3Crosses Church presents

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PRESENTATION DATES

  • Saturday, April 13 at 2:30 PM

  • Sunday, April 14 at 6:00 PM

  • Thursday, April 18 at 7:30 PM

  • Friday, April 19 at 7:30 PM

  • Saturday, April 20 at 2:30 PM 

TICKET SALES

In person sales start Sunday March 10, 2019 after Sunday mornings services
Online sales start Monday, March 11, 2019

 

Where can I purchase my tickets?

  • Sundays, in the lobby after church services

  • In the Church Main Office - Monday - Friday from 9 AM - 4 PM

  • Online at www.3crosses.org 

  • At the box office the day of presentations, if not sold out.


ALL TICKETS ARE GENERAL SEATING - $5.00 each


Tickets are non-refundable & non-exchangeable. 

Ticket holders must be seated fifteen minutes before each performance, at which time any open seats will be made available to others.


**Due to the content of this presentation, it is not recommended for children 5 and under. Free Childcare for ages 3 months – 5 years is available by reservation only - click HERE. Childcare will be provided for all presentations.

3Crosses church - 20600 John Dr. - Castro Valley - 510-537-4690


Celebrating Lent
Reflect - Repent - Renew - Remember

HE IS RISEN!!!

MATTHEW 28: 1-10

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 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. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you." So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."

MUSIC
Hallelujah (From Ludwig Van Beethoven's: Christ on the Mount Olives)
Words: Original German text by Franz Xaver Huber


EASTER by Edmund Spenser

MOST glorious Lord of Lyfe! that, on this day,
Didst make Thy triumph over death and sin;
And, having harrowd hell, didst bring away
Captivity thence captive, us to win:
This joyous day, deare Lord, with joy begin;
And grant that we, for whom thou diddest dye,
Being with Thy deare blood clene washt from sin,
May live for ever in felicity!

And that Thy love we weighing worthily,
May likewise love Thee for the same againe;
And for Thy sake, that all lyke deare didst buy,
With love may one another entertayne!
So let us love, deare Love, lyke as we ought,
--Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught.

PRAYER

Lord God,
You loved this world so much,
That you gave your one and only Son,
That we might be called your children too.
Lord, help us to live in the gladness and grace
Of Easter Sunday, everyday.
Let us have hearts of thankfulness
For your sacrifice.
Let us have eyes that look upon
Your grace and rejoice in our salvation.
Help us to walk in that mighty grace
And tell your good news to the world.
All for your glory do we pray, Lord,
Amen.

QUOTE
"Christ the Lord is risen today, Sons of men and angels say. Raise your joys and triumphs high; Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply." – Charles Wesley (Hymn: "Christ The Lord Is Risen Today")

HOLY SATURDAY

MUSIC:  STABAT MATER DOLOROSA
By Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736)

Click
HERE to listen to the music.  

Excerpt from "The Everlasting Man" by G.K. Chesterton


"They took the body down from the cross and one of the few rich men among the first Christians obtained permission to bury it in a rock tomb in his garden;
the Romans setting a military guard lest there should be some riot and attempt to recover the body. There was once more a natural symbolism in these natural proceedings; it was well that the tomb should be sealed with all the secrecy of ancient eastern sepulture and guarded by the authority of the Caesars. For in that second cavern the whole of that great and glorious humanity which we call antiquity was gathered up and covered over; and in that place it was buried. It was the end of a very great thing called human history; the history that was merely human. The mythologies and the philosophies were buried there, the gods and the heroes and the sages. In the great Roman phrase, they had lived. But as they could only live, so they could only die; and they were dead.

On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realized the new wonder; but even they hardly realized that the world had died in the night. What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn."

PRAYER
Lord God,
On the Sabbath, Jesus rested.
He was in the grave.
He had finished his work.
To most people's eyes,
It looked as if it were all over.
He was dead and buried.
But only as a seed dies when it is planted in the earth,
Not to decay, but to spring to new life.
Teach us to take refuge in you when we are afraid
Teach us that death is not our end
Teach us to hope always in you
And in the resurrection, the making of all things New.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

QUOTE
"We live and die; Christ died and lived" – John Stott

GOOD FRIDAY  In the early morning hours of Good Friday, Jesus was arrested. Jesus stood trial where he was whipped, beaten, spat upon and then made to carry his own cross up the hill where he was nailed to it.  After Jesus was nailed to the cross he spoke seven short expressions. These statements are now commonly referred to as the "The Seven Last Words." These words are recounted in scripture and are found throughout the four gospels.   FIRST WORD  "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Luke 23:34   The first words that Jesus spoke after being nailed to the cross were ones of forgiveness. Christ displays his limitless compassion.   SECOND WORD    "Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise." Luke 23:43   Christ says these words to a man who is being crucified next to him. Just like the first word, His second is that of forgiveness. God generously opens the door to heaven for those who will to repent of their sins. The sinner recognized Christ for who he was. The mercy of God is always ready to reach out to and save a soul, even at the last minute.   THIRD WORD  "When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he said to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he said to the disciple: Behold thy mother." John 19:26-27   Jesus is continuously compassionate to those around him, making sure that his Mother is cared for after his death. The good son Jesus, looks to John to care for her.   FOURTH WORD  "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying: Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani? That is, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Matthew 27:46   These four words were uttered shortly before His death. This is the only passage where the original Aramaic language is preserved. Here, Jesus was expressing His feelings of abandonment. God placed the sins of the entire world on Him. Jesus fully lived the human experience, and it was by His death that we are redeemed.   FIFTH WORD  Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." (John 19:28)   It was customary in those days to give an anesthetic drink for those about to be crucified. In this passage He prompted the guards for his final drink, this one consisting of vinegar and water. Among His seven last words, this is the only verbal expression of his physical suffering, even though he was scourged, crowned with thorns, and was nailed to the Cross. However, Jesus' thirst on the cross was more than a physical thirst; it was a thirst for souls for whom love compelled him to redeem.   SIXTH WORD  When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)   This expression, "It is finished", did not simply mean that death was upon him, but rather that He fulfilled his mission, and, because he was God, willingly laid down his own life. His ministry and resulting death would pay the debt of sin for all humanity.   SEVENTH WORD  Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."[ When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46)   These are the very last words Jesus spoke on the Cross before His final breath. Jesus is willingly giving up His soul to His Father in Heaven. Jesus has been perfectly obedient to His father's will. It is here that the Lamb of God has been slain for our sins.    QUOTE: "If man had his way, the plan of redemption would be an endless and bloody conflict. In reality, salvation was bought not by Jesus' fist, but by His nail-pierced hands; not by muscle but by love; not by vengeance but by forgiveness; not by force but by sacrifice. Jesus Christ our Lord surrendered in order that He might win; He destroyed His enemies by dying for them and conquered death by allowing death to conquer Him."- A.W. Tozer

GOOD FRIDAY
In the early morning hours of Good Friday, Jesus was arrested. Jesus stood trial where he was whipped, beaten, spat upon and then made to carry his own cross up the hill where he was nailed to it.

After Jesus was nailed to the cross he spoke seven short expressions. These statements are now commonly referred to as the "The Seven Last Words." These words are recounted in scripture and are found throughout the four gospels.

FIRST WORD
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Luke 23:34

The first words that Jesus spoke after being nailed to the cross were ones of forgiveness. Christ displays his limitless compassion.

SECOND WORD
"Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise." Luke 23:43
Christ says these words to a man who is being crucified next to him. Just like the first word, His second is that of forgiveness. God generously opens the door to heaven for those who will to repent of their sins. The sinner recognized Christ for who he was. The mercy of God is always ready to reach out to and save a soul, even at the last minute.

THIRD WORD
"When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he said to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he said to the disciple: Behold thy mother." John 19:26-27

Jesus is continuously compassionate to those around him, making sure that his Mother is cared for after his death. The good son Jesus, looks to John to care for her.

FOURTH WORD
"And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying:
Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani? That is, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Matthew 27:46

These four words were uttered shortly before His death. This is the only passage where the original Aramaic language is preserved. Here, Jesus was expressing His feelings of abandonment. God placed the sins of the entire world on Him. Jesus fully lived the human experience, and it was by His death that we are redeemed.

FIFTH WORD
Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." (John 19:28)

It was customary in those days to give an anesthetic drink for those about to be crucified. In this passage He prompted the guards for his final drink, this one consisting of vinegar and water. Among His seven last words, this is the only verbal expression of his physical suffering, even though he was scourged, crowned with thorns, and was nailed to the Cross. However, Jesus' thirst on the cross was more than a physical thirst; it was a thirst for souls for whom love compelled him to redeem.

SIXTH WORD
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)

This expression, "It is finished", did not simply mean that death was upon him, but rather that He fulfilled his mission, and, because he was God, willingly laid down his own life. His ministry and resulting death would pay the debt of sin for all humanity.

SEVENTH WORD
Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."[ When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46)

These are the very last words Jesus spoke on the Cross before His final breath. Jesus is willingly giving up His soul to His Father in Heaven. Jesus has been perfectly obedient to His father's will. It is here that the Lamb of God has been slain for our sins.

QUOTE:
"If man had his way, the plan of redemption would be an endless and bloody conflict. In reality, salvation was bought not by Jesus' fist, but by His nail-pierced hands; not by muscle but by love; not by vengeance but by forgiveness; not by force but by sacrifice. Jesus Christ our Lord surrendered in order that He might win; He destroyed His enemies by dying for them and conquered death by allowing death to conquer Him."- A.W. Tozer

MUSIC:  John Rutter's Requiem - "Out of the Deep" – Psalm 130
Sung by the Kings College Cambridge Choir


Matthew 26:26-29

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it 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. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom."

Maundy Thursday, often called Holy Thursday, is the last day of freedom Jesus had before he was arrested. Jesus ate the Last supper with his disciples. Jesus washed his disciples' feet to demonstrate humility and demonstrate the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  After the meal, Jesus went to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, where he stayed late into the night.

The blessings that we enjoy as Christians come at a cost. Christ's body was broken, and His blood was shed so that we could forever enjoy sweet fellowship and communion with Him.  Remember the death of our Lord, and worship Him in the beauty of holiness. To know that we are all loved in such a sacrificial manner should prompt each of us to worship at the feet of Jesus.

PRAYER
Lord God,
You sent your Son into the world,
And before his hour had come,
He washed his disciples' feet.
You had given all things into his hands.
He had come from you, and was going to you,
And what did he do?
He knelt down on the floor,
And washed his friends' feet.
He was their teacher and their Lord,
Yet he washed their feet.
Lord God, help us learn from his example;
Help us to do as he has done for us.
The world will know we are his disciples
If we love one another.
Strengthen our hands and our wills for love
And for service.
Keep before our eyes the image of your Son,
Who, being God, became a Servant for our sake.
All glory be to him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
One God, now and forever.
Amen.

QUOTE
"Jesus gave us a model for the work of the church at the Last Supper. While his disciples kept proposing more organization- Hey, let's elect officers, establish hierarchy, set standards of professionalism- Jesus quietly picked up a towel and basin of water and began to wash their feet." – Phillip Yancey

Artwork: Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss. 14th Century Fresco in the Collegiata of San Gimignano, Italy   Traditionally the Wednesday of Holy Week is sometimes referred to as “Spy Wednesday” for it was on this Wednesday before the crucifixion that Judas was arranging his betrayal of Jesus with the high priests. For this he was paid thirty pieces of silver.   Matthew 26:14-16   (NIV)   14  Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15  and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver.  16  From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.  What was the difference between Judas and Peter? Judas betrayed Jesus and that same night, Peter denied Christ. They both spent three years with Jesus. They both learned from Jesus. Jesus loved them both.   John 18: 25-27 (NIV)  25 Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?” He denied it, saying, “I am not.” 26 One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” 27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.  We are told in Matt 27:3 that Judas, much like Peter, regretted his actions. Unlike Peter, Judas was unable to return to Jesus to seek forgiveness. Peter repented, Judas hanged himself. Not only was Peter forgiven, he was restored, and spent the rest of his life serving Jesus Christ.  There is only one person who can make atonement for our sins, and that is Jesus Christ. In the death of Jesus there is salvation for all who will call upon His name.   BETRAYAL and FORGIVENESS, Two sonnets by Elizabeth Barrett Browning  THE LOOK   The Savior looked on Peter. Ay, no word, No gesture of reproach! The heavens serene, Though heavy with armed justice, did not lean Their thunders that way: the forsaken Lord Looked only on the traitor. None record What that look was, none guess: for those who have seen Wronged lovers loving through a death-pang ken, Or pale-cheeked martyrs smiling to a sword, Have missed Jehovah at the judgment— “I never knew this man”—did quail and fall, call. And Peter, from the height of blasphemy As knowing straight THAT GOD—turned free And went out speechless from the face of all, And filled the silence, weeping bitterly.   THE MEANING OF THE LOOK  I think that look of Christ might seem to say— “Thou Peter! art thou then a common stone Which I at last must break my heart upon For all God’s charge to his high angels may Guard my foot better? Did I yesterday Wash thy feet, my beloved, that they should run Quick to deny me ‘neath the morning sun? And do thy kisses, like the rest, betray? The cock crows coldly. —GO, and manifest A late contrition, but no bootless fear! For when thy final need is dreariest, Thou shalt not be denied, as I am here; My voice to God and angels shall attest, Because I KNOW this man, let him be clear.”    QUOTE “We are most like beasts when we kill, We are most like men when we judge. We are most like God when we forgive.”- William Arthur Ward

Artwork: Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss. 14th Century Fresco in the Collegiata of San Gimignano, Italy

Traditionally the Wednesday of Holy Week is sometimes referred to as “Spy Wednesday” for it was on this Wednesday before the crucifixion that Judas was arranging his betrayal of Jesus with the high priests. For this he was paid thirty pieces of silver.

Matthew 26:14-16 (NIV)
14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

What was the difference between Judas and Peter? Judas betrayed Jesus and that same night, Peter denied Christ. They both spent three years with Jesus. They both learned from Jesus. Jesus loved them both.

John 18: 25-27 (NIV)
25 Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?”
He denied it, saying, “I am not.”
26 One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” 27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.

We are told in Matt 27:3 that Judas, much like Peter, regretted his actions. Unlike Peter, Judas was unable to return to Jesus to seek forgiveness. Peter repented, Judas hanged himself.
Not only was Peter forgiven, he was restored, and spent the rest of his life serving Jesus Christ.

There is only one person who can make atonement for our sins, and that is Jesus Christ. In the death of Jesus there is salvation for all who will call upon His name.

