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“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Colossians 3:12-14

By Pastoral Apprentice Yong Zhou

During this Holy Week, we have been talking about ‘putting away’. ‘Putting away’ is about what not to do. Today we are learning what it means to ‘put on’, which is about what to do. In real life, it’s important for us to learn both the negative (‘put away’) and the positive (‘put on’).

When we think of what ‘put on’ means, we usually think of putting on clothing. But in today’s passage – Colossians 3:12-14 – we are going to talk about putting on certain character qualities.

But first it’s important that we do this as God’s chosen ones. As Christians, we often try to put on the imperatives without the indicatives. ‘Indicative’ refers to who we are already in Christ. I know it is a difficult concept for us to remember the indicative because we are by nature Pharisees. We want to prove to God and others that we are competent and great at something, therefore we put on the imperatives without the indicatives. This happens very often to Christians. Colossians 3:12-14 gives us imperatives, but only after reminding us of the indicatives. The order matters.

Christians are called to put on as God’s chosen ones. God’s chosen ones, not just chosen ones. When we think of chosen ones, we usually think of LeBron James, the CHOSEN ONE. Or ‘chosen one’ means status and power. However, God’s chosen ones means that God has chosen us to be with him. It’s not a matter of our own work, but the completely free will of God. No one chooses to be a Christian until God has first chosen him or her. It’s 100% free grace. This is such a humbling truth because we can never boast to God of how great we are and how much we have earned his favor.

Because we have been chosen, we have also been made holy and are beloved by God. Once we have truly understood these indicatives, then we are finally able to live the imperatives. Because God has chosen us and made us his holy and beloved children, now we can practice compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

All of us struggle to live a compassionate life, a life of kindness, a humble life, a meek life, and a patient life. Some of us may struggle more with one or the other. Just pick one or a few that you are struggling with and ask yourself why you are not living this way. Why are you not living a loving life? Why are you not living a humble life? Why are you always so impatient?

The heart issue in your struggle is a matter of the indicative and not the imperative. You must re-orient your heart to what it means to be and live as God’s chosen, holy, and beloved one. Once your heart re-orients back to these indicatives, then finally are you able to practice compassion, humility, meekness, and patience. For example, the real solution to impatience with your spouse, kids, and annoying people is not being more patience towards them but to re-orient your heart back to being God’s chosen, holy, and beloved one. Therefore, when your heart is re-oriented back to these truths, then you are more willing to be patient toward your spouse, kids, and annoying people. You can apply this to compassion, kindness, humility, and meekness.

Similarly, because we are God’s chosen ones, then we can bear with one another. It is extremely difficult to bear with one another because we are so different in socio-economic status, life stage, education, personality, hobbies, and other preferences. We rub one another the wrong way at times. It is tough to bear with one another. We are all sinners. However, as a church, we are called to bear with one another. What are some ways you have struggled to bear with someone else in the body? What are some ways that you have succeeded in bearing with one another?

It’s not enough for us to just bear with one another, but we also have to forgive each other. In order for us to forgive one another, we have to remember God’s forgiveness of us. What are some ways that you have failed to forgive your brothers/sisters in Christ or other people? Why is it difficult to forgive others? The main reason why we don’t forgive others is because they have sinned against us. And you want retribution on that person. However, that’s not true forgiveness. True forgiveness of someone is really understanding the ultimate forgiveness that we have in God. Forgiven people forgive.

Finally, as God’s chosen, holy, and beloved ones, we are called to put on love. What a glorious word – ‘love’! This love is supernatural, not natural. As God’s beloved ones we are called to live out the love of God to others. Is the love of God the ultimate source of your life? Is your life dominated by the love God? Oh may the love of God dominate your whole life. Beloved saints of IBC, I pray for you and plead with you today to live as God’s chosen ones.

