Weekly Lectionary for the 3rd Sunday of Easter – April 30, 2017

April 30th, 2017 by

COLLECT

O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Old Testament

Acts 2:14a, 36-41

Peter Addresses the Crowd

14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.

36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off-for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

New Testament

1 Peter 1:17-23

17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially,live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.[a] 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

Gospel

Luke 24:13-35

On the Road to Emmaus

13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.

17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas,asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

19 “What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

Friday Epistle – April 28, 2017

April 28th, 2017 by

Dear Friends,

Towards the end of the gospel reading from Luke 24 for Sunday we hear our travelers reflect,

 “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” v.32

What will set our hearts on fire again for our Lord Jesus or as someone put it, how to share “a common enthusiasm for the raw relevance of Jesus…God’s priceless Son!”*

From the scripture above, we can at least discern 2 ways to ignite our hearts: 1. Being with Jesus, in his presence, in prayer, and; 2. Reading the words about the Word.

When I read this blog by one of our members, Leah Singleton, I thought of another way to be excited about Jesus all over again, i.e. the scripture that says,

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matt 6.21

Give, invest, make Jesus and his Kingdom your treasure and your heart will come alive.

In addition to blogging, Leah is traveling to Kaosa, Ghana.  From May 20-July 29th she will be working with a local NGO called Patriots Ghana as a Project Coordinator for their Child Labor and Trafficking prevention, awareness, and advocacy project. And she’ll also be doing research on a possible correlation between family planning and child labor.

She has already connected with our 2 partner bishops in Ghana, Bishop Edmond and Bishop Cyril.

It’s a true joy to share in this ministry with her, and let’s do remember to pray for her, and let’s listen as she reminds us – It’s a joy to give!

Blessings to You All!

*from THE HOLY SPIRIT – SHY MEMBER OF THE TRINITY by Frederick Dale Bruner

 

Choose Joy

2 Corinthians 9:7 “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

A few weeks ago, I came to a realization: I’ve spent way too much time recently feeling sorry for myself. While there are most definitely difficult seasons in life (Ecclesiastes 3:4), I realized that it was time for me choose to be content. In short, I realized the necessity of choosing joy.

 

I think it’s important to distinguish here between “happiness” and “joy.” I believe happiness is a fickle state of being contingent upon life circumstances. Christian joy, as defined by pastor and theologian John Piper, is “a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world.” Christians aren’t called to be perpetually happy, but I believe finding joy to be a continual process in the Christian life.  I believe this joy is a choice. Choosing joy looks like finding things to be grateful for when my alarm goes off for my morning class. Choosing joy looks like acknowledging the supremacy of God in less-than-ideal circumstances. Choosing joy looks like cheerfully giving-my time, my heart, and my money.

 

If you’re like me, giving financially is the most difficult. “I’m a broke college student,” I tell myself. “When I have a job, when I have money of my own, then I’ll give God some of it.”

Yet, giving financially is a lifestyle, a measure of where the heart’s at.  And it starts now.  I’ve gotten to the place where I understand the importance of giving, and do it now. Still though, I struggle with a legalistic view of the action. This view of giving says that God loves me more because I give money to the church. It emphasizes giving as a chore I must complete, not as the act of worship that it is. It places my salvation on me, instead of on God where it belongs.

 

Simply stated: legalism is guilt from obligation when I don’t give, instead of joy from freedom when I do.

In an effort to avoid legalism, I sometimes find myself not wanting to financially give at all. In thinking this, I realize that I am completely missing the point:

We are called to give not because we have to earn God’s love, but because cheerfully giving is a result of understanding that we are loved by God (2 Corinthians 9:7).

 

If you, like me, have been giving out of obligation or guilt, I encourage you to talk to God about it. Tell Him that your heart isn’t in the right place, and ask Him to show you how to choose joy-in your life and in your giving. Cover your gifts in prayer. Most importantly, thank Him for the gift of giving.

