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What's your ultimate goal in life?

Central,

How do you prepare for the most important week of your life? This is the question that I am considering as I begin to plan and pray for Holy Week. As we gather this coming Sunday we prepare ourselves for the most important week in the history of humanity. We call it Holy Week. How will we gather on Sunday? On one hand we gather in the spirit of Palm Sunday: joy, excitement, celebration, unbridled enthusiasm and eager anticipation. We shout and sing “Hosanna”! On the other hand we gather in the spirit of Passion Sunday: Contemplation, reflection, solemnity, somberness and meditation.

At each service we will begin with joy and excitement and then transition into reflection and quietness. We will end with a time of contemplation where people are invited to come forward for the anointing of oil. Sonja, Ryan and I will host anointing stations and as we anoint with oil we will declare the words “May you know Christ and the power of his resurrection and share in his sufferings by becoming like him in his death.” These words come from Philippians 3:10 where Paul writes, “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”

What’s your ultimate goal in life? Why do you do what you do? What makes you tick? What keeps getting you out of bed in the mornings? In verse 10, we discover Paul’s ultimate goal in life: he wanted to know Christ! This “knowing” that Paul speaks about isn’t just a head knowledge about Christ and learning more facts about him, but rather it is one of the most intimate words he could have used expressing a deep union with Christ. Do you know Christ with increasing intimacy?

What does knowing Christ entail? Paul teaches us it involves two things: knowing the power of his resurrection and sharing in his sufferings.

1) The power of his resurrection. This isn’t just a future power we will one day experience, but there is a “present-ness” to it; it’s a power at work in the life of the believer today! His power brought us from death to life when we repented, his power is changing us currently, and one day his resurrection power will raise us to life after death. Praise be to God for his resurrection power that we currently taste and will one day taste more fully!

2) The sharing of his sufferings. It’s funny how quickly suffering can be skipped over by the Western Church, but was such a big part of Jesus and the apostles’ teaching. Often Christianity can become triumphalistic in regards to the resurrection and scoff at suffering, but Paul won’t allow us to do this. Instead, Paul teaches us that the resurrection gives us a new lens with which to look at suffering. In the same way that suffering was not the end for Christ, so suffering is not the end for the Christian! For those who are found in Christ, Christ and his resurrection will always have the last word. Suffering becomes a mean by which God shapes his life in us; suffering is never purposeless for the Christian!

On behalf of Sonja, Ryan, Kaycee, Kirsten and Jason, I hope many of you will join us for our Holy Week Journey which begins this coming Palm/Passion Sunday!

Paul