April 16 2023

We have just been blessed with several weeks of meaningful events.

Our Easter concert blended readings from scripture with beautiful songs to tell the story of Jesus’ life. The service was a well-planned and powerful reflection. The choir and musicians led us well.

(Photos courtesy of Carmen Pauls Orthner)

Several of us set aside time during the week before Easter to listen and pray through the story of Jesus’ last days, meeting every morning and evening. Thursday evening, Pastor Cheryl led us in a foot washing service and communion.

On Friday, we joined our sister churches in a Good Friday service, where we commemorated the suffering and death of our Lord, brother, and friend, Jesus.

A number of folks came out on Saturday to serve meals to a long line of folks who glean their meals and groceries from charities across our city.

Then it was finally time to celebrate.

Jesus’ resurrection was celebrated by over 50 at the sunrise service, followed by a warm and joyful meal in the church building.

We entered into our Master’s joy again together at our 11:00 am service, with great singing, communion, and the Hallelujah chorus.

We opened the church building to the whole church on Easter Wednesday, with plenty of food and lots of games for those interested. Over 30 came out, including children, teens, parents and grandparents.

Perhaps it isn’t always obvious what these events accomplish. As I listen to us talk about them, we name some things easily. We know some need to hear about Jesus for the first time. Sometimes, we receive energy from them, and feel renewed or encouraged. Other times, we have been comforted.

There is something about an intentional effort on our part to mark anniversaries that changes us. I’m married every day but observing anniversaries impacts my affection and gratitude. It can lead to self-reflection, apologies, and resolve to change. I’m a father every day but observing birthdays renews my awe for the men and the woman that are growing up before my eyes. Friends and families have many other repeating events they rely on to maintain and deepen relationships.

Every day of our life is marked by Jesus’ death and resurrection. Every day, it is true that, “we have died in Christ and we no longer live but Christ lives in us” and that, “we are a new creation; the life we live in the body, we live by faith in Jesus.” However, our repeating, annual journey from our longing of advent, through Jesus’ birth at Christmas, his Epiphany on earth, the Lenten road to his suffering and death, the resurrection of Easter, to his ascension into Heaven, and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost; all these anniversaries are an invitation, to anyone willing to join together in scripture and prayer, in service and fellowship, and find love deepened and renewed, grief and discouragement comforted, and sin and death confronted. Intentionally taking part in these events is a means by which God speaks to us and changes us as we journey toward home, toward the renewal of all things through Jesus.

I’m convinced that the coming generations need churches now that pass on a whole way of life, a way of living together, by living it out now, including the observing of this profound series of anniversaries focused on God.

Happy Easter to you today and everyday: Jesus Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

With love,

Pastor Joel


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