April 9, 2023 Take Courage; What Day Is It? (Easter 1)

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, please click on the link below to watch the entire worship service as a video on your home computer, tablet or smartphone:

Link to Video:

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If you would prefer not to view the video, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: (St. Teresa of Avila:)
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which   He looks
Compassion on this world…
Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which He blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are His body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which He looks
Compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

HYMN 302 Christ The Lord Is Risen Today
Christ the Lord is Risen Today [April 4 2021, Easter]
Faith United Methodist Church-Rockville, MD

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − Almighty God, through Jesus Christ you overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life. Grant that we, who celebrate the day of our Lord’s resurrection, may, by the renewing of your Spirit arise from the death of sin to the life of righteousness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN 310 He Lives
He Lives! – Greater Vision Quartet

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.

MESSAGE: Take Courage; What Day Is It?
Text: Mark 10:46-52, Hebrews 12:1-3
Series: Instructions for Resurrection

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Wesley Sermon Audio


Mark 10:46 And they came to Jericho; and as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great multitude, Bartimae’us, a blind beggar, the son of Timae’us, was sitting by the roadside. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; rise, he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his mantle he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Master, let me receive my sight.” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.

Hebrews 12:1-3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the pioneer 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. 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

Romans 6:3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Here is a link to the sermon by S. M. Lockridge, Sunday’s Coming! mentioned in this week’s sermon.


HYMN 364 Because He Lives
Carrie Underwood – Because He Lives (Live From The Ryman Auditorium/2021)

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!


A part of taking courage is this: it’s good to understand what day it is.

Let’s consider Easter Sunday. Here’s the problem. There are people, when it’s a basketball game, they say to themselves, “Well, I’m just going to tune in and watch the last 10 minutes because that’s the only part that matters.” There are people at a football game, “Well, after the 2-minute warning, I’ll start to pay attention because that’s all that matters. All I care about is, ‘Did the good guys win? Or did the good guys lose?'” And if you don’t have much time, maybe that’s one way to follow sports. But I can tell you with all great certainty that you will not understand the game that you do not watch. If you don’t know everything that came before the final score, there’s not a whole lot that you can learn from the final score.

So I’ll tell you the truth. It’s all over Facebook this morning. I know how the story ends. Christ is risen. The good guys win. But if you’re going through hard times, that’s when you need to understand how the game works … so that you can do your best.

And so after 42 years as a pastor, on Easter Sunday morning, I’ve always talked about just plain Easter. And what that means … the happy ending. The last two minutes of the game.

Today, I feel, strangely, like I need to talk about the big picture of Easter, because Easter Sunday is not disconnected from what happens before. Easter Sunday really begins on Good Friday. And not only that, Easter Sunday is not disconnected from you and I, because we today understand that Easter is not just a part of history, is not just something that happened thousands of years ago … but God is still bringing new life to people and bringing hope to people in the middle of disaster. Easter is three days, not one day.

And Easter is not way back then. It is right here and right now. And it’s not just that Jesus rises from the dead to walk into newness of life, but you and I also rise to live a new life. Easter is for us as well as Jesus. And if we follow Jesus, thank God, we will also have our own Easter experience. But we get there through a Good Friday experience. We get there through a Saturday experience.

Jesus is always our model for what we need to do in everything. So let me draw your attention to this truth. You already know this. You say it, but it may not have really sunk in. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but – what’s that word? – have eternal life. You see, the resurrection for you and I is not far off into the future. We have eternal life now. Heaven begins now. Easter happens to you and I now.

Paul makes it really, really clear in Romans 6:3, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus, were baptized into his death?” Sometimes we sing, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” The Bible says, “You were. You were baptized into his death.” Verse 4, “We were buried, therefore, with him by baptism into death when they took him into the tomb.” According to these verses of scripture, you were there.

But that’s not all. Easter is about us: So that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. We too, we too, might walk in newness of life. For if we’ve been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. You see, Easter is not just something that happens to Jesus. It has the potential to be something that is happening to us.

So when does Easter begin? Sometime before midnight, perhaps after midnight, Jesus prayed these words, “Lord, take this cup from me, yet not what I will, but what you will.” And this started things happening. Jesus is always our model. And when you and I go through a crucifixion experience where we feel as if we are dying, Jesus is always our model and can help us to understand how to deal with the difficulties of this life. Because sometimes life gets difficult.

Let me share my testimony with you. You’ve heard me speak of this before. I think it happened to me so that I can refer to it. On Good Friday three years ago, April 5th, 2020, Kim and I had just been relieved of quarantine under COVID. And on a Thursday night, I noticed– now I was not short of breath, but I noticed I was breathing more frequently than was typical. And I thought, “Now that’s strange.” I wear a CPAP machine. So I put my CPAP machine and it pumps all kinds of air down into you and that was just fine. I got up the next morning, told my wife. And, men, you know this is what happens. If you don’t tell your wife, she won’t make you go to the hospital. So on Good Friday morning, I have an Easter service to get ready. I have an Easter sermon to plan on Good Friday morning.

