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Categorized | From the Pulpit

U + GOD = :)

Pastor Mary Ivanov
Cedar Springs United Methodist Church
140 S. Main St., Cedar Springs

My family and I traveled to Orlando, Florida during spring break.  This was our first trip there, and there was a lot to see: people from all over the United States, Disney characters from every movie, rides, and special shows. One of the most interesting things that caught my attention, though, was up in the sky one afternoon.
It was a small plane flying around and spelling out a message: U + GOD = :)
The letters vanished quickly, but not before my eyes were fixed on this small plane and the message it offered to anyone who was looking.  I don’t know who the pilot was or who sponsored the message, but the message was clear.
It was a message of faith and hope for everyone who could see it. It was an invitation to “look up” and recognize that true joy comes from God our Creator who desires a relationship with us.  At Disney World, a place where “happiness” is marketed heavily, the Good News of God—the source of true joy—was shared in a very special way.  It was there for everyone to see as a reminder and an invitation to seek God.
I don’t think as many people would’ve seen it, heard it, or paid as much attention if someone had stood at the gate into the Magic Kingdom with a sign or tried to shout over the crowd. Somehow skywriting the Gospel seemed to be the best way to get everyone’s attention.
This week is Holy Week. We walk with Jesus. We remember how the people shouted “Hosanna!” as he rode into Jerusalem. They thought he would be a Messiah who would overthrow the Roman government and save them, but it did not go as they planned.  Instead, Jesus is the Messiah who is the Suffering Servant and who gives his life willingly for our sake.  Jesus is the Messiah who is raised again that we might have forgiveness for our sin and new life in him.
In the Gospel of John 20: 17-18, Mary Magdalene meets Jesus in the garden. And when she clings to him, he says, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” So, she goes to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!”
Maybe we won’t skywrite the Gospel, but we have great Good News to share: Jesus died for us while we yet sinners, and that is proof of God’s love for us! Jesus lives again! God has overcome the power of sin and death, and we have a reason for hope!
Mary Magdalene had a powerful message, and there was something certain about her witness. The challenge for all of us is how we will share the Gospel. Sometimes it’s through conversation and a willingness to listen to others.  Sometimes it’s through loving actions. How will you share the Good News of Jesus this week?
On behalf of the CS Ministerial Association, I invite you to join us for worship on Good Friday, April 22 at 7:00 p.m. at CSHS Auditorium.  And if you don’t have a church home or have been away for a while, consider getting back to church or trying it out for the first time. I invite you to worship with us this Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. or 11:30 a.m.  We share the love and hope of Jesus Christ!

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