Here’s the graphic which Pastor Randy is using in today’s sermon Galatians 1 Free and Safe.
And here’s the link to today’s Order of Worship 04.19.20
Keaton Sapp’s Sixth Station of his series, The Stations of the Cross is installed. Take a moment and scroll back through the previous posts in which his work posted. It really is remarkable.
This scene which depicts the descent of Jesus is based on Matthew 27:45-50 which reads,
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.
Jesus, in the moment of his greatest psychological, physical, and emotional pressure, cracked and what came out were words written by King David a thousand years earlier and recorded in Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? The first half of the psalm gives voice to Jesus’ lament. It even contains the expression of his enemies the text of which George Frederick Handel makes use of in The Messiah, “He trusteth in the God; let him who would deliver him, let him deliver him, if he delights in him! (v. 8)” Yet, Jesus’ cry is misunderstood by some of the witnesses of his crucifixion. They mistake his cry as a cry to Elijah to rescue him. The irony is that what these observers are in fact witnessing, is the salvation of which Elijah and his second, John the Baptist, proclaimed. Jesus came to save them and us. The Lord has come, and he has come to bear the condemnation of the curse because of sin in his dying on the cross. He does so in order that we may sing with him the second half of Psalm 22, “For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him (v.22).”
Grace Kernersville will be live streaming Holy Week Services on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. You may view these streams on several streaming services or via the plugin on this website HERE.
Our first service will be a Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday Service at 7:00pm on Thursday evening, April 9. You may watch the livestream on our Grace Kernersville Vimeo page or on our church website.
Our second service will be a Good Friday Tenebrae Service at 7:00pm on Friday evening, April 10.
And lastly, Grace Kernersville’s Easter Sunday Service will be live streamed on Sunday, April 12 at 10:30.
The Fifth Station of the Cross is installed in the Grace Gallery and is titled, “The Crucifixion.’ It takes its inspiration from Matthew 27:27-44 which reads,
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.
As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.
The brutality of this means of execution was intended to prolong the death of the one crucified and make it as painful as possible. The word “crucifixion” has lent itself to a word in English to describe this sort of pain, “excruciating.”
In his drawing, Keaton Sapp has been using the image of a fig tree, leaf, and fruit to symbolize Christ. Especially in the books of the prophets, the fig tree is a symbol of Israel. Jesus takes up this image when he curses the fig tree only a few days earlier. You’ll recall in Matthew 21:19-21,
And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen.
The cursing of the fig tree has layers of meaning, but one of those layers foreshadows the cursing which the true Israel, Jesus, will bear to move the mountain which obstructs our life with God. Jesus, who for us and for our sins was pulled off, thrown down, stepped upon, was wrested and broken, was pulled up and thrown down, was cut down. Each frame of drawing depicts the both the violence of the crucifixion and the contempt of those who crucified him. The words from Thomas Kelly’s hymn, “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted, capture the significance of the crucifixion. Here is the second verse,
Tell me, ye who hear him groaning,
was there ever grief like his?
Friends thro’ fear his cause disowning,
foes insulting his distress;
many hands were raised to wound him,
none would interpose to save;
but the deepest stroke that pierced him
was the stroke that Justice gave.
On Holy Thursday and Good Friday, we will remember the last hours of Jesus’ passion and death. Both services will be live streamed at 7:00pm.
The third piece for the Lenten exhibit, The Stations of the Cross is based on Matthew 26:47-50 which tells of Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus and is entitled, “The Kiss.” Artist Keaton Sapp offers an extraordinary image which starkly depicts the moment with its strong contrast of light and dark…intimacy and betrayal. Matthew 26:47-50 reads,
While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him.
Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.
The betrayal of Jesus in the Garden brings to full circle the story begun in Genesis 3. In Genesis, a serpent deceives with the promise of blessing: “You will be like God.” Instead what follows is cursing. In Matthew 26 the betrayer comes blessing (a kiss) and sets in motion the second Adam’s curse by the crucifixion.
In no time during Jesus’ last hours, does he seem carried along by circumstances into an unknown future. “Friend,” he says, “do what you came to do.” Jesus is, in some great measure, in command of all that is taking place. The evil he will undergo, is an evil he has volunteered for, is one to which he has submitted himself.
Now, we all have experienced betrayal. The violation of person, being taken advantage of, being presumed upon, or being lied to are things common to us all. My initial reaction to Judas’s betrayal is one of anger. “How dare he!” It seems all to easy. We live in an age of outrage and self-justified anger. And though anger rightly acknowledges an understood trespass, I wonder if we avoid the reality of the the profound sadness of Jesus’ betrayal. Jesus says, “Friend…” How deep that must have cut. After three years of living with and walking beside Jesus — after three years of witnessing miracles and listening to his teaching, Judas is willing to turn Jesus in and for thirty pieces of silver.
February 26 is Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning the forty day, season of Lent. If you count the days you’ll reckon that there are actually 46 days until Easter. The reason is that though is a season of repentance, preparation, service, and humility, nevertheless we are living life after the resurrection. The Lord’s Day, Sunday, is appropriately recognized as a day of rejoicing.
As you enter the season, there are several online resources you may want to make use of.
