POST: Why We Party On Easter

Think of the times we party. Now think of the times we absolutely lose our mind in celebration. When Carolina wins a National Title, there is a riot on Franklin Street with trash fires and flipped cars. When Duke wins, students dance around huge bonfires built from all the wooden benches on campus. When Philly wins a Super Bowl no one and no street lamp is safe. When the Allies defeated Germany and Japan, the streets flooded with strangers kissing and dancing together.

We party on Easter, because Easter is the greatest day in history.

Greater than National Championships or even National Victories. Jesus defeated more than Germany, he defeated the actual Axis of Evil. Jesus stomped out more than the Blue Devils, he crushed the actual Devil. He defeated Death and Sin and Hell. All our enemies have been conquered and they now fight a retreating, losing, guerilla battle against God’s Elect.

We party because Jesus wins. The day Jesus died was the worst day in history – God came close enough for us to hug him or hurt him, and we nailed him to a tree, and yet we now call the day “Good Friday” and wear miniature versions of the torture device as jewelry. Why? Because God transformed the worst moment in human history into the best moment – the moment our salvation was accomplished and our sin – the very sin of nailing Jesus – was forgiven.

Easter proves it. Our sin is forgiven, our sentence served, our debt is paid and the empty tomb proves the super abundance of God’s provision. Sin does not win. The devil will not win in your life or your marriage. Brokenness is not final. Pain is not pointless. All crosses, both the ones we suffer and the ones we built, will end in resurrection. That is the point of our art projects, which transform trash into treasure. We built beauty from all recycled materials to remind us that our brokenness too will be transformed.

So we party. And maybe, must one day, our children, our youth, and ourselves will wake up after years away from church, in the midst of immense spiritual agony, and remember a little brick church that parties every Easter, because Jesus is alive, and there is hope for all broken people. Our children may not remember Sunday School lessons or sermons, but hopefully they remember art projects and shouts of victory.

Party on Children. Party on.

BLOG – Easter Art Explained – The Many-Splendored Wisdom of God

On Easter Sunday, we party.

Why? Because Easter is the greatest day in history. All of history, its purpose and its climax are reveled in Jesus’ Resurrection. Death does not win. History is going somewhere. Pain and brokenness are not final. Sin is forgiven. Jesus is Lord.           

             Every Easter we do an art project together as a church to learn with our hands what Andrew is trying to preach with his words – that God makes beauty from ashes, artwork from shattered hearts, glory from dust. So, the art must use RECLAIMED and REDEEMED materials that we transform into something extraordinarily beautiful. As we do this, we find that often the very brokenness of the thing makes it more beautiful and/or perfectly fit for art work. This reminds us that our brokenness will not just be healed back to original, it will be the very things that make us useful in God’s hands. Rather than brokenness or imperfection inhibiting God’s ability to use us, they actually augment our usefulness. That’s why the Apostle Paul can write, “Here’s a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I’m proof—Public Sinner Number One—of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy. And now he shows me off—evidence of his endless patience—to those who are right on the edge of trusting him forever” (1 Tim 1:15-16). Nearly 1900 years later another man whose life had been transformed by the teachings of Jesus wrote it this way, “If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them” (9th Step Promises of AA).

           This year we used hundreds and hundreds of broken crayons to make extraordinary art. They were perfect for something colorful or “multi-splendored” as the Bible likes to say. In all our diversity, we’re a lot like these different colors. Moreover, each of us is broken in some way, some of us discarded, but Jesus does not throw us away, destroy us, or give up on us, instead he starts to transform us. In a creativity and artistry beyond all human aesthetic dreams, God crafts something that is more glorious than it could have been if it was never broken. That is why Ephesians 3:10 describes the church as God’s public, colorful art exposition. Paul says, “God’s intent was that now, through the church, the manifold, many-splendored, multi-faceted wisdom of God should be displayed.”

            It may not feel like it now, but God is in the process of taking all your hurts and flaws, and using them to make you into a masterpiece. God is preparing the shards of your broken heart for resurrection of love and purpose. Nothing in your past will be wasted, even the worst parts will yield their usefulness in God’s masterful hands.

            “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Tim 1:17)

Easter Party Music – HE’S IN ME!!!

The day Jesus arose from the dead was the greatest day in history.

Nothing comes close. Not Christmas, not birthdays, not the birth of a child, not national championships, not even VE Day. Nothing. It is the heart of all Christian preaching in the Bible. It is the axis on which all of history turns. In the resurrection, we see a preview of the end of the story when God will raise all of us to new life and judgment.

