Sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ

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I’ve always enjoyed sharing Good News with other people.

Good news can bring a smile to people’s faces and it can help people to see that life’s still good in tough times. Good news encourages people, builds people up, and brings comfort to those who are struggling. And yet, America’s filled with more and more people who do not want to hear the message of Good News that Christians bring to the world. America is filled with many people who don’t want to have anything do to with the Church. And that is a harsh reality that we face in:  “Sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ”

The Temple of Jerusalem was divided into three distinct parts in the time of Jesus. There was a “Holy of Holies” – reserved for the High Priest. There was an area surrounding the “Holy of Holies” where the Jews could worship. And then, there was an outside area that existed because, according to Isaiah 56:7, the Temple in Jerusalem was originally built to be a “house of prayer for all people.” People who weren’t Jewish were still welcome in the Temple and they could worship in this outside area. But a problem was created when the Jews began to use this “outside area” as a place to sell animals and to exchange coins. And, when Jesus arrived at the Temple, He was horrified by the fact that the “business as usual” in the Temple was interfering with the Temple’s ability to be the “house of prayer for all people.”

We have a life-giving message of Good News and a wonderful message of God’s love and embrace to share with the world; but, sometimes, our “business as usual” in the Church can keep us from being Christ’s Church for all people. The Good News of Jesus Christ can become hidden when people in the Church aren’t living well with each other, and that’s why many people don’t want to have anything to do with the Church. The Good News of God’s welcome and embrace can become hidden when “the way that we want people to do things” becomes more important than the fact that we want people to be a part of what God’s doing in our midst. The Good News of God’s forgiveness can become hidden when Christians refuse to forgive each other and release the things in life that have hurt them. The Good News of Jesus Christ can become veiled in a cloud when our “business as usual” in the Church becomes more important than what we are doing to proclaim God’s love and embrace.

When Jesus got to the Temple, He found people doing what people had always done at the Temple during Passover. They were selling animals. They were selling sacrificial doves to the poor. They were exchanging Roman coins for coins that could be used in the Temple. And, as they did their “business as usual,” the part of the Temple in Jerusalem that was designed to be a place where people who weren’t Jewish could gather for worship disappeared and the Temple began to lose a sense of being a “house of prayer for all people.”

And that’s something that we need to think about in the Church today.

How does our “business as usual” interfere with our ability to share the Good News of Jesus Christ in the world today? How does our “business as usual” create a barrier that keeps people from experiencing God’s presence in our houses of worship today? How does our “business as usual” keep people from more-fully participating in ministry, and using gifts and talents to glorify God?

Perhaps this Lent, as the Living Christ continues to move in our midst, we can hear God’s call to move past our “business as usual” in the Church, so that all of God’s people will be able to more deeply sense that the place where we worship is a “house of prayer for all people” where all who gather can experience God’s presence and hear a word of Good News.

 

Read Through the Bible – Week 23

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“Read Through the Bible” has been created to help you to read the entire Bible over the course of one, short year! We hope that you’ve been traveling with us, but want you to know that you’re free to jump into God’s Word and read along with us at any time! And, if you miss a day or two (or even a week) along the way, it’s not a big deal. Don’t worry about what you’ve missed! Just jump back into the schedule – knowing that other people all around the world are reading the same passage that you are.

This week, we’re going to tackle an entire book of the Bible named Lamentations.

Lamentations is a book that was written by a person with a broken heart. The writer had most certainly witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem and its aftermath. We can see the author moving back and forth between horrifying confessions of sin and appeals for the kinds of help that can only come from God.

Lamentations is written in an “acrostic” style. Chapters 1, 2, and 4 contain twenty-two verses – corresponding to the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. In the original Hebrew text, each of these verses begin with a different Hebrew letter – and all of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet are used in order. Chapter 3 is written in the same way and consists of three blocks of twenty-two verses; however, even though Chapter 5 of the book of Lamentations returns to the twenty-two verse pattern, no acrostic is present.

We don’t often experience a genuine lament in the 21st Century. However, the Jews use the book of Lamentations to mourn the destruction of Jerusalem to this very day.

Here are next week’s readings:

Sunday: Galatians 4-6 – Monday: Exodus 37-40 – Tuesday: 1 Kings 5-9 – Wednesday: Psalms 66-68 – Thursday: Proverbs 2-3 – Friday: Lamentations – Saturday: Luke 9-10

Blessings!