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“Why do we and the Pharisees fast often but Your disciples do not fast?”  Matthew 9:14

“Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  Matthew 9:11

“But if you had known what this meant: ‘ I desire mercy not sacrifice’ you would not have condemned the guiltless”  Matthew 12:7

“But they put new wine into new wineskins and both are preserved.”  Matthew 9:17

It seems we are going through a confusing and somewhat troubling time for ourselves where the world is watching intently what we say and more importantly do, as to the validity of our message.  I have seen a considerable amount of work; published in media, spoken in the press and even preached from the pulpit concerning the worth of “religion” as well as the viability of the “church”.  I put both religion and church in quotation marks because I find in discussing with people, vastly different definitions and concepts for these two terms.  And I believe that it is precisely the issue that we are dealing with.  Whenever, human beings have tinkered with, tried to improve on Our Heavenly Father’s Plan, we have brought much pain and suffering to ourselves and those around us.

It seems clear to me that the religious leaders during the days that Jesus walked on this earth were very process minded based upon the way they treated the Son of God.  The religious leaders were always challenging Jesus: “He heals on the Sabaoth, He eats with sinners, He doesn’t wash His hands, He doesn’t come from the right place” and on and on.  Through the years they had taken God’s law, a law of mercy and turned it into a law of judgement and punishment.  For God heard His people’s cry and sent them the Prophet Moses to lead them out of bondage.  Yet as our Creator and One who had witnessed our failure in the garden; God knew that His people would sin, even after their miraculous rescue from Egypt.  Thus being full of mercy, wanting to be able to maintain a relationship with us, the law allowed for atonement for our sin with the purpose of reconciliation.  Yet over time, with human interpretation; the law changed from a heavenly instrument of mercy to a human process of judgement. The religious leaders of the day corrupted the law, making into some human made scorecard for judgement.  It was no longer about being righteous that leads to doing righteous; but doing righteous will somehow lead to righteous, with man judging what is righteous and what is not.  That is the world into which Jesus came.  Sadly, to a certain extent, that is a world that, if we are not careful, we are duplicating today.

Why do we do that?  I believe that it has to do with our arrogance of understanding.  We believe with each new day we have a deeper self-taught understanding of every process.  We believe that as we gain understanding about things concerning natural processes; how a seed grows, how lightning works, what a star is made of, that we also obtain all other knowledge, allowing us to attain the level of being masters of our own destinies.  Because we can not comprehend the true Mind of God, His perfect intelligence, instead of having faith in His Intelligence; we substitute our own flawed but understandable logic, intelligence in its place and then act upon it.

Thus Jesus came and crushed every form of human judgement and earthly wisdom.  The wisest and most powerful leaders came against Him with tests and questions and He silenced each and every one of them with His perfect understanding.  He told them and tells us today, those who look to their own processes, that devise their own plans for salvation travel the broad road to doom and eternal separation from God.

And Jesus Christ speaks to us today.  Yet I want to stress something that I believe jesus Christ made abundantly clear.  Churches do matter.  Religion in that it is the proclamation that Jesus Christ is the One and Only True Begotten Son of God, come to earth, crucified for our sins, died and resurrected and now living at the Right Hand of God the Father Almighty and that we are to love God with all our being and love each other as we love ourselves, is of utmost importance.  However, as we take the new wineskin of Christ and start to tinker with His message; filter His words and change them based on our understanding, as we take His open invitation and change it into a process, a test to pass, to enter into the kingdom of heaven, we take religion and make it a human-made concept; church becomes a human-made institution.

Dear Sisters and Brothers, I have a limited understanding of the true nature of God’s plan for my salvation.  I do not fully grasp the gravity, the mercy, the unbelievable sacrifice of God coming to earth, taking my sins upon Himself and dying in my place.  Thus I must have faith in the Word of Jesus Christ.  I must grasp hold of, in awe and wonder, the miracle of Jesus Christ and, through the Holy Spirit, replace my limited capacity to understand with His merciful gift of revelation.  We must resist the temptation to imprint our own image on that which should be holy, His church and His religion.  In so doing, we can show the world what true faith is all about.  We will show that we reject the process of human discerned judgement and replace it with Christ designed love and mercy.  Christ is the only process we need.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we proclaim to the world there is only one knowledge that is true, only one plan that is perfect, only one judgement that is righteous; that which is Yours and comes from You.  Forgive us when we attempt to substitute our limited knowledge, our own devised plan and our faulty, limited judgement for Yours.  Pour out Your Holy Spirit upon us that although limited by our faculties, will still reveal to us the perfect will you have for our lives.  Grant us the strength and faithfulness to align our will to Yours.  That the world would then see our lives as lived in praise to Your Most Holy Name, we pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Growing up, I had often wondered why the tradition was to show the 10 Commandments on Easter.  I am no scholar although I know that the two commemorations are inextricably linked.

The Passover commemorates the exodus of the Jewish People from Egypt.  Though more accurately it is the remembrance of how the Gracious and Merciful Father took His vengeance out on the first born of the Egyptian captors while sparing the lives of the firstborn of the Jews; Passing Over their houses.

It is then right after the celebration of the Passover that Jesus is tried and crucified.  He had gone to Jerusalem, as was proper at the time, to celebrate the feast.  He knew full well and told the disciples that in going to Jerusalem he was going to die.  Yet he freely went there anyway.

There seems to me an even greater connection and thread to these two events.  Jesus Christ is God (as one of the Trinity) and has been around since the beginning (John 1).  So Christ not knew of but probably had a part in the first Passover (though the Jewish People would have no idea about Him at the time).  He knew that the exodus of the Jewish People would lead to the giving of the law to Moses through the 10 Commandments.  Christ knew that the Jewish People were heading for the promised land and would eventually triumph over many lands who did not believe in God.  He also knew that the Jewish People would rebel against His and Their Father, killing prophets sent to them, squandering their relationship with the Father.

So it came that Jesus would willingly come down to earth.  To heal, yes, and to teach, yes but most importantly of all, to redeem.  He knew that no earthly sacrifice could accomplish what His Father so desperately wanted to accomplish.  The salvation of and ability to relationship with His creation.  So on this Passover another death was required.  A death of One First Born.

And this time the death was not going to be just for the Jewish People but for all people.  Jesus Christ accomplished what no earthly lamb could in His death.  He took all of out sins upon Him.  He freed us from our bondage to sin and allowed us to exodus into a new life.  The scale of His Gift is unimaginable to us.

So while they are definitely connected and the grandeur and spectacle of the movie is impressive.  Understand the scale of the two events don’t really compare.  Moses, a human chosen by God, led his people out of bondage but could not lead them to Salvation.  Christ, God’s own son and as such God Himself, through His Death and Resurrection leads us not only out of bondage but brings about our salvation.  What  is asked in return.  Simply, that we acknowledge Christ as the one true Son of God and that we love.  Love God and each other.

That is something to celebrate.  Amen

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