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Four Services, One Story

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When Jews celebrate the Passover meal, the youngest child asks the question, “Why does this night differ from all other nights?” Since we will soon celebrate Jesus’ fulfillment of Passover during Holy Week, it is good for us to ask a similar question: “How does this week differ from all other weeks?”

Central celebrates four worship services during Holy Week: Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. All four services link together to tell a single story: the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus for our salvation. These four services, however, are not the same; rather, each highlights a unique aspect of Jesus’ saving work and a distinct aspect of his gifts and calling to us. Therefore, each service will have some special elements that differ from our normal worship services.

On Palm Sunday, we remember Jesus’ final triumphal entry into Jerusalem with the loud praise of large crowds lining his way, and we will also have our own procession of praise with a children’s choir singing and carrying palms. Jesus’ apparent triumph, however, turned to tragedy. Jesus willingly entered into conflict with the leaders who would put him to death in just a few days, and thus we will leave the service praying for the same courage and faithfulness from Jesus with a song about his turn from triumph to death for us.

On Holy Thursday, we commemorate the first Lord’s Supper, which Jesus shared with his disciples when he was preparing them for his imminent death. In the midst of that night of pain and fear, Jesus comforted his disciples by loving them and teaching them to love one another, and we will receive that same love from Jesus in his words from that night and in the Supper that he continues to share with us. After that first Supper, Jesus sang a psalm with his disciples and went to a garden to pray in anguish as he began to be stripped of every comfort, and we will finish the service by praying about our anguish with a psalm and turning our hearts toward the cross as the communion table is stripped bare.

Good Friday is the day we remember Jesus’ suffering and death as the ultimate sacrifice for our sin. In a service of readings and song, we will hear and sing the story of Jesus loving us to the point of death in our place, and we experience the extinguishing of light until we end the service in darkness and silence to contemplate the depths of sin and wrath that Jesus endured for us in love.

Holy Week ends not in tragedy but in the greatest triumph of all, the death of death and sin in the resurrection of Jesus. Therefore, this will be our greatest day of praise! We will begin with the sunrise service with a choir at 7:30 a.m. in Forest Park, and then more choir and brass with services of extreme joy and praise at the church at 9:00 and 10:45 a.m. 

We hope that you will set aside time for each unique service during Holy Week. As each service links to the next, we can live the story together in a powerful way and experience the love of God afresh in the death and life of our living Lord!

Click here for more information on all of Central's Holy Week services.

           

Posted by Mike Farley

Humbled

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As I continue to integrate into Central, one of the things I have had to prepare is my business card. It's a simple tool, but on I will utilize in connecting with the community. At Central, the design on the front of the card is the same for all staff, but on the back we are given the chance for our personalities to come out and shine. Seeing what some others have written (Kate Spielman – “Kate is Grateful for God’s Abundant Mercy and Grace” and Randy Mayfield – “Randy is passionate about bringing the Gospel to the Nations”) helped me see how everyone has really tied in who they are and what they are doing into their statement. 

This began a journey of praying, reflecting, writing, erasing, and editing what I believe God has done in helping me know who I am.  Ben Tzeng, Pastor of Evangelism and Community: “Ben is HUMBLED by God, PROUD of the way He has made me”. 

Through the journey that God has brought me through, he has completely humbled me in knowing that I am His child and belong to him. As a child of Taiwanese immigrants, who came here for a “better life for their family," I am a second generation Asian American who was struggling with my identity and being proud of who I was.  Growing up, I was the chubby Asian kid that was longing to belong.  Someone once asked me as an icebreaker question, “what animal would you best describe yourself growing up?”  My answer was a chameleon; I would change who I was to fit in and try to belong.  However, as much as I wanted to be a chameleon, I was unable to change my shape and unable to change my skin, which led to very low self-esteem and a low view of myself. It was in that period of time in my life that God met me. 

