Monday, March 17, 2008

A New Day - Eastertide Week 1

I offer some starter thoughts and observations here which I have made from the texts for this week. I welcome your thoughts, input, and observations too!

Matthew 28:1-10

1 – “as the new day was dawning” Maybe this is the phrase to key in on for the whole message this week? The basic idea that it’s a new day, a new world, a whole new approach to life now, because of the resurrection. The Hebrew people measured days from the moment of sundown, but this seems to indicate a new way of even measuring time, from the moment of sunup.

2 - Earthquake – a result of the kingdoms colliding together?

4 – The guards shook with fear then fell into a dead faint. How do we know this? I initially had the impression this happened before the women arrived, but if it had, how would we have known that? Then I saw that since it says the Marys went to the tomb in verse 1, that perhaps they witnessed this happen, which is also what contributed to their great fear. Especially since verse 5 gives the impression that the angel immediately spoke to the women?

5 - “don’t be afraid.” – first words of the angel to the women

10 - “don’t be afraid.” – first words of Jesus to the women.

8 – ran, were very frightened, but filled with great joy.

9 – “as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. Jesus came to them, right where they were.

9 - They grasped his feet and worshipped him – totally collapsed in a pile on the ground in front of him.

John 20:1-18

13 - “Dear woman, why are you crying?” – first words of the angel to Mary

15 - “Dear woman, why are you crying?” – first words of Jesus to Mary.

14 – She turned to leave and saw Jesus (even though she didn’t recognize him). He met her right where she was.

16 – She recognizes him when he says her name.

16 – she also turns to him when he says her name, which means she wasn’t looking directly at him. I sort of pictured her standing there talking face to face with this “gardener” but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

17 - “Don’t cling to me.” Why would Jesus say this to Mary?

I get the impression that she has also collapsed into a pile on the ground in front of him. I wonder if “don’t cling to me” was about him presenting her with a task? He had a job for her to do and she wanted to stay there?

17 - “Don’t cling to me, for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father.” Does that mean that once he had ascended she could cling to him?

Mary is in deep sorrow and wanting to find him (thinking he was still dead) in order to continue to mourn. The angels and Jesus both ask her why she is crying. Is this because they want her to realize there isn’t a reason for mourning anymore?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Eastertide - The Present Kingdom

The main idea behind this series is to look at the various passages where Jesus appeared to people between the time He was resurrected and the time he ascended into heaven. When you begin to examine the texts you discover that Jesus does not tell people that he was raised from the dead in order to get them to heaven. Instead, he addresses a present reality in their lives for that moment - for this life. So the main thrust will be to see how the resurrection is intended to provide us with life now, not just life later.

So far the working title I have is The Present Kingdom, but I am super open to suggestions on that. Obviously this about the Kingdom of Heaven being real and present for right now, for life today, so any ideas you have about a series title would be great.

For those of you who are a part of The Door service, you know how we are working to give people a more artistic outlet connected to our services. As a result of that dynamic, we are also planning to use this time as a medium for some of our people to express their ideas through some type of art. I am including the people who have agreed to help with various texts so far, and would welcome any suggestions about other people who may be willing to participate.

#1 - March 23 (Easter Sunday) Matt. 28:1-10, John 20:11-18 Mindy Bohlin (artist)

This is the story of the two Marys and the account of Mary Magdalene meeting Jesus in the garden. We will be looking at how Jesus met them in their moment of grief, providing them with exactly what they needed in that present moment.

Week 2 - March 30 Emmaus Road Story Luke 24:13-34 Lyn Rosten (artist)
In this text Jesus joins these two travelers as they journey back to Emmaus from Jerusalem. We will mainly be focusing on how Jesus joined their journey and wants to do the same thing with us, come and walk beside of us.

Week 3 - April 6 Easter Evening John 20:19-23, Luke 24:35-49 No Artist (yet)
This is the evening of Easter. Reports have already been coming in (from the Marys and the Emmaus travelers) that Jesus is risen. The disciples are gathered together and this is the first time Jesus appears to them, even joining them for dinner. In both of these texts Jesus repeats two ideas "peace be with you," and "the holy spirit is coming." Because of these statements we will be thinking about Peace & Promise.

