Monday, March 21, 2016

Greeting fellow Easter people,

Today, Monday, marks the beginning of Holy Week, our final week of Lent leading up to Easter. This has been an especially meaningful season of Lent for me as several folks in the Church and I devoted ourselves to fasting, studying the scriptures, and prayer. The Spirit of God has stirred us as disciples to grow in our faith and seek unique ways for service in our community.

Many question the meaning of Holy Week? Even the majority of faithful Christians need a review of the events leading up to the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christians, the purpose of Holy Week is to relive and retell the passion of Jesus Christ. I know when you hear "passion of Jesus Christ" your mind runs to the movie 'The Passion' which captures and highlights the suffering and death of Christ, (no comments on that).

This week is celebrated all over the world in many different ways. In my hometown of Madison, Fl. the whole community gathers at noon at various Churches throughout the week for ecumenical worship and lunch. Druid Hill UMC where i currently serve will host their annual 'Easter Tableau' on Thursday and Friday where participants will drive through to witness a live retelling of Christ's Passion. Many Churches will hold Sonrise services early Sunday morning at sunrise to celebrate the resurrection.

So I would like to use this post as an opportunity to review Holy Week as it first occurred.

The events of Holy Week (just a minimal outline):
Palm Sunday (Passion Sunday): Jesus humbly, yet triumphantly enters Jerusalem.

Monday: Jesus and His disciples leave Bethany for Jerusalem. During this time Jesus will teach, weep over Jerusalem, cleanse the Temple, leave, and spend the night in Bethany.

Tuesday: Leaves Bethany, teaches, upon leaving Jerusalem gives 'Olivet discourse' on way back to Bethany. Judas bargains with the Sanhedrin. Overnight in Bethany.

Wednesday: SILENT DAY. The scriptures record very little concerning this day.

Holy Thursday: (Maundy Thursday): Peter and John prepare for the Passover meal for Jesus and the other disciples. Jesus shares Passover with His disciples/"The Last Supper." Jesus washes the feet of the disciples. Jesus and His disciples leave for the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested by the Sanhedrin/religious leaders, and many soldiers. Taken to the house of Caiaphas and place beneath in a dungeon. Peter denies Christ. (Churches on this day will strip the Church--remove items from the Altar to symbolize what Christ experienced).

Good Friday: Trials begin (six total). Jesus is beaten and mocked. Judas hangs himself. Jesus carries his cross through the city, is crucified, gives His "Seven last sayings" and dies on the cross. (Churches on this day will drape the Cross with a black cloth)

Saturday: Jesus' body lay in the tomb. Pilate seals the tomb and orders guards to watch over it.

Sunday: The first day of the week, the third day of Jesus' death He rose from the dead! Jesus makes five appearances on this day: to Mary Magdalene, other women, two disciples on the road to Emmaus, Peter, the other disciples.

May you enter into this week once again to relive and retell the story of your risen Lord who lives and reigns in our hearts, and in our world, and in the world to come.

His Peace,
Pastor Brian

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Or should I say Sholom? During the season of Lent some members of the Church, their friends, and I have been meeting at Sholom park here in Ocala, Fl. This park is a welcomed place of peace and tranquility amid the hustle and bustle of life. Today was a much needed day for us as we discussed the process of hope. We were encouraged from the Apostle Paul's letter to the Christians at Rome. Paul wrote to them that Christians should rejoice in their sufferings because suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope, and hope doesn't disappoint because God's Spirit pours love into our hearts, (my paraphrase of Romans 5:1-6).
We began our study a few weeks ago as the season of Lent began by immersing ourselves in Jesus' story so you can imagine how tough life gets as you enter into the last week of His life. We have all experienced suffering/trials, or are in the middle of one now, or soon will be. So as you study the scriptures you begin to see that the human condition hasn't changed and we still need God, we still need a savior, we still need to develop our character after the life and teachings of Christ.
Praise God for the life and work of Christ! Praise God for His gift of salvation! Praise God for His Spirit that pours love into our hearts, guides the Church, and gives us HOPE--HOPE that will see us through and offer encouragement to a lost and dying world.

God's Shalom,

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Greetings friends,

I want to express my enthusiasm for a new study that I've been leading on Wednesday nights, 'John: The Gospel of Light and Life'. This is a new study produced by Adam Hamilton that highlights the deeply spiritual aspects of the Gospel of John. The study can be completed in six weeks but can be stretched a couple of weeks due to the many layers within each week's study.
I've enjoyed seeing my group learn new things about the Gospels, mostly how John is very different from the synoptics (Matthew, Mark, and Luke-you knew that already i'm sure), and to have so many great questions. Each week we are personally challenged to consider our walk with the Lord, the Church, and Christ's mission in the word.
Bible studies the incorporate a video component have tended to be my favorites. During these videos Adam teaches in front of a group each week and they too are allowed to ask questions which helps us as well. As many have come to learn Adam is a great teacher and presenter (he does speak a lil' fast for my country ears) and this is just one of many great resources that he has made available for individuals and Churches.
'John' is one resource of many that we are using during this season of Lent to be with our Lord. As a Church we are studying daily together, 'Living Lent: as people of the Resurrection,' there are other small groups meeting together using resources focused around Lent, and the sermons each Sunday are all themed so as to unite us as One people within God's story.

May you be richly blessed as you journey with God toward Easter,

check out the video link below for Adam's study. Perhaps you and your small group/study group would benefit?