Friday, April 30, 2010


Find a way to celebrate EVERYTHING!

Have a special dessert when you see the first robin, hunningbird, or daffodil in the spring.
Light candles when you eat, even if you just having a simple sandwich.  Use good dishes and silverware - just because.
Organize a croquet tournament and potluck with your neighbors.  Anything you can do to bring joy and laughter to people is worth doing.

Most people have no problem celebrating the big, onetime happy events in our lives; it's learning how to practice this every day that takes discipline.

Where will you start today?

Thursday, April 29, 2010


As you begin practicing this discipline...  how about something EASY to start with?

Think about what nurtures you - and then do it!

Is it finding tie to curl up with a good book?  Taking a walk in nature?  Doing a craft of some kind, such as needlepoint or knitting?  Playing the piano or listening to music?  Playing a sweaty game of racquetball with a friend? 

Mark the time on your calendar for the activity.  Treat the time as you would a doctor's appointment: Don't miss it unless there is an emergency!

Celebrate this time you have to nurture yourself!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Days of Drear

"Because of how good God is, we can always find something to celebrate - even in the darkest of times... When we train ourselves, in the midst of unpleasant or difficult circumstances, to focus intentionally on the gifts God gives us, it helps us put our own lives into proper perspective.

"...But in our eagerness to develop gratitude, we must not 'stuff' or deny negative thoughts and emotions.  God asks us to be honest about how we feel, even if we are angry, frustrated, depressed, or afraid.  Negative emotions like these don't mean we can't simultaneously acknowledge what we know to be true about God's goodness.

"...So as you seek to practice this discipline, be honest with yourself and God about how you feel, but don't lose sight of the bigger picture.  Celebration offers us the opportunity to transform those hard places, rising above 'our light and momentary troubles [that] are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all' (2 Corinthians 4:17)."
--Valerie Hess, "Habits of a Child's Heart"

Days of sadness and drear happen.  But God is there, too.  Try to find a way to see God's goodness in the midst.  Celebrate God's presence, if nothing else...  For it's in those moments, when we can celebrate, that we feel God's presence overwhelmingly!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


"Every moment has the potential to be lifted up and sanctified by our attitudes and actions.  Indeed, every moment holds the potential for being aware of God's love.  And when that happens, we are better able to show love and joy to others."
--Valerie Hess, "Habits of a Child's Heart"

What moments do you find joy in today?  What moments do you see God's love in today?

How are you showing that joy and love in God to others?

Monday, April 26, 2010


"One of the central human needs is to be acknowledged and loved for who we are.  That is why birthdays are high holy days.

"'Celebrating a birthday is exalting life and being glad for it.  On a birthday we do not say: "thanks for what you did, or said, or accomplished."  No, we say: "Thank you for being born and being among us..."  Celebrating a birthday reminds us of the goodness of life, and in this spirit we really need to to celebrate people's birthdays everyday, by showing gratitude, kindness, forgiveness, gentleness, and affection.  These are ways of saying: "It's good that you are alive; it's good that you are walking with me on this earth.  Let's be glad and rejoice.  This is the day that God has made for us to be and to be together.'"
--Henri Nouwen, "Here and Now"

We are glad to be alive - and to be with you!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday at SPUMC - April 25th, 2010

Happy Birthday Sunday!  Happy Birthday to you, and you, and YOU!

Today, Education Hour kicked off with:
*  The Children being reminded that God loves EVERYBODY.
*  The Confirmands and Adults listened to John G. share stories about his life and faith.  (If you haven't gotten to one of these "Celebrations of Life and Faith" sessions, please come next week for Cathy D. - they're great!)

Worship was a celebration of creation and life - the gift that God has given each of us!  It was a celebration that God loves us, has faith in us, and is always with us!  The handbells were wonderful, Andrea's solo was beautiful, and Mark's children's sermon kept us on our toes!  Included below are just a couple of excerpts from the sermon:

"...This week, in our reading for book group, we came across a paragraph that when read aloud on Tuesday night, made all of us take a deep breath and let out a sigh. This is from the book, Amazing Grace, by Kathleen Norris. “God loves to look at us, and loves it when we will look back at him. Even when we try to run away from our troubles, as Jacob did, God will find us, and bless us, even when we feel most alone, unsure if we’ll survive the night. God will find a way to let us know that he is with us in this place, wherever we are, however far we think we’ve run. And maybe that’s one reason we worship – to respond to grace. We praise God not to celebrate our own faith but to give thanks for the faith God has in us. To let ourselves look at God, and let God look back at us. And to laugh, and sing, and be delighted because God has called us his own.”

