Sunday Sermon: Living Out the Resurrection

We all have stories we love to tell. Stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. Stories of memorable times with our family and friends. Stories where we were able to experience something that changed our life. Stories that must be told again and again. 

My guess is that few of us have a story anything like the stories Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome could tell their friends and family. They were among the followers of Jesus who went with him as he traveled throughout Galilee. They saw his miracles of healing and the moments of great teaching that he did. They were there. 

More than that, though, this group of women were the first to witness some of the events that have changed the world. They were present at Golgotha when Jesus was crucified. A moment that changed the world as Jesus gave of his life for humanity’s sin. They were present later that Friday afternoon as Joseph of Arimathea and Niccodemus buried Jesus in a tomb located in a garden near where Jesus died.  Continue reading “Sunday Sermon: Living Out the Resurrection”

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Easter Sunrise Message: It’s No Longer Dark

It was still dark that Sunday morning. An appropriate way for John to begin his account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. One of the things to appreciate about the Gospel of John it is that word choice means everything. A word like “dark” or “darkness” carries with it a meaning that is deeper than what it may seem. 

On one hand, it was literally dark in Jerusalem and at the tomb where Joseph of Arimathea and Niccodemus laid Jesus following his death on the cross three days earlier. The morning sun had not broken through the darkness of the night as a new week began. Darkness filled the skies much like the darkness that greeted us, this morning, as we gathered for this sunrise worship. Continue reading “Easter Sunrise Message: It’s No Longer Dark”

Sunday Sermon: What Will God Show You?

One of most important things about life is having a group of friends that you can depend upon. That is because no one can go through life alone. We need the support of a group of people, friends, who will love us unconditionally, be there with us no matter the situation, and will always find a way to make us laugh or to see the brighter side of life.

All of us need a group of friends who are there for us. That includes Jesus. Now, that might seem like an odd suggestion to make. Why would the Son of the Living God, the Messiah, the Savior, need people to support him? No one can do life alone or in a vacuum, and that includes Jesus who experienced all life has to offer including its challenges, difficulties, and obstacles. Jesus was very well aware that he could not do what was asked of him alone. He needed people to walk with him. He needed people who would support him.   Continue reading “Sunday Sermon: What Will God Show You?”

An Easter Devotion

In the dawn of Sunday morning, the day after the Jewish Sabbath following an eventful Passover celebration, Mary Magdalene and some others decided to go to the tomb. Not just any tomb, but the tomb where Joseph of Armiathea had placed Jesus following his death on the cross Friday afternoon. The Sabbath prevented Mary and her friends from journeying to the tomb, but once the sun was up on Sunday morning they proceeded to go to where Jesus was buried.

Scripture gives us conflicting reports as to why Mary visited the tomb. Some say she was there to finish the burial, while John perhaps focuses on her devotion to Jesus by indicating no other desire other than just to be there. The conflicting reports are simply different perspectives of the same story that focuses on what Mary and her group experienced.

However, once they arrived at the tomb that saw something they did not expect. They noticed that the stone used to seal the tomb was rolled away. This was a troubling sight and the group was fearful that something bad had happened. Back then it was common for grave robbers to come and steal items from graves. Mary’s first inclination is that this is what happened. She doesn’t go near the tomb, but the fact the tomb was unsealed leaves this possibility open to her. Continue reading “An Easter Devotion”

Peter’s Denial and What it Means for Us

For the longest time, I was a huge professional wrestling fan. Every Saturday morning, and eventually Monday nights, I would turn on the television and watch the action regardless if it was from the WWF or WCW.

I was into it, too. I had my favorite wrestlers, such as Hulk Hogan and the Road Warriors, and I could quote their favorite lines as well as I could say my own name. Even more, I could hum the theme songs for my favorite wrestlers. It is also possible I might have been known to use certain songs for workout music from time to time.

I’m not completely sure if watching professional wrestling is what led me to wrestle in school. I do remember, however, that one of our coaches had to remind us that we could not use things like steel chairs, illegal moves, or have our own theme song in matches.

The fact I watched a lot of professional wrestling is not something that I like to point out to many people. You have to really know me before I let you know that little piece of myself. Let’s be honest, no one really wants to admit to being a professional wrestling fan. Continue reading “Peter’s Denial and What it Means for Us”

24 Hours of Jesus: Arrest and Betrayal

“Nothing good happens after 2 a.m.”

Have you ever heard of that saying? It is a classic idiom often passed along to youth and young adults to remind them to be cautious of their actions, especially once evening gives way to the early morning. The idiom is based on the belief that the later it gets the more likely we are to make bad choices of judgment and do things we may later regret. As well, the more likely we can find ourselves in challenging or difficult situations.

Not that I am ever guilty of making such poor choice of judgment late in the evening. I did, of course, attend West Virginia University, which is known as a quality institution that does not support things like couch burnings or late-night campus parties.

What we hope for with this saying is that it will reminded us all that our choices have consequences. Those of us who have uttered this saying to our children or those who we are in ministry with desire that it would lead someone to make sound decisions and wise judgments. Continue reading “24 Hours of Jesus: Arrest and Betrayal”

We Cannot Stay on the Mountaintop

It was a big moment.

After some time spent together and witnessing amazing acts of healing and teaching, Jesus’ disciples are having an important conversation with Jesus. This wasn’t the usual conversation. Jesus asks his disciples a very direct and personal question: “Who do you say that I am?”

The question came after Jesus asked them about what the people saw in him. It was Peter who would speak for the entire group, as was the case many times in their three-year journey with Jesus. He announced that Jesus is, in fact, the long-awaited Messiah. The One who would redeem the people and establish God’s kingdom.

This was a big moment for the disciples and Peter. It signified that they were beginning to understand Jesus’ identity and the work he came to do, even if they didn’t understand fully what this meant. Jesus celebrates Peter’s affirmation by saying he would build his church upon his confession. He also takes the opportunity to further explain what his Lordship meant. Jesus said he must go to Jerusalem, be rejected, crucified, and raised to life three days later. Peter refused to hear this, which led to Jesus’ rebuke of Peter standing in the way of Jesus’ movement towards the cross.

Fast forward now six days later. That conversation and moment may still be fresh on the disciples’ minds as they approach Mount Tabor. This is the traditional setting for what Matthew describes for us in Matthew 17:1-9. What takes place is a high moment in Jesus’ ministry, and one that would leave his disciples amazed. Continue reading “We Cannot Stay on the Mountaintop”