this category is for Palm Sunday and Easter messages and may occasionally also include Maundy Thursday, Good Friday or other related services.
Acts 26:1-32 This Easter we will have a dramatic presentation of the Apostle Paul’s testimony of the risen Christ before the Roman Procurator Festus and King Agrippa. This is Paul’s fifth and most elaborate defense speech. It is a masterpiece of rhetoric, designed to not only acquit him of the false charges against him, but also to present the living Christ before his hearers in a rational, yet persuasive way. At the conclusion even Agrippa is unable to refute his claims and responds, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” To which Paul responds, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.” Now that we have heard, we too can no longer remain neutral. How will you respond to his testimony? Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
1 Cor 15:20-28 He has risen! The man who was dead and buried on Friday, was alive on Sunday morning. He is the living one! And because he is the living one, life wins! God wins! The good news of Easter is that God wins, but, also, that those who are in Christ will win too! That’s what Paul is trying to get across in his resurrection chapter, 1 Corinthians 15. We will soak in verses 20-28 this Sunday, but I encourage you to read the entire chapter in preparation.
John 12:12-33 We take a break from our Joshua study this Sunday to enter into the story of Jesus as told by John. I invite you to soak in John’s version of Palm Sunday this week, when some Greeks show up asking to see Jesus. It’s the same question you and I ask everyday, isn’t it? We want to see Jesus.
This week Christians all over the world will remember the last days and hours of Jesus’ earthly life. Some will act out the events of the passion on Good Friday. Others will gather at sunrise on Sunday to rejoice in the resurrection. Even non-believers and non-churchgoers will be reminded that it is Easter weekend through the programs on television, signs they see in front of churches, or relatives who invite them to church. Most people know that Easter is not about bunnies and egg hunts. On Friday night, we will gather to read the story and sing the hymns reminding us of Jesus’ suffering and death. And then on Sunday we will gather to rejoice in the resurrection. Both events are crucial to the Christian faith. Death and resurrection are the story of Jesus, and they become our story as well because we have been united with Christ. We surrender our life to be raised to new life. Even though we are in our earthly body we live a resurrected life now. Hallelujah!
1 Pet 5:6-14 I recently watched the film “Silence” about two Portuguese priests who traveled to Japan during a time when the Catholic faith was forbidden. The movie depicted many scenes of believers suffering and even losing their lives for their faith. These scenes inspired me and made me think: how do I react when I face suffering or loss? I realize that I often respond in the flesh; I may complain, get anxious, blame others, or worse. In this final passage of his letter, Peter gives us succinct and helpful exhortations to help us overcome the tendency to respond in the flesh and how to resist the devil during trials and temptations. As this passage brings us to the end of the epistle, I will also give a thematic summary of the whole book of 1 Peter.
1 Pet 2:9-10