Special note from the webmaster: That morning upon entering the church, we were told about Nelson's passing. The atmosphere in the Church was quite somber as the last we had heard, Nelson was in good spirits and fighting against that terrible cancer...
Beyond Our Horizons
(I dedicated this service to Nelson Weippert, my favourite preacher and good friend. Nelson was a true Christian gentleman, unselfishly giving, together with his wife, Sharon, to the community around him. Nelson looked at God not as the grand old man with a long white beard, but more like an unseen deity without regard to gender or any other human limitation. This is made clear by the benediction Nelson always used, which I include after this message).
When I was a young boy living on Argyle Ave. in Verdun, my father and I had an interesting talk about the future, specifically my future. I had asked him a few questions in the past, but those were the questions of a toddler, like “Will I keep growing until I hit the clouds?” or “will I be hundreds of years old some day?” He had answered all my questions, but sometimes he’d say, “OK, that’s enough. Let’s pick this up another time.” I sensed a degree of frustration at times like that.
But this time, it was different. This time I wasn’t a toddler any more, but a regular young man of around 10.This time he was asking me questions. Questions like, what did I want to be when I grow up? Where did I want to live? Have I thought of being a farmer, or a scientist? And so on. Well, after a little thought, I said to him. I think I want to be an engineer, and I want to build cars. I’ll work for a big company like GM. I’ll make a good salary, get married, have kids, and buy a nice house, maybe a split-level, and when I turn 65 I’ll retire with a good pension.
This kind of floored him for a bit, but then he bit into a question I’m sure he figured I couldn’t handle. He said, “What about after that?” “After that,” I said, “I’ll have a really good retirement for ten years…and then I’ll die.
Say what? Ten years old! He wasn’t even asking me a question about it. No, I laid it all out for him. This was the master plan by the 10-year-old master. He didn’t really want to question it because for the 1950’s it wasn’t really such a bad plan.
So, let’s fast-forward 65 years, shall we? That would be to today! If the master plan by the 10 year old were to be fulfilled, some time this year you folks would be singing, “Nearer My God to Thee” over my casket.
But let me be frank. Given a choice, I’d sooner stick around a bit longer.
Is that any different for any of us? Even the strongest believer wouldn’t say, hey! Take me. I want to be with God. Not if we’re still in reasonable health. Not if we’re not suffering. Not if we still have loved ones close by. You see, God made our earth for our pleasure. He made it for us not only to exist from day to day, but so that we can take pleasure in His creation. He never meant for us to make it easy to leave. God gave us this wonderful earth so that we can immerse ourselves fully in its fruits. And that includes using all our talent, all our skills, all our waking moment to appreciate what we have and to make sure it is preserved for the next generation, and the one after that, into a limitless future.
At least that is what I believe!
We are approaching Lent, a time when Jesus Christ looked carefully into his coming ministry. He knew the hour of ministry was at hand. He knew it had to start, that he had to make a start. But he had to be very clear he would go about it right. He already knew that he was about to embark on a journey greater than any man – or any woman – had ever taken before. He also knew that the end of that journey would culminate in a great sacrifice, one that would require him to go to the covenant, the agreement made by the prophets with God, that he, Jesus Christ, would give up his life on God’s altar.
Isn’t that a humbling thought? And for what? What possible reason would Christ have to give up his own life in such a manner.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
There is our answer. Jesus gave up his life out of love for us, his children, his brethren, his friends. He did it out of love. Maybe that’s what drove the apostles from the upper room, when they too realized that Christ’s reason for such a sacrifice was unselfish love to all of them, to all of us. When the apostles were troubled by the seeming finality of their lord’s coming death, he said to them in John 14, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me.2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.’
Yet we are still troubled. We don’t see this place. We don’t see the Father. We think of him as remote, as in the clouds or in the ether somewhere. We refer to him as a ‘He’ because Christ referred to him in that way. But why should we get bogged down by gender?
I have mentioned before that when my mother-in-law was close to death she asked me in these very words: “What do you suppose happens when you die?” Yes, what do you suppose happens? It was a tough question. I myself have allowed that question to be asked in my prayers, in my meditations, in my dreams. The answer I gave her came out of those meditations, out of those dreams. I said to her, “I believe you come face to face with God in the most amazing experience you have ever known. You become one with God.”
