“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise”—Luke 23:43. The Greek word for “Paradise” in this verse is a transliteration of the Persian word used in ancient times to describe the King’s Garden—a walled garden that was a place of stunning beauty with majestic trees, emerald waterfalls, and breathtaking florals. It was a place of high honor in Persia for those being set apart and honored. Through Jesus’ words, we are all being invited to enter the garden. These words of Jesus point us towards his mission—and ours; to seek out and to save those who are least, last, and lost. This includes those who to us on the surface, seemingly are hopelessly lost. Over time the word “paradise” came to be used by the Jewish people where Adam and Eve resided, Eden was after all, the King’s Garden—the garden of God—a garden that fallen humankind was forbidden from entering—Paradise was lost to humankind.

John’s Gospel tells us that Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, was crucified in a garden on Calvary, and was buried in a garden near Calvary. When Jesus was raised from the grave Mary saw him and mistook him for a gardener. These words from John and Luke beckon us to understand that these words of Jesus spoken to a hardened criminal signified that the door to the “Kings Garden” was being opened once more—that Jesus was removing the barrier that had separated a fallen humankind from entrance into “Paradise” with him. These words from the cross call out to us to be like the thief whose heart was moved by the crucified savior to pray the words, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”. Join us this week at Sedona United Methodist Church as the Rev. Fred Mast continues a series of Lenten messages walking with Jesus and his followers on a journey that will ultimately take them and all of us to the cross in a message entitled “Journey to Eternity—You Be With Me In Paradise”.

Sunday mornings we enter the spirit of worship at 9:30 am featuring uplifting music, special times of prayer and passionate life changing messages designed to move you closer in your relationship with Jesus Christ and others. Immediately following worship, you are encouraged and invited to stay and join us in our Fellowship Hall for the friendliest and best fellowship time anywhere featuring delicious snacks and great coffee and always friendship.

Beginning February 20th—March 27th, we begin our Lenten Study on Tuesdays at two locations: VOC—Join Pastor Fred at the Sedona Golf Resort (restaurant) at 10:00—11:00 a.m. & West Sedona—Join Jan Shuman at The Gathering Place from 2:00-3:00 p.m. Our study will feature Adam Hamilton’s—”Final Words from the Cross”. All are welcome and invited. We offer a number of book and bible studies: Wednesday’s our Men’s Bible Study at 9am; and Thursday’s our Women’s Bible Study at 9:45am. And coming soon a new study on the Psalms.

So many great missions, ministries and events happening at Sedona UMC a great place for ALL people—Visit our website at us on www.sedonaumc.org and “Like” us on Facebook. We would love to pray for you!—Prayer requests may be submitted online or by calling us at 928-282-1780. We are conveniently located at 110 Indian Cliffs Road off the Back O’Beyond roundabout on Route 179 in Sedona. Come and grow with us!