How to honor Jesus at Easter

Business as usual not an option

What will you do to honor Jesus this Easter?   Let’s be creative and look past traditional habits and token self-denials.  Are there other practical answers to that question?  Unfortunately, many people who answer to the label as Christians will do little or nothing to honor Jesus this Easter!  No one could guess from their Holy Week activities that they were a Christian at all.  That’s not the way it should be.

Honor Jesus with action

During Holy Week true Christians remember the suffering of Jesus including his death on the cross.   Easter is the highest point of the church year, the time when we remember Jesus’ climactic victory over death.   Above all times, this is when Christians should be most active in celebrating their Savior.    And our celebration should not just be with words.  Words alone cannot honor one who taught us to put his sayings into action (Matthew 7:24-27).  But not everyone will want to honor Jesus in exactly the same way.  So here are five suggestions all of which will help us truly honor Jesus this Easter.

Five suggestions

  1. Give a gift of your time and love to help someone in need. This could range from random acts of kindness to strangers to volunteering at a nursing facility to visiting a disabled friend to doing outdoor work for an elderly neighbor to…    The more in-person the gift, the better for this one.   Jesus was always helping someone in need.   He told us he came to serve others and urged us to do the same (Matt. 20:25-28). 
  2. Give a gift of money to a cause that helps those who are among people who the OT would include among the “oppressed.” Such causes include aid to those suffering from natural disasters, aid to refugees, aid for victims of racial injustice, groups working against systemic poverty, food banks, etc.   If we are not willing to acknowledge God’s gifts to us and give of our finances to others, we have not yet caught the Spirit of Jesus. 
  3. Worship at church during Holy week. First of all, Jesus deserves to be honored by our presence in services in his honor.  Second, it is the upward look that sustains our outward focus and dims our self-centeredness.   At Copper Hill there are three opportunities from Palm Sunday through Easter.
  4. Speak to someone about your faith in Jesus. This conversation could be a short personal anecdote describing some way that your faith has helped you.  It could be an invitation to a friend to attend a service with you.  It could be an offer to pray for someone who is going through a tough time and would appreciate a prayer.   There’s no better time than Easter time to make Jesus a positive part of our conversation. 
  5. Read the story of Jesus’ last days again (Matthew 26-28 and/or John 13-20) or watch a video of it such as the Jesus Film with a friend. It is the most watched film in history and was digitally remastered for HD with a new sound track in 2014   http://www.jesusfilmstore.com/35th-Anniversary-JESUS-Film-Blu-Ray-Disc/productinfo/ZBRD-35TH-BLU-RAY/.    The original version is available on NETFLIX. 

 

 

Why going to church is important to you and your children

Often people ask me if they can be a Christian and not go to church.   I think it would be like trying to be a gourmet cook without frequenting the produce department of the grocery store; or trying to be a good basketball player without going to practices.  The excuses people use for staying away are sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and often revealing.     Since Easter, the high point of the Christian year, is little more than a week away,  this is a great time to remind ourselves of just how important it is to express our faith and grow in it by gathering together.  Here is a good article summarizing why attending church is important.
http://www.christianpost.com/news/why-going-to-church-is-important-part-1-72392/

 

Lenten/Easter Series Planned

 This mild winter is passing quickly.  A week from today is Ash Wednesday.   This coming Sunday begins our 50 day emphasis leading up to Easter.   This year, Pastor Eric and I have chosen to focus on the life of our Lord using passages from the Gospel of John.   Each week we will show a DVD interpretation with words taken directly from the Good News Bible translation of the American Bible Society, an excellent contemporary translation.   It’s hard to believe that it has been 5 years already since the last such series from John.   Each time we cover it I find new insights to emphasize.  

