Celebrate Resurrection

Red Couch Theology

Sermon Conversations with Alex and Aaron

There’s only so much we can cover in a Sunday morning gathering!
Each week, you’re invited to tune into our podcast at 11 am, on Thursdays – it is also recorded for later, online viewing.

What can you expect? Pastors Alex, Aaron, and the occasional guest having a casual conversation, diving deeper into ideas related to last Sunday’s teaching.

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Red Couch Theology2023-04-09T11:46:46-06:00

Those Who Have Gone Before

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

April 2nd, which was on Palm Sunday this year, has deep significance for me. This year it is the 15th “anniversary” of my husband Phil’s home going to be with Jesus. In 2008, Easter Sunday was March 23, the earliest that it will be again until 2160.

The weeks leading up to Easter had been eventful for us. Phil turned 71 on February 26. Our 43rd wedding anniversary was March 12, which we celebrated with a weekend trip to our favorite inn in Estes Park.

Back then, Palm Sunday, March 16th was the start of Holy Week, and we helped set up “Expressions of Easter” in the Worship Center. During that week, the community was invited to walk through an experience of the road to the cross leading up to Good Friday.

On Saturday, we were part of the large crew who cleared the worship center to prepare for Easter Morning. A treasured memory for me from that time is watching Phil and a teenage friend of ours walking together with an arm over each other’s shoulder as they enjoyed a good talk – age and youth delighting in their friendship.

Easter Sunday has been a celebration of Christ’s resurrection and the promise of life in Him now and when He comes again. After Phil had welcomed people in the Fellowship area, he joined me with the team in the sound booth for both Easter services. We had dinner later at the home of some dear friends.

On Tuesday, April 1, 2008, Phil woke up so weak he could barely crawl. An ambulance took him to the closest hospital, which was Porter, and he died at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 2nd. He was diagnosed as having pneumonia with septicemia that had ravaged his whole body. – no warning, no previous indications.

As one who has experienced a lot of death in my own family and, as a long time part of the sound tech team, I have had the privilege of helping with many memorial services. Some of these were for people I didn’t know, and many were people who were friends. The memorials consisted of people of all ages. I still have most of the bulletins from those services, and occasionally look through them to remember the people and their stories.

Hebrews 11 and 12 tell about “heroes” of the faith who believed God’s promises and looked forward to what they didn’t get to experience in their lifetime. They are called “a great cloud of witnesses”. Paul also expresses his hope in 2 Timothy 1:8-12

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle and a teacher of the Gentiles. For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

Take time in the coming days and weeks to savor the memory of Easter and Christ’s promise to us of resurrection when he returns. In the process of looking forward to that day, grow in living daily with the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit .

Those Who Have Gone Before2023-04-09T12:12:26-06:00

Eternal Life in the Here and Now

Easter is a celebration of redemption and of eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Those concepts are big and difficult to grasp. Is it any wonder that Easter is often a celebration best known for egg hunts, baskets of chocolates and family meals? Keeping the holiday light and festive makes it popular, but the question remains — what difference does Easter make in our day-to-day lives?

A few years back, the pastor at a church I attended asked, “What is eternal life?” The answers were primarily variations on “heaven” and “what happens when we die”. The pastor’s response has kept me thinking many years later: Eternal life, according to the Bible, is knowing Christ, and that is something we can experience right now. The Gospel of John says that this was Jesus’ prayer before His crucifixion:

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17:1-3

Because we believe Jesus rose again, our Easter celebrations commemorate that we can begin to experience eternal life — in the here and now.

Over the past 15 months, while caring for my father, Sam Masoudi, he and I experienced the redemption and eternal life that Jesus promises. My father was 88 and had been diagnosed with advanced dementia. His body and mind were failing, and death was imminent. My one prayer was that my father would continue to sense God’s loving presence even as his health was in rapid decline. I thought often of this passage:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 NIV

God answered my prayers daily throughout those months. Even as my father grew weaker and weaker, he continually experienced the peace that passes all understanding promised by God in Christ. Much of that peace came through the very ordinary conduits of the care I and others provided, as well as friendships, family gatherings, beauty in nature, attending church and the wonder found in every ‘ordinary’ day.