What has God done in your life? What miracles have happened – big or small? What hills have you climbed? What things have you tried to run away from – only to face them head on? How has God been present and shown faith in you?"

"...As we look back at our lives thus far, and look ahead at what’s to come… I invite you to write down those words as a blessing to yourself. “You are beloved, precious child of God, and beautiful to behold.” God is at work in your life. God loves you. Even right now, right here, no matter what has come before… When you turn to God, he’s already waiting… You are part of his creation – he wanted you and loved you from before your time on earth began. When you feel alone or unworthy of God’s love – try looking at Psalm 139 – it’s gotten me through many dark times… And it’s given me hope for the uphill climbs ahead. And it’s given me joy – given me reason to celebrate my life, your life, and a life of faith!

So today, though it might not be your actual birthday… I invite you to celebrate! Take a moment to look back, take a moment to look ahead, take a moment to delight in God’s love of you! I believe it was Max Lucado that said, “If God has a refrigerator, your picture is on it!” That’s how much you are loved."

God gave you life, because God loves you - how will you celebrate today?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Write it Down

Today "write down the things you want to praise God for, such as your health, family, security, friends.  Then read your praise aloud.  Tomorrow add more things to the celebration list, perhaps expanding your view to thank God for Jesus or for things he has done for the world, the country you live in, your town, and so forth.  Continue adding to or refining this list over the next ten days, reflecting on how you feel that day...  Remember that your act of reading... is a way of celebrating, praising God for all he has done and all he is.  Allow joy to bubble up in you as you think about all the blessings in your life."
--Richard Foster and Julia Roller, "A Year with God"

We've been asking the congregaton over the last week to write down the things they are celebrating - on a post-it note - and hang it on our sanctuary windows for all to see!  It's been so fun to walk into the church everyday and be reminded of the celebrations going on in people's lives as I see these colorful pieces of paper scattered over the entry to our worship space!  Here are just a few of the celebrations of this congregation:

A newly painted living room!
An awesome report card!
A sister's birthday
A husband's birthday
The beautiful colors of spring flowers
A new great grand-son!
Hope - to heal and to change
The River Bend Mission Trip to New Orleans
A Father-in-law's 95th birthday!
Relatives returns to good health
A 15th Birthday!
Green grass and leaves, Flowers, and Blue Sky!
A clean house!
A 50th birthday!
Winning a Softball tournament
A grandson's 12th birthday
A new job!
A new, great, student-teacher!
A 16th birthday!
A grand-daughter's wedding
Going to the Science Museum to see the Dead Sea Scrolls
The St. Paul Art Crawl
A 39th wedding anniversary!
A warm spring!
Bike rides
Parents coming to visit
Spending 2 days with a grand-daughter
Unemployment (with a fun job search, good severance package, and a beautiful spring to enjoy)
More birthdays!
A new and reliable car!
Grand- and GreatGrand- Sons and Daughters!
A Grandson's 9th birthday
A finished basement re-model!
Spring Break
Big Crowds and Big Singing in Worship
A lovely daughter-in-law
Family - holy and earthly
Family gatherings - games, food, and fun
A friendly church
A 4th birthday! (with #4 cookies!)
A new Great-grandchild
A reconnection with an old friend
Birds singing
Mowing the lawn (1st time of the season!)
Life, love, and family
Safe travel
A frist ballgame of the season
Digging in the garden
Getting the fridge fixed - cold food again!
A 1st round of chemo completed
More birthdays this month!
Filling the bird feeders
My favorite finch is nesting
A god-daughter's birthday celebration
Beautiful weather!
The youngest grandchild's graduation - in Alaska!
The publication of a book!
The Arboretum
A 61st wedding anniversary!
A grandson passing the test to be an Arborist!
A new dog - Peanut!
Vanilla Lattes
Zumbro Cafe
A nephew's birthday
Making a college decision!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

With Faith

"According to Dallas Willard, 'We engage in celebration when we enjoy ourselves, our life, our world, in conjunction with our faith and confidence in God's greatness, beauty, and goodness.  We concentrate on our life and world as God's work and as God's gift to us.'  Thus celebration is inextricably linked with worship.  Willard continues by describing celebration as 'the completion of worship, for it dwells on the greatness of God as shown in his goodness to us.'"
--Richard Foster and Julia Roller, "A Year With God"

Enjoy life - and give thanks.  That is living worship and joy all at once.  When our faith intertwines with daily life, there is great celebration at the simple joys that God provides.

