3-28-23 FUMC updates … Easter Changes Everything

This Sunday will be the 6th and last Sunday of our 2023 Lenten season and as always, we end Lent and begin Holy Week with PALM SUNDAY. For centuries, the church has remembered the first day of Holy Week as Palm Sunday because of the palm branches and cloaks that the people spread out on the road as Jesus entered Jerusalem.  A crowd had gathered, they were gushing with excitement, they had lined the road with a carpet of fresh, green palm branches, and clothing that formed a tapestry of hope that was coming – hope for Israel’s long-awaited Messiah!

But … there was a problem.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the people began rejoicing and praising God, shouting, Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! (Luke 19:38) But the religious leaders, the Pharisees, wanted Jesus to make the crowd stop! This kind of welcome was reserved for Israel’s Savior, not just ANYONE … after all, these were the words they all knew from Psalm 118 that rejoiced in the Lord’s salvation that would come only through the Messiah of God, the one sent to rescue his people. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! (Psalm 118:26)

This crowd in Jerusalem was declaring what the Psalm had prepared them for: Jesus WAS the Messiah! That’s why the Pharisees told Jesus to stop the foolishness: “They think You’re the Messiah who has come to save us!!! Tell them to be quiet!”

But Jesus didn’t stop them!  Instead, He answered them by saying that if the people weren’t saying it then the rocks themselves would cry out because He was the Messiah!  The people BELIEVED He had come to Jerusalem to save them and they were ecstatic!

But … there was a problem.

Yes, the people wanted salvation BUT … they wanted a Messiah to march into the city and do battle with the Roman oppressors! They wanted to be free by force, or by threats, or by plagues … they wanted another exodus, but this time, a leader who would set them free and expel the Romans from their lives once and for all!

But what they got 5 days later was a bloodied, weak man, imprisoned by the Romans, rejected by His own leaders, standing next to one of the worst criminals in town – Barabbas! They wanted a king, not a blasphemer!

But … there was a problem.

The people THOUGHT they wanted a warrior king so their hosannas became shouts to “crucify him!” when they learned He wasn’t that kind of king! And for me, there is something really sad about Palm Sunday because we know the truth, we know He really was the true King!  We feel a deep gloom in the words of the crowd, in their blindness! Until that is, we step back and realize … wait a minute … the problem isn’t THEIR words and THEIR blindness, it’s OURS! And we can only correct our problem by realizing that apart from grace, we might hear our own shouts along with theirs changing from HOSANNA to CRUCIFY HIM!  

But halleluiah! Jesus solved our problem on the cross!

After all, it was not the righteous who Jesus came to save, but the nobodies – the outcasts – the poor – the sinners. Sinners like us …


Chocolate bunnies, decorating eggs, and going to see the Easter bunny are just a few of the fun activities associated with Easter for children. Even those who have never been to church most likely have some sort of positive association with Easter, like Spring Break or Easter egg hunts at the park. Fond memories are a powerful thing, and for those who have drifted away from God, an Easter service could be what sparks a new or renewed relationship with the Lord!  If you were in church with us yesterday, I handed out invitations for everyone to think of ONE person to invite to our Easter services on April 9th … Easter changes everything and your short handwritten invitation might change everything for someone you know!
Blessings of the season,
Pastor Debbie


3-23-23 FUMC Updates

What makes you angry?

Most of us can name the things that push our buttons – things that upset us enough to make us angry.  I have been doing a deep dive into the torture and humiliation of Jesus this week and it makes me angry that normal people, yes normal people, can do extraordinarily horrible things to their fellow human beings!

As we have been working through our lent series on NOBODIES, we have seen a lot of things that made JESUS angry, and one of those things seems to come out of the Brokenness of our Human Condition.  We live in a broken world – kids are hungry, broken families are the norm, mental health crises abound, war is commonplace, and pain and turmoil exist around every corner. And because we live in a fallen world where SIN is the root cause for much of our brokenness … of course, Jesus is angry about it, and we should be too!

We have seen this season that another thing that also makes Jesus angry is putting RULES over people. The religious leaders in Jesus’ day tended to value adherence to the law over caring for people, which is not what God intended. Maybe the best example is Jesus’ healing on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:10, Luke 13:10-17, Luke 6:7, John 9:16) and to the religious leaders, that was a no-no, because the LAW said you were supposed to rest.  The rules God established were supposed to help us love Him and love others and while Jesus NEVER broke God’s laws, He wasn’t afraid to break the manmade rules the religious leaders set up.

Do you know what else I think makes Jesus angry? Self-Righteous Judgmentalism! (Simply speaking … religious phonies!) We love to think we are better than “those people”, or we’re good at saying “I’m not as bad as THEY are!”. Jesus was irritated by people who put on a show that they were righteous when in reality, they were just as messed up as everyone else! Jesus famously called out this hypocrisy by saying that people who washed the outside of the cup should be more concerned with the inside. (Matthew 23:25-32)

Jesus died for ALL people and He wanted all people to have the opportunity to know his love for them! When anything got in the way of an opportunity for a relationship with someone … a rule, a person, or a system, He wasn’t happy!  

But let me say again what many of you have heard me say before: anger is usually an expression of pain or fear in disguise! When Jesus was angry, I can only imagine it was a response to the pain He felt over injustice, unfairness, or fake righteousness. When Jesus single-handedly shut down temple commerce by upending the tables of the merchants who had lost focus on the purpose of God’s house, how do YOU think Jesus was feeling? What do you think was really on His mind?

Let us name the fear or pain that causes our anger so we can be more loving as Jesus wants us to be!

In Christ Alone,

Pastor Debbie