Holy Week Talk at Lenten Luncheon, by Richard Van Scoyoc – April 11, 1990
Richard Van Scoyoc was a teacher, lifetime member of the Blair County Historical Society, and a beloved member of Christ Community UMC. He lived to be over 100 years old. The following is a speech that he gave at a Lenten Luncheon held by the United Methodist Women.
On Good Friday, we sometimes read the seven last words of Christ on the cross. One of these is a lonely, sad cry of Jesus. In Matthew 27:46 it says: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice saying, ‘Eli, Eli, sabachthani,’ that is to say “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Jesus is pleading in his pain and anguish – Don’t you care God, he asks, don’t you care, Father?
Jesus quotes from Psalm 22:1 when he makes this plea. The psalm says, “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me?” David, who wrote this psalm, makes this anguished prayer when his enemies are pursuing him, and now Jesus on the cross feels the same loneliness we all feel when we face death. We feel forsaken.
At the Last Supper, Judas forsook Jesus. He went out and betrayed him to the religious leaders. Judas didn’t care. He abandoned Jesus. Later in the Garden of Gethsemane, the other disciples fled, leaving Jesus alone. Mark 26:56 says, “Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.” Oh yes, Peter and John followed Jesus as he was led away. John even went into the house of Caiaphas, the High Priest, and later came out and brought Peter into the outer court. Nothing more is heard from John that night. Did he defend Jesus to Caiaphas? The Bible is silent about John’s actions until we see him again at the foot of the cross with Mary the mother of Jesus. Peter defended Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane when he struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear, but a few hours later he denied he ever knew Jesus. Peter and John, along with the other disciples forsook Jesus. Jesus was alone in his trial and suffering. His disciples did not have the courage after three years of fellowship with him to stand up or to speak out to defend Jesus, or to die with Jesus.
We live in an uncaring world. Life is cheap. One generation passes away and another generation takes its place with the dead forgotten.
Even Jesus was accused of not caring. Martha said to Jesus as she was preparing a meal for him and his disciples, ( Luke 10:40) “Don’t you care that I must prepare this meal alone while Mary my sister does nothing?” Martha was frustrated. She complained, “Don’t you care, Lord?”
Later, after their brother Lazarus died, both Martha and Mary said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” They implied, “Didn’t you care enough to hurry here? Why did you delay two days in coming?”
The disciples complained to Jesus that he didn’t care whether they drowned or not in a storm on the sea of Galilee. Mark 4:38 – “And Jesus was asleep in the back of the ship on a pillow and they awoke him and said to him, ‘Master, don’t you care that we are about to perish?’”
Most of our cares and anxieties are about earthly problems: Martha, about preparing a meal; the disciples, about a storm at sea. Today we are anxious about our health, our jobs, our families, about crime, war, violent nature, and about drugs. When our prayers are not answered, we feel forsaken. The human Jesus in his pain and loneliness cried out to his Father, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
But Jesus taught that we are never forsaken. Paul said in II Corinthians 4:9, “We are persecuted but not forsaken.” Even if our bodies perish, Jesus cares for our souls. Psalms 142 says, “No man careth for my soul.” Humans may be uncaring about our souls, but Jesus cares enough to die for our salvation.
John 10:13 says, “The hireling fleeth because he is a hireling and careth not for the sheep.” Humans are callous, but Jesus is the great shepherd. He cares. Psalm 9:10 says, “Thou O Lord hast not forsaken those who seek thee.” I Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxieties on Him for he cares about you.” The Heavenly Father did care about Jesus. He raised him form the dead Easter morning, and Jesus promised us that our dead bodies would not be forsaken in the grave. If we trust him we shall rise with new bodies and to a new world.
In Lamentations 1:12 it says, “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto the sorrow which is done unto him.” This is the question for us this Lenten season: “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?” Do we care? There was no sorrow like the sorrow of Jesus who took on the sins of the whole world on his broken and pierced body. Do we care? Do we pass him by? Do we forsake Jesus?
A few cared for Jesus. Simon of Cyrene cared enough to carry Jesus’ cross; Jesus’ mother cared enough to stand by her son at the foot of the cross, in what must have been the most heart-rending experience of her life; John, at the foot of the cross, cared enough to take Mary the mother of Jesus into his home. Some women stood at a distance watching Jesus being crucified. They cared. Some women cared enough to buy spices and ointment to prepare Jesus’ body for burial; Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus cared enough to provide a tomb and bury Jesus; Mary Magdalene and other women cared enough to come early Sunday morning to anoint Jesus’ body with the spices.
Some didn’t care. The soldiers who mocked Jesus and put a crown of thorns on his head; Pilate turned him over to be crucified; Annas and Caiaphas, the high priests, condemned him; Barabbas got his freedom but didn’t care what happened to Jesus; one of the thieves on the cross cursed Jesus; the soldiers who pierced his side claimed his clothing; some of the crowd joked and taunted him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself.”
Some care about Jesus today, but many don’t care. They pass him by as being nothing.
Christians should never feel forsaken. After Jesus prayed “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” he uttered his last words: “Into thy hands I commend my spirit.” Jesus trusted his Father as he passed from life to death. Job said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.” Paul said, “We are persecuted but not forsaken.”