BETRAYAL and FORGIVENESS,
Two sonnets by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

THE LOOK

The Savior looked on Peter. Ay, no word,
No gesture of reproach! The heavens serene,
Though heavy with armed justice, did not lean
Their thunders that way: the forsaken Lord
Looked only on the traitor. None record
What that look was, none guess: for those who have seen
Wronged lovers loving through a death-pang ken,
Or pale-cheeked martyrs smiling to a sword,
Have missed Jehovah at the judgment—
“I never knew this man”—did quail and fall, call.
And Peter, from the height of blasphemy
As knowing straight THAT GOD—turned free
And went out speechless from the face of all,
And filled the silence, weeping bitterly.

THE MEANING OF THE LOOK
I think that look of Christ might seem to say—
“Thou Peter! art thou then a common stone
Which I at last must break my heart upon
For all God’s charge to his high angels may
Guard my foot better? Did I yesterday
Wash thy feet, my beloved, that they should run
Quick to deny me ‘neath the morning sun?
And do thy kisses, like the rest, betray?
The cock crows coldly. —GO, and manifest
A late contrition, but no bootless fear!
For when thy final need is dreariest,
Thou shalt not be denied, as I am here;
My voice to God and angels shall attest,
Because I KNOW this man, let him be clear.”

QUOTE
“We are most like beasts when we kill, We are most like men when we judge. We are most like God when we forgive.”- William Arthur Ward

THE COLLISION OF GOD AND SIN by Oswald Chambers    I PETER 2:24  “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree.”  “The Cross of Jesus is the revelation of God’s judgment on sin. Never tolerate the idea of martyrdom about the Cross of Jesus Christ. The Cross was a superb triumph in which the foundations of hell were shaken. There is nothing more certain in Time or Eternity than what Jesus Christ did on the Cross: He switched the whole of the human race back into a right relationship with God. He made Redemption the basis of human life, that is, He made a way for every son of man to get into communion with God.   The Cross did not happen to Jesus: He came on purpose for it. He is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” The whole meaning of the Incarnation is the Cross. Beware of separating God manifest in the flesh from the Son becoming sin. The Incarnation was for the purpose of Redemption. God became incarnate for the purpose of putting away sin; not for the purpose of Self-realization. The Cross is the center of Time and of Eternity, the answer to the enigmas of both.   The Cross is not the cross of a man but the Cross of God, and the Cross of God can never be realized in human experience. The Cross is the exhibition of the nature of God, the gateway whereby any individual of the human race can enter into union with God. When we get to the Cross, we do not go through it; we abide in the life to which the Cross is the gateway.   The center of salvation is the Cross of Jesus, and the reason it is so easy to obtain salvation is because it cost God so much. The Cross is the point where God and sinful man merge with a crash and the way to life is opened – but the crash is on the heart of God.”   Dear God, Help us never to take for granted this huge gift of love on our behalf. Help us to be reminded of the cost of it all. Forgive us for being too busy, or distracted by other things, for not fully recognizing what you freely given, what you have done for us.  Thank you Lord that by your wounds we are healed. Thank you that because of your huge sacrifice we can live free. Thank you that sin and death have been conquered, and that your Power is everlasting. Amen.

THE COLLISION OF GOD AND SIN by Oswald Chambers

I PETER 2:24 “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree.”

“The Cross of Jesus is the revelation of God’s judgment on sin. Never tolerate the idea of martyrdom about the Cross of Jesus Christ. The Cross was a superb triumph in which the foundations of hell were shaken. There is nothing more certain in Time or Eternity than what Jesus Christ did on the Cross: He switched the whole of the human race back into a right relationship with God. He made Redemption the basis of human life, that is, He made a way for every son of man to get into communion with God.

The Cross did not happen to Jesus: He came on purpose for it. He is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” The whole meaning of the Incarnation is the Cross. Beware of separating God manifest in the flesh from the Son becoming sin. The Incarnation was for the purpose of Redemption. God became incarnate for the purpose of putting away sin; not for the purpose of Self-realization. The Cross is the center of Time and of Eternity, the answer to the enigmas of both.

The Cross is not the cross of a man but the Cross of God, and the Cross of God can never be realized in human experience. The Cross is the exhibition of the nature of God, the gateway whereby any individual of the human race can enter into union with God. When we get to the Cross, we do not go through it; we abide in the life to which the Cross is the gateway.

The center of salvation is the Cross of Jesus, and the reason it is so easy to obtain salvation is because it cost God so much. The Cross is the point where God and sinful man merge with a crash and the way to life is opened – but the crash is on the heart of God.”

Dear God,
Help us never to take for granted this huge gift of love on our behalf. Help us to be reminded of the cost of it all. Forgive us for being too busy, or distracted by other things, for not fully recognizing what you freely given, what you have done for us.

Thank you Lord that by your wounds we are healed. Thank you that because of your huge sacrifice we can live free. Thank you that sin and death have been conquered, and that your Power is everlasting. Amen.

Holy Week    EXODUS 12: 25-27    When you enter the land which the LORD will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this rite. “And when your children say to you, ‘What does this rite mean to you?’ you shall say, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to the LORD who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes’” And the people bowed low and worshiped.    Passover 2019 will be celebrated from April 19-April 27.  One of the most significant Jewish holidays, Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, recalls and rejoices over the Israelites’ redemption from slavery in Egypt. The symbolic elements of the feast cause us not only to look back and remember what the Lord did for our people in the past; they also foreshadow a greater redemption through Jesus, the Passover Lamb.  The Old Testament Passover was a memorial of God passing over the houses of the children of Israel when He killed the firstborn of Egypt. The New Testament Christian Passover is not a memorial of Israel’s exodus from Egypt but a memorial of the death of Jesus Christ. Christians eat and drink in remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice.  “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” I Corinthians 11:26  By connecting Passover, Holy Week and Easter, we bridge the Old and New Testaments and can see the overarching theme of God’s redemptive acts on behalf of His people.    JOHN 13:1     It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.       I PETER 1:18-20      For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.    PRAYER    Lord God, I give you thanks, for you are good, and your mercy is endless. Here I stand, at the start of this holy week, This week in which your church remembers Jesus’ passion and death, And I am distracted by many things. Turn my eyes now to the One who comes in your name The one who opens the gates of righteousness The one who answers when we call. I bless you, Lord, for shining your light upon me, And for sending your son to us, in human frailty. To walk the road we walk. Open my eyes that I may see him coming, And may praise him with a pure heart. And may walk in the way of his suffering, And share also in his resurrection. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.    QUOTE "We want to avoid suffering, death, sin, ashes. But we live in a world crushed and broken and torn, a world God Himself visited to redeem. We receive his poured-out life, and being allowed the high privilege of suffering with Him, may then pour ourselves out for others." – Elisabeth Elliot

Holy Week

EXODUS 12: 25-27
When you enter the land which the LORD will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this rite. “And when your children say to you, ‘What does this rite mean to you?’ you shall say, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to the LORD who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes’” And the people bowed low and worshiped.

Passover 2019 will be celebrated from April 19-April 27.

One of the most significant Jewish holidays, Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, recalls and rejoices over the Israelites’ redemption from slavery in Egypt. The symbolic elements of the feast cause us not only to look back and remember what the Lord did for our people in the past; they also foreshadow a greater redemption through Jesus, the Passover Lamb.

The Old Testament Passover was a memorial of God passing over the houses of the children of Israel when He killed the firstborn of Egypt. The New Testament Christian Passover is not a memorial of Israel’s exodus from Egypt but a memorial of the death of Jesus Christ. Christians eat and drink in remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice.

“For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” I Corinthians 11:26

By connecting Passover, Holy Week and Easter, we bridge the Old and New Testaments and can see the overarching theme of God’s redemptive acts on behalf of His people.

JOHN 13:1
It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.

I PETER 1:18-20

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.

PRAYER

Lord God,
I give you thanks, for you are good, and your mercy is endless.
Here I stand, at the start of this holy week,
This week in which your church remembers Jesus’ passion and death,
And I am distracted by many things.
Turn my eyes now to the One who comes in your name
The one who opens the gates of righteousness
The one who answers when we call.
I bless you, Lord, for shining your light upon me,
And for sending your son to us, in human frailty.
To walk the road we walk.
Open my eyes that I may see him coming,
And may praise him with a pure heart.
And may walk in the way of his suffering,
And share also in his resurrection.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.
Amen.

QUOTE
"We want to avoid suffering, death, sin, ashes. But we live in a world crushed and broken and torn, a world God Himself visited to redeem. We receive his poured-out life, and being allowed the high privilege of suffering with Him, may then pour ourselves out for others." – Elisabeth Elliot

John 12:13  "They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Blessed is the king of Israel!"  Today is Palm Sunday which marks Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Palm Sunday is significant because it marks the beginning of Holy Week, that very important day when Jesus began His journey toward the cross.  In each of the gospels, we find the story of Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The people cut palm branches and waved them in the air, then laid them out on the ground before Him as He rode into the city. The palm branch is known to represent goodness and victory, symbolic of the final victory He would soon fulfill over sin and death.  As they called out, "Hosanna!" they were hailing Christ as King. That word means "to save now," and though in their own minds they eagerly waited for an earthly king, God had a different plan in store. He was providing a way to set us free…eternally.  This is the greatest significance of why we celebrate this week. Because of Christ's ultimate sacrifice and victory, we too are more than conquerors, and set free through Him.   Palm Sunday by Malcolm Guite   Now to the gate of my Jerusalem, The seething holy city of my heart, The saviour comes. But will I welcome him? Oh crowds of easy feelings make a start; They raise their hands, get caught up in the singing, And think the battle won. Too soon they'll find The challenge, the reversal he is bringing Changes their tune. I know what lies behind The surface flourish that so quickly fades; Self-interest, and fearful guardedness, The hardness of the heart, its barricades, And at the core, the dreadful emptiness Of a perverted temple. Jesus come Break my resistance and make me your home.   PRAYER   Dear God, Thank you for sending your Son and paving the way for our lives to be set free through Jesus' death on the cross. Thank you for what this day stands for - the beginning of Holy Week, the start of the journey towards the power of the cross, the victory of the Resurrection, and the rich truth that Jesus truly is our King of Kings. "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord..." We praise you, we bless you Lord! Thank you that you reign supreme and we are more than conquerors through the gift of Christ! In the Mighty Name of Jesus, Amen.

John 12:13
"They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Blessed is the king of Israel!"

Today is Palm Sunday which marks Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Palm Sunday is significant because it marks the beginning of Holy Week, that very important day when Jesus began His journey toward the cross.

In each of the gospels, we find the story of Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The people cut palm branches and waved them in the air, then laid them out on the ground before Him as He rode into the city. The palm branch is known to represent goodness and victory, symbolic of the final victory He would soon fulfill over sin and death.

As they called out, "Hosanna!" they were hailing Christ as King. That word means "to save now," and though in their own minds they eagerly waited for an earthly king, God had a different plan in store. He was providing a way to set us free…eternally.

This is the greatest significance of why we celebrate this week. Because of Christ's ultimate sacrifice and victory, we too are more than conquerors, and set free through Him.

Palm Sunday
by Malcolm Guite


Now to the gate of my Jerusalem,
The seething holy city of my heart,
The saviour comes. But will I welcome him?
Oh crowds of easy feelings make a start;
They raise their hands, get caught up in the singing,
And think the battle won. Too soon they'll find
The challenge, the reversal he is bringing
Changes their tune. I know what lies behind
The surface flourish that so quickly fades;
Self-interest, and fearful guardedness,
The hardness of the heart, its barricades,
And at the core, the dreadful emptiness
Of a perverted temple. Jesus come
Break my resistance and make me your home.

PRAYER

Dear God,
Thank you for sending your Son and paving the way for our lives to be set free through Jesus' death on the cross. Thank you for what this day stands for - the beginning of Holy Week, the start of the journey towards the power of the cross, the victory of the Resurrection, and the rich truth that Jesus truly is our King of Kings.
"Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord..."
We praise you, we bless you Lord! Thank you that you reign supreme and we are more than conquerors through the gift of Christ!
In the Mighty Name of Jesus,
Amen.

Artwork: The fresco of Entry of Jesus in Jerusalem in Duomo by Lattanzio Gambara (1567-1573)    MATTHEW 21:1-2  As they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent out two disciples. "Go to the village ahead of you, He told them," and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt beside her. Untie them and bring them to Me. If anyone questions you, tell him that the Lord needs them , and he will sent them right away."…   THE DONKEY by G.K. Chesterton (1874–1936) Chesterton captures Palm Sunday from the perspective of the donkey that Jesus rode.  When fishes flew and forests walked And figs grew upon thorn, Some moment when the moon was blood Then surely I was born;  With monstrous head and sickening cry And ears like errant wings, The devil's walking parody On all four-footed things.  The tattered outlaw of the earth, Of ancient crooked will; Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb, I keep my secret still.  Fools! For I also had my hour; One far fierce hour and sweet: There was a shout about my ears, And palms before my feet.   An excerpt from THE FINAL WEEK OF JESUS by Max Lucado. "The Guy With The Donkey".   …"I want to meet the guy with the donkey….He gave a donkey to Jesus on the Sunday he entered Jerusalem.… When we all get to heaven I want to visit this fellow. I have several questions for him.  How did you know? How did you know it was Jesus who needed a donkey? Did you have a vision? Did you get a telegram? Did an angel appear in your bowl of lentils?  Was it hard to give? Was it difficult to give something to Jesus for him to use? I want to ask that question because sometimes it's hard for me. Sometimes like to keep my animals to myself. Sometimes when God wants something I act like I don't know he needs it….  All of us have a donkey. You and I each have something in our lives, which, if given back to God, could, like the donkey, move Jesus and his story further down the road. Maybe you can sing or hug or program a computer or speak Swahili or write a check. Whichever, that's your donkey. Whichever, your donkey belongs to him. It really does belong to him. Your gifts are his and the donkey was his. The original wording of the instructions Jesus gave to his disciples is proof: "If anyone asks you why you are taking the donkey, you are to say, 'Its Lord is in need.'    QUOTE "Corrie ten Boom was once asked if it were difficult for her to remain humble. Her reply was simple. 'When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on the back of a donkey, and everyone was waving palm branches and throwing garments onto the road, and singing praises, do you think that for one moment it ever entered the head of that donkey that any of that was for him?' She continued, 'If I can be the donkey on which Jesus Christ rides in his glory, I give him all the praise and all the honor.'" - Mark Schaeufele in A MESSIAH WHO SERVES

Artwork: The fresco of Entry of Jesus in Jerusalem in Duomo by Lattanzio Gambara (1567-1573)

MATTHEW 21:1-2 As they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent out two disciples. "Go to the village ahead of you, He told them," and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt beside her. Untie them and bring them to Me. If anyone questions you, tell him that the Lord needs them , and he will sent them right away."…

THE DONKEY by G.K. Chesterton (1874–1936)
Chesterton captures Palm Sunday from the perspective of the donkey that Jesus rode.

