New Living Translation (NLT)
A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.
1 From the depths of despair, O Lord,
I call for your help.
2 Hear my cry, O Lord.
Pay attention to my prayer.
3 Lord, if you kept a record of our sins,
who, O Lord, could ever survive?
4 But you offer forgiveness,
that we might learn to fear you.
5 I am counting on the Lord;
yes, I am counting on him.
I have put my hope in his word.
6 I long for the Lord
more than sentries long for the dawn,
yes, more than sentries long for the dawn.
7 O Israel, hope in the Lord;
for with the Lord there is unfailing love.
His redemption overflows.
8 He himself will redeem Israel
from every kind of sin.
New Living Translation (NLT)
A Valley of Dry Bones
37 The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. 2 He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. 3 Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?”
“O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.”
4 Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! 6 I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
7 So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. 8 Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them.
9 Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’”
10 So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army.
11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone. Our nation is finished.’ 12 Therefore, prophesy to them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the Lord. 14 I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the Lord has spoken!’”
New Living Translation (NLT)
32 When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him,a]" >[a] and he was deeply troubled. 34 “Where have you put him?” he asked them.
They told him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Then Jesus wept. 36 The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” 37 But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”
38 Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance.39 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.
But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”
40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” 41 So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. 42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” 43 Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”
The Plot to Kill Jesus
45 Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen.
MUSICAL MOMENT: Nancy & Gordon “Touch through Me”
TOUCH THROUGH ME
by Barbara Tubbs
Touch through me, Holy Spirit, touch through me,
Let my hands reach out to others, touch through me;
There's a lonely soul somewhere needing just one friend to care,
Touch through me, Holy Spirit, touch through me.
Love through me, Holy Spirit, love through me,
I will be my brother's keeper, love through me;
Hearts are bleeding deep inside, love can dry the weeping eye,
Love through me, Holy Spirit, love through me.
Flow through me, Holy Spirit, flow through me,
Like a river in the desert, flow through me;
Springing power and healing strength, living water pure and clean,
Flow through me, Holy Spirit, flow through me.
My hands will be your hands reaching out to others,
My lips will not be slothful, Lord, to speak;
I will be that good Samaritan to someone else in need,
I will be your house to dwell in, live through me.
Flow through me, Holy Spirit, flow through me,
Holy Spirit, touch through me,
Holy Spirit, touch through me.
CALLED TO BE A POWER O F ONE April 6, 2014
We are well into Lent and over the past few weeks we have been following Jesus journey that leads from life to death and to new birth. we’ve witnessed Jesus preaching-healing-praying-performing miracles; we have seen Jesus was chased out of the synagogue-mocked by the religious leaders-almost stoned to death. What a journey it’s been,
It seems to me, God had a two-fold plan for Jesus’ life. God gave us Jesus to show the power of His LOVE and to have Jesus CONFRONT THE “DOMINATE EMPIRE” that persecuted the Jews.
Since EASTER is the climax of his confrontation I thought we might spend some time reflecting on Jesus’ relationship with the EMPIRE
Jesus set the course of his ministry right from the start when preached in
his home synagogue. He used the text was from the prophet Isaiah as the guidelines for his ministry. Remember those famous words; I come to---
--preach good news to the poor --the “have nots” of society
--freedom for the prisoners --a life free from fear
--give sight to the blind --restore our sight and feel God’s love
--release the oppressed. --to confront the oppressor
Jesus knew about being raised under Roman rule, to be completely DOMINATED by a very oppressive system
The Empire in Jesus day consisted of many forms of oppression including military, occupation, violence, unjust taxation and slavery. It can best be described by an interview I did with Claudius who lived around 30 AD.
He told of how discouraging it was to live under the Roman Empire.
-- only the wealthy hold political office-they were appointed by the Emperor
-- The powerful rich owned all the land and I was a share-cropper- just given
enough to feed my family.
- -he explained of constantly conscripted by the Romans, to dig irrigation canals with no pay and when he collapsed from exhaustion he was whipped.
-- we must call the Emperor Caesar the “Son of God “
--Anyone who speaks against Rome faces death on the cross.
Then there were Religious leaders who imposed the Purity Laws –with over 600 laws for everyday living.
–The emperor in Rome appoints the Jerusalem temple priests, all temple taxes sent to Rome
-- sins could only be forgiven by animal sacrifice in the Jerusalem Temple .
and we had to buy pure animals at the temple.
--If you complain or spoke against the priests or the Temple you face possible stoning to Death.
Surely this is not what God had in mind.
Jesus faced being brought up under Roman rule and a major part of his ministry was to challenge the system on every occasion.
Interesting, if we compare the Empire we live in to the empire of Jesus’ day, there are many similarities. It seems to be the “norm” that a few wealthy will always dominate the majority. We see the middle class shrinking and before long if we don’t confront the Empire it will just few rich and many poor.
Today’s Empire is a system of “global domination” controlled by powerful nations--global economic institutions-- transnational corporations.
-- It’s a nightmare for the poor countries as they are exploited by the rich nations. ---we have a situation where 1% of the population own 80% of world wealth
--The debt of poor countries to the World Bank, continue to increase
--War claims the lives of millions, while millions more die of preventable diseases.
--Climate change, depletion of fish stocks, deforestation and threat to fresh water are some of the devastating consequences of globalization.
And oddly enough each of us participate, knowingly and unknowingly, in “ the Empire” through our role as consumers. We have allowed corporate businesses to control our Government, with money and lobbying, giving these few wealthy companies “domination over our society.”