Jesus’ Life Can Change Our Lives

Date

Title

Scripture

DVD Section

A Suggested Hymn

Feb 19

Called to Follow

John 1:29-50

DVD 1 section 2

Follow On (440)

Feb 26

Challenged to Believe

John 5:15-47;6:1

DVD 1 section 7

All Hail the Power (240)

Mar 4

Comforted by Forgiveness   

John 7:53- 8:11 

DVD 1 section 11

Amazing Grace (293)

Mar 11

Charged to Know the Truth    

John 8:31  

DVD 1 section 12

In Christ Alone

Mar 18

Cared for by the Shepherd  

John 10:1-21

DVD 1 section 15

Shepherd of Love (448)

Mar 25

Cherished by the Shepherd

John 17   

DVD 2 section 8

Jesus, I Am Resting (325)

Apr 1

Confronted in our Selfishness

John 13:1-20

DVD 2 section 3

Hosanna, Loud Hosanna (211)

Apr 6
Good
Friday

Cleared, Cleaned and Claimed because of Him  

 

DVD 2 section 9, 10, 11

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (224)

Apr 8
8 AM

Celebrating Resurrection Power (Lazarus) 

John 11:25

DVD 1 section 18

Because He Lives (238)

Apr 8 10 AM

Carrying Good News      

John 20:1-18 esp. v. 17,18     

DVD 2 section 12

Crown Him with Many Crowns (243)

 

Reflections on Easter Weekend

I am thankful for each one who took time to honor Jesus by worshipping at Community Wesleyan in Kirkville this year.  Attendance at Good Friday service and Easter Celebration service was up despite the fact that for nearly all of us, the pace of life accelerates on a holiday weekend.   (The busy pace is one reason I’ve written less lately.)  Yet somehow, if we do not take time to honor Jesus on Good Friday and Easter, when will we ever?   He is supremely worthy of our praise.  

This weekend held several highlights for me:

I have come to deeply appreciate the interactive passion narrative that we used again this year at the ecumenical service at St Paul’s Episcopal Church.   Reading the narrative as characters in a play, helps put me more closely in touch with what really happened. In addition, sharing together in the service with other churches reminds me again that the family for whom Jesus died and who are responding to his call enfolds so many more than just my local church fellowship or even my denomination. 

Easter has become a family time too in our culture and our family is no exception.  It was a delight to have our daughter and son-in-law visit for a couple days and to have my brother-in-law, Joe, and father-in-law at Easter dinner.  

Easter is a special time for children.  Our church tries to make a home for children at God’s house.  I enjoy greeting them at the Easter brunch and the Easter services.   Some, especially the little girls, are all dressed up in Easter outfits and appreciate it if my wife or I notice.   The boys like the food, as I think I would have as a boy.

Easter music is always a highlight. Special music adds a great deal; solos, instrumentals, handbell choir and holiday choir all help to mark the moment.  I usually enjoy most the songs that the congregation seems to truly get involved in.  This year was no exception.  At our Good Friday service, there was a special moment when we sang the hymn, At Calvary.   In Easter Celebration service, the praise team led with joy as everyone joined in on Celebrate Jesus.  Then we sang the story of Jesus’ life via the new hymn, In Christ Alone; an inspiring time.   One of the gifts of any worship service is when the music comes back to you and you find yourself singing it throughout the day or in the middle of the week.  Then you know it was inspiring.  (Singing in the choir will make that happen for sure.)

It always encourages me to see people in church at a holiday service that I or our church have reached out to in some way recently.  Perhaps I stood by the side of someone in their family at a difficult time or performed a wedding or a funeral.  Perhaps a child in the family attended preschool.  People don’t realize how much it encourages pastors and church leaders when they attend.   

On the flip side, I always wonder what people thought were their favorite moments in sermons.  If they had to nominate a five minute segment from one of the three sermons I gave over this weekend to be put on U-Tube or inserted in an advertisement for our church, what five minutes would they choose?   Pastors often have mixed feelings about their preaching and I guess this weekend is no exception.   Some parts went better than I expected and others I would like to do over.   I just trust that overall my thoughts were a blessing to many.