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born;

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

An excerpt from THE FINAL WEEK OF JESUS by Max Lucado.
"The Guy With The Donkey".


…"I want to meet the guy with the donkey….He gave a donkey to Jesus on the Sunday he entered Jerusalem.… When we all get to heaven I want to visit this fellow. I have several questions for him.

How did you know? How did you know it was Jesus who needed a donkey? Did you have a vision? Did you get a telegram? Did an angel appear in your bowl of lentils?

Was it hard to give? Was it difficult to give something to Jesus for him to use? I want to ask that question because sometimes it's hard for me. Sometimes like to keep my animals to myself. Sometimes when God wants something I act like I don't know he needs it….

All of us have a donkey. You and I each have something in our lives, which, if given back to God, could, like the donkey, move Jesus and his story further down the road. Maybe you can sing or hug or program a computer or speak Swahili or write a check.
Whichever, that's your donkey.
Whichever, your donkey belongs to him.
It really does belong to him. Your gifts are his and the donkey was his. The original wording of the instructions Jesus gave to his disciples is proof: "If anyone asks you why you are taking the donkey, you are to say, 'Its Lord is in need.'

QUOTE
"Corrie ten Boom was once asked if it were difficult for her to remain humble. Her reply was simple. 'When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on the back of a donkey, and everyone was waving palm branches and throwing garments onto the road, and singing praises, do you think that for one moment it ever entered the head of that donkey that any of that was for him?' She continued, 'If I can be the donkey on which Jesus Christ rides in his glory, I give him all the praise and all the honor.'"
- Mark Schaeufele in A MESSIAH WHO SERVES

MUSIC:  ST. MATTHEW PASSION  BMV 244
by Johann Sebastian Bach (1727)


PART I – 1-4b  Recitative - Evangelist
"There assembled themselves the high priests and the scribes together, and the elders of the people within the palace of the chief priest, whose name was Caiaphas; and there took counsel, how with stealth they might capture Jesus and put him to death. They said however:  Not upon the feast, lest from it there be an uproar among the people

The ST. MATTHEW PASSION is divided in scenes or "stations" that follow the dramatic action of the Gospel account.  Bach's large choral composition was written to present the Passion, as told in the Gospel of Matthew, in a vespers service on Good Friday.  Bach took the Gospel text for the composition from Martin Luther's German translation of Matthew 26 and 27.

MATTHEW 26: 1-5

When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, "As you know, the Passover is two days away-and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified." Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. "But not during the festival," they said, "or there may be a riot among the people."

QUOTE:
"If man had his way, the plan of redemption would be an endless and bloody conflict. In reality, salvation was bought not by Jesus' fist, but by His nail-pierced hands; not by muscle but by love; not by vengeance but by forgiveness; not by force but by sacrifice. Jesus Christ our Lord surrendered in order that He might win; He destroyed His enemies by dying for them and conquered death by allowing death to conquer Him."
By A.W. Tozer, Preparing for Jesus' Return: Daily Live the Blessed Hope


John 12: 1-8 (ESV)   Mary Anoints Jesus at Bethany  12 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound [a] of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 "Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii [b] and given to the poor?" 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, "Leave her alone, so that she may keep it [c] for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me."   PRAYER  Lord God, Six days before his death, your son sat with Lazarus, Whom he had raised from the dead, And ate dinner with his friends. Once again, your gospel tells us, Martha served; And Mary knelt at Jesus' feet To anoint them with costly perfume. The disciple who was about to betray him Said that it was a waste. He didn't care about the poor, really – He just wanted to fill his own pockets And make Mary feel ashamed. Lord God, Often we cannot discern what is best: When to pour out costly perfume for your sake, Even if the world thinks it a waste. When to be busy serving, Or when to rest at your Son's feet and learn. Give us ears to hear you and eyes to see. For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.    QUOTE "If any voice tells you to moderate our love for Jesus, do not listen. Let your affections for Jesus be lavish. If any voice tempts you to want to be rich in money, do not listen. Jesus is your riches, and all that money can buy cannot compare to him. If any voice tells you that his death is anything less than the triumph over death, do not listen. He is the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in him, though he die, yet shall he live. And whoever lives and believes in him shall never die." – John Piper

John 12: 1-8 (ESV)
Mary Anoints Jesus at Bethany
12 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound [a] of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 "Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii [b] and given to the poor?" 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, "Leave her alone, so that she may keep it [c] for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me."

PRAYER
Lord God,
Six days before his death, your son sat with Lazarus,
Whom he had raised from the dead,
And ate dinner with his friends.
Once again, your gospel tells us, Martha served;
And Mary knelt at Jesus' feet
To anoint them with costly perfume.
The disciple who was about to betray him
Said that it was a waste.
He didn't care about the poor, really –
He just wanted to fill his own pockets
And make Mary feel ashamed.
Lord God,
Often we cannot discern what is best:
When to pour out costly perfume for your sake,
Even if the world thinks it a waste.
When to be busy serving,
Or when to rest at your Son's feet and learn.
Give us ears to hear you and eyes to see.
For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ.
Amen.

QUOTE
"If any voice tells you to moderate our love for Jesus, do not listen. Let your affections for Jesus be lavish. If any voice tempts you to want to be rich in money, do not listen. Jesus is your riches, and all that money can buy cannot compare to him. If any voice tells you that his death is anything less than the triumph over death, do not listen. He is the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in him, though he die, yet shall he live. And whoever lives and believes in him shall never die." – John Piper

MUSIC:  MESSIAH – by George Frideric Handel (1741)
“How Beautiful Are The Feet” Performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra–Walter Susskind & April Cantello

 
“How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things.”
 
SCRIPTURE
Isaiah 52:7 (NIV)
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"
 
Romans 10:14-18  (NIV)
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?”  Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did:
“Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.”
 
The gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for our sins and rose again, eternally triumphant over his enemies, so that there is now no condemnation for those who believe, but only everlasting joy.
 
God calls our feet beautiful because he has sent us to proclaim this message of peace, hope and eternal life. The preaching of such a Gospel, and bringing such news, makes our feet beautiful!
 
Many people may not recognize the beauty of gospel messengers at the time, but God delights in those who share the message of salvation. What an incredible gift to share with those around us. God's peace towards mankind, his love for us, his gift of grace and his overwhelming mercy. We have the words that bring life and Jesus has placed His faith in us to share it.
May your feet be beautiful!

QUOTES
 “God’s plan for enlarging His kingdom is so simple – one person telling another about the Savior. Yet we’re busy and full of excuses. Just remember, someone’s eternal destiny is at stake. The joy you’ll have when you meet that person in heaven will far exceed any discomfort you felt in sharing the gospel.”– Charles Stanley
 
“Live in such a way that those who know you, but don’t know God, will come to know God because they know you.”– Unknown

BALLAD OF MARY'S SON by Langston Hughes   It was in the Spring. The Passover had come. There was fasting in the streets and joy. But an awful thing Happened in the Spring – Men who knew not what they did Killed Mary's Boy. He was Mary's Son, And the Son of God was He – Sent to bring the whole world joy. There were some who could not hear, And some were filled with fear – So they built a Cross For Mary's Boy. To His Twelve Disciples He gave them of His Bread. He gave them to drink of His wine. This is my blood, He said. My Cross for you Will be a sign.   1 CORTHINIANS 1:18  For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.   COLOSSIANS 2:14  Having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.    QUOTES "Life is wasted if we do not grasp the glory of the cross, cherish it for the treasure that it is, and cleave to it as the highest price of every pleasure and the deepest comfort in every pain. What was once foolishness to us - a crucified God - must become our wisdom and our power and our only boast in this world." John Piper

BALLAD OF MARY'S SON by Langston Hughes

It was in the Spring.
The Passover had come.
There was fasting in the streets and joy.
But an awful thing
Happened in the Spring –
Men who knew not what they did
Killed Mary's Boy.
He was Mary's Son,
And the Son of God was He –
Sent to bring the whole world joy.
There were some who could not hear,
And some were filled with fear –
So they built a Cross
For Mary's Boy.
To His Twelve Disciples
He gave them of His Bread.
He gave them to drink of His wine.
This is my blood, He said.
My Cross for you
Will be a sign.

1 CORTHINIANS 1:18
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

COLOSSIANS 2:14
Having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.

QUOTES
"Life is wasted if we do not grasp the glory of the cross, cherish it for the treasure that it is, and cleave to it as the highest price of every pleasure and the deepest comfort in every pain. What was once foolishness to us - a crucified God - must become our wisdom and our power and our only boast in this world." John Piper

MUSIC:  EASTER ORATORIO by J.S. Bach  "Sinfonia"

Compassion alludes to kindness and sympathy, but there is something deeper, something even more profoundly powerful, in its meaning.

The origin of the word helps us grasp the true breadth and significance of compassion. In Latin 'compati' means "suffer with." Compassion means someone else's heartbreak becomes your heartbreak. Another's suffering becomes your suffering. True compassion changes the way we live.

The Bible is filled with scripture that shares of a God who has compassion for Israel. It speaks of a Savior who suffers for the world, and it encourages us to live and act compassionately.

Psalm 116:5
The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.

Ephesians 4:32
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, Just as in Christ God forgave you.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Colossians 3:12
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

PRAYER For Overcoming Indifference
Prayer for Overcoming Indifference
For the sin of silence,
For the sin of indifference,
For the secret complicity of the neutral,
For the closing of borders,
For the washing of hands,
For the crime of indifference,
For the sin of silence,
For the closing of borders.
For all that was done,
For all that was not done,
Let there be no forgetfulness before the Throne of
Glory;
Let there be remembrance within the human heart;
And let there at last be forgiveness
When your children, O God,
Are free and at peace.

QUOTE
"No matter how low down you are; no matter what your disposition has been; you may be low in your thoughts, words, and actions; you may be selfish; your heart may be overflowing with corruption and wickedness; yet Jesus will have compassion upon you. He will speak comforting words to you; not treat you coldly or spurn you, as perhaps those of earth would, but will speak tender words, and words of love and affection and kindness. Just come at once. He is a faithful friend - a friend that sticketh closer than a brother."
-Dwight L. Moody


A STAINED GLASS WINDOW depicting Jesus preaching to a Crowd of people.  It is located in the Cathedral of St. John The Baptist in downtown Charleston (1907)

iStock-817347192.jpg
EASTER WINGS by George Herbert.jpg

ARTWORK:  Cremona, Italy – The Ascension of the Lord fresco in main apse of Chiesa di San Sigismondo by Camillo Boccaccino 150501546

MUSIC:  The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams
Based on the poem The Lark Ascending by George Meredith

ACTS 1:10 (MEV)

While they looked intently toward heaven as He ascended,
We can all just imagine what it must have looked like to see Jesus ascend into heaven. Nothing could compare with this amazing vision that was witnessed by the disciples. After His resurrection He was with them for a short time and then ascended to His throne to be with the Father.  In the future as believers we can look forward to a time that we also will ascend and "meet Him in the clouds" and so shall we ever be with the Lord. This is a most comforting thought and one that each believer wants and waits for.
In this present time there is also a type of ascension that takes place in our lives.  Christ is right now raising us higher and higher in our lives by His Spirit. We go from "glory to glory" as we are transformed more and more into His glorious likeness. This wonderful process never stops, and will not reach its conclusion until we are actually with our Lord.  No matter where you find yourself today just remember that as Christ ascended, so will you someday, and right now you are being transformed and raised higher in Christ. Thank the Lord right now for His continued work in your life and that He never gives up on any of us!
Pastor Kevin Ledbetter – Music & Arts @3Crosses Church

2 Corinthians 3:18 (MEV)
But we all, seeing the glory of the Lord with unveiled faces, as in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord

QUOTE
"Renewing the mind is a little like refinishing furniture. It is two-stage process. It involves taking off the old and replacing it with the new.  The old is the lies you have learned to tell or were taught by those around you; it is the attitudes and ideas that have become a part of your thinking but do not reflect reality. The new is the truth. To renew your mind is to involve yourself in the process of allowing God to bring to the surface the lies you have mistakenly accepted and replace them with truth. To the degree that you do this, your behavior will be transformed. – Charles Stanley

JOHN 5:1-19  …So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too am working." For this reason, the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does." "There is a set of rhythms we are all affected by because we are all surrounded by them from the earliest stages in our development. In the womb we are surrounded by the surge of our mother's heart. We hear the blood coursing through her veins, the air moving through her lungs, the cadence of her voice muffled through her body. After we are born, we experience other rhythms. The rising and setting of the sun. The ebb and flow of the tides. The coming and going of the seasons. From the life cycle of the mayfly to the lunar cycle of the moon, the rhythms of life regulate our world. But there are other rhythms at work in the world. Spiritual rhythms. Pulsing from the heart of our heavenly Father. Jesus listened for those rhythms the way a migrating animal listens to a seasonal change in temperature or the steady signal of the earth's magnetic field. Jesus sensed the movements of the Father the way the tides sensed the movements of the moon. Those movements determined his. "I tell you the truth,' Jesus said, 'the Son of Man can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing.' Not only did the Father determine the course of his Son's actions but the course of his conversations. 'For I do not speak of my own accord,' Jesus said, 'but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.' …Jesus' life flowed out of his relationship with the Father. It was lived listening to his Father and being obedient to his leading. If the Father was leading him into the wilderness, he went. If the Father wanted him to go to a well in Samaria or to the pool of Bethesda, he went. And if his heavenly Father willed him to go where no earthly father could ever conceive sending a son-to a shameful cross on a brutal hill-he would go here too. He would go there to die as he had lived, his heart still beating with that one passion-'Not my will be done but thine.' Until at last it beat no longer."  Excerpt from Ken Gire's "Moments with The Savior    PRAYER  Dear Lord – How casually I use that word. I call you "Lord" in my prayers. I refer to you as "Lord" in my conversation. Are you? Are you Lord of my life? If you are, I am the servant. Yet so often it is I who am telling you what to do instead of you tell me. Please, Lord, take the selfishly possessive pronoun out of my life. And make it yours. YOUR life. YOUR plans. YOUR dreams. YOUR will be done on this earth. Not mine. For thine-not mine-is the kingdom and the power and glory, forever and ever…   Artwork: Christ healing the Paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda By Bartolome Esteban Murillo (1667-70) National Gallery in London

