Lent & Easter Sunday 2018

Feb 14             Ash Wednesday     Service of Ashes  6:00pm     Theme:            Prepare Your Hearts

Thoughts:       This is a solemn service of prayer, repentance and the imposition of ashes.  The ashes are a humble symbol of repentance.  The service prepares us for the penitent and reflective season of Lent.

 

Feb 18             1st Sunday in Lent       Theme:            Our Partner through Lent

Scriptures:  Psalm 25:1-10   1 Peter 3:18-22   Mark 1:9-15

Thoughts:       Jesus was baptized as preparation for the ministry ahead.  First, he had to go through the crucible of temptation.  This was not just any temptation though.  Everything Satan threw at him was disguised as a fulfillment of his mission but was really a self-centered disaster in the waiting.  Jesus passed through it sinless.  He knows what we go through and is ready to come along side us to help us through our personal temptations.  Look at your most severe temptations…They are probably well disguised self-centered disasters posing as the fulfilment of a dream.  Comfort, relationship, satisfaction, riches, health, you name it.  Jesus is willing to partner with us, not just through Lent, but throughout life, if we will let him.

 

Feb 25             2nd Sunday in Lent      Theme:  The Cost of Discipleship vs the Benefits of Membership

Scriptures:   Gen 17:1-7, 15-16    Psalm 22:23-31     Mark 8:31-38

Thoughts:       When Jesus told them of his death, the disciples did not want to hear it.  Jesus had told them all about the dream/vision of the coming Kingdom.  They had misunderstood that Kingdom to be an earthy Kingdom with Jesus as King and them as ‘governors.’  Jesus whisks that misinterpreted dream away quickly.  The followers of Jesus the Christ must be willing to lose their lives and all it contains in order to find their lives and live the dream of the Kingdom.  Too often we mistake Church membership for discipleship and believe that ‘with membership comes benefits.’  Christian discipleship is putting our lives on the line, taking up our destiny (our cross) and following Jesus where ever the Spirit leads.  This is not easy, but, wow, what a ride!

 

March 4          3rd Sunday in Lent;  Communion Sunday     Theme: Forgiveness and Wholeness, What a Concept!

Scriptures: 1 Cor. 18-25  Psalm 19:7-14   Mark 2:1-12

Thoughts:       We are all aware that psychological pain can bring about very real physical pain.  Sin separates us from the source of life and breath.  Sin creates a dis-ease between us and God.  This, too, can lead to disease of the spirit, mind and even the body.  The story of the paralytic on the mat has Jesus making a connection between forgiving sin and healing the body.  Let’s dispel one thing right away: God does not punish our sin with disease.  But forgiveness does lead directly to wholeness. When our spirits are made right with God, a completeness or wholeness comes to our whole person; body, mind and soul.  There is good reason Jesus heals the body by forgiving sin.  Healing may be a part of this service

 

March 11        4th Sunday in Lent;  UMCOR Sunday          Theme:            Jesus for the Other

Scriptures:  Eph. 2:1-10  Psa. 107 1-3, 17-22     Mark 2:13-22

Thoughts:       What if the notorious were to show up in our Church?  You know, the drug dealer, the prostitute, the suspected terrorist?  What if they came to the altar at the end of the service and asked to join us as followers of Christ, and afterward threw a great party?  Would you go and risk the whispers of the community?  Or would you stand outside the party and ask why is the Church partying with such people as these?  You know Jesus’ response.  He accepted you; why not them?  Come on, join the party.

 

March 18        5th Sunday in Lent          Theme:            Salvation and Condemnation

Scriptures:  Jeremiah 31:31-34  Psalm 51:1-12  John 3:14-21

Thoughts:       The verses from John 3 contain the most widely known verse in the New Testament.  But we will look not just at this verse but also at the rest of the verses.  The verses that talk of condemnation can be very confusing, and those who want to condemn others will concentrate on them.  Look closely; who is it that condemns?  Not God, not Jesus, but those who will not believe have condemned themselves.  They have sought out the darkness rather than the light.  We live in a dark and sinful world.  Rather than condemning the world – playing God when even God would not condemn the world – we can have the same deep love for those in darkness and bring the light of Christ to them.

 

March 25        Palm/Passion Sunday                Theme:            From Joy to Sorrow

Scriptures: Mark 11:1-11     Mark 14:1-15:47

Thoughts:      Because so few people attend mid-week services, we will make sure that those in attendance on Palm/Passion and Easter Sundays do not go from Palm celebration to Resurrection celebration without the crucifixion.  We will begin with children and adults together processing with celebration and light and music.  We will follow the events of Holy Week with Mark 14-15 as our guide.  We will close the services with silence, darkness and covering the altar in black.  We will anticipate the resurrection having experienced the crucifixion and contemplating its impact for a week.  We will enter Easter the way we left Palm/Passion Sunday.

 

March 29        Holy Thursday;     Communion   7pm-main church

Thoughts:       This is a quiet service of communion, contemplation and commitment.

 

April 1             Easter Sunday;    Communion                   Theme:            The Great “So What?”

Scripture:  Psalm 118   Mark 16:1-8

 

 

Thoughts:       We enter the sanctuary as the women do; just after dawn, in an atmosphere of grief and semi-darkness.  We hear the Good News that he is not here, he is risen.  The whole atmosphere transforms with the news.  We celebrate, but the world says, “So What?  It’s just a myth anyway.”  What do we say?  Are we struck silent that someone would question what we think we hold so dear?  Does our faith and experience speak to a living, vibrant relationship with a risen Christ.?  The difference between a dead hero and risen Christ is the difference between dead religious philosophy and living vibrant Christianity.