I grew up in cattle ranching country, and my father was a rancher. As I look back, I realize many of my memories revolve around riding with him in his pickup truck. He would drive fairly slowly, and his eyes were always scanning, looking for the herds, and counting the cattle. He always knew the size of the herd, so he knew when one was missing. Yes, he would look for it, and not rest easy until he found it. He may not have overtly rejoiced, but I have seen the relief on his face when the missing were accounted for. He and I did not always see eye to eye, but when I think of him behind the steering wheel as he scanned the herds, I am filled with admiration. Truthfully, I wish I could tell him that in person, but my prayers of gratitude must do. Every day for over four decades, he tended the herds, counting them, and responding to their needs.
From Rev Dr Tom Nibbe
HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN, INDEED!
Announcing Worship Services at the Discovery Site on Sweeney Ridge at 6:47 a.m. Master bagpiper David Vasheresse will lead our united group up to the summit at the Discovery Site.
Resurrection Day Holy Communion at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in the Linda Mar District of Pacifica, California, at 11:00 a.m. All regulations and stipulations of the Pandemic Committee will be observed in both worship opportunities, including masks, social distancing, no singing, no touching, as well as all common sense measures.
"...they killed Him by hanging Him on a tree, but God raised Him from the dead on the third day on the third day and caused Him to be seen..." Acts 10:39b-40
"...at this, she [Mary Magdalene] turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn't realize that it was Jesus..." John 20:1-18
Prayer for this Easter Sunday of 2021
On this jubilant Easter Sunday morning, we want to give you hearty praise and thanks for your manifold blessings of every kind --- human companions and fellowship, nourishing food, healing of heart, soul, mind and body, warm clothing, all the necessities provided, all the opportunities to be healthy, comforted and wise.
We pray for our troops overseas. We pray for those who have lost loved ones in the pandemic, and those who have the virus. We pray for our nation. We pray for our economy. We ask that America might be a beacon of light to a dark world. Foremost, today, though, we thank you for the gift of faith. Help us today to fully appreciate the sacrifice of Christ Jesus and understand anew the power of His resurrection. We pray in His holy name.
Greetings to you and yours as together we rejoice greatly at "just the thought" of Easter, and traditionally, how this great festival in the church year has brought such happiness to individuals and families. People love to be in the church sanctuary on this day. People love to hear the magnificent Easter hymns and the Bible lessons for this day. They find real encouragement to make their lives, and as well, their struggles seem like nothing compared to the hope they have in the Resurrected Christ Jesus...stepping out of their way to choose Easter morning worship...and, I guess, for many, back to their normal ways...church involvement really not a significant part of their lives.
In this regard I'm not talking about the regular worshippers, but, on the other hand, those who come but once a year, or maybe two times, including, yes, you guessed it, Christmas. They are many...they range in the millions. I am grateful for the denominational fellowships that try sincerely to make church and faith an integral part of their lives... to make Jesus of Nazareth their personal Lord and Savior.
It brings to mind my particular focus recurrently about the difference between "religion" and "faith". As many of you know, I think of the two as being...like the difference in a railway station, between standing on the platform religion and getting on the train faith...
The platform is the railway station...the train is the Gospel Train and the engineer is the Lord Jesus Christ. The fuel for the train is the Holy Spirit.
I keep thinking about my father-in-law, eventually, the Rev. Francis Najmuddin, who said at one time, that Islam was good preparation for the "real thing", a personal relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. He stood on the platform religion and in the process memorized the "Koran Sharif". When he had an opportunity to read the New Testament, he knew in his heart that Jesus was the Son of God...He got on the train faith...and that cost him great deal...in addition to the fact that he was hunted down by his family for decades.
How much are you willing to pay for your spiritual well-being?
What are you sure of?
Are you still standing on the platform religion after all these years, or is it true you know---you have, indeed, gotten onto the Gospel train.
Is Jesus your engineer?
How much are you willing to go to move from your platform religion to the Gospel train faith? Do you know what it takes to do so? Some folks have thought for "time immemorial" that religion and faith were the same thing. Identical. In some ways they are exact opposites.
Why is it I like this verse better than the definition in the "Micah" passage? Because it says nothing about what I am supposed to be or do. There is no stipulation regarding requirements. The "Hebrews" passage has to do with unconditional assurance and certainty in my commitment to trust in God's plan for my life, rather than proving to God I'm good enough to deserve His favor. Faith is about trusting God alone! Religion requires mindset and behavior that will prove that I am good enough for God.
Personally, I love the Micah verse...I printed this verse on my calling card... my point here is that---it is "standing on the platform" in reverse...it's what you do and live once you have the "faith" principle in your heart...to do these good and perfect things without having the assurance of faith, at least Paul seems to think, is worthless...without profit for the informed Godly person. I want to introduce you to one "bottom-line" of getting on the Gospel train.
