The Joy of Easter is Within You! Focus Scripture: Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her. John 20:18 Easter by Madeline Wallace…
Focus Scripture: So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away.
What do we do with Holy Saturday? The first Holy Saturday was the Sabbath for our Hebrew ancestors in faith, who followed the historic Jewish rituals of their day with reverence and devotion. The Roman soldiers rested and relaxed; there was little trouble on a Sabbath.
Focus Scripture: When Jesus had received the wine, he said “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Jesus says, “It is finished,” and then he dies. For some of us, life is finished long before we draw our last breath. The best explication of this comes from The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a sermon he delivered November 5, 1967, at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia:
Focus Scripture: Jesus said,…“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
I love Fred Phelps, founder of independent Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, and head of the church until he was excommunicated last year. Fred Phelps has been an outspoken hater of LGBTQ folks and has demonstrated at military funerals, harassing the families of slain soldiers and presenting God as a vengeful God. Still I love Fred Phelps.
Focus Scripture: When he had gone out, Jesus said,
“Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.”
Just before Jesus makes this statement, he has told Judas to leave the Passover table so that Judas can turn him into the authorities. Jesus immediately says that in this action of betrayal, Jesus and God are glorified. In this text, the term “glorified” refers to the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. So what this passage is really saying is that the act of Jesus sending Judas to betray him is the very act that killed, resurrected and ascended Jesus. Easter is here because of a betrayal blessed by Jesus. This betrayal causes God and Jesus to be glorified within and through each other.
Focus Scripture: Jesus answered them…”Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
We don’t need to be farmers to understand how a single grain bears fruit. It dies. We know it in our own lives. The Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas of Grace Church in Amherst, Massachusetts, asked her congregation:
Triumphal Entries: Who Wins? by Connie Takamine Focus Scripture: The crowds that went ahead of Jesus and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna…
Focus Scripture: This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
“Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
The glorious exaltations of the first Palm Sunday were, “Hosanna! Hosanna!” Five days later the echo of those words was, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
When I worked as a pastor, I saw people attach themselves to churches for a variety of reasons. Some came for preaching, some for the music, some for worship. However, the single most important factor seemed to be how they felt about the other people in the pews. People came to church to see each other. “How shallow,” I thought disdainfully.
Focus Scripture: To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6 Lenten Practice: Reflect on Romans 8:6. Make a conscious effort to be more observant of…