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Message from Pastor Lotz

As spring blooms, and the sun warms, and all creation seems to be bursting back into life, Easter reminds us that in the great symphony of the cosmos, all creation sings in harmony with God’s great plan for humanity: Resurrection to eternal life!

People know this instinctively, though it is taught out of our consciences and scrubbed from our young souls early on in life.  We sense that creation was destined for more than decay, that the stars were more than distant sparkles on an unreachable horizon, that our lives weren’t meant to be cut short, that love should truly never end, and that somehow, all of us, bear in our beings the finger-prints of God!  And yet, as we do grow up, these mysteries become de-mythologized by our narrow-minded culture of rationalism.  We forget, with Pascal, the great French opponent of Descartes, that it is not thinking in our brains that makes us who we are, but knowing with our hearts!  And so the years of functionalism, professionalism, conformism, and uniformism, re-package us into cogs in the wheels of a grinding, soul-less universe, where God is absent, where creation is mere stuff, malleable and inert, where suns do not set in beauty, but rotate around an axis, where symphonies are not composed, but merely express the fatal longing for an escape from decay, where people are objects, and love a construct. 

But Resurrection is the screeching sound of the brakes to this deluded cacophony of claims.  Resurrection interrupts our cynicism, challenges our assurances, and confronts our ‘mature’ convictions about ‘the way things are’.  Resurrection, the resurrection of Jesus, the son of Mary, the son of David, the son of Abraham, the son of Adam, the SON of GOD- this is the new reality that has invaded a world whose promise has been broken, and whose potential has been spilled.   

We were made for this, for life never ending- God designed us for bliss, and for heroism; he made us for worship and for devotion!  And on Easter, as we pause and listen deeply to the hum within our very souls, we are reminded again that this is true: We were made to be his children, in his world. 
But what went wrong, and how did we get so far from home?  Endowed with every gift and benefit, we chose to be God instead of worshipping Him.  We call this Sin; not a mistake, not victimhood, not fate or destiny, but sin.  Selfish, willful, arrogant, and jealous, we grab for ourselves and call it ‘survival of the fittest’.  We choose our own best interests, and blame it on ‘the selfish gene’.  We lie, cheat and steal, we hate, lust and blaspheme, and write our own excuses.  But this is not life, it is death.  Our short term gains are quickly spent in light of everlasting existence, and very soon after we have grabbed, we smell the decay in our nostrils.  We are not fit and surviving, we are corrupt, and dying.  And yet, we are addicted to sin, we hate it, but crave it; we try and stop, but like another diet, sneak some cookies here, and cakes there until we indulge in a binge of failure! Who will save us from this slide of decay!

Jesus.  Jesus the Messiah.  He came and joined our flesh. He lived and loved among us, but we esteemed him not, and counted him stricken.  On him was laid the iniquity of us all, and guess what, he accepted it, bore it, died under it, and at broke it.  And because he died and rose again, we have this promise: For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.  Everlasting life. Never-ending, everlasting life! 

Message from Pastor Mccarron

The Resurrection (Luke 24)

Even though I grew up in a non-Christian home we celebrated Easter Sunday. To us it was a time when school would be out for several days and we would get new clothes so we could dress up and visit relatives and maybe even go to my dad’s church. The service would be done in Latin and none of us ever understood a single word the priest would be saying. A nice meal would be prepared in which we would share with our family but never a word about what Easter was really about. (After all, school was out!!!) This was my Easter for the first 22 years of my life. I was Born Again on Easter Sunday when I was 23 and every Easter since has been celebrated with a much different attitude and purpose.

God made a way for every single person to be saved from their sinful lives through the sacrifice of His only Son Jesus Christ, who would rise from the grave on the third day and conquer death. Jesus has paid the full price of our sins with His own blood. (John 3:16)

Horatius Bonar wrote: “As the cross is the payment, so the resurrection is God’s receipt….for the whole sum, signed with His own hand.”

Jesus had foretold His disciples of His death and resurrection and yet they were not looking for Him.

Luke 9:20-22
“He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered and said,
‘The Christ of God.’ And He strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, ‘The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”

Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, along with other women, did not go to the tomb in order to verify that He had risen like He had told them, they went to where Jesus’ body was laid to finish attending to His body with spices. (Angels reminded the women of His words.)