JOHN 5:1-19
…So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too am working." For this reason, the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does."
"There is a set of rhythms we are all affected by because we are all surrounded by them from the earliest stages in our development. In the womb we are surrounded by the surge of our mother's heart. We hear the blood coursing through her veins, the air moving through her lungs, the cadence of her voice muffled through her body. After we are born, we experience other rhythms. The rising and setting of the sun. The ebb and flow of the tides. The coming and going of the seasons. From the life cycle of the mayfly to the lunar cycle of the moon, the rhythms of life regulate our world.
But there are other rhythms at work in the world. Spiritual rhythms. Pulsing from the heart of our heavenly Father. Jesus listened for those rhythms the way a migrating animal listens to a seasonal change in temperature or the steady signal of the earth's magnetic field. Jesus sensed the movements of the Father the way the tides sensed the movements of the moon. Those movements determined his. "I tell you the truth,' Jesus said, 'the Son of Man can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing.' Not only did the Father determine the course of his Son's actions but the course of his conversations. 'For I do not speak of my own accord,' Jesus said, 'but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.'
…Jesus' life flowed out of his relationship with the Father. It was lived listening to his Father and being obedient to his leading. If the Father was leading him into the wilderness, he went. If the Father wanted him to go to a well in Samaria or to the pool of Bethesda, he went. And if his heavenly Father willed him to go where no earthly father could ever conceive sending a son-to a shameful cross on a brutal hill-he would go here too.
He would go there to die as he had lived, his heart still beating with that one passion-'Not my will be done but thine.' Until at last it beat no longer."
Excerpt from Ken Gire's "Moments with The Savior

PRAYER
Dear Lord –
How casually I use that word. I call you "Lord" in my prayers. I refer to you as "Lord" in my conversation. Are you? Are you Lord of my life? If you are, I am the servant. Yet so often it is I who am telling you what to do instead of you tell me. Please, Lord, take the selfishly possessive pronoun out of my life. And make it yours. YOUR life. YOUR plans. YOUR dreams. YOUR will be done on this earth. Not mine. For thine-not mine-is the kingdom and the power and glory, forever and ever…

Artwork: Christ healing the Paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda
By Bartolome Esteban Murillo (1667-70)
National Gallery in London

Music: “IF YE LOVE ME” by Thomas Tallis
performed by John Rutter and the Cambridge Singers


If ye love me,
keep my commandments,
and I will pray the Father,
and he shall give you another comforter,
that he may 'bide with you forever,
e’en the spirit of truth.
(John 14:15-17)
 
SCRIPTURE
John 14:15-17 (NIV)
Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
 
“If I were to ask you to describe your heavenly Father, you’d give me a response. If I were to ask you to tell me what Jesus did for you, you’d likely give a cogent answers. But If I were to ask about the role of the Holy Spirit in your life…? Eyes would duck. Throats would be cleared.
 
John 14:7 says, “The world cannot accept him, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he lives with you and he will be in you.”
 
What does the Spirit do? Scripture says He comforts the saved. He convicts the lost. He conveys the truth. Have you ever been convicted? Ever sensed a stab of sorrow for your actions? Understood a new truth? Then you’ve been touched by the Holy Spirit.
 
What do you know? He’s been working in your life already.”
                                                Max Lucado from “A Gentle Thunder”
 
PRAYER
“I myself need Thy support, comfort, strength, holiness, that I might be a pure channel of Thy grace, and be able to do something for Thee; Give me then refreshment among Thy people, and help me not to treat excellent matter in a defective way, or bear a broken testimony to so worthy a redeemer, or be harsh in treating of Christ’s death, its design and end, from lack of warmth and fervency. And keep me in tune with Thee as I do this work.”
-An Old Puritan Prayer, taken from “The Valley of Vision”
 
QUOTE by John Wesley
“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can” 

                                   
STAIN GLASS IMAGE
South rosette stained glass window in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, created in 1266. The window is one of the most famous in the world.

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CHRIST HAS NO BODY by Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)  Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours, Yours are the eyes with which he looks Compassion on this world, Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good, Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, Yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours, Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.  As Christ offered Himself to God his Father, so we too are called to follow his example of self-offering to give life to others.   Matthew 25:35-40 (NIV)  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’   PRAYER  God of infinite love,  I thank you for this reminder of your love and your call that we be more patient, gentle and compassionate with others.  Here in the middle of Lent, I turn to you to beg for your help.  Please soften my heart. Help me to let go of judging others. I ask you this, in Jesus' name.    Quote "The Christian faith is meant to be lived moment by moment. It isn't some broad, general outline--it's a long walk with a real Person. Details count: passing thoughts, small sacrifices, a few encouraging words, little acts of kindness, brief victories over nagging sins." - Joni Eareckson Tada

CHRIST HAS NO BODY by Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

As Christ offered Himself to God his Father, so we too are called to follow his example of self-offering to give life to others.

Matthew 25:35-40 (NIV)
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

PRAYER
God of infinite love,
I thank you for this reminder of your love
and your call that we be more patient,
gentle and compassionate with others.
Here in the middle of Lent,
I turn to you to beg for your help.
Please soften my heart.
Help me to let go of judging others.
I ask you this, in Jesus' name.

Quote
"The Christian faith is meant to be lived moment by moment. It isn't some broad, general outline--it's a long walk with a real Person. Details count: passing thoughts, small sacrifices, a few encouraging words, little acts of kindness, brief victories over nagging sins." - Joni Eareckson Tada

GREGORIAN CHANT: "With Great Longing"
The Gregorian Chant Schola --Saint Meinrad Archabbey
PHOTOGRAPHY:  ABBEY OF SENANGIE, Provence, France


With Great Longing
And in the joy of the Holy Spirit
We await the Holy Feast of Easter
Deny yourself and follow Christ
With fasting and revive the poor
Clothe the naked and visit the sick
Comfort those who grieve

With Great Longing
And in the joy of the Holy Spirit
We await the Holy Feast of Easter
Put nothing before the love of Christ
Do not act in anger nor bare a grudge
Do not give a false peace  nor abandon charity

With Great Longing
And in the joy of the Holy Spirit
We await the holy feast of Easter
Do not return evil for good
Speak the truth with heart and tongue
Cause no hurt but bear hurt with patience
And love those who hate you

With Great Longing
And in the joy of the Holy Spirit
We await the Holy Feast of Easter

"An inner restlessness grows within us when we refuse to get alone and examine our own hearts, including our motives.  As our lives begin to pick up the debris that accompanies a lot of activities and involvements, we can train ourselves to go right on, to stay active, to be busy in the Lord's work. Unless we discipline ourselves to pull back, to get alone for the hard work of self-examination in times of solitude, serenity will remain only a distant dream."
– Charles R. Swindoll, (Intimacy with the Almighty)

PSALM 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God"

PRAYER – by St. Augustine (354-430)
Lord Jesus, let me know myself and know You, and desire nothing save only You.
Let me hate myself and love You.
Let me do everything for the sake of You.
Let me humble myself and exalt You.
Let me think of nothing except You.
Let me die to myself and live in You.
Let me accept whatever happens as from You.
Let me banish self and follow You, and ever desire to follow You.
Let me fly from myself and take refuge in You,
That I may deserve to be defended by You.
Let me fear for myself.
Let me fear You, and let me be among those who are chosen by You.
Let me distrust myself and put my trust in You.
Let me be willing to obey for the sake of You.
Let me cling to nothing save only to You,
And let me be poor because of You.
Look upon me, that I may love You.
Call me that I may see You, and for ever enjoy You. Amen.

QUOTES
"We are a peculiar people who somehow feel that the final measure of a person's spirituality is to be gauged by their capacity to go, go, go…for God. On the contrary, our Father calls us to come apart and spend some time in solitude with him." – W. Philip Keller

"In solitude and silence you are learning to stop doing, stop producing, stop pleasing people, stop entertaining yourself, stop obsessing-stop doing anything except to simply be your self before God and be found by him."

Jeremiah 29:13 (ESV)  You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.   The Practice of the Presence of God – Brother Lawrence   Since, by His mercy, He gives us still a little time, let us begin in earnest, let us redeem the time that is lost, let us return with a whole-hearted trust to this Father of Mercies, who is always ready to receive us into His loving arms. Let us renounce, and renounce generously, with single heart, for the love of Him, all that is not His; He deserves infinitely more. Let us think of Him unceasingly; in Him let us put all our confidence. I doubt not but that we shall soon experience the effects of it in receiving the abundance of His grace, with which we can do all things, and without which we can do naught but sin.  We cannot escape the dangers which abound in life, without the actual and continual help of God; let us then pray to Him for it continually. How can we pray to Him without being with Him? How can we be with Him, but in thinking of Him often? And how can we have Him often in our thoughts, unless by a holy habit of thought which we should form? You will tell me that I am always saying the same thing: it is true, for this is the best and easiest method that I know; and as I use no other, I advise the whole world to it. We must know before we can love. In order to know God, we must often think of Him; and when we come to love Him, we shall also think of Him often, for our heart will be with our treasure!   Brother Lawrence or Nicholas Herman of Lorraine (1611-1691)-Low born Frenchman and Carmelite monk, Brother Lawrence lived a saintly life, which is reflected in his writings.     QUOTES "Why do some persons 'find' God in a way that others do not? Why does God manifest His Presence to some and let multitudes of others struggle along in the half-light of imperfect Christian experience? Of course the will of God is the same for all. He has no favorites within His household. All He has ever done for any of His children He will do for all of His children. The difference lies not with God but with us." ― A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God: The Human Thirst for the Divine      "We rarely think of the air we breathe, yet it is in us and around us all the time. In similar fashion, the presence of God penetrates us, is all around us, is always embracing us." – Thomas Keating

Jeremiah 29:13 (ESV)
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

The Practice of the Presence of God – Brother Lawrence

Since, by His mercy, He gives us still a little time, let us begin in earnest, let us redeem the time that is lost, let us return with a whole-hearted trust to this Father of Mercies, who is always ready to receive us into His loving arms. Let us renounce, and renounce generously, with single heart, for the love of Him, all that is not His; He deserves infinitely more. Let us think of Him unceasingly; in Him let us put all our confidence. I doubt not but that we shall soon experience the effects of it in receiving the abundance of His grace, with which we can do all things, and without which we can do naught but sin.

We cannot escape the dangers which abound in life, without the actual and continual help of God; let us then pray to Him for it continually. How can we pray to Him without being with Him? How can we be with Him, but in thinking of Him often? And how can we have Him often in our thoughts, unless by a holy habit of thought which we should form? You will tell me that I am always saying the same thing: it is true, for this is the best and easiest method that I know; and as I use no other, I advise the whole world to it. We must know before we can love. In order to know God, we must often think of Him; and when we come to love Him, we shall also think of Him often, for our heart will be with our treasure!

Brother Lawrence or Nicholas Herman of Lorraine (1611-1691)-Low born Frenchman and Carmelite monk, Brother Lawrence lived a saintly life, which is reflected in his writings.

QUOTES
"Why do some persons 'find' God in a way that others do not? Why does God manifest His Presence to some and let multitudes of others struggle along in the half-light of imperfect Christian experience? Of course the will of God is the same for all. He has no favorites within His household. All He has ever done for any of His children He will do for all of His children. The difference lies not with God but with us."
― A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God: The Human Thirst for the Divine



"We rarely think of the air we breathe, yet it is in us and around us all the time. In similar fashion, the presence of God penetrates us, is all around us, is always embracing us." – Thomas Keating

Come Sunday

The forty days of Lent do not include Sundays, the Lord’s Day, which is always a day of celebration rather than fast. In “Come Sunday” (most famously recorded by Mahalia Jackson in 1958), Duke Ellington captures this sense of Sunday as a day of rest and comfort for the weary and downtrodden.

Lord, dear Lord of love, God almighty
God up above, please look down and see my people through

God, dear God of love, God almighty
God above, please look down and see my people through

I believe the sun and moon will shine up in the sky
When the day is gray
I know it, just clouds passing by

He'll give peace and comfort
To every troubled mind
Come Sunday, oh come Sunday
That´s the day

Often we’ll feel weary
But he knows our every care
Go to him in secret
He will hear your every prayer

Lillies of the valley
They neither toll nor spin
And flowers bloom in spring
And Birds sing

Up from dawn till sunset
Man work hard all the day
Come Sunday, oh come Sunday
That´s the day
 
Genesis 2:2-3 (ESV)
And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation
 
Psalm 92:1-15 (ESV)
A Psalm.  A Song for the Sabbath.

 It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre.  For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy. How great are your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep….
 
PRAYER
Dear Lord, help me to make every Sabbath about you. Quiet my heart, give rest to my soul, and refocus my spirit—for true renewal comes only from you. Holy Spirit please help me to be intentional with my time and worship, and encourage me to find rest in you alone. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  
 
QUOTES
Sabbath ceasing means to cease not only from work itself, but also from the need to accomplish and be productive, from the worry and tension that accompany our modern criterion of efficiency, from our efforts to be in control of our lives as if we were God, from our possessiveness and our enculturation, and, finally, from the humdrum and meaninglessness that result when life is pursued without the Lord at the center of it all. —Marva J. Dawn
 
When your tongue is silent, you can rest in the silence of the forest. When your imagination is silent, the forest speaks to you. It tells you of its unreality and of the Reality of God. But when your mind is silent, then the forest suddenly becomes magnificently real and blazes transparently with the Reality of God.
—Thomas Merton

 
 
Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972) was an American Gospel Singer. Possessing a powerful contralto voice she was referred to as “The Queen of Gospel”.  She became one of the most influential gospel singers in the world and was heralded internationally as a singer and civil rights activist. “I sing God’s music because it makes me feel free” Jackson once said about her choice of gospel adding, “It gives me hope. With the blues, when you finish, you still have the blues.”

SACRED POEMS by Richard Crashaw   If I were lost in misery, What was it to your heaven and thee? What was it to your precious blood, If my foul heart call'd for a flood? What If my faithless soul and I Would need fall in With guilt and sin, What did the Lamb that he should die? What did the Lamb that he should need, When the wolf sins, himself to bleed?  If my base lust Bargain'd with death and well-beseeming dust, Why should the white Lamb's bosom write The purple name Of my sin's shame?  Why should his unstain'd breast make good My blushes with his own heart-blood?  O my Savior! Make me see How dearly you have paid for me;  That lost again, my life may prove As then in death, so now in love.   I JOHN 4:9-11  "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.   I JOHN 3:1  "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!"    QUOTE "Though our feelings come and go, God's love for us does not." – C.S. Lewis

SACRED POEMS by Richard Crashaw

If I were lost in misery,
What was it to your heaven and thee?
What was it to your precious blood,
If my foul heart call'd for a flood?
What If my faithless soul and I
Would need fall in
With guilt and sin,
What did the Lamb that he should die?
What did the Lamb that he should need,
When the wolf sins, himself to bleed?

If my base lust
Bargain'd with death and well-beseeming dust,
Why should the white
Lamb's bosom write
The purple name
Of my sin's shame?