In 2 Corinthians 9:6-15, Paul ends his description of the cheerful giver with this: “Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!” (v. 15). This sentence serves as a perfect reminder that “every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17).

In short, we give because God has gifted us so much more than we could ever hope to give to anyone else. Just look at Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

“And that’s something to be joyful about”. – Leah Singleton

 

Graduation Sunday – May 21

April 21st, 2017 by

 

 

If you have a graduating high school senior, we want to celebrate this incredible milestone with you on Sunday, May 21, during the 10am service!

Please email Erica Stephenson at erica.stephenson12@gmail.com, by May 7 with your graduate’s full name, high school they are graduating from, a senior picture, and their plans for the future.

Holy Communion and Holy Week 2017

April 20th, 2017 by

 

Holy Week is a special time of year as we reflect and remember the sacrifice Jesus paid for sins.

 

This year, Holy week was observed from April 9  starting with Jesus’s last arrival into Jerusalem in what is remembered as Palm Sunday. Holy Week concluded with the remembrance of his crucifixion on Good Friday on April 14.

You can watch the family of New Covenant Church remember this special time of remembrance in our video recap here.

Community Easter Egg Hunt 2017

April 20th, 2017 by

 

The  Community Easter Egg hunt was held on April 8, 2017.

 

You can watch our video recap here.

Weekly Lectionary April 16, 2017 Easter Sunday

April 16th, 2017 by

Easter Sunday

Year A

To see the April Sunday Server Schedule, click here.

 

Maundy Thursday

 

Old Testament

Exodus 12:1-4; 11-14

The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread

12 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, 2 “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. 3 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb[a] for his family, one for each household. 4 If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat.

11 This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.

12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord.

13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

14 “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord-a lasting ordinance.

New Testament

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

 

Gospel

John 13:1-17;31b-35

Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet

13 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.

3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;

4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.

5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial

31 When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him,[a] God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.

33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Good Friday

Old Testament

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

The Suffering and Glory of the Servant

13 See, my servant will act wisely[a];

he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.

14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him[b]-

his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being

and his form marred beyond human likeness-

15 so he will sprinkle many nations,[c]

and kings will shut their mouths because of him.

For what they were not told, they will see,

and what they have not heard, they will understand.

53 Who has believed our message

and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,

and like a root out of dry ground.

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,

nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,

a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.

Like one from whom people hide their faces

he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

4 Surely he took up our pain

and bore our suffering,

yet we considered him punished by God,

stricken by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,

he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was on him,

and by his wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

each of us has turned to our own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,

yet he did not open his mouth;

he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,

and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,

so he did not open his mouth.

8 By oppression[d] and judgment he was taken away.

Yet who of his generation protested?

For he was cut off from the land of the living;

for the transgression of my people he was punished.[e]

9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,

and with the rich in his death,

though he had done no violence,

nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,

and though the Lord makes[f] his life an offering for sin,

he will see his offspring and prolong his days,

and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.

11 After he has suffered,

he will see the light of life[g] and be satisfied[h];

by his knowledge[i] my righteous servant will justify many,

and he will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,[j]

and he will divide the spoils with the strong,[k]

because he poured out his life unto death,

and was numbered with the transgressors.

For he bore the sin of many,

and made intercession for the transgressors.

New Testament

Hebrews 10:16-25

16 “This is the covenant I will make with them

after that time, says the Lord.

I will put my laws in their hearts,

and I will write them on their minds.”[a]

17 Then he adds:

“Their sins and lawless acts

I will remember no more.”[b]

18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.

A Call to Persevere in Faith

19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Gospel

John 18:1-19:42

Jesus Arrested

18 When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.

2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.

4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”

5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.

“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

7 Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”

“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.

8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”[a]

10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)

11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

12 Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him 13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year.14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.

Peter’s First Denial

15 Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, 16 but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in.

17 “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter.

He replied, “I am not.”

18 It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.

The High Priest Questions Jesus

19 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.

20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”

22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.