Andrew Wood, Director of Worship and IT

Unlike the other synoptic Gospels, the Gospel according to Mark ends rather abruptly in verse 9, excluding the extra-biblical addition of verses 10-20. Not bearing the similarities of the other gospels which include more of Christ’s post death interaction with the disciples and a great commission statement. However, what the last few verses of Mark do is point us towards the real beauty, and humanity, of the resurrection. 

In this version we find Mary, attended by two other women, going to do the final preparations for the body of Christ. What I find the most interesting about the passage in contrast to the other Synoptic retellings, is that the women heading to the Tomb were contemplating how they were possibly going to roll away the large stone placed before the tomb. This stone would have been large and immensely heavy, as to take several men to move it into place. I think this stone is perhaps the most critical part of this narrative, not the running away in fear, not the women being alone, nor even the fact that an angel was present. The most critical part of the story for us to look at is the stone. The stone that was rolled into place before the grave of Christ. 

Why the gravestone? 

Because in the gravestone we see the beauty of the resurrection. The stones of the earth had covered the graves of humanity for untold millennia, had witnessed men slay one another from hate, and had seen humanity reject the greatest gift in the garden. The stones of the earth had borne witness to the corruption of humanity, the degradation of our species, and the stones of the earth were the cover to our graves when all was said and done. 

The stone that stood before the grave of Christ was an icon for the finality and utter despair that faced humanity in the light of its own depraved nature. The gravestone represents death, oblivion, and judgement. In death, humanity would not find rest, but all of its wicked ways exposed before the Great Judge. The stone represents the curse, the curse we all would bear for both this life, and the one to come. 

But in Mark 16:4 we see that no matter how large that stone was, the power and glory of God could not be stopped. The gravestone that had opposed humanity from the beginning, the symbol of sin, the symbol of judgement, the symbol of the curse, had been moved. On Easter, we celebrate what the movement of the gravestone of Christ means for us all, that there is no more condemnation, nor more judgement! As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15, 



“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”



We rejoice in the cross for its payment in full for our sins, but this Easter, we must also rejoice in the empty tomb, for in that hollowed space, God’s grace overcame the greatest of our enemies, and freed us from our fate, and freed us from the gravestone. 

Jared Carline, Youth Pastor’s Message

To understand his account of the resurrection, we must understand Matthew’s purpose in writing. Peter has previously addressed this, but here’s a brief summary.  Matthew wrote to convince his audience that Jesus was the king of the Jews. He spends much of his book explaining the kingdom of heaven and its subjects.

More immediately, we need to consider Matthew 27 if we’re to understand Matthew 28. Chapter 27 describes Jesus’s encounter with Pilate, his mockery by the soldiers, his crucifixion, and his death (among other events). Since Matthew is concerned with Jesus’s identity, let’s pay special attention to the titles Matthew uses.  Jesus is called “King of the Jews” or the “King of Israel” four times in this chapter (Matthew 27:11; 27:29; 27:37; 27:42). Pilate refers to “Jesus who is called Christ” twice (Matthew 27:17; 27:22). Finally, we read the title “Son of God” three times in this chapter—twice by mockers (Matthew 27:40; 27:43) and once by a now-convinced centurion (Matthew 27:54). Though we don’t have the space to explore this thoroughly, these three titles are connected.  Take a look at 2 Samuel 7:14 to see the relationship between the King of Israel and the Son of God, and read Psalm 2 to see the connection between the Anointed One (“Messiah” or “Christ”), the Son of God, and the King.  Matthew 27 describes the final rejection of Jesus as the King of Israel.  The political leaders, religious leaders, and crowds delight in Jesus’s death.  He will trouble them no more (so they think).

As Matthew 28 begins, we see Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” coming to look at Jesus’s grave. They were present when the stone was rolled in front of the tomb (Matthew 27:60–61) and, remembering Jesus’s promise to rise (Matthew 16:21), they came back. I imagine they were not prepared for what they saw. An “angel of the Lord” had rolled the stone away, causing a “severe earthquake” (Matthew 28:2). The soldiers guarding the tomb also quaked, and they were as good as dead (Matthew 28:4). If you saw an angel like this (Matthew 28:3), you’d probably pass out too! The angel comforted the women and answered their (unspoken) questions plainly: Jesus is not here, he is risen. Note how the angel speaks about the resurrection to the women. He invites them to see the empty tomb. He also reminds them that Jesus had predicted this himself (Matthew 28:6). Given that Matthew highlights Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, this is not a surprise.