Why should his unstain'd breast make good
My blushes with his own heart-blood?

O my Savior! Make me see
How dearly you have paid for me;

That lost again, my life may prove
As then in death, so now in love.

I JOHN 4:9-11
"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

I JOHN 3:1
"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!"

QUOTE
"Though our feelings come and go, God's love for us does not."
– C.S. Lewis

Matthew 6:25-29  Jesus says, “Therefore I say unto you, Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment? Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life? And why are ye anxious concerning raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”  The Easter Lily has captured the essence of Easter with it’s beautiful trumpet-shaped white flowers which symbolize purity, virtue, innocence, hope and life.  There are several theories about Christian symbolism surrounding the Easter lily. Often referred to as “white-robed apostles of hope,” their color symbolizes the purity of Christ, who was free from sin. The trumpet shape of the Easter lily represents a trumpet sounding the message that Jesus has risen, and the nature in which lilies grow is symbolic of the resurrection as well. From ugly bulbs that are underground for three years or longer, they become beautiful flowers. This process is reminiscent of Jesus’s brutal death and holy resurrection. Thus, lilies represent rebirth and hope and hope of life everlasting, just as the resurrection does in the Christian faith.  Easter morn with lilies fair Fills the church with perfumes rare, As their clouds of incense rise, Sweetest offerings to the skies. Stately lilies pure and white Flooding darkness with their light, Bloom and sorrow drifts away, On this holy hallow’d day. Easter Lilies bending low in the golden afterglow, Bear a message from the sod To the heavenly towers of God.   -Louise Lewin Matthews     QUOTE “Immanuel, God with us in our nature, in our sorrow, in our lifework, in our punishment, in our grave, and now with us, or rather we with Him, in resurrection, ascension, triumph, and Second Advent splendor.” – Charles H. Spurgeon

Matthew 6:25-29
Jesus says, “Therefore I say unto you, Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment? Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life? And why are ye anxious concerning raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

The Easter Lily has captured the essence of Easter with it’s beautiful trumpet-shaped white flowers which symbolize purity, virtue, innocence, hope and life.

There are several theories about Christian symbolism surrounding the Easter lily. Often referred to as “white-robed apostles of hope,” their color symbolizes the purity of Christ, who was free from sin. The trumpet shape of the Easter lily represents a trumpet sounding the message that Jesus has risen, and the nature in which lilies grow is symbolic of the resurrection as well. From ugly bulbs that are underground for three years or longer, they become beautiful flowers. This process is reminiscent of Jesus’s brutal death and holy resurrection. Thus, lilies represent rebirth and hope and hope of life everlasting, just as the resurrection does in the Christian faith.

Easter morn with lilies fair
Fills the church with perfumes rare,
As their clouds of incense rise,
Sweetest offerings to the skies.
Stately lilies pure and white
Flooding darkness with their light,
Bloom and sorrow drifts away,
On this holy hallow’d day.
Easter Lilies bending low
in the golden afterglow,
Bear a message from the sod
To the heavenly towers of God.

-Louise Lewin Matthews

QUOTE
“Immanuel, God with us in our nature, in our sorrow, in our lifework, in our punishment, in our grave, and now with us, or rather we with Him, in resurrection, ascension, triumph, and Second Advent splendor.”
– Charles H. Spurgeon

A NATIVITY by Rudyard Kipling   The Babe was laid in the Manger Between the gentle kine— All safe from cold and danger— "But it was not so with mine, (With mine! With mine!) "Is it well with the child, is it well?" The waiting mother prayed. "For I know not how he fell, And I know not where he is laid."  A Star stood forth in Heaven; The Watchers ran to see The Sign of the Promise given— "But there comes no sign to me. (To me! To me!) "My child died in the dark. Is it well with the child, is it well? There was none to tend him or mark, And I know not how he fell."  The Cross was raised on high; The Mother grieved beside— "But the Mother saw Him die And took Him when He died. (He died! He died!) "Seemly and undefiled His burial-place was made— Is it well, is it well with the child? For I know not where he is laid."  On the dawning of Easter Day Comes Mary Magdalene; But the Stone was rolled away, And the Body was not within— (Within! Within!) "Ah, who will answer my word?" The broken mother prayed. "They have taken away my Lord, And I know not where He is Laid."  "The Star stands forth in Heaven. The watchers watch in vain For Sign of the Promise given Of peace on Earth again— (Again! Again!) "But I know for Whom he fell"— The steadfast mother smiled, "Is it well with the child—is it well? It is well—it is well with the child!"   John 16: 33  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world!    QUOTE "Only in the Cross of Christ will we receive power when we are powerless. We will find strength when we are weak. We will experience hope when our situation is hopeless. Only in the Cross is there peace for our troubled hearts" – Michael Youssef

A NATIVITY by Rudyard Kipling

The Babe was laid in the Manger
Between the gentle kine—
All safe from cold and danger—
"But it was not so with mine,
(With mine! With mine!)
"Is it well with the child, is it well?"
The waiting mother prayed.
"For I know not how he fell,
And I know not where he is laid."

A Star stood forth in Heaven;
The Watchers ran to see
The Sign of the Promise given—
"But there comes no sign to me.
(To me! To me!)
"My child died in the dark.
Is it well with the child, is it well?
There was none to tend him or mark,
And I know not how he fell."

The Cross was raised on high;
The Mother grieved beside—
"But the Mother saw Him die
And took Him when He died.
(He died! He died!)
"Seemly and undefiled
His burial-place was made—
Is it well, is it well with the child?
For I know not where he is laid."

On the dawning of Easter Day
Comes Mary Magdalene;
But the Stone was rolled away,
And the Body was not within—
(Within! Within!)
"Ah, who will answer my word?"
The broken mother prayed.
"They have taken away my Lord,
And I know not where He is Laid."

"The Star stands forth in Heaven.
The watchers watch in vain
For Sign of the Promise given
Of peace on Earth again—
(Again! Again!)
"But I know for Whom he fell"—
The steadfast mother smiled,
"Is it well with the child—is it well?
It is well—it is well with the child!"

John 16: 33
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world!

QUOTE
"Only in the Cross of Christ will we receive power when we are powerless. We will find strength when we are weak. We will experience hope when our situation is hopeless. Only in the Cross is there peace for our troubled hearts" – Michael Youssef

John 3:16
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

HYMN:  O SACRED HEAD, NOW WOUNDED

The words to this hymn were penned by Bernard of Clairvaux who lived from 1091-1153.  Bernard founded the Cistercian order of monks in the early 12th century.  The words come from his poem Salve Mundi Salutare.

The poem had seven sections, each focusing on a different part of Jesus' body: his feet, knees, hands, side, breast, heart and head.

Paul Gerhardt, a German hymn writer from the 1600s translated the last section of the seven from Latin into German.  The music was composed by Hans Leo Hassler, who wrote it for a funeral.
The hymn appears in a 1656 hymnal.  John Sebastian Bach used the tune 5 times throughout St. Matthew's Passion.

This hymn is a reminder of what Christ sacrificed for us to free us from sin and give us eternal life.

O SACRED HEAD, NOW WOUNDED

O Sacred Head, now wounded
With grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded
With thorns, thine only crown:
How pale thou art with anguish,
With sore abuse and scorn!
How does that visage languish
Which once was bright as morn!

What thou, my Lord, has suffered
Was all for sinners' gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression,
But thine the deadly pain
Lo, here I fall, my Savior!
'Tis I deserve thy place;
look on with thy favor,
vouchsafe to me thy grace.

What language shall I borrow
To thank thee, dearest friend,
For this thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?

O make me thine forever;
And should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
Outlive my love for thee.

QUOTES:
"When I consider the cross of Christ, how can anything that I do be considered sacrifice?"
Amy Carmichael

"No sacrifice should be too great for Him who gave himself to us."
Harry Ironside


Musical Recording from Michael W.Smith's album - Hymns II

John 4:4-30, 39-42  …Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" They came out of the town and made their way toward him…  Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I ever did." So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.  They said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world."   PRAYER  Dear Lord, Even though I have the same living water within me that you gave the Samaritan woman, so often I find myself searching for other things to fill my life.  It's inconceivable that anyone who's tasted of your goodness would drink from any other well, yet I have. Money, success, pleasure, popularity, security. In the end, all dry wells.  But how many times have I lowered my cup into their depths? And how many times have I brought it up empty?  Keep vivid in my mind the time when you met me by the well and said, "I who speak to you am he." And may the memory of that sacred moment keep me from wandering to seek water at any other well than yours.  Grant me diligence in watching over that sacred well. And let me not forget that even living water can be stagnated by indifference or tainted by the impurities I tolerate in my life.  Keep my faith pure so it would be a deep well where others could come to be refreshed. And as they do, O Lord Jesus, I pray that you would meet them there…as you did that Samaritan woman…as you did me…and give them living water.  Renew in me, O Savior, a zeal like this Samaritan woman had- a zeal to tell her friends, her acquaintances, and even strangers about you. Not a zeal to worship in this church or that. Not a zeal for theology. Not a zeal for causes. But a zeal for you, and only you…  MOMENTS WITH THE SAVIOUR by Ken Gire     QUOTE "Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter" – Charles Spurgeon

John 4:4-30, 39-42
…Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" They came out of the town and made their way toward him…

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I ever did." So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.

They said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world."

PRAYER
Dear Lord,
Even though I have the same living water within me that you gave the Samaritan woman, so often I find myself searching for other things to fill my life.

It's inconceivable that anyone who's tasted of your goodness would drink from any other well, yet I have. Money, success, pleasure, popularity, security. In the end, all dry wells.

But how many times have I lowered my cup into their depths? And how many times have I brought it up empty?

Keep vivid in my mind the time when you met me by the well and said, "I who speak to you am he." And may the memory of that sacred moment keep me from wandering to seek water at any other well than yours.

Grant me diligence in watching over that sacred well. And let me not forget that even living water can be stagnated by indifference or tainted by the impurities I tolerate in my life.

Keep my faith pure so it would be a deep well where others could come to be refreshed. And as they do, O Lord Jesus, I pray that you would meet them there…as you did that Samaritan woman…as you did me…and give them living water.

Renew in me, O Savior, a zeal like this Samaritan woman had- a zeal to tell her friends, her acquaintances, and even strangers about you. Not a zeal to worship in this church or that. Not a zeal for theology. Not a zeal for causes. But a zeal for you, and only
you…
MOMENTS WITH THE SAVIOUR by Ken Gire

QUOTE
"Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter" – Charles Spurgeon

MUSIC:  Bernstein Mass: A Simple Song (Renee Fleming – Sacred Songs)
Click
HERE to listen to the music. http://www.musicandarts.3crosses.org  https://vimeo.com/325564880
Bernstein Mass: A Simple Song

Sing God a simple song
Lauda, Laudē
Make it up as you go along
Lauda, Laude…

I will sing the Lord a new song
To praise Him, to bless Him, to bless the Lord.
I will sing His praises while I live
All of my days.

Blessed is the man who loves the Lord,
Blessed is the man who praises Him.
Lauda, Lauda, Laudē
And walks in His ways.

I will lift up my eyes
To the hills from whence comes my help
I will lift up my voice to the Lord
Singing Lauda, Laudē.

For the Lord is my shade,
Is the shade upon my right hand
And the sun shall not smite me by day
Nor the moon by night
Blessed is the man who loves the Lord
Lauda, Lauda, Laudē
And walks in His ways…
Psalm 121 (NIV)
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth…

EPHESIANS 5:2
Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

"The death of Christ is not only the demonstration of God's love (John 3:16), it is also the supreme expression of Christ's own love for all who receive it as their treasure.  The early witnesses who suffered most for being Christians were captured by this fact: Christ 'loved me and gave himself for me' (Galatians 2:20). They took the self-giving act of Christ's sacrifice very personally. They said, 'He loved me. He gave himself for me.'

…Surely this is the way we should understand the sufferings and death of Christ. They have to do with me. They are about Christ's love for me personally. It is my sin that cuts me off from God, not sin in general. It is my hard-heartedness and spiritual numbness that demean the worth of Christ. I am lost and perishing. When it comes to salvation, I have forfeited all claim on justice. All I can do is plead for mercy….

My heart is swayed, and I embrace the beauty and bounty of Christ as my treasure. And there flows into my heart this great reality-the love of Christ for me. So I say with those early witnesses, 'He loved me and gave himself for me.'" –
John Piper (Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came To Die)

Ezekiel 36:26– And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  "Perhaps the transformation of the disciples of Jesus is the greatest evidence of all for the resurrection. It was the resurrection which transformed Peter's fear into courage and James' doubt into faith. It was the resurrection which changed the Sabbath into Sunday and the Jewish remnant into the Christian Church. It was the resurrection which changed Saul the Pharisee into Paul the apostle and turned his persecuting into preaching." - John Stott   Philippians 1:6 –And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.   PRAYER   Help me, O God  To realize the role the wilderness plays in my continuing education Thank you that even in the wilderness there are windows, revealing what You want from me, showing that You care, and clarifying, when I look back, what You were doing in my life. Thank You, God for the wild and untamed theology You have taught me in the wilderness, and for the assurance that, though You are not safe, you are good…

Ezekiel 36:26–And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

"Perhaps the transformation of the disciples of Jesus is the greatest evidence of all for the resurrection. It was the resurrection which transformed Peter's fear into courage and James' doubt into faith. It was the resurrection which changed the Sabbath into Sunday and the Jewish remnant into the Christian Church. It was the resurrection which changed Saul the Pharisee into Paul the apostle and turned his persecuting into preaching." - John Stott

Philippians 1:6–And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

PRAYER

Help me, O God

To realize the role the wilderness plays
in my continuing education
Thank you that even in the wilderness there are windows,
revealing what You want from me,
showing that You care,
and clarifying, when I look back,
what You were doing in my life.
Thank You, God for the wild and untamed theology
You have taught me in the wilderness,
and for the assurance that,
though You are not safe,
you are good…

PAINTING: CHRIST IN THE WILDERNESS by Moretto da Brescia, (1515-1520). Italian Renaissance. Christ in the wilderness for 40 days. (Metropolitan Museum of Art).   Jesus began his public ministry with 40 days of withdrawal into the desert wilderness to fast and pray in solitude and silence. He was alone, hungry, hot and thirsty, surrounded by wild animals, and tested by Satan. When Jesus fasted, the Father, the Scriptures and ministering angels strengthened him! His time alone with God quietly focused and empowered him to resist Satan’s temptations and prepared him for his public ministry.   TO KEEP A TRUE LENT by Robert Herrick  Is this a Fast, To keep The Larder lean? And clean From fat of veals and sheep? Is it to quit the dish Of flesh, yet still To fill The platter high with fish? Is it to fast an hour, Or ragg’d go, Or show A down-cast look and sour? No: ‘tis a Fast to dole They sheaf of wheat And meat Unto the hungry soul. It is to fast from strife And old debate, And hate; To circumcise they life. To show a heart grief-rent; To starve thy sin.  Fasting – complete abstinence from all food on certain days, or from a particular type of food for the entire forty days – has for centuries been a traditional Lenten discipline. In this poem, Robert Herrick explores the intended meaning behind such self-denial, emphasizing the spiritual rather than physical meaning of a fast.   Matthew 6:16-18 (NIV)  “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.    QUOTE "Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God." - Andrew Murray

PAINTING: CHRIST IN THE WILDERNESS by Moretto da Brescia, (1515-1520). Italian Renaissance. Christ in the wilderness for 40 days. (Metropolitan Museum of Art).

