This Sunday we'll gather to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. This single truth changes everything: Jesus is alive! That would be significant if he had never died. But it takes on a whole new significance when we realize that he did die.
It's one thing to never die but it's another to die and live again. Jesus died and came back to life.
So, on Easter we'll celebrate him coming back to life. But two days before that, at our Good Friday Service, we'll gather in memorial of his death.
I can't bring myself to say that we "celebrate" the death of Jesus (I spoke to that last fall in my teaching, "Body Broken For You.") but we certainly gather in celebration of what it accomplished. And even if for a moment we gaze uncomfortably at Jesus on the cross, we do it with the comfort of knowing that not only is it empty, but so is the grave that received him from the cross.
But let's not move too quickly through it. There is value in the remembrance part. In fact, as we prepare to "do this in remembrance of him," let's all take time to read again each of the gospel accounts that describe this holy week. I invite you to read one account each day:
Read it to remember the story so that when we all gather in remembrance, the story is near to your heart and familiar in your thinking. And I pray that the Holy Spirit will give you understanding as you honor him in this.
So, this is our observance of holy week.
Each day read one of the gospels.
Then, Friday let's gather in sober reflection, 7pm on site and online.
Finally, Sunday let's gather in joyful celebration, 10AM on site and online.
May the Lord be honored,
It's an odd question: Has God blessed you? How we answer it depends more on how we see life than what we have in life.
The other night as I was falling asleep I just began to thank God for all the blessings in my life: "Thank you Lord that I can breathe. Thank you that I can see. Thank you that I can hear... read... think... feel pain... feel pleasure... walk... speak..."
I thanked God for people I get to be in relationship with. I thanked God for people in my life who are easy to love, and for the people who exhaust me, who challenge me, who cause love to feel like a work out.
I thanked God for prosperity and scarcity at different times in my life -- sometimes both at the same time but in different sectors of my life. I thanked God for food on the table and a roof over my head and wheels between me and the road.
I thanked God for everything I could think of, even things I can't think of right now.
When we pause to thank God for everything, it orients our whole life in worship.
When we participate in offerings at church, we often set it up as a gift of thanks. And it is. But let's just admit that it's a weird concept to say that we give thanks to God for his gifts by giving some of it back. I mean, we don't do that with people. Why would we do it with God?
But when we talk about tithing,, we often say it that way. We talk about giving some of the blessings back to God as a way of saying thanks. I've said it that way often. I learned it somewhere along the line. But it's just weird, right?
I think there's a better way to say it:
The offering is how we share God's blessings.
Rather than just letting go of money, we should bless others with it.
Use God's blessings to bless others.
When we learn to live this way, we start to see how often the $10 we received is because someone else received $100 and gave some to us. And it came right when we needed it. And we counted it as a gift from God.
And we learn that the dozen roses were given as an expression of love from someone else who had just been encouraged. And the sandwich we just received is often 90% of someone else's sandwich who really didn't need to the whole thing to survive.
God has blessed each of us in various ways. And anything he has given us should be used to also bless others. This is the best way we can say thanks.
Bless God by blessing others with the blessing you have received from him.
The better question is this: "How has God blessed you?" And the extension of that is this: "In what way has God blessed you with enough that you can bless others?" This is the heart behind tithing, and participating in offerings. As scripture says, the goal is not that one person would receive too much and another person would go without, but that there would be equality in meeting the needs of the family of God.
On March 14 we'll collect a Generosity Offering.
We take up two generosity offerings a year as a way of supplying for the ministries at SCC. Our church is very seasonal, and this allows people who attend here during the winter months to help with the costs associated with it. Any help is appreciated.
So my appeal is this. If God has blessed you with more than you need, would you share it with the family of believers at Sarasota Community Church? Just bring a gift in keeping with the blessing we have received.
Pastor of Sarasota Community Church since 2009.