featured graphic for Pastor Mike McKay and his wife Kristi of Neighborhood Church

Weekly message from Neighborhood Church: Easter, it’s more than chocolate bunnies

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

One of my kids has a birthday around Easter/Springtime. Many years ago, they had received a little birthday card from the pastor of our church. On the card, he had hand-drawn little bunnies, eggs, and a cross. She brought the card to my wife and I and said, “I get the bunnies and eggs, because my birthday is around Easter.” Then with one hand on her hip and waving the card in the air with a tsk of unbelief said, “What’s the deal with the cross?!?” Well, epic fail for us as Christian parents and me as a youth pastor at that church! We did explain the meaning of the cross Jesus was crucified on to be an atoning sacrifice for our sin (1 John 4:9-10). Because Easter is more than chocolate bunnies. Growing up, I had no idea of any spiritual significance of Easter, but I did love all the Easter candy and decorating hardboiled eggs. I really loved the chocolate! Still do! Especially those solid chocolate bunnies, Hmmm, yes! Oh, and those ‘Cadbury Easter Candy Coated Mini Eggs,’ I could eat bags of those! Love jellybeans, too. Yep, I like it all.

But I also love this time of year. The Spring-freshness in the air like after the rain and that great eye-popping beauty of new budding flowers and trees. It is refreshing, uplifting, and energizing to smell that incredible aroma of orange blossoms filling the air. I have a few orange trees in my backyard and when the breeze picks up…oh my, the fragrance is amazing! Sorry, if you have allergies. Spring does bring a bit of mixed blessing, yet the flowers are so beautiful, the bright colors are stunning, and the new life and new growth are a joy to witness. The refresh of springtime brings on a smile! What a wonderful time of the year, full of the hope of new life and thriving life.

Easter time and Spring bring refreshment of vitality, not only in the plants and trees around us, but in our lives as we are reminded of the newness and liveliness that Jesus can bring to life. Easter time is all about the help, hope, and healing Jesus brings to life. The Bible has much to say about this week from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday that can be a real blessing to our lives.

Palm Sunday Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-10, Luke 19:28-44, John 12:12-18 Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem where people think Jesus might use His miraculous power to overthrow the Roman and religious oppression and set up His kingdom of peace. But Jesus has a different plan. Jesus came as a humble sacrificial leader, seeking to lead us to God and be that atoning sacrifice for our sin.

Holy Monday Jesus sees the religious system of the day that exploited people who made faith all about our efforts, not the greatness and grace of God. Jesus chases people out of the temple in Jerusalem. Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-17, Luke 19:45-46. Faith is a trust in God.

Holy Tuesday Jesus teaches about God’s authority and the things to come. Mark 11:27-12:44, Luke 20:1-21:4. God is in charge and there is blessing living life His way.

Holy Wednesday The religious leaders plot to have Jesus killed. Matthew 26:3-5

Maundy Thursday Jesus washes the disciples’ feet and gives a new commandment to love one another. John 13:1-34

Good Friday Jesus is arrested: Matthew 26:36-46, tried: Matthew 26:57-27:14, sentenced to death on a cross: Matthew 27:15-26, tortured: Matthew 27:27-31, and crucified: Matthew 27:32-44, where He gives up His life: Matthew 27:45-55, and is buried in a tomb: Matthew 27:56-66.Jesus took our sin upon Himself, and like paying someone else’s fine, Jesus paid sin’s penalty.

Easter Sunday Jesus rises from the dead! Matthew 28:1-20, Mark 16:1-20, Luke 24:1-53, John 20:1-21:25. Jesus’ resurrection is validation and verification that all He taught is true, that we can have a new, revitalized life in Him.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Our sin-tainted human nature Romans 3:23, 6:23 does not have to shape our destiny. We can be free to be the people God created us to be. The truth is Jesus can make a difference in our lives and Easter is a yearly reminder. Sure, the chocolate is fun and enjoyable, but Easter is way more than that. Why not look into it yourself. If you don’t regularly attend a church, we would like to invite you to view or visit Neighborhood Church. We are a diverse church and would love for you to enjoy life with us! Our website has all the information you need for times and locations of all our Sunday gatherings. You can also find us online at neighborhoodchurch.com. As well, if you would like to view any of our past worship gatherings or videos, visit our YouTube channel, or just search Neighborhood Church Cypress or Neighborhood Church Los Alamitos on their YouTube site.

Enjoying both chocolate and Jesus this Easter along with you,

Mike