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Showing posts from April, 2017

Worship Helps for Easter 3

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I have been a pastor for over 20 years. I have been coaching soccer far longer. Over the years, my players and their parents have been able to notice a few things about my coaching style. 1) I am constantly talking to the players throughout the game; 2) the parents can hear me talking (i.e. yelling) to players from the other side of the field; 3) I am always pacing the sideline during the game. I can’t sit down. Oh, I’ve tried. I’ve brought a chair to sit in. The players have even timed me. 42 seconds. That’s my record for sitting during a game. Whether it’s pounding the sideline of a close soccer game or pacing in the office with a stack of unpaid bills on the desk or lying awake at night when we should be sleeping, we act this way because the outcome of the game ... or work ... or life is in jeopardy. We can’t sit back and relax. We can’t take it easy. We have no confidence that we will triumph in the end. Examine the painting that sits behind the pulpit at Epiphany throughout the East…

The silence of Saturday

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We don’t like silence. Yet, the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is filled with silence. Holy Week is busy and noisy for Jesus. On Palm Sunday, Jesus enters Jerusalem along a parade route, amid shouts of “Hosanna! Hosanna, in the highest!” On Monday, Jesus cleanses the temple courtyard of all the lowing cattle, bleating sheep, cooing pigeons, and yelling merchants. On Tuesday, Jesus does a lot of teaching in the temple courtyard. There are tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered in Jerusalem for the Passover. Jesus uses this opportunity to teach the masses about the coming Day of Judgment. Nothing is recorded in Scripture about the events of Wednesday. On Thursday, Jesus has a very active day. He and His disciples gather in the Upper Room to celebrate the Passover Meal. There, Jesus washes His disciples’ feet, institutes the Lord’s Supper, ad prays to His heavenly Father. Very late Thursday evening to very early Friday morning, the events move for Jesus. He is loudly arrested …

He sat on it!

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There have been some pretty popular “put-downs” in TV history. “Eat my shorts.” “What you talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?” “No soup for you.” “Kiss my grits.” And one that is definitely popular in the Milwaukee area, “Sit on it.” St. Matthew tells us, “There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it” (Matthew 28:2) The angel sat on it! It seems like such an insignificant little detail in such a tremendous story. But with those words we see that all the strength and might of man in sealing the tomb and posting a guard and making it as secure as they knew how (Mt 27:65-66), was reduced to a chair. How right the psalmist was when against all the plotting and raging of man, he simply states: “He who sits in the heavens, shall laugh” (Psalm 2:4). On Easter, we can add, “He who laid in the tomb shall laugh! For Christ is risen! No stone could hold in the Lord of life. When the angel sat on the stone, Jesus told…

Forsaken by God

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Psalm 22:1-2 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so farfrom saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? 2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night,but I find no rest. Jesus entered Jerusalem on Sunday morning riding a donkey amid shouts of “Hosanna in the highest!” He is staggering out of Jerusalem on Friday morning, too weak to carry His own cross, amid shouts of “Crucify Him!” On Sunday, Jesus had been hailed as the “the Son of David” (Matthew 21:9), the Son of Israel’s greatest king. On Friday, Jesus is mocked as a Jewish king with a sign above His cross that reads, “The King of the Jews” (Matthew 27:37). Jesus is led out to Golgotha where He is crucified along with a criminal on either side of Him. A Roman centurion and his band of soldiers stand guard over Him, but they did not need to bother. Jesus’ friends are not mounting a rescue mission. They are cowering behind locked doors. Jesus’ supporters are silent because they are afraid of being accus…

Worship Helps for Easter

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As we focus on Christ’s triumph over the grave, I can’t imagine a better work of art to write about this Easter than the triumphant image of “The Resurrection,” by Ron DiCianni. Ron began his work in commercial illustration. He quickly became recognized as one of the nation’s most talented illustrators. Ron’s client list was soon dominated by prominent companies like Eli Lilly and McDonald’s. He was chosen as the 1980 Official Olympic illustrator and is considered one of the most successful illustrators of his generation. Ron has also created the artwork for book covers for some of the most-renowned Christian authors of our time – Max Lucado, Frank Peretti, and others. His most famous work is called “Spiritual Warfare” (link) and has sold tens of millions of prints globally. Ron considers himself “a Christian cleverly disguised as an artist.” His self-stated mission is to “Reclaim the Arts for Christ.” He was commissioned by the Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas, TX (link) to create a mur…