enthusiasts -- on the day of his entry into Jerusalem they were praising God for all that they had seen him do in Jesus – all his teaching and healing…
Yet they were not aware of the drama that was fast approaching.
Listen to Theologian Marcus Borg as he paints a picture of Jerusalem on that sunny day : It was the beginning of PASSOVER--
-And from the east, Jesus is entering riding a donkey, cheered by his peasant followers.. According to the prophet Zechariah, a king would be coming to Jerusalem humble and riding on a donkey. This king would banish war-no more spears-bows-- war horses. He would bring peace!
At the opposite of the city, came Pontius Pilate the Roman governor-- Jesus precession proclaimed the Kingdom of God—Pilate proclaimed the power of the empire.
—Close your eyes and --imagine the imperial parade’s arrival in the city. A display of imperial power,-- cavalry on horses,-- foot soldiers in leather armor,-- weapons, banners,-- gold eagles mounted on poles,-- sun glinting on metal and gold. Sounds of the marching of feet,-- --the clinking of bridles-- and the beating of drums. The emperor was not just the ruler of Rome, but the Son of God! They had come to keep law and order. The onlookers, some curious, some awed, some resentful.”
The confrontation between these two kingdoms was to continue through the Last Week of Jesus’ life. And we already know how the week ends. Jesus is executed by the powers who rule this world.
Here we find Jesus’ disciples in the midst of the action. They don’t have a clue as to what the following days will bring and they are worried.
They have noticed that Jesus has CHANGED DIRECTION, from PEACEFUL SPREADING GOD’S WORD TO ACTIVELY CONFRONTING the elders and priests.
The disciples are shocked by the turn of events.
We often get frustrated when someone we are working with deviates from the plan-- CHANGES DIRECTION. We see this all the time in politics, business and even “we” are often guilty. So we can understand how the disciples feel.
Why the change in plans—what has happened?
—well, Let’s go back to the beginning when Jesus first called his disciples Peter, James and John-we see them down by the sea shore fishing, mending their nets and along comes Jesus.
Perhaps they had seen him before or heard him speak, out of the blue, he invites them to come and follow him and he will make them fishers of men—you can help me spread the news of God’s love. They must have been puzzled and confused yet Jesus’ charisma won them over and they left their jobs and families to follow Jesus.
When they asked Jesus what to do, if the people didn’t listen, they were not to use any force –people don’t listen—then, shake the sand from your sandals and move on to another town.
There were times Jesus had run-ins with the local Pharisees and Priests from the local villages; then they would move on. Not anymore!
Now the plan was to CONFRONT the temple authorities in Jerusalem.—This could end up in their death and the disciples weren’t too happy -- they feared for their lives!
But, Jesus had given them fair warning.
We recall just before entering Jerusalem, Jesus tells them of a new strategy for his ministry.
He talks about his death. He tells his disciples openly and repeatedly that the son of man must suffer, die and on the third day rise again. Apparently this made no sense to the disciples.
The disciples were amazed-this not the trip they had in mind. I can hear Peter saying, “now look here Jesus, when I called you Messiah, this is not what I meant!
Being Messiah has nothing to do with suffering and death! It’s –about the promise of a new kingdom –a kingdom of peace and love-- a new king.”
During the first stage of his ministry Jesus was quite happy having his disciples tag along—lend a helping now and then.
Now he wants the disciples to step up and be partners and help him defeat the Temple elders and priest who have a strangle hold on the poor.
Confront the temple authorities! To the disciples this is quite a change!
Then Jesus goes on to spell out what they must do if they were to continue following him.
I’m sure you remember Jesus telling them three things they must do: 1-deny yourself, 2-take up the cross and 3-follow my example.
I think the disciple, like us, had trouble understanding what Jesus meant- but continued to followed Jesus into Jerusalem.
We know how they acted-they later fled the scene –abandoning Jesus to face the Roman machine by himself.
Let’s take a moment and look at these 3 stipulations Jesus has mentioned-and think about what they mean to us Christians today.
There have been many interpretation of what Jesus meant, these are my thoughts.
Jesus tells us “DENY YOURSELF”-give up our selfish desire for money, power and material things-we all know these worldly goodies can ruin our lives. Live as Jesus taught-caring for others- sharing all you have with the less fortunate, living a life of trust and faith in God.
He then says “TAKE UP THE CROSS. To the Apostle Paul “taking up the Cross was a journey in transformation.”