But instead I’m headed to Mount Vernon to Good Sam to the emergency room in Mount Vernon. And I go in there, and Kim has to stay outside of the patient rooms because it’s COVID; nobody’s allowed back there. And they told us because we said, “Can she come with me?” “No, no. We only let the family go back if someone is near death.” So they whisked me away to get a CT scan. They brought me back to the room. And the doctor was there and Kim was there. And I said, “Oh, Lord.” [laughter] And the doctor said, “Mr. Kueker, you have an extremely large saddle pulmonary embolism.” That’s a blood clot in the lung.

Now, I had a close family member that had a blood clot in the lung, and went undiagnosed for three weeks. Here’s the problem, once they diagnose it and put you on blood thinner, that’s good. But what you might need to know – and I knew that day because of that previous experience – around one in four people who develop any form of pulmonary embolism die instantly. And if they’re not diagnosed, a third of them die before the treatment begins. So I knew this was serious business.

And I began to say to myself, “It’s Friday. These are the kinds of things that happen on a Friday.”

Now if you heard me preach on this previously, these words come from a sermon by a Black pastor named S. M. Lockridge. It’s one of the most beautiful sermons that’s ever been preached where he talks about how on Good Friday, everything that Jesus suffered, everything that was done to Jesus– he was tortured. He was beaten. He had to carry the cross. He was nailed to the cross. And again, and again, and again, the pastor says, “It’s Friday. These are the kind of things that happen on a Friday. Don’t be surprised when a Friday happens because Sunday’s coming.” And I sought to calm myself with these words. I just kept muttering under my breath, calmly saying to myself, “Calm down, Dave. This is just a Friday. These kinds of things happen on a Friday. Bad things happen on a Friday. Bad news comes on a Friday.”

They load me onto the helicopter. And it’s really strange, if you ride on that helicopter to the hospital, it feels like you’re driving over the most bumpy road. It’s astonishing. So with every bump, I just kept saying, “It’s Friday. This kind of thing happens on Friday.” And I was able to stay calm. And I’m convinced that my ability to stay calm and have faith helped to save my life on that day. There’s a side effect of COVID called a cytokine storm. It’s when your immune system gets scared and overreacts to an infection or a problem, floods your body with immune system cytokines, and quite often that this is the reason that people would die from COVID — their own immune system would panic. And I just kept saying to myself, “I need to stay calm. This is just a Friday.”

Now what’s interesting to me is saying it’s a Friday is another way of saying, “Lord, take this cup from me, but nevertheless, not my will, but thy be done.” It’s what Jesus prayed. That was my Friday. And the disciples on their Friday, when Jesus died, they had no idea what they were going to do, although they did believe that the authorities were coming for them next. So they hid away on Saturday.

I was at the hospital Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, Indiana, on Saturday. And the doctors came in and they said, “We’ve decided not to do heart surgery on you because for some really bizarre reason, you’re not as sick as you obviously are.” And I said, “Well, that’s good.” And I under my breath, I said, “Well, it’s just Friday. These kind of things happen on a Friday.” And they said, “You’re not short of breath. You don’t have the pain and the other things that are always associated with this kind of illness. So we’re not sure that surgery is the best way to help you because we don’t understand why you were doing so well.” And I thought to myself, thank you, Lord. Jesus is real.

But on Friday, we need to stay calm. On Saturday, we need to keep the faith and have hope. Because what happens as we deal with difficult things is there is a temptation to despair. There’s a temptation that drives us toward depression. And here’s the health reality of despair and depression: any illness, no matter what illness it is, despair and depression make it worse. But hope is the antidote to despair. And hope is very powerful. So if you find yourself on a Saturday, the crisis has passed, but now you have to hang on. You have to wait. While you’re waiting, listen to your hope. Hope will be like that lifesaving life preserver. It’ll keep you up above water. Listen to your hope.

Now, my Saturday was only one Saturday. But some people who get out of the hospital after surgery, knee surgery, hip surgery, something else, there’s a week of physical therapy. There’s 2 weeks. There’s 5 weeks. There’s 12 weeks. Their Saturday can drag on and could seem like it’s forever, but you just need to hang on and let God work. Don’t give in to the temptation of despair and depression, but hang on. Because sometimes Saturday takes a while.

But if we give God time, eventually, Sunday comes. You’ve been saying that. Under your breath now for perhaps a day, perhaps a week. Sunday’s coming. Sunday’s coming. And you know these are the kind of things that happen on a Sunday. You feel better. You’re in the hospital and it takes a long time to get better, but all of a sudden you turn a corner, and rapidly, good results begin to happen.

These are the kinds of things that happen on a Sunday, as God helps us with new life. And I want to ask you to remember these three days if you find yourself going through a similar difficulty. Because what happened to Jesus is meant to be a lesson to us. And if you understand how Jesus weathered the storm of the worst day in His life, it will help you. It certainly helped me to weather the storm on the worst day in my life.

