Surprise! He is Risen!

The best surprises catch us off-guard and wow us with their sudden joy. Like a group of much-loved friends and family jumping up from behind the furniture to wish us a 'Happy Birthday!", the best surprises delight us deep in our spirits as it dawns us that we are loved, all is well, and happiness is present. The Easter celebration is really about being surprised and awed by God's mighty power and amazing deeds. We might forget this as we busy ourselves with family meals, egg hunts, and new clothes. But this year, let us remember what a glorious surprise it is to find the tomb empty, Jesus alive, and new life bursting out all around us! Jesus is risen! He is risen, indeed! Happy Easter! Worship Link:

I am Jesus: The Way

Home means many things to many people. It's where we go at the end of the work day. It's where we visit parents and family. Many of us trust that "home is where the heart is." What about your spiritual home? Is there a place where your spirit is most at peace? Is there a place where you reconnect with God and connect with others in your spiritual tribe? Jesus talks about such a place and even offers to show us the way. In fact, Jesus says, "I Am the Way." Worship Link:

I Am Jesus: The Good Shepherd

If you've ever had to find care for your children, your parents, or even your pets, you know how difficult it is to find someone you can trust with the special people (and animals) in your life. Even with the best credentials and reputation, the hired nanny, caregiver, or dog-sitter is not the same as you being there. Will they really love and care for their charges in the same way you do? Will they truly look out for their best interests? Will they put the needs of your loved one above their own? What if there's a crisis, someone is hurt, or a situation becomes threatening? Can anyone else really love them like you do? But what about when we ourselves need love and care? Who can we trust to prioritize our best interests and put our needs above their own when we're hurting, when chaos breaks out, or when life seems uncertain? In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, "I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own and my own know me. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." Jesus knows us and loves us like no one else can. There's no need to be afraid or feel like you have to go it alone. Jesus is with you caring for you and guarding you, just like a good shepherd. Worship Link:

I Am Jesus: The Gate

As humans, we like to think we are clever and capable of handling our own business, making good decisions, and crafting our own fulfilling existence. It's probably closer to the truth to say that we get it wrong as often as we get it right; that we don't very often even know what we want; and that we make lots of mistakes as we seek to build a meaningful life. Is there a better way to do it, this thing called life, than meandering and making it up as we go? It might be helpful to have someone to guide, guard, and direct us. Jesus says he is just that person when he says, "I AM the Gate." Worship Link:

I Am Jesus, The Bread of Life

The very aroma of something warm and delicious can make us hungry. Soup simmering on the stove on a cold winter day... steak on the grill on a Saturday afternoon... fresh bread baking... And that first taste does more than stop the grumbling in our stomachs, it feeds our very souls. We call food that satisfies both body and spirit "comfort food." But we also have longings and desires that even comfort food can't satisfy. Our deepest hungers need something more than dad's mac and cheese or grandma's spice cake. In the Gospel of John, Jesus gives us seven different pictures of who he is. Jesus says, "I am... the Light of the World. I am... the Vine, the Way, the Good Shepherd, the Resurrection and the Life." He also says, "I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me will never be hungry..." It's Jesus that fully and finally satisfies our hungry hearts - today and always. Worship Link:

I Am Jesus: The True Vine

We all have images in our minds of who Jesus is... maybe from a picture we saw on the wall in grandma's house, from a child's storybook, or from cultural experiences like movies and TV. But who does Jesus say that he is? And who does he say we are in relation to him? Who we are connected to has a strong influence on who we are. We find that our purpose and identity is tied up in who we spend time with. Drawing on the common agricultural image of his day, the grapevine, Jesus tells us who he is. He also challenges us to discover our identity and purpose in that image, as well. Worship Link:

I Am Jesus: Light of the World

Many of us have images in our minds of who Jesus is... maybe from a picture we saw on the wall in grandma's house, from a child's story book, or from a song we used to sing in church. And depending on the era in which we grew up, we might remember the Jesus depicted in the "Jesus" movie of the late 1970's, or the rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar," or Mel Gibson's "The Passion of Christ." It may be that our only image of Jesus is from vague cultural references or social media memes. But who does Jesus say that he is? In the Gospel of John, Jesus said, "I am... the light of the world, whoever walks with me will never walk in darkness." It's nice to know that in the dark, scary moments of life, we have One with us to light the way! Worship Link:

The Grudge: Forgiving Yourself

The old wartime tune, "Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag and Smile, Smile, Smile" makes it sound like it's very easy to pack away your problems, guilt, shame, and anger and just... smile. In reality, we know that the problems, burdens, and worries of life cling to us, and we tend to carry them with us. Old hurts, failed relationships, lost jobs - the things we'd rather forget - seem to be those things that haunt us most tenaciously. What would it feel like to truly ditch those burdens and live more freely into a hopeful, possibility-laden future? With Jesus it's possible. Worship Link:

The Grudge: Forgiving God

Sometimes resentment, anger, and grudges begin because someone didn't meet our expectations. The new coworker never pulled their weight - and you suffered for it! Your new friend just hasn't been there for you. You are writing them off - you won't be burned again! It's one thing to hold a grudge against another person and arrange our lives to minimize our interaction with those people. But what if it's God who doesn't meet our expectations? What if it's God who has let us down? What do we do with our grudges and anger toward God? We can walk away from that relationship, too. But God is open to another strategy. Are you? Forgiving is hard, and forgiving God is harder. But a little deeper understanding of who God is might go a long way in restoring that relationship. Worship Link:

The Grudge: Betrayed!

No one gets through this life unscathed. Whether it has been small slights by thoughtless friends, or deep betrayals by those dearest to us, we all carry scars of past hurts. Enough of these kinds of hurts can leave us calloused, bitter, and resentful. The burden of carrying these grudges becomes an everyday reality. But there is another way. You have the power to let go of the pain that you carry with you. It's as easy as... forgiving. Doesn't sound so easy? With Jesus, even freedom from grudges is possible... Worship Link:

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