“So put away… slander…”

1 Peter 2:1e

By Pastoral Apprentice Michael Wang

The 2020 California Wildfires were the deadliest the state has ever seen. Over the course of 7 months, over 9,000 fires set ablaze 4.5 million acres of land. In a forest, the air can reach temperatures up to 1,470 °F and can spread as fast as you can run. If you’ve seen any of the videos it’s truly terrifying. A giant fireball in the distance, shining brightly, consuming everything in its path. There are tragic videos of people driving through a burning street, trying their best to drive out of harm’s way, packing their cars to the brim because they won’t have a house tomorrow. Fire fighters have bravely fought against these dangerous forces of nature, and some have even lost their lives. All that’s needed to start one of these fires is a small spark.

Even if you’re not an arsonist, you may be starting fires that you are not aware of. The Bible describes a deadly fire started not by matches, but by the words that come out of our mouths. James 3:5b-6 says: “See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.” As terrifying as a forest fire is, it is nothing compared to the fire from hell that you can unleash on your brothers and sisters with your tongue.

One of the many ways we hurt one another is through slander. Slander is any act of speaking negatively against someone else without the intention of loving them. You might be wondering, “What’s the big deal? Everyone has a person in their lives that they can’t stand. You have no idea what he/she is like! What’s wrong with venting about him/her to your friends? What I’m saying is all true!”

More often than not, however, the motive we have is not to love this person, but to speak out of our impatience and a desire for others to validate our feelings toward the people we slander. Even if we don’t intend to, the person hearing the slander will inevitably be influenced by what you say to view the person being slandered in a negative light. Even if what we’re saying is true, if the purpose is not to build up and give grace to those who hear (Eph. 4:29), it is sin.

This is a serious sin that breaks up the body of Christ. I know a church that had two members who experienced a bad break up. The ex-boyfriend and ex-girlfriend spread gossip about one another and quickly formed factions within the church who wouldn’t sit next to one another. The elders got involved and told them: “You are destroying the church!”

Perhaps the one we sin against the most is not one another, but against God, who sent his Son and paid the infinite debt of sin that we owed. How strange is it for us, who have been forgiven much, to yet withhold a small forgiveness from others and instead choose to slander them?! We scorn him, who redeemed us for good works, when we choose to hold a grudge against others, and seek to destroy them with our words.

But praise be to God in that even though we have slandered others, he still holds his hands out ready to forgive us! There is no sin too great that he cannot forgive, and he paid for all our sins past, present, and future with his death on the Cross. And he lives again and gives us new life and even makes us co-heirs to the kingdom of God!

So we are no longer slaves to slander, but slaves to Jesus. We can obey God with our tongues – no matter how hard it seems, no matter how impossible it feels – because his Spirit is working in us! Ephesians 4:32 says: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Only when we are shaken by God’s radical forgiveness for us can we begin to follow Christ by forgiving others and putting off slander.

So next time you feel the temptation to say nasty things about someone behind her back, remember your sin before God and how he freely forgave you and does not slander you, but presents you before God holy and blameless (Col. 1:22). May you do the same to one another.

“So put away… envy…”

1 Peter 2:1d

By Pastoral Apprentice Di

I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed that babies don’t need to be taught to grab others’ toys. I can remember how envious I was as a child when I saw my classmate showing off his new pencil case. This kind of envy does not decrease as I get older, but grows more and more. I envy others who have good jobs, good cars, and so on. Envy is one of the weaknesses of human nature.

When someone else has something I don’t have or if others also have what I have, discontent and greed arise in my heart. This is a manifestation of envy. In reality, envy is easily underestimated as a harmless personal emotion, but it is accompanied by other negative emotions such as resentment, hurt, and anger. If you let this emotion go, it can have serious consequences. Not only will you hurt yourself, but also others. We can even see many cases of murder in this world because of envy.

The Bible says, “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot” (Prov. 14:30). It tells us that envy is a serious sin. “I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:21). We can find many examples of envy in the Bible, such as when the Philistines envied Isaac (Gen. 26:12-14), Leah and Rachel envied each other (Gen. 29:30 – 30:1), and Joseph was envied by his brothers (Gen. 37:6-11, Acts 7:9). The chief priests handed Jesus over to the Roman governor because of envy (Mt. 27:18, Mk. 15:10). Envy rises up from deep within the sinful human heart (cf. Mk. 7:22). All of these verses remind us not to tolerate envy, but to resist it.