After a bad fall in July, my father lost a lot of his language and hardly spoke at all. On rare occasions he would say a few sentences. In December, he said this: “If anyone asked me what the highest point of my life was, I would say it’s right now.”

The months when his health was declining held many challenges and were not easy. Through the help of my father’s neighbor, Annie, wonderful caregivers, and the ability that God gave me to persevere, my father was able to remain in his home until he died. My prayer, that we experience the eternal life secured through Christ’s death and resurrection, had been answered.

My father passed away March 15th. If he were here to celebrate Easter, this is how he would have prayed: “Thank you God. Thank you Lord. Thank you Jesus. And thank you very much.”

Eternal Life in the Here and Now2023-04-10T15:53:52-06:00

The Music of Easter

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: `He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”  Matthew 28:6-7 NIV

Easter! What do you think of when you hear the word, Easter? I have been celebrating the Lord’s resurrection most of my life, and I think of Easter music.
There are so many glorious hymns that have been written about Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection! I grew up in a Baptist church, and these Hymns of the faith were regularly sung, but especially at Easter time, hymns like “The Old Rugged Cross”, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”, “Because He Lives”, “Christ Arose”, “He Lives”, “In the Garden”, “Crown Him with Many Crowns” and many others. What are your favorites? Which ones evoke thoughts of Easters gone by? Charles Wesley gave us two fabulous ones, “And Can it Be That I Should Gain?” and “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”. For me, the words that were inspired by scripture as well as the very familiar notes in these songs stir my heart to worship my Lord, to thank Him for His sacrifice, to sit at His feet and be in awe of the love that motivated Him to give up everything, to come to earth to die for me, for my sin, so that I can have a relationship with the God of the universe. How about you?

I was a college student in the early 1980’s. Contemporary Christian music was just getting started at that time. As a college student and then as a single young lady in the 1980s, there were several songs which captured the heart and soul of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection Sunday as well, but they sound different from the traditional hymns. Sandi Patty performed “Via Dolorosahttps://youtu.be/7asEdmZsSPo and it still tells the story of Jesus’ crucifixion in an unbelievable way to me. Then Don Francisco, a gifted musical storyteller, wrote a song called “He is Alivehttps://youtu.be/70qk6tLHht4 which tells the story of Easter morning from Peter’s point of view. Anne Herring of 2nd Chapter of Acts wrote the “Easter Songhttps://youtu.be/GYMZc0DdMac, and Keith Green also sang his version of “Easter Song” https://youtu.be/p0-5f22swrY. Sandi Patty came out with “Was it a Morning Like This?https://youtu.be/GnBRrIa25NY, a few years after “Via Dolorosa”. It is a glorious celebration of Easter morning. More recently Casting Crowns performed a song called “Glorious Dayhttps://youtu.be/VXp6xcY5IqU that summarizes all that Jesus did for us and the hope we have in his return someday.

Take time to look at the lyrics of your favorite Easter hymns, or these songs I listed above, and listen, feel, and pray though the message of Easter expressed in music.


The Music of Easter2023-04-09T12:14:28-06:00

We Too Will Rise!

It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.
2 Corinthians 4:13-14

This week our daily team is exploring Easter (resurrection). Each of our writers explains an aspect of Easter most dear to them. For me, it is an idea found in this passage.
I have been a follower of Jesus for most of my life. I have attended countless Easter services. Now I find myself on staff at a church, planning and leading Easter services. With all that exposure, I didn’t understand some of the significance of resurrection until about six years ago. I always knew that Christ’s resurrection meant sin and death were defeated. I understood that resurrection proved the deity of Christ. I failed to comprehend that Christ’s resurrection made it so that we too, will rise again one day.

God defeated sin and death, not just Jesus’ death, but our death. When the church gathers on Easter Sunday, we celebrate more than a resurrection that took place thousands of years ago. We also celebrate our future bodily resurrection from the dead. The text tells us that he will “raise us with Jesus”. This is such good news! Fear of death cannot attach to us when we understand this truth.

As we continue to reflect on resurrection this week, take a moment to perceive eternity. Realize our future resurrection with Christ. You will have a body accompanying eternal life. You will have experiences and relationships. You will not be plagued by sin, sorrow, or pain. You will be made wholly new. That is worth celebrating!

We Too Will Rise!2023-04-09T12:15:37-06:00
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