Tag: Resurrection

Christmas Devotions: Gifts

When the wise men saw the star they shouted joyfully. As they came into the house and saw the child with Mary his mother, they bowed down and worshiped him. They opened their treasure boxes and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
~The Apostle Matthew 2:10-11

The wise men brought Jesus gifts which were filled with meaning. They brought gold, a gift fit for a king. The gold was also very useful for the family as they fled to Egypt to save Jesus’ life. We may not have gold but we can make Christ the Continue reading “Christmas Devotions: Gifts”

Episode one: The Missionary Gift

Not every believer has the missionary gift, but every Christian is called to some kind of involvement in missions. We are called to advance the gospel in some way and to participate in the fulfilling of God’s purposes in our generation.
-David Shibley

In Acts chapter one Jesus tells his original disciples that at the advent of the Holy Spirit, they will be witnesses of his resurrection in four spheres of their lives. They were to bare witness in Jerusalem, the place they lived, Judiea, the place they felt most comfortable, Samaria, where they would be uncomfortable and forced to deal the their own prejudices, and to the ends of the Earth, a place that would require increasing effort to reach. These same spheres of witness exist for us- the current generation of Christ’s disciples. We are responsible to ensure that the message of Christ’s resurrection is proclaimed in all four spheres. Jesus did not come to make bad people good or sick people well, although he does do that, ultimately Jesus makes dead people live!
May the message of the resurrection be our witness and may we never neglect the spheres of witness that we have been granted.

 

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The Downings

(to find out more about us please click here).

 

John 1:5 / Juan 1:5

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And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it. -John 1:5

We love Easter! Of course as followers of Christ we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on a daily basis but there is just something extra special about the gathering together of God’s people in celebration on Resurrection Sunday.

The Darkness of Good Friday is overcome by the light of the Resurrection. The ominous proclamation on the cross, “My God! My God! Why have You forsaken me?” Evaporates with the affirmation “He is Risen!”

The message of Easter is lived out every day in the lives of believers everywhere. Jesus died to give us Life and He rose so that we can now live in hope!

Just like the darkness and pain of the cross are washed away in the Light of the Resurrection, the darkness and pain that your sin heaps upon you can be washed away by the power of Christ’s death and Resurrection. That is the Good News of Easter!

Begin following Jesus and walk in His ways today and you will see the darkness of your life fade away. Follow Christ in this life and even death itself will not be a dark event. There is Hope! There is a Savior!

Happy Easter! B9C37CB1-2339-4486-81BB-3C6C34ED5C61The Downing Family

 

Juan 1:5

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Y la luz brilla en la oscuridad, pero la oscuridad no la domina. -Juan 1: 5

¡Amamos la Pascua! Por supuesto, como seguidores de Cristo, celebramos la resurrección de Jesús a diario, pero hay algo más especial en la reunión del pueblo de Dios en la celebración del Domingo de Resurrección.

La Oscuridad del Viernes Santo es vencida por la luz de la Resurrección. La ominosa proclamación en la cruz, “¡Dios mío! ¡Dios mío! ¿Por qué me has abandonado?” Evapora con la afirmación” ¡Él ha resucitado!”

El mensaje de Pascua se vive todos los días en la vida de los creyentes en todas partes. ¡Jesús murió para darnos vida y resucitó para que ahora podamos vivir con esperanza!

Así como la oscuridad y el dolor de la cruz son lavados en la Luz de la Resurrección, la oscuridad y el dolor que su pecado acumula sobre ustedes puede ser lavado por el poder de la muerte y la Resurrección de Cristo. ¡Esa es la Buena Noticia de Pascua!

Comienza a seguir a Jesús y camina en Sus caminos hoy y verás cómo la oscuridad de tu vida se desvanece. Sigue a Cristo en esta vida e incluso la muerte misma no será un evento oscuro. ¡Hay esperanza! ¡Hay un Salvador!

¡Felices Pascuas!B9C37CB1-2339-4486-81BB-3C6C34ED5C61La familia Downing

Involvement

What is your involvement in missions?  What do you do to make sure that God’s redemption is known to all who need it?  Below is a short devotion taken from our forthcoming devotional book.  We sincerely hope it gives you encouragement today.

 

Not every believer has the missionary gift, but every Christian is called to some kind of involvement in missions. We are called to advance the gospel in some way and to participate in the fulfilling of God’s purposes in our generation.
-David Shibley

In Acts Chapter One Jesus tells his original disciples that upon the advent of the Holy Spirit, they will be witnesses of his resurrection in four spheres of their lives.  They were to bare witness in Jerusalem, the place they lived, Judea, the place they felt most comfortable, Samaria, where they would be uncomfortable and forced to deal the their own prejudices, and to the ends of the Earth, a place that would require increasing effort to reach.  These same spheres of witness exist for us- the current generation of Christ’s disciples.  We are responsible to ensure that the message of Christ’s resurrection is proclaimed in all four spheres.  Jesus did not come to make bad people good or sick people well, although he does do that, ultimately Jesus makes dead people live!  

May the message of the resurrection ever be on our lips and may we never neglect the spheres of witness that we have been granted.  

In His grip,

The Downings

(To financially support or join our ministry please click here.  Thanks!)

Dialogue

Will there be pets in heaven?  Will there be sex in heaven?  What does it mean that women were the first to encounter the empty tomb?  What will happen when we enter into Christ’s resurrection?  Couldn’t someone have simply stolen the body of Jesus? How does the Resurrection of Christ effect the physical creation?