“We ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another” (Tit. 3:3). Perhaps as Christians we think we will not commit the same sins as non-Christians. But because of the old self, we are still tempted to envy. Yes, maybe we won’t envy others who have nice cars and houses. But could we be equally envious in the church of those who are more gifted than ourselves? Why does s/he get more recognition for leading worship, while I feel I am doing better than s/he? Why does s/he get more praise than I do for doing the same ministry? Don’t forget that Satan will not miss an opportunity to tempt us to sin in any way he can.

An envious person does not know how to be thankful because s/he thinks s/he deserves more. An envious person does not truly know how to love another because envy breeds hate. To put away envy, Paul tells us what we should do. First, ask for humility. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Ph. 2:3). Second, ask for love. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant” (1Cor. 13:4). Paul reminds us that we are members of one another in Christ, and that each member has a unique function that is irreplaceable (1Cor. 12:27-30). If we have a humble attitude and compensate for each other’s shortcomings with love, envy will dissipate.

In these two respects, Jesus Christ is the best example for us. And the humility and love of Jesus Christ reached its highest peak on the Cross. “Being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Ph. 2:8) and “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

We cannot put away envy by our own willpower, but only by letting the humility and love of Jesus Christ fill us so that there is no place for envy in our hearts. Let us meditate during this week on the fact that Jesus Christ paid for our sins with his life and rose again three days later. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

“So put away… hypocrisy…”

1 Peter 2:1c

By Pastoral Apprentice Tim Easterday

If you’ve ever seen a play or a drama, you can appreciate the ability of the actors to walk, talk, and even think like the character they’re seeking to portray. It’s really pretty impressive how certain actors can play a part so well that an audience can forget who the actor actually is.

This was made clear to me in high school when our drama club performed Shrek: The Musical. The student who got the lead role as the foul-speaking and resentful ogre, Shrek, turned out to be my friend, Henry – one of the nicest and most caring guys I know. As I watched the performance, Henry embodied his character with such resolve and enthusiasm (and a heavy Scottish accent) that I forgot the real identity of my friend. All that I perceived was an angry, territorial, green beast. You see: his public impression was completely at odds with his real identity and demeanor. And for an actor, that’s a good thing.

While the ability to pretend is a positive attribute on a stage, Scripture always discusses this idea negatively. The word “hypocrisy” that we find in 1 Peter 2:1 was used in the first century to indicate the vocation of “play-acting” or putting on an outward show. Hypocrisy (“role-playing”) is universally described in Scripture as uncharacteristic of God’s people and inconsistent with the character of Christ.

You may recall one of Jesus’ most scathing and frequent rebukes to the Pharisees in the Gospels: “You hypocrites!” Hypocrisy was said to be the “yeast of the Pharisees” (Lk. 12:1). And when Jesus gives a warning in Matthew 23 about the scribes and Pharisees, he calls them hypocrites seven times, spelling out the real issue: “On the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (v. 28). This is the crux of hypocrisy: an outward-focused way of living that is preoccupied with pleasing people and marked by a heart issue. Jesus saw right through the ‘show’ and exposed the inward problem.

It’s really easy to ‘fake it’ or ‘go through the motions’. I can catch myself praying a prayer that’s meant to be directed toward God, but in reality my heart is more concerned about what others hear than the God who hears. There are often days when I’m frustrated, confused, or simply annoyed. On those days when someone asks, “How are you?” I can forego an honest answer and instead respond with, “I’m good. We’re good. It’s all good.” Even activities like gathering on Sundays with the church, singing praise songs, and partaking of the Lord’s Table can be done from a place of drudgery and mere obligation in my hardened heart.