Week 4 - April 13 Great Commission Matthew 28:16-20 No Artist (yet)
The disciples have traveled to Galilee at Jesus instruction and he meets them there where he provides them with the great commission (Go into all the world and make disciples...). One of the things we will be focusing on is the Greek nuance from the text which could literally render this passage, "As you are going along, make disciples...." This will result in our looking at how we have a role to fill now, in this life. Maybe the idea of a job to do?

Week 5 - April 20 Doubting Thomas John 20:24-29 Jen Klein (artist)
Apparently Thomas was absent in the previous encounters Jesus had with the disciples, so he now appears to him and confronts Thomas' doubts. This will present us with a powerful opportunity to see how Jesus embraces us in the midst of our doubts.

Week 6 - April 27 Lots-o-Fish & Peter John 21:1-25 Kallie Markle (artist)
In this passage Jesus provides for a miraculous catch of fish and then takes a stroll with Peter along the seashore. This is the text where Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him and then tells him to "feed my sheep." Here we will be examining the fact that Jesus is offering Peter complete restoration from his past transgressions (his denial the night of the trial). The main thrust of this message will be focused on how the resurrection means we don't have to be defined by our past.

Week 7 - May 4 Great Commandment Acts 1:1-11 No Artist (yet)
These are the final words of Jesus, moments before his ascension into heaven. In this passage we discover the phrase, "but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you...." This will enable us to discover that the resurrection provides us with Power for Life.

If you have not been a part of this process with me before, let me say that nothing is off limits as far as I am concerned, as long as you are kind. I welcome your input because as we interact together, this can only get better. God has not given me a corner on the preaching market. I am a better preacher because of your willingness to wrestle through the text with me.

Thanks Friends!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

More Questions Than Answers

So I've been wrestling lately with the reality of trying to live in the balance between acting in faith and using our brains to make good decisions. There really is a holy tension there that I think we must maintain if we are going to live well. We have to be people of faith who are always willing to step forward into the unknown with God, and yet realize that he inhabit us by the power of His Spirit to even help sanctify and guide our thinking and reasoning power.

The thing that is so hard for me right now is how this impacts my life as a leader. As someone who has both been called and chosen to be in a position of leadership, how do I help challenge people to step out in faith, and yet also guide us in holy wisdom? When is it time to press forward without knowing where we are going to land, and when is it time to make serious plans and use the creativity God has built within us to come to wise decisions?

I am more full or questions right now than I am answers. That's for sure!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Does This Still Work?

So here I am wondering if I still remember how to use this thing? It's been so long since I have been on here, and I have been so negligent I'm not sure I even know what to do with this. However, I think this could potentially be a great source of outlet for me, so maybe I'll give it a go again, but perhaps with a different twist.

Much of the reason I haven't been on here has been do to the major change in my job within the past 9 months. The bombshell came just before graduation and my mini-sabbatical last April. Lane was resigning. Now what? What was this going to mean for us, for the church, for everything?

Ever since that announcement I feel like I have been walking a tight rope between two opposing and yet, somehow comforting emotions - fear and excitement. It's really hard to put into words, but there are moments when I am so scared I am not really sure what to think. "I have no idea what I am doing. Do these people actually think I know how to lead anything? God have you absolutely lost your mind?" Then I get moments of excitement about what's happening and I can hardly believe I get to be in on this kind of stuff. "I saw that lightbulb go off in your hear just now as I was teaching. You feel like God is calling you to a deeper life? God you did that, and there is no denying it! I can hardly believe this is what You let me do for a job?"

I suppose if it was all one way or the other I would be crazy by now. All fear and I would have quit or been fired. All excitement and I would be so self-confident my head might not fit through a doorway. So I guess a healthy sense of balance between fear and excitement is a good thing.

So I guess I'll just embrace it. I'm excitafraid, and I don't mind admitting it!