We talk about a lonely, isolated places as being a “God-forsaken place.” There is no place on earth that is God forsaken. Psalm 139:9 says, “If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy right hand lead me.” I experienced that feeling – a lonely grass and dirt airfield far up the Markham Valley in New Guinea, set among high mountains where a strong wind blew down the valley. It was the most desolate place I was ever at – but it was not God-forsaken. God was with me there as sure as He was with me back home in the church. God was with Jesus too on the cross. God will be with you and comfort you in all your trials and troubles. They may not go away, but God’s presence will sustain you. “My grace is sufficient for you,” God says. Into God’s hands we give our worries and troubles, just as Jesus did on the cross.
An old gospel hymn titled “Does Jesus Care?” asks the questions in each of its verses:
Does Jesus care when my heart is pained too deeply for mirth and song; as the burdens press, and the cares distress, and the way grows weary and long?
Does Jesus care when my way is dark with a nameless dread and fear? As the daylight fades into deep night shades, does he care enough to be near?
Does Jesus care when I’ve tried and failed to resist some temptation strong; when for my deep grief I find no relief, though my tears flow all the night long?
Does Jesus care when I’ve said “good-by” to the dearest on earth to me, and my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks—Is it aught to him? Does he see?
And each time the chorus resounds:
O yes he cares; I know he cares, his heart is touched with my grief; when the days are weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Saviour cares.
Good Friday Worship Service & Narrative Play
The service for Good Friday was filmed by Rev. Evelyn Madison at Wehnwood UMC. During the service, we do a narrative reading of the passion narrative. I read the role of Pilate. if you listen, you may also be able to hear me play the flute. We focused the camera on a candelabra placed on a table. After each portion of the narrative is read, a candle is extinguished. The idea is that at the end of the service, the sanctuary would be left in darkness as we await the resurrection.
Holy Thursday Worship Service for Llyswen & Christ Community UMC
Click here to skip to the homily (with closed captions): https://youtu.be/vfmghIRNVbI This is the Holy Thursday worship service for Llyswen and Christ Community UMC. It begins with a prelude by Alex, followed by a gospel reading by Peggy. For the hymn, Rev. Rebecca sings “The Old Rugged Cross,” while Alex plays the piano. The homily is entitled, “Uncomfortable Faith.” The Service concludes with Kent, Mauri, and Angie singing The Lord’s Prayer. The postlude is presented by Angie and Polly. This service was filmed at both churches and uses members of each congregation. We hope it is a blessing to everyone worshiping at home this Holy Week.
Peggy uses a set of brightly colored eggs to tell the story of Holy Week!
Peggy tells the story of the first Easter using brightly colored eggs with surprises inside. Since we can't have our regularly scheduled Easter egg hunt, I thought that this was a fun and alternative. Although this version of the story was designed for children, I thought that it was a beautiful retelling that adults can enjoy as well. I did my best to edit in pictures from FreeBibleImages.org to help to bring the story to life. All pictures used are from FreebibleImages.org and are under the Creative Commons License.
Psalm 22 and the hymn "What Wondrous Love?"
For the second day of Holy Week, I would like to share with you the words from Psalm 22. After the Psalm, I invite you to lift your hearts with me for the hymn What Wondrous Love. The pianist from Christ Community (Alexander Schnaubelt) did a wonderful job, but my voice was rather tired by this point since we recorded a bunch of music all in one day. Nevertheless, we present this musical offering with all our hearts.
Psalm 22 and the hymn, "What Wondrous Love Is This?"
For the second day of Holy Week, I would like to share with you the words from Psalm 22. After the Psalm, I invite you to lift your hearts with me for the hymn What Wondrous Love. The pianist (Alex Schnaubelt) did a wonderful job, but my voice was rather tired by this point since we recorded a bunch of music all in one day. Nevertheless, we present this musical offering with all our hearts.
Monday of Holy Week: The Prayer of St. Francis and special music by the pianist from Christ Community UMC.
I’m sorry that we cannot celebrate Holy Week together, but even when we are apart, our hearts are still united through prayer and faith. The pianist from Christ Community, Alex Schnaubelt, plays a special arrangement of the hymn, "Were You There?"
Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offense, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.
The following is the video for our Palm Sunday Worship Service!
Thank you for joining us for Palm Sunday! You can celebrate Palm Sunday from the safety of your own home. This special service includes a children's message, piano and organ duets, hymns sung in multi-part harmony, and a prayer for when we cannot celebrate the Eucharist together. Rev. Rebecca's homily is entitled, "The Rooster's Cry," and is part of our sermon series, "The Animals of Easter." We recommend taking time to watch the entire worship service., but for your convenience, we wanted to provide you with the following links:
CLICK HERE for the sermon
CLICK HERE for the Children's Message!
We might not have green palm branches, but we have palms with which to pray!
We might not have green Palm branches, but we have Palms to pray! Rev. Rebecca, Alex the pianist, Cooper the part-Dalmatian, Nate the tech guru, and Mildred the chihuahua demonstrate how you can have your own Palm parade at home.
Pam tells us the story of how Jesus fed over 5,000 people. Stay tuned after the video for pictures that the kids drew!
In Pam's last video, she told us the story of how Jesus calmed the storm. Then we invited kids to send us the pictures the drew to illustrate the story. We included these great drawings at the end of this video! In this video, she tells us how Jesus fed 5,00 hungry people. Send us your picture and we will do our best to add it to a future video!
Rev. Rebecca is an ordained elder serving in the Susquehanna Conference. She serves Christ Community UMC and Llyswen UMC in the Altoona District. She is the author of The United Methodist Church and Disability and Hope for the Broken: Using Writing to Find God's Grace (coming soon from Touch Point Press).