Dear Messiah family,
I hope you have found meaning in reading the Gospel of Mark. Today’s reading brings us to Good Friday and the final hours of Jesus’ life. Why is it called “good”? None of us who have sat beside someone in their final hours would call that experience good, especially if the dying person was in agony. When we say good, we mean “pious” or “holy.” Some have suggested it was originally God Friday. On this day, we see the clash of two kingdoms. Which one would prevail? According to Mark’s Gospel, Jesus was killed because of the sin of the world. Jesus stood up to the powers of this world and on this day; it appeared the forces of this world had won. But as we will remember on Sunday, the worst thing was not the last thing.
Tonight at 7:30 pm, you have an opportunity to reflect on the significance of what happened 2000 years ago. It is not possible to fully understand what Easter means until we experience Good Friday. Isn’t that true in your life? Good news is always grander when it is born out of great pain and disappointment. Tonight, we will hear Mark’s account of Jesus’ final 24 hours interspersed with choral music and descending darkness. We will watch as the Light goes out – or so it seems. I hope you can join us in person or online.
Easter Sunday. Without Easter, we would not know about Jesus. Without Easter, I think we would be a people without hope. But we have Easter, and this Sunday we will celebrate hope with praise and gratitude for what God continues to do for us and through us. It also appears that spring has arrived. Don’t you feel like celebrating!? Our two worship experiences will be second to none. I can hardly wait for the music, the flower garden, and all of you. At 8:45 am, we will experience organ, brass, handbells, and choir. At 10:30 am, we will experience a band and praise choir that will include most of the cast from the recent Music Man musical. These services will knock your socks off!
Our sanctuary will be filled with guests on Sunday. Here are a few common sense things to remember.
- Say “hello.” Or “Good morning” or “Happy Easter.” It feels good when someone looks you in the eye and greets you. A conversation is not necessary, but an authentic greeting to everyone you see is important.
- If someone is sitting where you normally sit, go and sit somewhere else. That is not your seat even if you’ve sat there for years. If you are upset by someone in your pew, read again Hebrews 13:2 (Don’t neglect to open up your homes to guests, because by doing this some have been hosts to angels without knowing it.) In fact, why not sit in the middle of the row!
- Be helpful. Maybe I don’t even need to mention this, but I will. If someone appears to be looking for something, offer to help. Don’t just point. Walk with them to the nursery or the restroom. Welcome them into your row. You might even save the parking spaces closest to the front door for our guests.
- Be yourself. Simple kindness and good manners go a long way. If you really care about people, it will show.
We are also celebrating life through a special Easter offering. If you missed the short video that describes the recipients, watch this:
Last Saturday, 24 persons gathered for a day of strategic planning. Much of the day focused in on the survey that many of you took. We narrowed our focus areas and have planned a second session on April 30. As we gain greater clarity at that session, I look forward to sharing more.
I need your help. Next week, I am taking my annual sermon planning retreat to develop worship themes for the next year. I can usually detect those themes that resonate in my life, but I’m not just preaching to me. I always want what you hear in worship to be relevant to all of our lives. So if you could take a few moments to send me an email in response to these questions, it will help me in my planning:
- What are the issues facing your family and/or our communities that challenge your faith or lead you to wonder how to respond with faith?
- What questions do you have about the Bible or faith?
- What issues are your friends or family facing who do not go to church? What barriers keep them from church or keep them from seeing that the church/Christian faith is relevant to their lives?
Be blessed on this Good Friday, remembering the greatness of God’s love that shown through the worst that this world could do to God and then prepare yourself for the full power of Easter. Because Christ lives, you will live also!
In Christ’s love,
Please Pray with Me
Gracious God, we pray for the Holy Spirit to break through and renew Messiah United Methodist Church, unleashing a fearless, Spirit-led congregation! Empower our pastors, leaders, and everyone who walks through our doors with the contagious, miraculous, saving message of Jesus. Boldly use each of us, without limits, to reach new people and heal a broken world. Create in us a joyful heart for all that You are doing in and through us to change lives and transform the world. We pray in the precious and powerful name of Jesus. Amen.
Join Us on Easter Sunday
Traditions Worship: 8:45 am | Journey Worship: 10:30 am
Worship Online: Live stream of our Traditions service at 8:45 am and Journey contemporary worship service at 10:30 am every Sunday morning. Prior Sunday broadcasts are available on demand all week at your convenience.