In John 15:12-17, Jesus tells his disciples that they are his friends, not just his servants. Friendship includes sharing and upholding common values, but living out those values is motivated and shaped by love and not by fear. Love leads even to a willingness to sacrifice oneself for one’s friends. How do you feel about having such a friend in Jesus, and with others he calls friend?
This Sunday we will read and reflect on the story of Thomas found in John 20:19-31. Thomas was not with the other disciples when Jesus appeared to them on Easter evening. And he has trouble accepting their story. For this reason he has been called “doubting” Thomas. I think this is unfair. My message is titled Faithful Doubt.
This Sunday, May 12, brings together Music Sunday and Mother’s Day. So our worship will be filled with lots of beautiful special music, and my message will explore how God Loves Us Like a Mother. Bring your listening ears and an open heart. I hope to see you there.
On Easter Sunday, two discouraged disciples where heading home to Emmaus, when they encountered a stranger on the road. They poured out their hearts to him as they walked, and listened as he interpreted their scriptures. But it was only when they invited him in, and he broke bread at their table, that they recognized him as Jesus, their teacher who had been crucified. Our risen Lord still comes to us through scripture and sacrament. Thanks be to God.
We have spent a long Lenten season pondering the seven statements Jesus made as he was dying on the cross. At our 7 p.m. Maundy Thursday Service on April 18, we will remember his Last Supper and reprise the Seven Last Words of Christ by Dubois. “It is finished!” Jesus cried out as he died. Will evil and death have the last word? What will God his heavenly Father do now? I invite you to come to worship next Sunday, Easter Sunday, to hear the good news. Christ is Risen! Alleluia.
On this coming Palm/Passion Sunday, April 14, we will begin our worship with a Palm processional accompanied by joyful bells remembering Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey at the beginning of Holy Week. But then we will return to Jesus on the cross. During his three years of ministry Jesus taught us how to live. Here he shows us how to die well. His final two statements as he dies express resolve, faith and surrender: “It is finished.” and “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” I invite you to stop and ponder these words.
The fifth statement that Jesus makes as he is dying on the cross is found in John 19:28; it is a poignant expression of human, physical need, “I am thirsty.” This statement underscores the full humanity of the One whom we confess as “fully human, fully God.” In Jesus Christ the physical and the spiritual were fully joined. Jesus wasn’t just God masquerading as a man. And so Jesus suffered physically and emotionally from hunger, thirst, rejection, and violence, just as we do. Like us, he was also created for relationship with God. And so I will also explore the symbolic meaning of thirst as it is used in Psalm 42:2 “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” Are you thirsty? Jesus was.
The immense suffering Jesus experiences on the cross leads him to cry out to God with the piercing question “Why?” “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus prays, using familiar words from the beginning of Psalm 22. That psalm continues in the same mood of questioning lament, “Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?” (v.2) before eventually turning to trust. What are we to make of Jesus praying this particular psalm as he suffers and dies? What does his cross reveal to us about life, about faith, and about God? Think on that!
On this third Sunday in Lent we will reflect on how Jesus redefined family during his life and ministry, and as he hung dying on the cross. From the cross, Jesus looked down and through his words and actions established a new family. “Woman, behold your son!” he tells his mother Mary, nodding to his disciple John. Then he says to John while looking at Mary, “Behold your mother!” (John 19:26-27) The church is a family defined not by natural kinship but by Christ’s love poured out freely upon all. Ponder that!
This second Sunday in Lent we will reflect on the Second Word (statement) Jesus spoke from the cross, “Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43) Jesus spoke these surprising words of assurance to one of the criminals being crucified next to him. While we don’t know what “paradise” will be like, we do know that we will be with Christ. Even now, today we are with him, and where he is (even if it’s a cross), there paradise is. Now that is some amazing good news!