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"Only Believe" - Jairus' Story

Summary: Pastor Bryan's Palm Sunday sermon was a dramatic retelling of the Gospel from the perspective of Jairus, who's mentioned in several of the books of the New Testament.

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The story of Jairus and his daughter is told in three of the gospels – Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  And it’s told pretty much just as you’ll hear it in the video below.  The fact that it’s recorded three times, and that his name is mentioned, suggests that he was known to the early church, and had become a follower of Jesus.

Now, there’s nothing in Scripture to suggest that Jairus was there at the cross.  That part of this dramatic retelling was imaginary.  But what if he had been there?  He would have had a very different perspective than the average person standing beside a fresh grave. 

Jairus knew what it was like to have his heart broken by the death of a child.  He knew what it was like to have his dreams crushed by circumstances he couldn’t control.   He knew what it was like to have his faith called into question; to find himself doubting not only the power of prayer, but the very character of God.  Is He really there?  Is He good?  Can He be trusted?

And chances are you’ve come to moments like that, as well.  “There’s something about death that traps you,” this character says.  Death catches us by surprise, and won’t let go.  We don’t know how to escape its haunting presence.  Death is at the heart of all our fears, and disappointments, and doubts.  And it always seems to win. 

But Jairus knew that death didn’t always have the last word.  Jairus knew that you could be afraid, and believe, at the same time.  He knew that you could doubt, and still follow.   

Do you know that?  Are you able to trust God with your dreams, and your doubts, and even death? Because in the end that’s what it’s about.  Not being  good.  Not being religious.  Just trusting God, with everything. 

If Jairus' story resonates with you, or even touches too close to home--I want to encourage you that Jesus meets us--as he did Jairus-- in real, hard life. He meets people in hospital rooms, and graveyards. He doesn't keep to the places where life is tidy.  

One awful, wonderful day changed Jairus’ life.  And one awful, wonderful week changed the course of history.  Will you dare to follow Jesus into this holy week, just as Jairus followed Jesus home that day, not knowing what was going to happen? 

On Easter Sunday – Resurrection Morning, as we celebrate the greatest news the world has ever heard – Jairus’ words are as true and meaningful as the day he first spoke them.

Don’t be afraid.  Only believe. 

First Impressions

Summary: In this "Ask Pastor Ruthie" post, Ruthie Seiders, our Pastor of Next Generation Ministries, offers some advice to parents wondering about the right time to have their kids participate in communion.

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Dear Pastor Ruthie,

Help! I’d like to bring my elementary-school-age kids to church with me, but every time we’ve done it in the past, it’s gone terribly. They’re bored, they squirm, and they end up playing on the iPad by the time the sermon gets going. They don’t have these problems in school! I want them to have a great experience in church with us, to understand what worship is all about, but I just don’t know what to say to them.

And when it comes to communion, I have no idea when the right time to let them “come to the Table” with us is. Can you give us some help!

Sincerely,
Every Church-going Parent Ever

Dear Every,

I can relate to your struggles. I still remember my first impressions of our church worship services as a kid in Maine. One of my first impressions was that it was long and hot. But then, so were the rides to our camp on Little Sebago Lake. But as I paid attention to the route we took, the colors of the houses at every major turn, I realized I had learned the route when it was time for me to drive there by myself without my parents. Likewise, being in church each Sunday, learning the different parts of the service: the welcome, singing, praying, sermon, communion, and baptisms; hearing my dad sing in his deep, gravelly voice; watching the choir members smile as they sang; I learned that each was a part of the journey we were on together as a church family, and it was a path that just seemed natural to me when I became an adult.

But perhaps even more significant than that, my most lasting impression of being in the church worship service, is that I was welcome and known. I can remember where “our pew” was. I always knew where my family sat. In front of Ann and Jim Robertson. Behind Cecil and Alice Priest. Across the aisle from George and Ruby Blake. Mr. Maguire would squeeze my hand so hard when he shook it at the greeting time, I thought he was going to crush my fingers! I watched as adults hugged one another and laughed at the pastor’s bad jokes. The sun streamed in the stained-glass windows in the winter, and cool breezes came in when they were opened in the summer. Our place in the pew was a tradition we observed every Sunday. And it left the impression that I belonged there. These people were my family, my faith parents. And today I am even Facebook friends with Mrs. Robertson who is now in her 90’s!

So, I’m delighted you are asking these questions! The good news is you are not alone! People have recently been asking me, “When is the right time to start taking my children to worship?” “How do I know when my son/daughter is ready to take communion?” “What should I do when they get restless?” “Can children really understand what is going on in the service?”

At Grace Chapel, we want to equip parents, grandparents, foster parents, and yes, faith parents to answer these, and other questions about introducing their growing children to the worshipping family of God. Author, pastor, father, and now grandfather, Mark DeVries writes about bringing children to worship:

“Sitting in worship is like having a regular place to sit at the family dinner table…you know you belong. It is in worship that young Christians, week after week, can offer God praise, confess their sins, hear from God’s word and offer themselves in a deeper way to serve God. It is in worship and through the sacraments [Communion and Baptism] of God’s people that teenagers [and children] gain a sense of their connection to a rich family tradition.”

When we understand, and are committed to why children should be in worship, then it becomes easier to figure out how to help children and parents worship God together in the context of the church worship service. And hopefully we can then give our children warm, positive and lasting impressions of being part of the church family.

On Sunday, April 9, our NextGen Ministry is offering a class called First Impressions: Welcoming Children to Worship and the Table. This class is for parents AND their elementary aged children. We’ll help answer questions like these and others.

This is a great time of the year to hold this class as we enter Holy Week. Children and their families who attend could then come to our Good Friday service on April 14 and take communion together, perhaps even for the first time!

In Deuteronomy 6, Moses gives God’s instructions to the people of Israel as they prepare to enter the Land of Promise. He writes, “Hear O Israel: The Lord our GOD, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your GOD with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children…” Let’s give our children a great First Impression!

 

Blessings to you and your kids,
Pastor Ruthie, a fellow faith parent!

 

Ruthie Seiders
Pastor of Next Generation Ministry

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