Introduction to “Homeward Bound” Series

The video linked below is a 20-minute explanation of the upcoming series, and why it is important to us as the people of God. It begins with a less-detailed explanation, however. So if you just want to watch the first few minutes for the setup, feel free to do so.

Lent Daily Devotional: Easter Sunday Prayer

Emptying Power by Amy Persons Parkes

Risen Christ,
with adoration and awe,
we stand before an empty tomb
with thanksgiving and gratitude,
we bow before an empty cross.
Help us to recognize the barren cross and the open tomb
as symbols of your victory over suffering and death.
Grant that we may know the power of your resurrecting love
breathing life into our dying,
sprouting seeds of love within our barren hearts,
and sweeping away the cobwebs
of resignation and apathy in our minds.
Risen One,
show us in the emptiness of our lives,
the fullness of your glory.
Amen.

Lent Daily Devotional: 1 Corinthians 15

Reading: 1 Corinthians 15
“Our Eternal Transformation” by Kaitlin Wernet

After reading the incredible details about Jesus’ ascension, I’m the first to claim my role as the story’s spectator, taking a step back to watch “The Resurrection and the Life” do His thing. Because that’s what you do with a miracle, right? You stare, applaud—maybe even cheer—and retell the tale to your wide-eyed grandchildren. It would seem our place is to stand in awe and wonder at what it might feel like to suddenly spring forward, being catapulted from death into life.

But because His grace toward us was not ineffective, we don’t just marvel at the power of the resurrection; we feel its rumble in our own hearts.

Christ doesn’t want us to be courteous bystanders of His work on the cross. His hope is not for us to watch and wonder what it would be like to be raised by the glory of the Father. He came so that we could join Him and go wading in the resurrection waters with Him.

Christ’s eternal transformation isn’t just a miracle to be proclaimed—it’s a change we get to feel and experience. Because we are joined in His likeness, when He is raised, so are we.

We join Him in defeating death.
We join Him in a heavenly home.
We join Him in grasping grace.
We join Him, and He transforms us.

We can find ourselves there with Christ in His resurrection, actively walking out the newness He purchased for us. He died and returned to life so that we can too. Christ’s resurrection purpose is to make us resurrected people.

If there were ever a reason to cheer, friends, this is most definitely it. May we be resurrected people today, seeing ourselves as we really are: dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

 

 

*Edited for length. Original post by Kaitlin Wernet found at http://shereadstruth.com/2016/04/05/our-eternal-transformation-who-are-we-now/

Lent Daily Devotional: Mark 16

Reading: Mark 16
“The Empty Tomb on Good Friday” by Jeff Christian

We go to the cross knowing how this is going to turn out, knowing that the empty tomb is only days away. No one anymore feels the disappointment and shock of the cross that they felt on that original Good Friday. And that is where Mark 16:1-8 gives us a clear sense of direction, a story about the resurrection of Jesus, even on Good Friday.

Mark originally ended at 16:8 with visitors to the tomb running away, bewildered at what they can only imagine happened to the body of Jesus. Little did they know that the living Jesus would soon give them a brand new mission. But with Mark ending his Gospel with such open-ended uncertainty, it reminds us that both the cross and empty tomb shape our lives of good news in Christ.

We are not mere spectators at the cross. Jesus did not die “for us” in the sense that we are uninvolved recipients. No, Jesus at the cross modeled how we take up our own crosses and die to ourselves. This visit to the empty tomb in Mark 16:1-8 on Good Friday links the death and resurrection of Jesus to that model, not only showing us how to die to ourselves, but how to live the full and abundant life Jesus promised in so many of his teachings, healings, and his very life that continues to this day.

And immediately, we run with the women today from the empty tomb, even on Good Friday, to once again begin this good life in Jesus.

Daily Lent Devotional: Mark 15

Reading: Mark 15
“A Prayer of Lament based on Mark 15” by Lindsay Marolf

Where are you, oh God?
Why does it feel so dark here?
Don’t you remember when triumphal shouts filled the streets?
Don’t you remember when healings happened?
Don’t you remember when sharing a meal together was meaningful?

Well, where are you now, Father?
Where have you gone?
Hour by hour my pain increases.
Hour by hour my strength decreases.
Hour by hour…until at last I am completely drained.

Oh God, where are you?
What wrong have I done?
Nothing seems good anymore.
Food isn’t even an option-
And drink tastes like vinegar.

So where are you, God?
Why have you forsaken me?
Please come back- please don’t leave me hanging.
I feel insulted, laughed at.
I have nothing left to say.

Are you gone now, God?
Did the darkness drive you away?
God… my body can’t take it anymore.
My lips are full of helpless cries.
I have to let go.

And yet…

As I feel torn into two- from top to bottom,
I realize that you are in fact who you said you are.

As I come down from the heights of pain,
I realize it is you who wraps me tightly and lays me down to rest.

As I curl up and am placed in my dark hole,
I realize that you see where I am hidden.

And I realize…

Maybe you yourself were present in the darkness.
Maybe you yourself were also left hanging.

Maybe as I was torn apart,
you were too.

Maybe as I let go,
you let me fall into you – darkness and all.

Maybe as I yelled in anguish about your absence, you heard.
And you stayed near me.

Maybe as I remain and wait in the darkness,
you remain and wait with me.

And maybe, just maybe, you are setting me up for resurrection after all.