-- Today Christians recognize the Cross as a symbol for the “way” of entering a new life by the dying to our old life.
“FOLLOW” Jesus’ teachings— It seems we are to speak up against the powers that control our present society and change society to in-line with God’s Kingdom.
Finally, we are called to CONFRONT our present society that favours the rich,-- pays lip service to the poor,-- unemployed: and ignores the needs of the elderly. We are being asked to risk all we have for the Way of the cross in creating a new world order.
We all recognize that “FOLLOWING JESUS” can bring unexpected challenges. The Way of Jesus is demanding:-requires us to live simply--it means looking around to see how we can help others – be champions of Justice for all, -- refusing to meet violence with violence,-- confronting unjust laws and speak out for the Rights of all citizens.
It’s quite a list and it can mean radical changes in our life style.
The GOOD NEWS we have some help. We are not ALONE!!
Somewhere in the depth of our very being DWELLS THE LIVING GOD-- converting our weakness to strength—our fears to courage and our doubt to belief.
Easter, spring and Jesus’ teachings are all about rebirth—the renewal of spirit—and transformation.
Let us journey on the “WAY OF THE CROSS” together!
Prayers by Elizabeth Waller :
Our alpha and omega, our beginning and our end; Who has defeated sin and death
through your Son Jesus Christ;
who wipes the tears from our eyes even now, with the promise of a future
where tears will only be for joy;
We praise you, 0 Lord, and love you with heart, soul, and mind.
May this worship be like a spring
of cold, clear water, refreshing, cleansing, renewing, living,
and pleasing in your sight Amen! Now let us pray the prayer you taught us to pray in unison: "Our Father .....
Holy God, we offer these gifts in gratitude for the blessings you bestow upon us. Despite our unfruitful ways, we have endless opportunities to reflect your glory in our lives. We turn our hearts and minds to the commitment that you have made to us through your son Jesus Christ. May these gifts become symbolic of our desire to renew our covenant relationship with you, 0 Lord, our Rock and Redeemer. Amen
Heavenly father, Be with us this morning as we find ourselves well into the season of Lent, and turn our eyes to the horizon, and the coming of Easter ..
I Help us to see this as a journey to cast away our struggles and our demons, in hopes of receiving you more fully into our lives. We ask that you make this Lent a season where we find our way out of darkness and find our way back to you. Let us be true in the devotions we give to you this season.
Today, we raise the names of our friends, family and neighbours that grieve; we pray that they keep their trust in you strong. Remind them, and remind us, that it was never your promise to have a life without grief or pain. Your promise is that you will stand with us, or for us, when we hurt. Your promise is to heal our hearts when they break. Let us feel your presence again, during this time of Lent.
This morning we raise our celebrations and joys. Help us to see these moments as Blessings from you. Let these moments of smile and laughter provide the strength we need when times get tough. Help us to see the joy in every moment, and that laughter which can turn around our days in moment. This Lent, Help us to find more opportunities to experience the Joys you provide.
We recognize that lent is a time of temptation and personal struggle. Help us as we fight against the urges and the addictions in our lives that threaten to steal the joy from our life. Help us to fight the urges that threaten our happiness, our health and our relationship with you.
We pray that the church continues to grow, and embraces its role as a life changer and lifesaver to our communities. We ask that you remind each of us, of just how integral we are to its successes. Help us to find the opportunity to pray for its leaders, its pastors, its ministries, and its future. Remind us that in your church, there is a home for each of us, and a role for each of us to play. Help us to hear your calling for us during this Lenten season.
Lastly, we ask that for each of those we have raised in prayer that you provide a person of faith to be with them in their journey and their struggle. Help us to become to others those people who are willing to risk everything to be the face of Jesus for others. Teach us to risk this Lenten season.
We raise these prayers, with words that do no justice to our fears or desires,
along with the prayers we have yet to understand or articulate, to our
Father, who taught us that only one prayer was necessary, the prayer that
says .... Our Father, ....
"Trust in the Lord with All Your Heart" by Kevin Harvey
Trust and Obey! or Trust and Acknowledge!
Proverbs 3:5-6 King James Version (KJV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
It is a creed to live by. It is a promise to bank on.
Trust with substance . It is easy to trust when things are good.
Trust in Him when times are hard, times of suffering, times of blessing.
Sometimes you think you are the only one suffering.
Lean not on your own understanding.
What does that mean? What if our understanding of God is warped or unbalanced.
