May Newsletter

Mission: Accomplished

There is an obscure passage in the Book of Isaiah that, when you read it, your eyes are tempted to just breeze on by it. But if you slow down and consider it carefully, it has much to tell us:

Who is this coming from Edom, from Bozrah, with his garments stained crimson? Who is this, robed in splendor, striding forward in the greatness of his strength?
“It is I, proclaiming victory, mighty to save.”
Why are your garments red, like those of one treading the winepress?
“I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing. It was for me the day of vengeance; the year for me to redeem had come. I looked, but there was no one to help, I was appalled that no one gave support; so my own arm achieved salvation for me, and my own wrath sustained me. I trampled the nations in my anger; in my wrath I made them drunk and poured their blood on the ground.” Isaiah 63:1-6 NIV

At first blush, this seems like any other passage depicting the Old Testament God’s wrath and judgment executed on sinners—especially the Gentiles who reject him—like a warrior destroying his enemies.

But early Christians saw more to it than that. They saw this as a portrait of the resurrected Jesus when he makes his return to heaven after his passion. “Edom” is not just the frequent foe of ancient Israel, but it represents the fallen world that stands in opposition to God’s will. The crimson garments are Christ’s clothes stained red with his own blood. His Father interrogates Jesus, not because he doesn’t actually recognize him, but more as a request for a mission report. And the triumphant Jesus—Victor over sin and death—is able to give a positive response to his Father: Mission: accomplished.

Cyril of Alexandria (A.D. 376-444) was the patriarch of Alexandria from 412-444. He was a champion of right teaching and earned the titles Pillar of Faith and Seal of all the Fathers. And he taught this interpretation of Isaiah 63: it is a depiction—a prophecy, even—of Jesus Christ returning to his Father after suffering, dying, and rising from the dead. In fact, this understanding of Isaiah’s words was pretty standard in the early centuries of the church. Upon the completion of his journey, Jesus Christ proclaimed victory through himself, that he is mighty to save. There was no one else who helped him; his own arm alone achieved salvation. At the cross and at the empty tomb, Jesus trampled down his enemies—Sin, the Devil, and even his oldest foe Death itself—and he poured out their blood on the ground as a sign of their utter defeat. (Compare this to Revelation 19:13: “He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.”)

This is still good news, even today. It’s the good news that we celebrate during Eastertide, and it’s the good news that gives us hope today. Sin has already been wiped away at the cross, so we need not worry whether our sin can be forgiven and purged from us. And death has been defeated at the empty tomb, so we need not fear death anymore; it has been tamed and brought to heel by Jesus the Victor.

So friends, let us cling to the good news that Jesus has triumphed like a mighty warrior destroying his—and our—enemies. And we now share in the spoils of his victory. Hallelujah!

Pastor Ray

America for Christ
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Galatians 6:9-10 NIV
Thank you for your generosity! This year we raised $350 for America for Christ!

Flood Relief
There is an enormous recovery ahead for eastern Nebraska and southwest Iowa! The need is great. There are many different ways you can support the clean-up effort. One of the most efficient ways, however, is to support the work of disaster relief agencies. So give generously!

American Red Cross
American Baptist Disaster Response Ministries
American Baptist Men

Sunday School
Join us for Sunday school every Sunday morning at 9:30. There is no shortage of fellowship and coffee!

Thank You!
Thank you to everyone who helped out with the events in April: Lenten worship, Debbi Cross’ funeral lunch, and Maundy Thursday. You make an eternal difference!

Pastoral Visits
Pastor Ray would like to visit you! As we move closer to summer, Ray would like to visit with you and get to know you more. Let’s talk!

Financial Summary for April
Local: $6,990
Basic Mission: $65
Myers: $20
Rice: $10
America for Christ: $350

A Creative Way to Support Your Church
If you have an IRA and you’re 70.5 years old, then you probably already know about Required Minimum Distribution (RMD). If you’re not familiar with an RMD, it goes like this: At age 70.5 (for most retirement accounts), you must start withdrawing a minimum amount of money from your account—and that withdrawal is taxed as income. However: you can transfer that RMD directly to a qualifying charity (e.g., OUR CHURCH) and avoid all taxes. In fact, you can give up to $100,000 from your IRA to the church each year! So it’s a win-win situation. Talk to your financial planner about how you can do this. For more useful information, read this brief article.

Ten Facts You Should Know About American Baptists
1. American Baptists believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, and that the Bible is the divinely inspired word of God that serves as the final written authority for living out the Christian faith.
2. For American Baptists the local church is the fundamental unit of mission in denominational life.
3. American Baptists partake of two ordinances: believers’ baptism and The Lord’s Supper.
4. American Baptists believe that the committed individual Christian can and should approach God directly, and that individual gifts of ministry should be shared.
5. American Baptists take seriously the call to evangelism and missionary work.
6. American Baptists support religious freedom and respect the expressions of faith of others.
7. American Baptists acknowledge that God’s family extends beyond our local churches, and that God calls us to cooperative ministries.
8. American Baptists have been called to be Christ’s witnesses for justice and wholeness within a broken society.
9. American Baptist Churches USA celebrates the racial, cultural and theological diversity witnessed within its membership.
10. American Baptists heed the biblical call to renewal and the need for a vital witness in a new millennium.
(Taken from http://www.abc-usa.org/10facts/.)

Diaconate Meeting
The deacons will gather after worship on Sunday, May 12.

American Baptist Women
ABWM will gather on Wednesday, May 15, at 1:30 p.m.

B.U.M.P.Y
(Baptist / United Methodist / Presbyterian Youth)
BUMPY will meet at the Methodist fellowship hall on Wednesday, May 1, 8, 15, and 22, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Supper is included, as usual!

Updated Church Directory
We are updating our church directory! If you have a change in address or phone number (or if you would like to provide your email address), please let Pastor Ray know. Call, text, or email him with your new information.

Camp is Coming!
Summer camp has the potential to impact a young person’s life and eternity! Dayton Oaks Camp, one of our ABC camps in Iowa, is offering some terrific camps this summer. Visit www.daytonoaks.org to learn more and to register. FBC also offers scholarships to help cover the cost of attending.

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