The Christian Faith is a dialogue not a monologue.  Questions have always been an important part of the Christian’s faith journey.  From the questions that our Lord answered, (and asked), to the crowd’s cross-examining response to Peter’s sermon in Acts chapter two, we see the power of an honestly asked question.  Perhaps this Easter you have some questions concerning the Resurrection of Jesus.  If so, you are in good company.  Most people we know, (including ourselves), have questions about this central event in history.  Here is a Easter Sunday Q&A that Timothy lovingly prepared and delivered to the Hillside Ave. Church of God.

In His Grip,

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The Downings

 

 

 

The Service of Shadows (Experience Continued)

We have always loved the experience that holy week offers.  When we were in pastoral ministry we always tried to offer unique worship experiences during this time.  Our absolute favorite services of the year were the Service of Shadows held on Good Friday followed by the Resurrection celebration on Easter Sunday.  The Service of Shadows was a reflective time designed to help us embrace the horror of Good Friday’s events.  We sometimes forget that the gift of time has cleansed the brutality of that day.  The original Disciples of Christ did not have the benefit of knowing the light of Easter.  They saw the love, unity and fellowship of Maunday Thursday rapidly gave way to a very different experience on Good Friday.  An experience of shock and fear, of loss and betrayal.  The Service of Shadows was designed to be a progressively dark service which ended in complete gloom.  The heaviness of the service brought the worshiper into deep feelings of disrepair much like the feelings elicited by the events of the first Good Friday.

The drama of the service was quite simple.  It was held in a room that was completely dark (this took some doing, covering the windows and even the cracks between the doors). The only light in the room were nine candles that were arranged and lit in the front.  The candles were all black wax candles except for the white candle (which represented Christ) in the middle.  No music greeted the worshipers only dim light and a pensive atmosphere.  A series of signs explaining the nights events were placed in the foyer for people to read before going into the darkened sanctuary.  After the people had gathered in silence and the sanctuary doors were shut the readers who were dressed in black would walk solemnly to the front and take there places on the stage.  The air would fill with expectation as the first reader slowly approached the candles.  The reader would then read a scripture and blow out a candle, slowly making their way back to their seat.  The congregation would then be given time to reflect on what was just read to them before the process was repeated until the eight black candles were extinguished.  The sanctuary would fill with the stale smoke from the smothering candles and each reading plunged the congregation a little further into darkness.  Then the last scripture would be read.  This scripture was always about the death of Christ.  After the last reading all of the readers would solemnly walk out of the sanctuary carrying the lit white candle.  They would walk slowly like a funeral procession until they reached the doors and left with the candle.  This would plunge the congregation into complete darkness and disrepair.  After about thirty seconds a loud crash would be heard and the sanctuary doors would be opened.  The people would be escorted out by row and left to silently depart and nurse their feelings of loss and sadness until we met again on Easter Sunday to wash the darkness away.  The astute worshiper would notice that all of the candles form Good Friday where present in the Resurrection service.  The Christ candle would be lit and placed prominently for all to see.  Around the triumphant Christ candle were the broken pieces of the black candles.  Christ has broken death!

We miss being able to put together meaningful worship experiences like the Service of Shadows.  If you would like to have your own reflective reading here is the order of service for one recent year.  We suggest you find a serine spot and in your own Bible read the scripture below slowly and out loud.  Take time to be pensive and try to place yourself in the place of the first Disciples.  Embrace the pain of Good Friday and explore the depth of your grief until hope washes away your sadness on Resurrection Sunday!

 

Welcome to the Service of Shadows

Tonight you will experience the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ in a truly gripping way.  As you enter the sanctuary this evening allow your senses to be filled with the sights and sounds of the tragedy of Good Friday.  Tonight’s service is meant to be felt, not enjoyed.  Our sincere hope is that the hopelessness of the Crucifixion will dominate your thoughts until it is washed away by hope at our Resurrection service on Easter morning.

Gathering in Silence

As you enter into the sanctuary tonight please do so in silent reverence.  Meditate on the gravity of Jesus’ sacrifice. Reflect on the Scripture as it is read aloud.  Allow the sights and sounds of the Crucifixion to grip your heart.  Try not to speak, try to immerse yourself in the experience.

 

The Experience of Shadows

Betrayal

Matthew 26:20-25

The Shadow of Betrayal is Cast.

 

Desertion

Matthew 26:31-35

The Shadow of Desertion is Cast.

 

Lethargy

Mark 14:32-41

The Shadow of Lethargy is Cast.

 

Violence

Matthew 26:47-52

The Shadow of Violence is Cast.

 

Denial

Luke 22:54-62

The Shadow of Denial is Cast.

 

Cynicism

John 18:33-38

The Shadow of Cynicism is Cast.

 

Irresponsibility

Matthew 27:20-26

The Shadow of Irresponsibility is Cast.

 

Mockery

Mark 14:32-41

The Shadow of Mockery is Cast.

 

Death

Matthew 27:51-54

The Shadow of Death is Cast.

Leaving in Silence

As you depart the service of shadows please do so in silent reverence.  Allow the weight of what you have just experienced to permeate your heart and mind.  Dwell on this experience; let it consume your thoughts until the shadows are dispelled at the service of light on Easter Sunday morning.

Please remain seated until you are led out of the sanctuary by an usher.

May God watch and keep you in this somber time.

In His Grip,

The Downings

Don’t Be a Ridiculous Donkey!

We have always loved this time of year!  We celebrate the triumphal entry of our Lord and Savior into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday then we experience Holy Week through various worship events which crescendo into a beautiful expression of joy and amazement on Resurrection Sunday!

Here is a Sermon that Timothy gave on Palm Sunday at Hillside Ave. Church of God in 2011.  As you listen, think of how privileged we are to be the people who carry Christ wherever He wants to go!

Happy Palm Sunday!

family pic tree

The Downings