23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” 24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Peter’s Second and Third Denials

25 Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?”

He denied it, saying, “I am not.”

26 One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” 27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.

Jesus Before Pilate

28 Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”

30 “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”

31 Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”

“But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected. 32 This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die.

33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”

35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”

36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”

40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.

Jesus Sentenced to Be Crucified

19 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3 and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.

4 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” 5 When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

6 As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”

But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”

7 The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”

8 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, 9 and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”

11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to youis guilty of a greater sin.”

12 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”

13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaicis Gabbatha). 14 It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon.

“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.

15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”

“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.

“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.

16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).18 There they crucified him, and with him two others-one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: jesus of nazareth, the king of the jews.

20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”

22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

24 “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”

This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,

“They divided my clothes among them

and cast lots for my garment.”[b]

So this is what the soldiers did.

25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his motherthere, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman,[c] here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

The Death of Jesus

28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,”[d] 37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”[e]

The Burial of Jesus

38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.[f] 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Easter Sunday

Old Testament

Acts 10:34-43

34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached- 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen.41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen-by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

New Testament

Colossians 3:1-4

Living as Those Made Alive in Christ

3 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your[a] life,appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Gospel

John 20:1-18

The Empty Tomb

20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”

18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Good Friday Epistle for April 14, 2017

April 14th, 2017 by

Dear Friends at New Covenant,

 

“Do you know what today is?” I asked Eli as we waited for our haircuts.  “Yes, it’s Good Friday,” he said.  “And do you know what happened on this day?” I went on.  “Yes, Jesus died — can I have a lollipop Papa?”  “Sure, and you know that because he died you and I have eternal life.”  “Yep, I do.”

 

And he does — A few weeks ago Eli said to Mia, Barbara, during school time, that he was really excited about, and looking forward to, seeing his first father when he goes to heaven.

 

I am so thankful for the church year.  It lays out for us the gospel in a way that we can follow Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.  (The gospel, the good news, is an event before it is a doctrine.)  And we are currently at the pinnacle, the high point, the most holy time of the year – the Paschal Triduum.

 

THE DAYS OF THE PASCHAL TRIDUUM

It’s also a bit overwhelming to try and know what to grab from it and share with you all.  So here are just 2 tidbits, a painting and a song, from my Holy Week encounters for your Triduum.

 

— This painting by Holbein has come to mind each time I have done the Stations of the cross this week.  I first encountered it in Dostoevsky’s THE IDIOT.

 

 

Portraits apart, this is perhaps Holbein’s most striking image. Since Dostoevsky’s observations in the nineteenth century, which dwelt on the forbidding aspects of physical decay and bodily corruption, the painting has been seen as the product of a mind steeped in the apocalyptic horrors that were unleashed by the first phase of the Reformation. But what is known of Holbein’s phlegmatic interpretation of the human condition belies this interpretation. Modern authorities suggest that Holbein intended to stress the sheer miracle of Resurrection and its imminence, since the minutely-observed level of decay in the gangrenous wounds suggests that we see Christ’s body three days after death.

— And I love this song by Rich Mullins and as I have read the gospel for Sunday you can’t miss that for Mary Magdalene, Jesus is her one thing.  Is he mine?  Yours?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bM-84FX_-c8

 

My One Thing

Rich Mullins

Everybody I know says they need just one thing
And what they really mean is that they need just one thing more
And everybody seems to think they’ve got it coming
Well I know that I don’t deserve You
Still I want to love and serve You more and more
You’re my one thing
Save me from those things that might distract me
Please take them away and purify my heart
I don’t want to lose the eternal for the things that are passing
Cause what will I have when the world is gone
If it isn’t for the love that goes on and on with

[Chorus]
My one thing
You’re my one thing
And the pure in heart shall see God
You’re my one thing
You’re my one thing

And the pure in heart shall see God
Who have I in Heaven but You Jesus?
And what better could I hope to find down here on earth?
I could cross the most distant reaches
Of this world, but I’d just be wasting my time
Cause I’m certain already, I’m sure I’d find