And this sermon that S. M. Lockridge preached just helped me to get through that time. It’s Friday. These are the kinds of things that happen on a Friday. I need to keep the faith and not give up, but to believe and to hang on. And most of all, don’t get stuck in your Friday. As Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, for God’s sake, keep going.” It’s not time to pause and look at how terrible things are. It’s Friday. These kind of things are happening on a Friday. The doctors are working. God is working. It’s only Friday. Sunday’s coming.

So where does your Easter begin? Here’s one of the most beautiful examples of these principles to me that come from the gospels. Mark 10:46. “And they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, by the side of the road, where the beggars would sit to ask for help, was a man named Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus. He was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.’ And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.”

I’m really not sure why, when somebody is struggling, people feel that it’s important that they not think that it’s better than it is. I’m not quite sure, when people are struggling, there are people who will think it’s their job to tell you that there is no hope. Because for some reason in their mind, you need to know the worst that could happen. When in every illness, no matter what it is, there are some people that survive. What we want is to be one of them.

But people around Bartimaeus discourage him. They tell him to shut up, to stop crying out to Jesus as if that will make any difference as if that will matter. They tell him to be quiet.

But you know? He is not going to be quiet. He is very stubborn. “He cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me.’ And Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.'” And now, all of a sudden, listen to the crowd. And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart.” The Greek word there literally means, take courage. Rise, he is calling you. Bartimaeus was going to cry out until God heard him.

Now imagine this, if you will– “and throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.” A blind man stood up and started running through the crowd. Astonishing. Nothing could stop him. As I said, he was stubborn. Verse 51, “And Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?'” In other words, Jesus says, what is it that you hope? What is it you want? What is it that you are praying for? Because, you see, we have to hang on to our hope. And the blind man said to him, “Master, let me receive my sight.”

And Bartimaeus went from stubborn patience to joyful acceptance. Easter happened to him. Jesus said to him, “Go your way. Your faith has made you well,” and immediately he received his sight. Jesus told him to go on his way– “go wherever you want.” Where did he go? The Bible says he followed Jesus. And in fact, we know he did because that’s how you know his name, Bartimaeus. You know his father’s name, Timaeus. He was active in the church from this day forward. A witness of what God can do when people are suffering.

When does your personal Easter begin? You see, it’s time to walk in newness of life– looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross. You see, you’re going to have to endure that Friday. You’re going to have to endure that Saturday. But for the joy that is set before you, you can remind yourself that Sunday’s coming. Verse 3, “Consider him. Consider Jesus, so that you may not grow weary or faint-hearted”— you may not succumb to that temptation of despair or depression. But you can hang on to your hope, because Sunday’s coming.

So friends, I want to ask you today, on this Easter Sunday, to take courage. I carefully looked through who was here this morning. Whoever it is that is living a perfect life, I didn’t notice them come in the door! I know you and I are living the best life we can. Every single one of us has problems. Thank God, for so many of us they’re very tiny problems. But what Easter reminds us is, whether it’s a small thing or the most frightening thing that you can imagine, God is working in your life and my life.

Robert Frost said, “The best way out is always through.” And so whether it’s a little Friday or a big Friday– whether it’s a minimum Friday or a real scary Friday, the Lord Jesus Christ will help you to get through.

See, that’s one of the things we struggle with. The 23rd Psalm– all of a sudden the sheep look around and say, “Oh my God, I’m in the valley of the shadow of death.” And you know what we think? The shepherd will rescue us — and instantly we’ll be somewhere else. No, friends; we have to walk with the shepherd up out of the worst that life can be. But as we walk forward, we’ll find ourselves in a better place– green pastures and still waters. But sometimes it takes more than a second for your life to turn around. But the Lord Jesus Christ will walk with you as you move forward.

Which now brings me to this image — you know that bicycle? Do you know why it’s there? Many, many years ago, I talked about the reality that you cannot stay in one place on a bicycle. But if the bicycle’s moving forward, you can keep your balance and not fall down. When you and I are in hard times, it’s like we’re on that bicycle. If we move forward, we can find a balance and we can move from where we are to where we would prefer to be. And to me, the lesson of Easter that we need to hang on to is that God can help us, and is willing to help us, just as God helped Jesus. So don’t give up. Don’t give in to despair or depression. Don’t just stand there in a fearful way. Do something.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, we pray. And we ask, increase our faith. Because Lord, even if today is not a bad day, we know a day is going to come where we are going to need that faith. Lord, increase our faith. A day is going to come when we need our hope. Lord, increase our hope. A day is going to come, Lord, when we’re going to question whether God loves us. Lord, increase our faith and our hope so that we can remember that you do love us, and you are working in the midst of every Friday. And you’re working in the midst of every long and difficult Saturday of waiting for results. Lord, I pray that you would work within us to bring us up and out of the worst things in this life, and help us to move on the path as we follow you to green pastures and still waters in this life. Help us to remember, Lord, that no matter what it’s like, Sunday is coming. And we ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources

Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Road, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.

(If you wish, you can listen to the Prayer of St. Francis being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )

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