Jesus began his public ministry with 40 days of withdrawal into the desert wilderness to fast and pray in solitude and silence. He was alone, hungry, hot and thirsty, surrounded by wild animals, and tested by Satan. When Jesus fasted, the Father, the Scriptures and ministering angels strengthened him! His time alone with God quietly focused and empowered him to resist Satan’s temptations and prepared him for his public ministry.

TO KEEP A TRUE LENT by Robert Herrick
Is this a Fast,
To keep The Larder lean?
And clean
From fat of veals and sheep?
Is it to quit the dish
Of flesh, yet still
To fill
The platter high with fish?
Is it to fast an hour,
Or ragg’d go,
Or show
A down-cast look and sour?
No: ‘tis a Fast to dole
They sheaf of wheat
And meat
Unto the hungry soul.
It is to fast from strife
And old debate,
And hate;
To circumcise they life.
To show a heart grief-rent;
To starve thy sin.

Fasting – complete abstinence from all food on certain days, or from a particular type of food for the entire forty days – has for centuries been a traditional Lenten discipline. In this poem, Robert Herrick explores the intended meaning behind such self-denial, emphasizing the spiritual rather than physical meaning of a fast.

Matthew 6:16-18 (NIV)
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

QUOTE
"Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God." - Andrew Murray

MUSIC: Variations on a Shaker Dance from Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copeland.  Performed by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra 

Sydney Bertram Carter was an English poet, songwriter, folk musician, born in Camden Town, London. He is best known for the song "Lord of the Dance" (1967), set to the tune of the American Shaker song "Simple Gifts".

THE LORD OF THE DANCE by Sydney Bertram Carter (1915-2004)
I danced in the morning
When the world was begun,
And I danced on the moon
And the stars and the sun,
And I came down from heaven
And I danced on the earth,
At Bethlehem,
I had my birth.

Dance then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
And I'll lead you all wherever you may be,
And I'll lead you all in the dance, said he.

I danced for the scribe
And the Pharisee
They would not dance
And they would not follow me.
I danced for the fishermen,
For James and John,
They came with me
And the dance went on.

I danced on a Friday
When the sky turned black-
It's hard to dance
With the devil on your back.
They buried my body
And they thought I'd gone,
But I am the dance
And I still go on

They cut me down
And I leap up high:
I am the life
That'll never, never die;
I'll live in you
If you'll live in me –
I am the Lord
Of the Dance said he.

PSALM 149:3
Let them praise His name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and lyre.

PRAYER
Thank you Lord Jesus.
Thank you for calling my name, extending your hand and inviting me
not only to be with you but to partner with you in the work you are doing in the world.
Help me to love you the way you deserve to be loved, The way your Father loves you.
Like you are to him, I pray that you would be the delight of my life.
I pray that you would become my deepest hunger and my most satisfying food,
my most intense thirst and my most refreshing drink.
I know that if I just catch the slightest glimpse of your face
Or hear the most distant echo of your voice that I will love you more.
So I ask for eyes to see all that in some way reflects you
And ears to hear all that in some way speaks of you.
I pray I could love you more each day than I did the day before
Until, at last, metaphor becomes reality,
when I will see you face-to-face, fall into your arms, and dance!

QUOTE
"I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance, Never settle for the path of least resistance…Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance, And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance…I hope you dance." – Lee Ann Womack "I Hope You Dance"

2 Corinthians 3:17-18  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.  “As followers of Christ, we are in need of metamorphosis. Our spiritual growth requires radical change.  Consider, for a moment, the biological process of metamorphosis, which can be seen in a variety of creatures, such as toads and dragonflies. As the process begins, their bodies are altered, their cells are reconfigured, and even their behavioral patterns are modified. The process is astonishing — clear evidence of the ingenuity and artistry of our Creator! And it's a fitting analogy of God's desire for human life.   The apostle Paul spoke often of such transformation, using the Greek word  metamorphousthe  (metamorphosis). Paul urges Christians to "be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2)….It involves a moral, spiritual and mental transformation that takes place in this life.  But living a transformed life is complicated by one rather significant hurdle:  We  can't do it. Though we try our best, we will fail. That's because a transformed life is something that  God  does in us. When we give God control of our lives, He begins reshaping and transforming us into something new and wonderful.  This is why the Bible talks about our  being  transformed. God is the agent of transformation, not us. Paul says that, through God's power, we "are  being  transformed into his [Christ's] likeness".  If God is the agent, then what is the mechanism of this change? In Romans 12:2, Paul explains that transformation comes through the renewal of the mind. The Greek word for  mind  refers to our understanding, attitude and entire way of thinking. In some ways, the word  mind  here could be translated as "worldview" — the mental lens through which we view, interpret and respond to the world around us….”   Excerpt from Focus on the Family: Transition and Transformation   Salvation includes living a transformed life.  Transformation is impossible apart from God.  A transformed life begins with a renewed mind.   PRAYER   Lord, help us to apply your Word to our lives each day. Help us make this a discipline of the mind and heart, empowered by Your Spirit, transforming us each day more and more into your likeness. Help us have self-awareness of when we’re falling into temptation and turn quickly back to you. Thank you for your tender mercy and love, ever leading us onward. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen!     QUOTE “To see lonely, selfish, empty individuals transformed slowly but surely into warm, loving, wholesome, and happy people is to become aware of why Paul describes Christ as “unsearchable riches.” – Ray Stedman


2 Corinthians 3:17-18
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

“As followers of Christ, we are in need of metamorphosis. Our spiritual growth requires radical change.

Consider, for a moment, the biological process of metamorphosis, which can be seen in a variety of creatures, such as toads and dragonflies. As the process begins, their bodies are altered, their cells are reconfigured, and even their behavioral patterns are modified. The process is astonishing — clear evidence of the ingenuity and artistry of our Creator! And it's a fitting analogy of God's desire for human life.

The apostle Paul spoke often of such transformation, using the Greek word metamorphousthe (metamorphosis). Paul urges Christians to "be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2)….It involves a moral, spiritual and mental transformation that takes place in this life.

But living a transformed life is complicated by one rather significant hurdle: We can't do it. Though we try our best, we will fail. That's because a transformed life is something that God does in us. When we give God control of our lives, He begins reshaping and transforming us into something new and wonderful.

This is why the Bible talks about our being transformed. God is the agent of transformation, not us. Paul says that, through God's power, we "are being transformed into his [Christ's] likeness".

If God is the agent, then what is the mechanism of this change? In Romans 12:2, Paul explains that transformation comes through the renewal of the mind. The Greek word for mind refers to our understanding, attitude and entire way of thinking. In some ways, the word mind here could be translated as "worldview" — the mental lens through which we view, interpret and respond to the world around us….”

Excerpt from Focus on the Family: Transition and Transformation

Salvation includes living a transformed life.

Transformation is impossible apart from God.

A transformed life begins with a renewed mind.

PRAYER
Lord, help us to apply your Word to our lives each day. Help us make this a discipline of the mind and heart, empowered by Your Spirit, transforming us each day more and more into your likeness. Help us have self-awareness of when we’re falling into temptation and turn quickly back to you. Thank you for your tender mercy and love, ever leading us onward. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen!

QUOTE
“To see lonely, selfish, empty individuals transformed slowly but surely into warm, loving, wholesome, and happy people is to become aware of why Paul describes Christ as “unsearchable riches.” – Ray Stedman

Music:  Wachet auf, ruft uns die stimme (BWV 140 - also known as Sleeper's Wake by Johann Sebastian Bach

Romans 12:1-2  (MEV)
I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service of worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
One of the important keys to a healthy spiritual life is the daily renewing of our mind and heart.  Our spirit needs refreshing on a regular basis just like the like Israelites in the wilderness needed fresh manna everyday.  Without this we will find ourselves growing distant from the Lord and our hearts can become cold and indifferent to Him.
This refreshing can come in many forms but primarily we need to seek His presence, reflect on His love, and meditate on His Word. The old puritans used to "practice the presence of the Lord".  If we do this everyday then we will find our understanding of His love will be tangible and real in our lifes.  There are times when we can grow somewhat cold in our relationship with Christ, but it is comforting to know that He wants us to be close to Him and He is always to be found when we diligently seek Him.
Do you need renewal today?  You will find a God waiting for you with His arms open, ready and willing to restore a beautiful relationship with Him.  What an amazing God!
Pastor Kevin Ledbetter – Music & Arts at 3Crosses

"We must know before we can love. In order to know God, we must often think of Him; and when we come to love Him, we shall then also think of Him often, for our heart will be with our treasure." – Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God


"Let us occupy ourselves entirely in knowing God. The more we know Him, the more we will desire to know Him. As love increases with knowledge, the more we know God, the more we will truly love Him. We will learn to love Him equally in times of distress or in times of great joy." – Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

Galatians 2:20  I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.   REVELATIONS OF DIVINE LOVE by Jullian of Norwich (1342-?)   As the body wears clothes and the bones are covered with skin with our heart inside, so are we, soul and body, clad in the goodness of God.  Our soul is so wonderfully loved of Him that no one can comprehend it. That is to say, no creature can fully comprehend how much, and how sweetly, and how tenderly our Maker loves us. Therefore we may with grace and His help stand in awe of this love, and forever marvel at this high, overpassing, inestimable Love that Almighty God has toward us of His goodness.  He that made all things for love, by the same love keeps them, and shall keep them forever.  So that I would better understand, this blessed word came to me: "Lo, how I loved you! Behold and see that I loved you so much that I died for you and suffered willingly. And now is all my bitter pain and all my hard travail turned to endless joy and bliss to me and to you. Now it shall be that if you pray for anything that please me I will gladly give it. For my pleasing is your holiness and your endless joy and bliss with me."  In love He sustains us within Himself. In love He travailed when He suffered the sharpest throes and the most grievous pains that ever were or ever shall be, and finally died. All this was to bring us to Himself, and only because of His marvelous love. He said to me, "If I would have had to suffer more to bring you to myself, I would have done so."    "God's love did not begin at Calvary. Before the morning stars sang together, before the world was baptized with the first light, before the first blades of tender grass peeped out, God was love." – Billy Graham

Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

REVELATIONS OF DIVINE LOVE by Jullian of Norwich (1342-?)


As the body wears clothes and the bones are covered with skin with our heart inside, so are we, soul and body, clad in the goodness of God.

Our soul is so wonderfully loved of Him that no one can comprehend it. That is to say, no creature can fully comprehend how much, and how sweetly, and how tenderly our Maker loves us. Therefore we may with grace and His help stand in awe of this love, and forever marvel at this high, overpassing, inestimable Love that Almighty God has toward us of His goodness.

He that made all things for love, by the same love keeps them, and shall keep them forever.

So that I would better understand, this blessed word came to me: "Lo, how I loved you! Behold and see that I loved you so much that I died for you and suffered willingly. And now is all my bitter pain and all my hard travail turned to endless joy and bliss to me and to you. Now it shall be that if you pray for anything that please me I will gladly give it. For my pleasing is your holiness and your endless joy and bliss with me."

In love He sustains us within Himself. In love He travailed when He suffered the sharpest throes and the most grievous pains that ever were or ever shall be, and finally died. All this was to bring us to Himself, and only because of His marvelous love. He said to me, "If I would have had to suffer more to bring you to myself, I would have done so."

"God's love did not begin at Calvary. Before the morning stars sang together, before the world was baptized with the first light, before the first blades of tender grass peeped out, God was love." – Billy Graham

Excerpt from "Experiencing God Day by Day" by Henry & Richard Blackaby   "Prayer is designed to adjust you to God's will, not to adjust God to your will.  Prayer does not give you spiritual power. Prayer aligns your life with God so that He chooses to demonstrate His power through you. The purpose of prayer is not to convince God to change your circumstances but to prepare you to be involved in God's activity.  The fervent prayer of the people at Pentecost did not induce the Holy Spirit to come upon them. Prayer brought them to a place where they were ready to participate in the mighty work God had already planned.  Jesus told His followers to remain in Jerusalem until the Spirit came upon them (Acts 1:4–5). The disciples obeyed His command, waiting for God's next directive. As they prayed, God adjusted their lives to what He intended to do next. As they prayed, a unity developed among them.  For the first time the disciples used Scripture as their guide in decision making (Acts 1:15–26). The day of Pentecost arrived, and the city of Jerusalem filled with pilgrims from around the world. When God released His Holy Spirit upon the disciples, He had already filled the city with messengers who would carry the Gospel to every nation. Prayer had prepared the disciples for their obedient response.  Prayer is designed to adjust you to God's will, not to adjust God to your will. If God has not responded to what you are praying, you may need to adjust your praying to align with God's agenda. Rather than focusing on what you would like to see happen, realize that God may be more concerned with what He wants to see happen in you."   SCRIPTURE Hebrews 5:7 (NIV)  During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.   1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)  Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.   Psalm 25:6-10 (NIV)  Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me,    "Prayer is both conversation and encounter with God. . . We must know the awe of praising his glory, the intimacy of finding his grace, and the struggle of asking his help, all of which can lead us to know the spiritual reality of his presence." – Tim Keller "Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God"

Excerpt from "Experiencing God Day by Day"
by Henry & Richard Blackaby


"Prayer is designed to adjust you to God's will, not to adjust God to your will.

Prayer does not give you spiritual power. Prayer aligns your life with God so that He chooses to demonstrate His power through you. The purpose of prayer is not to convince God to change your circumstances but to prepare you to be involved in God's activity.

The fervent prayer of the people at Pentecost did not induce the Holy Spirit to come upon them. Prayer brought them to a place where they were ready to participate in the mighty work God had already planned.

Jesus told His followers to remain in Jerusalem until the Spirit came upon them (Acts 1:4–5). The disciples obeyed His command, waiting for God's next directive. As they prayed, God adjusted their lives to what He intended to do next. As they prayed, a unity developed among them.