The expectations of pleasing other people as well as the inward disconnect between heart and action always results in vain worship. “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Mk. 7:6). Yet whatever our reason for play-acting, God has made provision for our misplaced motivations.

When we look at God’s Word, we see a clear priority for the inward heart. In the Old Testament, God’s people were called not merely to a life of law-keeping, but to a life of love for God and others (e.g. Lev. 19:18; Dt. 6:5-6). In their rebellion, God made a promise to his people, saying, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek. 36:26). And ultimately, God pours out his love in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ who indwells us and makes us God’s children (Rom. 5:5; Gal. 4:6). This work is accomplished definitively in the person and work of Jesus Christ, in whose death and resurrection we participate.

So on days when you’re more bothered by the sin of others than by your own sin – quick to accuse and slow to repent – Christ calls you to come to him for the log to be removed and genuine love to be produced (Mt. 7:4-5). When you feel the weight of trying to be perfect and pretend, Christ is the Light in the darkness who invites you to walk with him and confess your need (1Jn. 1:7-9). And when you’re ready to give up on reading God’s Word or quit the media fast because it seems pointless, the love of God and the endurance of Christ are where the Lord “directs your heart” (1Thess. 3:5).

This heart transformation is the foundation from which we live our lives. After all, the Spirit of God who lives in us is the One who produces fruit (Gal. 5:22-23). The fruit of the Spirit isn’t manufactured or fabricated (imagine someone trying to glue an apple to an apple tree, or staple a grape to a vine…), and therefore the Spirit-led and heart-softened lifestyle is not a role to play. At the end of the day, we can put away hypocrisy as we live fully into our identity in Christ – not as an actor, but as a child of God.

Search me, God, and know my heart;

Test me and know my concerns.

See if there is any offensive way in me;

Lead me in the everlasting way.

Ps. 139:23-24

Lord, as I do this task [working, changing a diaper, praying, etc…], reveal why I am doing this. Expose the attitude of my heart. And may everything I do, in word and deed, be done in the name of the Lord Jesus.

“So put away… all deceit…”

1 Peter 2:1b

By Pastor Theo Siu

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of truth lately. I remember listening to a lecture by a college professor addressing some new students at the beginning of a fresh semester of coursework. In the midst of a busy semester, this professor took the time to teach his students a valuable lesson. “Don’t cheat!” he said. “You’ll hear a lot of reasons for this kind of principle. ‘You’re disrespecting your classmates who work hard, you won’t get a job if you don’t know the material, the professor of your class won’t like you if you do this.’ All of these things may or may not be true, but none of them are really great reasons why you shouldn’t cheat. The real reason is that if you start this early in your academic career to lie and cheat, you will inevitably be cheating for the rest of your time in university. Life only gets harder from here, and if you don’t develop the character necessary for living in light of the truth now, you’ll always be living in a lie.”

I can’t stop thinking about this principle. I recognize the impulse to cheat within myself. I know the temptation to lie about who I am in order to look good rather than face the harsh reality of myself and grow. Yet the more we lie, the harder it becomes to live in light of the truth.

Truth is humbling. Confronting the truth de-centers our own opinions and beliefs and forces us to contend with the realities we often don’t like to accept. I think so often many of us have grown accustomed to living within the matrix of delusions and lies that we don’t really see how fractured and contradictory we’ve become over the years.

Instead of admitting our weakness, we lie to others and force ourselves to believe that we are amazing and great because we don’t want the pain of seeing ourselves for who we really are. Instead of telling the truth about our struggles, we cheat and hide our messes from others, putting on a happy attitude, while at the same time degrading others who just can’t seem to hide and lie as well as we can.

It’s hard to live according to the truth. But the more I live and struggle to find my way in life, the more I’m convinced that it is far more painful to remain enslaved to a lie than to endure the burning, purifying light of reality.

In 1 Peter 1, the Apostle Peter admonishes Christians to live according to the truth revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Peter makes bold exhortations to Christians to “not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance” and “[h]aving purified your soul by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (1Pe. 1:14, 22). For the Apostle, the Cross of Christ reveals something fundamentally true of all of us that we, blinded by our own sin, could not come to on our own.

