HE LIVES! He lives inside our hearts!

soul

How better to take part in Christ’s resurrection than to work with a community to rebuild, replant, renew, regenerate and re-emerge stronger than ever following last summer’s devastating tornado season? Each time we take on His work in the world, we proclaim to all HE LIVES! He lives inside our hearts!

June 8-14 High School Youth will travel to Oklahoma for a week-long mission experience to not only help this community recover from a catastrophic tornado damage but to take an active part in Kingdom work. We will join our efforts with those from congregations throughout the United States in a summer of love and devotion to our ‘Neighbors’. We will be working with Volunteers in Mission a division of Disciples Home Missions and taking part in reconstruction, demolition and possibly even replanting green spaces that were stripped bare in the paths of these tornados.

We estimate it will cost about $450 per person for food, housing and transportation for this experience, a small price to pay for an incredible opportunity. We’re late getting started on the fundraising due to delays in declaring an exact date to end the school year…thanks to a crazy winter! So, there is a lot of work to be done between now and then!

Here are a few ways you can help us get going…

  • PRAY! Hold in prayer our mission team and the people they will serve.
  • PARTICIPATE! Join us in our journey, help out with fundraising events and/or financially support our efforts. You can sponsor a youth, or just donate for a portion. Perhaps even pooling funds from the whole family to make it possible for one of our youth to go.
  • PAY to PLAY! Youth will host a Family Fun Game Night and Auction on May 24th. Join us for dinner, games and a whole lot of fun for everyone. At the end of the evening you’ll have an opportunity to bid on homemade goodies to take home or to bid on a youth or two to help out with any work you need accomplished.
  • PARK! (just keeping with the ‘P’ theme) Park your car under our soap-filled sponges on May 3rd and tell all your friends so we can raise money for our trip.
  • PLANT! Mother’s Day, May 11th the Youth will be selling flats of flowers. These make wonderful Mother’s Day gifts and provide a splash of color to your lawns…maybe even use that youth you bought to plant them for you!

First Christian Church is a congregation dedicated to ministry outside our doors and serving others in Christ-like manner. Our youth are fantastic delegates for your ministries and they would love the opportunity to serve with your blessings.

He Lives! He lives within us all!
Tracy

 

Sunday, April 20 ~ Easter Sunday

~~John 20:1-18
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciples, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at his feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabboouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he said these things to her.

~~Mary Magdalene needed some time alone. She walked down to the garden where the tomb of Jesus was located. Mary had been healed of seven demons by Jesus and she became his close friend and disciple. While others had been afraid of Mary at her worst, Jesus was drawn to her. His love changed her — forever.
What she discovered changed everything forever. The tomb was empty and Jesus spoke to her in a state of resurrection. She could only utter one powerful word,
“Rabbouni,” which meant “teacher.”
When I was a fifth grader at Lynn Camp Elementary in Knox County, my teacher was Mr. Harpe. Male teachers were as rare as hens’ teeth. He was funny, wise and engaging. He believed in us, that we could learn more than others thought we could learn. He taught us the bones and muscles of the body. That was 51 years ago and just two months ago, I asked a former classmate if he was still living. It has occurred to me that I might call him some day.
That is the power of a good teacher. We never forget them and their imprint on our lives is immeasurable. They change us. Mr. Harpe changed me.
Jesus changed Mary. We can’t even imagine how much he changed her life. But we know the change was profound from that one comment, “Rabbouni.”
Now, we know that even death cannot separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
He is risen.
Alleluia!!
Jeff W. Bell

Saturday, April 19 ~ The Burial of Jesus

~~John 19:38-42
After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

~~Jesus was confirmed dead on the cross. Contrary to what we might think, this was not an “event” for the people of Jerusalem. Mary was present. John, the one whom Jesus loved, stood there. Those who followed him may very well have believed they were next. People were scarce, which makes Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, who came to prepare his body for burial, men of courage.
There was no funeral. No final words said over Jesus. No hymns sung. The circumstances struck fear into the lives of his followers. His closest disciples, huddled in fear behind locked doors. No one knew what would come next.
They could imagine that this was the end. It was over. For Rome, this is reflexive action. They crucified as example and participated in genocide as a matter of policy. The Jewish leaders thought they were involved in a power struggle with the Messiah. They should have known that death does not have the final word.
For this day, what was good and proper was done.
We wait patiently.
God has plans. A new thing is about to be done.
Prepare to be amazed.

Jeff W. Bell

Friday, April 18 ~ Good Friday

~~I know what you are thinking. “I am not reading 42 verses. I want this to be quick and easy.” Well…this is Good Friday. What do we owe our Lord on the day we remember he died for us? 

~~John 19:1-42
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.”
Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.”
When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gab’batha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!” They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.” Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.
So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. ~~Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, “This man said I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written,” When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says. “They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.” And that is what the soldiers did.
Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.
After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop, and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the Sabbath, especially because that Sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, “None of his bones shall be broken.” And again another passage of scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”
After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

~~There was a man I knew years ago. When he met a person for the first time, his first question was always, “Where are you from?” He needed to pinpoint family, neighborhood, social class. First thing. Some would answer him. Some would not.
Today, when Pilate asks Jesus where he is from, Jesus remains silent. Perhaps that is because, at this point, it doesn’t matter. Jesus is a man for the whole world. Birthplace, social origins, occupation does not matter. The fact that he is the saving presence of God in the world, does.
This story is so familiar. We are tempted to read over verses we think we know. But take your time. Walk with Jesus through the trial, the insults, the humiliation. Walk with Jesus through his resolve, his quiet confidence, his incomprehensible silence in the face of injustice and suffering. Silence?
Feel the power made perfect in weakness. It is God’s way. In a world where militarism, self-defense, personal rights and justice for “me” shout for attention, Jesus embraces duty, responsibility, love, passive resistance, self-sacrifice.
By and large, we don’t understand this at all as it applies to our lives. How can this story have been told repeatedly, our sanctuaries be adorned with crosses and we still don‘t understand?
Saving grace takes the day. But the price is steep.
He bridges the gap between who and where we are and where God wants us to be. Earlier he said, “I am in my Father, my father is in me; I am in you and you in me.”
The cross makes redemption a reality for people like the thief on the cross, for Peter, who denied him three times and maybe even for Pilate who didn‘t have a clue.
Jeff W. Bell
 

Thursday, April 17 ~ Maundy Thursday

~~Matthew 26:26-28
(RSV)
Jesus took bread, and blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”          

~~     When we come to the table, we come with reverence and humility, knowing that these symbols of the sacrifice Jesus made for us to have our sins forgiven. As we break bread together, as one body of Christ and as we raise our cups together to honor Him, there is a feeling of unity, all coming together as one, in spirit and love. Each of us so grateful we have such a wonderful remembrance of God’s love.
     The table each week leads us directly down the path to commune with God and gives us the assurance that being with Him and living for Him, He lives in each of us.
     Just as you and I are satisfied after sitting down to a meal at our own tables, there is no better feeling than coming to the Lord’s table, breaking the bread, drinking the cup and knowing you are fulfilled spiritually. All are welcome and the sense of unity is there.
     At this time, we are one in Christ and with each other.
     So, come to the table, let us break bread together, drink from the cup just as the disciples did in that Upper Room centuries ago.


Judy Otte

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