And she said, “I hope so,” and her eyes told me she was content. Remember these words by Christ in John 17. Jesus prayed for all of us, not only for his apostles, but for everyone. For you. For me. For every man, woman, and child under creation
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who [j]will believe in Me through their word; (In other words, by their example, they will show their belief) He goes on to say “21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
24 “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
See, the answer again is found in love. We leave our doubts behind when we cross the street to help another in any unselfish way we can. When we concentrate on the needs of our neighbour over our own, when we reach our hand to the refugee, when we offer food to the starving, when we push a stranded stranger out of a snow bank, when we strive to remember a name (one of my personal challenges}, when we turn our attention to the elderly, when we begin to realize that there is no colour barrier, that there is no gender inequality, when we speak to our children as equals, when we decide to say every day as we rise, “I believe, I believe, I believe.”
This life here on earth, in our material world, is not all there is. In the late 1800’s in Concord, Massachusetts, a group of men and women met to meditate and to pray. They called themselves, the transcendentalists. Quite a mouthful, I know. They were the first of the hippies, in a sense. They were the legacy of the apostles in another sense. They studied the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu holy book which included the thoughts of the Hindu religion. They found that Christ’s words resonated throughout this book also. And why shouldn’t it? The truth about God is a universal truth. The truth about love is a universal truth. These men and women, Thoreau, Emerson, Alcott, and others were philosophers. They were vegetarians. They were Spartan in the simplicity of their lives. And they were deep believers. Bronson Alcott, the father of Louisa May Alcott who wrote the classic novel, Little Women, was so strict that at one point in his life he and his family refused to wear leather shoes because leather came from animals. Bronson kept himself and his family in poverty because he truly believed what we often say only in prayer, that God will always provide. Let me quote these line from a book I have read in the past, “In the bitterness of one harsh winter, such as we are familiar with, the Alcotts ran out of firewood. Bronson brought his family together and asked that they all pray for help to God who never failed them. The next morning, looking out on the snow-covered road, the family saw a huge jumble of tangled firewood. With shouts of joy, Alcott’s ‘little women’ gathered it up. During the night a cart laden with firewood had collapsed and the carter had gone on empty with his disabled wagon. While it may have seemed like an accident to some, to Bronson it was no accident but the hand of God.
Too often, nowadays, we fail to see the hand of God in our daily lives because we are impatient, we don’t slow down to measure the pulse of the universe, of God himself, living within us. This is not a male God, nor a female God, but the God of love. And we must approach him in a way that acknowledges his oneness with us. When David Thoreau, another of these transcendentalists lay dying, a friendly caller dropped in on him and said, “Well, Mr. Thoreau, we must all go – nice man, what? The sick man looked up with a smile and said faintly. “Yes, but death is as near to you as it is to me.”
Now, God may decide not to take me yet, so my master plan of age 10 may not turn out exactly as I foresaw it in 1954. In fact, I won’t be disappointed if I messed up miserably with my prediction because, in the words of Robert Frost, the American poet, “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, miles to go before I sleep.”
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Nelson’s Benediction: May the love of God, our father, the comfort of God, our mother, and the joy of Jesus, our brother, be with each of us as we leave this place. Go now, in peace.
When I was looking through my computer notes for some inspiration to write about Nelson, I came across this file simply labelled ‘Nelson’. I opened it up to see what it contained and found a poem I had written two years ago but had forgotten. At the time, I had seen and heard Nelson a couple of times, but couldn’t remember his name:
One day I went to church when I wasn’t going to,
and I heard a man with a message,
and I saw him loud and clear.
You see, it wasn’t the content or the way he said it,
it wasn’t the scripture though he knew it well.
It was the man himself, he spoke like a friend
and I saw in his eyes - I see them clear -
I saw a small twinkle like a jolly Kris Kringle
and I knew that this coming to church to just hear him
was the event of my day, this one holy Sunday.
Now, this man made me feel like I’d known him forever,
and yet I’d just seen him a time or two before.
And this day when he spoke he spoke of a whole people
who suffered together beset by the strong.
I turned to my wife, ”Do you remember his name?”
“Who? Why him. The one with the beard like the Baptist.
The one up there in the pulpit, speaking of injustice.
Speaking in a way I picture Christ himself might speak,
kindly, and softly, not like a preacher, but drawing a picture,
more like a neighbour speaking of crops, telling a story
of a great man in Africa, one called Mandela,
who suffered in jail a very long time.”
“No,” she replied, “I don’t remember his name.”
