“Context.” It’s important if one is going to really understand what is being said. Have you ever heard someone say, “You took my words out of context!” Or, “I was only joking.” Or, “well you don’t understand what happened before that!” Or…well, you get the point.
This year our Lenten Wednesday Worship will focus on the Last Words of Jesus spoken from the cross, especially looking to understand them in the context of the relationships of those who heard them and walked with Jesus. Why? Because the context is important! And with Jesus the context is always relationship, a relationship that, finally, Jesus in His love would offer, give, and grow in you. During this time of Lent we will look at the Last Words of Christ in the context of Jesus speaking them into the flesh and blood reality of your life in the relationship He offers to you through the cross.
For a millennia or more, Christians have used this time of Lent – the 40 days before Easter not counting the Sundays – as a penitential time; a time of recognizing and turning away from our sin to the cross as we prepare to be renewed in living in the Easter reality. What better way to do this than to focus on our Savior’s Words spoken from the cross into our lives?
Our Lenten Journey begins on Ash Wednesday, March 6th and will include the Imposition of Ashes and Holy Communion. There will be TWO opportunities for worship – at 1pm and at 7pm, which follows a Soup Supper beginning at 6pm. For the remaining Wednesdays in Lent there will only be the 7pm worship following the Soup Supper. (Please call the church office if you would like someone from the St. Matthew family to pick you up for worship on these Wednesdays!) Beginning with Ash Wednesday, each worship will be enriched through the reading of the account of the suffering of our Lord according to the four Gospels as well as a Dramatic Reading designed to touch our hearts. May this time be a blessing to you as we travel it together!
Ash Wednesday, March 6th The First Word From the Cross Relationship Context: The Paralytic) (Imposition of Ashes/Holy Communion)
Have you ever fouled up – I mean really fouled up – and all that you could do was ask for forgiveness? Was it given?...And if so, what difference did it make?...On this Ash Wednesday, we focus on the first Word from the cross spoken into our human context. We should not be surprised that it is a word of forgiveness. For finally, it makes all the difference.
Wednesday, March 13th The Second Word From The Cross Relationship Context: The Rich Young Ruler)
We like to make sure the cake is “cut right down the middle” so we get what we deserve, what’s rightfully ours. It absolutely has to be “fair.”
But have you ever noticed that in the closest of relationships it just doesn’t work (at least very well) this way?...like, say..in a marriage? The kingdom of God is not fair. All one has to do is to look at the cross to see it. And thank God it’s not. This is what we look at tonight.
Wednesday, March 20th The Third Word From The Cross (Relationship Context: John The Beloved)
This last Summer I was trying to find someone to help my sister in Southern California with a kitchen remodel. In desperation I contacted a dear friend of mine….whom I hadn’t talked to in probably 30 years. But even after 30 years or more I trusted him without question and yes, he was there for me. Do you have some relationships like that? Jesus did. And I think He still does…maybe even with you.
Wednesday, March 27th The Fourth Word From The Cross (Relationship Context: Martha)
Do you ever ask “why?”….especially when stuff happens that you just don’t understand? One of my sons went through a great disappointment in his life because of an injury he suffered. He asked me, “Dad, if God didn’t want me to have this ability, why did He give it to me in the first place and then just take it away? I told him I didn’t know….all I knew was that God loved him and we could trust him. Have you ever had a relationship like that with someone? It’s what Jesus wants to have with you!
Wednesday, April 3rd The Fifth Word From The Cross (Relationship Context: Matthew)
Have you ever been “blown away” by how much someone is “for” you? When I was in college, I drove an old VW Bug. When the transmission went out, it took the guy 5 tries to fix it. You know who I called all five times to tow me even though he worked 6 ten-hour days? My dad. And he was always there. And he was always nothing but supportive and even full of joy that he could help me. Even as a college kid, I was blown away…. Still am. Have you had a relationship like that with someone in your life? Jesus wants you to know He is that someone for you!
Wednesday, April 10th The Sixth Word From the Cross (Relationship Context: The Adulteress)
One day after school in my freshman year of High School I went to get my books in my locker and was cornered/surrounded by a mob (racial discord). In that moment just before being pounded – or worse – a guy who looked just like the guys in the mob broke into the hallway and said it wasn’t right to gang up on me. He rescued me. I never saw him before or after, but I still remember and yes, it changed me. Jesus is the one who stands up to the mob for you. And yes, it can change you.
Maundy Thursday, April 17th “The Gift”
(7pm) Holy Communion and Stripping of the Altar
Tonight, on the night on which Jesus was betrayed and His final suffering began, on the night before we will remember His brutal death on the cross, Jesus ushers in a new era, a new reality, for us. Why? Because we are family. And we are never apart.
Good Friday, April 18th The Seventh Word From The Cross (Relationship Context: The Donkey)
Estes Park was our favorite place in the Colorado Mountains. We first time we went there the kids were really young, we stayed in a hotel, and I remember having the kids jump into my arms while I was in the deep end of the pool. I still remember how each one was a little hesitant that first time – and then they were good! Have you ever had to trust someone like that? How did it work out? Did you know you can always trust Jesus and His Words? Just jump. He’s got you!