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Freedom!

Central,

The image in this CHRIST CONNECT is Matthias von Grünewald's astonishing Crucifixion. This painting, from the year 1515, takes liberties with chronology, as Von Grünewald depicts John the Baptist standing to Jesus' left - even though we all know John had been dead for a couple of years before Jesus was crucified!

But theologically, and certainly in God's heart, John was there, just as you and I can be there. I love John's long, bony index finger, pointing up at Jesus. I know "it's not polite to point," but if you're on the street and a stranger points up, you'll look. And in your own life, for those who know you, work with you or love you, you point to something. If you're not sure what that is, just ask them.

The great theologian Karl Barth hung a reproduction of this painting above his desk to remind him of the depth of God's saving love for us. He also thought about John's pointing, and often said, "I want to be that finger." Do you point to Christ? What is there in your life, your habits, your activities, your schedule, your way of listening, talking and caring that points to Christ?

Tomorrow we celebrate July 4th as a nation! We celebrate our freedom and are humbled and grateful for those who have laid down their lives for our freedoms. On Sunday we will gather for worship and have a time of remembrance for those have served our nation in such a manner. It is good for us to pause and consider the great cost of our freedom. It also can help us understand the great cost for our eternal freedom which surpasses the world of five senses.

This Sunday we gather around Jesus as the MESSENGER OF THE COVENANT! I encourage you to do five things to help you prepare for our worship;

Take some time and meditate on Grunewald’s painting of the Crucifixion. John points to the one who is greater than himself. Who is Jesus to you when you meditate on the crucifixion?

  1. Read Malachi 3:1-7. “The MESSENGER OF THE COVENANT in whom you delight – indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.” Pay particular attention to how you answer the question in verse 7.
  2. Read Hebrews 1:1-3. Can you identify who Jesus is as the MESSENGER OF THE COVENANT? On Sunday we will reflect on at least 8 of Jesus’ attributes.
  3. Pray! Pray for our nation! Pray for our community! Pray for our congregation! Pray for yourself that you will receive from Jesus everything he desires to give you!
  4. Save room for a good piece of pie before or after worship. Patriotic pies will be served throughout the morning. Bring a pie to share with your brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.

Enjoy the 4th of July and I hope to worship with many of you on Sunday!

Paul