He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant. He grew up in another village, where he worked in a carpenter shop until he was 30. Then, for three years, he was an itinerant preacher.
He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a home. He didn't go to college. He never lived in a big city. He never traveled 200 miles from the place he was born. He never did any of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but himself.
He was only 33 when the tide of public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied him. He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his garments, the only property he had on earth. When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave, through the pity of a friend.
Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race. I am well within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned - put together - have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as this one, solitary life.
I think this is such a powerful statement of the life of Jesus. Frankly, this week, that we call Holy Week, is one of the most powerful times for us as Christians, as we think deeply about the meaning - in history and in our very own lives - of this one, solitary life.
Here at Southport United Methodist Church we have some special ways to help you be part of this experience. On Thursday night, April 1, we will be having a Maundy Thursday service at 6:30. You can join us in person, or you can participate online through ZOOM - tomorrow Pastor Doug will be emailing instructions and a link to be part of the service online. We've been encouraging everyone to read the gospel of Luke during Lent, and there's still time for you to be part of that and read all or part of this gospel. For this week, the reading is Luke 22:7-24:53. You might want to focus on Luke 22:7-46, the Last Supper and the Agony in the Garden, as you prepare your heart for this week.
There is also a Good Friday service of Tenebrae or darkness, on Friday, April 2, at 7:00. This service will only be in person, with no online alternative.
And finally, we come to Easter Sunday morning, where we will have three (3) in person services of worship, a traditional service at 8:45, a contemporary service at 10:15, and an additional service at 11:15, also contemporary. And, of course, we will be online on Easter Sunday morning, too.
So prepare yourself. Enjoy the meaning of this week like no other. And when the glorious moment arrives,
Happy Easter to you!