The key is noticing.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

More Steps

Step Four (to finding Joy in your life):
"Unplug for a week.  The Scriptures record many instances of people fasting from food, Jesus among them.  I suspect that were he bodily with us today, Jesus might also talk about fasting of a different sort.  Instead of an empty refrigerator, this fast would involve an unplugged home entertainment center...  The worst part about TV is not what it puts into our mind so much as what it prevents us from doing.  Watching television kills intimacy and conversation and disrupts sustained thought...  So try something radical.  Engage in the spiritual discipline of unplugging for a week.  Commit to a one-week, cold-turkey, television fast... Ask for God's help in declaring a "Week of Jubilee."  Use the freed-up time to do things you have needed or have been planning to do.  Get more sleep.  Read something.  Have a really good conversation."

And Step Five:
"Discipline your mind to view life from a Biblical perspective.  To a large extent, joy flows from a certain kind of thinking.  Cognitive psychologists remind us that always between the events that happen to us and our responses to them lie our beliefs or interpretations of those events.  This thought helps us to understand the irrepressible theme of joy in the New Testament.  The New Testament writers were engaged not so much in some form of positive thinking as in what might be called "eschatological thinking."  That is, they viewed all events in light of the Resurrection and the ultimate triumph of the risen Christ...  It takes a certain kind of heroism to continue to celebrate what deserves to be celebrated even when all the details go disastrously wrong.

"[Even] the apostle John said:
'He will dwell with them as their God;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more.'

"Then will dawn that great [Zippety] Dee Dah Day that will never end."

Are you able to seek joy in new ways?  Would you be willing to turn off the TV for a week - and see where it leads?
Are you able to look at life from a God-filled perspective?  A view of life where God is with you in every situation, beside you and loving you - through every joy and hurt?

Both of these ideas take work, strength, and determination...  But with prayer, and leaning on God, they are totally do-able.  Give it a try!  Joy is waiting...

**All quotes in italics are from John Ortberg's book, "The Life You've Always Wanted"

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Steps to Joy

Step One:
"The first step for pursuing joy is simply to begin now... 'This is God's day,' the psalmist says.  It is the day God made, a day that Christ's death has redeemed.  If we are going to know joy, it must be in this day - today...  If we don't rejoice today, we will not rejoice at all.  If we wait until conditions are perfect, we will still be waiting when we die.  If we are going to rejoice, it must be in this day.  This is the day that the Lord has made."

Step Two:
"Each of us knows a few people who are joy-carriers.  When we are around them, they breathe life into us.  Prize them.  Thank them.  Above all, get intentional about being with them...  Perhaps the least surprising statement in Scripture is found in Proverbs: 'Smiling faces make us feel happy.'  We need to identify a few people who play this role in our lives - especially if we tend to be joy-challenged.  Make a joy appointment to spend some time with such a person this week."

Step Three:
"Devote a specific day to acts of celebration so that eventually joy will infuse your entire life.  One day a week eat foods you love to eat, listen to music that moves your soul, play a sport that stretches and challenges you, read books that refresh your spirit, wear clothes that make you happy, surround yourself with beauty - and as you do these things, give thanks to God for his wonderful goodness.  Reflect on what a gracious God he is to have thought of these gifts.  Take the time to experience and savor joy, then direct your heart toward God so that you come to know he is the giver of "every good and perfect gift."  Nothing is too small if it produces true joy in us and causes us to turn toward God in gratitude and delight."

So what is bringing you joy today?
Who is someone in our life that brings joy to a room?
What would you do on your "joy day" to celebrate?

**All quotes in italics are from John Ortberg's book, "The Life You've Always Wanted"

Monday, April 19, 2010

It's Necessary

"I think the time has come, strange as it sounds, for us to take joy seriously.

"You can become a joyful person.  With God's help, it really is possible.  The biblical writers would not command it if it were not so.  But joyfulness is a learned skill.  You must take responsibility for your joy.  Not your friend, not your parent, not your spouse, not your kids, not your boss - your joy is your responsibility.  For some of us, this does not come easily.  You may be joy-impaired.  You will have to fight for it.  But it can be done.

