Tag Archives: Worship

Death Gives Way To Victory, But First We Must Deal With Death

The Sunday before Easter gives us an opportunity to deal with the dark themes related to our faith.

In order to deal with salvation, we MUST deal with death.

Jesus told his first followers about his death three times before it occurred. Three time he also shared about his resurrection on the third day. Three times they heard him but never believed the resurrection part. Resurrection sounded too good to be true.

Because Jesus’ disciples didn’t know what to make of his talk about resurrection, they were all the more surprised on the first Easter Sunday morning, bright and early, when the women came to report that Jesus was gone from the tomb.

Surprise turns into worship. When God reveals he is greater than death, we can’t help but to worship.

We don’t have the luxury of being surprised like the first followers were. But we can walk through the themes they had to wade through in order to get to that glorious first Easter.

They had to deal with Jesus’ death: the dark theme that is our focus for the Sunday before Easter.

What To Expect

  • We’ve done some elaborate things on the Sunday before Easter in years’ past, but not this year. I want us to give all of our attention to the words of Christ.
  • We are wrapping up our sermon series, “I Dare You To Believe,” this Sunday. I dare you to believe this statement: God is Greater Than Death.
  • We’re reading from John 12, with a focus for the teaching part of the service coming from verses 23-33.
  • We’ll have some special scripture reading times included in Sunday’s worship. The Gospel of John devotes about a third of his book to the last week of Jesus’ life. I think that’s good counsel for us to give more time to reading about the meaning of Christ’s cross.

How To Prepare

  • Be Present–There are some blessing you can only know through participation. Palm Sunday, or Passion Sunday, makes Easter Sunday better just as the Dark before the Dawn makes the sunlight seem brighter. To experience the contrast between these two Sundays is what makes us appreciate, all the more, what Jesus did for us.
  • Be Prayerful–Our hearts are the target for God’s message. When we’ve dressed our hearts through prayer, we are made fit to be addressed by God in worship. You know the difference between those Sundays when you came into the Lord’s House, prayed up and tuned into what God might reveal to you, and those other Sundays where the distractions of the world and the worries of this life divided your attention. Prayer that seeks to connect us to God makes being present to God a powerful resource for our lives.
  • Be Reverent–There is an enigmatic saying in the the book of Ecclesiastes: It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart. The somber times are the fertile soil for the salvation we celebrate. If every day were a festival day, then no day would seem festive at all. We willingly walk through the sad moments, with Christ, to be delivered to the glorious moments. Reverence is the best attire for the Sunday we deal with Jesus’ death.
  • Share–We shouldn’t keep Christ’s sacrifice a secret. Learning about what his death means might be the key to understanding all that Christianity means for someone on the outside. I hope you’ll find someone to share an invitation with.

The reason we are able to deal with death this Sunday is because we believe “Death Gives Way To Victory…. Because He Lives“. Death is our last and ultimate enemy, but it has been defeated. Remembering how Christ conquered the grave by surrendering to it helps us to celebrate our salvation.

And then one day, I’ll cross the river,
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to victory,
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives!

 

I sure hope you can join us, but if you can’t, follow along here to keep in touch with what’s going on during this season of Resurrection.

pastorburden@gmail.com

Reaching Out, Without Going Out

It’s time to think like a missionary.  We don’t have to travel to Zimbabwe to be a missionary.  We can practice missions right where we live.  Let me show you 6 things that you can do this Sunday that will provide blessings and encouragement to those who will be visiting our church.

1.   …and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Act 1:8  (…or at least the far parking lot.)

Imagine what an impression it will make on our visitors if there are plenty of parking spots close to the building.  We can help make sure our visitors have plenty of close parking spots by getting here early enough to take those spots are the far end of the parking lot.

2.   “…go and recline in the lowest place.” Luke 14:10

I know how coveted those pews along the back are.  I can feel your appreciation for those seats along the aisle.  We all have our familiar spots that we have made our pew-home for years.  But when it comes to having a houseful of visitors, we would be good hosts and hostesses if we gave up the good seats to make sure our guest were well blessed.  I think it would be a valiant missionary gesture to offer our visitors the choice seats instead of making them crawl to the middle of the pew or suffer sitting on the front row.

3.   ‘I will forget my complaint, I will change my expression, and smile.’ Job 9:27

We’ve all known Christians who seems to be in a perpetual bad mood.  Don’t be one this Sunday.  A smile conveys warmth and a welcoming spirit.  There’s so much to be happy about on Easter Sunday.  The music will be uplifting, the crowd will be enthusiastic, we get to celebrate baptisms with those who have come to the Lord, and we get to vividly remember how great our salvation is.  Share the joy in your heart through the smile on your face.

4.   “A friend loves at all times.” Proverbs 17:17

The people who will be coming to worship this Sunday are looking for many things.  One thing we all look for and need is community.  We need friends to travel down this road we call salvation.  We are not going to heaven alone; we are going with other pilgrims who have claimed Christ as savior.  Be eager to reach out to someone new this weekend.  It may be that God puts someone right beside you who needs the encouragement that only you can give.

5.   Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up.  Ephesians 4:29

There are going to be people in church this Sunday who do not know their way around the building.  Take the initiative and ask if they need anything.  Some of the more common things people may need help with are: where the bathrooms are, where the nursery is, how to become more involved the church activities.  Visitors may not feel comfortable asking about these things so go ahead, break the ice, let them know you are glad they are here and offer to assist them while they are here.

6.   Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

In this electronic age, we can make an impression on more people, in more places than ever before, without leaving our building.  When you check-in on Facebook before worship, you are letting people around the world know that you are part of a community that has something to celebrate.  Social sites, like Facebook and Twitter, are part of a new mission field that was not present a decade ago.  If Facebook were a nation, it would be the third most populated in the world, with its 800,000,000 subscribers.  Let’s take the time to let the world know what we are doing this Easter Sunday as we gather to worship our resurrected savior.

I’m praying for you as you prepare to lead your classes and your students to a greater understanding of God’s love for them.  Feel free to pass this on to others.