Even today, the Ten Commandments that God gave to Israel occasionally make the news. Just last week the governor of Arkansas signed a bill requiring a monument to the Ten Commandments in his state. http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2015/04/09/arkansas-governor-signs-ten-commandments-bill/. Why are the Ten Commandments so important? How are they relevant for us today? These are good questions. Last Sunday, Pastor Kelvin Jones started a new series of messages on the Ten Commandments. He will continue this series through June with a week or two break here and there.
To help us gain familiarity with the commands we will read them each week. But to add a little extra touch, we plan to use a different version each week. Last Sunday we read them from the Geneva Bible, the Bible of the Pilgrims, likely the first Bible read in New England.
The Ten Commandments, Then and Now
The law is good if one uses it properly. (1 Ti. 1:8 NIV 2011)
The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ. (Gal. 3:24 KJV)
Twenty-one walkers took advantage of the opportunity to participate in a great cause and get some exercise on a great day at the same time. On Sunday, April 12, at 2 PM the group started north on the rail trail. The group walked for nearly an hour. Individuals had recruited sponsors to contribute toward the cause, the United Methodist Church’s Imagine No Malaria Campaign. Eighteen walkers are shown in the picture, two more were photographers while one additional walker joined the group part way down the trail.
Easter is a big moment at Copper Hill Church. The service began differently than usual—no prelude, just the sudden announcement – whispered at first and growing louder with each repetition – “The Lord is risen; The Lord is risen indeed!” Traditional Easter hymns mixed with contemporary songs of praise followed as the congregation joined with Christians around the world to praise our Living Lord. JoAnne Jones played “Rejoice, the Lord is King” on her Celtic harp and the choir sang “Welcome Happy Morning” and “Easter Song.” On the latter song, the children helped by ringing bells. Pastor Kelvin’s message echoed the confession of the New Testament times, “Jesus is Lord.”
After the service the children delighted in the egg hunt and everyone one enjoyed fellowship time. It was a moment for good food and relaxed conversation. Part of the blessing of the resurrection of Jesus is the community of faith that we enjoy at such times.
Pastor Kelvin announced that his next sermon series which will begin next week will be on the 10 commandments. These ancient laws have been in the news as lawyers debate where to post them in this politically correct world, but their role in salvation history and their relevance to our lives has never been in question.
Five new members joining our church was the high point in our Palm Sunday service. Brandon Collins, a sixth grader was confirmed and joined with his grandparents Chris and Nancy Collins standing with him. Four adults also took on the covenant of membership; each one sponsored by a member of the church; Ken D’Annolfo, who was sponsored by his wife Carolyn; Lorraine Molloy and Shirley Prouty both sponsored by their friend Mary McCorison, and Robert Stewart, sponsored by his neighbor, Harrison Griffin.
Brandon, assisted by his brother Christopher, began the special section in the service by displaying the cross craft that they had made in confirmation class and reading the responsive liturgy about the meaning of the cross with Pastor Kelvin Jones. Then Pastor Jones called all the sponsors and new members to the front and he led the whole congregation in the liturgy for confirmation and membership. To emphasize the close relationship between membership and baptism, Pastor Kelvin sprinkled water into a bowl and reminded the congregation to “remember your baptism.”
Next our holiday choir inspired the congregation with a presentation of “What Kind of Love is This?” a contemporary anthem by Phillips, Craig and Dean, arranged and directed by JoAnne Jones. The morning message reminded us all that Jesus came into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday peacefully, on a donkey rather than a horse, as a symbol of the peace he wants to bring into all our lives. Pastor Jones said that Jesus came to bring us peace with God (Rom. 5:1, 2), peace with each other (Eph. 2:15-18) and peace in our inner selves (Phil 4:7, 9).
Next week at our new time of 9:30 AM our celebration continues with more choir music and music of the harp by JoAnne Jones as well. Pastor’s message will focus on the confession of the apostolic church, “Jesus is Lord!”
