HUNKER DOWN WEEK #4
Good afternoon, everyone! I realize this is a little early in the week for an "update" but I wanted to help you get a head start on the weekend. I want to encourage you to reach out to one another with a phone call, text, or old-fashioned letter. It is easy for us to feel disconnected in these days of quasi-quarantine and self-policed isolation.
As we gathered on ZOOM last evening for prayer and encouragement from God's word, we were reminded that, with all the concern over COVID-19, the fact that this is Holy Week is easily overshadowed. No, our normal activities won't be held. But we do have the opportunity to render uncommon service to the Lord and to one another, especially as related to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Resurrection (Easter) Sunday. (By the way, it isn't wrong to refer to the day as "Easter." That word has nothing to do with the pagan worship of the fertility goddess Ishtar as is sometimes mistakenly thought. Imaginative English Neo-Pagans of the late 18th-century needed a myth to hang their made-up religion on, and this is what they came up with. They made it up by sewing a bunch of existing legends together. And they did so to make it look as though Christians had borrowed the idea of "Easter" from them. Nothing could be further from the truth. And "Resurrection Sunday" could refer to every Lord's Day because that is what we come together to celebrate on a weekly basis. So you will likely hear me using both terms interchangeably and in good conscience. I will, likewise, not fault you for conscientiously objecting to or avoiding the term so as not to confuse it with the secular emphasis on bunnies, eggs, and the return of spring. If you want to visit about this, just reach out).
MAUNDY THURSDAY (TODAY)
This is a day we don't routinely incorporate into our calendar of events. Here is a pretty good brief article on the subject entitled "What is Maundy Thursday?," complete with ways you may want to observe it this evening.
Maundy Thursday is not only when the Lord's Supper was instituted, it is also the night Jesus washed His disciples' feet as an act of humble service. Find a way to serve someone over these days, someone who cannot repay the favor. Do so in the spirit of Jesus who said "so you should wash one another's feet," that is, be willing to take up the basin and towel of service to your brothers and sisters. Take a listen to The Basin and The Towel by Michael Card for a good musical application of this act of service.
The celebration of Passover began last evening and continues through April 16. You may want to take some time to read the story of the first Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread found in Exodus 12 and 13. Remember how Jesus is our Passover Lamb, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
GOOD FRIDAY (TOMORROW)
What makes Good Friday good? It is the fact that on the cross, Jesus became our "malediction" (curse) so that we could receive God's "benediction" (blessing) of Christ's imputed righteousness by faith. Derek Thomas makes this plain in this brief video from Ligonier Conference West Coast, "His Malediction for Our Benediction."
Some Scriptures to consider as you think about the cross on this day are:
Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Psalm 22; Hebrews 10:16-25; John 18:1-19:42.
Also, in lieu of our community Good Friday service, the host church, Hopewell Baptist, will stream the message on their Facebook page and also on their website yourhopewellchurch.com at 7 pm Friday.
RESURRECTION (EASTER) SUNDAY
As I mentioned previously, every Lord's Day is Resurrection Sunday. We will once again encourage you to watch the service by Facebook or on our YouTube channel. you can find both on our church website www.fbcmaysvillemo.org. It will premier on Facebook at 10:40 am, Lord willing, and is usually available on YouTube a good bit earlier (for you early risers). We will sing and celebrate all that Christ has done for us. We will greet one another with the traditional "Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!" I intend to bring the sermon from Acts 10:34-43 in which Peter preaches the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ to a group of Gentiles who believe the message and are given the gift of the Holy Spirit to the astonishment of the Jewish believers. "...But God Raised Him..."
I've shared this before, but Stuart Townend's Resurrection Hymn is among the very best of modern hymns on Jesus' resurrection. I hope you enjoy listening.
DAYS OF PRAYER AND FASTING
I want to encourage everyone who is in good health and physically able to do so to join us in fasting through the lunch hour each Wednesday. Spend the hour (or whatever time you have for lunch) in prayer and praise, asking the Lord to send spiritual renewal personally, in your family, in our church, among Christians in our community, and spiritual awakening to our land. A number of churches in our association (St. Joseph Baptist Association) have joined together in this effort of focused prayer.
Some thoughts taken from our Director of Missions Roger Brumley may help you to direct your prayers:
HOW TO SPEND AN HOUR IN PRAYER
Remember that prayer is simply talking to God. But it isn't a one-way conversation. He speaks to us through His word, the Bible. So the best way to start an hour of prayer is by reading Scripture. This could be whichever book(s) of the Bible you are currently reading; it could be the "Psalms of the Day" meaning if it is the 9th day of the month, the psalms of that day are 9, 39, 69, 99, and 129. Whatever the date is, add 30, and another 30, and so on, to get the daily psalms. I also recommend reading something from the New Testament, preferably the Gospels. George Mueller always started his prayer time by reading a passage from the New Testament in order to "get his heart happy" in preparation for meditation and prayer.
So here is an example of an hour spent in prayer:
AAEO (Annie Armstrong Easter Offering)
Thank you for giving! Our goal was $500 and as of today, we have received $501. We have extended the "official" time of the offering through Easter Sunday, but of course you can give to North American missions anytime. If you haven't given yet, there is still time.
GIVING: Thanks to everyone for your continued faithfulness in giving across these Sundays when we have determined it in everyone's best interest not to meet physically. You have given approximately 96% of current requirements to date. Just as a reminder, our counters make the weekly deposit on Tuesday afternoon, so anything we receive in the office after that goes on the next weeks deposit.
THIS WEEK'S FIGHTER VERSE
1 Timothy 1:15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
I leave you with these words from Jeremiah Rankin from about 1880:
"God be with you till we meet again!
Keep love's banner floating 'er you,
Smite death's threat'ning wave before you;
God be with you till we meet again!
Till we meet! Till we meet!
Till we meet at Jesus' feet;
Till we meet! Till we meet!
God be with you till we meet again!"
Grace and peace,
Pastor Greg Dixon