Archives for the month of: March, 2018

Holy Week

Today is a special day on my calendar. Holy Thursday falls in the middle of what has been called “The Week That Changed the World.” Between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, it is the day that Christians remember Jesus’ arrest that led to his death the next day, Good Friday.

Palm Sunday

On Palm Sunday we commemorate the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. Surrounded by Multitudes of folks gathered along the road from the Mt. of Olives into the city of Jerusalem. They greeted him as royalty and sang his praises.

Last Supper of Christ Stock Picture

On Holy Thursday Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with His disciples. This meal would be the last time Jesus would spend with his disciples and he tells them what is to happen.

At The Last Supper, “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28)

Good Friday

Tomorrow is the day which commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus and his subsequent death. Good Friday? What they did to Jesus was definitely not good

Characters in a B.C. Comic a few years ago were engaged in conversation. One of them said, “I hate the term ‘Good Friday’.” His friend asked, “Why?” The reason, he answered, “My Lord was hanged on a tree that day.” The questioner replied, “If you were going to be hanged on a tree that day and he took your place, how would you feel?” “Good” was the response.

The day commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus is “good” because of the results of Christ’s death. “For Christ died for sins once and for all, a good man on behalf of sinners, in order to lead you to God. He was put to death physically, but made alive spiritually.” (I Peter 3:18)

Jesus’ death was the payment for sin. When we accept that gift our sins are forgiven and we are given right standing with God. God’s mercy and grace make salvation possible and we receive the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

This is why Good Friday is good- and the week is holy. But the best is yet to come. Just wait until Easter Sunday!!

Jamie Jenkins

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My alarm sounded at 4:30 AM a couple of Saturdays ago. That is not my normal getting up time but I had to start the day early in order to join about 200 United Methodists for a Civil Rights Heritage Tour. Four busloads of folks from Peachtree Road, Cascade, Ben Hill, and Glenn Memorial United Methodist churches along with students from Clark Atlanta University and Candler School of Theology at Emory were headed to Birmingham, Montgomery, Selma, and several rural communities in Alabama.

16th st Baptist Church.jpg

The first stop on our tour was at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. The first black church in Birmingham, Alabama was organized in 1873 as the First Colored Baptist Church of Birmingham. The congregation has worshipped at its current location since 1880 and the modern brick building that houses them was erected in 1911.

Because of segregation, this church, and other black churches in Birmingham, served as a meeting place, social center, and lecture hall for a variety of activities important to the city’s black citizens. W.E. DuBois, Mary McLeod Bethune, Paul Robeson, and Ralph Bunche were among the many noted black Americans who spoke at the church during its early years.

The church became the focus of the world on Sunday, September 15, 1963 at 10:22 AM when four African-American school girls attending Sunday School died in a dynamite blast. The bomb, set by Ku Klux Klansmen, ripped through the side of the church killing 14 year old Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, and Addie Mae Collins, and 11 year-old Denise McNair. More than 20 other members of the congregation were injured.

During the next two days we visited several monuments and memorials to leaders and martyrs of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Our guides for the tour were family members of persons who had been leaders in the Movement and had very personal, as well as historical, information and stories to share.

Pettus Bridge

The two-day trip culminated as we joined hundreds of others to march across Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River commemorating what has been called Bloody Sunday, May 7, 1965, when hundreds of civil rights protesters, led by Rep. John Lewis and others, were brutally beaten by Alabama State Troopers and local police. Our walk across the bridges was very  different with local police and state troopers escorting the crowd, providing traffic control, and security.

The weekend trek on part of the Civil Rights Trail reminded me of a part of our history that is shameful. It accented the destructive nature of bigotry and racism and fueled my resolve that discrimination and mistreatment of any person must not be tolerated. I also realized, that although there is much left to be done, we have made significant progress in race relations and human rights.

Another truth was made clearer: God can bring good out of evil. The story of Joseph in the Bible tells how his brothers sold him into slavery but years later he would say to them, “You planned something bad for me, but God produced something good from it” (Gen. 50:20, The Message).

Outrage over the death of the four young girls helped build increased support behind the continuing struggle to end segregation—support that would help lead to the passage of both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In that important sense, the bombing’s impact was exactly the opposite of what its perpetrators had intended” (History.com).

A visual reminder of that is in the form of a large stained glass window of the image of a black crucified Christ, given by the people of Wales.  The window is located in the rear center of the sanctuary at the balcony level.

As we visited the various sites and as we marched through Selma I remembered the words of a song:

We will work with each other
We will work side by side
We will work with each other
We will work side by side
And we’ll guard each man’s dignity
And save each man’s pride
And they’ll know e area Christians by our love!

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

Winter weather prevailed when I left on February 2 for a trip to the Holy Land. The high that day was 42 degrees. Three weeks later I returned to see evidence that spring was just around the corner.

Bradford Pear (Pyrus calleryana 'Bradford') in bloom.

All the way home from the airport I saw Bradford Pear trees with their bountiful and beautiful white blossoms. As I neared my house I saw a Redbud tree and a Japanese Magnolia tree in all their brilliance. When we arrived at our house the daffodils in our front yard greeted us.