"...When we celebrate, we exercise our ability to see and feel goodness in the simplest gifts of God.  We are able to take delight today in something we wouldn't have even noticed yesterday.  Our capacity for joy increases."
--John Ortberg, "The Life You've Always Wanted"

How can God help you find Joy in each day?  What is preventing you from being able to celebrate today?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday at SPUMC - April 18th, 2010

A Celebration of Creativity!  Many people brought in items that represent their special gifts and talents to be displayed in the sanctuary - what a Joy to see what people are able to do!  From quilts, blankets, sweaters, jewelry, photography, books, refinished furniture, historical research, geneology, baking, etc - so MANY ways our congregation is represented through creativity!

Our Education Hour began with the
* Children talking about the Great Commission to share the love of God with others.
* Confirmands and Adults listening to Jean K. share about her life and faith journey.  What a fascinating and lovely person!  (Next week is John G.!)

Worship was fun and lively!  The choir even came in their tropical party clothes to do a fun African song!  Jennifer sang, there was clapping and swaying - very fun!  We celebrated the gift of creativity - and all the ways we are called to share these gifts with the world, in order to share the gift of God's love with others.  AND we celebrated the baptism of Jacob and Glenn, and the new membership vows of Glenn and Molly G., and Steven and Dana N.!  Lots of good things to celebrate today!

After worship there was a lovely sloppy joe lunch with cake for the new members - lots of people stayed for the party!  And the 3-8th graders went to see the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Science Museum - a wonderful exhibit!  Thanks, Jill, for organizing a fun afternoon!

Next week - Celebrating YOU!

Friday, April 16, 2010


"Joy is God's basic character.  Joy is his eternal destiny.  God is the happiest being in the universe.

"And God's intent was that his creation would mirror his joy.  The psalmist speaks of the sun, 'which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with joy.'  This is not merely picturesque language; this is creation expressing God's own unwearying joy at simply being, at existing and knowing existence to be good.  As products of God's creation, creatures made in his image, we are to reflect God's fierce joy in life.

"This is why the Bible speaks not just about our need for joy in general, but a particular kind of joy that characterizes God.

"After teaching on the need for obedience, Jesus told his friends that his aim was that they should be filled with joy, but not just any kind of joy: 'I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.'

"The problem with people, according to Jesus, is not that we are too happy for God's taste, but that we are not happy enough.

"Lewis Smedes puts it this way: 'To miss out on joy is to miss out on the reason for your existence.'
"CS Lewis said, 'Joy is the serious business of heaven.'
"The apostle Paul wrote, 'Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.'

"The Bible puts joy in the nonoptional category.  Joy is a command.

"...We are invited to rejoice in every moment of life because every moment of life is a gift.  Every once in a while the veil is lifted, and we see this."
--John Ortberg, "The Life You've Always Wanted"

Where is your joy today?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Joyful God

"Jesus came as the Joy-bringer.  The joy we see in the happiest child is but a fraction of the joy that resides in the heart of God.  Chesterton speaks of this in a memorable passage:

'Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged.  They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead.  For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony.  But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony.  It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon.  It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy seperately, but has never got tired of making them.  It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and out Father is younger than we."
--John Ortberg, "The life You've Always Wanted"

The next time a child is taking delight in you, and says "do it again" - take a moment, and share in their joy!

What is something this week, you wish you could "do again"?  Why not do it?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Celebrate Spring!!!  Our weather has been GORGEOUS this year!  How are you celebrating it?!

Fly a kite!

Eat on the patio - or grill out!

Take a walk!

Watch the birds at the birdfeeder - or the ducks at the park.

Get some flowers for your home!

Play frisbee!

How are you celebrating spring?!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Celebrate your parents!

Whether you're young or old... or in between - you can always thank your parents for the ways they have supported, loved, and taught you.

Send a note.  Take them out to lunch.  Throw a birthday party or a Mother's/Father's Day lunch. 

Tell them the things they did or said that made a difference in who you are today. 
In what ways did they bless you? 
What did they teach you? 
How did they support and encourage you? 
What did they protect you from? 

Celebrate them.  They gave you life! 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Family Night

Celebrate Family Night!

Play games.

Go to a movie.

Have dinner together - or go out to dinner!

Go out for ice cream!

Go ice-skating, or bowling, or rock-climbing.

Each week, let someone else in the family pick the menu for one night!  Have Super-duper menu nights!

Bake treats together - and give them away!

