Yesterday, Craig continued a sequel to his The Week That Changed the World sermon series based on the gospel of John. Specifically, he focused on John 21:1-2—“Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together.” It seems as though the second verse is merely a list of names, but the most important word is together. Craig addressed what it truly meant for these believers to be in fellowship in one place—facing each other after the shame of their actions during the week that changed the world. Craig concludes that it was Jesus, and the power of His resurrection, that held these disciples together, preserving them for the purpose of spreading the story of Christ. In that, the practical application calls for today’s Church to consider: What is holding us together and for what purpose are we being held together? How do we face others in the church knowing our own shame? And how do we avoid judging others for their own actions so that the church can function as one cohesive body? Listen to the whole sermon here.
Our Easter worship service at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Charleston, SC, on Sunday, March 27 wrapped up our current mini sermon series The Week That Changed the World. Our senior pastor preached from Mark 16:1-8 asking “what does this historic event mean to us?” The Week that shattered all expectations requires a transformation in us. The implications of the resurrection must change us, so we can change the world.
We looked at four implications of the resurrection:
- We must have strong faith and deep love for Jesus like the women who came to the tomb early Sunday morning at great personal risk.
- We must trust in the presence of the Lord. Obstacles will come as we seek to build the Kingdom of God; but like the women who wondered “who will roll away the stone?” on their way to the tomb, the Lord moved the stone for them, and he’ll remove obstacles in our path, too.
- When we say “yes” to Christ, we must say “no” to other things. Yes, to acts of love, mercy, and compassion. And no, to things that rival Christ. How are we saying yes to Jesus every day?
- We must always be in awe of the Lord. Mark’s gospel ends with fear, trembling, and amazement. God has called us to change the world with him, through him, and for him.
We continued our mini sermon series this past Sunday, March 20 at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Charleston, SC, titled The Week That Changed the World. Our senior pastor preached from Mark 14:1-11, highlighting that the Gospel writer Mark (like his companion the Apostle Peter) wrote his story for his audience and in a way to showcase God’s sovereignty. Mark flashes back in the middle of this narrative of the last week of Jesus’ life to the story of the woman who broke the expensive jar of pure nard and poured it on Jesus. Her lavish, extravagant act is the very best she has to offer. Jesus deserves the very best we have to offer him. Are we followers who give Christ everything? Or are we followers who hold back? Listen to the whole sermon here.
Unstoppable. Many in our country associate that term with a certain person running for the highest office in the land, the thought of which brings either great enthusiasm or great consternation. This Sunday’s sermon spoke of another unstoppable person…the One who trumps all others! Of course, I speak of Jesus Christ. Our pastor has been doing a sermon series titled The Week That Changed the World, where we’ve been examining the events between Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday. These messages have been so timely, not only because it’s Holy Week, but because of the timeless truths that reach down through the ages to speak to us–right here, right now–in the midst of a seemingly chaotic time in our country.
As Christians we have been spoiled by living in a country that was blessed by being founded on Judeo-Christian principles. I think that’s part of the reason why we often confuse church and state and why we mourn so much at the loss of a Christian consensus. But the reality is that we are living in a post-Christian America and the only ones we have to blame is ourselves, i.e., the church. The twentieth century was not a good one for the American church. The import of rationalism via liberal theology in the first half of the century and the man-centered focus on a psychologized gospel in the second half left little room for truth. And when Truth exits the building, Power is not far behind. The good news is that seeing the sharp difference between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man (i.e. politics, government, etc.) can awaken us to our idolatry and help us to clarify where our loyalties lie. To phrase it in terms of the first sermon in this series, whose parade are you marching in–Caesar’s or Christ’s?
Too often it seems to me that we think we can change the culture by our political engagement. While it is true that as Christians we are to function as salt and light in society and exercise dominion at every level, we will never produce lasting change from the top down. Even with President George W. Bush, a man vocal and unashamed about his Christian faith and who served at the pinnacle of power in this country for eight years, abortion still exists and the country is more ungodly than ever. Expecting a political ruler to do what only Christ can do is pure idolatry. Only Jesus can change the human heart, and He has commissioned His church to preach the gospel of repentance and trust in Him for the forgiveness of sins and the power to
live a life of righteousness. As we are faithful to this calling, society will be changed from the bottom up.
