Message From the Pastor

Month of March 2020

The Easter Story Continues

“Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing Him.” — Luke 24:13-16

I love the story of the two men on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24, as Jesus talks and walks beside them in the days after His resurrection. His presence was so real, but at first they did not know who He was. Jesus asks them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” (Luke 24:17) They answer with sadness, questioning how anyone could not know about the events in Jerusalem. They explain to the “unknown stranger” that they know of Jesus by His reputation: “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.” (Luke 24:19b) They continue talking to their walking companion of their expectation of Jesus: “We had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” (Luke 24:21a) And finally they express their frustration over the news that His tomb was open but He was missing. Is this how we relate to Jesus? We know of His reputation, but He isn’t what we expected, and we become frustrated when He doesn’t “do” what we want.Jesus seeks the companionship of the two men on the road to Emmaus, just as He seeks ours. And what happens next? He challenges their scholarship, at the point of Scripture. “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.” (Luke 24:27) They wanted a Messiah, and Jesus reaches into their knowledge and understanding of the Old Testament to prove He is the One. They hear from Christ Himself that He had to suffer and die before entering His glory—something they did not yet grasp. But the story doesn’t end there, because there is no understanding on their part of who Jesus really is—no relationship. They invite Him to sit down and dine with them. Jesus takes the bread, gives thanks, and then breaks it before He gives it to them with His nail-scarred hands. “Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight.” (Luke 24:30) In spending time with Him, hearing truth from Him as He taught from Scripture, and being given the broken bread—they recognize Him. They admit to having their hearts burn within them during this experience on the road—and they return to Jerusalem proclaiming “It is true! The Lord has risen.”(Luke 24:34) Jesus wants to make Himself known—just as He did with these two men in the gospel of Luke. And we can come to know Him by spending time with Him, by studying truth in Scripture, and by knowing it is the Holy Spirit who will open our eyes to the brokenness of His body on the cross, so that, we can have fullness of life.Is your heart downcast? Do you not sense the presence of Christ where you are right now? Spending time in Scriptures, spending time in worship and prayer—that’s how you get to know the Lord. Go ahead—begin the journey on the road. . . . . .with Jesus beside you. You will never be the same. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”— 2 Corinthians 5:17


Time for Transformation: Embracing the Lenten Journey Towards Easter

Only a few times in the Christian year call us to reflect on transformational change like Lent leading towards Easter. Spring is a time of rebirth, new beginnings, and new growth. Too often, we want to rush to the Easter Resurrection without fully embracing the Lenten process that leads us there. Lent reflects the 40 days Jesus wandered in the wilderness — tempted by Satan — in readiness for a ministry destined to end in death. Few of us can relate to the level of sacrifice and commitment Jesus showed us in his 40 day journey.

Lent provides us with an opportunity to deepen our spirituality by engaging in spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, reading the Word, abstaining from certain behaviors and repentance. This spiritual formation begins with Ash Wednesday through Easter Sunday. In order for there to be a resurrection there must be a death. Engaging in the spiritual disciplines opens our eyes as to what bad habit, wrong thinking or behavior that needs to die within us. The Lenten wilderness — the desert days of Lent — is the true path toward spiritual transformation and rebirth.

On Ash Wednesday, we have our foreheads crossed with ashes as a reminder we are creatures of dust. We are fragile, fallen people. From the moment we emerge from our mother’s womb, we begin the process of dying. To think that one day we will be nothing but ashes is a pretty grim reality. It is not something we want to reflect on, talk about or even read. However, the fact that we are marked by the sign of the cross tells us we are infinitely more than dust. We are God’s beloved and nothing not even death can separate us from God’s love through Jesus Christ. Our dust is charged with God’s own life-sustaining and death-defeating breath. We are beloved dust. So, when we wash the dust off our forehead remember the reality of our identity – we are dust redeemed by the cross. Let the transformation begin!

  April 2020  
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