Passing the Peace
Each Sunday as we begin worship, the invitation is made, "Greet one another!" What ensues is a time of shaking hands, offering hugs, and saying hello to old friends and welcoming new ones. This talkative time is about more than just catching up with folks we haven't seen since last week. It is about passing the peace - the peace of our Lord.
When Jesus was preparing his disciples for his leaving them, he told them that his peace he left with them. Giving them a new commandment to love one another as he loved them, Jesus told his disciples that they would be known by their love for one another. The early church took the practice of passing the peace seriously as an expression of their love for and unity with one another. Many of the Apostle Paul's letters to the churches he was encouraging included early on a statement declaring, "The peace of Jesus Christ be with you." When we pass the peace on Sunday mornings, it is more than a friendly "Hello!" It is a continuation of the celebration of the peace that Jesus has left with us.
During this Lenten season, we have been talking about the forgiveness we are to offer one another. One week, we talked about how the prayer of confession and words of pardon that we speak before gathering at the Communion table is an act of forgiveness that allows us to draw close to God as we draw close to each other. The passing of the peace likewise is an act in which we forgive each other any sins that have come between us since we last met and declare peace - God's peace - between us so that we can love one another as Jesus loves us.
May the peace of the Lord be with you today! Blessings on the journey, Jim
Sunday's Sermon Snippet
Forgiven: For Real ( Matthew 5:21-24)
Sin left unforgiven is too great a burden to bear. Forgiveness begins with the decision to not remember the sin or to seek retribution for it. Forgiveness breaks the cycle of sin and heals its wounds. To be close with God, we first have to forgive and reconcile with each other. Forgiveness doesn't keep score of the rights and wrongs in a relationship. This is what we have discovered about forgiveness over the last few weeks, and it all seems good in theory. Yet we have a hard time with forgiveness in practice. All of this becomes pie-in-the-sky stuff when we think about sin in real life. We know God forgives us, but we still wonder if God can love someone like us. We know God wants us to forgive others, but we hold on to grudges over things that feel unforgivable. Forgiveness is great, until we consider what it looks like in the real world. We live in a world that has little room for true forgiveness, so we excuse ourselves for not living up to this ideal. Yet Jesus does not let us off the hook so easily.
Consider Jesus on the cross - the intense pain, the burning wounds of the torture and abuse he had already suffered, and the weight of the world upon his shoulders. Meanwhile, the people come to mock him, and the leaders point out that he cannot save himself. The soldiers gamble for his clothes and taunt him with the offer of drink. They dare him - the one trying to save them - to save himself. Insult upon insult added to the injury. What does Jesus do in response? He calls upon the Father to forgive them. One thing is for certain: Jesus thinks forgiveness is for real. It is not something far removed from real life or only done in easy circumstances. Faced with the worst of situations, Jesus chooses to forgive because he believes it has the power to change the world.
C.S. Lewis once wrote: "I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like we are setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him." This could well be extended to how we forgive others as well. If Jesus could forgive those who tortured and mocked him upon the cross, why do we find it so impossible to forgive those who have hurt us? If Jesus believed the Father could forgive those who were still mocking and hurting him, why do we not trust that God would forgive us? Forgiveness is not some ideal far removed from the reality of the world. To Jesus, forgiveness is for real! Forgiveness is one of the greatest powers in the world because it can save a life. We are freed from the burden of sin when we truly believe that God's forgiveness is for real!
Living in Community
Thanks to Chris for putting together a great presentation on Drugs in Our Community! Thanks to April and Makayla for providing the babysitting during the event! Thanks to everyone who came out for all you do to make our community a better place!
Thanks to all of the children who marched and waved palm branches as a part of our celebration in worship on Sunday!
This Week at Port Church
Wednesday, March 28
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
6:00 pm - Wednesday at the Port
Thursday, March 29
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
6:30 pm - Maundy Thursday Service at Grottoes UMC: Living Last Supper
Light dinner will be served
Friday, March 30
7:00 pm - Good Friday Service at Port Republic UMC
Tenebrae: A Reading of the Passion Story
Sunday, April 1
6:45 am - Easter Sunrise Service at Bradburn Park
9:30 am - Easter Worship: "The Foolishness of God"
11:00 am - Sunday School
Tuesday, April 3
7:00 pm - Bible Study at Dianna's house
Youth Sunday - April 8
Paint Night - April 27, 6-9 pm
VBS tentatively scheduled for June 25-29
News and Updates
Find out what is going on at Port Republic UMC this week and in weeks to come!