[Chorus]

Every night and every day
You hold on tight
Or you drift away
And you’re left to live
With the choices you make
Oh Lord please give me the strength
To watch and work and love and sing and pray
Cause who have I in Heaven but You Jesus?
And what better could I hope to find down here on earth?
Well I could cross the most distant reaches
Of this world, but I’d just be wasting my time
Cause I’m certain already I’m sure I’d find

You’re my one thing
One thing
You’re my one thing
The pure in heart, the pure in heart
One thing
And I know that the pure
That the pure in heart that the pure in heart shall see God
And I know that the pure in heart shall see God
And I know that the pure
That the pure in heart that the pure in heart shall see God
And I know that the pure in heart shall see God
And I know that the pure
That the pure in heart (that the pure in heart shall see God)
And I know that the pure in heart shall see God
That the pure in heart (that the pure in heart shall see God)
And I know that the pure in heart shall see God
And I know that the pure

Songwriters: RICHARD MULLINS

© Universal Music Publishing Group

For non-commercial use only.

 

Blessed Triduum to you all!

Building Bridges with Plastic Eggs – A Thank You

April 13th, 2017 by

 

 

As we prepared for the event that morning you heard colorful plastic eggs being snapped together, about 5000 in total, before they were thrown out on our front lawn. You smelled the grill being fired up for another great picnic.

 

 

 

You heard our 100 Days of Summer  music playlist in the background setting the stage for a worshipful day. You smelled the sugar rising from the 200 candy bags that were sitting on the welcome table. You saw several of us setting up the Easter Story Egg sets on tables in the courtyard. So much preparation from so many from our church family goes into a day like this.

 

We talk about this gathering being one where we build a bridge to our community. Both as a whole and on an individual level – person to person. As I continue to hear the stories of that morning I am convinced that this is exactly what we did. From a family who has now come to 3 community events in a row who were recognized by a familiar face when they came back (Fezziwig’s Christmas Party, Elf Movie Night, Easter Egg Hunt), to conversations that were had with families who were putting together the Easter Story Egg sets – we are building a bridge of relationship.

 

I don’t know where God will take these bridges that we are building, that’s up to Him. It is on us to be faithful with who and what he puts in front of us. This is what we do together.

 

So thank you for praying generously, for snapping eggs together, for putting baggies full of 11 tiny pieces together for the Easter Story Egg sets, for cooking hotdogs and making cupcakes, for stepping out of your comfort zone to meet someone new, for capturing the day in pictures, for decorating the tables, for donating candy, and SO MUCH MORE!

 

 

Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.”

Matthew 10:5-8 MSG

Weekly Lectionary Readings – April 9, 2017 (Palm Sunday)

April 9th, 2017 by

Year A

Collect:

Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

OLD TESTAMENT

Isaiah 50:4-9a

 

The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,

to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.
The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears;
I have not been rebellious,
I have not turned away.
I offered my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;
I did not hide my face
from mocking and spitting.
Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
and I know I will not be put to shame.
He who vindicates me is near.
Who then will bring charges against me?
Let us face each other!
Who is my accuser?
Let him confront me!
It is the Sovereign Lord who helps me.
Who will condemn me?
They will all wear out like a garment;
the moths will eat them up.

 

New Testament

Philippians 2:5-11

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death-
even death on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

 

Gospel

Matthew 27:11-54

Jesus Before Pilate

11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge-to the great amazement of the governor.

15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisonerchosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus[a] Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.

19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”

20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.

21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.

“Barabbas,” they answered.

22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.

They all answered, “Crucify him!”

23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”

25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”

26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

The Soldiers Mock Jesus

27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there.37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is jesus, the king of the jews.

