Another way to say “greetings” is “heralding” which is probably a more appropriate word for this week culminating in the celebration of Resurrection Day this coming Sunday. Don’t forget we will be having a special Easter Services here at The Vineyard this coming Sunday at 10 am, and Sunday evening at 7 pm at Vineyard Brasil.
I recently saw an interview with John MacArthur, Senior Pastor at Grace Community Church in Panorama City, CA. When a person shares their story during these difficult days, especially “God stories” I have found it worth a second listen. Pastor John talked about navigating the COVID crises with a church of 7,000 people. When the church first re-started, he was speaking to an empty auditorium, and then slowly folks started coming back, first by the tens, and then by the hundreds.
Though the number of church-going folks in America has been on a downward trend as of late, by Pastor John’s attitude, you’d never know it. Listening to his excitement about this week in particular, I thought of a life verse from Luke 22. On the eve of Jesus’ arrest, trial, and unjust sentencing (as our Lord knew what was to take place) in v. 14 it reads, “when the time came, Jesus reclined at the table and said, ‘I have been very eager to eat this Passover Meal with you.'” Point one: in the midst of positively bad news, Jesus was altogether positively centered.
For some folks, the church is just something sort of nice to check off the list, thus the downward trend. But I have found that church is so much more than that; it’s essential. Does not the Apostle Paul write, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine..to him be the glory in the church and in Christ” (Eph 3:21). And here’s my second point: like Dr. Seuss and The Cat in the Hat, we go far afield if we try to separate the two!
Finally, here’s a good saying: actions always speak louder than words. What you do has a stronger impact on people than what you say. Church is a place where we have a conversation, and then work to walk the walk. In our special Easter services, we come to celebrate the fully human, and fully God-man who was able to do both. Jesus used these memorable words, “greater love has no one than this: to lay one’s life down for one’s friends” (Jn 15: 13). Then he did exactly that by dying an unjust death on the Cross and even cried out in a loud voice from the ground, “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23: 34). Friend, Jesus went way past just dying for loved ones, he died for his persecutors.
It is not lost on me that love like that is not of this world. I will tell you that I cannot wait to see what this next year will bring, as I daily work to remain positively centered. I wonder how God will prove himself ever more faithful in both word and deed? I have confidence that He will. And, I’m also quite grateful for us journeying these days together.
He is Risen!