The angel dispatches the women to announce the resurrection to the disciples, and Jesus meets the women on the road. His encounter with them is the key to this passage. So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:8–10). Notice their response upon meeting Jesus: they worshiped at his feet. They didn’t run or scream or question him or embrace him—they worshiped. Matthew communicates his purpose in telling this story through the women’s reaction: Jesus is the risen king!

A Message from Jamie Weist, Deacon Chairman

 

And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in  Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and  Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. 4 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.5Philip went down to the city[a] of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. 6 And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. 7For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8So there was much joy in that city. 

Most of our lives are spent avoiding painful situations in search of peace,  rest, and joy. It’s simpler just to avoid the drama, and go about our business quietly, keeping our opinions to ourselves. The world doesn’t just  “tolerate” Christianity; there is deep resentment towards God’s people which is rooted in the love of sin. God has placed the church in a hostile environment for a reason, to flame the spread of the Gospel. 

The passage, above in Acts 8, begins with the execution of Stephen which served as the catalyst to move the  Gospel message outside of the city of  Jerusalem. The church had been growing rapidly but hadn’t fulfilled Jesus’  command to carry the Word throughout the world. Some may see this as a  harsh, and tragic method to motivate the spread of the Gospel, however, this persecution served two purposes; first to move believers out of Jerusalem, and second to strengthen their faith and reliance on the Holy Spirit as they faced uncertain times. 

This is demonstrated in the story of  Philip in verses 5 thru 8. Philip was one of the seven deacons chosen earlier in  Acts to help the Apostles serve the church. It’s interesting to read that  Philip flees to the despised Samaritans in an effort to escape persecution. However, once there, he immediately began to share the Gospel,  cast out evil spirits, and heal the paralyzed and lame. Because of his faithfulness, many in Samaria believed and were baptized. Later in Acts, we see Philip commanded by the Angel of the Lord to leave Samaria and travel south towards Gaza where he encountered an Ethiopian treasurer and again shared the Gospel, baptized this gentile leader, and further spread the good news of Jesus. 

God uses persecution to move us out of our complacency and comforts for the purpose of spreading the Gospel and growing our faith. Because of this, we must be prepared to share His message wherever we go. Although we clearly don’t seek persecution, we should accept it as an opportunity to share in the suffering of our Lord and honor Him by telling others of His amazing grace.

In His unique and most powerful way, God demonstrated this Love, by making himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness, that while we were sinners He sent His Son, His only Son, as an atoning sacrifice for our sins, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. They will know we are believers in Him, by our Love. Love is patient and kind. Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, strength, and mind. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus is Love.

Jason Fowler, Treasurers Report

Tithes and Offerings for the past month were $30,006.99.  Year to date we have received $147,499.67.

Bruce Phillips, Building and Ground’s message

Bruce Phillips, deacon representative on the administrative committee, I would like to give the church an update on some of the matters that have been done at Courtland Baptist Church in the last couple of months.  There are things that have already been accomplished, are in process of completion, or that are being contemplated for the future at CBC.  I would like to thank our members who volunteer their time and energy at the church.  I pray that we will soon be able to gather as Disciples of Christ to work in the community and at the church.  Thanks again to all who volunteered to be about God’s business. 

 

General Maintenance:

   Window is in process of being fixed; pending

   Spraying weeds and bamboo along the fence  attempting to push them back; continuing

   Mulching the flower beds (in progress); unfinished

   Cutting bamboo and trees along the river side of the church.

   Fixed broken pipes in the boathouse

 

In the Future:

   Repaint the lines in the parking lots 

   History Room door needs to be replaced from a Dutch door to regular door

   Repair church sign-install signage that directs people to the Sanctuary, Chapel, and Church Office.

   Explore the use of a digital sign that can give real time announcements.

   Church security system is under consideration

   We are looking at the River House to see if it still can be utilized.