This is Easter Sunday. Even on Easter Sunday, it's never too late to introduce the Gospel Train to people who don't go to church, and also people who attend every Sunday...[a bold and dangerous thing to suggest]...but I'm going to do it...
How do we get off the platform religion and get on the Gospel train faith?
One key chapter of the Bible that is truly a "dividing line" between those who have finally---understood---and received---the inner-knowledge of faith and those who, without discerning, continue to stand on the platform.
Saint Paul's 1st Letter to the Corinthians...the fifteenth chapter...
If you don't pass this test...you're still on the platform...
Doing good things, having a solid ethical base to your faith life, is impressive. I think it's excellent...but, according to the Bible, according to Saint Paul...if that's all that Spirituality is "about" for you, you are doomed, and if you are right in this regard...we all are doomed...and left out in the cold and darkness.
You believe correctly that Jesus died on the cross of Calvary for your sins. You're totally in accord with what the Bible teaches. But, Sister, but Brother... if you struggle and doubt that Jesus was raised again on the third day, this whole business of spirituality for you is in vain. You might as well quit church, and leave Bible study, and good behavior, and do what you please...
They talk about what Jesus said regarding being "born anew". Yes, these things Jesus mentioned are true, but not at the cost of suggesting that "second chances in life" are the issue here. People in the church hide the fact that they do not believe...
The issue at hand in the fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians is the bold affirmation of faith that...Jesus not only died on the cross, but He also was raised from the dead after being really dead for three whole days by the power of the Father.
Historically the situation in Saint Paul's appeal to the church people in Corinth was this. Christians accepted almost all aspects of the message Paul delivered. The exception in this regard was the issue for them of the Resurrection.
This became a "stumbling block" for them, because of the place of "philosophical reason" in their Greek lives. This needed to be addressed. And today in America, with our unschooled philosophic tradition of reason, for those educated in formal philosophy, and those not educated in philosophy, Saint Paul's challenge in the 15th chapter remains. In short, preachers of the Gospel must address the issue. Millions hide their disbelief to their peril.
Saint Paul goes on, "...if only for our present life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all human beings...but Christ has, indeed, been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep... for since death came through a man Adam, the resurrection of the dead comes through a man Jesus...for as in Adam all die, so in Christ, all will be made alive..." 1 Corinthians 15:20-22
The euphoria of Easter is rising up within me. Please note. Dear friend, you are not the first Christian to doubt the Resurrection and rationalize your belief. Remember our dear friend, Doubting Thomas. Let the Lord know your shortcoming. Ask the Lord to send the Holy Spirit to fill that empty space. This is and was not only an issue for the Corinthians... the issue is there for us and with us today...among laymen and clergy. The situation is...this is a bottom-line issue of the faith...let's address it this year on Easter Sunday, 2021. It will take a special touch of the Spirit.
HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN, INDEED!
Most cordially, Tom
From Rev Sue Ann Yarbrough
Blessings to each of you this Holy Week. For those of you who are Jewish, I recognize we are also in Passover. May you have a happy holiday! And for those of you who are Hindu, I recognize that Holi ended March 29, but may the love you celebrated always be celebrated! May we all acknowledge and celebrate our many paths to the Sacred.
I want to let you all know that every Wednesday night at 7:30 I host via Zoom a Centering Prayer meditation session. In Centering Prayer, we set our intention to make room for Christ (or whatever you call the Sacred) in our hearts. We begin with a short reading, meditate for 25 minutes, and then have a brief time of discussion. If you would like to take part, just send me an email and I will send the link.
Thursday is Maundy Thursday, a time when many Christians will gather to celebrate the Eucharist and prepare for Good Friday. Many will also wash one another's feet. The word Maundy means commandment. This is a time when we ponder Jesus' words to love one another. These words come after Jesus washed the feet of the disciples.
Love does require humility. Love asks us to serve one another.
God is our Alpha and our Omega. Since God is love (1 John 4:8), we can have confidence in knowing that love will always have the last word. Always. That is true for our very own hearts.
Holy and gracious God, thank you for teaching us to love. Thank you for holding this world in love. May our communities and families know this love. Help us to remember that love thrives when it is shared. May our nation and the world learn that peace will happen when we learn to treat one another with the deep respect that love brings. We pray for Christians as they journey through Holy Week. May they do so in safety and respect. We give you thanks for the gift of Jesus who simply asked that we love another. May we remember this commandment, and live this commandment. This is how we can serve the world.
In gratitude we pray, Amen.
In the meantime, have a beautiful Easter Sunday.
Rev. Sue Ann Yarbrough, Associate Pastor
San Lorenzo Community Church, United Church of Christ
Messages from our SpiritCare Pastors