19 Apr He is risen!
Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed!
There is no greater call & response in the church than those two sentences. What a joy it was to celebrate together Sunday morning under the bright light of the empty tomb. Thank you again to everyone who played a part in serving in worship over Holy Week. Lots of worship opportunities means lots of help needed. Thank you!
We’ve always got room for more helpers…so talk to Liz or just jump in where you see a need.
Special thanks to all our musical leaders. We’re down to 3 keyboard players at the moment with Josh picking up a season of teaching & training in and around Albury. I’m excited for him, but am well aware of the multiple ways we’ll all miss him. I’m especially going to miss drinking coffee, reading the Bible & praying with Josh on Wednesdays at Melba’s.
I’m there at 11…and I’m recruiting someone to sit in Josh’s chair…or if I can get a group of guys there…we’ll move to a bigger table!
I’ve marked a few “milestones” over the last week.
Yes, I turned 60 on the 10th, but more significantly I have read & prayed through the 50 Promises God has Made to You bookmark Sue & I handed out a few weeks ago. It took me a bit more than 50 days…I mislaid my copy for a bit…but I found it again & just finished. I’ll probably do it again in a few weeks’ time…and then again. (We found a typographical error…and if you’ve read through them you probably noticed that John “5” is supposed to be John 6. Oh well…)
The other milestone is a bit of a challenge for me…I’ve been invited by Australian Christian Resources to write a month’s worth of devotions for the 2023 edition of Time Out. I get August 2023. They’re following the assigned daily readings from a Lutheran Lectionary, so I have been asked to think devotionally on some passages in 1 Corinthians. I need to be finished by the end of August this year so they can edit, format, proofread & print them by late November. Then the books will be available for purchase as Christmas gifts to begin use in January 2023. Please pray for that effort for me. I’ve read all the assigned texts & have noted the specific verses in each text on which I think I’ll focus. I want to start writing this week and maybe be completely finished by July. I’ve not ever done this sort of writing in this sort of volume before. And of course there are length & style guidelines I need to follow. Like I said…this is a challenge for me & that’s part of the reason I said I would do it. Old dog is going to learn a new trick…or something like that.
A few weeks ago I mentioned that I’m in an interesting phase of life where I’m seeing the small details in Scripture unlike ever before. It makes reading the Bible more fun than ever because I have no idea what the Holy Spirit will cause my heart to notice. For instance…I’m in the latter chapters of Acts at the moment.
I’ve shared before that Acts 19 is one of those chapters where we ought to just watch the Spirit at work in the church, & pray for similar results. Up to that point, Paul & the travelling evangelists have had a massive success in Ephesus. Paul has been there almost 3 years & people are turning away from pagan idol worship in droves & even burning their old pagan books & idols. Millions of dollars’ worth of pagan merchandise goes up in flames in a big bonfire. Of course the idol-makers are seeing their business model crushed by the work of the gospel & raise a big stink. A couple of Paul’s friends are seized by the mob & dragged into the amphitheatre where their lives are pretty much at stake & if the city clerk hadn’t intervened & dispersed the crowd, surely someone would have been killed.
But the part that caught my attention…? Acts 19:32: “Inside, the people were all shouting, some one thing and some another. Everything was in confusion. In fact, most of them didn’t even know why they were there.” Folks will go along with the mob not even knowing why they’re going along, where they’re heading or how it will all end up. There was about to be Christian blood spilled in the Ephesian dust & most of the folks didn’t know why. I know folks who live much of their lives like that. They just follow the crowd with no clear picture of where the crowd will get them. They live like the crowd, look like the crowd, go along with the crowd, give in to the crowd…That’s tragic.
Exactly one chapter later, Paul is back in Ephesus heading for Jerusalem where he knows trouble & suffering waits for him. A crowd of disciples try desperately to talk Paul out of going where he knows he might die. With great pain in his heart Paul says he knows there’s hardships coming his way because of his devotion to Jesus, “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” (Acts 20:24) There is no mob, not even a well-intentioned mob that gets Paul off course. People need to know about Jesus & if he has to die doing the telling, he’ll die facing the right direction doing what God has called him to do. But he knows he’ll never see Ephesus again so he says this…and this is the piece that also caught me…(Acts 20:32) “I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself.”
Paul reminds us that the presence of God with us & the power of the gospel working through us is sufficient to strengthen, sustain, & see us through whatever this life holds until we enter the life to come. We can trust that promise…we have in Christ all we need for every moment, situation, or circumstance in this life AND an inheritance yet to come because God the Father has set us apart for himself. No mob can give me more or take that from me.
God give you all you need throughout this Easter season…and beyond.
Finally…a bit of advanced notice…For the next 6 weeks in worship we’ll be focusing on various parts of the book of Revelation. Let me encourage you to read the first 3 chapters of Revelation in preparation. You can read the whole thing if you want…but at least read Revelation 1 by Sunday. One of the Faith Chat questions will come from that. How’s that for some incentive?
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!