For example :
When the question comes up, which are inevitable.
Why would a loving God allow horrible atrocities?
Where is God when :
I don't understand! Where are you Lord?
Perhaps we have swallowed the new popular teaching of the prosperity Gospel!
Give us your money, you will be rich.... you will never die.....
If you are not well, you do not believe in God.... Baloney!
Where is the promise that everything is OK in this world.... not true
Acknowledge Him with your lips, he provides, he loves, he cares, he connects
Perhaps we need to ponder the book of Job.
God paid him back double.
Job 13:15 King James Version (KJV)
15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.
Job trials, for example, friends with poor counsel.
What were Job's friends telling Job? God is perfect and makes no mistake. (God always rewards good and punishes evil)
Eldest book of the Bible
Who are these nitwits who are giving you advice?
Where were you when I laid down the foundation of the world?
Message of suffering
Can you take that beast and make a pet out of him?
1 Peter 4:12-19 King James Version (KJV)
12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters.
16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
Hebrews 11:36-38 King James Version (KJV) For some perspective
36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
1 Peter 5:6-10 King James Version (KJV)
6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.
In conclusion :
Proverbs 3:5-6 King James Version (KJV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Ok to not understand. Do not carry that to the point you do not believe in God anymore.
It is a fair statement and a logical conclusion to say : We don't know everything. We can't see the big picture ...BUT
The Lord does
JUST TRUST HIM, ACKNOWLEDGE HIM.
"We are all invited to the party" with Nelson Weippert
LOVE –THE PRODIGAL SON Mar. 3rd. 2013
Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32
Once upon a time
A student who loved playing golf. He used to spend hours in the backyard practicing his golf swing. Of course he wasn't allowed to use a real golf ball because that would be very dangerous so near to the house. So he used a practice ball hollow and made of light plastic with holes in it. You couldn't hit it very far and it could do no damage. One day he thought that both his parents were out and the house empty, and he longed for the feel of a real golf ball on the head of his club. Just this once wouldn't matter.
He teed up a real golf ball and swung. You guessed it he sliced his stroke and the ball headed for his parents' bedroom window. He heard the glass shatter and then he heard his mother scream.
He ran into the house and up the stairs to her bedroom. She was standing there in front of the broken window and she was bleeding. He started to cry and couldn't stop.
All he could say was, "Mum, what have I done, I could have killed you." His mother just hugged him and said through her own tears, "It's all right son, I'm all right, everything's going to be all right." What love!
His mother knew that punishment was not what he needed at this moment. He needed to know that everything was all right. Need I say that this young man never took a real golf ball into the yard again?
And this is NOT what most of us expect to hear. We visualize shouting—threatening and anger! But, God puts a DIFFERENT TWIST on how he expects us treats others -- when they get in trouble.
The teaching of JESUS always gives us practical applications we can use in our daily lives. In the well loved parable of the “Prodigal Son.” Jesus teaches us how to put a NEW TWIST to our family relationships.
Think of the father in today's gospel for a minute. Think of his pain. His youngest child - his youngest son has turned away from his family.
Whatever the reason - many of us parents can identify with the pain that the father must have felt; the pain - the second guessing – the constant worry -and the constant wondering...
- Will my boy or daughter make it? - Will he or she become a decent person? - Will he or she ever come home?
Here in the story YOUNGEST SON has flew the coup!
- He wasted his living in a foreign land and ended up going from bad to worse till - at last - he comes to his senses and flees homeward
-hoping he can put his life together again
- even if must be as a servant, for he knows that in his father's house even servants live better than does he.
The young man was in shock when was near home and saw his Father coming to meet him. His father was so happy and welcomed him back unconditionally. "Seeing him from afar, the father had compassion on him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. This was no sitting down to wait and see attitude.
Notice the rush of verbs that move rapidly FROM SEEING, TO RUNNING, EMBRACING AND KISSING.
*** A minister tells of being in a Greyhound bus station one night. There was an older lady who was going from person to person with a picture saying, "Have you seen my daughter? Have you seen my daughter? She is supposed to be on one of these buses." The woman came up to him and asked him her question. He hadn't seen the woman's daughter but he told her to check at the desk. She checked and they told her to take a seat. She waited and waited. Finally another bus pulled in. People began filing through the gate.
Across the terminal the woman spotted her daughter. She began calling her name. She also began RUNNING across the terminal, CALLING OUT her name-arms extended before her. He thought about how foolish she looked.