Whatever your family likes to do - pick one time in the week, and celebrate being together!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday at SPUMC - April 11th, 2010

Holy Humor Sunday!  Celebrating the practical joke that God played on Satan when he raised Jesus from the dead!  In other words - a Sunday full of jokes, delightful music, lighthearted fun, and a sermon celebrating the Joy that God has brought into our lives!

The Education Hour kicked off the day with:
* The Children talked about the new life that God gave us through Jesus and were asked to use one of their gifts to serve God this week.
*  The Confirmands and Adults were invited into the Fellowship Hall to hear the faith story of Ryan W.  His story was a perfect example of how faith can bring you through anything - his wonderful attitude and sense of humor makes him a joy to continue to get to know!  (Next week, Jean K. will be sharing her story!)

And worship was delightful!  The music was great (Jennifer weaved non-traditional church music in and out during the service - including a little "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"!).  The kids sang a fun song - including a little dancing at the end!  The choir reminded us to "Wake Up, Church, Wake Up!"  All was fun and lively!

Dawn even had some fun with the powerpoint presentation this week - including an especially delightful picture of an angel, that any woman would appreciate!  (A handsome, young, shirtless angel...)  To which one of our confimands asked - "Hey!  Where's my angel?!"  Pastor Penny quickly went back to the slide of a toddler girl dressed as an angel and exclaimed, "Just wait a few years - there's a lot of potential here!"  Chuckles and laughter galore!

All of these fun ways to get us to laugh, giggle, and enjoy life - God loves it when we enjoy the gifts he has given!  So fun!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Easy Meal-time Celebrations

Want to make meal-time at your house special?  Here are some fun ideas to make these simple times a celebration!

Set the table - nice dishes?  candles?  a single flower?  fun napkins?  Doesn't have to be fancy - just special.  (We incorporate this one at our house - even a frozen pizza can seem like a special meal!)

Join hands for meal-time prayers.  It's a sign of unity for the family circle.  And when the prayer is over... give a round of applause to the cook!  (As a simple appreciation for his or her efforts.)

Say a simple prayer - thanking God for the blessings you have been given.

Talk about your day as you eat - maybe ask each person for a high and low they experienced that day.  This is a great way to celebrate the "highs" together - and show encouragement and support for each other's "lows."

There's lots of ways to celebrate at meal-time - what do you do?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thank Yous

Celebrate the kind things other people do for you!

Send thank you notes.

Tell someone how much you appreciate something they did.

Keep a "thank you board" at your house.  When someone in the family does something nice, write a thank you on the board for all to see!

Do something nice in return!

Why, just today as I was getting a birthday card ready for a friend - it turned into a thank you note for all the wonderful ways she brightens my life!

Who can you thank (and celebrate) today?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lunch Box Celebrations

Celebrate someone in your family today! 

Write them a note and put it in their lunch box.  Tell them why they are special to you, what your favorite things are about them, how they make you smile.  Include a Bible verse or a prayer to let them know you are thinking about them!

My (Megan's) parents did this occasionally throughout my growing up - they were always fun to find and made me feel special!  Do it for your child, or your spouse!  It's hard not to smile when you find a surprise note in your lunch box...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Celebration of Wonder

"Opening oneself up to wonder, to delight, is one of the best ways I know of cultivating the presence of God.  Without the ability to wonder, all things become commonplace.  But, when we open ourselves to wonder, everything is potentially sacremental.

"More than likely our children will awaken us to wonder.  As parents we may think a quiet stroll on the beach would be nice, but our children call us to activity - gathering shells, yelling into the wind, making footprint designs in the sand.  By entering into those experiences with abandon we stay in touch with celebration, with worship.

"From the microscopic picture of the crystalline structure of a snowflake to the clusters and superclusters of galaxies, each with hundreds of billions of stars, it seems our world is designed to confound us, to stagger the imagination.  After centuries of study, astronomers and physicists have more questions than answers.

"Entering into awe with one's child is a delightful way of introducing a child to God.  In any one of our days there is enough all around us to "trigger a revelation," a peek into the incomprehensible beauty of God.  A cup of milk, a flexing elbow, a thundercloud - each is a potential pathway to God.  Being alive to the world nurtures a spirit of worship.  By entering into the mystery of "how could this be," we embark on an adventure along a wonder-strewn pathway toward infinity."
--Sara Wenger Shenk, "Why Not Celebrate!"

