Palm Sunday. Donkeys. Palms. Even a few snow flurries. What a wonderful day of worship. We had over 900 adults in worship and over 100 kids in our children's program. That was the mood in Jerusalem when Jesus rode in on a donkey that first Palm Sunday. Lots of people. All celebrating Jesus coming into the city.
But today is Maundy Thursday. I hope that you will join us tonight at BECA at 7 pm. We will journey with Jesus through the last supper and then experience a Tenebrae Service all this evening. Our choir, led by Tom Goeman, and the AVIVA string quartet will lead us through a powerful service. Childcare will be provided (up to age 5). It is important to linger at the cross knowing that Jesus gave his life so that we might live.
But, thank God Easter Sunday is coming. On Sunday, we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ! NT Wright reminds us that no one expected the resurrection...
The resurrection of Jesus took everybody by surprise. The disciples weren't expecting it. They knew perfectly well, that if you followed someone who you thought was the Messiah, and he got killed, then that was it. We know at least a dozen other Messianic or prophetic movements, within a hundred years on either side of Jesus, they routinely ended with the death of the founder. And if the movement wanted to continue, they didn't say, oh he's been raised from the dead. They said, let's find his brother or cousin who can carry on this movement. You can see how those Jewish groups did that.
This one did it differently. They had James the brother of Jesus, as this great leader of the early church, but nobody said, James is the Messiah. They said, Jesus is the Messiah. Why? He's dead. They got him, didn't you realize they crucified... No. He was raised from the dead.
The only way you can explain, why Christianity began, and why it took the very precise shape it was, is let's say it cautiously, first-they really did believe He was bodily raised from the dead. And then if you take the second question, why would they believe that? You can go through all the theories-that they found themselves forgiven. They had a fresh sense of the presence of God. That this was cognitive dissonance, etc. Then you bring all those theories to the actual facts that we know on the ground in the first century. . . they just don't fit.
The only way you can explain the rise of the early Christian belief that Jesus was raised, is that there really was an empty tomb. They really did meet Jesus again, in a transformed body. And the thing makes sense. Of course, when I wrote a big book on this, my philosopher tutor from Oxford who was an atheist read it and he said, great book. You really make the argument. I simply choose to believe that there must be some other explanation even though I don't know what it was. I said, fine. That's as far as I can take you. I can't bully you into saying, therefore you must believe. Because to do that requires a change of world view. But, once you change the world view, and say, maybe there really is a creator God. Maybe this creator God, really is sorting out this sad old world at last. Then, everything else makes sense in a way that it doesn't with any other possibility." N T Wright
On Sunday, we will be looking at the resurrection through the eyes of Doubting Thomas. He had to see it to believe it. He said, "Unless I put my hands in the nail prints", I won't believe. He missed Jesus the first time... but Jesus came back extending the most amazing grace to Thomas.
Our Easter services at BECA will be at the same weekly times: 9 am classic with choir and brass, and 10:30 am modern with our worship band. There will be a special gift for each person attending and we will be announcing our new church name! We will be expecting big crowds and need your help welcoming them. I can't wait for people to experience you--such a warm and inviting congregation-in our new worship space. See the P.S. for more details to make your Sunday the best possible experience.
Please invite your friends and come expectantly-for all that God will do as we celebrate the resurrection of His Son and our Savior, Jesus!
With Easter Expectations,