April 2, 2021
First Reading, Old Testament: Isaiah 52:1-13-53:12
Second Reading Epistle: Hebrews 10:16-25
Gospel: John 18:1-19:42
Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
I Give You My Heart
Do you celebrant a certain date each year, maybe your birthday, your anniversary or the birth of your first child. Some people might celebrant something even bigger than that. More than 5000 cardiac transplants occur each year around the world, and there are estimated to be 50,000 on the waiting list. This critical organ saves lives and gives someone a chance to have a new life. The storage in organ donations, cause the health care providers to strictly evaluate who should receive a heart transplant.
Today we come together to remember when Jesus donated his heart to us, he did not discriminate or evaluate his people…we were all candidates.
Good Friday, I like or prefer to call it… Holy Friday, good meaning holy at one time.
Holy Friday, leads us to the Resurrection of Jesus and his victory over death and sin and the celebration of Easter.
Every year we are here again to remember the day Jesus died, the day that he was betrayed by Judas, and handed over to the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police. To be judged, spat upon, flogged, denied three times by Peter, condemned to die, wearing a crown of thorns he carried his own cross, falling and humiliated.
Here is Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy, but first he suffered pain, and entered not unto glory before he was crucified, and suffered… an agonizing painful death.
But it’s difficult every year to read how Judas betrayed him, we want to say…” No, you can’t” Not Jesus, the one who loves you!
And Peter, How could you, Peter?
Then Pilate, he didn’t want to do this…but he just won’t stand up to the people and say,
“No, this is wrong!!” And I am not sentencing him to die.
He keeps questioning Jesus…What have you done? Jesus answered,
“My kingdom is not from this world”
Here is this great man who went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness.
He feed multitudes and he baptized multitudes.
Multitudes followed him to the sea of Galilee to the sermon on the mount.
Along with the three Mary’s, including his mother, his disciples, I imagine multitudes of people witnessing his death.
On Palm Sunday last week, they shouted hail to the king of the Jews has he had his triumphant entry into Jerusalem.
And today, it’s crucify him!
A Promise of Hope
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word, I hope. (Psalm 130:5)
We all are faced with dark days and there are moments when we are about to lose hope, when the darkness about…. seems to overwhelm us. We might be dealing with old age or illness, or the death of a loved one, a friend or companion. Our trust in God, the God of hope always gets us through. The Holy Scriptures teach us patients, endurance and faith.
What happens when a child of yours, a relative, your husband or wife or a friend, comes to you crying with a problem?
What do you say? Go away!!!! I can’t be bothered!! No, you give them encouragement, you reinforce the fact, that no matter what they are facing, they will get through this and you will be there with them…no matter what!
Our underlying trust in God encourages us and teaches us, just how to deal with our own problems and also how to encourage those who come to us. We don’t give up on them and God does not give up on us.
One of the reasons we as Christians can endure the difficulties in life, is for centuries we come back again and again to the sufferings of Christ on the Cross. Christ’s suffering encourages us and give us hope, because we know that the story ends well on Easter. And we know he did it for our sake.
Having your hope anchored in Jesus, means that you trust Him and His promises and having Jesus-Hope is having confidence that whatever it is you are hoping for… will come to pass.
I read a story in Billy Graham’s Hope for each day book.
I have a friend who lost his job, a fortune, his wife, and his home. But he tenaciously held to his faith in Christ, the only thing he had left. Like Job in the Old Testament, he would not abandon God, no matter what happened. And yet like Job, he couldn’t help but wonder why.
One day he stopped to watch some men doing stonework on a huge church. One of them was chiseling a triangular piece of stone.
“What are you going to do with that?” asked my friend. The workman said, “See that little opening away up there near that spire? Well, I’m shaping this down here so it will fit in up there.”
Tears filled my friend’s eyes as he walked away, for it seemed that God had spoken through the workman to explain the ordeal through which he was passing: “I’m shaping you down here so you’ll fit in up there.”
Today when you leave, remember that Jesus gave his heart to you today and its my prayer that this humble, sacrificial love will renew your desire to reach out and give your heart to someone in need.
Rev. Lola Culbreath