First, the Cross of Christ reveals the true depths of our enslavement to sin. It’s a bit of a crazy thought to think about. Humanity isn’t simply a bit off balanced or a little unstable. As useful as self-help, therapy, politics, and structured living may be, ultimately the Cross reveals that none of these are sufficient to break the stronghold of lies over us. No, it took the death of the Son of God himself to set us free. What is justice? What is holiness? What is true love? Friend, you cannot see any of this aright until you see this displayed in the crucifixion of Christ. Only when we grasp the height, breadth, and depth of the mystery of Christ crucified for the satisfaction of divine justice and redemption of sinners can we truly see how far we are from the truth.

But secondly, the Cross of Christ reveals not only the depths of our depravity, it also displays powerfully the mystery of the divine character of God. He is far more holy than any of us could ever have imagined, and he is far more loving than any of us could have dreamed. He sent his Son to die for us. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things” (Rom. 8:32). The good news of Jesus Christ and his life, death, and resurrection is that in Christ God has made all the provisions necessary for us, lost as we are in our own lies, to live in the true light of his kingdom.

It is because of the grandeur of this news that Peter exhorts his people to put off the deceit of this world, to no longer walk in our former ignorance. We’re not that great. We don’t have the power to live coherently in light of the truth on our own. But God is good. In Christ, God has shown himself to be for his people. He knows our weakness. He has seen our distress. And he has made all the provisions necessary for those who put on Christ to walk in his holiness and truth. Therefore, “[c]onduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1Pe. 1:17).

“So put away all malice…”

1 Peter 2:1a

By Pastoral Apprentice John Frick

Malice is the inward longing for something bad to happen to someone else, and even the actions of following through with those thoughts that can take form in slandering them, hurting someone physically, or publicly shaming them.

Those who opposed Christ were driven by malice (Mt. 22:18), yet such feelings were completely absent from him and should also now be from us.

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness… (1Pe. 2:21-24).

You may be thinking that you are not nearly as malicious or evil as the people who put Christ on the Cross. But we are all prone to sin and Christ died for all of us because we could never atone for ourselves.

And now Christ our Lord desires us not to be malicious, but instead “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21). However, if putting away malice (or any sin for that matter) was so easy, Peter would not be exhorting and reminding believers to do it and Christ would not have had to take our punishment on the Cross.

In our own lives we can so easily be entangled by malice towards the people we see making racist statements, shooting up a store, or even having a different political opinion. As Christians we should be outraged and mourn because of those who commit blatantly sinful acts against others or ourselves, but we must not repay evil for evil. Justice is ultimately meant to be left to God and not taken into our hands. We should call the cops and use the legal system at our disposal, but it doesn’t mean that our first response or knee jerk reaction should be wishing for the worst and hardest punishment on all who sin against us. We should desire justice to be carried out in our world today, but we must pursue justice the way Christ has laid it out for us.

Christ our Lord shows us so clearly in 1 Peter 2:21-24 that we have to take up his disposition and be patient to those who commit wrongs against us. If we begin to enact our own kind of retribution upon them, then we are not truly understanding what Christ means when he says to love our enemies and pray for them (Mt. 5:44).

When it comes to our context, we are not explicitly tortured like Christ or the Apostles. So then what does putting away malice look like for us?

In our lives it is so easy for us to get frustrated and wish for bad things to happen to the people who “don’t know how to drive,” that manager at work who micromanages, or even that person or family member who yelled at you over something small.

The catch here is that despite all the ways these people may have wronged you or someone else, we are still called not to repay yelling for yelling, micromanaging with snide remarks or slander, or muttering some colorful words under your breath about the other driver. We are called to be patient and understanding with all people (cf. James 1:19-22).

