The story is told of a young man who was about to graduate from high school. He was the valedictorian and had a perfect 4.0 grade-point average. The day before graduation, he was called into the principal’s office and the principal said to him, “Well, you’ve done it; you made valedictorian. Congratulations. So what are your plans for the future?” The young man said, “Well, I plan to go on to college and get my degree.” “Great,” said the principal. “What then?” “I guess then I’ll go on to med school and become a doctor.” “What then?” “I plan to get married, have children, and pursue my career.” “What then?” said the principal? “I would like to travel the world.” “What then?” And the young man thought for a few seconds and said, “Well, I guess then I’ll die.” And the principal said, “What then?” That story speaks to me of the power of purpose.
In Matthew 28, the disciples were filled with joy. Post-resurrection, Jesus had told them to go to a mountain. There they saw him, and there they received a message to take to the world. Jesus gave them a great challenge when he said to them, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” They had their marching orders. They possessed the power of a great purpose. Jesus had given them a mission to do, but he also told them he would always be with them. Their mission is our mission. We are called to tell the good news of Jesus so that others can become his followers too.
Another Easter has come and gone and what a joy-full experience it was! We proclaimed the best news in the world; Jesus Christ has risen, he has risen indeed. Now it is our purpose, our joy, and our calling to share that life-giving good news of Easter with others. I encourage us all to invite and bring an un-churched person with you each Sunday morning. Make a phone call! Visit and invite a neighbor! Use Facebook to extend an invitation for a friend or acquaintance to come and visit our church family where they too can find purpose for their lives.
I remember reading once that the biggest difference between Christians and non-Christians is that non-Christians “just don’t know yet.” Know what? That Jesus is Lord, and they won’t know until someone tells them or shows them. What a great purpose; to live in such a way that people will wonder what our secret is and want to join us.
D.T. Niles once wrote, “Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” More people are likely to visit a church if they receive a personal invitation from someone they know. Jesus Christ is the answer to deepest longings of the human heart. The harvest is plentiful! Let us continue to be outward focused! Let us press forward to what lies ahead believing that the best is yet to come. “Therefore stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give your-selves fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” And remember the promise! Jesus is with us always!
In Christian love, Pastor Joel
During Lent, we have been on a journey with Jesus and Peter. As we have seen, Peter was impetuous and impulsive. Jesus called him to follow, and he left his net and boat to follow. On the Mount of Transfiguration, he wanted to build three booths, for Jesus, Moses, and for Elijah! Peter tried to walk on the water and would have sunk were it not for Jesus.
Well, we continue with our study of Peter in April and I hope you will join us throughout the month. In particular, I invite you to our Palm Sunday worship on April 14th, as we relive the triumphant entry of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem and consider Peter’s denial of our Lord. And then during Holy Week, we will be gathering in Bethany Hall for Maundy Thursday and sharing the Lord’s Supper together. On Good Friday, we will listen as our Sanctuary Choir presents the cantata, “Upon This Rock,” based on, you guessed it; the life of Peter.
Beyond that, lies the celebration of Resurrection! New life! The empty tomb reminds us that Jesus is alive, and on Easter morning we will sing with great conviction and renewed certainty that Christ is risen! In Mark’s Gospel, an angel appears to the women who had come to anoint Jesus’ body. The angel said, “Go tell the disciples, and Peter.” Why did Mark write it that way? Why not just, “Go tell the disciples.” Peter is one of the disciples; why single him out? I invite you to come and discover the reason on Easter Sunday.
Anyone interested in Baptism on Easter should come and speak with me as soon as possible. For any children or youth interested in being baptized, I am leading a discipleship class for them on March 31, and April 7, during the Sunday School hour in my office. Our Easter offering will be dedicated once again to Overland Gardens in Landover, MD. This apartment complex is where a team from our church has been engaged in ministry for several years. This year, the Easter offering will be used to provide transportation for the children of Overland to participate in various Field Trips led by a team from MHBC.
May this Easter season be a time of spiritual renewal and refreshment for us all. May God bless us as we worship together and proclaim the Good News that Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! And may that message propel us to new heights of ministry and mission during the remainder of 2019!
I pray for all of you a hope-filled and joy-filled Easter season. Said the poet:
Now let the heavens be joyful,
Let earth her song begin,
Let all the world keep triumph,
And all that is therein.
In Grateful exaltation,
Their notes let all things blend,
For Christ the Lord is risen,
Our joy that has no end.
Easter blessings, Pastor Joel
Robert Webber clarifies the purpose of Lent and worship during the season of Lent. Webber writes, “Lenten worship is a season for personal and corporate spiritual renewal. It is a time for intense study of God's Word, for meditation, and for prayer and for self-examination.
Yes, the Season of Lent is a time of spiritual preparation for the celebration of Easter. We need that time of preparation. As Advent serves as a time to prepare for the coming of the Christ child, so Lent is a period of self-examination as we look within, and consider the trajectory of our lives and the way we are living them.
For Christians, the weeks of Lent leading up to Holy Week are weeks of discipline and devotion. We often think about what we need to let go of. What is it that has a hold on us to the degree that it keeps us from recognizing the love and grace of God? During Lent we follow our Lord to the cross and reflect on his suffering and death. Traditionally, Lent begins each year on Ash Wednesday. As in years past, we will be observing the tradition of imposing ashes in the sign of the cross on each person’s forehead, or hand. The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us, and remind us of our own mortality. The ashes also symbolize our grief; grief over our sin and separation from God.
Our Ash Wednesday service will be held on March 6th at 7:15 pm. in our sanctuary. Our theme this year is “Ashes, Ashes: We All Fall Down.” We will begin the evening with a pancake supper in Bethany Hall at 6:15 pm. Please join us for this inspirational time of fellowship and worship. Also during Lent, I will be leading a class on Wednesday nights entitled “Simon Peter: A Flawed yet Faithful Follower of Jesus”. There is much to learn from Peter. Next to Jesus, Peter may arguably be the most significant person in the New Testament.
Peter was an ordinary fisherman who was transformed into a follower of Jesus. He was faithful, yet flawed. Peter was the first to profess Jesus as the Son of God, yet he later denied knowing him, but he went on to give his life for the sake of his call. I hope you will participate each Wednesday as we take an in-depth dive into the life, faith and character of Simon Peter.
I will also be preaching a series of sermons about Peter each Sunday in March and April. The Series is entitled, “A Man Called Peter.” We will examine Peter’s life and his relationship with our Lord. So get ready! Be prepared! Easter is coming; worship and study will help us prepare the way for a joy-filled Easter Sunday.
In Christ, Pastor Joel
Pastor Joel Hawthorne