Biola University’s 2020 Lent Project is a daily devotional hosted online and sponsored by the Center for Christianity, Culture, and the Arts. You may sign up via email or visit the devotional website HERE.
PCA Pastor, Craig Higgins’ resource, “On Keeping Holy Lent” may be found HERE.
LenTree is an online devotional which offers one poem a day by George Herbert. You may find LenTree HERE.
You may access Grace Kernersville’s pamphlet on Lent, “Know My Heart” in the church foyer brochure rack on online here: GPC Lent Brochure.
In addition, Grace Kernersville will be blessed to have the work of artist Keaton Sapp hanging in our foyer as a part of a Lent art project. Keaton will be installing artwork each week as a part of his exhibit, Stations of the Cross. This installation will continue to Easter and will serve as a Stations of the Cross on Good Friday. We’ll be posting his artwork and commenting on the pieces each week on my blog, Backward Mutters of Dissevering Power HERE.
In the life of the church, this weekend marks a culmination and begins a turn. For many congregations, the season of Epiphany concludes this Sunday which is the last Sunday before the season of Lent. The readings of many congregations will include Matthew 17:1-9 which tells of the events of the Transfiguration — a mystical and powerful event in which Jesus’ glory is revealed to his disciples “…and he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light” (Matthew 18:2). During Jesus’ transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus, and in Luke’s account of the same event, Jesus spoke with them of his own exodus or “departure.”
The Transfiguration marks the turn in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. For, from this moment on, the tension in the gospels increases and Jesus confronts the unbelief and resistance of Israel’s leaders. As he presses on their lack of faithfulness, Jesus presses forward to Jerusalem and ultimately the work he came to finish on the cross and in his resurrection.
Following Epiphany, the church has historically marked the season prior to Easter with a 40 day fast called “Lent.” As if to mirror Jesus’ fast and temptation in the wilderness or his pressing to Jerusalem and the cross following his Transfiguration, many Christians begin the season by confessing (or “shreeving”) their sin on Shrove Tuesday and humbling themselves by being marked with ashes on Ash Wednesday. The GPC Lent Brochure is available for you, if you’d like to learn more or seek out some resources as to how you may want to mark the season.
At Grace Kernersville, we will be marking the season several ways.
Though marked with a somberness, I have come appreciate marking this season with Grace and with the community. I hope you can join us!
As I look at my calendar for the next week, I see that there are a number of opportunities to learn and grow as disciple of Jesus through the ministry of gifted speakers and ministers.
Firstly, Rev. Darin Stone who serves with Mission to North America’s Ministry to State will be preaching at Grace Kernersville this Sunday during the worship time. Darin and his family are a beloved part of Grace’s church life and have been a means through which the Lord has blessed Grace Kernersville. Ministry to State seeks to bring the light of Jesus Christ into government communities. There are many in public service who need encouragement in their walk with Christ, and there are those who are seeking and need to hear of the kindness of our Lord. If you get a chance reach out to Darin, ask him how you may pray for him and support his ministry.
Secondly, this weekend is the annual Forum of Faith and Culture hosted by First Presbyterian Church in Winston-Salem, February 14-15. This years guest speaker is Dr. Bruce Hindmarsh, who is the James M. Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. Dr. Houston’s theme this weekend is, Put Out Your Nets Into Deeper Water: An Invitation to Prayer. You may see the schedule HERE.
Lastly, Dr. James K.A. Smith will be speaking on Tuesday, February 18 at 12:30 in the Goodson Chapel at Duke Divinity School. His topic, Augustine and the Art of the Confessions draws from his recently released book on Augustine’s Confessions, On the Road with Saint Augustine, a book I highly recommend.
I hope you are taking time to allow the words of good news and wise counsel to find their place in your heart and to grow.
February 7-9 is Grace Kernersville’s annual mission weekend. This year’s theme is Mission 20/20. The missions committee has been hard at work planning, and there are lots of opportunities to participate and learn about all that God is doing.
Here’s what’s in store…
Friday, February 7, 6:30-8:30pm: Edu-Eating!
Join us as we have three guest speakers in three different rooms. Attendees will split into three groups and rotate through the rooms. Our guests will be Chuck & Jimmie Lynn Linkston (Australia, and Asheville), Daryl & Leah Burnett (Mozambique), and Gary & Ashley Helms (London, England). This is a family event! Following our moveable feast, we will meet in the sanctuary and enjoy dessert and making music.
Saturday, February 8, 1:30-4:00pm: Out of the Garden Project. GPC volunteers will be participating in food truck grocery distribution. Volunteers will meet at Allen Middle School at 1108 Glendale Dr, Greensboro. You must have signed up by Wednesday, February 6 in order to participate in this project.
3-Event Sunday, February 9
9:30am, Grow in Grace (Sunday School hour) — Brunch with guest speakers Glenn & Leah Ruth Blauser from JAARS.
10:30am, Morning Worship — Missionary Daryl Burnett will be preaching. Children’s worship and older primary ages will be with Sandra Hart. Special time of prayer for our speakers.
Noon, Sunday Lunch, please stay after worship and enjoy some table fellowship in the fellowship hall. The Missions Committee is providing sandwiches and chips.