Sunday, March 29, 2015

Lenten Reflection - March 29, 2015 Palm Sunday

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness, and being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:5-8

On this day, and in the week ahead, we remember the events that lead to the death of Jesus of Nazareth, and look forward to the resurrection of Jesus the Christ.

What is not explicitly highlighted during this week, but is implicit in the events themselves, is the very essence of Jesus' nature, and what helps us make sense of the events of his Passion. The Christ Hymn gives us an explicit understanding of the essence and nature of Jesus and the "why" of his actions.

When I read this hymn, the awesomeness of God is so clear; the self-emptying (kenosis) of God, so that God could be in human form to feel our pain and suffering. The humility of Jesus, to make the choice to die on the wood of a cross, in order that we might know God's unbounded love for us, when he could have saved himself and revealed his power. Christ gives us the example of perfect obedience to God's will.

In the verses immediately preceding the Christ Hymn, Paul exhorts us to "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus." To be a community "in Christ" we must strive to be Christ-like, and there is no clearer statement of how to do this than this hymn.

The Reverend Dawn A. Campbell

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Lenten Reflection - March 28, 2015

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
I Corinthians 1:18

The Bible teaches us that all people sin against God; and all would be punished had God not loved us and sent His only son to die on a cross as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Also, if we believe in Jesus, live a life that loves Jesus and obey His commandments, we will receive eternal life.

Paul's message was the good news of Jesus Christ. Many of the Jews thought this to be foolishness because they awaited a military Messiah. Instead from Paul they received a humble carpenter who was put to death by crucifixion, a horrible death reserved for the worst offenders.

To many of the Gentiles the cross seemed illogical. That the Messiah would come as a crucified Jew seemed too absurd to be believed. However, a new philosopher would have been welcomed, especially by the Greeks.

Jews demanded signs and Greeks sought wisdom. Paul preached Christ crucified, but Jesus did not stay dead. His resurrection demonstrated His power over death. This sounds simple but many refuse to accept it. However, those who take Christ as their Savior are the wisest of all because they will live with Him forever.

Therefore, the Cross is not foolishness or weakness. Instead, it is a powerful gift from God that shows His love for His children.

Tom White

Friday, March 27, 2015

Lenten Reflection - March 27, 2015

"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree – in order that in Christ Jesus the blessings of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."
Galatians 3:13

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul reminded the early Christians that Christ has removed the curse of the Law (that is, death) through His death on the cross according to scripture. He also reminded them that God promised Abraham that his people are God's people and that Christ bestowed this blessing upon the Gentiles through his death and resurrection. He reproached them saying that they who had begun in spirit had now put their faith in self.

This and related verses in Galatians prove that we are God's people and highlight the wonderful gift Jesus brought to each of us. I never thought much about this verse before and as I reflected on it I know I am blessed by God's promise through Christ. What a gift for us all to accept Christ as our redeemer and live our faith. Many times I think I can rely on myself rather than the Spirit and can use Paul's reminder in my daily life.

John Ransom

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Lenten Reflection - March 26, 2015

In the same way the chief priests also, along with scribes and elders, were mocking him saying, ‘…He trusts in God, let god deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, ‘I am God's son." The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way.
Matthew 27:41.43

As with so many passages from the bible, it is important to read the surrounding passages to understand the meaning of an individual passage. In the proceeding passages, Matthew tells us of the crowd and their presence before Pontius Pilate, and Pilate realizing the he could not prevail against the crowd. The crowd wanted Jesus crucified and Barabbas released unto them.

In the group's mockery, the Priests, Scribes and Elders… wanted to show the gathered crowd that if Jesus ‘ claims of Himself as the worker of miracles, the Messiah –King, Son of God – were true, He would save Himself. Their thoughts may have been, if this man is God's Son, would God really abandon Jesus to die on the cross?

To truly understand an individual and their situation, we must ‘walk in their shoes.' Jesus could not forgive our sins, unless these sins were laid on Him. Our Lord carries our grief, our sorrows, and our transgressions because He was willing to die on the cross.

The Priests, Scribes and Elders felt that if Jesus could not help Himself then the crowd would see that Jesus was not the Messiah. The crowd would turn away from His teachings once He was gone.

Many times we want to ‘see ‘ and touch the miracle like the Priests, etc. wanted to see Jesus help Himself;, when in fact, we need to remember our faith and know that the miracle has occurred. In the end it really is all a matter of faith!

Cathy Stasny

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Lenten Reflection - March 25, 2015

He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wound you have been healed.
1 Peter 2:24

The Atrium III children have said it simply and beautifully:

"He sacrificed so we were forgiven, that we would be able to live right and by his wounds, we are healed."

Brandon Dorsey, Jacob Dorsey, Caitlin Miller, Leah Perkins, Megan Perry, Ella Riddle, Beth Tyson and Alex Wolf

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lenten Reflection - March 24, 2015

In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him saying,"…He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, ‘I am God's son." The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way.
Matthew 27:41,43

I find it is helpful to read the verses before and after the assigned scripture. There is so much to learn from it. Quite honestly, those that were considered important at that time, were superficial, judgmental of Jesus and saw him as a threat. They were afraid of him, of what he could do. They did not understand that while he could perform miracles for the people, he would only do God's will in regards to himself.

He could have saved himself as he was fully divine, yet he would take no wine as it would dull the pain he was to endure, he would not take himself down from the cross because it was he who was paying our debt, for our sins. He was crucified like a common criminal yet he states, "I am God's Son." What faith He showed to those around him on that day and to us in present time.

I, a mere human am faced with holding onto my faith each and every day. I look to Jesus to keep me strong in that faith.

Sharon McGlaughlin

Monday, March 23, 2015

Lenten Reflection - March 23, 2015

In the same way the chief priests also, along with scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him."
Matthew 27:41-42

Jealousy is a terrible emotion and universally felt by each of us at one time or another to our great discomfort. The chief priests and the scribes were not only jealous of Jesus and of his followers but were also fearful of them. "Let him come down now---‘an empty boast.'" He had already performed miraculous deeds that had not caught their attention and hence their admiration and devotion. This was not in God's plan. Would we have acted differently? I'd like to think so.

When I was in grade school there was a rather different girl in my class. She was what you might call pathetic: nothing at all attractive or appealing, I described her to my no nonsense live-at-home with us grandmother and you probably will not be surprised by the next step. I had to invite her home for lunch! I really didn't need that anyway, I did and she accepted. I didn't need that either. My classmates were amused and offered practical suggestions such as "Be sure to sterilize the dishes afterwards." I don't remember anything wonderful coming from that experience but the teacher did realize that Roselyn was the object of ridicule and the principal came in and gave us the B talk. I don't remember but I'd like to think we were all kinder afterwards. I'd also like to think I would not have mocked Jesus hanging on the cross if I'd been there.

Caroline York Chisum