Someone shared with me the love of God, his mercy and grace through Jesus Christ. God began a journey with me; a journey of finding my identity in God rather than trying to belong to the world. I found my true belonging as a child of God who loved me so much to send his only Son to lay his life down for me.  Through this relationship with him, I am humbled that a holy, loving, infinite Father would pursue me and give the power of Christ’s victory over sin and death to give me life and use me as his servant. 

It is in this I can be proud of who God has made me. No longer ashamed of my background and looking different than others around me, but seeing that God has fearfully and wonderfully made me, and he created me for a purpose! He created me to love and minister to others especially in the many different contexts that He places me. I know I can do this because I have found my belonging in God and His family. Of course there are difficult times when people are insensitive, unloving, or ignorant. But what I have found over and over again is that my security and contentment is in how God has made me and that I can utilize those times as teaching moments where we can all learn with humility and open hearts. I don’t have to be an angry Asian but a humble child of God who shows me how to boast in the LORD.

So when I say proud, I do need to constantly remember and be aware, reminding myself and others that this sense of pride comes after we are humbled by God. Some nations boast of their chariots and horse, but we boast in the name of the LORD our God (Psalm 20:7). If our pride isn’t humbled by God or if we don't use it for his purposes, this leads to arrogance, self-reliance, and narcissism creating distance with others. Pride comes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18) but we are able and must boast in what God does in our lives (1 Corinthians 1:31). Let’s strive together to help people BELONG to God’s family and be proud of the ways God has made them.

Posted by Ben Tzeng

Belonging & Believing

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I hope to document my journey of integrating at Central Presbyterian Church as a way to see how God is helping me as the Pastor of Evangelism and Community. It will be a way that I can listen and experience more of what God wants in leading the church to be one that continues to encourage people to come BELONG to his family and church. The church tag line is Know, Be Known and Make Known.  I am called to this church to make sure that we strive for people to come and be known. You have an important part to play in God’s family and church here at Central. The way God has made you and shaped you brings so much to his Kingdom and church. I hope you will be encouraged by my story, and join me in celebrating how God weaves together all of our stories into the deep history of Central. With a strong sense of togetherness and calling from God, I believe God will lead us to go and make known who he is to the community around us.  It will be a challenge to share the good news of Christ to those that we come in contact with, whether in or outside of the church.  I will strive to help us learn what it looks like to trust God in helping people go on that journey to BELIEF.

First Entry – 2/12/18

From 3 to 35 | My First Staff Meeting at Central 

At my last two churches, all-staff meetings were typically 3 or 4 people gathering together. On my first day at Central, this was clearly not the case. No longer a small meeting of a few, but a really big meeting of 30-plus. Was this something completely new and different? Yes. Was it strange to be in a room of people that I just met and learned their names? Definitely. Did I feel uncomfortable in this brand new environment? No, absolutely not!

Personally, I have always wanted staff meetings to be a time for the staff to share and be open with what is going on in our lives and ministries. It is a time to share, pray, and talk. Although the organizational parts of staff meetings will always be important, I have always felt that the most important thing is connecting with each other and knowing each other as we do ministry together.

Entering into my first all-staff meeting with the rest of the Central staff, I felt extremely comfortable where God has placed me. We enjoyed worship and praise together, and Pastor Clay led devotional that was clearly encouraging transparency and openness of what we each were dealing with in ministry. This led to staff members sharing what was sincerely on their hearts, both the positives and challenges in their ministries. This environment is what I was truly hoping for to be able to build relationships with ministry partners, working together as one, to impact the Kingdom.

I’ve been impacted deeply by God’s calling to be here at Central. It isn’t something that was quick, painless, or easy. In fact, it was quite the opposite, seeming more like a long journey that at times was excruciatingly painful (hard saying goodbye to close friends, church members, a context that we were so familiar with). But one thing was for sure, we knew God had called, so we had to trust God by faith and obey and “go," leaving behind our comfort zones. But how reassuring that God has given us a place where we find comfort with Him and God’s people to do His work going forward.

Posted by Ben Tzeng

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