The church season of Lent begins on Wednesday, March 1, which is commonly called Ash Wednesday. Beginning tomorrow and going until April 5, both churches will have Wednesday Lent Worship. Grey Eagle UMC will worship at 6:00 PM and Peace United Church will worship at 7:15. Starting on March 8th, our worship will focus on "Psalms, Songs, and Passion". We will be following a format we used in 2014 in which we will sing a quiet, contemplative hymn, read scriptures, and pray silently. Our readings will come from the Psalms of Lament, the Servant Songs of Isaiah, and the Passion of the Gospel of John.
On Sunday we will begin a new Worship Series titles "Did Jesus Have to Die?" Here is the synopsis for the series:
As we prepare for Easter by journeying through Lent, from the temptations of Jesus to his death on a cross, did you ever wonder why Jesus had to die? What was the point? Some claim that Jesus’ death somehow appeased God’s wrath against humanity. Really? Does this make sense? This Lent, let us walk with Jesus from the wilderness to various cities and towns as he visits Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman, the blind man, and Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. What will Jesus tell us about death, life, and God? What does Jesus’ death and resurrection reveal about God and Humanity?
Check out our promotional video here: Did Jesus Have to Die?
Our readings for Ash Wednesday are:
6 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
For the First Sunday in Lent, March 5, 2017, our focus will be "Temptation and Humanity's Sin". Synopsis: "What temptations do you face each day, each week? We are often aware of these and we feel guilty about giving in. What temptation does society/humanity succumb to without realizing what is happening? Is this the 'Sin the Lamb of God takes away'?" Our readings are:
Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7 - God makes the man and places him in the Garden of Eden telling him that he may eat the fruit of all the trees but one, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (The skipped scriptures are about the making of the animals and of the woman.) The seven verses in chapter three are about the snake tempting the woman (and the man, he is with her!) to eat the fruit from that forbidden tree. What is the sin here? Eating the fruit? Disobeying God? Knowing good and evil? All of the above? None of the above? Or is it something more insidious?
Psalm 32 - There is joy in confessing our sins and knowing that God has forgiven. When we turn to God, God will instruct us on the way we should go.
Romans 5:12-19 - There is an interesting proposition in verses 18 and 19. If one man's (Adam's) trespass (18) and disobedience (19) leads to everyone's (ALL) condemnation (18) and the MANY being made sinners (19) then one man's (Jesus') act of righteousness (18) and obedience (19) leads to justification and life for ALL (18) and the MANY being made righteous (19). What do you make of this? Does this sound like "Universal Salvation"? Does Jesus's act (death and resurrection) bring salvation to everyone?
Matthew 4:1-11 - After he is baptized, the Holy Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness "to be tempted/tested by the devil." (Interesting choice of words!). After 40 days of fasting. In the first two temptations, the devil tells Jesus "If you are the Son of God." Then, feed your hunger; turn stones into bread. Feed your need for religious power by showing the world you command the angels. Feed your need for political power by worshiping me. How are we tempted to feed our personal desires, our "religious" aspirations, and our need for political power even if it only means electing people who will give us what we believe we deserve? Where has humanity gone wrong? What is the alternative? "Worship the Lord your God and serve only him!" is the answer.
Worship on Sunday is at 9:00 AM at Grey Eagle UMC and 10:30 AM at Peace United Church. We will celebrate Communion at both churches. I hope to see you there!
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor