Thursday, May 18, 2017

Abide in Jesus Eastertide: Rebel Joy is Received in Blessing, Ascending, and Rejoicing

The Road to Emmaus by Daniel Bonnell reveals how Jesus pursues us through any circumstance and storm of life.

The unknown Christ came up beside the two disciples on the road. It is worth recalling that throughout the ensuing conversation He remains unrecognized. The moment of recognition, the epiphany, is still to come. Once that revelation has been given then the disciples recall how their hearts had burned within them during the conversation on the road. But this is remembered in retrospect; throughout the journey itself Christ remains hidden, unknown, incognito.

Our experiences of being alone, abandoned and without Christ, may not actually correspond to reality. This is in no way to trivialize or diminish the pain or feelings of loss and loneliness, but the fact that Christ is not recognized does not mean that He is absent. Indeed, we might suggest that for the two walkers in our story, Christ was in fact more intimately and wonderfully present than He had ever been before; had they ever previously known such a conversation with Jesus as this one? So then, even in the darkest and most despairing moments of our pilgrimage we are not alone; Christ walks beside us even when we mistake Him for a stranger who comes, uninvited, out of nowhere.

But there is also a great challenge here: the risen Christ not only accompanies the despairing walkers, but He is now the unpredictable Christ. He cannot be restricted and contained; He comes and goes and in the power of a risen life does His gracious work in human lives in mysterious ways that are often unseen and unrecognized. This suggests that to understand the resurrection merely as a doctrine to be believed is to strip it of its glory; Christ is alive and in the world, on the open roads where people travel and discuss their disappointments, doing His revealing, healing work in ways that are surprising and mysterious. We may not set limits on when, or where, or how He makes His presence known; rather, we can expect to be continually surprised by the sudden, unanticipated ways in which He comes alongside humble people who seek for the Kingdom while confessing their need of grace and fresh understanding.

+ David Smith, Moving Towards Emmaus: Hope in a Time of Uncertainty

Maybe I have been living much too fast, too restlessly, too feverishly, forgetting to pay attention to what is happening here and now, right under my nose. Just as a whole world of beauty can be discovered in one flower, so the great grace of God can be tasted in one small moment. Just as no great travels are necessary to see the beauty of creation, so no great ecstasies are needed to discover the love of God. But you have to be still and wait so that you can realize that God is not in the earthquake, the storm, or the lightning, but in the gentle breeze with which He touches your back. + Henri Nouwen

Sometimes joy requires too much vulnerability. It opens us up to the criticism of others when we dare to smile and open our hearts in the midst of seasons of darkness. It is too hard to say life is difficult and unfair and to acknowledge the beauty of a sunset, or the wonder found in the sight of mountains. But we need to rebel against the forces that would cause us to be quiet. Scripture tells us the “Joy of the Lord” will be our strength, it will be His joy that carries us through the dark night, from mourning to dancing. + Dara Crandall, St. Peter's Fireside, "Rebel Joy"

As followers of Jesus Christ, living in this world—which some seek to control, and others view with despair—we declare with joy and trust: Our world belongs to God!  From the beginning, through all the crises of our times, until the Kingdom fully comes, God keeps covenant forever: Our world belongs to God! God is King: Let the earth be glad! Christ is victor: His rule has begun! The Spirit is at work: creation is renewed! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! + Emmaus City Statement of Faith: Our World Belongs to God

Bible Passages | Acts 1:4-5, 8; Luke 24:50-53

Eucharist | Thanking God for Communion with Christ and His Church

Jesus’ Prayer for His Disciples
Matthew 6:9-13

Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done 
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those
Who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil.
(For Thine is the Kingdom,
The power and the glory forever and ever.

Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder
By John Newton
1774 A.D.

Let us love and sing and wonder,
Let us praise the Savior's name.
He has hushed the laws loud thunder,
He has quenched Mt. Sinai's flame.
Let us love the Lord Who bought us,
Pitied us when enemies;
Called us by His grace and taught us,
Gave us ears and gave us eyes.

He has washed us with His blood,
He has washed us with His blood,
He has washed us with His blood,
He presents our souls to God.

Let us wonder grace and justice
Join and point to mercy's store.
When through grace in Christ our trust is,
Justice smiles and asks no more.

He who washed us with His blood,
He who washed us with His blood,
He who washed us with His blood,
Has secured our way to God.

Let us praise and join the chorus
Of the saints enthroned on high.
Here they trusted Him before us,
Now their praises fill the sky.

"You have washed us with Your blood,
You have washed us with Your blood,
You have washed us with Your blood,
You are worthy, Lamb of God!"

Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery
By Matt Papa, Matt Boswell, and Michael Bleecker
2013 A.D.

Come behold the wondrous mystery
In the dawning of the King.
He the theme of heaven’s praises,
Robed in frail humanity.
In our longing, in our darkness,
Now the light of life has come!
Look to Christ, who condescended,
Took on flesh to ransom us.

