Gardendale Nazarene

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Archives for March 2019 | Pastor's Blog | Gardendale Nazarene

Holy Week- Good Friday

John 19:1-22 New Living Translation (NLT)
19:1 Then Pilate had Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip. 2 The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they put a purple robe on him. 3 “Hail! King of the Jews!” they mocked, as they slapped him across the face.
4 Pilate went outside again and said to the people, “I am going to bring him out to you now, but understand clearly that I find him not guilty.” 5 Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said, “Look, here is the man!”
6 When they saw him, the leading priests and Temple guards began shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
“Take him yourselves and crucify him,” Pilate said. “I find him not guilty.”
7 The Jewish leaders replied, “By our law he ought to die because he called himself the Son of God.”
8 When Pilate heard this, he was more frightened than ever. 9 He took Jesus back into the headquarters again and asked him, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave no answer. 10 “Why don’t you talk to me?” Pilate demanded. “Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?”
11 Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”
12 Then Pilate tried to release him, but the Jewish leaders shouted, “If you release this man, you are no ‘friend of Caesar.’ Anyone who declares himself a king is a rebel against Caesar.”

Hymn:
Hail, O once despised Jesus!
Hail, O Galilean King!
You have suffered to release us,
hope, salvation, joy to bring.
Hail, O, agonizing Savior,
bearer of our sin and shame;
by your merits we find favor;
life is given through your Name.

13 When they said this, Pilate brought Jesus out to them again. Then Pilate sat down on the judgment seat on the platform that is called the Stone Pavement (in Hebrew, Gabbatha). 14 It was now about noon on the day of preparation for the Passover. And Pilate said to the people, “Look, here is your king!”
15 “Away with him,” they yelled. “Away with him! Crucify him!”
“What? Crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the leading priests shouted back.
16 Then Pilate turned Jesus over to them to be crucified.f

Poem:
He fulfilled all righteousness,
standing in the sinner's place;
from the manger to the cross,
all He did, He did for us.

So they took Jesus away. 17 Carrying the cross by himself, he went to the place called Place of the Skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha). 18 There they nailed him to the cross. Two others were crucified with him, one on either side, with Jesus between them. 19 And Pilate posted a sign on the cross that read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 The place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, so that many people could read it.
21 Then the leading priests objected and said to Pilate, “Change it from ‘The King of the Jews’ to ‘He said, I am King of the Jews.’”
22 Pilate replied, “No, what I have written, I have written.”

Prayer:
Most holy Lord and God,
holy, Almighty God.
holy and most merciful Savior,
our eternal God!
Grant that we may never
lose the comforts from Your death.
Have mercy, O Lord.

By Your cross and suffering,
By Your sacred wounds and precious blood,
By Your dying words,
By Your atoning death,
Bless and comfort us,
gracious Lord and God.

Holy Week- Maundy Thursday

Traditionally in the Christian Church, this day is known as Maundy Thursday. The term Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum (from which we get our English word mandate), from a verb that means "to give," "to entrust," or "to order." The term is usually translated "commandment," from John's account of this Thursday night.

John 13:1-17 New Living Translation (NLT)
13:1 Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. 2 It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. 4 So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, 5 and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.
6 When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”
8 “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!”
Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”
9 Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”
10 Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.”


Hymn:
Then take the towel, and break the bread,
and humble us, and call us friends.
Suffer and serve till all are fed
and show how grandly love intends
to work till all creation sings,
to fill all worlds, to crown all things.

12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. 17 Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.


Poem:
Blessed Jesus, at your word
we are gathered all to hear you;
let our hearts and souls be stirred
now to seek and love and fear you;
by your teachings true and holy;
drawn from earth to love you solely.

Mark 14:22-25 New Living Translation (NLT)
14:22 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, "Take it, for this is my body." 23 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And he said to them, "This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice for many. 25 I tell you the truth, I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new in the Kingdom of God."


Hymn:
O what an act of majesty!
O what a love beyond degree!
O what a hallowed hour of blessing!
Here soul and body are supplied,
and we show forth that Jesus died,
when in this feast our Lord confessing.

