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The Old Rugged Cross

As we all know, the universal symbol for Easter is the cross.  While we can look at the cross in a negative way because of the intense suffering that Jesus endured, it is also a beautiful thing as it represents new life.  The empty cross is the sign of salvation, as Jesus suffered and died on it for us.

Many of us grew up in church singing the old hymn, “The Old Rugged Cross.”  One of the lines in this hymn reads,

“In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
a wondrous beauty I see . . .”

What a contrast.  Usually when when something is stained with blood it is accompanied by pain and sorrow.  It’s not seen as a wondrous beauty.  What an amazing thing that our God can take something so dark and so painful, and turn it into a wondrous beauty.  What a great reminder that even in our darkest and most lonely times, God can make our lives  a “woundrous beauty.”  If only we trust our Father as Jesus did.

Mennonite Central Committee shared an article about how the Mennonite Church in Santa Cruz, Bolivia celebrates Easter.  In this article is a link where you can listen to a Bolivian woman sing a Spanish version of “The Old Rugged Cross.”  One thing that I see as beautiful, is the fact that we can worship the same God together even when we aren’t doing it in the same language.  Click on the link below to read the story and to listen to the beautiful song sung by Shirley Barron.

An Easter song – Bolivia

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Haiti Earthquake

I think I can speak for everyone in our group that we are very saddened by the tragic earthquake that took place earlier this week.  While I am glad to watch the media coverage of what’s happening in Haiti and see the joyful stories of people being found alive and reunited with loved ones, it’s also heartbreaking to see  images of all the devastation and loss.

I don’t have a lot to say about this topic because, really, what can you say.  There just aren’t words.  I did want to share the following information.  Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) has served in Haiti for more than 50 years and will continue to do so for many years to come.  I wanted to share the link to MCC’s website so people can keep up with their efforts and can see how they can help.  There is certainly a financial need, and will be for years to come.  Click on the link below to learn more about MCC’s response to the earthquake.  You can also hear a firsthand account from an MCC worker who is currently serving in Haiti and experienced the earthquake along with his wife.  Continue to pray for the people of Haiti and those who have traveled there to help.

MCC Earthquake Response

No Need to Feel Anxious

My husband and I are very much alike in many ways, but very different in other ways.  One area in which we are very different is our sleeping habits.  When he goes to bed his head hits the pillow and he’s out like a light. Within 5 minutes, he’s sound asleep.  For me, however, it’s very different.  Once I lie down in that dark and quiet room, no matter how tired I might be, my mind starts racing.  I think about everything I have ever done and everything I might do in the future.  I think about people, relationships, issues, and anything else that comes to mind.  As a result, I often feel overwhelmed about life and become anxious.

This happened the other night, and I immediately thought of one of my favorite passages of scripture.  You probably know exactly what I am going to say.  You guessed it — Philippians 4:

“Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

I was once told by someone, that when we are given a command in the Bible, it is always followed by a promise.  Just as it continues in this passage:

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Then it goes on:

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice.”

And if you do this —

“And the God of peace will be with you.”

I don’t know about you, but for me it’s hard to never feel anxious.  It’s easier to complain to God about what’s not right or what should be, and to worry about what is.  But that promise is enough to make me think twice.  To have the peace of God?  The peace that transcends all understanding?  I can’t even comprehend that.  But that is the peace that I want.  And all that’s required to have that is what it says in that passage.  It’s THAT simple.  Why is it that the simple things are sometimes the hardest to do?

Well my time to have the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” is now.  No need to wait, no need to feel anxious, and no need for sleepless nights.  Just the need for the peace of God.  Would you like to join me?

May you have the peace of God.

Welcome to 2010!

I have to apologize to anyone who has looked at this blog in the past year-and-a-half.  I have greatly neglected this blog, as evidenced by the lack of new posts.  As of today, this is going to change.  I am going to make an effort to post something each week.  It may not be a lot, but it will be something.

I thought I would start off the year with a video that I came across a while back.  This video was put out by Mennonite Central Committee, a mission agency of the Mennonite Church.  I hope you enjoy it.

Click on the link below and you will be taken to the MCC website where you can view the video:

A New Creation

My family is currently in Michigan visiting extended family.  This morning we attended Our Redeemer Church in Midland– a town about 3o minutes north of Saginaw.  The pastor taught from Matthew 5:43-6:4.  It’s a familiar passage of scripture that most Christians have read or heard many times.  It’s a good lesson that all of us can be continually reminded of.  The following is a short synopsis of what Pastor Mark taught.

The scripture was broken down into three sections, each explaining how we can “live powerfully present.”

1) Greet intentionally, because the love of God calls us to.

Matthew 5:47-48

“And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even the pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect.”

How often do we walk by people on the street and look down as we pass by so we don’t have to say hello.  Or what about the neighbors that we never meet because we come and go from our garage never setting foot in the front yard. Or maybe we do see our neighbors when we go outside but we just give a friendly wave or nod.  We are called to greet intentionally.  Not only are we to greet our friends and those we know, but we are to greet those strangers in our midst.  Those who we don’t have any “reason” to know.  And when we greet those people don’t just go through the motions, but “be there” with them

2) Live unnaturally by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 5:38-46

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’

But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.

If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.

Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’

But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? are not even the tax collectors doing that?”

It’s natural to want revenge. It’s natural to want to punish those who treat us badly. It’s natural to be self-serving and want what’s good for yourself. God calls us to be unnatural.  To be good to those who are not good to us, and to love those who are not loving to us.  God calls us to fogive and to “let it go”  when the natural thing would be to seek revenge and to hate those who have wronged us.

3) Serve unconditionally, not to get anything in return.

Matthew 6:1-4

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,

so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

So many of us want others to know when we do something good. We want to be recognized.  We want to be appreciated. We want to be rewarded.  But God calls us to serve others without expecting anything in return. we are to give simply because God calls us to.

In Conclusion

So how can we live powerfully present?

Give the gift of being completely there.

Tell the truth when a lie would be to your advantage.

Be quick to show mercy instead of judgement.

Let it go!  Be generous with forgiveness.

We’re glad you stopped by. This blog is designed to provide information about Harmony Mennonite Church, share inspirational stories, and to provide nuggets of inspiration from scripture.

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