Living under a Dominate Empire seems to be normal for us- after all, it’s been going on for over 5000 years, letting the wealthy takeover, feeding us their crumbs and controlling every aspect of our lives. We know that God did not sanction a society where a few wealthy and powerful dominated everyone else.
Some 2000 years ago God had a bold Plan, using the POWER OF ONE namely his son Jesus to bring the Empire to its knees. Jesus was to take on the Empire of his day, and bring an end to Rome’s rule.--and demonstrate living in the God’s New Kingdom.
Jesus soon discovered the Priests were always out to get him, remember the incident on Jesus journey to Jerusalem, when he forgave the sins of the paralyzed man and empowered him to walk. Some of the religious leaders objected.—Why does this fellow speak this way?—Nobody can forgive sin but God alone?— only God can forgive sins namely through temple sacrifice. Jesus is forgiving sins outside of from the temple. Jesus was a threat to their livelihood and they started making plans to get rid of him.
Now common sense should have warned Jesus to stay away from Jerusalem - to stay in Galilee or in the desert. Jesus once called Jerusalem “the city that killed prophets” but Passover was like a giant magnet which drew him toward the city. He was not alone, wherever devout Jews lived they had a burning desire to travel to Jerusalem to observe the Feast of Passover. So the city became congested with visitors.
Jesus entered the city in such a way that every eye focused upon him. Remember when Jesus borrowed a colt-how the people were given branches to wave and blankets to spread on the road. This was a planned demonstration.
The parade through the Holy City was an act of courage
--The parade was a bold claim to be God’s Anointed One--
--The parade through the city was a daring plan to confront the domineering power of the Temple and Rome.
**In the crowd that day were RELIGIOUS PILGRIMS from around the world. There were people from Judea, Galilee, Egypt and Greece who had come to spend Passover in the Holy City.
The MERCHANTS were also in the crowd hawking their wares. They cared nothing for Jesus, except that the large crowd he drew gave them an opportunity to make money.
Pilate’s soldiers were stationed on corners of the city to put down any riots. While Members of the religious establishment stood in the crowd disapproving of Jesus and hoping of some way to put him to death.
Notice the first thing Jesus does when he enters Jerusalem is clear the temple of vendors and money changers, he wasn’t just picking on the vendors- it was an act against the entire Dominate System. Jesus is speaking against the corrupt Temple system of worship and the Roman Empire which controlled the people by force. This public confrontation by Jesus against the powerful led to his execution.
I don’t know if God’s plans went wrong in letting the Romans execute Jesus on the cross, a torturous way to die. To the Romans and priests Jesus death was just the death of another trouble maker. But God had other plans for three days Jesus lay in a tomb and when the stone was rolled away, the tomb was empty. God had mysteriously intervened and Jesus was nowhere to be found. This was a new beginning –JESUS SPIRIT was released from the grave to enter the hearts and minds of Christians down through the centuries and is alive in us this very day.
I’ve always found it interesting speaking to those people who say they don’t like to get involved with politics or public policy. When I asked them WHY?—they usually tell me they are just one person, and their voice will not count.
--That must have been the way Jesus felt?
But, somewhere, down through the centuries, we have lost our BOLDNESS. We have become like those DRY-BONES in the desert Ezekiel wrote about; it was God who caused those dry-bones to spring to life, so we too can rely on God’s power to spring us into action.
We marvel at the story we read this morning “the raising of Lazarus after 3 days in the tomb.” Most commentaries emphasize that it revealed the power of God to overcome death and renew life. Metaphorically, God calls us out of the tomb in which we are buried: loss of a love one-addiction-hopelessness-guilt-depression-pain. God offers us a new beginning. For us to be free like Lazarus we must let Jesus unbind and set us free; we must use our new found power to participate in confronting the Empire --to be a POWER OF ONE.
We are familiar with some modern day political heroes who opposed our modern Empire Nelson Mandel—Desmond Tu-Tu and Gandhi, and there are others who work outside the political ring to make the world a better place, I can think of two Canadians Rick Hansen and Craig Kielburger who using the POWER OF ONE have helped thousands of people.
--in 1985, Rick Hansen paralyzed from the waist down, set off to wheel 40,000 kilometers through 34 countries on the MAN IN MOTION WORLD TOUR. His 26 month journey inspired an entire nation to believe anything is possible--$280 million was raised for spinal cord research.
--In 1995, 12 year old Craig Kielburger launched FREE THE CHILDREN. He wanted to free the children from the notion they were powerless to effect change. Today, Free The Children is an international charity with more than 2.3 million youth involved. They have programs in 45 countries and have introduced ADOPT A VILLAGE program in 8 developing countries.
God is not asking us to face death or a life time in jail but God does expect us, each in his or her own way, to stand up against the Empire, it doesn’t have to be something heroic but some act that makes a difference in someone’s life.
Just as Jesus was a POWER OF ONE to change the world- THIS EASTER, God
is passing Jesus’ ministry to us. Now the ball is in our court-- our ministry must
boldly speak out against the present Empire, we are called to confront the
EMPIRE. No need to wait on others. God has given each of us the courage
--to become a POWER OF ONE. AMEN
LET US PRAY:
Lord we have heard your cry and we ask for help to unbound us and set us free. “Give us courage to practice the subversive ideas Jesus taught like “love your enemies” and “love is more important than power” and “be fair to each other, especially the folks who are at the bottom of the heap,” and “it is better to give than to receive,” and “justice shall flow like a river.” Deep in our hearts we know if we decide to take Jesus’ teachings seriously, we would turn the EMPIRE upside down.” (1) Amen