March 26, 2021

March Madness Will Turn to Gladness | The Direct - Mar 25, 2021

Right now, sports and basketball fans are paying a lot of attention to the NCAA Tournament. Here at Whitewater, we've been focusing on Easter and the GLADNESS that comes from the madness of death.

March Madness

Right now sports and basketball fans are paying a lot of attention to the NCAA tournament. And, Sister Jean is back this year praying for and cheering on her team!

Much like everything else right now, it has been crazy. Lots of upsets, which really makes it March madness. Other than watching my NCAA pool selections, I (along with the entire Whitewater team) have been focusing on Easter and the gladness that comes from the madness of death.



Easter Celebration

Clearly, this Easter Graves & Gardens is shaping up to be a powerful one for so many reasons:

Attendance: More people are deciding to return to in-person service. While we are still excited to provide the worship live through screens to our online campus, we are seeing hundreds opt to return. Last Sunday in his message, Jon made a deal with you if you registered for Easter, and you responded! So, we’re delivering! The Sunday gatherings filled up so quickly that now we are offering not one, but two additional services on Saturday, Easter weekend. We've now added Saturday services at 4:30p and 6p with Harbortown KIDS open at the 4:30 hour. If you want to move to a Saturday Easter time to make room at a Sunday service or haven’t registered yet at all, here is the link to do so.

Baptisms: We are praying for dozens to go All-In through baptism Easter weekend. I have heard that many have shared they are planning on coming. We plan to offer the opportunity to be baptized at all the services – even Saturday. If you have questions, you can check out the baptism page here. All things will be ready. If you haven’t been immersed yet, this is your chance to go public with your faith, with family and friends cheering you on. Wear (or bring) some clothes you don’t mind getting wet. That’s what I am doing! We’ll have extra towels and clothes to change into if you forget.

Serving: With these additional services, we now have to further staff our Harbortown and Guest Experience teams. We would love to have you and your family serve together to make a difference and be a part of the life change happening on Easter weekend. (Perhaps you could serve at one Saturday service and attend at the other!)

With Guest Experience, we want all our invited guests to have a great experience before ever sitting down for worship! This critical team consists of members who help folks park, greet with a smile, hold the door, make and serve coffee, answer questions, show people around, prep communion, and help guests find a seat. Would you be willing to join this team on Easter to make this feel like home?

Harbortown is also planning for our biggest Easter celebration ever, and we can't wait to welcome our families! Many will be visiting Whitewater for the first time and some may even be returning for the first time since Covid. To help us reach as many families as possible, we need you to share the hope of Jesus with our Harbortown kids! You can email us at for more details, or sign up here.



This weekend

I look forward to teaching the last message in our current series, Blessed(?) this weekend...Blessed are those who are persecuted. This whole year, we're unpacking Jesus' most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount. It opens with this series of simple, but counterintuitive statements we call the Beatitudes. The most common way Christians have understood these statements, through the centuries, is that they're a basic "how-to" of living a Jesus-centered life.

There's another way to look at these, though. Maybe they're not prescriptive, but descriptive. Maybe Jesus isn't saying "You should be this way," maybe he's just stating the simple facts about what happens when you are. When we grasp the Good News about Jesus: His life, death, and resurrected life - then everything changes in our lives. Everything. "Gospel" means "Good News." And the life and death and life of Jesus is Good News in YOUR life, I promise you.

If you are poor in spirit, the gospel is Good News to you because you are exactly where you need to be to accept Jesus' invitation to the Kingdom of Heaven.

If you are mourning today, then we have Good News. Jesus knows exactly how you feel. He's mourned and he is mourning with you, and he wants to send you comfort.

If you are meek (with strength under control), then the Gospel is Good News for you because you don't have to throw anybody down to get to the top of this pile.

If you hunger and thirst for righteousness, we have Good News: God is going to fill you up with what you hunger and thirst for.

If you've shown mercy, if you've held back from retribution or even seeking full justice against someone who wronged you, the Gospel is Good News for you because that mercy you showed is the mercy you're going to receive from the Heavenly Judge.

If you are pure in heart, we have Good News: the sin that so easily entangles won't prevent you from sharing intimacy with God.

If you are a peacemaker, there is so much Good News: God will give you peace with God and the peace of God as a child of God.

This week, we will unpack the huge rewards you will experience when you suffer persecution. Excited about that, but even more thrilled to celebrate Easter gladness with you, especially this year!