Brentwood Lighthouse Baptist Church Member Covenant
We the congregation of this church do covenant together, God help us, to further the
cause of Jesus Christ in this community; to walk worthy of the
vocation wherewith we are called; to put away all bitterness and
wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking, to be kind one to another
even as God for Christ sake hath forgiven us; to do good to all men,
especially to those of the household of faith; to submit to the
oversight of the officers of this church as administered in love and
in accordance to God’s Word; to give cheerfully as God prospers us;
and to be willing workers in the vineyard of the Lord. We also
engage to support this church faithfully with our prayers and with
One woman's Easter story
Who was this woman?
Who was she; this woman named Mary from the little fishing town known as Magdala? Why do we find her inserting herself right into the heart of the Easter story? What’s her story?
We are first introduced to her about half way into Jesus ministry. She shows up quite unexpectedly; we discover both her and her posse of women Jesus followers, not sitting on the sidelines, but joining right in with Jesus’ chosen twelve on road trips! Apparently for close to a year and half of Jesus 3 year ministry Mary and her group of women devotees shadowed Jesus and his apostles as they traveled up and down Israel’s countryside. (Luke 8:1-3) (Luke 23:53-56)
All of these women had one thing in common: Jesus had healed them, some of various sicknesses: others of demon possession. Luke tells us that seven individual demons had been residing and wreaking havoc in the body Mary Magdalene. If she was anything like the demoniac Jesus had healed earlier, she was in a dreadful and desperate condition. Probably, any family or friends she had earlier, had given up on her. Today we would most-likely have labeled her a schizophrenic and had her placed in an institution. Even though, she may have come from money, that didn’t stop sin from destroying her life. She undoubtedly spent her days enduring a helpless and hopeless existence.
But then one day, out of the blue, she met Jesus and everything changed! The demons, they were gone and a new life began. A new life dedicated to following Jesus, the one who had set her free! Now she spent her days making sure this Jesus had the resources he needed for his ministry. She and her gang of radical women became ardent followers of this Jewish rabbi they believed to be the Messiah.
Luke 8:1-2 puts it this way: “Jesus traveled from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him. And certain women, who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, of whom went seven demons. And Joanna, the wife of Chizas, Herod’s steward: and Susanna: and many others, who ministered unto him of their substance.”
Now fast forward to the end of Jesus’ life when it seemed that the whole world had turned against him: who would you have guessed would have been there for Jesus? It was not the apostles, but this group of women that were there every step of the way. Mary became the major, ever present player in all the events that surrounded the crucifixion. Mary and a few other women were the only ones that stood by Jesus from the beginning to the end. (Mark 15:40) She was there when the hardened Roman soldiers pounded spikes through his hands and his feet as they nailed him to the cross. She watched the sky grow dark and the earth begin to shake as Jesus was being crucified.(Luke 23:49)
She was there as he hung on the cross and commissioned John to take care of his mother. (John 19:25-27)
She saw him as he pleaded with his Father to “forgive them for they know now what they do.” She listened as he uttered his final words, “It is finished” and then breathed his last breath and died. She stood there as they took his lifeless body down from the cross. (Matt. 27:55-56)
And yes, It was Mary that was there to wittiness as they prepared the body of her rescuer, her Savior for burial and then laid him in the tomb. (Mark 15:47)
It was Mary that watched by the sepulcher when they sealed the opening with a massive stone. (Matt. 27:57-61)
And after waiting, heart broken, through the longer hours of the Sabbath day, that must have seemed to drag on forever (John 20:1), yes, it was Mary that was the first one to arrive. She arrived armed with sweet spices to anoint the body of Jesus on Easter morning. And although it was still too dark to see, Mary stood by in wonder during that early morning earthquake that signaled the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. (Matt. 28:1-2)
It was Mary whose jaw dropped as she was the first one to discover that Jesus body was missing from the tomb! (Mark 16:1-4)
