Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sun. Apr. 5, 2009 (Gerald Neufeld)

On Palm Sunday our speaker was Gerald Neufeld, a former missionary to Japan who is now pastor to the new Mennonite Japanese Fellowship in Surrey. Time and again, God's plan for saving humanity by sending a Messiah has seemed quite strange. John the Baptist seems to have assumed that Jesus was quite possibly such a Messiah, yet referred to him as "the lamb of God", which is hardly as attractive a title as Lion of Judah. Isaiah foresaw a Messiah being like a lamb led to the slaughter, which puzzled Jewish philosophers for centuries. When the man we believe was God's Messiah finally did come, this Jesus was born of teenage parents (according to one tradition) under circumstances that were highly suspect. Jesus then grew up, not as a member of court or even the priestly or highly educated class, but as yet another immigrant in Egypt. His career was hardly more promising, working mostly as an itinerant teacher in the general area of Judah (but usually a safe distance from Jerusalem, the expected seat for a true Messiah). Jesus seemed more at home with society's powerless outcasts than with the ruling upper class, and he was either abandoned or reviled by nearly everybody when dying most horribly and publicly. Yet it is assumed by us today that this same Jesus somehow best exemplified God's gentle love and taught that we should emphasize that aspect of God rather than God's ability crushing wrath. This Jesus introduced to us a God of love who does not force us to join his way of thinking but instead allows us to choose. This is the Jesus that Christians will celebrate this coming Passion Week and Easter Sunday, first with darkness and fasting and then with light and feasting. [JEK] Listen to the sermon audio MP3 recording from Sunday Apr. 5th, 2009 using your browser's preferred media player.



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