Biblical Messages

Digital Easter Celebration 2020

For the first time in history, the church is celebrating the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ in digital only…since Coronavirus keeps us from gathering, this will have to do! In this service, we hear a message based on Romans 6.1-11, which begins at 13:22. We also have a virtual celebration of the Lord’s Supper, and hear a solo.  Watch below!

Encouragement From The Word

Symbols of hope

Perhaps you’ve been walking in your neighbourhood more often lately.  I know I have.  And if so, you’ve probably seen various neighbours’ windows decorated with rainbows.

I went to the all-knowing Google the other day and typed in, “Why are people putting rainbows in their windows”, only to discover mid-search that I’m not the first person to ‘Google’ that question.

It turns out that this trend started in Italy, accompanied by the phrase, andra tutto benne – everything will be alright – when the Coronavirus problem got serious in that country.  And it spread across many countries in the western world, including here in Canada.

Some Christians may be uncomfortable placing rainbows in their windows these days, because of the fear of misunderstanding: a certain demographic some time ago decided to appropriate a variant of the rainbow as its primary symbol, and not everybody understands the difference.

For followers of Jesus, of course, the rainbow is a sign of God’s promise never to destroy the earth again by flood.  It’s a sign of hope.  Indeed, ultimately, everything will be alright.

But if you want to try something different, why not do so?  Some of my social media friends decided to create stained glass Christian images in their windows using masking tape and paint that can later be removed.

With today being Good Friday, and Easter being around the corner, we could use images like the empty cross, or the heart, or even the anchor.  We can even use words, provided they are painted (or printed out) large enough for passersby to see.

Many of our neighbours are hurting and lonely.  A lot of people are looking for hope, looking for something stable to which they may cling in this season of uncertainty.  Consider using your front window as a witness.  When this is all over, who knows what seeds God may have planted in people, through our silent witness, to draw them to him who is unchanging?

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13.8, NLT).

By the way, if you don’t have an online church ‘home’, feel free to watch our live-streaming of worship on Good Friday, and on Easter Sunday, at 10:00 a.m.  You don’t need an account to watch at http://www.facebook.com/stpaulsnobleton.  You can watch later at http://www.stpaulsnobleton.ca/sermons.

Biblical Messages

The Amazing Race

Jesus is risen!  We celebrated today by looking at the story of the resurrection from the perspective of John, in John 20.1-18.  There’s a footrace, and a big surprise in this version. Watch or listen below, and Happy Easter!

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Biblical Messages

Spiritual heartburn in the afterglow of Easter

Lent creates a buildup to Good Friday, and the anticipation of the resurrection.  In the afterglow of Easter, we often find ourselves wondering, “What’s next?” Well, of course, forty days after Easter comes the ascension, and another ten days after that comes Pentecost – but until then, what’s next?

The story in Luke’s gospel that follows the resurrection is the journey to Emmaus trod by two friends.  The risen Lord Jesus joins them, but they don’t recognize him.  They remain baffled by all that has happened, for they were hopeful that Jesus, who was crucified, would be the Messiah.  Those hopes were dashed when Jesus was crucified, but then they heard the remarkable rumour that the tomb was empty and he had risen from the dead.

These faithful people, like most of their fellow citizens, did not think this was how the story of the Messiah was supposed to go.  But Jesus, at this point a stranger to them, explains the Scriptures to them to help them see that indeed, their faith tradition did call for the events that had transpired in recent days – even if their cultural tradition did not see it that way.

The story of the walk to Emmaus has many lessons in it for God’s people, and perhaps this one flies under the radar too often:  when we make assumptions about our faith that are cultural and not biblical, Jesus may surprise us.

The Jewish people of the first century expected a political Messiah, one who would ride in on a white horse and send the Romans packing.  While there are occasionally allusions to such a hope in the Old Testament, there is much more that points to the Messiah who would suffer and die, and be raised from the dead.

Though Jesus does not walk alongside us physically as we journey through life, he does live in and through us by the Holy Spirit, who helps us understand the Scriptures as we read them.  The Holy Spirit wants to work in us; the trick is to position ourselves for that to happen, and it starts by reading the Scriptures.  For as we read the Bible under the promised illumination of the Holy Spirit, we will find, as those journeying disciples did, that our hearts will “burn within us”.  That’s a kind of heartburn no antacid will take away!  And that reading of Scripture will help us see what’s cultural and what’s biblical about who we are and how we live.

They said to each other, ‘Didn’t our hearrts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?’” (Luke 24.32, NLT).

Biblical Messages

Victory!

This Easter Day, we celebrate the victory that’s ours over sin and death through Jesus’ death and resurrection.  What’s the impact?  What’s the relevance?  Based on 1 Corinthians 15.50-58, you can listen here:

 

 

Or you can watch the video on our church Facebook page, even without an account:

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Biblical Messages, Uncategorized

Gloriously Undead

The message of Easter is that Jesus’ resurrection sets us free from sin and grants us life eternal.  Who doesn’t want that?  Yet many of us place barriers in the way.  The big question in this message, based on 1 Corinthians 15.35-39, 50-58 is this:  What has to die in you so that Jesus can come alive?  Listen here:

Biblical Messages

Jesus is going ahead of you

The message of Easter is the same, always:  Jesus is alive!  Because he lives, we also may live.  But what can that mean?  In the gospel of Mark, the angel tells the women that Jesus has gone ahead of them into Galilee.  What does it mean that Jesus has gone ahead of you?  Based on Mark 16.1-8, you can listen to this Easter message here:

Biblical Messages

How Deep?

Stuart Townend’s song exclaims, “How deep the Father’s love for us!  How vast beyond all measure!”  As we heard the resurrection story from Matthew 28, and the inspiration for Townend’s song in 1 John 3.1-10, we asked the question, “How Deep?” in today’s Easter celebration message.  Listen here:  

Encouragement From The Word

After Easter…

So how was your Easter?  Was it a great celebration with church family and loved ones?  To be sure, it’s a highlight of the year.  Congregations everywhere are encouraged by the attendance, which usually rivals Christmas eve for the biggest numbers of the year.

But then there’s the next Sunday.  Normality returns with a thud.  But should it?

I’ve quoted Kennon Callahan before, who says that Christmas and Easter are God’s way of showing you your future.  That is, the people who attend irregularly, but come to you at Christmas and Easter, may have great potential to attend your church more regularly.  How are you reaching out to them?

To be sure, it’s a challenging time to grow the church.  There are many other tantalizing things to do rather than worship God, so how can the church grow in that context?

There are many things that can be done, but a simple one is this:  continue to invite your friends to worship.  Some who came with you at Easter will accept another invitation.  Why not make it a social engagement?  Offer to take your guests out for coffee or lunch after worship.  Cultivate the relationships.

Maybe the shoe is on the other foot:  perhaps you are the guest who came with a friend last Sunday, or who has been encouraged to come to worship with a friend.  Why not come this Sunday?  Bamboozle your friends by asking to come to worship with them!  You’ve experienced something that you’d like to experience again, so go for it!

Easter is something Christians celebrate all year.  Each Sunday is a little celebration of the resurrection in community, and each day is a further celebration of Jesus being alive in us.  Let it make a difference in your life today, and in your church this weekend.

The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord” (John 20.20b, NIV).