To put off malice must mean to ultimately trust that our heavenly Father will judge the wicked and that it is not our job/role to take vengeance into our own hands. Even if we have been wronged, we are called to be forgiving and patient and longsuffering like our Lord.

Brothers and sisters, during this week let us seek to put off malice by reminding ourselves of Christ’s patience, grace, and forgiveness towards us. As saints the Holy Spirit sanctifies us and works in us, but we must submit ourselves to God’s Word daily in order to put off sin and serve him. Start today by submitting to God’s Word and putting off your malice.

Tomorrow is Easter! A reminder that our Lord is indeed Risen!

There’s a parade at 8:45 AM tomorrow for those who can make it.

We’re also continuing with our Sunday home worship guides. To celebrate the greatest moment of our faith, we have a list of Easter-themed resources for you to take advantage of with your household.*

Here is a Scripture Reading about the very first Resurrection Sunday:

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb.

And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain,

one at the head and one at the feet.

They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord,

and I do not know where they have laid him.”

Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing,

but she did not know that it was Jesus.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”

Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him,

“Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him,

and I will take him away.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).

Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father;

but go to my brothers and say to them,

‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples,

“I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

John 20:11-18

The Spotify Playlist is updated with songs to commemorate the Resurrection of our Lord Christ Jesus.

We have a ‘Sermon of the Week’ by Tim Keller entitled, “Encountering the Risen King.

Finally, another prayer from the Valley of Vision for us to meditate upon and pray through together:

Resurrection

O GOD OF MY EXODUS,

Great was the joy of Israel’s sons,
when Egypt died upon the shore,
Far greater the joy
when the Redeemer’s foe lay crushed
in the dust.
Jesus strides forth as the victor,
conqueror of death, hell, and all opposing
might;
He bursts the bands of death,
tramples the powers of darkness down,
and lives for ever.
He, my gracious surety,
apprehended for payment of my debt,
comes forth from the prison house of the grave
free, and triumphant over sin, Satan, and death.
Show me herein the proof that his vicarious offering
is accepted,
that the claims of justice are satisfied,
that the devil’s sceptre is shivered,
that his wrongful throne is levelled.
Give me the assurance that in Christ I died,
in him I rose,
in his life I live, in his victory I triumph,
in his ascension I shall be glorified.
Adorable Redeemer,
thou who wast lifted up upon a cross
art ascended to highest heaven.
Thou, who as Man of sorrows
wast crowned with thorns,
art now as Lord of life wreathed with glory.
Once, no shame more deep than thine,
no agony more bitter,
no death more cruel.
Now, no exaltation more high,
no life more glorious,
no advocate more effective.
Thou art in the triumph car leading captive
thine enemies behind thee.
What more could be done than thou hast done!
Thy death is my life,
thy resurrection my peace,
thy ascension my hope,
thy prayers my comfort.

Happy Easter! Praying that Christ will reign supreme in our hearts and minds this day.

~ Pastor Theo

* Our latest Immanuel Pastors Podcast is on the topic of worshipping at home and may be an encouragement to you especially during this time of absence from corporate worship.

And he is before all things,

and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church.

He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,

that in everything he might be preeminent.

Colossians 1:17-18

On Sunday (4/12) we’re having an Easter Parade! This is an optional, extra opportunity. We realize that not everyone has a car or can make it. But for those who do and want to participate, we will be lining up in our vehicles along the west side of Laflin, just south of Roosevelt, facing south. Be there by 8:45 AM.

Nobody is to get out of their cars or share rides with people they haven’t been living with. Feel free to decorate your car if you want!

At 8:45 AM crack your window because Pastor Nathan will be yelling out the ancient Easter greeting, “He Is Risen!” You know what to say next.

Then we will slowly circle the roundabout, honking in celebration.

And here is a parade route on Google Maps that you can follow:

Be safe and follow all rules of the road! It’s not important that we all stay together. But use this time to listen to the Spotify playlist and to pray for what you see. Here’s a guided prayer tour of the UIC Area that you can use on Sunday. You can even do it in your mind’s eye from home if you can’t come!

