As you prepare for this Sunday's worship keep the following in mind:

  1. We anticipate many visitors this Easter Sunday. So please greet everyone you see - especially new faces!
  2. The theme of worship and the sermon is a transition from the sermons responding to   The Passion of the Christ   and anticipating a series from April 18 - May 16 focusing on what it means to be Christ's church. We have focused on the cross, now what does it mean to be a Community Beneath the Cross?
  3. Remember in your prayers those on our published prayer lists.
  4. Read the following Scriptures as you pray and prepare for worship: Psalm 118:15-24; Revelation 3:19-21; John 20-21; Luke 24; Mark 16; Matthew 28; 1 Corinthians 15.

The Passion of the Christ
Order of Worship and Discipleship:

(John 20:19-23)

Critics of   The Passion of the Christ   have complained that the movie only gives 20 seconds to the resurrection ...

It makes a difference whether we regard someone as dead or alive

If Jesus is dead ...

If Jesus is alive ...

In what sense is Jesus alive?
Not simply immortalized in his teaching
Not simply the endurance of his spiritual force
Not simply his memory and his legacy
He is the Living One
He is the new humanity, the firstborn from the dead.

It Makes a Difference for the Church ...
The last image before the final 20 seconds in   The Passion of the Christ   seems to be of a group people gathered around the dead Jesus ... It is a community beneath the cross and a worthy symbol of what it means to be "church."

The community of faith – the church – is formed only because Jesus lives. Once again, those 20 seconds make all the difference. The resurrection of Jesus Makes a Difference not only for Jesus, but also for us. John 20 is case in point.
[Read John 20:19-23]

Consider the state of the disciples when they regard Jesus as dead . . .

The memory of Jesus, the strength of his teaching, his noble example are not enough to make an adequate difference for this group. Not until they encounter the living Jesus.

  1. The Living Jesus gives Peace and the Holy Spirit.

  2. The Living Jesus sends the church.

  3. The Living Jesus forgives – and so also may we forgive.

This spectacular photo was taken in Lower Galilee in 1998 by Julie Martinez.
Used with permission.

The day that Christ rose is the first day of a new age. Jesus is the first of the new humanity – the new life. We get to sample it through the Holy Spirit.
The community beneath the cross does not gather around a dead savior. In his resurrected body he bears the marks of the crucifixion – affirming that his death had meaning. The crucified one is also the living one. The living one is Lord. This is our confession that makes us his church.
In baptism, we enact and participate in the gospel event: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. With great conviction we have proclaimed what Peter did - that belief, repentance and baptism are essentials of salvation. Those who’ve experienced this can be sure that God has added them to the church.

But keep in mind that Peter and every evangelist worth his salt thereafter has proclaimed with equal conviction that the Jesus who was crucified is now the risen Lord. That proclamation makes all the difference. Without that conviction, the rest of it is meaningless. The Church of the Christ
If Jesus is not resurrected, then he is not Lord. But something happened that Sunday long ago that changed a timid group of believers into a cross-carrying community sent out in the name of Jesus. We believe it was the presence of the risen Lord. He still lives. His presence and Holy Spirit is no less powerful now than it was then.

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 11 April 2004

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