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Worship Preview April 7, 2024. "Christ is Risen... Now What?" 2nd Sunday of Easter

Scriptures –  Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 133; 1 John 1:1-22; John 20:19-31

 

Around Christmas and New Year’s, I shared quite a bit about the liturgical calendar. I said then that one of the things I liked about the juxtaposition of the Christian and secular calendars is there is almost always a time of new beginnings. Easter is certainly that, as is Spring. Easter falls on the Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox. In the calendars most of us use, centered on the Gregorian calendar, that put it last Sunday, March 31st this year, which is quite early. There are some traditions that draw the date still using the Julian calendar – so our Eastern Orthodox siblings won’t celebrate Easter until May 7th this year! 

 

On the liturgical calendar, Easter is not just a day though, it is a season that lasts for 50 days up until Pentecost, including Sundays. So our time of celebration is longer than Lent was (40 days, not counting Sundays). We don’t count the Sundays in Lent because every Sunday is considered a “little Easter” in that we are gathering to celebrate the resurrection year round. We gather because Christ is Risen, indeed! (Easter.)We gather because God became Flesh (incarnation/Christmas). We gather because the Holy Spirit is moving among us (Pentecost)!

 

In these Sundays of the Easter season, we will hear from both the book of Acts and the Gospel of John. I talked last week about how this year “Year B” in the lectionary, draws heavily from the Gospel of Mark. Except Mark ends at 16.8 – with the women leaving the tomb afraid. Last week I preached about how I think that was intentional and intended by the inspired author – because it moves us to want to tell the stories ourselves. It can’t (and doesn’t) end there! From the extant scrolls and Codexes we have, we know that over time a short and a longer ending were appended to Mark, but they don’t really tell stories, rather the basically allude to stories told elsewhere. So this week we hear from John 20 – which has one of my favorite stories, that of Thomas – but it also has an ending I think we need to hear. At the end of John 20, the inspired author writes “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.”  But despite that ending, John’s Gospel goes on – the story goes on. Or maybe the stories go on – one of the things we will see – and already heard last week on Easter – is that God is not defined or controlled by our ideas – rather God’s love includes “both Jew and Gentile.” But there is commonality to the stories. The author of letter called 1st John, which we will open the service with this week, writes “We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us— we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

 

You don’t have to have it all worked out. You are invited to encounter the mystery and the still unfolding stories of incarnation and resurrection. To share your own encounter and to recognize new beginnings. Each day is a gift. Life certainly sometimes seems dark. We struggle with the news of the world and the complications of everyday life – and yet the light of Christ is with us. We are invited to respond - and decide our next steps! You are invited to come and celebrate. You can learn more about what to expect here at First United Methodist at our website: www.firstumcfortscott.org or our see our Facebook page www.facebook.com/firstumcfortscott for the latest updates.

 

Upcoming Events: 

 

Beacon Sunday – this week we will conclude our “March Madness” drive for the Beacon with a vote on our favorite NCAA teams – none of our regional teams made the title games this year, but we are still invited to wear our favorite team’s colors and vote for our favorite. Food donations can be made to vote for the Kansas Jayhawks, the K-State Wildcats, or “Other” – Pastor Christopher says “Go Shocks!” Bring a donation and vote for your favorite school this Sunday!

 

Wednesday, April 10, 5:30–6:30pm: Feeding Families in His Name – this weekly free meal is available to everyone without obligation. A “to-go” meal is distributed under the portico at 301 S. National. A reminder: Please do not block nearby driveways while waiting. Thank you. If you would like to support this ministry, you can make donations online at www.firstumcfortscott.org/onlinegiving

We also need groups to cook and help serve the meal – if you’d be interested in taking a week, please call the church office at 620-223-1950 and we will get you in touch with the coordinator. We are thankful for all the churches and local organizations that assist with this ministry!

 

Shepherd’s Center / Adventures in Learning is back! Open to all who are interested but particularly aimed at retired adults in order to combat loneliness and encourage lifelong learning and fellowship, we host a variety of speakers and classes. This year we will meet from 1 to 4pm on the fourth Friday of each month from April  to September. Mark your calendar for Friday, April 26th. We will hear from Brian Allen on the history of Fort Scott, new Fort Scott Library staff member Jennifer Gum-Fowler -  Library and First UMC’s own Nancy Swanwick on how she got started quilting. Refreshments will be served and there is no cost to attend!  Bring a friend! 

 

June 17th – 21st We are hosting VBS this year. We continue to partner with our friends at First Presbyterian but will host Vacation Bible School in our building this time. Mark your calendar for June 17th – 21st in the evenings and watch for more information in the coming months. Plan to bring your kids or grandkids for a great week of faith and fun rooted in Scripture.

 

 

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