On Easter Sunday 2017, we pointed out that the resurrection proves (1) Jesus Christ is LORD and can give the Holy Spirit because he is God; and (2) we are forgiven, and so can receive the Holy Spirit because all our sins have been taken away. So, we can say with confidence, Jesus is not in the tomb, HE’S IN ME!! Jesus lives in me by the power of the Holy Spirit, and his presence in me assures me of God’s love, gives me contentment and God’s peace, and fills me with the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.

But since Easter is a party, maybe these truths are easier to learn through music. So here is some Easter Party Music to help you ponder the Resurrection this year:   

Alive - Hillsong Young & Free

O Happy Day - Tim Hughes

The Anthem - Planetshakers

Because He Lives - The Gaithers

Because He Lives - Matt Maher

Forever (We Sing Hallelujah) - Kari Jobe

How Could a Good God Allow Suffering? – Another Implication of Resurrection

The Resurrection is more than a platitude and more than "pie in the sky" thinking. The Resurrection is the core of Christian teaching and as such has infinite application for human life. Good theology is a source of great comfort. While personal experiences of God's goodness and provision help confirm God's trustworthiness, our overall level of comfort and hope in the Christian Gospel is directly proportionate to the depth of our understanding.
In the face of gross suffering in the world, many people conclude that there must not be a good God in the world, or else none of this pain would happen. But does suffering and evil actually prove that God does not exist or that God is not good? That is the question Tim Keller answers in this podcast presented by The Veritas Forum, and his answer proves that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is more than a platitude. If the Resurrection of Jesus Christ actually occurred, then the whole theodicy debate has been reframed.

How Could a Good God Allow Suffering? Belief in an Age of Skepticism from Veritas [1] on Vimeo.

Here is the link to the Podcast if you want to download it to your phone/iPod. Tim Keller - "How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?" 

Nothing is Wasted – Our Easter Pallet Cross Wall

On Easter Sunday, we make art from used, broken stuff. Last year we made a 12' paper mosaic. This year we made a 4.5'x6' Cross Wall out of Pallet Lumber, and it turned out beautiful. This art is a tangible reminder that God can and will make the seemingly damaged, used, broken pieces of our lives into something useful, beautiful, and saving.

Nothing is Wasted Slide cropped

Next to our cross, there is the following Explanation:

Each of us comes to Jesus just like one of these boards. We come with our own raw beauty, the grains he put in our soul, the unique qualities God invested in us when he knit us together in our mother’s womb, but we also come with our own scars and rough spots, our own weaknesses, failures, and wounds. We come to Jesus with wounds other people inflicted upon us and with our own defects that have harmed others. We come “distressed,” not in pristine, brand-new condition.
Jesus does not reject our imperfections, rather Jesus takes us with all our knots, scrapes, splinters, scars, cracks, and nails and he reworks us into something more beautiful precisely because it was broken and now redeemed. He is so good and so committed that he is able to make beauty from brokenness, beauty from ashes, life from dust, and saints from sinners. Jesus doesn’t find us holy, he makes us holy.
In Jesus’ death on the cross, we see the worst of human sin, but in the resurrection, we see how God could use even that to redeem us. That’s why we call the day, “GOOD Friday,” because what was the worst day in history, God made the greatest. We, and even Jesus, still bare the scars, but somehow God gets more glory and we get more joy as we see just how beautifully God transforms our pain and weaknesses into testimonies of his goodness and faithfulness and artistry. Thank Jesus, that he accepts, redeems, and remakes used lumber like me and you, and makes us into his masterpieces.
In Jesus, we are    Reclaimed     |     Redeemed    |    Remade

As I designed and built our Easter Project this year, these three songs really moved me to gratitude and wonder at Jesus' incredible love.

Elevation Worship – Nothing is Wasted

Jason Gray – Nothing is Wasted

Chris McClarney – Beauty for Ashes

Easter Celebration and Service

EASTER SUNDAY CELEBRATION

March 27

Sunrise Celebration Service 6:30 am

Coffee, juice & pastries FOLLOWING

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CELEBRATION & WORSHIP

9:15 AM - Fellowship Hall

Flower Cross - Breakfast - Celebration

10:30 am Worship Service

 

Maundy Thursday Service

Maundy Thursday Service

MAUNDY THURSDAY SERVICE

March 24 at 7:00 pm

There are some things words cannot express, they must be demonstrated and experienced. The night of Jesus’ arrest, he demonstrated his love in two of the most audacious and even scandalous ways possible in order to leave no doubt. Join us as we relive these intimate moments; as we demonstrate and experience the radical love of Jesus, who died for failures, screw-ups, and know-it-alls. Let us prepare for the horror of the cross and the joy of the resurrection by washing feet and eating the Lord’s Supper.

 

Easter Cantata – March 20

Easter Cantata

Come and share the Joy and Glory of the Resurrection in song and praise as the Chancel Choir performs “O, What a Savior” Easter Cantata on Sunday, March 20.