Friday, April 28, 2017

The Senior Recital

As I sit here writing this morning, I am listening to the music from our daughter Joanna’s senior recital on her viola.  It took place last Sunday afternoon at Lafayette College, the school from which she is about to graduate.  The truth is, I had never heard Joanna play at the level at which she played during her recital. The music was as difficult as could be and the fact that she played her own concert for almost an hour was, to me at least, quite a feat.  As you can imagine, mom and dad were on the edge of their seats!  (I know there are lots of parents out there who understand the feeling!) 

As a music major (she is also a psychology major), Joanna’s recital was the culmination of her four years of music studies at the college, especially her time spent on her viola.  In some ways, however, it was also the culmination of her time spent learning, first the violin since she was five years old and then subsequently taking up the viola in 8th grade.  Over the last few years, she has studied, practiced, taken lessons, and played with just about every group within the college—as well as taken advantage of as much play time outside the boundaries of the college as possible.  For the past couple of years, there has been great focus, discipline, and intensity to her studies and practice times which all culminated in last Sunday’s recital. 

I’m reminded that, as followers of Christ we are meant to live our lives with that same kind of focus, discipline, and intensity.  After all, one day everything we have been and done will reach their climax. The whole of our lives will reach their culmination and we will stand before the greatest and holiest audience of all, Jesus our Lord. We could say we will reach the day of our “senior recital.”

This is why the Apostle Paul wrote as he did to the church in Philippi: But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ…Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:7, 12-14 – NIV)

Let me encourage you today to live your life in such a way that, at the culmination of it all—we might say, at your “senior recital”—you will hear from the most important audience of all those wonderful words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”  Let’s be people of focus, discipline, and intensity as we live our lives for Christ. 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris   

Friday, April 14, 2017

It All Begins With a Cross!

As we enter into this weekend leading up to Easter Sunday, I know that it is going to be a very busy couple of days.  Today our church will host two Good Friday Services—we are hosting one on behalf of the community and then tonight we will have our own Good Friday communion service.  Tomorrow we are holding an Easter Egg Hunt for the kids.  And, Sunday will be our Resurrection Day Services, complete with an Easter morning breakfast!  It’s going to be a great weekend of celebration.  And, it ought to be.  After all, we are celebrating the pinnacle of our faith: the resurrection of Jesus Christ—the event upon which all of the Christian faith stands!

Today, on this Good Friday, I am reminded that it all begins with a cross.  Our whole weekend of celebration that will include Easter eggs, chocolate bunnies, special breakfasts, and churches that will be filled music and joy, begins with a symbol of suffering and death: the cross of Jesus Christ.  All of our joy and high resounding praise begins with the sounds of mourning, sorrow, and death as we recall and recount the huge price that was paid for our sins, as the very Son of God gave his life as the ultimate sacrificial lamb. 

I have said many times, there would be no meaning to the cross without the resurrection. That is true. But, it is also true that there would have been no resurrection without the cross. There is no celebration of Easter unless we first pass through Good Friday—unless we first take the way of the cross. 

The Apostle Paul wrote, May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14 – NIV) The Apostle Paul knew that all he had and all that he was, it all came first of all through the cross. He knew that everything good he had experienced through Christ came first of all because of Jesus’ suffering and death. He was eternally grateful for the cross.    

Today on this Good Friday, even as we prepare for the celebration of Easter Sunday, may we remember that it all begins with a cross!

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, April 7, 2017

Getting Ready For the Wedding!

Tomorrow evening Kim’s brother’s oldest son, Glenn, is getting married. It’s going to be a big event since he is the eldest grandchild on that side of the family, although not the first to get married (our son, Jonathan was the first).  Our children will all be with us, as will Kim’s parents—and of course, lots of family whom we have not seen in a while.    

Kim and I know well what it is like to prepare for a wedding.  After all, it was less than two years ago that our son Jonathan married Danielle. Months of preparation, lead up to the ceremony in which the bride and groom are joined together, followed by a few hours of celebration. And, I can just picture what tomorrow is going to be like in the hours leading up to the wedding.  The bride and her bridesmaids will be doing their hair, putting on their makeup, and making sure their dresses look just right.  The groom and his groomsmen may be given some assignments for the morning after which they’ll get washed up, shaven, make sure their hair is just right, and put on their formal wear.  Family members and friends will spend much of their day as well preparing themselves for the big event.  I may even go get my haircut today!  (I think Kim got her nails done yesterday!)

No one just shows up to a wedding.  Everyone takes at least some time to prepare himself or herself, to get themselves ready.  And, that’s exactly what the Bible calls us to do as we look forward to that time the Bible calls, the “Wedding Supper of the Lamb.”   

The Scriptures often liken God’s people to a bride who will one day be united with her groom, Christ.  And, it tells us that when that occurs there will be a great celebration.  In the meantime, however, we are exhorted to prepare ourselves by making sure that we are living the way God would have us live—filled with faith and according to the righteousness of Christ; full of kindness, goodness, peace, and love.  Now is our time to make sure that when the wedding day arrives we will not be caught off guard; that we will be ready!

The Apostle John wrote these words: “ ‘Hallelujah!  For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.’ (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.) Then the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ ” (Revelation 19:6-9 – NIV)

It’s wonderful to receive an invitation to a wedding. But, it’s quite another to respond by getting oneself ready for the wedding.  We’ve all been sent an invitation through the coming of Jesus, God’s Son. Let’s spend our lives preparing ourselves; doing all we can to make sure we are ready for the best wedding we will ever attend!

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris