A Celebration of Life

A Hymn for the Easter season

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Death had mocked our deepest longings,
Death, the bitter end for all;
Nothing lasting, nothing higher
Till that Easter call:

Refrain:
He is risen!
Hallelujah!
Now the death that was our future
Is our destiny no more!
He is risen!
Hallelujah!
Now we share the holy majesty
Of Jesus Christ our Lord!

Joy and beauty, love and giving,
Life and light go on and on!
All that bound our fearful hearts to
Sin and death is gone!

Celebrate our endless future!
Celebrate our here and now!
Celebrate our noble purpose –
Love will show us how!

We Are Listening

Father, You have called us here, and
we have come.

You have honored us with Your presence, and
we bow before You.

You are speaking.
The same voice that called the universe out of nothing and
filled it with
life,
love, and
beauty
is now speaking
to us and
in us.

We are quiet, Lord.
We are waiting.
We are listening. 

Listen and sing:
Hymn: We Are Listening, Lord
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The One Thing

A reflection on Revelation 3:1-6,
Christ’s letter to the church in Sardis.

As you respond to the various pressures around you
in all their variety,
as you decide how to spend
your time,
your energy,
your words,
your money,
your passion, and
your trust,
as your daily actions establish
what is truly important to you,
not what you claim to be important,
realize that in the end,
only one thing will matter.
Only one thing will decide
Your character,
Your identity,
Your influence,
Your peace,
Your eternity.
Only one thing will decide
who you have been here and
who you will be forever.

In the end, all that will matter is
Your relationship with me,
Your Creator,
Your Designer,
Your Father,
Your Savior,
Your only Source of life, love, rightness, and joy.

Consider what you want from this life.
Consider who you want to be, and
choose wisely.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: God Alone
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Before Easter: A Meditation for Holy Saturday

Based on Job 14

Our days are few
but overflow with trouble.
We are as frail as flowers and as
fleeting as shadows,
yet You make sure of one thing:
You open our eyes and
make us look straight into Your face.
You make sure we realize
just how much we have displeased You.
But God,
who can make something pure out of what is thoroughly unclean?
No one!

You set a strict limit on the length of our lives, and
You keep watch that none of us gets beyond our number.
Why can’t You ease up on us?
We are only people hired by the hour,
anxiously, wearily watching the clock,
longing for quitting time.

Almighty God, look at us!
Even a tree has hope of coming back to life.
It can be cut down and seem totally dead
yet still revive.
But we die and just lie there.
We will never move again,
till the end of time.
We are simply, totally gone…
forever.
And what do You do?
You carefully preserve the complete record of all our wrongs
as if it were precious to You,
but you let everything else crumble away into
darkness and
meaninglessness.

O Lord God, send me down into death if You must.
But at some point,
a point that You choose,
remember me.
After all, I am the work of Your own hands.
You made me from Yourself.
Call to me!
Call to me in this place of death,
and I will answer You.
Call to me, Lord!
My only hope is in You.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Life Is Brief and Full of Trouble
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Father, Give Me Jesus

Father, Jesus is all Your holiness,
Your wisdom,
Your purity and love.
He is all Your truth,
Your completeness,
Your perfection.
As I know Him,
I want to know Him more.
As I want Him,
I gladly release everything else.

Father, You eagerly give me everything good.
Give me Jesus.
Give me His Spirit,
His mind,
His beautiful, unbroken relationship with You.

Give Him to every individual I love.
Give Him to Your Church,
to our entire race.

Father, for every hunger,
every need,
every day,
give us Jesus.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: O Father, Give Us Jesus Christ
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Morning Star

A prayer response to Revelation 2:18-29,
Christ’s letter to the church in Thyatira.

Father, You are holy –
completely right,
always just,
pure from all sin.

We are weak and
engulfed by an evil world pressing in all around us,
with a wickedness both
brazen and
seductive.

Yet You call us to be holy as You are holy,
right now,
in this sinful place,
in all our weakness.
How, Father?

Your holy Son Jesus offers us His holiness –
Your holiness –
moment by moment,
need by need,
as we simply trust Him.

Does that make us perfect?
Certainly not.
But Holy Father, You always deliver everyone who
calls to You and
trusts You.
Always.
Everyone.

