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John 20
11But Mary stood outside the tomb, crying. As she wept, she stooped down to look into the tomb. 

Who is Samira Fahmi? Why is she crying?

On Palm Sunday, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a church in Alexandria Egypt. The pope of the Egyptian Christians was at worship for the festive service. The bomber tried to enter the church, but was stopped by a security guard who made him go through a metal detector first. The bomber blew himself up then, killing the security guard, Naseem Fahmi, and 16 others. Naseem prevented the death of hundreds, along with the pope.

This is why Samira Fahmi is crying. Naseem is her husband.

“I am sure Naseem has been happy to give his life for Christ,” Samira says, dressed in black as she mourns. Last Sunday wasn’t the first time a church was attacked, and Naseem was extra vulnerable because of his work as a guard. “When we talked about this one day he said he would be willing to defend the church with his own blood. Last Sunday he did.”

“I am proud of what my husband did,” Samira says, “but life has become hard for me after his death. He was everything in my life.”

Then the widow remembers another part of her conversation with her husband: “He told me he knew me and the kids needed him, but he also knew God would take care of us if something might happen.”

“Naseem’s life was at the church, and now his life is in heaven. I know he is in a good place,” says Samira.

She has a loving message for the killer and those in Egypt that think like him:

“I forgive you and I ask God to forgive you.”

This is our sister. Our brothers and sisters are being persecuted through beatings, physical torture, confinement, isolation, rape, severe punishment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and employment, and death.

This is going on all around the world.

Let’s pause and pray for our brothers and sisters. Let’s consider the tears of our sister, Simira.

Mary is at the tomb. She has already been there once this Easter. Then she ran and told Peter and John. Now we see she is back.

It’s not all settled. Yes, the body of Jesus is gone and Mary doesn’t know where he went.

She is crying. She is in deep grief. And with her tears comes confusion.

Jesus and John

Thursday April 20

John 20

Then the other disciple, who had arrived first at the tomb, went into the tomb as well. He saw, and he believed. They did not yet know, you see, that the Bible had said he must rise again from the dead. 

John, the other disciple follows Peter into the tomb. Then suddenly it dawns on him. It is ridiculous to think someone would go to all the trouble to unwrap Jesus and take his body. There is so much more to it than that.

And then the warm glow of faith starts coursing through his veins. Could it be? Could Jesus be who he said he was??

Then we hear every teacher’s dilemma when it comes to Jesus.

They did not yet know, you see, that the Bible had said he must rise again from the dead. 

Right? Jesus only told them 100 times.

But it’s true, you can say things over and over again and give logical and potent reasons why Jesus is the Messiah, why he is the Lord, it takes choices coming from the heart, not just the head, to come to a living faith. The good news of Jesus is so clear, and at the same time, we are immersed in the mystery.

ME

When was an important time in your life Jesus gave you new insight?

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John 20

So Peter and the other disciple set off and went to the tomb. Both of them ran together. The other disciple ran faster than Peter, and got to the tomb first. He stooped down and saw the linen cloths lying there, but he didn’t go in. Then Simon Peter came up, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the napkin that had been around his head, not lying with the other cloths, but folded up in a place by itself. 

The running continues. When have we seen running before? The shepherds run to tell all the people that Jesus was born! The loving father runs to his son who had gone away, the Prodigal, and embraces him as he welcomes him home.

But, this running is excitement mixed with terror and confusion. What is happening??

We are told the younger disciple arrives first because he is faster. I don’t know. I know some pretty fast old guys…

Anyway, sure enough, the tomb is open and empty. And here’s what’s strange. There are linen burial cloths lying there. Someone has first unwrapped the body and laid the cloths out in the shape of the body.

Peter finally gets there out of breath, but in his usual boldness, nudges the other disciple aside and he goes into the tomb. And he discovers that the cloth that wraps Jesus’ head, isn’t with the others. It’s in a place by itself. In fact, it looks like the body wasn’t unwrapped at all. It looks like the body has simply disappeared neatly leaving the cloths behind. What is the world? Yes, what in the world. The new world.

ME

Think of other cloths in the story of Jesus.

he qi easter morn

John 20

So she ran off, and went to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They’ve taken the master out of the tomb!’ she said. ‘We don’t know where they’ve put him!’

Someone has taken him away!

She starts sprinting back to the city. She goes to Peter and the other disciple who was with her at the cross. The one who Jesus especially loved. The author of this book.

“They have taken him away!”

Who has taken Jesus away?

“They.” We don’t know exactly who “they” is, but it is ironic that “they” are still trying to take Jesus away. In my lifetime.

Communist dictators have tried to take Jesus away. Relativist professors on just about every university campus in America try to take him away. And then there are others. This very week, once again, Christians are slaughtered, worshiping on Palm Sunday, blowing them up in the name of Allah, ironically in the land where Jesus had escaped violence long ago. Egypt.

But, whether “they” are trying to amass power and hold in distain “the opiate of the masses,” or “they” are using irrational, frivolous and naiive teaching, barely holding their contempt, or “they” are filled with demonic evil in the name of their religion, this will not stand. No matter how hard “they” try. “They” will not take Jesus away!