But then he kept talking, and he spoke of his subject again,
this Mandela who suffered more than any ten men should,
but survived, and forgave, and showed the world
the profile of a real Christian, one who perseveres like Job
and loves like Christ…and then…and then I remembered.
The man he referred to with whom he shared a name.
And the name, it was Nelson. And I sighed.
I was finally satisfied.
CALL TO WORSHIP:
ONE: The darkness is gone
ALL: Bright light floats into this new day of hope.
ONE: Those who went to the tomb received good news.
ALL: Christ was not there!
ONE: Christ is risen in our hearts and in our spirits.
ALL: Christ is risen from the dead! Alleluia!
WELCOME: Greetings and peace from our Lord, Jesus Christ! He is Risen! He is Risen
indeed! Welcome to all who have come to celebrate with us this Easter morning. We are
thankful that you are here at Rockburn Presbyterian Church to celebrate the resurrection
of our Lord and Saviour. This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us be glad and rejoice
OPENING HYMN: Jesus Christ Is Risen Today
OPENING PRAYER & THE LORD'S PRAYER:
Loving, Powerful God, joy floods over our souls on this day! Christ is risen! Fear is vanquished! Open our hearts and our spirits to receive fully the joy which has been given for us! Let us celebrate the victory of Christ and the hope for the future. Lord, help us to live in the hope and grace of Easter Sunday every day. Christ is Risen: the world below lies desolate. Christ is Risen: the spirits of evil are fallen. Christ is Risen: the angels of God are rejoicing. Christ is Risen: the tombs of the dead are empty. Christ is Risen indeed from the dead. Glory and power are His forever and ever. And because He lives, we pray together: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors, and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
EASTER CANDLE LITURGY:
ANTHEM: Above All
SCRIPTURE READINGS: I Corinthians 15:1-11
I Thessalonians 4:13-18
A PRAYER OF HOPE, JOY, LOVE AND LIFE: This prayer was written by Halley Gerth.
Dear Lord, thank You for the gift of hope You gave us on Easter morning. Because of You we know that no problem is too difficult, and even death does not have power over us.
Thank You for the gift of Joy You gave us when You were resurrected. Because of You we know that no matter how challenging life may be, in the end we will rejoice again. Thank You for the gift of Love You gave us when You laid down Your life. Because of You we know that there is no sin too great to separate us and we are incredibly valuable to You
Thank You for the gift o Life You gave us when You left the tomb. Because of Easter we know the world is just the beginning and we will spend forever in heaven with You.
We celebrate You, Jesus, with hearts full of praise and gratitude for who You are and all You've done for us! Amen.
The greatest offering comes from God, whose love is unending. Our ministry is to spread the Good News that Jesus Christ is alive. Our offerings help us to share the News, so that people who are longing for a living God, may come to know Jesus.
Give, that we might share the Great News with our words, our ministry and our lives. We give in the name of the Risen Lord! Offering Received:
God of all ages, You have emptied the tomb and set us free from our burdens. Hope has overshadowed fear. Faith has gained victory over doubt. Today, we recommit to offering comfort, hope and faith as your generous disciples to others who are driven by fear, neglect and doubt. We offer these gifts in honour of Your Easter promise. Alleluia and Amen.
HYMN: The Day Of Resurrection
A NEW CREED:
This is a creed that is an affirmation of faith based on a contemporary
view of Christianity. Let's say it together:
We believe in God, the power of life, love and being that flows through the universe. We believe in Jesus, who revealed the Good News of our connectedness with God and with all people, who was compassionate and stood up for justice, even if it meant losing His life, and who gave people an experience of God by demonstrating this power of life, love, hope and being.
Through His words and example, we believe that we, too, have this power and the capacity to give people an experience of God by living life fully, loving with our whole heart and striving to be all we can be. We believe in the communion of saints, who are a people walking together, engaged in the search for meaning and the quest to be connected with the Source and Sustainer of all that exists.
MEDITATION: The Hope Of Easter
Welcome to Rockburn. This is the best place you can be on this
Resurrection Sunday. This is exactly where God wants you to be this morning. We are all gathered here together on the most important day of the Christian year.
Those of us who are here this morning are filled joy and hope as we
celebrate the Risen Christ. But there are a lot of people who are looking for joy and hope in this world today. Unfortunately, most never ask the question, can we find hope in the Bible? Did you know that the word hope is mentioned 129 times in 121 verses in the Bible? The Bible is very specific about the definition of the word hope. In the New Testament most of the verses refer to hope as salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
It is made clear that Jesus is our hope, as He is the Word of God. I Peter 1:3 says; "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
In the period of Lent leading up to this most miraculous day we talked
about renewal and reflected on the trials and tribulations that faced our Lord.
