Thursday, April 24, 2014

Newness of Life (Easter 2014)


2014/04/20 Christ Church, Mountain Top, Easter, Communion
Prayer, Psalm 118.1-2, 14-24
Children, Matthew 28.1-10
Message, Romans 6.3-11

Easter. Resurrection. But no Walking Dead, no Umbrella Corporation, not even a zombie unicorn apocalypse. Jesus was dead, he is now alive, he will never die again – and he is no Zombie Jesus. And no apocalyptic summer blockbuster either.

What is this crazy story? Myth? Metaphor? An ancient sci-fi or fantasy? Some of us are so familiar with the story that we yawn and ho-hum our way through the motions on Easter.
      Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen indeed! Alleluia!
Some of us are here only to please a family member – and, honestly, it’s a good thing to make momma happy (Murphy). When momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Some of us are out-and-out skeptics, even if we show up here every week. This resurrection thing it not simply irrational but beyond imagination. (And, I’ll admit, I feel sorry for folks with such a stunted imagination, but I digress.)

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he invites powerful imagination. He takes the story of personal transformation – something he imagines as impossible without Jesus – and overlays it with Easter, with Exodus, and with Creation.
      With Creation (Ziesler): In chapter 5, he talks about the human story encapsulated in Adam, the first human, the proto-human. In Adam, all our stories are found. In Adam, we sin, and we die. But, Paul tells us, there is a new Adam, a new proto-human, with a new story: Jesus. In Jesus, we are righteous, and we live.
      With Exodus (Wright): Here in our main text, Paul uses baptism language in a way that aligns with Israel’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt through the Sea. It is only through water that we experience God’s gift, “newness of life”. He even uses slavery language to describe the human condition apart from the grace of God: “That we might no longer be slaves to sin” (6.6) and “Death is no longer master over him” (6.9).
      With Easter: In the Sacrament of Baptism, powerfully visualized in baptism by immersion, we are buried with Christ, we die with Christ, we are crucified with Christ, we are resurrected with Christ. And, here is where we discover that the gift and promise of Easter, and the imagination required to appreciate it, is so huge, so much larger than we thought.
      Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen indeed! Alleluia!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Passion Play

 
An annual Sunday School tradition: On Palm Sunday, the children and youth classes gather to rehearse the events of passion week, including the youth reading parts of a passion play. Thanks to Sheila for putting this together.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Egg Hunt, 4



Hoppy Easter! So glad for all who came out and helped out with our community Easter Egg hunt (Apr 6).

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Youth Leaders

A couple of our youth are preparing to preach! We are working together on getting into the Scripture. Thanks to Ric and Joanne for their leadership in this process.

Friday, April 18, 2014

In Turmoil (Palm Sunday 2014)


2014/04/13 Christ Church, Mountain Top, Palm Sunday
Prayer, Psalm 118.1-2, 19-29
Children, palms folded into crosses
Message, Matthew 21.1-11

1541, Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilds the walls of Jerusalem
      Closes the Mercy or Golden Gate, adds a cemetery
      To prevent the coming of Messiah
      But the “horse” was already out of the barn

Even 1500 years prior, the expectation of the Messiah’s arrival from the Mount of Olives through this gate to popular acclamation was a well-developed theme for Israel.  Jesus knew it and, by this action, makes his claim – the fulfillment of Israel’s hope – crystal clear.  Being Messiah is a political claim:
      “Son of David” (once here, twice in preceding story) – royal title
      Temple cleansing (following story) – center of both religious and civil authority (Kingsbury, 81)
      Temple – healing the blind and lame – prohibited from entering the temple for worship (2Sam 5.8, Lev 21.18; Hauerwas, 183)

Politics:
      Dynamics of power – royal
      Definition of people – blind and lame are integrated into the kingdom
No wonder this was understood as a political statement, no wonder the powerful were threatened and the poor rejoiced, no wonder the “turmoil”!

“The whole city was in turmoil” (Mt 21.10), echo the theme of Mt 2
      Mt 2.3 – wise men & Herod
      Mt 21.10 – Jesus enters Jerusalem
      Threatened by a new king, Herod kills the innocent sons of Bethlehem
      Threatened by a new kingdom, Roman & Jewish establishment killed the innocent Son of David

Living Room Sessions


Experimenting with new music for worship. Looking forward to the day we reveal all that we have been working on in "the lab"! If you would like to be part of this emerging ministry, let us know!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Egg Hunt, 3




Thanks again to the youth, Joanne (our youth director), and everyone else who volunteered to serve our friends and neighbors!

And, please remember our community Holy Thursday service, tonight at 7:00 pm, in partnership with the Presbyterian Church of Mountain Top.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Leadership

Our district superintendent, Rev. Dr. Tom Salsgiver, joined us for worship (30 March, 10:45) and gave the blessing at the conclusion of our service. We are blessed with his leadership, prayers, and support.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Gift of Light

By Janet Coates, upon the donation of new altar candles:

The six new Altar Candles are given to the Glory of God, as God’s gifts and love surrounds us, and as an honorarium to all that God has given to us, and in grateful recognition of my family’s past and present Methodist church members.

First and foremost: I am acknowledging and honoring all that God has given to us and our family. I chose this gift because of what light, since childhood, has meant to me, and I wish to share some thoughts with you all. This gift is given because “God gave us light”. To me, the candles are a physical symbol which reflects that light. In the Old Testament, Genesis 1:14-19, “God brought humanity out of the darkness into light.” In the New Testament, John 3:17-21 and John 8:12, God gave us, “The Light of the World” and in John 1:6-12, John the Baptist witness about the true Light, Jesus Christ.

Since the early 1800’s through our lineage to Luther Peck and his five sons, we have practiced the Methodist doctrines and traditions. All five sons became Methodist preachers. The youngest, Jesse Truesell Peck, was ordained a Bishop in 1872, in the Methodist Episcopal Church in the Oneonta, New York Conference. Each generation taught the next generation of God’s gifts, of God’s love, and God’s sacrifice for us, of his only begotten son, Jesus Christ.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Egg Hunt, 2




Lots of fun, lots of eggs, lots of cup cakes, lots of kids ... ! Thanks to all for their help, including cup cakes donated by Baumeister's Bakery.

Agricultural Consultant


Hakob Margaryan is an agricultural consultant for UMCOR (The United Methodist Committee on Relief) Armenia’s FRB (Foods Resource Bank) program. He joined UMCOR in 2004.

Within this program, Margaryan spends most of his time conducting assessments of cattle, poultry and beehives in communities or establishments where UMCOR has provided livelihood support. These include vulnerable communities, orphanages, elderly homes, boarding schools and psychiatric hospitals throughout various regions of Armenia.

“I am proud of my work,” says Margaryan. “I feel good that I can help people, farmers and community members with my knowledge and professional experience, and that I’m acknowledged by many of them as a high-quality specialist. I’m very glad to be working for UMCOR, with its very kind staff, among whom I have many good friends. I value my work, particularly taking into account the fact that via UMCOR, I am able to provide assistance to the socially vulnerable,” continues Margaryan. “I am thankful to God that he granted me this profession, so that I may be useful to society.” 

A Yerevan State Agricultural University graduate, Margaryan for many years worked with multiple collective farms, communities and farmers as a veterinarian. This experience helped hone his professional skills and prepare Margaryan for his current position with UMCOR.


Check out the UMCOR Hotline!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Choirs, choirs, choirs!



Three of our choirs, from recent worship celebrations. Opportunities for ALL ages to give praise!

Saturday, April 12, 2014