Monday, April 5, 2010


Our month of April is a month of Celebration!  We've learned and grown in some other Spirtual Habits - including Generosity and Thankfulness, Simplicity, Worship, Prayer, Fasting... and now, we're ready to CELEBRATE!

Did you even know that Celebrating is a Spiritual Habit?!

Well, yes.  God celebrates.  God invented DELIGHT.  JOY.  And...  CELEBRATION!

Celebration brings joy into life, and joy makes us strong!

Celebration is central to all the Spiritual Disciplines.  Without a joyful spirit of festivity the Disciplines become dull...  Every Discipline should be characterized by carefree gaiety and a sense of thanksgiving!

Celebration saves us from taking ourselves too seriously...

Celebration helps us relax and enjoy the good things of the earth.

An interesting characteristic of celebration is that it tends toward more celebration.  Joy begets joy.  Laughter begets laughter!

Joy - and celebration - is to be a hallmark of being a Christian.

So join us this month - join in the Celebration that God is Good - All the Time!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sunday at SPUMC - April 4th, 2010


Today was a wonderful day of CELEBRATING the Risen Christ!

We had an early service at 8:30am with 60 people in attendance!  We celebrated with a lively and fun service - noisemakers, great music, communion, and Alleluias galore!  We left with the message that there are days that feel like Good Friday...  But Sunday's always comin!

The Children had their Egg hunt between the services - and seemed to be having a lot of fun!  The bigger kids ran around the outside scooping up eggs (and showing me their HUGE bags of candy afterwards!), and the little ones got to find eggs inside (a little bit easier, and less intimidating, hunt!).  The weather was beautiful and the kids were excited - a perfect way to spend the morning!

The second service was also a wonderful CELEBRATION!  The noisemakers continued, the music was amazing, the flowers and decorations were dazzling!  Pastor Penny reminded us of the amazing gift of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection for us all - and that God is big enough to surprise us in ways we could never imagine (but we CAN expect!).

And thanks to the Fellowship Team for a wonderful brunch and goodies!

We hope all of you had an amazing day of worship, laughter, smiles, time with family, and grace in the presence of God!  We'll see you next week!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

Today is a day of darkness.

It's the "Bad Day" on our Christian Calendar.

It's the day we remember our Savior, our Christ - the man, Jesus - hanging on a cross.  Giving up his last breath.

For you.  And me.

Many of us in the congregation are fasting today.  And when we feel temptation or the need to give in to our fast - we are remembering the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus gave for us. 

Today is a day of darkness.  Sadness.  And... Expectancy.

If you'd like to spend some time in Scripture today, remembering the events of this day so long ago, here are some passages to read (based on the Stations of the Cross):

Jesus is condemned to death.  Matthew 27:11-26.
Jesus accepts his cross.  Mark 15:16-20.
Jesus falls the first time.  Psalm 5.
Jesus meets his brother.  Luke 2:25-35.
Simon helps Jesus.  Matthew 27:32.
Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.  Isaiah 53:4-5.
Jesus falls the second time.  Acts 3:17-26.
Jesus consoles the women.  Luke 23:27-31.
Jesus falls the third time.  Isaiah 53:7-9.
Jesus is stripped of his garments.  John 19:23-24.
Jesus is nailed to the cross.  Mark 15:22-36.
Jesus dies on the cross.  John 19:25-30.
Jesus is placed in the arms of his mother.  John 19:31-37.
Jesus is buried in the tomb.  John 19:38-42.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Maundy Thursday

"Have you ever gone to visit a friend and had something totally unexpected happen? I mean, you think that you are going for a simple meal or visit, and instead you walk into a surprise party.

"The disciples had something unexpected happen to them during the Passover meal. They assumed when they gathered at the upper room, that they were going to celebrate the Feast of the Unleavened Bread, just as they did every year. Instead, Jesus started talking about the New Covenant (love God and love neighbor), and how the bread and wine represented something totally different - his body and blood.
"The disciples didn't know what to think. Here was Jesus identifying himself with the bread and wine found at a common, everyday meal. In this act, Jesus wanted to make sure the disciples remembered the primary message of the Last Supper every time they ate: that grace and forgiveness is found through Jesus."
--Destination Easter

In this Holy Week, what surprises of faith are coming your way? Where has God surprised you with grace, love, compassion, hope, and unexpected joy?

I invite you to spend some time seeking God in these days leading up to the biggest celebration of all!