Throughout the whole time Jesus was preparing us for the hope of new life — a rebirth that would guide us and comfort us so that we might reach the kingdom of God. The center of our faith is knowing that God is in each and every one of us.
We followed Jesus to the cross and now we are here, celebrating the Risen
Christ. The resurrection of Jesus changed the world. All the sins of every single person were paid for by Jesus Christ when He died on the cross. Today is a day of life — a day of hope.
There have been so many disturbing stories in the news in recent weeks
and months. Stories of terrorism, white nationalism, natural disasters, plane crashes, and the list goes on. When we hear this kind of news we have to ask ourselves, "What kind of world do we live in?" We watch the news and can't help but ask that question. On the other hand, when we watch a beautiful sunset, or see a child playing, or take a walk and see the flowers blooming and hear the birds singing, the question, "What kind of a world do we live in?" has a totallydifferent meaning.
The world of war, persecution, famine, racism does exist. I have heard it
referred to as a 'Good Friday' world. Jesus was tortured and crucified on Good Friday, but He rose again on Easter morning, bringing hope to His followers.
The story of the empty cross and the empty tomb is a source of hope and joy for Christians around the world. All our hope as Christians is based on the Resurrection. The Apostle Paul said, "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins." John tells the story of the Resurrection from the point of view of somebody who was actually at the empty tomb, and as somebody who actually saw the Risen Christ. John's words are still heard today.
We hear him saying to us, along with Mary Magdalene, "I have seen the Lord!"
And now there is no doubt — we have a hope and a future.
Let's listen to the story of Jesus' resurrection:
The women who had seen where Jesus was laid had gone home that sad evening to prepare more spices and ointments for the body of Jesus, because in the fading day it had been hastily prepared by Joseph and Nicodemus.
Now early in the morning they came, bringing their precious spices. They didn't know that Pilate and the Jews had sealed the tomb and set a guard of soldiers there. As they came through the darkness, they said to one another, "Who shall roll away the stone from the door of the tomb?"
But one of them came before them. Mary Magdalene, alone, but unafraid, approached the place just after the angel of God had rolled away the stone and the Master had come forth in glory. The Roman soldiers, white and trembling, had fled from the scene. All was still when Mary came.
(Verse 1 of "In The Garden")
In the early dawn, Mary Magdalene saw that the stone was rolled away from the door of the tomb. In great fear she turned and ran to find the disciples.
She found Peter and John, and she said to them breathlessly, :They have taken the Master out of the tomb, and where they have taken Him I do not know."
At once Peter and John started running toward the tomb. Meanwhile the other women came to the tomb and found the stone rolled back from the door.
They ventured in, but found no body of Jesus where they had seen Him laid two days before. They didn't know what to think.
But suddenly there stood by them two angels in dazzling white. They were frightened, but the angel said to them, "Why do you look among the dead for Him who is alive? Remember what He told you while He was still in Galilee, He must suffer death, but that He would rise the third day?"
Then they remembered, and leaving the angels, they fled back to the city.
They found the disciples, with others of the company, and they said to them, "The Lord is risen!" And they told them what they had seen and heard. But the disciples didn't believe them.
Peter and John, however, were running as fast as they could to the tomb.
John outran Peter, and came to the open door, and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying there folded; but he didn't go in. Peter, coming up, passed him and entered. John then joined him, and they stood looking in wonder and awe.
Then they remembered what Jesus had told them, and they believed. And they ent back home.
Mary had followed them, but she could not go so fast as they. And now she stood alone at the mouth of the tomb. She wept. Stooping down, she looked in.
And there through her tears she saw two angels in white, one sitting where Jesus' head had lain, and the other at the place of His feet. And they said to her, "Why are you weeping?" She answered, "They have taken my Master away, and don't know where they have laid Him."
(Verse a of "In The Garden")
Mary turned around and saw Jesus standing there. But she didn't know it was Jesus. He said to her, "Why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?"
She thought it was the gardener, and she said, "If it was You, Sir, who
carried Him away, tell me where You have put Him, and I will take Him away."