Closeup photo of the beautiful Redbud blossoms

The words of the Hymn of Promise came to my mind. “In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be. Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.” (full lyrics below).

Atlanta Braves 2018 spring training

After unpacking and getting a good night’s rest I checked in on the Braves Spring Training which began while I was away. I miss not being present in Florida as the team begins preparation for the regular season. It was good to hear about the promising young players like Ozzie Albies and Ron Acuna and the team leaders like Freddie Freeman and Julio Tehran.

One more, I know you can : Stock Photo

A couple of days after returning from my travels I got started back with physical therapy for my surgically repaired shoulder. Progress from a torn rotator cuff has been slow and painful but after a few weeks of therapy I can see progress in my range of motion and reduced discomfort.

The next day there were seven babies baptized during the worship service at my church, Peachtree Road United Methodist in Atlanta. We recalled that “Jesus gave a special place to the children.” We were reminded that “Through the Sacrament of Baptism we are initiated into Christ’s holy Church. We are incorporated into God’s mighty acts of salvation and given new birth through water and the Spirit. All this is God’s gift, offered to us without price.”

The parents of the children being baptized all promised to “nurture these children in Christ’s holy Church, that by your teaching and example they may be guided to accept God’s grace for themselves, to profess their faith openly, and to lead a Christian life.”

The congregation vowed, “With God’s help we will so order our lives after the example of Christ, that these children, surrounded by steadfast love, may be established in the faith and confirmed, and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal.”

PRUMC Habitat for Humanity Build

That same morning I heard of the church’s plan to build their 46th Habitat for Humanity Home because we believe that every person should have access to a decent, safe and affordable place to live. Also an announcement was made about The Great Day of Service, Saturday, March 24. This is our annual community volunteer day when all ages put their faith in action as they serve those in need across Atlanta. Each year during Lent, nearly 1,000 church members and friends take this Saturday to make helping others a priority. 

Great Day of Service 2017

We were also informed of the plan to help “Fill the Pantry for Buckhead Christian Ministries” as we work together to prevent hunger and homelessness for those facing life-changing events such as a job loss, a reduction in work hours or a medical problem.

This year’s Lenten Offering will be used to support the 16 agencies and ministries with whom our church partners in the Greater Atlanta area to make a difference in the lives of others. We were encouraged to give something up during this season and to give the money that we would have spent on what we are giving up to this offering.

I am grateful for these and other signs of hope!

Jamie Jenkins

HYMN OF PROMISE (words and music by Natalie A. Sleeth, 1986)

In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

 

 

Unless you have been outside this solar system you know that Rev. Billy Graham died last week at the age of 99. His body was brought to Washington, D.C. to lie in state in the U.S Capitol Rotunda February 28-March 1(today).

According to the news media the tradition of lying in honor (in the case of private citizens) and lying in state (for members of the government) dates back to 1852. Since then, only 31 individuals, including 11 U.S. presidents, have been chosen to be honored in such a way. Billy Graham became the 34th overall, and only the fourth private citizen to receive this distinction.

Rev. Graham’s body lies in a simple pine plywood casket made by inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, Louisiana. The casket has a wooden cross nailed on top.

There has been much written about one of the most influential spiritual voices for decades. So rather than add to all the verbiage I will let him speak for himself.*

ON SANCTIFICATION: “Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion—it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.”

ON MONEY: “There is nothing wrong with men possessing riches. The wrong comes when riches possess men.”

ON COURAGE: “Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spine of others are often stiffened.”

ON HARDSHIP: “Mountaintops are for views and inspiration, but fruit is grown in the valleys.”

ON COMFORT: “Comfort and prosperity have never enriched the world as much as adversity has.”

ON COMMUNITY: “Churchgoers are like coals in a fire. When they cling together, they keep the flame aglow; when they separate, they die out.”

ON JUDGING OTHERS: “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.”

ON HONESTY: “Don’t ever hesitate to take to [God] whatever is on your heart. He already knows it anyway, but He doesn’t want you to bear its pain or celebrate its joy alone.”

ON JESUS: “Many people are willing to have Jesus as part of their lives—as long as it doesn’t cost them anything. They may even profess faith in Jesus and join a church. But Jesus to them is almost like an insurance policy—something they obtain and then forget about until they die. What keeps you from being His disciple?”

ON BIBLE READING: “The very practice of reading [the Bible] will have a purifying effect upon your mind and heart. Let nothing take the place of this daily exercise.”

ON GOD’S LOVE: “Sin is the second most powerful force in the universe, for it sent Jesus to the cross. Only one force is greater—the love of God.”

ON EVANGELISM: “The greatest form of praise is the sound of consecrated feet seeking out the lost and helpless.”

ON SALVATION: “Salvation is an act of God. It is initiated by God, wrought by God, and sustained by God.”

ON HOPE: “I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It’s all going to turn out all right.”

Jamie Jenkins

https://relevantmagazine.com/god/14-billy-graham-quotes-helped-shape-american-christianity-update-new

Picture credits: Photos by Russ Busby

Billy Graham and Arnold Palmer in 1968- photo by Russ Busby

Proclaiming God’s Word, New York City, 1969 – photo by Russ Busby

Mr. Graham at his final Crusade in New York City, 2005 – photo by Russ Busby