Come behold the wondrous mystery
He the perfect Son of Man.
In His living, in His suffering,
Never trace nor stain of sin.
See the true and better Adam
Come to save the hell-bound man!
Christ the great and sure fulfillment

Of the law; in Him we stand.

Come behold the wondrous mystery
Christ the Lord upon the tree,
In the stead of ruined sinners
Hangs the Lamb in victory.
See the price of our redemption!
See the Father’s plan unfold!
Bringing many sons to glory,
Grace unmeasured, love untold!

Come behold the wondrous mystery
Slain by death the God of life.
But no grave could e’er restrain Him.
Praise the Lord; He is alive!
What a foretaste of deliverance!
How unwavering our hope!
Christ in power resurrected

As we will be when He comes!

In Christ Alone
By Keith Getty and Stuart Townend
2001 A.D.

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song.
This Cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
'Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied,
For every sin on Him was laid,
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain.
Then bursting forth in glorious Day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost it's grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine,
Bought with the precious blood of Christ!

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me.
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands our destiny!
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand!
'Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand!

Holy Spirit
By Jesus Culture
2014 A.D.

There's nothing worth more
That could ever come close,
No thing can compare,
You're our living hope,
Your presence, Lord!

I've tasted and seen
Of the sweetest of loves,
When my heart becomes free
And my shame is undone,
Your presence, Lord!

Holy SpiritYou are welcome here,
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere.
Your glory God is what our hearts long for,
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord.

Let us become
More aware of Your presence!
Let us experience
The glory of Your goodness!

Look and See
By The Village Church
2012 A.D.

To Him be the glory
For all He has done!
Praise to the Father 
Who gave us His Son!
A ransom for many,
He bled and died
Then rose in victory
Enthroned on high!

To Him be the glory
In heaven and earth,
All of creation
Is shouting His worth.
The saints and the angels,
All live to proclaim
The wonderful story,
The glorious name.

Oh look and see
Our God and celebrate
The power of the cross
And the empty grave!
And now we're free,
Let the redeemed
Lift up your heads,
Oh look and see our God!

To Him be the glory,
He's coming again
And all of the sadness
Will come to an end!
Oh what a reunion,
The Bride and her King!
Forever we'll praise Him,
Forever we'll sing!

No Longer Slaves
By Bethel Music
2015 A.D.

You unravel me with a melody,
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance from my enemies
'Til all my fears are gone.

Now I'm no longer a slave to fear.
I am a child of God.
No, I'm no longer a slave to fear.
I am a child of God.

From my mothers womb,
You have chosen me.
Love has called my name.
I've been born again into Your family,
Your blood flows through my veins.

Woah, Woah ...

You split the sea
So I could walk right through it!
My fears were drowned 
In perfect love!
You rescued me
So I can stand and sing
"I am a child of God!"

390 A.D.

I believe in God,
the Father almighty,

Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ,
His only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;

He descended to hell.

The third day He rose again!

He ascended to heaven

and is seated at the right hand
of God the Father almighty.

From there He shall come
to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic* Church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting. Amen.

*Catholic stands for Jesus' Church
"according to the whole,"
across time, cultures, and nations,
that He establishedand continues to build by His
grace, truth, and resurrection power.

Eastertide: 50 Days of Joy

In the Christian Calendar, Eastertide is a season that lasts 50 days (10 more than Lent)! These 50 days are celebrated as a single joyful feast from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday. It’s a time to remember that Jesus wasn’t in a rush to ascend, but that He spent time appearing to His disciples and preparing them for Pentecost. This is an extended time, then, to joyfully celebrate the resurrection; here are a few suggestions on how to cultivate a feast of joy in this season:

Dwell in the resurrection. Take a few minutes throughout the day to remember: Jesus is alive. Ask God to help you live in the reality of the Risen One.

Be intentional with your praise to God. Every day, tell God about how awesome He is. He is faithful, good, wise, our Provider, merciful, just, etc.

Cultivate thanksgiving. Start a routine of thanking God for what He gave you in the day, and share what comes to mind with someone else.

Ask God to restore the joy of His salvation. If you’re more like me, where you see the cup as half empty, you can ask for God to "Restore to me the joy of Your salvation” (Psalm 51:12).

Ask God for the joy of seeing others receive His salvation. Jesus says “there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10).

Praise the good you see in others and thank them. Ask God to help you see others as He sees you.

Smile. There’s legitimate science proving that smiles increase joy, even if you’re not feeling it; ask God to make His face to shine upon you and through you.

Enjoy what you love. Whether that’s hiking, eating ice cream, or listening to your favorite tunes, thank God for the good gifts of His creation.

These are just some suggestions. The goal in Eastertide is not to generally become just happier people, but to become rooted and overflowing in the miraculous joy God offers us in the Good News that Jesus is alive, conquering sin and death for us. And we want that joy to flow out of us into others just like God's joy flows out of Him into us.

+ Alistair Sterne, St. Peter’s Fireside


May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. + 2 Corinthians 13:14

Next post: Abide in Jesus Eastertide: Our Place is with Christ, Our Ascended Human, Priest, and King + Saturday, May 27, 2017

+ Sully

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