At our Easter sunrise service, Pastor David preached about how Jesus was always one step ahead of his disciples, even as they discovered his empty tomb at daybreak on the first day of the week. Listen to his message here:
Last year, we introduced a series of banners to decorate our sanctuary with the colors and symbols of the various seasons of the church year. The banners rotate around our sanctuary during the course of the year, with the current season’s banner displayed prominently beside the pulpit. We have green banners to designate “Ordinary Time,” purple banners for Advent and Lent, and red banners for Pentecost and the Lord’s Supper. Starting this Sunday, you might notice that one our banners has changed colors:
The banner representing the current season of Easter, showing a cross on a purple background, now shows a cross on a white background. Why the change? Continue reading
Jesus is risen from the dead! But…why does this all matter? Pastor David explores one of the big questions of faith in this year’s Easter Sunday sermon.
Between Jesus’s death and resurrection, the world waited for sunrise to come. How can we find meaning in the darkness of the night? Listen to Pastor David’s sermon from our Easter sunrise service.
“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!”
Wait, isn’t that a Christmas carol? Why are we going to sing it on Easter Sunday morning?
Yes, the song appears in our hymnal in the Christmas carol section (which is named “Jesus Christ: Advent and Nativity”). Before it is “We Three Kings,” and after it is “The First Noel.” I keep track of the days on which we sing songs in worship, and in my years as pastor at Mt. Haley, we have only ever sung “Joy to the World” in the month of December – or, occasionally, in late November. There is no question that this song is a Christmas-time song.
But we’re going to sing it on Easter Sunday, and I’m excited about that. :)
“Joy to the World” is based on Psalm 98. Isaac Watts wrote these lyrics as part of his quest to point all of the Psalms specifically to Jesus. Take a few minutes right now to read Psalm 98 – which, by the way, will be our responsive reading on Easter Sunday, as well.
Joy to the world! The Lord is come. Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing.
If there were ever a day for us to celebrate the arrival of Jesus as King, it is Easter Sunday. After all hope seemed to have been lost on Good Friday, and after a quiet day of somber reflection on Holy Saturday, Christians around the world will celebrate with great wonder the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Who else would we claim as our King?
Joy to the world! The Savior reigns. Let men their songs employ, while fields and flocks, rocks, hills, and plains repeat the sounding joy.
All creation joins in celebration of the new life found in Jesus Christ. Remember that Easter coincides with the early days of springtime. Take a look around you: fields, flocks, rocks, hills, and plains are all bursting at the seams with new life. (Well, ok, maybe the rocks are a little stoic. But maybe not: see Luke 19:37-40.)
No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found.
This is what the Easter season is all about: through his death and resurrection, Jesus has made atonement for our sins. The sorrow of Good Friday has been turned into Easter celebrations. The thorns on Jesus’s crown are exchanged for a royal crown that will never be taken away from him.
He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of his righteousness and wonders of his love.
Jesus came into this world full of grace and truth (John 1:14). His resurrection from the dead proves that the world’s greatest powers – religious and secular alike – are no match for his righteousness and love.
We live in an in-between time, between Jesus’s resurrection and his return at the end of the age. During this in-between time, we remember and celebrate the past: Jesus died, was buried, and rose from the grave. But we also remember and celebrate the future: Jesus will come again in glory, and the kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ (Revelation 11:15). Rightly understood, “Joy to the World” is a song about the second coming of Christ. Won’t it be grand to remember Jesus’s future arrival on the day that we remember his victory over the grave?
Come and worship with us at Mt. Haley on Easter Sunday, April 16, at 10am. We will have a sunrise service at 7am and a hot breakfast at 8am as well.
On Easter Sunday, four people were baptized as believers in Jesus Christ. What a wonderful experience to witness! Now the challenge falls to us to share what we have witnessed with other people. Listen to Pastor David’s sermon on Acts 10:34-43, in which Peter shares his experiences with a stranger named Cornelius.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. Jesus is alive! Listen to Pastor David’s message from our early service on Easter Sunday: as 1 John 1:1-10 says, let us walk in the light as Jesus is in the light.
Today is “Super Tuesday,” a day in which some presidential candidates will vault ahead in their pursuit of their party’s nomination, and others will experience great disappointment. As a nation, we are waiting with bated breath to see what happens next.
Today is also the day of another snowstorm here in central Michigan. We are projected to see 6-10 inches of snowfall by this evening. Looking outside right now, I see a snow-covered road and beautifully dusted pine trees. It’s beginning to look a lot like winter. Time will tell how much today’s snowstorm will affect people’s lives, in terms of cancelled events, power outages, and auto accidents.
Today is March 1, as well – the first day of a new month. Who knows what this month will hold? The presidential race will surely change; hopefully our weather will, also. As one Facebook friend wrote today, “March truly comes in like a LION.” An old adage suggests that if March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb. If the weather looks horrible on March 1 (like it does today), then in a few weeks it will look much better. One can hope, anyway.
But I see another layer of meaning in that saying. On this “Super Tuesday,” we are focusing our collective attention on a few individuals whose names appear on ballots in thirteen states. Many lions are competing for supremacy in the power struggle of our political system.
If March begins like a lion, how will it end? Continue reading