It was she who first observed that stone had been rolled away. It was Mary who first confronted that big, stone throwing, angel she found nonchalantly sitting on top of that massive boulder. She listened with fear and joy as this glowing visitor informed her that that Jesus was not there anymore; that the grave could not hold him, that He was raised from the dead! It was she who, in disbelief, after an all-out sprint to where the disciples were hiding away, let them know, in no uncertain terms, that someone had absconded with body of Jesus and that it was nowhere to be found! And finally, after Peter and John had competed in a foot race to the tomb, where they confirmed Mary’s story and returned to their hiding place to inform the other apostles that Jesus’ body was indeed M.I.A.: It was then and there that Mary, and Mary alone became the very first person to break the story of the most momentous event in human history. (Mark 15:7)
There she stood, she was a mess: deserted, bewildered, uncontrollably weeping; somehow trying to make sense of it all. (Matt. 20:11-17)
She gave the empty tomb one more look, the way we do when we are hoping against hope to find something we know we have lost. Only this time, John tells us in his Gospel, it was not one, but two angels, that she found dressed in Easter white sitting on either end of where Jesus’ body should have been laying. Then they asked in unison, “Woman, why are you weeping.” The answer couldn’t have been more obvious, but she humored them with a reply anyway: They have taken the body and I don’t know where they have put him. She turned to go, only to be asked the same question, one more time: this time it was the gardener who spoke; “Woman, why are you weeping?” Again she answered, only this time with a hint of frustration in her tone: “Sir, If you have taken him away, tell me where and I will take care of it,” she said. It took one more word out of the stranger’s lips; One more word to turn the darkness into light.
One more word, that would turn tears of sorrow into tears of joy. Just one more word; A word she had undoubted heard a thousand times before. When that voice spoke that word, she would have recognized it anywhere: “Mary” he said. “Teacher!”, she replied. And then the flood gates opened as she found herself on the ground, arms wrapped around his legs, clinging to him for dear life. Gently Jesus gave her, his most devoted follower, one last assignment, he said, “Do not cling to me, for I have not ascended to My Father: but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.” It had to Mary.
She was the only one that was allowed to see Jesus; the only one permitted to touch him and to interact with him before he ascended to God the Father. Try for a moment to imagine what it must have been like or what it must have felt like to see the risen Christ alive and well, after watching him die; what it must have been like to see him come back from the dead! Then try to imagine one more thing. Imagine him, here and now, stretching out his nail pierced hand toward you, looking you in your eyes and with a face filled with love, saying just one more word; your name.
If the love of a woman to her slain sons could make her prolong her mournful vigil for so long a period, shall we weary of considering the sufferings of our blessed Lord? She drove away the birds of prey, and shall not we chase from our meditations those worldly and sinful thoughts which defile both our minds and the sacred themes upon which we are occupied? Away, ye birds of evil wing! Leave ye the sacrifice alone! She bore the heats of summer, the night dews and the rains, unsheltered and alone. Sleep was chased from her weeping eyes: her heart was too full for slumber. Behold how she loved her children! Shall Rizpah thus endure, and shall we start at the first little inconvenience or trial? Are we such cowards that we cannot bear to suffer with our Lord? She chased away even the wild beasts, with courage unusual in her sex, and will not we be ready to encounter every foe for Jesus' sake? These her children were slain by other hands than hers, and yet she wept and watched: what ought we to do who have by our sins crucified our Lord? Our obligations are boundless, our love should be fervent and our repentance thorough. To watch with Jesus should be our business, to protect his honour our occupation, to abide by his cross our solace. Those ghastly corpses might well have affrighted Rizpah, especially by night, but in our Lord, at whose cross-foot we are sitting, there is nothing revolting, but everything attractive. Never was living beauty so enchanting as a dying Saviour. Jesus, we will watch with thee yet awhile, and do thou graciously unveil thyself to us; then shall we not sit beneath sackcloth, but in a royal pavilion.