the tentmaker

daily thoughts on the common lectionary

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Location: Sharpsburg, Georgia, United States

"...because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together — by trade they were tentmakers." Acts 18:3. Tentmaker is a title taken by bi-vocational pastors. As such, I am both a pastor and a project manager. I am a pastor of a local congregation of moderate, accepting and affirming people who worship in the Baptist tradition. We call our church "Hope Memorial Baptist" and we are about 40 in number. I am also a project manager of major construction projects for the State of Georgia. My home and church is in rural Coweta County, between Peachtree City and Newnan, with a mailing address of Sharpsburg, Georgia.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Year A - Lent 5

Believest Thou This?

Liturgy of the Word:
Ezekiel 37:1-14
Psalm 130
Romans 8:6-11
John 11:1-45

Moving from Lent to Easter
  • Easter will be upon us in two weeks
  • In the next two weeks we must move from Lent to Easter
  • Lent is a time of deep reflection
    • It is a time for taking stock of our lives
      • Who are we?
      • Where are we?
      • What’s wrong?
    • It is a time for considering the future
      • Where we will go from here?
      • How we will travel on our Journey?
    • It is a time to consider our present state
      • Our relationships
        • Our Family
        • Our Friends
        • Our Work
        • Our God
      • Our state of satisfaction
        • Do we have enough
        • What do we yet lack
        • Of what do we still have need
  • Easter is a time of Joy and Celebration
    • Easter is the event that defines us as disciples of Christ
    • Easter is the reason we are not all still pagans
      • Worshipping the gods of the Greeks and Romans
      • The gods of the Norsemen and Germanic tribes
      • Or making a pilgrimage to Stonehenge every year
    • Without Easter there would be no Christianity
    • Indeed without Easter there would be no Christ
    • We would still be searching for the coming of the Messiah and the World Wide Kingdom of God
  • But before we can move away from Lent to Easter
    • We must go with Jesus on his journey to Jerusalem and the cross
    • We must yet endure the pain of loss
    • We must experience the grief of death
    • We must suffer along with Jesus as he completes his mission here on earth
    • We must suffer and rejoice with Mary and Martha
    • We must confound our minds in order to test our faith
The Story of Lazarus
  • The Call for Help
    • Lazarus is Sick
    • Jesus is Busy
      • He was across the Jordan in the wilderness where John was baptizing
      • Many people came to him
      • Many believed in him there
    • The Disciples are Concerned
    • Jesus comforted them
      • This illness of Lazarus would not lead to death
      • Lazarus was only asleep
      • He Tarried Two more Days
  • Jesus Responds
    • Let us go to Judea again
    • The Disciples warn him of the Jews who tried to stone him
    • Now Jesus tells them that Lazarus is Dead
    • Thomas is ready to go and die with his Master
  • Lazarus had been dead for four days
    • By now his Body must be beginning to decay
    • First, Martha comes to meet him
    • Martha blames Jesus for Lazarus’ death
      • If you had been here…
      • But you can still help
      • Jesus tries to comfort her
      • She still does not understand
Jesus Wept
  • The scripture says that Jesus cried real tears
    • He was the Son of God
    • He had the power to move mountains
    • He knew that Lazarus would come back to life
    • And yet he cried
  • Do we not cry at the loss of a loved one?
    • It doesn’t do any good to say “He’s in a better place now”
    • Just then we are numb
    • We do not have the gift of clear thought or logic
    • All we know is that we feel the loss
    • And we feel it deeply
    • We feel the loss in the core of our very souls
  • And so, Jesus Wept
    • He wept for the loss of his friend, Lazarus
    • He wept for the lack of faith of Mary and Martha
    • He wept at the lack of faith of the multitude
    • Perhaps he wept for the people of the world, whose lack of faith in the One True God who could save them, would keep them in the pain and sorrow of sin
Are You Weeping Yet?
  • Are you weeping for Lazarus
  • Are you weeping for Mary and Martha
  • Are you weeping for the lost souls in the world?
  • Are you weeping for the fields that are white already for harvest?
The Resurrection and the Life
  • Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died
  • Martha, don’t you know yet who I am?
    I am the resurrection and the life
    He that believeth in me,
    Though he were dead yet shall he live
    He that liveth and believeth in me shall never die
  • The Resurrection and the Life
    • For hundreds of years the Jews had believed in the final resurrection
      • But the resurrection they believed in was not a personal resurrection
      • It was the resurrection of the Kingdom of God
      • It would be the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel like it was under David
      • The oppressors would be driven out as they were in the time of the Maccabees
      • That was the main mission of the coming Messiah
      • We too are looking for the restoration of the Kingdom of God in the end times.
    • But Jesus is the Life
      • I am the Way the Truth and the Life
      • I am the light of the world
        • He that believeth in me shall not live in darkness
      • I am the Bread of Life
        • He that believeth in me shall never be hungry
      • I am the fount of living water
        • He that believeth in me shall never thirst
This hymn was written after two ma­jor trau­mas in Spafford’s life. The first was the great Chicago Fire of October 1871, which ruined him financially. Shortly after, while crossing the Atlantic, all four of Spafford’s daughters died in a collision with another ship. Spafford’s wife Anna survived and sent him this tel­e­gram, “Saved alone.” Several weeks later, as Spafford’s own ship passed near the spot where his daughters died, the Holy Spirit inspired these words. They speak to the eternal hope that all believers have, no mat­ter what pain and grief be­fall them on earth.

It Is Well With My Soul
Horatio G. Spafford, 1873

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Blessèd hope, blessèd rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Thanks be to God


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