From the Pastor's Desk
Celebrations in May
As we enjoy the month of May this year, we
find a wide range of celebrations in which we may, or may not, participate.
As Christians, first on the list
is the continuation of the Easter season. The church calendar includes fifty days of Easter every year. It begins
on Easter and it ends with Pentecost, seven Sundays later. With a late Easter this year, the entire month of May is
included in our Easter celebration.
As Kentuckians, we celebrate a particular kind of flower on the first Saturday
in May. Well, the celebration begins before that day and may continue for five more weeks. I am referring to the
"Run For The Roses" that you may know better as the Kentucky Derby. There is a slightly lesser known race
the day before that allows only fillies to run, the Oaks. It features lilies as the flower for the winner. In
rare years a filly may run in the Derby where there is no discrimination based on sex. For the next two weeks the Derby
winner is king(or queen)-of-the-hill in the racing circles. If he/she wins the Preakness Stakes two weeks later the
attention only intensifies. Three weeks after the Preakness, the Belmont Stakes can close out a Triple Crown run.
Of course, as Kentuckians, the Kentucky Derby is the most important of the three.
As humans (and Americans),
we honor our mothers (and increasingly women in general) on the second Sunday of May. Other than the love of God, there
is supposed to be no stronger love than that of a mother. It does not matter how good or bad, rich or poor, young or
old, or even loving-in-return a person is, a mom still loves her child.
As Americans, we celebrate on the last
Monday of May (traditionally it was May 30) in the memory of military men and women who died in service to our country.
We honor them and thank their families for the sacrifices that have been made in order to keep us free and safe in the world.
These are appropriate words of Jesus recorded in John 15:12-13 "12 This is what I command you: Love each other
as I have loved you. 13 The greatest love people can show is to die for their friends."
Know that it is a month of excitement and love.
PREVIOUS NOTE FROM THE PASTOR
MARY - MARY -- The Women of Easter
Jesus did not just suddenly appear on the cross. He had taken a deliberate
journey to get there. Along the way he had a number of people who were a part of his journey. Most of the characters
we know about, who were with him and who were involved in his ministry, were men. That is what you would expect in a
story recorded some 2000 years ago.
But there were a number of women who also were involved in Jesus' life and
his ministry. Their stories are important. Of these women, three were named Mary, and they played a significant
role in the Easter story.
Mary of Bethany is the woman who Jesus said was preparing him for his burial.
Her sister was Martha. Her brother was Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead. Mary is mentioned three different
times in the Bible. In Luke 10:38-42, Jesus and his disciples were being entertained in her house. This is her
most well known act. Martha was distracted with serving and was very stressed and frustrated that Mary was not helping.
Martha accused Jesus of not caring that she did all the work while Mary sat at His feet. Jesus' response commended Mary
for "choosing the better." He meant that Mary's desire to be near her Lord, and hang onto His every word,
was far more beneficial than running herself ragged with preparations for a meal. Jesus further said that choosing the
better thing, learning about the Lord, would not be taken away from Mary. Her priority in life was Christ. Knowing
Him and being near Him was a choice that will reward her throughout eternity.
A few days before Christ's crucifixion,
mentioned in Matthew 26:1-6, Mark 14:3-9, and John 12:1-8, a meal had been prepared at the home of Simon the leper.
Martha was again serving while Lazarus was at the table with Jesus and the disciples. Mary broke open an alabaster jar
and poured some very expensive perfume on Jesus' head and feet and wiped them with her hair. The disciples chastised
her for wasting the costly perfume. Jesus again defended her, saying that she had used the perfume as a beautiful act
of service to Him, preparing him for his burial. Jesus said she would be remembered through the ages.
the Mother of Jesus, was by Jesus' side from His first breath to His last. We don't know about Mary's physical appearance
or demeanor, but Mary seems to be an ordinary Jewish woman. She cooked, sewed, and cleaned. She prayed, conversed,
and served the needs of her family. Yet, Mary's life was extraordinary. It was a divine gift. God the Father
chose her to be the mother of the Redeemer. God filled her soul with His grace and His presence.
seemed interested in what her son was doing. At the time of Jesus' crucifixion, she was among the group of disciples
who followed Him. As Jesus hung on the cross, His hands and feet pierced, her soul was being pierced by the sword of
grief. God knew Jesus would be crucified and had a plan to use Jesus' suffering. Even though she didn't completely
understand all of this, she remained by His side because of her unconditional love for Him.
was arguably the most important woman disciple. She continues to be one of the most mysterious and controversial figures
in religious history. Many popular depictions of Mary Magdalene detract from her being a true disciple of Christ.
When Mary and the other women, along with the twelve, joined Jesus they were taking a serious risk. Jesus took his ministry
to Herod's territory of Galilee, which was viewed by Herod not only as a challenge but also a threat.
the risk, Mary Magdalene was dedicated to Jesus. Mary, who had been saved from seven demons, bravely supported Jesus
through His darkest hours. She was the first to the tomb, the first to see and hear Jesus after the resurrection, and
the one who proclaimed His glorious resurrection to the others. She was unconditionally committed to Jesus and His ministry.
Each Mary shows us that we do not have to be from a select group of people in order to be a follower of Christ.
All we need is the desire.