Easter Brings Hope & New Life!
I hope you will plan to join us during Holy Week and for one of our FOUR services on Easter Sunday. Two are outside (7 am Sunrise & 9:30 Bridge) and two are inside the sanctuary with overflow in the Chapel (9:15 & 11:00). We continue to observe CDC safety protocols.
Palm Sunday begins the greatest week of the year for Christians – Holy Week. Jesus’ decision to enter Jerusalem riding on a donkey fulfilled Zechariah’s prophecy and was an emphatic statement of who he was – the messiah. But his kingdom and his message was one of peace and not war. One of love and not conquest. One of hope and not fear. His message was a message of peace. His kingdom was a kingdom of peace. His life was a life of peace. His way was and still is the way of peace. And yet we still live in a violent world with mass shootings, crime, anger, hate, and violence.
Palm Sunday reminds us that Jesus came to save us. The crowd shouted, “Hosanna” as he passed which literally means “Save us now!” But how does Jesus save us today? Yes, he died brutally on a cross from crucifixion, and there are many different theories of the atonement debated by theologians in the Christian tradition. Many will ask, “Was his death a divine necessity or a human inevitability?” Put differently, did God send Jesus to die, or did God send Jesus to love and the powers executed him?
On Good Friday, we will reflect on his final words from the cross. If we also reflect upon his life and ministry, we quickly recognize specific ways that he continues to save us. If we listen, he saves us from our selfishness, materialism, jealousy, lust, meaninglessness, judgment, self-righteousness, anger, addictions, arrogance, fear, and hopelessness.
The past twelve months have been incredibly difficult for everybody. We have been through the perfect storm of Covid, grief, shutdowns, racial tension, and a toxic political season. This has taken a mental, emotional, and spiritual toll on the collective well-being of society. Addiction has soared. Suicides are up. Anxiety is present. Patience is short. Anger is real. Many have felt lost and disconnected. But this Easter, we are reaching an inflection point. Case numbers are down significantly. Schools are open. Vaccines are being approved, distributed, and administered at a much faster pace. Beautiful spring weather is allowing us to spend more time outside in parks, backyards, and neighborhoods.
What has sustained many of us during this perfect storm is a strong sense of faith and hope: faith that we can make it through these challenging times and hope that better days lie ahead. Faith and hope always go together because one is not possible without the other. Hebrews 11 says “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
At the heart of Christianity is a belief in the resurrection and new life. As we look around, we can see resurrection everywhere. A ministry colleague of mine put it this way: “Resurrection is all around us. Every day there is resurrection. Daily there are moments when life breaks through. Maybe we can’t explain it or predict it or schedule it, but if we have eyes to see and hearts to feel, it is there. Awe. Wonder. Joy. It’s in the eyes of someone you love. It’s in the human stories of love triumphing over hate. It’s in the presence of God enduring with us when we go through some of our little moments of dying.” (Scott Colglazier Finding A Faith That Makes Sense).
Frederick Buechner was once asked if he had been born again. His response was brilliant: “Let me tell you something, I have been born again and again and again.” May this be true for all of us this Easter and beyond!
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