38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue himnow if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

The Death of Jesus

45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[b] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[c]

47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”

48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and[d] went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

Friday Epistle for April 7, 2017

April 7th, 2017 by



Several years ago, I proposed to Marci and she accepted. Afterwards, we announced our good news to our families. Sound familiar?This involved going to various homes we both knew well, (we grew up in them) and telling people who loved us (and anticipated that this news would eventually arrive) that we were getting married. Simple.Amazingly, this obvious next step created odd feelings in us both as we made the drive from place to place. Excitement, anticipation, and some real anxiety. We wondered if they would join us in our celebration. (They all did.) We wondered if they would wonder if we were old enough. (We might not have been.) I wondered if her father would bury me in the back yard. (He didn’t.)

The feelings associated with that day had nothing to do with the roads or addresses that were involved. It was the moment that cast all these familiar places with a new glow. For us, it was a happy set of announcements to finish a beautiful morning.

Sometimes, events grant familiar places new meaning. Events stamp a space forever and may hallow or desecrate places which were beforehand common or unremarkable.

It helps me to remember moments like this, and to remember that Jesus had been to Jerusalem many times before.

He and his friends had climbed these familiar hills and this familiar road into the Holy City as they gathered for worship, feasts and obedience. They and many other pilgrims had gathered in the familiar or rented rooms to share the memory of Exodus year after year. From the days of Jesus’ childhood with Mary and Joseph, a personal and communal storehouse of the familiar yet unrealized story of final redemption and release shaped within them through the gathering the sharing and the return.

Jess returns now with his friends and his mother and with many from the towns and villages where he has ministered, and Jesus determines that this year will be different.

The roads, the psalms sung on the journey, the destination, the commitment to remember and hope are all in place.

Yet Jesus will reshape this week into a new form that will never be forgotten. Into the familiar, he will pour not simply new meaning, but himself. He will announce a renewed covenant, and complete the annual sacrifice, and confront those who mistreat God’s faithful people both inside and outside the nation. He will make this annual series of days into a Holy Week; made holy by His presence in spite of the great gathering of evil that presumes to destroy him. A deliberate climb that will not stop until he is seated at God’s right hand.

All that is familiar to us, made memorable by creed and collect and readings year by year. We have an opportunity to let this memory be made new in us in the coming week.

Join us as we feast and celebrate with our community tomorrow morning at 11:00 am for the Early Easter Egg Hunt. Take a picture of yourself or your child sharing a moment of conversation or excitement on a sunny spring morning.

Join the palm procession as we begin Holy Week during the morning service. (It’s ok if everyone steps out of their pews to take the short, brisk walk round the sanctuary. The acolytes will guide us safely back to our places.)

Come to the Stations of the Cross one evening this week at 5:00 pm to read and pray through the trial and death of Jesus this week.

Remember the model of servant ministry that our Lord gives us in the basin and towel of Maundy Thursday and hear again Christ’s direction to love one another and to receive his gift of Holy Communion. We will gather at 7:00 pm.

Good Friday gives us the chance to sit humbly and gratefully with the horror of the cross that won our deliverance, and you can pray with others at Noon and at 7:00 pm. The church will be open from Noon to three for quiet prayer and reflection.

Easter Sunday begins at sunrise (7:00 am) at Central Winds Park. Bring your neighbor, lawn chairs, and prayers for the good news to open hearts and change lives.

We will celebrate Easter here at 8:00 am and 10:00 am. Bring your stored-up “ALL…together nows….”and invite a neighbor to join you as we mark and worship on the highest day in our faith and hope.

You may say, rightly, that you’ve marked these days before, with fond memories and familiar activities. That’s good.

It was good in Jerusalem in the years before Palm Sunday.

But perhaps your neighbors have not yet traced the steps of our Lord through his holy week. Our children may not yet be familiar with the saving events that changed everything from death to life.

And as we honor the work of Jesus this Holy Week, we may boldly seek the presence of God by His Spirit, and Jesus may meet us in these familiar places and change everything for us.

Expectation begins with the possibility that things may be different. Jesus enters Jerusalem this week expectantly. Let’s follow him.
See you Sunday!

Christopher+