Greetings in the Name of the Holy One of Israel, Jesus Christ our Lord!
In the coming week we will pause to remember the most important week of our Lord's life, the week of his passion or death. It is easy for us to forget the dizzying effect this week had on Jesus' first disciples. One moment they were looking out over the holy city of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, then they scrambled to find a donkey and led Jesus through the city in a victorious parade and later he shared a special meal with his closest followers that reinterpreted the meaning of the ancient ritual of Passover. Then Jesus was arrested by the Jewish authorities, prosecuted before the Roman governor, and crucified and left for dead outside the city walls of Jerusalem. Some of his closest and bravest followers recovered his body and prepared it for a proper burial. Then the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob intervened in a way never anticipated by his followers - God raised Jesus from the dead!
As you prepare to join Christians around the world in celebrating this Holy Week, I encourage you not to leap to the resurrection without first passing through the joy of the palms, the breaking of the bread, sharing in the cup, and the pain of the nails. To do so misses the experience of Jesus being fully alive in our midst, even in his "obedience unto death on a cross" (Philippians 2:8). When we remember his life among and "the baptism of suffering, death and resurrection "we come to realize how much God loves us. This is the hope in which we stand unto this day: "Christ died for us while we were yet sinners, that proves God's love toward us" (see Romans 5:8).
During Holy Week we are hosting the Association of Congregations of Kinston and Lenoir County worship services during the lunch hour on Monday through Thursday. Each day we will worship from 12:00 to 12:30 PM and then have lunch together from 12:30 to 1:00 PM. I trust you will present to extend hospitality to our community as together we remember the week of Jesus' passion. As we do this, let us hold fast to these words from the writer of Hebrews:
Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 11:23-25).In the week after Easter our contractor will be making a big push to complete several portions of our renovation project. I know you join me in praying for their continued good work and safety as they work on our behalf to prepare a great space for our children. Thanks for all you do to support the ministry of the people called Methodist on Queen Street.
Grace and Peace, Allen