This coming Sunday, March 29, is Palm Sunday, the time in the church year when we remember the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem at the beginning of his last week. The Sunday gets its name from the historical fact that the disciples and the crowd laid palm branches in the path where the donkey Jesus was riding would walk (John 12:12-16; Mark 11:7-10). As we will at Copper Hill Church, many churches traditionally distribute palm fronds to worshipers in memory of Jesus on that day. Palm Sunday also marks the beginning of the church’s observance of Holy Week.
Our choir will highlight our Palm Sunday at the new 9:30 AM time with their contemporary anthem, “What Kind of Love Is This?” by Phillips, Craig and Dean. Four new members will be received plus one sixth grader may be confirmed on that day as well. Pastor Kelvin’s next message in his series on “Names of Jesus that Instruct and Inspire” will discuss the title “Prince of Peace.”
Reviewing the Basics of Christian Faith
Every church needs to regularly teach the basics of Christian faith both so that newer disciples can learn and so more seasoned Christians can be reminded. Both Paul and Peter wrote of the value of such reminders (2 Tim. 2:14; 2 Peter 1:12). During March and early April, Pastor Kelvin Jones will be doing just that. Working from a book by Bishop William H. Willimon called United Methodist Beliefs (Westminster John Knox Press 2007), Pastor Jones is developing a series called “Basic Christian Beliefs.”
The class which began March 10, is meeting on Tuesday mornings at 10:30 AM at Copper Hill Church. While it is designed to also prepare attenders for membership in the church, one does not need to be planning to join the church in order to attend. So far attendance is evenly divided between those attending for enrichment/review and those attending as a preparation for joining the church. Pastor Kelvin welcomes questions and encourages dialogue as a part of the class. New participants are welcome. Last week we began with a discussion of what it means to believe in God and the Trinity in a world that is increasingly atheistic. This coming Tuesday (March 17) we’ll seek to understand better God’s plan of salvation and how it transforms our lives.
Other good books for reminding ourselves of the basics that Pastor Kelvin is also using as resources include:
Christian Basics, John Stott (Baker Books 1999) The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren (Zondervan 2002) 3:16, Max Lucado (Thomas Nelson 2007) The Faith, Charles Colson and Harold Fickett (Zondervan 2008)
Note to all — starting this coming Sunday, March 8, our Sunday service time changes to the new time — 9:30 AM. Just in time to celebrate this announcement, Christian Robison has taken some additional sky video footage of our church in winter showing the new doors and new sign. He has combined it with the previous footage he took into a new production. Check it out. It is beautiful to see and hear.
Many of us have several names that are used for us in different circles. My father had a nickname that was totally unrelated to his real name but only his boyhood acquaintances called him by that appellation. A man in my previous church seemed to have two first names and was known pretty equally by either. Further he did not care which one was used.
Have you ever thought about all the different names used in the Bible to refer to Jesus? Some, like Jesus, Emmanuel, Son of Man and Word seem to be prescribed names. Many, if not most, are terms descriptive of his actions toward us such as Good Shepherd, Prophet, The Way and The Vine. Others are most like titles such as Messiah or Christ, Lord and King of Kings. But for sure each one is in Scripture to teach us something about our Lord.
During Lent and on Easter this year we will be exploring the meaning for us of seven such names. The title of our message series is “Names of Jesus That Instruct and Inspire.” Actually we will cover more than the seven in the process.
This Sunday, March 1, we will be back in the sanctuary for worship. And don’t forget, starting March 8, the same day as daylight savings time, our Sunday service time will change from 9 AM to 9:30 AM. We trust the change will make it a little easier for everyone to enjoy worship at Copper Hill Church. Here is the listing. Names in parentheses will also be explained in that message.
Names of Jesus That Instruct and Inspire
Key Verses: God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Philippians 2:9-11 NRSV
Here is a thoughtful article that forces us to be real about how we think as a church family. It forces us to examine our motivation for outreach. It guides us toward seeking to genuinely minister to the needs of newcomers as opposed to hoping they can meet our needs.
Due to the continuing extreme cold and the ongoing nature of our sanctuary update effort, we will be meeting in the fellowship hall this week, Feb. 22. We’re all praying for a slow warm-up but real soon –right?