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)

Weekly Bible Reading Plan – Nov 6-13 – King of Kings

The center column holds the main text for each day, while the right column includes secondary texts.

Basic Tips:1.) Use a translation you can understand. If new to the Bible, try the NIrV or The Message, which are both available online. 2.) Use a kids Bible with kids. 3.) Keep a pencil and notebook around to write down questions, observations, and conclusions. 4.) Have fun. Use your imagination and your brain.

matt-21-1-11-reading-plan-nov6-13-2016-king-of-the-whole-world

Questions to Guide You:

This week is Election week, and in God’s providence we will read about King Jesus entering Jerusalem. We will see that his campaign was not applauded and his platform rejected. We will pray for our government, and we will see God use rulers in the past.

  • Matt 21 is the triumphant entry, or as close as we get to one. It is the equivalent of an Inauguration ball. What seems off about it?
  • Matthew calls Jesus king in verse 5, but the actual rulers of Jerusalem are Roman occupiers. How would it feel to celebrate the 4th of July, while being under German or Japanese control (if we lost WWII)? That’s the situation here for Israel.
  • What does the prophesy in Zechariah 9 promise? What things will happen when the King comes? Matt 21 is a preview of Rev 1. What happens then?
  • 1 Tim 2 instructs us to pray for our leaders often and everywhere. Today during voting and results announcements, pray that God would bless our leaders with wisdom and humility.
  • How can God use godly leaders? How can God use ungodly leaders? If you are disappointed with the results, how can you pray for your enemies and trust God with the results?
  • Ezra 1 tells of an ungodly king, Cyrus, who does a ton of godly things. He is not a Jew and yet God uses him as a shepherd and a benefactor for his people. How does God use this unbelieving ruler? How can God use the person elected yesterday?
  • Daniel 4 shows how the most powerful ruler ever, learned humility. How did it happen? What does Nebuchadnezzar acknowledge in the end?
  • Pray our rulers learn the same lessons in your own words.
  • Psalm 2 talks about a conspiracy of worldly powers against God and God’s king. Does this world/election feel like a conspiracy against God? Transform Psalm 2 into a prayer.
  • Psalm 118 is quoted in Matt 21:9. What stands out in this Psalm? How is the Psalm good news to us?

If you are new to reading the Bible and would benefit from a brief orientation, download this How To Use This Book. If you want dig a deeper into the Bible, download this Guide to Inductive Bible Study.

EXTRA SERMON – How Not to Be Anxious During an Election

Every so often, I try to share extra sermons on relevant topics that I think are helpful and frankly, better sermons than I could preach. Personally I try to listen to multiple sermons during the week to feed my faith. I find them easier than books often.

Here is a sermon in light of the upcoming election. It will not tell you who to vote for or not to vote for. It will not bash a candidate or bemoan the state of politics. Instead it talks about the biggest elections in Biblical history and what they show us about God and Politics.

Click HERE to watch "How Not to Be Anxious During an Election" by John Ortberg

Click HERE to listen to the Podcast of "How Not to Be Anxious During an Election" by John Ortberg

Pastor John Ortberg is the pastor of a large Presbyterian church in California and the author of a ton of books. His podcast is one of my favorites.

 

 

APRIL 5 – EASTER – IT IS DONE!

IT IS EASTER!
Time to Celebrate!

Easter-ItIsDone Whole
Sunrise Celebration @ 6:30AM in the Cemetery

We’ll start our Easter Celebrations in the same kind of place, where Easter began, a graveyard. What makes Easter Easter is the death of death, so we’ll celebrate in the abandoned home of the dead. If that sounds cryptic, it’s not, it’s just that unfathomably good news. This service will be a short and intimate.

Main Easter Celebration @ 9:45AM in the Fellowship Hall

This is going to be a party! We’ll celebrate with breakfast and coffee, as we start the process of wrapping our heads and hearts around Jesus’ Resurrection. We’ll celebrate in some familiar ways and some unique ways including composing a Flowered Cross and a huge Stained Glass Window art project. This celebration will run straight into our 11:00AM worship service to create awesome time of worship. Get there early for a good seat.