What is more, Father,
in this darkness,
with sin and death filling the night around us,
You have given us the Morning Star.
He has already risen in our hearts,
promising that a new, eternal day is about to dawn.
Soon sin and death will never again darken
our world or
our hearts.
He is shining in us and among us right now.

Praise to You, Father God!
Praise to You, Lord Jesus, the Light of the World!

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Jesus, the Light of the World
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Who Is on Trial?

Follow Jesus through His arrest and trial.
Look around.
Who do you see?

See the religious leaders,
proud and self-righteous,
anxiously scheming to murder an innocent man.

See Judas,
grasping for silver,
even though it means betraying an innocent friend.

See the other disciples
scurrying away to protect themselves,
fearfully cowering behind locked doors.

See Pilate, the Roman governor,
knowing the truth
but too weak to act on it.

Fear, jealousy, hatred, and pride.

Now watch Jesus.
See Him calm and unresisting.
Hear His quiet authority, whether He
speaks or
remains silent.
He is never stirred to self-defense and
remains unruffled by the injustice poured down on Him.
As the blood-thirsty furor intensifies,
He allows Himself to be swept along.

The One persecuted is at peace in the Father.
The Victim is in control.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: The Trial
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The Mind and Spirit of Christ

Facing a horrible death,
Jesus willingly planted His life as a seed
from which eternal life would grow for many.

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.” (John 12:23-25, NASB)

Jesus faced total humiliation,
yet His concern was for the Father’s glory.

“Now my soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” (John 12:27-28, NASB)

Jesus was about to be condemned and abused as the most dangerous kind of criminal,
yet He only saw Satan being condemned and cast out.

“Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.” (John 12:31, NASB)

Jesus would soon be nailed to a cross and hoisted high in shame and agony,
yet He viewed it as His greatest opportunity to draw all people to life in the Father.

“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” (John 12:32, NASB)

As He approached suffering, injustice, and death,
Jesus’ heart overflowed with love for His Father and those around Him.

Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. (John 13:1, NASB)

Father, in His hour of greatest trial,
Jesus’ thoughts were full of You.
Give me the mind and Spirit of Christ. 

Listen and sing:
Hymn: His Hour Has Come
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A People of Truth

A reflection on Revelation 2:12-17,
Christ’s letter to the church in Pergamum.

As human creatures, our ignorance runs deep.
There is so much we cannot know on our own.
Powerful spiritual beings can easily deceive us.
But we can know the truth,
absolute and unchanging,
through the Spirit of Jesus Christ living within us.

We spend so many of our words spouting what is
trivial or
self-serving.
Our speech can be so meaningless.
But we can speak the truth
clearly and boldly
as the Spirit of Truth speaks through us.

We are weak,
and evil presses in from all around.
But we can live the truth
consistently and
courageously
as we simply trust the
almighty,
all-wise,
all-loving Spirit of God.

Father, keep us true,
each of us and all of us,
individually and together.
Make us Your
holy,
faithful,
loving people
through the indwelling Spirit of Christ.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: We Will Be Your People
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In Gethsemane

Matthew 26:36-46

In Gethsemane, we see the full humanity of Jesus.
Any notion that the crucifixion was somehow easier for Him
is dispelled here.
As He ate His final Passover with His disciples,
we sensed His burden.
But now, the weight seems to be almost crushing Him.
He tells His disciples,
“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” (Matt. 26:38, NIV).
He reaches out for their support,
but they sleep,
leaving Him all alone.
He falls on His face before God.
His sweat becomes like drops of blood. 

Physically, He is facing extended torture and an excruciating death.
Emotionally, He is already under tremendous pressure, and
soon complete isolation and humiliation will be added.
Spiritually, He is about to experience a sense of separation from the Father
Who has been His constant companion and strength.

Jesus is in the final hour before his horrible ordeal.
How does He spend it?
He doesn’t resort to recreation or
diversion or
bodily rest.
He prays.
The disciples are asleep, and
when the pressure comes,
they will crumble and scatter.
Jesus prays.
And when the pressure comes,
He will be at peace.
In His most vulnerable moments,
He will be strong in the strength of Almighty God.

Throughout His life, His Father has been
His companion,
His confidence,
His food,
His constant focus.
And now, as every fiber of Jesus’ being is screaming for escape,
He does what He has always done:
He trusts His Father and depends on Him alone.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: A Garden in the Night
Recording
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