"Mary!" said Jesus. She turned and said, "Master!" and fell at His feet. But He said to her: "Do not detain Me; for I have not yet gone up to My Father. But go and tell my brethren I am going up to My Father and your Father, My God and your God."
Then He disappeared.
(Verse 3 of "In The Garden")
The Resurrection reminds us of our union with Christ. The Resurrection is central to the message of the Gospel. The Resurrection gives hope beyond this life. The Resurrection joins us to an eternal kingdom. The Resurrection motivates us to live a godly life by fixing our hope on the future in Christ. The Resurrection affirms an immortal life in God's presence. The Resurrection declares the ultimate triumph of Jesus over sin and death.
If we nurture our Christian lives in hope, we can be prepared for what
comes by living in the hope that is ours in Jesus Christ.
Billy Graham spoke of the hope of the resurrection. He said: "There is hope that mistakes and sins can be forgiven. There is hope that we can have joy, peace, assurance and security in the midst of the despair of today's world. There is hope that Christ will come again. There is hope that there will come a day when the kingdom of God will reign and triumph. Our hope is not in our own ability, or in our goodness, or in our physical strength. Our hope is instilled in us by the resurrection of Christ. Eternal life is yours if you believe in Jesus Christ and invite Him into your life."
Let us pray: Our Father, we thank You this morning for the triumphant
Christ and His glorious victory over death. The resurrection of Your Son has given us new life and renewed hope. May the hope and joy of Easter, and all the blessings of Easter, be with us this day and all the days to come. Amen.
Palm Sunday (Luke 19: 28-40) The Path to the Kingdom
We have spent the last several weeks, through our Lenten journey, listening to Jesus' words as he preaches the Sermon on the Mount. This morning, as we observe Palm Sunday and Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, we come to the final portion of his great sermon.
So as we hear these closing remarks from Jesus this morning, our task is to figure out how this all fits together; how Jesus' preaching on the mountainside relates to his final march to the cross, and where we stand in the midst of this great kingdom which Jesus established through his life, death, and resurrection.
This period of the Christian year places a large focus on one of Jesus' most important orations: The Sermon on the Mount . In it, Jesus advises us on the ways of the kingdom: What it truly means to be blessed and to share that blessedness as we live as salt and light in the world.
His words help us consider the call to perfection and the radical love that it requires, and the humble practices that keep us focused on the Lord of our lives.
This is a lot to take in, and as we consider all these lessons of this greatest Sermon, we should place it all in the context of the events that happened on this week roughly 2000 years ago. It was on this very day so long ago, that the gospels tell us Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem.
This was the beginning of the end of his ministry. For three years, he had traveled all over the Galilean countryside. He had devoted himself to teaching about God's Kingdom and offering a glimpse of it through healing, forgiving, and serving. He had touched people with the good news of God's love, and had given them renewed hope that God was yet upholding his promises.
And now those people are praising Jesus, the Son of David. As he entered Jerusalem, he was hailed as King and treated as royalty, with people spreading palm branches, and even their own clothes, before him.
But this is where Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount become so crucial. Those people who had watched Jesus' ministry unfold, some of whom may have even heard him as he preached on the mountainside; those people who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem with great fanfare...these are the same people who in just a few days will be judging Jesus.
But they don't just judge him, they also condemn him! And yet, here in the ending of his great sermon, Jesus could not be clearer, "Do not judge." he says. "Don't worry about the speck in your neighbor's eye until you have taken care of the plank in your own eye."
I think Jesus understood that humans would judge one another. He saw how we set ourselves up as moral guardians and critics of one another. When Jesus tells us not to judge, I don't think he means that we shouldn't have high standards of behavior for ourselves and our world, but that the temptation to look down on others for their moral failings is itself a temptation to play god, and thus to lose touch with the true Lord of our lives.
And I also think Jesus knew he would fall victim to human judgment in the vilest way. But therein lies both the mystery and the greatness of what happened on this week so long ago; Jesus takes human sin and self-righteousness, he exposes them for what they are, he deals with them in a violent death on the cross, and yet allows mercy to triumph over all! But that mercy is empty if we continue to act like we are the supreme judge, if we refuse to acknowledge God for who he is, the merciful judge of all. And how different would our lives be if we lived without rendering judgment on others and instead made our sole focus bearing witness to God's mercy?
Ultimately, that's what this whole sermon has been about; the transformation that occurs in our lives because we follow Jesus, because we imitate his love and his mercy, because we bear witness to all that he is and does. Being a disciple, being a Christian means far more than simply affirming that Jesus is a great prophet or teacher. Being a believer means that we do more than just call Jesus "Lord." Being a Christian means that Jesus really is the Lord of our lives!
You know, 2,000 years ago, when Jesus entered Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey, the crowds that had followed him for so long came with him. They rejoiced to see this king entering his great city, and they cried out, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!" It sounds a lot like those folks that Jesus talks about here at the very end of his sermon, doesn't? "Not everybody who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will get into the kingdom of heaven. Only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter."
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, it was the last leg on his way to the kingdom, and he was surrounded by people who were saying, "Lord, Lord!" And again, at the end of the week, they cried out Jesus' name over and over again when Pilate gave them the choice of who would be crucified.
Following Jesus on the way to the kingdom requires much more than just saying his name. It is so easy to fall into this temptation to call Jesus "Lord" without actually obeying him; to hear his words without actually acting on them.
Do you see that? This is the point that Jesus is driving home as he draws his sermon to a close. Being a part of God's kingdom is a whole way of life. It is not just another thing to do, one check on a long list; it is a response to God who shows us how to live through the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It is affirmation in Christ our Lord, but it is also faith; it is following all of Jesus' instructions from the Sermon on the Mount, and as Jesus tells us so plainly, it is doing the will of the Father.
So what is the will of the Father, what is the ultimate way to the kingdom? It's what we've been talking about for the past few weeks, all these things that we have learned from Jesus as we have listened to him preach the Sermon on the Mount. It is the way of faithful endurance that follows Jesus in every step, even when it involves suffering.
And in case we have forgotten, he reminds us one more time right here at the end of the sermon. Jesus' teachings, demanding though they are, offer the only path to true life. So what is required? "Ask...seek...knock..." Have faith in God to provide for what you need, seek him above all else in prayer, do not worry about the troubles of this world, but know that God will take care of you. Yet even more than that, treat others just the way you want to be treated.
We serve others because we are grateful to God who loves us. And in that love, we are reminded that this life is not all about us. It is about what God is up to in this world, building his kingdom, and calling each of us to be a part of that as we share his love with others. "On this hang all the law and the prophets."
"Don't judge, so that you won't be judged."
Love your neighbors, but love your enemies, too. Remember this: 2,000 years ago, Jesus was revealed as a king, not because crowds of people followed him around and hailed him as king, but because he hung on a cross and died out of love for all people, and especially those who put him there.
That is the way of the kingdom: Not empty prayers and praises, not selfish seeking, but pure love lived out in our lives every single day.
(Palm Sunday Prayer)
God of transformation, we are reminded this day that Jesus' ride into Jerusalem was more than a show, more than a simple provocation, more than the beginning of a cute celebration. It was a signal that things are changing, an unmistakably potent message to the powers that be that the world as we know it is becoming the world as it should be. It was a radical act of defiance directed against those in his day who wielded power through violence, oppression, and tyranny.
It is no less radical, and no less tame, for those who do the same today. This simple ride reminds us — and tells the whole world — that you are indeed coming to make all things new. You are coming to turn weapons of war into instruments of peace. You are coming to release those who find themselves in all manners of bondage: chains injustice; chains of addiction; chains of conformity and apathy.
You are coming to provide for the poor: food for the hungry and shelter for the homeless. You are coming to assure the dignity and equality of all who are marginalized or oppressed. You are coming to end violence and divisions, to provide safe communities and opportunities for education. You are coming to offer healing and wholeness, comfort, consolation, and hope. You are coming to transform all that we know. You are coming to save us.
But like humble Jesus riding into town on a lowly colt, you aren't coming in grandeur, you aren't coming with thunder and lightning, you aren't making an epic entrance. You're coming through the mystery of love incarnate, through your church empowered by your Spirit, through lives transformed and inspired, through ordinary people like us, blessed by you to do extraordinary things.
Come, gracious God into a world that longs for change, a world that needs your love, a world full of your own children, a world ripe with hope and potential. Blessed are those who come in your name, 0 God.
We have come.
We will go.
Today, we have a celebration!
We celebrate the Baptism of Hollianna Lewis Neverett
Proud Parents: Emma Langlois & Jordan Neverett
Godparents: Diane Lewis & Kristopher Neverett
Grandparents: Yvonne Langlois & Michel Langlois
Karen & Harry Neverett
Minister: Rev. Randy Barrington
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