"To Know Jesus and To Make Him Known"
Vision Statement: Educate, equip and encourage ourselves and our families through worship and study, and engage our community through discipleship, example and Acts of Kindness, using the unique gifts bestowed on each member of our congregation by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Lenten Series: EYES ON JESUS
O come, let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Gradual for Lent, based on Hebrews 12:2)
When the characters in the Passion narrative look at Jesus, what do they see? In most cases, people misunderstood who He is and what He was doing. In some cases, by faith, people recognized Him aright. Our Lenten series this year, based on the Gospel according to St. Mark, will examine how the various people around Jesus viewed Him—and how we should view Him. We will “fix our eyes” on what Jesus has done to save us from our sins by His holy, precious blood and innocent sufferings and death, and celebrate what God sees on account of His work: our justification for His sake.
On Ash Wednesday (Feb 26), we will see how, in spite of Jesus’ repeated predictions about His upcoming Passion, the disciples with “Misjudging Eyes” fail to recognize that soon He will not be with them, and they cannot see the anonymous woman’s anointing of Jesus as preparation for His burial. But Jesus sees her actions as a beautiful deed that will be proclaimed throughout the world wherever the Gospel is heard.
At our midweek service after the First Sunday of Lent (Mar 4), we will look through Judas’s “Betraying Eyes” and learn why he did this awful deed. Yet the behind-the-scenes-reality is that Jesus was “handed over” (another way of translating the verb for “betray”) by God the Father Himself, so that Jesus could die for the sin of the world.
“Sleepy Eyes” is the theme for the second week of Lent (Mar 11). In Gethsemane, Jesus’ inner circle of Peter, James, and John cannot keep their eyes open to watch and pray with Jesus for even an hour, while Jesus comes to see that His Father’s will is that He drink the cup of God’s wrath when He comes to the “hour” of His suffering.
In the third week of Lent, we stare into the “Denying Eyes” of Peter and the other apostles (Mar 18). They could not see how they could ever fall away from Jesus, but after Jesus is betrayed by Judas, ten of them flee, and Peter—when he is spotted by a servant girl and sees that his own neck is on the line—sees fit to deny Jesus, which leads to his own eyes weeping in remorse. We sinners likewise deny our Lord in many ways, but Jesus denied Himself to take up the cross for our salvation.
“Murderous Eyes” is the theme of week 4 in Lent (Mar 25t. The chief priests and scribes saw Jesus as an obstacle to be rid of by murdering Him through the Roman judicial system. Yet during the Passover festival, they would unwittingly bring about the Father’s sacrifice of the ultimate Passover Lamb.
In the fifth week of Lent, we look through the “Worldly Eyes” of Pilate, the Jewish leaders, and the Roman soldiers (Apr 1). Pilate can only view matters in a worldly, pragmatic way, wishing to placate the worldly Jewish leaders and crowd, so he consents to handing Jesus over for crucifixion. The soldiers see the opposite of a worldly king, but their ironic hailing of Him as “King of the Jews” proclaims who He really is. The world looks for power and glory; God’s way is suffering and the cross.
On Maundy Thursday, there is “More Than Meets the Eye” to the Lord’s Supper (Apr 9). We will look into the Old Testament background of the Last Supper and rejoice in the mystery that Jesus, in and with, bread and wine, gives us His body and blood in order to deliver to us the benefits of His Passion.
On Good Friday, we look through “God’s Eyes” to see what is happening during the Passion: the once-for-all atonement for the sin of the whole world and the justification of all sinners on Easter (Apr 10).
Easter Sunday gazes upon “Angel Eyes.” (Apr 12) The angel in the tomb knows the whole story of Jesus’ resurrection. When he sees the women, he proclaims the Gospel to them, shows them where Jesus’ body had formerly lain, and tells them that they can see Jesus themselves in Galilee. Likewise, the “angels” or messengers of the Church in the apostolic ministry tell God’s people where they can find Jesus and His salvation in the Means of Grace.
Eyes on Jesus will continuously focus our eyes on Jesus Christ and Him crucified, buried, and risen for our justification. This is a vision that will never disappoint, for by trusting in Jesus, He promises that we will gaze upon His beautiful face now by faith and forever in heaven!
Jesus spent a lot of time with His disciples. He taught them, sang with them and prayed with them. He gave them the authority to forgive and retain sins. He commissioned them to enlarge the body of believers by His command to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." He led by example showing them that Gentiles (those outside the Jewish race/religion) are allowed into the kingdom.
Our task is two-fold. Our first task is to teach our people about Jesus and how He would have us live and witness to Him. We do this through corporate worship where Jesus invites us to His Table to be fed. He feeds us and washes us clean through His sacrifice on the cross. He is the lamb that was slain. He feeds us with living water and the bread of life. He feeds us with His body and His blood poured out for the forgiveness of our sins. We are also fed by His Word. We hear the Word in worship and study the Word in our various Bible Studies.
Once fed, our second task or command is to go and feed others. We do not perform miraculous healings or cast out demons in Jesus name but we do bring the healing Word of love and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. This Word is what people crave. In our brokenness as a fallen sinful human race, we need to know that there is life on the other side. We need to know that our Father will pick us up, brush us off and give us the biggest hug ever, all because He loves us more than we can humanly understand or imagine. So we reach out to people with the hands of Jesus. We help the sick and the hungry in Jesus name. We pray. We open our hearts. We listen. Through us, God brings His reign now giving us a sampling of what God’s reign will look like when Jesus comes again. This life is not a rose garden, but in Jesus, who bears us up in His arms, we step forth each day in faith and hope. Our mission is to be Christ to those around us. Our vision is to look with the eyes of Jesus upon those who need salvation in Him.