We are living in chaotic times. If God did not spare His people Israel, why should we be any different when we reject Him as a nation. The Lord often exercises punishment by allowing us to eat the fruit of our sin, so to speak (Prov. 1:29-31). We may be in for a rocky ride, but we can take heart because we know our God is sovereign over the affairs of men. And if you, like me, think the electorate has gone mad (in both senses of the word) or that God has sent a delusion to confuse people’s minds as judgement (II Thess. 2:11), take comfort in the fact that God works all things according to the counsel of His will (Eph. 1:11). In other words, He has a plan and He’s working it!
Finally, let’s remember as we go through trying times that it’s Jesus and His kingdom that are unstoppable!!! Adversaries–be they the religious establishment, political rulers, demons, Satan, death itself–could not stop Jesus from fulfilling His saving mission on our behalf. After His resurrection He appeared to His disciples and prefaced His commission to go and make disciples with the words “All authority has been given to me, go therefore…” (Mt. 28:18-19). That is where true power for change lies, not in any political candidate or party, but in the truth of God’s Word and the power of His Holy Spirit. Let us remember that and be encouraged that nothing we face can halt the progression of the Kingdom of God. We have an all-powerful King who can work miracles, and He has enlisted us in the church to bring about transformation as we proclaim the gospel of His unstoppable kingdom by word and deed. Let’s get to it!
This passage walks us through two stories which challenge conventional characterizations of Jesus. Through God’s infinite mercy and wisdom, however, these stories ultimately bring us to see Him rightly as a passionate and powerful Redeemer–the one and only sacrifice fit for our great sin.
On the road, Jesus curses and withers a fig tree which bears no fruit. He then enters the temple and lashes out with boldness and violent condemnation against hypocrites who have abused their positions of religious authority.
Each of these displays of death and destruction calls our attention to the battle between what is true and what is a lie. The words of Scripture expose our failures to bear good fruit and beg us to examine the ways we fall short of the glory of God.
All too often, we neglect to put our hope in the Lord or live up to our identity as people of God. Like Adam and Eve behind fig leaves in the Garden of Eden, we hide in shame.
Jesus’ face is set on the road to the cross, and he turns tables to reveal our need for His grace. We too are pointed toward Good Friday and the love of our Savior whose desire for us to be spiritually healthy children of God never wavers. Listen to the whole sermon here.
Mini Easter Sermon Series: We’ve begun our short series titled The Week That Changed the World. Catch up on earlier sermons from this series here, and join us on Sunday mornings at 10:30 am for our worship service. Find more details here about our Sunday morning worship, including parking.
Egg Dyeing: Karen McKerihan’s hosting her annual Ukrainian egg-dyeing event on Saturday, March 19 at 1 pm at her house. Karen provides the instruction, paint, and candles. Find more details here including pictures and a list of what to bring.
Palm Sunday: We’ll begin Easter Week on Sunday, March 20 with a special Palm Sunday worship service at 10:30 am. Find more details here about our Sunday morning worship, including parking.
Seder: We’ve scheduled two separate nights for our popular and highly attended Seder Passover meal to help accommodate everyone who wants to participate. We’ll offer the Seder on both Wednesday, March 23 and Thursday,March 24 at 6 pm in our Fellowship Hall. Use this form to reserve your spot for the night you’d like to attend. Find more details here about the Seder’s significance and meaning plus pictures from last year’s event.
Good Friday Service: We’ll offer a Good Friday service that’s open to the community on March 25 at 7 pm. This somber, meditative service will focus on Jesus and the cross. There’s NO parking available in our Hasell Street lot for this service, but we do have 15 spots available in the parking garage at 69 Wentworth St. We’re encouraging our regulars to email JaiLynne for a pass for one of the free spots in the garage, so we can save most of our two available parking lots for visitors.
Easter Breakfast: Join our church family on Sunday, March 27 at 9 am in the Fellowship Hall for a potluck breakfast. Bring breakfast dishes to share!
Easter Sunday Morning Worship: He Is Risen Indeed! Join us in celebration of the Risen Christ on Sunday, March 27 at 10:30 am. Find more details here about our Sunday morning worship, including parking.
