Pastor's Blog

He Is STILL Risen

 Links: Sermon Notes & PowerPoint

To begin this week's sermon I reference the Oberammergau Passion Play, began in 1634. As the Black Death swept over Europe, the little village of Oberammergau lost 80 souls in 1633. The villagers pledged to perform the Passion of Jesus - His suffering, death and resurrection - every ten years as a kind of communal worship in the hope of preventing more death. In 1640 they determined to present the play on years ending in zero.

386 years later, the Oberammergau Passion Play is still performed. 124 speaking parts, 65 in the orchestra, 48 in the chorus. All in all, over 2,000 people from the village are needed for the production. In order to participate, each person must either be born in Oberammergau or have lived in the village at least 20 years. The production extends through four months, five days a week, each presentation lasting over four hours.

Only three cancellations in 386 years. In 1770, because for a period of time, all Passion plays were banned. In 1920, because of the devastation of World War 1. In 1940, because World War 2. 

Until this year.

The Passion Play begun as a response to a plague has been cancelled because of the Corona-virus. (Plans are being made for 2022.) Is there anything, any corner of our present existence, any minute of waking awareness, left untouched by this virus? Right now it may seem so.

But there is good news.

The Resurrection of Jesus has not been canceled. Remembering and celebrating the ultimate victory is not constrained by any virus or any plague or ... or wars, or famine, or disasters. We have faith, we have hope and we have this present day. Whether we gather joyfully or whether we ponder privately, the resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate good news.

Let us rejoice!

Regardless of the world and the circumstances in which we find ourselves ...




Desperate Prayers (3)

Links: Sermon Notes, PowerPoint

The Prayer of Surrender

Is there a more consequential prayer than the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane? The Lord's Prayer is better known and certainly said more often. Of course Moses interceded for the backslidden calf worshippers. Repentant Manasseh proved God forgives the most egregious sinner, but his was a personal prayer and didn't turn the people around! Sampson prayed and brought the house down. Now that was a prayer!

We tend to frame effective prayers by referring to Elijah calling down fire on Mount Carmel or Daniel sleeping safely among the lions. More of a "you asked for it ... you got it" kind of immediacy. A prayer was said and, right then, it happened even better than expected. 

But God said "No" to Jesus. What Jesus asked didn't happen. Jesus wanted the cup removed from Him. Have you ever known Jesus pray insincerely? To go to God and plead for something He really didn't want? Just didn't happen. I'm going to take Jesus at face value. Jesus meant what He said. He wanted the cup taken from Him. He wanted another way to be found. 

"For the third time, 'No.'"

Yet Jesus, the Hebrew writer tells us, was heard for His reverence. Jesus had no intention of disobeying God. On the contrary, Jesus embraced the "No" of God with a kind of deep joy. Not joy for the rejection which comes to Him on the cross. Not joy for the gloom of the grave.

But joy for what He knew lay ahead.

Going to the cross to endure the wrath of God and bear the sins of man, ultimately, brings glory to God. God saves sinners! God saves wretched sinners! God's grace and mercy to the worst of sinners confounds the whole cosmos!

Jesus trusted God. Jesus knew God would not abandon Him to the grave. In obedience, Jesus placed His Spirit into the hands of His Father ... and died. Willingly.

Salvation comes no other way. Saving sinners doesn't happen without God's "No" to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  It's amazing to think God's "No" to Jesus is God's "Yes" to us IN Jesus.

In God's kingdom everything is turned over.

Weakness becomes strength. Serving becomes authority. Becoming like a child is the path to maturity.

And surrender becomes victory.
Jesus' surrender.
Our victory.

Posted by Tim Alexander with

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