Hearing the Music

Death's Master

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Charles Spurgeon once parabalized (is that a word?) an encounter with death:

But Death said to the man, "I am come for you."
He smilingly replied, "Ah, Death! I know you,
I have seen you many a time.
I have held communion with you.
You are my Master's servant,
you have come to fetch me home.
Go, tell my Master I am ready; whenever he pleases,
Death, I am ready to go with you.
"

How could a person face death so calmly, so confidently? Christians around the world this week are celebrating the answer to that question. Christians can face death confidently because Jesus embraced death on Good Friday and rose victorious on Easter Sunday. This is the reason death holds no terror for the Christian. Christ, our master, has become the master of death, defeating it, as Paul so poignantly says:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:54–57

I can't wait to come together this Sunday and celebrate with you the resurrection of our Lord. We will return to John 11 and zero in on Jesus' declaration: "I am the Resurrection and the Life!"

 

Photo by S. Laiba Ali on Unsplash

Establishing Community

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A couple of weeks ago in this space I wrote how the absence of physical connection over the past year has actually accentuated the realization of the need of this type of community for many. As we near the end of this year's Lenten season and approach Holy Week, we are again reminded of the importance of community in the notes that Jesus sounded during his last few hours on earth. We hear these notes through our Savior sharing the passover meal, kneeling and washing the disciples' feet, giving the mandate to love as he has loved, praying in his high priestly prayer that his disciples would be one and that their unity would be palpably evident to the world, caring for his mother and beloved disciple from the cross even as the weight of the world's redemption pressed down on him (cf. John 13-17, 19:24-27), etc..; in all this Jesus speaks to a way of discipleship that engages one another.

As we come to Holy Week 2021, the hope is that in the midst of our personal meditations we will all find time and ways to follow Jesus' community-oriented discipleship path. As we have necessarily been restricted this past year, it is our hope that most, if not all, of our community will embrace the invitation to share the ministry of presence in one of our five Maundy Thursday services. With both inside and outside offerings and the many services (by extension smaller), our prayer is that obstacles for participation would be removed and that we could reverently come together to worship and be fed. Of course, we do understand the various positions that people find themselves in and will always remain supportive. Please let a pastor, elder, staff member or the office know if there is ANYTHING that we can do to connect with you throughout this Holy Week.

Just a couple of other notes. Look via email for additional devotional material centering on The Way of the Cross to take you through the Holy Weekend. A complete list of Holy Week offerings is in the announcements below. 

Finally, let me end with the mandate that Jesus gave his disciples in John 13:34-35: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

Photo by Kyle Head on Unsplash

Joyful Awareness

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Where do you derive joy from? As the pandemic continues, many of us have been zapped of joy to one degree or another. The "uprootification" (yes, I made that word up!) of different aspects in our lives over the past year can do this - figuring how to work from home, second guessing a kid's runny nose and wondering if they go to school that day or not, difficult relationships with loved ones, and not to mention another Zoom call. The complexity that has been added to our lives can take the joy out of life. Trust me, I know this feeling. Even as the vaccine roles out, the weather warms up, and we seemingly have a better handle on our current situation we still have to navigate complex situations and answers to difficult questions in our daily tasks. This may leave us searching for joy.

I mentioned last Sunday that John 15 is one of my favorite chapters in all of the Bible. It's rich with the grace and goodness of the Father, the love and life of Jesus, and the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Take verse 11, "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." This is a powerful idea. Through our abiding in Jesus, he will put his joy in us. Where does Jesus' joy come from? It is from the Father, as Jesus says, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love...I have kept the Father's commandments and abide in His love" (vs. 9, 10b). An aspect of our union with Christ is we experience joy by remembering our relationship to him. Just as Jesus remembered his relationship to the Father, bringing about obedience, love and joy, we too may contemplate our relationship with Jesus, which brings about our faith, obedience, love and joy. One author puts it this way, "Faith means living daily in the joyful awareness that Christ lives in us" (Anthony Hoekema, Saved by Grace, 1994). Our joy comes from Christ and from remembering that he lives in us.

Christian, as you seek joy today, this weekend, and in the coming weeks remember that our joy will be full in Christ. This means we surround ourselves with things that stir our affections for Christ. For me, a walk outside away from noise will stir my affections for Christ. A good story will stir my affections for Christ. A beautiful piece of design or art, or a conversation with a good friend, these things stir my affections for Christ and lead me to the joy I find in him. When we take time to contemplate this idea and rest in the goodness of Jesus, our saving King, we are filled with a joy the likes of which are unfound in our world.

 

Photo by Jessica Fadel on Unsplash

Posted by Addison Hawkins

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