For the first time the disciples used Scripture as their guide in decision making (Acts 1:15–26). The day of Pentecost arrived, and the city of Jerusalem filled with pilgrims from around the world. When God released His Holy Spirit upon the disciples, He had already filled the city with messengers who would carry the Gospel to every nation. Prayer had prepared the disciples for their obedient response.

Prayer is designed to adjust you to God's will, not to adjust God to your will. If God has not responded to what you are praying, you may need to adjust your praying to align with God's agenda. Rather than focusing on what you would like to see happen, realize that God may be more concerned with what He wants to see happen in you."

SCRIPTURE
Hebrews 5:7 (NIV)

During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 25:6-10 (NIV)
Show me your ways, O Lord,
teach me your paths;
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,

"Prayer is both conversation and encounter with God. . . We must know the awe of praising his glory, the intimacy of finding his grace, and the struggle of asking his help, all of which can lead us to know the spiritual reality of his presence." – Tim Keller "Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God"

Psalm 32: 1 Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.    PSALM 32 – Part I by Isaac Watts   Repentance and free pardon.  Blest is the man, for ever blest, Whose guilt is pardoned by his God; Whose sins with sorrow are confessed, And covered with his Savior's blood.  Blest is the man to whom the Lord Imputes not his iniquities; He pleads no merit of reward, And not on works, but grace relies.  From guile his heart and lips are free; His humble joy, his holy fear, With deep repentance well agree, And join to prove his faith sincere.  How glorious is that righteousness That hides and cancels all his sins, While a bright evidence of grace Through his whole life appears and shine!    "Repentance means turning from as much as you know of your sin to give as much as you know of yourself to as much as you know of your God, and as our knowledge grows at these three points so our practice of repentance has to be enlarged." – J.I. Packer

Psalm 32: 1
Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.


PSALM 32 – Part I by Isaac Watts

Repentance and free pardon.

Blest is the man, for ever blest,
Whose guilt is pardoned by his God;
Whose sins with sorrow are confessed,
And covered with his Savior's blood.

Blest is the man to whom the Lord
Imputes not his iniquities;
He pleads no merit of reward,
And not on works, but grace relies.

From guile his heart and lips are free;
His humble joy, his holy fear,
With deep repentance well agree,
And join to prove his faith sincere.

How glorious is that righteousness
That hides and cancels all his sins,
While a bright evidence of grace
Through his whole life appears and shine!

"Repentance means turning from as much as you know of your sin to give as much as you know of yourself to as much as you know of your God, and as our knowledge grows at these three points so our practice of repentance has to be enlarged." – J.I. Packer

CHRIST THE REDEEMER

MUSIC:  "Attende Domine" 10th Century Mozarabic Hymn - Hereford Cathedral 1982 (Roy Massey) 


Hear us, O Lord, have mercy upon us: for we have sinned against thee.
To thee, Redeemer, on thy throne of glory:
lift we our weeping eyes in holy pleadings: listen, O Jesu, to our supplications.
O thou chief cornerstone, right hand of the Father:
way of salvation, gate of life celestial:
cleanse thou our sinful souls from all defilement.
God, we implore thee, in thy glory seated:
bow down and hearken to thy weeping children:
pity and pardon all our grievous trespasses.
Sins oft committed, now we lay before thee:
with true contrition, now no more we veil them:
grant us, Redeemer, loving absolution.
Innocent captive, taken unresisting:
falsely accused, and for us sinners sentenced,
save us, we pray thee, Jesu, our Redeemer.

Isaiah 47:4
Our Redeemer, the LORD of hosts is His name, The Holy One of Israel.

Ephesians 1:7
In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.

Colossians 1: 13-14
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

"The work of redemption was accomplished by Christ in His death on the cross and has in view the payment of the price demanded by a holy God for the deliverance of the believer from the bondage and burden of sin.  In redemption the sinner is set free from his condemnation and slavery to sin." – John F. Walvoord

The Art Deco statue of Jesus Christ in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, created by French sculptor Paul Landowski and built by the Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa, in collaboration with the French engineer Albert Caquot.  A symbol of Christianity across the world, the statue has also become a cultural icon of both Rio de Janeiro and Brazil. The statue is 125 feet tall and was completed in 1931.

REPENTANCE By Oswald Chambers (My Utmost For His Highest)    Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation… 2 Corinthians 7:10   Conviction of sin is best described in the words: My sins, my sins, my Savior, How sad on Thee they fall. Conviction of sin is one of the most uncommon things that ever happens to a person. It is the beginning of an understanding of God. Jesus Christ said that when the Holy Spirit came He would convict people of sin (see John 16:8). And when the Holy Spirit stirs a person's conscience and brings him into the presence of God, it is not that person's relationship with others that bothers him but his relationship with God – "Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight…" (Psalm 51:4). The wonders of conviction of sin, forgiveness, and holiness are so interwoven that it is only the forgiven person who is truly holy. He proves he is forgiven by being the opposite of what he was previously, by the grace of God. Repentance always brings a person to the point of saying, "I have sinned." The surest sign that God is at work in his life is when he says that and means it. Anything less is simply sorrow for having made foolish mistakes-a reflex action caused by self-disgust. The entrance into the kingdom of God is through the sharp, sudden pains of repentance colliding with man's respectable "goodness." Then the Holy Spirit, who produces these struggles, begins the formation of the Son of God in the person's life (see Galatians 4:19). This new life will reveal itself in conscious repentance followed by unconscious holiness, never the other way around. The foundation of Christianity is repentance. Strictly speaking, a person cannot repent when he chooses - repentance is a gift of God. The old Puritans used to pray for "the gift of tears." If you ever cease to understand the value of repentance, you allow yourself to remain in sin. Examine yourself to see if you have forgotten how to be truly repentant.   ISAIAH 30:15  This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.   PRAYER  Dear Lord, thank you for your forgiveness. Thank you for not abandoning us to our mistakes, but for reaching out instead to bring us home. Help convict me of sin and help me accept your mercy without shame. Thank you for the love you have poured out for me and all of your children. Help me live out of that love today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.    "It is impossible to read too much, but always keep before you why you read. Remember that "the need to receive, recognize, and rely on the Holy Spirit" is before all else. – Oswald Chambers(Approved Unto God)

REPENTANCE
By Oswald Chambers (My Utmost For His Highest)


Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation…
2 Corinthians 7:10


Conviction of sin is best described in the words:
My sins, my sins, my Savior,
How sad on Thee they fall.
Conviction of sin is one of the most uncommon things that ever happens to a person. It is the beginning of an understanding of God. Jesus Christ said that when the Holy Spirit came He would convict people of sin (see John 16:8). And when the Holy Spirit stirs a person's conscience and brings him into the presence of
God, it is not that person's relationship with others that bothers him but his relationship with God – "Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight…" (Psalm 51:4). The wonders of conviction of sin, forgiveness, and holiness are so interwoven that it is only the forgiven person who is truly holy.
He proves he is forgiven by being the opposite of what he was previously, by the grace of God. Repentance always brings a person to the point of saying, "I have sinned." The surest sign that God is at work in his life is when he says that and means it.
Anything less is simply sorrow for having made foolish mistakes-a reflex action caused by self-disgust. The entrance into the kingdom of God is through the sharp, sudden pains of repentance colliding with man's respectable "goodness." Then the Holy Spirit, who produces these struggles, begins the formation of the Son of God in the person's life (see Galatians 4:19). This new life will reveal itself in conscious repentance followed by unconscious holiness, never the other way around. The foundation of Christianity is repentance. Strictly speaking, a person cannot repent when he chooses - repentance is a gift of God. The old Puritans used to pray for "the gift of tears." If you ever cease to understand the value of repentance, you allow yourself to remain in sin. Examine yourself to see if you have forgotten how to be truly repentant.

ISAIAH 30:15
This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.

PRAYER
Dear Lord, thank you for your forgiveness. Thank you for not abandoning us to our mistakes, but for reaching out instead to bring us home. Help convict me of sin and help me accept your mercy without shame. Thank you for the love you have poured out for me and all of your children. Help me live out of that love today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

"It is impossible to read too much, but always keep before you why you read. Remember that "the need to receive, recognize, and rely on the Holy Spirit" is before all else.
– Oswald Chambers(Approved Unto God)

"REPENTANCE" by George Herbert (1593-1633)
Lord, I confess my sin is great:
Great is my sin. Oh! gently treat
With thy quick flower, thy momentary bloom;
Whose life still pressing
Is one undressing,
A steady aiming at a tomb.
Man's age is two hours' work, or three;
Each day doth round about us see.
Thus are we to delights: but we are all
To sorrows old,
If life be told
From what life feeleth, Adam's fall.
O let thy height of mercy then
Compassionate short-breathed men,
Cut me not off for my most foul transgression:
I do confess
My foolishness;
My God, accept of my confession.
Sweeten at length this bitter bowl,
Which thou hast pour'd into my soul;
Thy wormwood turn to health, winds to fair weather;
For if thou stay,
I and this day,
As we did rise, we die together.

Ephesians 1:7-8 (NIV)
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding,

Hebrews 9:28 (NIV)
so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

John 1:9  (NIV)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

"To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you." – C.S. Lewis

ARTWORK: "The Return of The Prodigal Son" by Marc Chagall    (LUKE 15: 11-32)  The Parable of the Prodigal Son is a story of a rebellious son who rejects his father's upbringing. Prideful and strong, the son heads-off to a far-away land, leads a wild life of adventure, and squanders everything of value. Not until he's confronted with failure and despair, does he return home, repentant and willing to do anything to win back his father's favor. To his surprise, and the surprise of others, he's welcomed, without question, into his father's loving and forgiving arms. No amount of time, no amount of money, and no amount of rebellion could get in the way of the father's patience and unconditional love for his son.  The amazing message of this parable is that God is patient and gracious with all of His children. When we understand that a parable is an imaginary story to illustrate a spiritual point, we can quickly perceive that Jesus is using this account to teach us of God the Father's love for each of us. And while we are all sinners, as was the prodigal son, it is heartwarming, comforting and almost incomprehensible that God the Father is willing to welcome each of us home into His loving and forgiving arms.    A HYMN TO GOD THE FATHER by John Donne   Wilt thou forgive that sin where I begun, Which was my sin, though it were done before? Wilt thou forgive that sin, through which I run, And do run still, though still I do deplore? When thou hast done, thou hast not done, For I have more.  Wilt thou forgive that sin which I have won Others to sin, and made my sin their door? Wilt thou forgive that sin which I did shun A year or two, but wallow'd in, a score? When thou hast done, thou hast not done, For I have more.  I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun My last thread, I shall perish on the shore; But swear by thyself, that at my death thy Son Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore; And, having done that, thou hast done; I fear no more.   JOEL 2:13  Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is Gracious and compassionate, slow to anger And abounding in love, and he relents from Sending calamity.   I JOHN 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.    "God loves us too much to indulge our every whim." - Max Lucado

ARTWORK: "The Return of The Prodigal Son" by Marc Chagall

(LUKE 15: 11-32)
The Parable of the Prodigal Son is a story of a rebellious son who rejects his father's upbringing. Prideful and strong, the son heads-off to a far-away land, leads a wild life of adventure, and squanders everything of value. Not until he's confronted with failure and despair, does he return home, repentant and willing to do anything to win back his father's favor. To his surprise, and the surprise of others, he's welcomed, without question, into his father's loving and forgiving arms. No amount of time, no amount of money, and no amount of rebellion could get in the way of the father's patience and unconditional love for his son.

The amazing message of this parable is that God is patient and gracious with all of His children. When we understand that a parable is an imaginary story to illustrate a spiritual point, we can quickly perceive that Jesus is using this account to teach us of God the Father's love for each of us. And while we are all sinners, as was the prodigal son, it is heartwarming, comforting and almost incomprehensible that God the Father is willing to welcome each of us home into His loving and forgiving arms.


A HYMN TO GOD THE FATHER by John Donne

Wilt thou forgive that sin where I begun,
Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
And do run still, though still I do deplore?
When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
For I have more.

Wilt thou forgive that sin which I have won
Others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Wilt thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two, but wallow'd in, a score?
When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
But swear by thyself, that at my death thy Son
Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore;
And, having done that, thou hast done;
I fear no more.

JOEL 2:13
Rend your heart and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God, for he is
Gracious and compassionate, slow to anger
And abounding in love, and he relents from
Sending calamity.

I JOHN 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

"God loves us too much to indulge our every whim." - Max Lucado

We Delight to Praise An except from Reflections on Psalms by C.S. Lewis   I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation….  But how if one could really and fully praise even such things to perfection - utterly "get out" in poetry or music or paint the upsurge of appreciation which almost bursts from you? Then indeed the object would be fully appreciated and our delight would have attained perfect development. The worthier the object, the more intense this delight would be. If it were possible for a crated soul fully (I mean, up to the full measure conceivable in a finite being) to "appreciate," that is to love and delight in, the worthiest object of all, and simultaneously at every moment to give this delight perfect expression, then that soul would be in supreme beatitude….  To see what the doctrine really means, we must suppose ourselves to be in perfect love with God - drunk with, drowned in, dissolved by, that delight which, far from remaining pent up within ourselves as incommunicable, hence hardly tolerable, bliss, flows out from us incessantly again in effortless and perfect expression, our joy no more separable from the praise in which it liberates and utters itself than the brightness a mirror receives is separable from the brightness it sheds. The Scotch catechism says that man's chief end is "to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God in inviting us to enjoy Him.   Psalm 63:3  Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you!   Psalm 89:1-2  I will sing of the Lord's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.   Romans 5:8  But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.    "By the cross we know the gravity of sin and the greatness of God's love toward us." – John Chrysostom

We Delight to Praise
An except from Reflections on Psalms by C.S. Lewis


I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation….

But how if one could really and fully praise even such things to perfection - utterly "get out" in poetry or music or paint the upsurge of appreciation which almost bursts from you? Then indeed the object would be fully appreciated and our delight would have attained perfect development. The worthier the object, the more intense this delight would be. If it were possible for a crated soul fully (I mean, up to the full measure conceivable in a finite being) to "appreciate," that is to love and delight in, the worthiest object of all, and simultaneously at every moment to give this delight perfect expression, then that soul would be in supreme beatitude….

To see what the doctrine really means, we must suppose ourselves to be in perfect love with God - drunk with, drowned in, dissolved by, that delight which, far from remaining pent up within ourselves as incommunicable, hence hardly tolerable, bliss, flows out from us incessantly again in effortless and perfect expression, our joy no more separable from the praise in which it liberates and utters itself than the brightness a mirror receives is separable from the brightness it sheds. The Scotch catechism says that man's chief end is "to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God in inviting us to enjoy Him.

