Before I forget, thank you to everyone who joined us for the very special potluck for the Leagues that we hosted this weekend. As they prepare to head out West to be a blessing to some new congregation, we just wanted to be able to spend a moment letting them know how much of a blessing they’ve all been to our own congregation over the nearly three decades that they’ve been part of our First Covenant family.
Make sure to ask Richard why he got a box of instant mashed potatoes as a gift...
I’m also supposed to remind everyone in every venue that I can make use of that the Ladies’ Craft Night has been moved from March 31 to May 5. You’re more than welcome to come enjoy the warmth of our church building on that last evening of March... but you’ll probably be here alone, so you’d better have your own key to get into the building. I say that because there’s always someone who slips through the cracks of our communication, no matter how careful we are to let everyone know about these sorts of changes.
But we haven’t changed the date of Resurrection Sunday -- that’s still April 16... which means that Good Friday is April 14... which means that Palm Sunday is April 9. I encourage you to be prepping out your calendar so that you can join us for these very special times of worship. Resurrection Sunday is a bright and joyful celebration of the rise of Jesus from the dead... which is best understood in the context of Christ’s poignant death on Good Friday... which is clearly best understood with the healthy recognition that even on the darkest Friday, a joyful Sunday is coming... So I encourage you not to think of “Easter” as just a Sunday morning worship service, but as a week-long appreciation for the layers of worship that should surround the death and resurrection of our Lord.
In our message this week, we looked at Mark 9 and discussed how remarkably easy it is for us -- for any of us -- as human beings to lose sight of the truths that we thought that we had a solid handle on. Peter was the first to realize that Jesus wasn’t just a great rabbi, but was the Messiah that everyone had been waiting for. Within three verses of Jesus calling him a “Rock” upon whom He would build His church, Jesus was calling Peter “Satan” because he was too busy thinking his own thoughts to actually believe what Jesus was saying. In the midst of praising God in Christ’s Transfiguration, Peter then offered to put up tabernacles to worship Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Jesus kept trying to explain what was coming up in His Passion week, and the disciples kept being confused about what “rising from the dead” meant. Other disciples couldn’t drive out a demon because they never thought to pray about it... but were proud of the fact that they’d stopped someone else from successfully doing what they themselves had failed at. They kept screwing up while being absolutely certain that they were the ones who were on top of things.
If the people who knew Jesus best still dropped the ball over and over again, then none of us today should just assume that we’ve matured past that stage of having to stop to make sure that we’re on the same page with God -- and none of us can do that just by looking at how we appear on the outside. For instance, most of the salt in use in Israel in those days came from the Dead Sea and was tainted with gypsum. It looked like salt, and it started off tasting like salt, but once that salty coating wore off, it was just gypsum... and how would you make gypsum magically turn into salt at that point? Oh, it may still look like salt from a distance, but it isn’t doing what salt was supposed to do.
So with us, so long as we are comfortable with looking healthy on the outside while harboring wrong thoughts, wrong attitudes, wrong priorities on the inside, then we’re turning into gypsum instead of being the salt that we’re supposed to be. But the problem is that as long as we’re more interested on the outside than the inside, then it’s hard for us to even see that we’re doing it in the first place. So ask your spouse, ask your family, ask your Bible study partner, ask your pastor... or, better yet, read your Bible, get down on your knees, and ask the Lord to help you see just how transformed you are on the inside.
But always remember -- that’s not a crisis action that should be performed at those times when you’re worried that you might be losing your focus. That’s a daily action that every single one of us should be doing as we let God work to renew our minds.