John 13:33-35 New Living Translation (NLT)
33 Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going. 34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

John 14:15-21 New Living Translation (NLT)
15 “If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. 18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. 19 Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. 20 When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”

Immersed in the Spirit

Last Sunday morning, I did something I do more than I’d like to admit. The worship service ended and, I opened my notes to realize that I left out a decent chunk of my sermon. Just think, I had another eight minutes worth of notes!

Usually when this happens I think, “It must not have been that important if I forgot it.” This week, however, it’s been different. I keep thinking about it. The good news is that I can share it with you here. So here goes…

The thought centers on John 1:32-34. This passage is John the Baptist’s testimony about his cousin. John is baptizing and Jesus approaches him, John baptizes Jesus, and then John ‘bears witness’ to what happened, “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

What I left out on Sunday was this- ‘he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ In just two chapters, Jesus will tell Nicodemus that one must be born of water and of Spirit to enter the kingdom of God. Think about the two images being used here: birth and baptism.

Before we are born, we live in water. When a mother’s water breaks, the child must transition from the womb to outside the womb. We are immersed in that water and our life is connected to the immersion.

In baptism, we enter the water and are immersed in that water. Guess what? Our new life is connected to the immersion!

So what does it mean to be baptized by the Holy Spirit? I believe it’s about immersion–immersion in the life-giving Spirit. Michael J. Gorman writes, “The word ‘baptism’ connotes participation in the fullest sense: it is an image of being completely immersed in a reality outside the self that transforms the self.”

To be a child of God is to be born and baptized with (immersed in) the same Spirit that enabled Jesus to do God’s work. What would your life look like if you saw yourself continually immersed in the Spirit? How would you view your faith, your neighbors, your community, your church?

That is my prayer for this series that we are immersed in God’s mission. May you see yourself immersed in the life-giving Spirit. May you feel the Holy Spirit surrounding you as you take part in the God’s mission!

Cross-Shaped Love

One of my favorite flowers is daffodils. What I love about them is not necessarily their bright yellow flowers, but how they are the first to break through the winter ground to remind us that spring is just around the corner. Though daffodils don’t just signal spring, but Easter too.

The season of Lent begins this Wednesday, March 6th. We will begin the season with an Ash Wednesday service at 6:30pm in the Sanctuary. Lent serves as the first sign of the new life of Easter. It, like the daffodils in our yards, is a signpost pointing us to Holy Week and Easter. Originating in the fourth century of the church, the season of Lent spans 40 weekdays beginning on Ash Wednesday and concluding during Holy Week with Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Saturday before Easter.

Today, Lent is marked by a time of prayer and preparation to celebrate Easter. Since Sundays celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the six Sundays that occur during Lent are not counted as part of the forty days of Lent, and are referred to as the Sundays in Lent. The number ‘forty’ is connected with many biblical events, but especially with the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for His ministry by facing temptations there. Christians today use this period for reflection, self-examination, and repentance.

I would like to invite you to make this Lent a time of preparation for Easter. To help us prepare, many people fast during Lent. Fasting can be a powerful spiritual discipline. Professor Laurence Hull Stookey writes:

“Fasting can alert us, however, to unacknowledged obsessions we may have about eating [or many other things] that can be tamed or redirected. Fasting can powerfully remind us of our dependence on God and others: Were it not for the One who gives seed to the sower, and for those who plant and harvest, and mill the grain into flour, who bake the bread, and deliver it to the store, we would be permanently hungry out of circumstance, not temporarily hungry out of choice…Lest Lenten discipline and devotion lead to smugness or a false sense of spiritual security, it must be noted that all such endeavors depend on grace. We do not save ourselves by virtue of such spiritual exercises rather, we seek simply to alleviate the blockages that prevent God from acting freely in and through us.

It is my prayer you commit yourself anew to our Savior this Lent. I hope that you take this opportunity to prepare yourself for God‘s work in your life as we journey together towards the empty tomb.