Psalm 63:3
Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you!

Psalm 89:1-2

I will sing of the Lord's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.

Romans 5:8
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

"By the cross we know the gravity of sin and the greatness of God's love toward us." – John Chrysostom

O THE DEEP, DEEP LOVE OF JESUS
Performed by Sovereign Grace  (From the Album "Come Weary Saints")


This well-known hymn was written by the London merchant Samuel Trevor Francis (1834-1925). Francis had a spiritual turning point as a teenager, contemplating suicide one night on a bridge over the River Thames. Experiencing a renewal of faith, he went on to author many poems and hymns and was a preacher in addition to his merchant career.

The song compares Jesus' love to the ocean in scope, emphasizing the limitless, unchanging, and sacrificial nature of God's affections for the singer and all of humanity.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o'er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o'er them from the throne!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
'Tis an ocean vast of blessing, 'tis a haven sweet of rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, 'tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!

ROMANS 8:37-39

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


"God loves each of us as if there were only one of us. - Augustine

EASTER PRAYER  When everything was dark and it seemed that the sun would never shine again, your love broke through.  Your love was too strong, too wide, too deep for death to hold.  The sparks cast by your love dance and spread and burst forth with resurrection light.  Gracious God, We praise you for the light of new life made possible through Jesus. We praise you for the light of new life that shone on the first witnesses of resurrection. We praise you for the light of new life that continues to shine in our hearts today.  We pray that the Easter light of life, hope and joy, will live in us each day; and that we will be bearers of that light into the lives of others. Amen.    John 4: 9-11 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

EASTER PRAYER
When everything was dark
and it seemed that the sun would never shine again,
your love broke through.

Your love was too strong,
too wide,
too deep
for death to hold.

The sparks cast by your love
dance and spread
and burst forth
with resurrection light.

Gracious God,
We praise you for the light of new life
made possible through Jesus.
We praise you for the light of new life
that shone on the first witnesses of resurrection.
We praise you for the light of new life
that continues to shine in our hearts today.

We pray that the Easter light of life, hope and joy,
will live in us each day;
and that we will be bearers of that light
into the lives of others.
Amen.

John 4: 9-11
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Easter Reflections by Helen Steiner Rice   With OUR EYES we see The beauty of Easter as the earth awakens once more...  With OUR EARS we hear The birds sing sweetly to tell us Spring again is here...  With OUR HANDS we pick the golden daffodils and the fragrant hyacinths...  But only with OUR HEARTS can we feel the MIRACLE of GOD'S LOVE which redeems all men...  And only with OUR SOUL can we make our 'pilgrimage to God' and inherit His Easter Gift of ETERNAL LIFE.  'Easter Reflections' is a poem by Helen Steiner Rice that tells how God blesses us through beauty of the spring season. For the poet, Easter is the time when earth wakes up from a deep slumber and heralds the beginning of new life. Vibrant blooms like daffodils, hyacinths and tulips breathe new life and fragrance into nature. The Easter season is not just limited to its natural beauties. This is a time to feel the real blessings of God and thank him for his eternal gift that he has given us at Easter.   "But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead." - Ephesians 2:4-5  "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" - 2 Corinthians 5:17    PRAYER  The veil of darkness Transformed to the brightest light. The most dreadful end Became the most beautiful beginning. The depths of despair Fade to reveal hope everlasting. The curse of death Defeated by eternal life.  Thank you Lord, for the wonder of Easter.    "The great gift of Easter is hope – Christian hope which makes us have that confidence in God, in his ultimate triumph, and in his goodness and love, which nothing can shake." Basic C Hume, (1923-1999) Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster    ARTWORK: Water Lilies by Claude Monet (1919)

Easter Reflections by Helen Steiner Rice

With OUR EYES we see
The beauty of Easter
as the earth awakens once more...

With OUR EARS we hear
The birds sing sweetly
to tell us Spring again is here...

With OUR HANDS we pick
the golden daffodils
and the fragrant hyacinths...

But only with OUR HEARTS
can we feel the MIRACLE of GOD'S LOVE
which redeems all men...

And only with OUR SOUL
can we make our 'pilgrimage to God'
and inherit His Easter Gift of ETERNAL LIFE.

'Easter Reflections' is a poem by Helen Steiner Rice that tells how God blesses us through beauty of the spring season. For the poet, Easter is the time when earth wakes up from a deep slumber and heralds the beginning of new life. Vibrant blooms like daffodils, hyacinths and tulips breathe new life and fragrance into nature. The Easter season is not just limited to its natural beauties. This is a time to feel the real blessings of God and thank him for his eternal gift that he has given us at Easter.

"But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead." - Ephesians 2:4-5

"This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" - 2 Corinthians 5:17


PRAYER
The veil of darkness
Transformed to the brightest light.
The most dreadful end
Became the most beautiful beginning.
The depths of despair
Fade to reveal hope everlasting.
The curse of death
Defeated by eternal life.

Thank you Lord, for the wonder of Easter.

"The great gift of Easter is hope – Christian hope which makes us have that confidence in God, in his ultimate triumph, and in his goodness and love, which nothing can shake."
Basic C Hume, (1923-1999) Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster


ARTWORK: Water Lilies by Claude Monet (1919)

When we look our lives, it is wonderful to know that God's love for us is always there. Whether it is a difficult season of life or a struggle that seems to last longer than our hearts would want, God still watches over us. He is the God who brings "beauty from ashes, and joy from mourning". Reflect on how many times God has already done this in our life. When all seemed hopeless, it was our Heavenly Father who gave us hope. When one of our important relationships ended and we were in great pain, it was God's love that healed our heart. No matter what the circumstances it is always God and His love that is the answer. Reflect on God's amazing love, it will be exactly what you need today, tomorrow, and forever.  Kevin Ledbetter- Pastor of Music & Arts    Isaiah 61:3 Modern English Version  ...to preserve those who mourn in Zion ,to give to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.   Easter by Edmund Spenser (1552-1599)   Most glorious Lord of Lyfe! that, on this day, Didst make Thy triumph over death and sin; And, having harrowd hell, didst bring away Captivity thence captive, us to win: This joyous day, deare Lord, with joy begin; And grant that we, for whom thou diddest dye, Being with Thy deare blood clene washt from sin, May live for ever in felicity!  And that Thy love we weighing worthily, May likewise love Thee for the same againe; And for Thy sake, that all lyke deare didst buy, With love may one another entertayne! So let us love, deare Love, lyke as we ought, —Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught.   Easter is Edmund Spenser's 68th poem in his sonnet sequence "Amoretti". The poem is a joyous celebration of the Easter festival and the meaning behind it.    "God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, 'I love you.'" – Billy Graham

When we look our lives, it is wonderful to know that God's love for us is always there. Whether it is a difficult season of life or a struggle that seems to last longer than our hearts would want, God still watches over us. He is the God who brings "beauty from ashes, and joy from mourning". Reflect on how many times God has already done this in our life. When all seemed hopeless, it was our Heavenly Father who gave us hope. When one of our important relationships ended and we were in great pain, it was God's love that healed our heart. No matter what the circumstances it is always God and His love that is the answer. Reflect on God's amazing love, it will be exactly what you need today, tomorrow, and forever.
Kevin Ledbetter- Pastor of Music & Arts

Isaiah 61:3 Modern English Version
...to preserve those who mourn in Zion ,to give to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.

Easter by Edmund Spenser (1552-1599)

Most glorious Lord of Lyfe! that, on this day,
Didst make Thy triumph over death and sin;
And, having harrowd hell, didst bring away
Captivity thence captive, us to win:
This joyous day, deare Lord, with joy begin;
And grant that we, for whom thou diddest dye,
Being with Thy deare blood clene washt from sin,
May live for ever in felicity!

And that Thy love we weighing worthily,
May likewise love Thee for the same againe;
And for Thy sake, that all lyke deare didst buy,
With love may one another entertayne!
So let us love, deare Love, lyke as we ought,
—Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught.

Easter is Edmund Spenser's 68th poem in his sonnet sequence "Amoretti". The poem is a joyous celebration of the Easter festival and the meaning behind it.

"God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, 'I love you.'" – Billy Graham

Reflect-Repent-Renew-Remember    ARTWORK: Leon, Nicaragua. Artists create colorful carpets using sawdust and other materials depicting images in the story of Easter in the Barrio Sutiara.    Excerpt from the book "Scribbling In The Sand" by Michael Card   You know the story. "What do you say?" they asked him, with the false adoration he had become used to over time.  But he didn't say anything. Not a syllable. Instead Jesus crouched on his haunches and "wrote down" something with his finger in the sacred sand of the temple….  Finally Jesus broke the awful silence. Standing straight up once more, leaving his scribbling, he spoke, giving in ten simple words a summary of the wisdom and compassion that gave the perfect shape of his life (and can do the same to ours). "Whoever is without sin, let him cast the first stone."  What Jesus did that morning created a space in time that allowed the angry mob first to cool down, then to hear his word, and finally to think about it, be convicted by it and respond-or not. It made time stand still. It was original. It was unexpected. It was a response to the noise and confusion and busyness all around him, yet it was not in the least tainted by the noise. Instead, Jesus' action created a frame around the silence-the kind of silence in which God speaks to the heart. In short, it was a supreme act of creativity. It was art….  Our books, our magnificent paintings, our grand symphonies, all the art ever done in his name since that day cannot hope to be more, and should not be allowed to be less, than Jesus' scribbling that morning in the sand. If what we create, write, dance or sing can open up such a space in time through which God may speak, imagine the possibilities! Painting might become a window through which a confused world looks and sees the sane order of God's creation. Music could become an orchestrated echo of the Voice the tired ears of humankind have longed for ages to hear. This is art through which God is seen and heard, in which he is incarnate, is "fleshed out" in paint and ink, in stone, in creative moment. From the flat, gray point of view of the fallen world they are only scratches and scribbles in the sand, but in light of eternity they become the occasion for divine revelation. What more could we ever hope for, and once we've seen this new possibility, how could we ever settle for less?    Scribbling in the Sand Lyrics by Michael Card   …It was silence it was music It was art it was absurd He stooped and shouted volumes Without saying a single word The same finger of the strong hand That had written ten commands For now was simply scribbling in the sand  Within the space of space and time he scribbled in the sand They came to hear and see as much as they could understand Now bound by cords of kindness they couldn't cast a single stone And Jesus and the women found that they were all alone  Could that same finger come and trace my soul's sacred sand And make some unexpected space where I could understand That my own condemnation pierced and broke that gentle hand That scratched the words I'll never know Written in the sand   John 8:10-11 (NIV) 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" 11 "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."     "But our wounds are part of who we are...and there is nothing left to chance.... And pain's the pen that writes the songs.... That call us forth to dance" – Michael Card  "God is beautiful. His beauty demands a response that has shaped that beauty, and that is art." – Michael Card

Reflect-Repent-Renew-Remember

ARTWORK: Leon, Nicaragua. Artists create colorful carpets using sawdust and other materials depicting images in the story of Easter in the Barrio Sutiara.

Excerpt from the book "Scribbling In The Sand" by Michael Card

You know the story. "What do you say?" they asked him, with the false adoration he had become used to over time.

But he didn't say anything. Not a syllable. Instead Jesus crouched on his haunches and "wrote down" something with his finger in the sacred sand of the temple….

Finally Jesus broke the awful silence. Standing straight up once more, leaving his scribbling, he spoke, giving in ten simple words a summary of the wisdom and compassion that gave the perfect shape of his life (and can do the same to ours). "Whoever is without sin, let him cast the first stone."

What Jesus did that morning created a space in time that allowed the angry mob first to cool down, then to hear his word, and finally to think about it, be convicted by it and respond-or not. It made time stand still. It was original. It was unexpected. It was a response to the noise and confusion and busyness all around him, yet it was not in the least tainted by the noise. Instead, Jesus' action created a frame around the silence-the kind of silence in which God speaks to the heart. In short, it was a supreme act of creativity. It was art….

Our books, our magnificent paintings, our grand symphonies, all the art ever done in his name since that day cannot hope to be more, and should not be allowed to be less, than Jesus' scribbling that morning in the sand. If what we create, write, dance or sing can open up such a space in time through which God may speak, imagine the possibilities! Painting might become a window through which a confused world looks and sees the sane order of God's creation. Music could become an orchestrated echo of the Voice the tired ears of humankind have longed for ages to hear. This is art through which God is seen and heard, in which he is incarnate, is "fleshed out" in paint and ink, in stone, in creative moment. From the flat, gray point of view of the fallen world they are only scratches and scribbles in the sand, but in light of eternity they become the occasion for divine revelation. What more could we ever hope for, and once we've seen this new possibility, how could we ever settle for less?


Scribbling in the Sand
Lyrics by Michael Card


…It was silence it was music
It was art it was absurd
He stooped and shouted volumes
Without saying a single word
The same finger of the strong hand
That had written ten commands
For now was simply scribbling in the sand

Within the space of space and time he scribbled in the sand
They came to hear and see as much as they could understand
Now bound by cords of kindness they couldn't cast a single stone
And Jesus and the women found that they were all alone

Could that same finger come and trace my soul's sacred sand
And make some unexpected space where I could understand
That my own condemnation pierced and broke that gentle hand
That scratched the words I'll never know
Written in the sand

John 8:10-11 (NIV)
10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" 11 "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."


"But our wounds are part of who we are...and there is nothing left to chance.... And pain's the pen that writes the songs.... That call us forth to dance" – Michael Card

"God is beautiful. His beauty demands a response that has shaped that beauty, and that is art." – Michael Card

Reflect-Repent-Renew-Remember   The Lenten season is a time when many Christians observe a period of fasting, repentance, sacrifice, and spiritual discipline. The purpose is to set aside time for reflection for Jesus Christ - his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection. Jesus Christ is our example of love and sacrifice. We are called to love God and grow in that love even more.  Join us as we celebrate and prepare our hearts during this beautiful season through expression of art forms. We will be sharing through Scripture, Music, Poetry, Writings and Art. Each day we will focus our heart and thoughts towards Christ’s sacrifice to us and our response to Him.   John 3:16   For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.    Ephesians 5:1-2   Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Reflect-Repent-Renew-Remember

The Lenten season is a time when many Christians observe a period of fasting, repentance, sacrifice, and spiritual discipline. The purpose is to set aside time for reflection for Jesus Christ - his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection. Jesus Christ is our example of love and sacrifice. We are called to love God and grow in that love even more.

Join us as we celebrate and prepare our hearts during this beautiful season through expression of art forms. We will be sharing through Scripture, Music, Poetry, Writings and Art. Each day we will focus our heart and thoughts towards Christ’s sacrifice to us and our response to Him.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Ephesians 5:1-2
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.