|This Sunday at Holland's UMC|
HOLLAND'S UMC IS A CARING COMMUNITY
THAT INVITES AND EQUIPS PEOPLE TO FOLLOW JESUS.
Grace to you and peace!
Today is Ash Wednesday. We will gather in the main sanctuary this evening at 6:30 pm and begin the forty day journey of the Lenten season. As we begin this journey toward the cross of Good Friday (April 18), we joyously anticipate the empty tomb of Easter Day (April 20). The purpose of the worship service this evening is to focus on a dual encounter each of us potentially will experience with our Maker. On the one hand, we confront what is common to all human beings, whether or not we are followers of the Jesus, the Son of God. That confrontation is with our mortality as created beings: "We are dust and to dust we shall return." On the other hand, we who are believers in the saving merits of Jesus Christ, will make that confrontation as we confess our sins before God within the community of faith through song, scripture, reflection, and prayer knowing that Resurrection Hope is ours! I hope all of you will join in worship tonight as we begin the Lenten journey together.
As we move from Ash Wednesday through the remainder of the season, our focus will be on that Resurrection Hope, a hope that sustains us during our fleeting earthly pilgrimage.. Each subsequent Wednesday evening throughout the season we will gather in the chapel for a word of personal testimony from among our laity regarding how the God of Resurrection Hope has and is working in their lives. Each of these gatherings will be from 6:30 - 7:15 p.m. We have also planned Sunday morning worship experiences that will keep us focused on the theme of the season. Beginning on Sunday, March 30 through Easter Day, we will be sharing a four week sermon series called Hope Springs Eternal.
This coming Sunday our attention will be on the story of Jesus' temptation as it is recorded in Matthew 4:1-11. Here we find the Son of God on a personal retreat of fasting and prayer. He goes into the wilderness, just after his baptism but before his public ministry begins. Our Lord spends this time learning what it means to listen to the Father of all hope in the midst of human need and despair. The sermon for Sunday is entitled Necessary NOs. I'll be preaching at 8:30 and 11:00. Pastor Brian will bring the message at 9:45.
As I prepare my heart for what the Lord has to offer us on Sunday, I am recalling the Charlie Daniels' song from a few years back. In his toe tapping manner, Charlie reminded us that "The Devil went down to Georgia - he was trying to make a deal ..." The deal Satan is cutting is with Johnny the fiddle player. I am also reminded of the story of little Alexander who wanted a new baseball bat.
Well, Alexander wanted the bat so badly that he was willing to make a deal with his mom and dad. He agreed to save his pennies until he could pay one half of the cost for the new bat. Everything was progressing well - at least his mother thought so. Then one sunny morning as she was coming down the back steps of their home she noticed Alex sitting on the bottom step. His head was bowed in prayer. She stealthily maneuvered into earshot to hear what her son might be talking to God about. She was surprised when she heard him saying, "Dear God, please don't let the ice cream man come down our street today."
Johnny in the song, and Alexander in the story, like all of us, were struggling to learn how to say "No" to the Great Tempter. On Sunday morning we will see how our Lord was able to "JUST SAY NO" to Satan when that word needed to be spoken. And, as we move into Lent, we will learn how we too can find those Necessary NO's when confronted with temptation.
May God's blessings be with us as we worship our Maker tonight and on the First Sunday in Lent.
Peace, grace, and Lenten blessings,