· Turn right onto Roosevelt and as pass The Meeting Place headed east. Look at the senior citizen home (Roosevelt Place) on the SW corner of Loomis and Roosevelt and pray for all the seniors who live there and in our city who are more susceptible to COVID-19…

· Then look to the right and notice the Brooks Homes (the B in ABLA) in the background – low-income CHA housing, almost entirely African-American. 70% of those who die from COVID-19 in Chicago are Black. Pray for the poor throughout the UIC Area and our city…

· As you turn left on Racine and then right on Taylor Street, pray for the restaurants along this strip in Little Italy. Pray for the whole restaurant industry in our city and workers who are affected by this shut-down…

· As you approach Halsted, look to your left and think about UIC – the largest university in Chicagoland… largely empty right now. Pray for the research that happens here and for the gospel to advance on this campus…

· Turn right and head south on Halsted. Then turn left, headed back east, on Roosevelt. As you approach the Canal corridor, pray for the retail industry in our city, that these brick-and-mortar businesses would flourish again. And pray for those who work at grocery stores like Whole Foods and Jewel…

· Turn right and go south on Canal and notice the Pacific Garden Mission with the big cross. Pray for the homeless in our city, and those who are working with them to not grow weary in doing good…

· Get ready to turn right on 18th Street, then do a little right-left jiggety-jog at Halsted, and then keep going westward through this main strip of Pilsen. Pray for the artists, pray for the hipsters, pray for the restaurants, pray for the Mexican community, pray for the immigrants, pray for the Lozano Public Library and the civic institutions of our city…

· You’ll keep going for a while, you’ll cross Ashland and go under the CTA Pink Line. Then as you approach Harrison Park, pray for the Chicago Park District and their programs that mean so much to our city. Pray that kids would be playing on the swings again (see Zechariah 8:5)…

· Then turn right (north) on Damen and go through the long, dark underpass, knowing that there is light at the end of the tunnel (whether God’s common grace to flatten the curve or Christ’s return to remake the earth). Now you’re emerging into the Illinois Medical District. Pray for all the hospitals and other medical institutions here (i.e. Cook County, the VA, Rush, UIC…). Pray for all the patients inside and the healthcare workers putting their lives at risk…

· Make a soft right on Ogden and then another right onto Harrison. Come back east across Ashland, note the Marriott and pray for the hospitality industry…

· Keep going on Harrison and pay attention to Andrew Jackson Language Academy on the left and pray for CPS and all the schools across the city to re-open soon and be places where kids are learning things like how to read, so they can read the Bible (among other things). Pray for teachers…

· Then look to the right just before you get to Racine. That gated community, that’s Westgate Terrace. Pray for the residents there… and all the people of the UIC Area… and Chicago… Illinois… the U.S…. the world… that God would be merciful, not just to stay the plague, but to bring repentance and faith, uniting more people to Christ, so that they would not experience eternal suffering, but have eternal life with our resurrected and returning Lord…

Since we can’t gather for a special Good Friday service, we’ve put together this home guide to do with your family or roommates.

 

You can find the PDF here.

Everyone in our city is sheltering in place. 13% of the country’s workforce is unemployed. And at least 95,000 people have already died in our world from COVID-19, many still in their sins with no further chance to repent…

There’s a spike in hopelessness and a lot of false hopes. Now is most certainly the time to share the sure and good news of what Christ has done to obtain eternal life and his offer to share it with us!

But how can we do that when we can’t interact with people? We get creative.

Pray for outside-the-box opportunities to share the gospel with others and the boldness to seize those opportunities when they arise, even if it’s awkward.

We sent out a mailer to many of our neighbors today that shares the meaning of Easter.

And there’s a social media initiative where Christians are sharing the gospel in 1-2 minute videos, using the hashtag #JesusChangedMyLife. Consider maybe doing this. More info at www.tgc.org/JesusChangedMyLife.

Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again! Let’s get the word out!

From @immanuelchicago on Twitter

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