We had a blessed Holy Week and Easter@ LIFEhouse! Thanks to all who served in so many ways.

Here are a few photo highlights…

Getting ready for Palm Sunday Worship

Getting Ready for Palm Sunday Worship

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Maundy Thursday First Communion

Maundy Thursday First Communion

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Easter Blessings!

Easter Worship!

Easter Worship!

 

Easter Egg Hunt!

Easter Egg Hunt!

 

Gotta get those eggs!

Gotta get those eggs!

 

Delicious Easter Breakfast!

Delicious Easter Breakfast!

Thursday March 10- Don’t Get Stuck

Gratitude

Spend five minutes focusing on a couple of things you appreciate and thank God for them.

Mark 14:46-49

Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear.

Jesus asked them, “Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there among you teaching every day. But these things are happening to fulfill what the Scriptures say about me.”

Swords and clubs and then, right in the middle of the mob, we see one of the disciples attacks the high priest’s body guard and cuts off his ear. We don’t know who he is. The Gospel of John gives it up close and personal. He says the sword fighter is Peter.

Everyone knows when you are going through awful times in life, you don’t want to be alone. But, sometimes even your best friend is going to mess up.

So, Peter tires to defend Jesus. But, it’s not necessary. The religious leaders didn’t need any weapons at all. Jesus wasn’t a revolutionary in a violent way. They know this already. They are looking for a reason to use them. And Jesus doesn’t need defending. That’s why Peter messes up once again. He could have started a slaughter. Mark won’t even name Peter because this action is completely out of bounds. Jesus has nothing to do with armed revolution.

Fortunately, the mob doesn’t turn against Jesus and the disciples. Probably because Caiaphas the high priest, is waiting at home to mess with Jesus. So, Jesus takes this time to teach, once again.Everything that is happening has already been predicted in our Bible. Let’s keep going here. There’s a world to save. I am not going to convince you of anything.

Someone said it this way.

Naïve realism is the intuitive sense that we see the world out there as it actually is, rather than as it appears from our own perspective. Actually, each of us views only a small slice of the world’s people, hears only haphazard bits of highly selected evidence from news outlets or other sources, and talks to only a narrow group of generally like-minded friends.

Me

When is the last time you had an argument with someone about some social issue or politics and someone said, “You’re right, I am changing my mind on that?” Like never? What can you learn from that?

Wednesday March 9- Not by Force

Gratitude

Spend five minutes focusing on a couple of things you appreciate and thank God for them.

Mark 14:42-45

Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”

And immediately, even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders. The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss. Then you can take him away under guard.” As soon as they arrived, Judas walked up to Jesus. “Rabbi!” he exclaimed, and gave him the kiss.

Everyone knows when you are going through awful times in life, you don’t want to be alone. But, what if awful times keep getting worse?

Everything changes. The mood shifts. We see the makings of a tragedy. Not just for Jesus. For Peter.

Jesus prays for rescue three times. Jesus puts himself in God’s hands.

OK, Abba, thy will be done.

Three times Peter, Jesus’ right-hand man, will deny that he even knows him.

Jesus hears, No, to his prayers. Shouldn’t surprise us if we sometimes hear that, too. But, Jesus goes on. He appears back in charge again.

Let’s go guys. It’s time for some betraying.

The high priest and the chief priests get someone else to do their dirty work. They aren’t in the garden with Judas, but, they send the brute squad. A mob. Swords and clubs.

Nice going, guys. It’s always great when you mix violence with faith. Works out really well doesn’t it? Whenever faith leaders get guys with swords and clubs, or guns and backpack bombs, for that matter, to do their dirty work, they have already lost. Not much of a God if that’s what it takes to get someone to trust in him.  Sorry, we humans are not built that way.

Human beings are no longer human when they have no freedom. To trust in God is about the head and the heart. To be forced to say you trust through threat of violence is not trust at all. It is avoiding punishment.

Every one of us needs to figure this out. Avoiding punishment is not faith. The thing we do best to avoid punishment is tell lies. The opposite of trust.

