Showing posts from May, 2014

Worship Helps for Easter 7

Worship Theme: Live in eager expectation of glory! That glory is not dimmed by earthly suffering; rather, such suffering reminds us of the glory that awaits us. First the cross; then the crown. Our light and momentary troubles cannot mute the joy of living in eager expectation of glory. The week that falls between Ascension and Pentecost is one of waiting and expectation for the promised Spirit and the promised glory.
Old Testament:1 Samuel 1:21-28 When the man Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the LORD and to fulfill his vow, 22 Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, "After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the LORD, and he will live there always." 23 "Do what seems best to you," Elkanah her husband told her. "Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the LORD make good his word." So the woman stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him. 24 After he was weaned, she took the …

The Ascension

Good Friday is easy to understand – Jesus died on the cross to pay for the sins of the world. Easter is pretty easy, too – Jesus rose from the dead to give the assurance of eternal life to all who believe in Him. But what about the event forty days after Easter? What’s so special about Jesus’ ascension? Our culture certainly has no clue about the Ascension. There are no Ascension Day parades; no Ascension Day parties; no Ascension Day sales at the mall. No one is giving the excuse to the pastor, “Sorry, I can’t make it to church Thursday night. We are going to Grandma’s to open Ascension Day presents.” Though our society may not understand the importance of the Ascension Day, we Christians continue to celebrate this minor festival of the Christian Church year. “The Ascension” by Benjamin West portrays the glory and magnitude of what Jesus’ ascension into heaven means for Christians. The disciples are gathered on the mountaintop looking up in bewilderment and amazement. Two angels are ann…

Living the Christian Life of Love

John 14:15-21 “If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” One Saturday morning, six-year-old Devin decided to fix his parents pancakes. He found a big bowl and spoon, pulled a chair to the counter, opened the cupboard and pulled out the heavy flour canister, spilling it on the floor. He scooped some of flour into the bowl wit…

Worship Helps for Easter 6

Worship Theme: The love of God who lives in us leads to a life of obedience.  Jesus’ promise of another Counselor is a loaded one: the Holy Spirit gives us the ability to do what Jesus asks.  This Sunday’s lessons teach that love for our risen Lord means obedience to his commands.  Only Jesus’ promises make that possible.  The Prayer of the Day sets the tone:  “Put your Spirit in us to think those things that are true and long for those things that are good…”
Old Testament:Genesis 4:1-16 Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, "With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man." 2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil.3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. 4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not l…

One way to heaven

John 14:1-12 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.2 In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going." 5 Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" 6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him." 8 Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." 9 Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? …

The First Mourning

Moses, by divine inspiration reports the first murder this way, “While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him” (Genesis 4:8). Many of the classical paintings portray Cain rising up with a club to kill his younger brother. Some of the paintings even portray God confronting Cain immediately after the murder. “The First Mourning” by French artist, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, is different. It is a unique subject matter that depicts the moment after Adam and Eve found the body of their son, Abel. Bouguereau painted this work in 1888 shortly after the death of his wife and infant son in 1887. This is a striking painting because the way it deals with death. Adam and Eve, are distraught. Sin not only cost them their home, their comfort, and their own lives. Now it cost them their son. Adam and Eve are holding their dead son. Few things on earth can compare to the sorrow parents feel at the death of a child. God’s curse upon sin is felt most severely when a parent …

I'm going to pick a fight

“I’m going to pick a fight.” This is one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies – “Braveheart.” At one point in the movie, the Scots are about to go into battle against the English. The Scots are greatly outnumbered by the well-armed, well-trained English forces. Before peaceful negotiations and more concessions by the Scots can be made, William Wallace (played by Mel Gibson) stirs things up by telling his Scottish friends, “I’m going to pick a fight.” I won’t go into all the details, but Wallace did taunt and mock the English … until there was a fight. And the Scots won! German artist, Lucas Cranach the Younger, portrays the prophet Elijah picking a fight with the prophets of Baal on top of Mount Carmel. Both Lucas Cranach the Elder and his son, Lucas Cranach the Younger, were good friends with Martin Luther and strong supporters of the Lutheran Reformation. They each painted several portraits of Luther throughout his life. In this particular painting of Elijah and the Proph…

Worship Helps for Easter 5

Worship Theme: I am the way, the truth, and the life.Christ’s message is so exclusive that it rejects all others. There is only one way to the Father, and that way is a person.He does not say, ‘I show you the way,’ like a second Moses, but I am the way.Nor ‘I have the truth,’ like another Elijah, but I am the truth. Not only ‘I lead unto life,’ as one of his apostles, but I am the life. The exclusivity of salvation resting in the person of Jesus Christ is a rock against which the unbelieving world crushes itself, but upon which God builds his Church.
Old Testament:1 Kings 18:16-45 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 When he saw Elijah, he said to him, "Is that you, you troubler of Israel?" 18 "I have not made trouble for Israel," Elijah replied. "But you and your father's family have. You have abandoned the LORD's commands and have followed the Baals. 19 Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Moun…