Friday, 26 April 2019

Easter means Rejoice! Jesus is alive!

Wednesday, April 24. 2019
Easter means Rejoice! Jesus is alive!

                After the cruel agonizing death that Jesus endured on the cross
there is much to celebrate and give praise to God for as we celebrate Christ’s resurrection! He is alive!
                This past week one of our ladies distributed jelly beans of various colours in Ziploc bags. The prayer she included with the jelly beans expresses the joy and thankfulness we should be sharing about Christ’s gift of new life.
Red is for the blood He gave Green is for the grass He made
Yellow is for the sun so bright Orange is for the edge of night
Black is for the sins we made White is for the grace He gave
Purple is for His hours of sorrow Pink is for our new tomorrow
A bagful of jelly beans colourful and sweet; is a prayer, is a promise is an Easter Treat!
                These jelly beans share the message of God’s creation- from grass, to sunshine, sunset and then introduces Christ’s passion story of love – from the sins and God’s grace given to Jesus’ suffering and hope for salvation.
                What does Easter mean for you? As we enter into this season of rejoicing that Jesus is alive do you believe in the resurrection of Jesus? For if we do then this is the beginning of Christian faith. It is the hope we have that when we leave this earthly life we will not die but our spirits will live forever in God’s promised home.
                Jesus died an awful death; his burial was according to tradition and filled with love from the women who tended to his needs and to the man who gave his tomb so that Jesus could rest in peace. But death could not hold him. He rose from death to live again. And so when the women went to grieve at his tomb and anoint his body there was no need for this. Angels told them he was alive. Another account has Jesus speaking to Mary and calling her by name. She knew and believed. And so others soon learned of the resurrection from death.
                And this story of a man who preached in the countryside, was crucified and buried and who rose again has been told for many generations and in many ways. However we understand the story and however we see Jesus dying on the cross, we must remember that the light of life shone into that tomb and Jesus got up. He left some of the linens there and went out of the tomb.
                Today we believe: Christ has died, Christ is risen and Christ will come again. Just how do you share Jesus’ story? And are you willing to do so in faith?

God of grace and love we praise you for raising Christ Jesus to live again and that by his death and resurrection we may receive the gift and promise of eternal life. Bless us we pray as we yearn to know him and to see him for ourselves. Help us to see him wherever we go and whatever we do for by faith we have become his hands and feet and are called to tell his story. Praise be to you O Christ. Amen.

Friday, 19 April 2019

Out of suffering comes glory!

Wednesday, April 17. 2019

Out of suffering comes glory! This week is Holy Week when we
remember Jesus’ passion and love for his followers and through the ages those who have come to believe that he is the Son of God, Alpha and Omega, the Resurrection and the Life and all of the other names of endearment and titles that Jesus.
                This Holy Week we remember Jesus riding into Jerusalem to the shouts of Hosanna and yet we also remember crowds of some of the same people and many others also shouting, Crucify. As we see Jesus’ facing trials with Pontius Pilate, seeing Herod and Pilate unsure of what to do with him, Pilate lets the crowd decide. Crucify him.
                Crucifixion was considered the worst form of capital punishment known to humanity as those who were sentenced to death would linger on the cross for hours waiting for the pain and agony to stop.
                The cross was a tool by which people who committed crimes were killed. They were nailed high on these crosses and could be seen for miles around. Those who died on the cross suffered not just beatings, and whippings prior to be nailed to the crossbeams but ultimately suffocation as their bodies slumped forward cutting off the ability to breathe. Crucifixion was the ultimately penalty of that time and for Jesus to die this way with was cruel and beyond the punishment his so- called crime called for. Yet what is amazing that today people see crosses all over—Christian churches and people’s jewellery. The reason that the cross is such an important Christian symbol is because there is glory and praise offered to God, His Son Jesus and the Spirit because there is a relationship between glory and suffering.
                Jesus suffered on the cross and yet there is glory because he rose from death. The cross symbolized the place where he died; but the empty cross means that death could not hold him. There is life after death and it is the promise of God that we will one day experience his glory in his presence when our life on earth is complete.
                As we look to the cross upon which Jesus died, yes he did suffer and was in pain and agony. But the important thing about the Easter story is because he rose from death. The cross was the tool by which people tried to kill him, yet he conquered death. The cross is empty and is now seen as a symbol of hope. A symbol of life everlasting.
                Have you ever thought how the cross becomes a symbol of faith, affirmation and joy? What does Jesus’ suffering and death mean as we prepare to honour him in death and praise him on Easter morning?
God of love and life we praise you for your Gift to us in Jesus Christ, who through his passion and love showed us the extent of his mercy. By his death and resurrection we are saved and may receive the gift and hope of eternal life. Thank you God. Amen.

Friday, 5 April 2019

Lent- Easter 2019 “Why Did Jesus Come?”

Lent- Easter 2019 “Why Did Jesus Come?”
April 3, 2019

                Mary Magdalene did something that no other human person
did. After the days of darkness when Jesus’ body lay in the tomb, Mary is the first at the grave and she will be the first to see the risen Saviour.
                Mary went to the garden broken hearted but went with a devotion that surpasses the certainty of death. She was hurting- the rabbi her teacher and guide was not dead. She was truly grieving Jesus’ death and not anticipating anything but doing the tasks of caring for the dead body. She loved Jesus and was filled with faith. She would come to know what crying in the night and then experiencing the joy of the morning.
                So when Mary arrived at the tomb and found it empty she was not grieving but was afraid. She ran to tell the disciples because she was afraid someone had stolen Jesus’ body. Returning to the tomb with Peter and John she began to mourn again. The death she had witnessed would have been called traumatic but now Jesus’ body was gone. Peter and John left to return to the rest of the disciples not really knowing what was going on. But they too were afraid.
                Mary was in the garden and crying. But then when Mary looked into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had ben lying. They asked, Why are you weeping?”  She answered—“Because they have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid Him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there but did not recognize him. Jesus asked her, “Why are you crying?” Whom are you seeking? Mary thought this man was the gardener and wanted to know if he knew where Jesus’ body was. But then all Jesus said was “Mary.” She knew who it was… Rabboni Teacher!
                It is significant that Jesus appeared to a woman first. In first century women were generally viewed as being of low value and considered of little or no importance—but not to Jesus. He valued women and treated women with a dignity and honour the world of that day would have found shocking. Mary was broken hearted and grieving and wept at the side of the tomb. When she looked inside she saw the angels sitting where Jesus’ body had been. Their appearance was amazing but she only asked them about where Jesus body had been taken. Then turning around Jesus was in front of her but she did not know him.
                But when he spoke her name—she knew Jesus. She was shocked with joy. She answered teacher, master, equivalent of my dear Lord. She was no longer afraid she is in Jesus’ presence and he is alive!

Questions for Reflection
How important is it for you for someone to call you by name and to say it, spell it or write it correctly?  Jesus says Mary and her grieving turns to joy. Jesus knows Mary and she knew him because he said her name.
Jesus knows you  and calls to you like a shepherd knowing his sheep. Are you answering his call to hear the good news of his resurrection?
God of grace and love we praise you for Mary’s faith and hope; for not being afraid to enter the tomb and for grief to be seen by others. Mary did not know the gardener was Jesus but we know that He is the Saviour. Help us in this Lenten season to know who Jesus is as we remember his teachings of love and that he died for us. Amen.
Bill Crowder, For this He Came Jesus’ Journey to the Cross Grand Rapids,MI:Our Daily Bread Ministries, 2019