OK Judas, time for the kiss.

Me

The next time you get perturbed about something, ask yourself, “Where is my feeling about this situation really about me?”

 

Monday March 7- Trust

Gratitude

Spend five minutes focusing on a couple of things you appreciate and thank God for them.

Mark 14:26-31

Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives. On the way, Jesus told them, “All of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I am raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.” Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.”Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” “No!” Peter declared emphatically. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the others vowed the same.

Everyone knows when you are going through awful times in life, you don’t want to be alone. Jesus is testing this out for the rest of us.

First, Judas leaves the Last Supper.

Then Jesus and his friends finish up dinner and then go out singing, Are they going to look up at the stars, or are they going to look down at the lamps and great fires of the Temple? Is it going to be a campout on the Mt. of Olives? We don’t know yet.

Jesus says, “You guys,” the Bible predicts what is going to happen. “You are all going to dump me. But after I am raised from the dead, I’ll see y’all in Galilee.”

There goes a good Passover meal. Thanks for the encouragement Jesus.

Then his best friend speaks up.

They might desert you, but not me buddy! I’ve got your back!

No you don’t have my back, Peter, you are going to abandon me like everyone else. Worse, you’re going to deny you even know me.

What? You’re crazy, Jesus! I will die for you!

Every one of them said the same…

No way they will abandon their friend.

Me

Trust is the most important quality of a healthy relationship. What if you can’t trust anyone? Trust anyway. Who do you need to trust?

Ash Wednesday is a meaningful day in the life of Christians everywhere. This day which starts the season of Lent is well-receive by those who participate. There are few things that people are more involved in when it comes to living out Christian faith compared to past generations. One such thing is Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday is becoming more popular, partially because it connects a very mysterious ancient ritual in the midst of today’s world.  While Ash Wednesday has been commemorated for over a thousand years, it is only recently that Christian groups have discovered its meaning beyond, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Episcopalian, and Lutheran. I certainly experienced this last week. I reflect on my day.

We began in Preschool, with the children learning that we are created out of the same stuff as other parts of creation. We are brought alive by God breathing his Spirit into us. Experiencing the imposition of ashes was quite natural for this age who are used to dust and dirt and learning God formed us like they make Play-Doh figures!

Then, we had Ash Wednesday worship at Prime Time. I placed ashes on some foreheads that I have memorized over decades.  As we get older, the words, “…and to dust you shall return” take on greater and greater significance. Also, ashes for our granddaughter Kaylee, and ashes for the first time in a week of firsts for newly baptized Elise.

Next, ashes for those friends who couldn’t be at worship due to illness or hospitalization. Significant to know we are never alone in the Christian community.

Then it was on to my weekly Bible study at the Better Living halfway house for the recently homeless. I taught on Ash Wednesday and this became very meaningful to some of my friends there who had never experienced the ashes before. Even though they are not unfamiliar with dust and dirt, the ash cross takes on a new significance remembering God brings new life out of the ashes.

Worship again at LIFEhouse in the evening as we prayed for our friends who were having surgery or recovering. A reminder for all of our dependence on God.

Finally, closing the day at the hospital once again, a brief Ash Wednesday observance for several LIFEhouse folks who weren’t able to make the service as they were keeping vigil during our friend’s surgery at Holy Cross. The chaplain graciously let us close the evening in the chapel.

Lent is here and the significance of Ash Wednesday is not lost on us as we remember, reexamine, and renew our dependence on Jesus and his gift of himself.

PD

Lenten Soup Supper Theater

We continue our our journey of Lent each Thursday, 6:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m. We begin with soup and fellowship and then we will experience the last days of Jesus’ life on earth through the eyes of those who were there.

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Each week, Gerrie Wilkowski will portray one of the people who was there in an original lenten drama series entitled, “People at the Cross.”

Feb 18 Mary, the Mother of Jesus
Feb 25 Peter
Mar 3 Pilate
Mar 10 Caiaphas
Mar 17 John the Apostle