Holy Week Worship

Holy Week Worship

By Erin Bird

Today (April 1) may be “April Fool’s Day,” as well as Opening Day for Major League Baseball. But far more important than either of these “celebrations” is the fact that this is Holy Week. This is the time of year in the Christian calendar when the global Church remembers the death & resurrection of Jesus, the most pivotal moment in all of history. The historic events of Good Friday and Easter are the hallmarks of the Gospel, and so even though we talk about the Gospel every week at Riverwood, we still want to take time as a church family to vividly recall these historic events.

So let me invite you to three things:

1. Good Friday (7 pm tomorrow night)
We will spend about 45 minutes reflecting upon the willingness of Jesus to lay His life down for us through song, prayer, Scripture, and communion. This event will be for the whole family. (If little ones need a space to decompress for a moment, the nursery room will be open.) We will also livestream this worship event.

2. Easter (9:30 am Sunday)
The Super Bowl/World Series/Olympics/World Cup of the Christian faith arrives! Join us as we celebrate Jesus’ ability to take His life back up through song and a sermon entitled “Love Rose Up.” (Feel free to read Sunday’s text ahead of time: John 10:1-18.)

3. Invite! (friends, neighbors, extended family, coworkers, grocery store clerks, whoever!)
If you haven’t already, extend an invitation to someone to join us on either Friday or Sunday, whether in-person or on Sunday.

Love Jesusly

Love Jesusly

By Erin Bird

Today, we conclude our How to Love series.

Love Like Jesus
Throughout our How to Love series, we have looked at loving others:

  • Humbly
  • Selflessly
  • by Listening
  • Generously
  • with Intention
  • and with Joy
  • while also loving ourselves.

But I can wrap all of that up with one phrase: Love Like Jesus.

If you look back at each of those previous topics, you will notice how I turned the issue to Christ almost every single week. Jesus is to be our example as well as our motivation. To love others humbly and generously and joyfully is to love them the way Jesus loves them.

Which means, loving “Jesusly” is an act of worship. In Matthew 25, Jesus said that when you love others (especially the “least of these”), you are doing it as if you were doing it for Him.

So may you find joy in humbling yourself and selflessly loving others, worshiping Jesus by generously giving your time and energy and life to help others know just how much they are loved by God. And by doing so, you will be exalting and worshiping the One who showed His love to the full by dying on the cross for you.

Love Internally

Love Internally

By Erin Bird

Next week we will be concluding this How to Love series, but before we do, I need to talk about something extremely important. In order for you to truly “love like Jesus,” you HAVE to love yourself.

If you’ve been following Jesus for a while, this idea of “loving yourself,” may sound unbiblical. After all, our culture talks a lot about “loving yourself,” and so therefore some of us just assume it must be an unbiblical sentiment. Others of us think about the portions of Scripture that call us to humility, so “love yourself” sounds anti-humble, so therefore anti-Christian.

But here are two reasons why I believe “loving yourself” is not only biblical, but necessary.

#1. You need to love you because Jesus loves you.
If you don’t love yourself, you are in essence saying to Jesus, “I am not worthy of love.” But that is so far from the truth as to be laughable! You were worth the blood of Jesus. Because God’s image is within you, God saw the highest value you could possibly have, so it was worth the cross to redeem you back to Himself.

So you need to love yourself to honor Jesus’ sacrifice. It as an act of worship.

#2. You need to love you in order to love others.
When you don’t love yourself, you set others up to fail you, which will lead you to fail them. You see, God created you to be loved. But by not accepting God’s love, and thereby not loving yourself, you turn others into a god-like character in your life, seeking to receive love from them. But because they are not God, they can’t love you perfectly. Then, in those imperfect moments, you feel hurt and let down, leading you to be nasty and selfish towards others.

But when you love yourself because of Christ’s love for you, you realize you are complete in Jesus. Therefore, you aren’t as needy for love from others. And out of that stable love for self found in the Gospel, you can then give to others the love God calls you to display.

As you can see, loving yourself in Christ’s love is deeply needed and necessary in order to love the way we’ve been talking about in this How to Love series. So may you bask in God’s love for you by worshiping Him in prayer & song, but may you also honor His love by loving yourself.

Love Joyfully

Love Joyfully

By Erin Bird

For the past several weeks, I’ve been writing about loving generously, intentionally, humbly, and more.

But if I am honest, sometimes it is HARD to love. It isn’t always easy to love your kid when he or she is screaming. It isn’t easy to love that coworker who always takes the credit. It isn’t easy to love your crazy Uncle Joe who mocks anyone who disagrees with him.

And yet, Jesus didn’t love us when it was easy. He loved us when we were weak sinful enemies. Why? Because He created us in His image & likeness! And out of that love as our Creator, He did the most difficult thing a person can do: He gave His life for us.

But Jesus didn’t die for us out of a duty-type love. He went to the cross because of joy! I know that sounds crazy, but that is exactly what the author of Hebrews says:

“[Look] to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

Now, don’t be mistaken; Jesus was not giddy with joy about the cross. He was so stressed while anticipating the crucifixion and bearing the sins of humanity, He was sweating blood the night before. Rather, His joy was you! He knew on the other side of the cross was a restored relationship with you, His image bearer.

So Jesus loved us joyfully. Which means, if we are going to “love like Jesus loved,” we are to love others joyfully while serving them, listening to them, speaking truth to them, and being present with them.

But what do you do when you don’t “feel” joy-filled while trying to love someone? First, pray. But as you pray, go ahead and do what you know God is calling you to do even when you don’t feel like doing it. Because oftentimes your emotions will change as you seek to love like Jesus.

So this week, seek to show someone love, but also ask God to help you do it with joy.

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