News and notes from our pastor
Since the last newsletter, three of our members have entered God’s Kingdom: Lois Gebeline, on Dec. 4 (our sympathy to her daughter, Janet Sims, and her family); Bob Peterson, on Jan. 1 (our sympathy to his daughter Amy and her family); and Jeanette Palmer on Jan. 21 (our sympathy to her granddaughter Jessie Pizarro and her family).
Sympathy and prayers also for Sara and Gary Keedy and their family on the passing of her mother, Joanne Westermaier, and to Connie Harley, Audra Bonfiglio, and their family on the passing of Connie’s father, Bill Abraham.
Get well wishes are sent to Gary Keedy, who had a stroke several weeks ago; to Dick Shaw, Carol Martino and Pat Wilkins, who all had bad falls recently; and continued healing prayers for Jim Golding and Fran Lambert, as well as all the others on our weekly prayer list!
Feb 4: Who Had the Last Laugh?
Feb 11: After Everest (Transfiguration Sunday)
Feb 14: Ash Wednesday Taize service
Feb 18: Pilate’s Questions: Are You the King of the Jews? (Communion)
Feb 25: Pilate’s Questions: What Have You Done?
In the year 221 BC, Qin Shihuang became the first emperor of a united China by unifying the various Chinese states that had been at war for more than two centuries.
Once in power, he did two things: He established a widespread and organized administration through which to govern, and he began to build a huge underground mausoleum.
You see, Emperor Qin believed that in the afterlife he would still be an emperor, and he needed people to serve and support him in the next world.
So he had laborers create a huge army of terra-cotta figures – officers, infantrymen, archers, horses with saddles, government officials -- even musicians and other entertainers – to provide for him in the afterlife.
He even had weapons, musical instruments and chariots in this tomb. When he died in 206 BC, he was ready. Or so he thought!
It wasn’t until 1974 that some Chinese farmers, plowing a field, discovered pieces of pottery. Thus began one of the most important archaeological digs in history.
Samples of the artifacts that were unearthed are on display at the Franklin Institute. Dottie and I saw this exhibit right after Christmas.
As incredible as this underground tomb was, it did get me to thinking about the afterlife.
We don’t need soldiers and archers and chariots and the like. We don’t need a vast underground tomb. We don’t need all sorts of artifacts.
Oh, and, emperor or not, we won’t rule in the afterlife – that’s God’s job. We just get to enjoy it and all the glories He offers us.
And while Emperor Qin made many preparations, the only preparations we need to make are the spiritual ones, which is what Lent, which begins on Feb. 14, is all about.
Lent is about getting our souls in shape, restoring our relationships with God, seeking His direction and guidance in all things, and discovering just how He intends to use us in this life before we meet up with Him in the next one.
The worship we will bring to Him, the time we take to study His word, the prayers we lift up to Him, and anything else we do during these holy weeks to get closer to God will be all the preparation we need for the afterlife.
As we approach Lent, ask yourselves these questions:
How much do I trust Jesus? Do I show it? Have I opened my soul to Him completely?
Do I confess my sins to Him regularly and not just when I think about it?
Do I treat other people the way He would want me to?
What am I doing to express in my life the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ to others?
Am I relying on His grace and His grace alone?
Yes, that is a challenge. But it’s a lot more effective than creating an army of terra-cotta warriors!
In Christ, John