Psalm 98:7-9 and Matthew 25:31-46
Today’s scripture is the grand finale of scriptures in the last part of Matthew that emphasize God’s judgment. In previous weeks we have been warned by various parables that we must stay focused, that God will judge our actions in the end, and that while God has mercy and extends grace, God’s patience is not without limit. This scripture provides insight into how we will be judged: If we care for the sick, feed the hungry, bring water to the thirsty, and visit those who are sick or in prison, it is as though we do all of those things to Jesus; if we fail to do any or all of those things, we fail to do them to Jesus. And in the end, Jesus will know us by our care for others.
Psalm 98:7-9 and Matthew 21:1-17
We will celebrate Palm Sunday: Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We will also talk about the week to come and our journey from Palm Sunday, through Good Friday, to the triumph of the empty tomb on Easter Morning. Jesus entered Jerusalem in triumph. He went to the temple court and drove out those who were cheating the pilgrims who came to worship in the Temple. He continued to perform signs and healings. Ominously, his activities only increased the fury of the religious authorities and led up to his arrest on Thursday night, followed by his trial, execution, and resurrection.
During Holy Week, the five days following Palm Sunday, the Vinton Ministerial Alliance will sponsor services at some of our member churches. Services on Monday through Thursday are at 7:00am.
The Schedule is as follows:
Monday: Vinton Presbyterian Church
Tuesday: Wesley United Methodist Church, Vinton
Wednesday: St. Mary's Catholic Church, Vinton (A Stations of the Cross Service)
Thursday: Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Vinton
Friday's service will be a "Raising of the Cross" service at noon on Good Friday, April 19 at First Christian Church, Vinton. Last year's Raising of the Cross service is pictured above.
Psalm 116 and Matthew 26:17-30
Maundy Thursday services remember the last night Jesus had on earth with His disciples before His crucifixion and resurrection. The service includes communion, as almost all Disciples of Christ services do; it is especially significant on this night for we remember that in the face of Christ's knowledge of imminent betrayal, trial, and execution, He shared a meal with His disciples, even with Judas, who would betray Him. He continued to teach them and demonstrate his loving concern for them, even in the face of His own suffering. The Maundy Thursday service is a solemn one. It is a service where we move from joy and celebration at the hero's welcome Jesus experienced in Jerusalem to the abject defeat and seeming hopelessness of His followers' situation following Judas' betrayal and Jesus' execution.
Psalm 118:19-24 and Matthew 28:1-10
On the morning after the Sabbath, the women go to the tomb to perform the ritual cleansing of Jesus' body. They find the stone rolled back and Jesus' body missing. Then Jesus appears to them. The Resurrection is the central event in Christian history and the central and most important event in Christianity itself. Jesus is risen!
It takes some time for the Disciples to determine what this fact means to them; at first they themselves do not believe. Each one of us still has to determine what Jesus' resurrection means to our lives. We are presented with the Risen Christ; we must figure out what that will mean to the way we live, how we look at the world, and perhaps most importantly how we will respond to other people. Good Friday was not the end; Easter is only the beginning!
"Mission Possible: Our Mission, should we choose to accept it."
Psalm 48:9-10 and Matthew 28:16-20
Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He gave Christians our marching orders: "Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and Son and the Holy Ghost and teaching them all the things that I have commanded you. On this Sunday, we will reflect on how our thoughts, actions, and our treatment of others allow us to carry out this "Great Commission," or how these things obstruct and frustrate us in doing so.