The master is still the master. He is God and you don’t stop God.

ME

A religion that advocates loving your neighbor, no matter who they are…loving your enemies and never seeking revenge…a religion that worships a God who cherishes all people with true equality…Hmmm

01573b8e83d12019bf7b490bf6886811John 20

On the first day of the week, very early, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb while it was still dark. She saw that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb.

Here we go again.

Genesis 1

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.”

And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day.

(with insights by N.T. Wright)

In the beginning is chaos. The void. Then the Holy Spirit breaks in and brings light and life. Fast forward to the sixth day when humans are created. Except this time the ultimate human, breaks into creation.

John 1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…

Who is this Word?

None other than Jesus.

…The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.

The flesh speaks and brings light and life and Creation is complete. The sixth day and God saw all he had made and it was very good.

But then the flesh dies and chaos reigns again…And darkness descends upon creation as he is buried in a tomb beginning a long sabbath rest.

Now, in the middle of darkness, the first day of the week. The new week. The new creation. The eighth day, we can call it.

Or the first…

Mary Magdalene and the other women come to the tomb. We don’t know why exactly. Perhaps they will add more burial spices. Or maybe it is just a chance to weep and mourn and think about what could have been.

The tomb is open. What in the world does that mean? Mary stoops down and the chaos breeds more chaos.

ME

What does the new creation mean to you?

“I thank God for all who made this Holy Week and Easter a tribute to our Lord, Jesus Christ. The thoughtfulness of using your gifts and generosity for preparation, cleaning, serving, assisting at worship, and being models of a joyful people is much appreciated. Have a blessed celebration of the Feast of the Resurrection of the Lord!”

With Joy,

Pastor Dana

Easter Breakfast setup team break

Easter Breakfast setup team break

Easter 2017 Altar

Easter 2017 Altar

Getting ready for Easter worship 2017

Getting ready for Easter worship 2017

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He is risen!

He is risen!

Easter 2017 children's time

Easter 2017 children’s time

Easter hosts for 2017

Easter hosts for 2017

Noah Soto and Clive Gompert receive their First Communion on Maundy Thursday 2017

Noah Soto and Clive Gompert receive their First Communion on Maundy Thursday 2017

golden gate of Jerusalem

Friday April 14

 

Luke 19

But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!”

Jesus replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”

But Jesus did get through the Golden Gate and he entered to the cheers of the people. Notice it is his disciples doing the cheering. And others following him, as well. But not all are happy. The religious leaders from the Pharisees are following Jesus, too, in order to trip him up.

Jesus will have none of this. Jesus is making it clear. Either accept me an reject me as the one sent by God to rule forever. He gives one more prophecy concerning the rocky path is taking into city and beyond.

Jesus replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”

This fulfills still another prophecy of what Habakkuk predicted would happen to those who oppose God.

Habakkuk 2

You have plotted the ruin of many peoples, 

shaming your own house and forfeiting your life. 

The stones of the wall will cry out, 

and the beams of the woodwork will echo it. 

The Messiah is vindicated. Even the stones know who he is.

Thus begins Holy Week.

The one who comes in the name of the LORD is confident.
Jesus…
He doesn’t sway from his mission.
He doesn’t try to compromise on what God calls him to do.
Accept him or reject him.
On his terms.
The Messiah is at the gate…

Who will follow?

ME

Today is Good Friday. What does this day mean to you?

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Luke 19:37-38
When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen.
“Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!”
The disciples and other followers know the significance of who they think Jesus is. The King. The Messiah. A king is also the only prominent person the people would wave palm branches at, and a king is the only person they would put branches and their cloaks on the dusty road as a sign of respect. This is a practical matter of keeping the dust down.
Then we hear those words that are echo of the song Jesus and the others have sung on the way up the hill to Jerusalem.
Psalm 118.
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
This is a royal Psalm proclaiming the Messiah has arrived. And this is another bookend to the life of Jesus. Where have we heard similar words before?
Of course, this sounds similar to the promises of the angels at birth of Jesus!
Remember?
Luke 2
“Don’t be afraid!” the angel said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth good will toward all people!”
The greatest king of Israel, David, would be exceeded by his ancestor one day. This would be the Messiah whom the Israelites are expecting to save them from the brutal Romans. They don’t realize Jesus is much more than that. For now, they are thinking of their own Jewish people and in the Hebrew language the word “Hosanna” means,
“Save us, we pray.” or “Save us, we beseech you.”
You see? Just like Psalm 118 predicted. The Messiah, Jesus, has arrived.
Where will he enter the city?
When the Messiah comes to Jerusalem, he is expected to enter by the Double Gate in the wall of Jerusalem. It is also called the Golden Gate. When the Muslim forces conquered Jerusalem, the Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent sealed off the Golden Gate in 1541. He did this so the Messiah couldn’t come through it!
ME
Think… Bibles and Christian meetings are forbidden in Saudi Arabia.