When They Prayed
FROM THE BISHOP DAVID GRAVES   I chose the theme of our 2023 Annual Conference session, “When They Prayed,” based on Acts 4:31: “And when they had prayed, the place in which they ...
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A Hope that is out of this world!

March 31, 2023

In January of 2018, Nancy, and I journeyed with 140 people to the Holy Land where we visited the areas of Galilee, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, the region around the Dead Sea, along with many Biblical sites in between. The experience truly felt like standing on Holy Ground.

As I think of this time on Holy Ground and the places we walked where Jesus walked, I think of Holy Week. It is a time of remembering the last days of Jesus: Palm Sunday remembers Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Maundy Thursday represents the Last Supper and arrest of Jesus, while Good Friday bears witness to more trials, the crucifixion and death of Jesus.

Black Saturday is a day not known to many but exemplifies a time when all seemed hopeless. Yet Sunday comes, and with that, the resurrection. Holy Days represent the eternal hope that as a follower of Christ, the best is yet to come of our eternal life in Heaven.

Leading up to Holy Week, Christian churches of all types and denominations will have been observing Lent. Lent is a season of 40 days, not counting Sundays, beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lencten, meaning, “spring.” The 40 days represent the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.

For Christians, Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming Easter. For many, it is a time of self-examination and reflection. In the early church, Lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism and some churches will celebrate baptisms this Easter. Other Christians focus on their relationship with God. A tradition for some is choosing to give up something for Lent while others give of themselves for others.

Sundays in Lent are not counted in the forty days because each Sunday represents a “mini-Easter” while joyfully anticipating the Resurrection. God so loved the world that Jesus came into it and loved us enough to die for our sins on the cross; He rose on the third day and Christ shares his resurrection with each one of us. 

The word "holy" means set apart, sacred, transcendent, revered and unique from everything created. There are many other descriptors, yet Holy is of God. May you experience the Holy of these first days of April and may your Easter be filled with joy and hope. If you need this hope, I know you will find a great message of hope in any of our United Methodist Churches this Easter Sunday. You will experience a hope that is out of this world!

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