March 9, 2022

March 9, 2022

Dear Friends,
 
Okay, first things first.  They’re about to mess with our clocks and our circadian rhythms again!  This weekend.
Don’t forget.   Time to spring forward.
With that said, I want you to think for a minute about an expression used in scripture that I think perfectly captures the way we feel at times.  In fact, it’s the way a lot of us have felt pretty often during the past couple of years.
 
The phrase is found in Isaiah 61, where the prophet talks about people having “a spirit of heaviness.” 
 
Can you relate?  You don’t need a lot of explanation for that, do you.  When the headlines are filled with news of war, division, inflation, a pandemic, politics and all the rest of what we experience on a daily basis, a spirit of heaviness is always in the air.
 
The context for that expression is the prophetic declaration that God will one day send a deliverer.  Someone who the prophet says will have the Spirit of the Lord upon him.  He will bring good news to the poor.  He will bind up the brokenhearted.  He will proclaim liberty to the captives.  He will announce the year of the Lord’s favor. 
 
Isaiah goes on to explain that the coming Messiah will bring the oil of gladness to those who mourn.  He will give a garment of praise to all who are weighed down by “a faint spirit” – the spirit of heaviness.
 
If I understand correctly what Isaiah is saying here, then the coming of the Messiah means I have at my disposal what I need to soothe the spirit of heaviness that can hang heavy on my life.  It may be in the back of the spiritual cupboard somewhere.  But it’s on hand.  It’s available.  In the times when the events of life would provoke mourning in my soul, I have available to me the oil of gladness.  And when my spirit is heavy, I have a new robe I can put on – the garment of praise.
 
Oil in scripture is often a metaphor for the Holy Spirit.  Oil was used medicinally in ancient times to cleanse wounds or as an ointment.  Hippocrates, the father of medicine, recommended olive oil for a number of ailments, from headaches to insomnia to digestive problems.  Oil was used in compresses or to massage aches and pains.  It stands to reason that oil would be a symbol of the one known as the Comforter.  And in the midst of our mourning, Isaiah says, God gives us His Spirit – the oil of gladness – to revive and restore us.    
 
The Messiah’s ministry is also to bring a new wardrobe for us to slip into that is designed to lift off the spirit of heaviness.  Isaiah calls our new outfit the “garment of praise.”  Because the Deliverer has come, he says, we have every reason to put on new attire.  To dress ourselves in thanksgiving and worship.
 
I thought about this verse as I watched this video clip on line this week.  This was shot in a subway two days before the invasion of Ukraine began.  These people are singing “Моя молитва нехай лине,” which roughly translates to “Let My Prayer Flow.”

If our brothers and sisters in Ukraine can sing songs of praise with an invading army at the border, I think we can find a way to slip on a garment of praise when our spirit is faint, don’t you? 
 
If you need a little nudge, here you go.  A new video from the folks at the Worship Initiative.
Even though it’s still five weeks away, we want you to start making plans now for Easter weekend. 
 
On Friday night, April 15 at 7:00 pm, we’ll meet for our Good Friday service.  This is always a meaningful time for our church family to gather and consider the suffering of Jesus on our behalf.
 
On Saturday, we’re planning a special activity for families.  It’s our Resurrection Rally, featuring an Easter egg hunt and a special telling of the events that took place during Holy Week. 

RESURRECTION RALLY – aPR 16, 2PM

And of course, we’ll gather for Easter morning worship on Sunday, April 17.  Now is a good time to start thinking about who you will invite to join you for church that morning.  In the next few weeks, we’ll have some invitation cards you can use to let friends or neighbors know about all we have planned for that weekend.
 
Easter is all about the most significant event in all of human history.  Let’s start now preparing our hearts for this very special weekend celebration.
 
Also on Thursday evenings in April, we have plans for our elementary aged kids!

Let’s Learn the 6 days of creation!

You’ll be hearing more from Miss Jen about the
Kids Connect evenings in April. 

And don’t forget that our first and third Sundays are Gospel Zone Sundays for kids. 


Meanwhile, our Jr. and Sr. High students have something special happening the first weekend in April.  It’s our Youth Blast weekend.

Youth Blast weekend – APRIL 1-3

FIRST TUESDAY – Men’s Gathering – 7P – apr 5

Men, don’t forget our First Tuesday get together will happen on April 5 at 7:00.  Wes Yoder will join us to talk about why it’s important for guys to form a bond of brothers with other guys and to do life together.  

Here’s a link to this month’s syllabus

LADIES GATHERING – Apr 25

And ladies, while you have your calendar handy, add a note on Monday night, April 25.  That’s a Women’s Connect evening at church.  More details soon.


What happens to branches that bear no fruit?  Jesus says that the Vinedresser cuts them off of the vine and throws them into the fire.  So does that mean that it’s possible for a Christian to die on the vine and be cut off from God?  We’ll look at John 15:6 this week as we gather for worship.

See you in church.

Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Bob

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