Easter Picnic Lunch: Join our church family after the worship service on Sunday, March 27 at Hampton Park near the pond (30 Mary Murray Dr., 29403) for a picnic lunch. Bring chairs, blankets, and a picnic lunch.
This past Sunday, February 28 at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Charleston, SC, we began a new mini sermon series as we prepare for Easter. Be sure to read our senior pastor’s introduction to this new series titled The Week That Changed the World. We began this first week in the series in Mark 11:1-11 with Jesus’ Triumphal Entry, an intentional event that began The Week. Jesus’ parade into the city of Jerusalem on the back of a donkey not only fulfills the prophecy from Zechariah 9, but it also contrasts the impressive parade that Pilate (the governor who lived outside the city) would have made each year at this time showcasing imperial Rome. As we journey through The Week, Jesus will stir us, shake us, and haunt us until the good news of the Gospel moves us to action. Listen to the whole sermon here.
I don’t think it is being overly dramatic to say that the last week of Jesus’ life was the most dramatic of His life. Thirty-three years had steadily, purposefully been moving Him toward this week. Luke tells us that Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem,” the city where this final week and final drama would be played out. Jesus would not be deterred from this week. The apostle John records these rhetorical questions asked by Jesus on Monday of this last week: “What shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.” Dramatic? Undoubtedly. As dramatic as this week was, the drama of it extends far beyond the seven days that encapsulate it–even far beyond the 33 years of Jesus’ life on earth. It stretches to eternity past. At that time (which is outside of time, not really time), a plan was put in place. Before Creation, before the Garden of Eden, before Abraham, before Moses and the 10 Commandments, before King David was this plan. All of human history, with its glorious highs and horrific lows, was making its way to this week. So I think we can rightly call it The Week That Changed the World.
This week–as a week–rarely receives the attention it deserves. Traditionally, we celebrate the Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday, and a week later we celebrate the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. In between, some churches have a Maundy Thursday service focusing on the Last Supper and a Good Friday service focusing on the Crucifixion. But beyond these events, we don’t much emphasize The Week That Changed the World. Of course we know stories from that week; we are familiar with the parables that Jesus told that week–some of his most famous. We have cheered Jesus on as He shamed the hypocritical religious leaders by overturning their money-changing tables and driving them out of the temple. Then we have been shamed by our own greed and self-indulgence as we have watched the poor widow enter the temple and give everything she had as an offering to God. Mostly we are all hopeful that we are among the sheep and not the goats that Jesus tells us during this week will be separated. We don’t want to go where the goats are going!
This week has more to offer us than stories taken out of context–a bigger purpose to accomplish. Why do these events occur and not others? How do they fit together? What is Jesus teaching in this last week? As the gospel writers wrote 40 plus years after this week, what did they hope to communicate to their world; what hope did they aspire to ignite in telling what they told? How did they hope the story of the last week would change the way readers would look at Jesus, power, social order, justice, and faith? Please don’t hold out hope we will answer all these questions. Given that John devotes 10 of the 21 chapters of his gospel to this week alone, it is overambitious to believe we can do justice to this week in 5 Sundays; but prayerfully we can answer some of these questions and see a bigger purpose as we look at The Week That Changed the World.
The Week That Changed the World brought about great change. It stirred the entire city of Jerusalem and the millions of people in it and literally shook them when the earth quaked beneath their feet. So even as you are reading this, pray for yourself; pray for our church that change will come to us in these weeks leading up to Easter. We need to change. That is what the sanctification process is all about: change–becoming more and more like Christ. Pray for yourself; pray for our church that we will be stirred and shaken. Where there is lethargy, false assumption, faithlessness, apathy, and so on and so on and so on, pray the the Spirit will stir us and shake us out of it.
For this Sunday, February 28 we will unconventionally look at the Triumphal Entry. I know that doesn’t fit the church calendar/Palm Sunday model, but it does put in motion The Week That Changed the World. The Triumphal Entry is one of the few events mentioned by all four gospel writers, so it is significant. Read it. You will find an account of this event in Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-40, and John 12:12-19.
I look forward to being changed, stirred, and shaken with you in the weeks ahead.