Preparing for Easter: Watching & Praying ~ Sermon Video

When anxious times come, follow Jesus and His practices

1. Watch: your life will be destabilized (Luke 21:5-12; 16-17; 20-26)

2. Then watch: fear and vulnerability to deception creep in (Luke 21:8-9)

3. Remember this: God will provide (Luke 21: 13-15; 18-19)

4. Remember this: Jesus is coming (Luke 21:27-28)

5. Then pray: pray like Jesus (Luke 22:39-46)

6. And watch: courage, clarity, and healing emerge (Luke 22:45-51)

Luke 21:5-22:51New International Version (NIV)

The Destruction of the Temple and Signs of the End Times

Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”
“Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”
He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”
10 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.
12 “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 And so you will bear testimony to me. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 Everyone will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 Stand firm, and you will win life.
20 “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. 22 For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. 23 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
29 He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30 When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.
32 “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
34 “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
37 Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, 38 and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple.

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus

22 Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.

The Last Supper

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”
“Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.
10 He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, 11 and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12 He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.”
13 They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.
14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.[a] 21 But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. 22 The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!” 23 They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.
24 A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 28 You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”
35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”
“Nothing,” they answered.
36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’[b]; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”
38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”
“That’s enough!” he replied.

Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives

39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.[c]
45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

Jesus Arrested

47 While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
49 When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.
51 But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

Footnotes:

  1. Luke 22:20 Some manuscripts do not have given for you … poured out for you.
  2. Luke 22:37 Isaiah 53:12
  3. Luke 22:44 Many early manuscripts do not have verses 43 and 44.
New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Honoring our Children

…Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me,
and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these… 
                                                       Luke 18:16

One of my fondest memories of growing up in the Hanover Missionary Church was the moment in any service when the children were called forward.  My friend Megan and I would race to the platform, determined to be ahead of the pack so we could each hold Pastor Chris’ hand as we joined in a circle and were prayed for before going downstairs to our program.  On extra special weeks we would gather at the base of the stage stairs, our mothers waving their arms to remind us to keep our dresses pulled down over our knees as we sat on the carpet, listening raptly while Linus told us another one of his timeless bird stories.

These memories may seem trite; but as simple as they are, these moments were very powerful.  They instilled in me, as a child, that this was my church – that I was as much an important part of it as any adult that sat in the pews and it made a huge impact on the way I view Hanover Missionary Church and my role in it today.

Now I am raising my own children here and I know they already feel a deep sense of ownership over this place.  They are at home within these walls.  They know they are free to ask questions, dig deeper, and be real.  I am proud to be part of a congregation that has always honored children and it makes my heart swell when I see them invited into a Sunday service.

It was a complete joy on Easter Sunday when Pastor Amos called the children forward and read them a story he had written.  I was flooded with memories of sitting there myself and as I looked out across the congregation and saw smiles beaming from the faces of all those adults, I knew I wasn’t the only one who believes our children deserve our very best.

This will not just be their Church someday.  It is their Church right now and it’s important that we never forget that.

Alanna Rusnak shares her life with her husband, three children, and a cat she’s trying hard not to love.  She has attended HMC for her entire life and been on staff since 2003, currently fulfilling the role of Creative Communications.  You can find her over at her own blog, SelfBinding Retrospect.

An Easter Story

by contributing writer, Kristina Dyck

An Easter Story by Kristina Dyck

A roosters crow pierced the darkness and she woke with a start. Another restless night spent tossing and turning. When she had finally fallen asleep the dreams were heartbreaking. The rooster crowed again and it all came back to her. It wasn’t a dream. He was gone. Her friend, her messiah, beaten, crucified, killed.

She slowly pushed back the blankets and the cold air hit her, it was still dark. Would it ever be light again?

They had taken down his body and put him in a tomb, but no one had really cared for him yet. Passover had been long and agonizing, full of grieving and helplessness as she and her close friends waited for the hour they could at last go to him and care for his body. It wasn’t much but after all he had done for her brother, her family – she had to do something.

She pulled together the oils and spices and slipped out in to the twilight where her friends were waiting. No on spoke on the walk to the garden, the path was winding and narrow, the only sound was their muffled steps on the damp ground.

The first rays of colour were just peaking the horizon when she saw it up ahead. The tomb was beautiful. Joseph had surprised them all by giving up his own tomb for Jesus; none of them could have paid for anything like it.

She glanced up at the beginnings of a beautiful sunrise but felt only numbness. How would they push away the stone? Why had they not thought of this before? She should have asked Peter or Thomas to come with them but in her grief it hadn’t even crossed her mind. She should go back but she couldn’t stop her feet moving forward.

Salome stopped so suddenly in front of her that she nearly walked right into her. What was wrong? Then she saw it. The stone had already been rolled away. How? She hardly had time to consider as she rushed forward and inside, and then her heart stopped. Her body heaved. She fell to the ground and began weeping more deeply than she ever had. Why? After all they had already done to him, why this? Her friends were crying too but were desperately searching the cave.

She heard her friend’s voice saying, “maybe there is another cavern, maybe we have the wrong tomb.” The grave clothes were right there. This was the right tomb; his body was gone.

All the sorrow and helplessness of the past week crashed down on her. She couldn’t bear another moment; she stood to leave and began to run. She didn’t know where, just away.
Suddenly right in her path, a man. The gardener. She stumbled and tripped to keep from crashing into him.

“Woman, why are you crying?”

She could hardly see through her swollen, tear filled eyes. Her words came out in a desperate shriek.

“Was it you”? “Someone took him and I don’t know where his body is. Please tell me where he is so I can care for him!” Her whole body was shaking now as she sobbed.

“Mary”

That voice. She knew that voice, the sobbing turned to laughing. “Rabboni! Teacher!” She was on her feet now hugging him, still weeping but now they were tears of joy.

“Mary. Go tell my brothers.”

Reluctantly she let go of him. She ran to the disciples as fast as her feet would carry her.

The colours in the sky were now at their most brilliant, had there ever been a more beautiful sunrise? Her tears dried in the breeze but her smile could not stop. He is not dead! He is alive! He is alive!

Kristina Dyck currently lives in Durham with her family. She is a missionary kid who married another missionary kid and wants to serve the Lord wherever He leads which is in Grey Bruce right now.  She has been an active part of HMC for 3 years. She is a photographer, birth doula, and art enthusiast. You can find her over on her own blog, Unashamed Grace