EASTER SEASON WORSHIP SERIES: When in Doubt, Read the Instructions!
Jesus’ time with the disciples was short. But from the beginning he began to prepare them to continue his ministry once he was no longer with them. This Easter season we will encounter teachings of Jesus that end up coming in handy as the early church struggles and thrives. Those instructions have been handed down to us. What will we do with them?
April 22, 2018 — Beware, Don’t Worry. (Mark 13:9-11, Acts 17:1-9, 1 Thessalonians)
The early church story is filled with both great excitement and growth but also intense suffering. In a Roman occupation, it was subversive and dangerous to proclaim a “king” other than the political rulers of the day. Jesus’ own death was proof of this and he knew it would be no easier for those he left behind. But “watch out” instructions also came with “don’t worry”–you are never alone. God’s never-ending presence through the Holy Spirit in times of trial is sure. What are the risks of proclaiming that Love reigns over the greed, hate and phobias of our day? Can we hear the voice of Jesus urging us onward and offering assurance?
April 29, 2018 — Don’t Argue, Agree to Disagree (Mark 9:34-35, 1 Corinthians 1:10-18)
It seems that competition and the need to be right or better lives in our human genes. Even in the presence of Jesus, the disciples would argue over who was the best and who was the favorite. Jesus explicit instructions were to resist our tendencies to put ourselves first. To be “great” is to have a servant’s heart toward our fellow sisters and brothers. The early church was fraught with divisions (sound familiar?). How is the Kin-dom of God diminished when our purpose is thwarted by attention to being better-than or “right” at all costs?
May 6, 2018 — Love is the Main Thing (Mark 12:28-31, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13)
In the letter to the fledgling Corinthian church, Paul offers a laundry-list of what love looks like. We can almost imagine that he is writing in response to some un-loving behavior that is going on (in the church, you say??!). When it came down to it, Jesus said that the litmus test for faithfulness to a loving God, is love. Bottom line. Have a question about what you should do in any given situation? Ask where your actions stand on the love meter.
May 13, 2018 — Live, Now and Forever. (Mark 12:26-27, 1 Corinthians 15:1-26, 51-57)
The resurrection from the dead was a long-standing and controversial issue among the Jews, even while Jesus was living. Jesus instructions to the Jewish rule-keepers of his day was to remember that God has always been the God of the living and life with God is everlasting. Letters to the early church acted as reminders of those instructions–of the promises of Christ that outlive his earthly life. We are to live as if death, the last enemy, has been conquered. Have no fear! Live fully–now and forever.
May 20, 2018 — Be One in the Spirit— Pentecost. (Mark 1:1-8, Acts 2:1-4, 1 Corinthians 12:1-13)
Our series closes on this Pentecost Sunday with one last instruction–be one in the Spirit. The saga of the early church mirrors the church of today: we find it hard sometimes to hold onto our faith and know what to do in an ever-changing world. But there is Good News! The Spirit fills each of us with different gifts for being the church. And together we can make a difference… just as Jesus told us we could!