This year's Good Friday service centered around a series of meditative drawings done by the CPC Confirmation Class - Terry Gagstetter, Erik Riker & Michael Yang. Their drawings are playing in the slide show below. Click on the slide show to get a closer look.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
During Lent this year, Pastor Fritz is preaching a sermon series entitled 'God's Bailout Plan.' Below are excerpts from the fourth sermon in the series, which discussed the restoration of Israel after the exile.
Read a vision of the Prophet Jeremiah regarding the Jewish exile community.
Read John of Patmos' great vision regarding Christ's reconciliation of those in suffering.
This Sunday we turn to the second journey – the Exile.
In destroying the temple and carrying off its treasures, the Babylonians probably thought they had not only defeated the Israelites but their God as well. The Biblical writers confess that God not only is alive and well, but that God was using the Babylonians to punish the Israelites for their disloyalty. The Israelites had not worshiped the Lord their God with all their heart, soul and strength. They had not loved their neighbors as their selves. They had ignored the poor, abused the widow, neglected the orphan and been unwelcoming to the foreigner. So God uses Babylon to teach Israel a lesson. At the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar, God delivers a dramatic, world changing wake up call.
In Babylon the Jewish elite found they had to either refocus on God and the Torah law or loose their identity. They had to learn to worship God, to keep their customs, their beliefs, their faith, when it was neither easy nor convenient to do so.
Seventy years after the fall of Jerusalem, the Assyrians, led by Cyrus the Great, conquered Babylon. While God used Nebuchadnezzar to conquer, God uses Cyrus to restore. Cyrus allows the Jewish people, to return to Jerusalem and provides them with money to rebuild the city and the temple.
The Israelites got themselves into their mess, but God still got them out. We get ourselves in lots of messes, but God remains ready with a bail out plan. John of Patmos, who wrote Revelation, offers a vision of the end of the world. Disaster has followed disaster as all the sins committed, all the mistakes made, come back to haunt the world. But when the smoke clears, the bodies are not littering the battlefield. Instead the multitude of the faithful, people from every nation, all tribes and peoples and languages, are before the throne of God in joyous worship. God has nurtured rather than destroyed, sheltering, feeding and filling the multitude with the water of life while he wipes away the tears from their eyes.