They met and EMBRACED and KISSED in the middle of the terminal. As he watched, he remembered a story. "A father had two sons...while the boy was still a long way off the father ran out to greet him." The greeting is the same. "Welcome home, son, welcome home, daughter. Let the party begin."
His father didn’t wait for an explanation, confession or promises! No, his father gives an emotional Welcome before the son can speak a word.
The son is given the place of honour and the father threw a BIG PARTY.
MANY OF US PARENTS CAN IDENTIFY WITH THE FATHER.
Today due to the recession many of our kids are coming back home. Some of you here this morning may have an adult son or daughter that is living with you after a few years trying to make a go of it in the business world.
Some youngsters have decided to leave before they ready—they take all their processions —you know the guitar-their dvd or cd player maybe their laptop and Ipod. Sometimes their bedroom furniture—and they are off to stake their claim in that big world.
Suddenly, with no fault of their own –no job—get laid-off—or quit before they find another.
Maybe your son or daughter has a MARRIAGE BREAKUP with no place to go.
Sometimes HEALTH ISSUES-CAR ACCIDENTS make it impossible for them to work, support their family and need help—sometimes there are grandchildren involved--a place to stay for a little while, to get back on their feet. We have all been there! And what do we do?
Parents go out of their way to welcome them back into the family home—clear out dad’s office—set up a new bedroom for the family in need.
Just like the father in our story—--REORGANIZE OUR LIVES—GIVE LOVE--USE OF CAR-provide daycare or baby- sitting—slip them some cash!!
We give them places of honour. OPEN OUR HEARTS –and HOME.
Everyone is enjoying the party, eating, singing, laughing and dancing, everyone except the oldest son.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER SON IN THE STORY?
What about the oldest brother?
How many of us, I wonder, identify with him?
The older brother is like a lot of us.
He gets up and goes to work every day and tries to be responsible.
He feels it is expected of him.
So we can understand why he would be upset with his baby brother. I worked like a slave—never disobeyed- never had a party for me and my friends.
I’m sure some of us left the nest and need rescuing, while some who stayed home, became bitter over the deal they got.
I recognize there are some who live in despair thinking life has dealt them a bad hand—yet they have managed to live success lives-never earned a big salary, but enough to raise a family--have a roof over head–let’s face it we can always want more---but sadly these people feel they were not treated equally—they feel abandoned. Why should they come to the party?
The older son had trouble understanding his father’s LOVE was always there for him and he refuses to join in the festivities..
But his father GOES OUT TO GET HIM, tells him “SON, YOU ARE ALWAYS WITH ME, AND ALL THAT I HAVE IS YOURS” and tries to have him understand, HE IS LOVED, his brother was LOST and is FOUND, was Dead but now is ALIVE, so let’s us all celebrate.
As we make our way through life, we all become either the parent-the young son or the elder brother in the story.
We all starts out perfect and due to life experiences--some good, some bad, we fail to become who we think we should be, some fall away from the family and friends.
We need throw away the things that are blocking us from receiving THE ALL EMBRACING LOVE GOD IS ACHING TO GIVE US, ” even when we don’t deserve it.
STORY: My nephew was like this young man.
--Well raised by a single parent
--Had a good education Masters in Psychology
--2 marriages didn’t work
-suddenly disappears somewhere in Toronto
-not to be heard from for 4-5 years-
family searched everywhere
-He finally phones his mother
-family raise $ to bring home
--comes in old clothes no job-no $
“He was lost but now he’s home.” No questioning--no chastising- The family is mended! What did we do?
Family threw a PARTY for him—a big celebration.
Now he has a new life, found a job, made contact with his children all because of the love and support he received from his family.
For a period of time-it seemed that Jesus was lost.
---The powerful Roman rulers had won
----they had crucified Jesus
---- his followers discover the empty tomb
--- Jesus was lost.
But the story doesn’t end there!
The Wonderful thing is God is throwing a BIG PARTY –A LOVE FEST for Jesus-WHO WAS DEAD BUT NOW IS ALIVE—so let’s all celebrate.
This party started (3) weeks ago at the beginning of Lent, and will reach full swing on Easter Sunday when we celebrate the resurrection of God’s son- Jesus Christ.
Let all of us use the 40 days of LENT and prepare for THE PARTY. It will be a joyous occasion full of laughter, music, singing and praising
“GOD WHO LOVES and CARES for everyone!”