Dear Members and Friends of St. John,
Easter Day is late this year (in Western Christianity). In some ways an early Easter is nice. Celebrating Easter and Holy Week can be hectic for a pastor, or for the pastor’s family, or for the servant leaders in a congregation. My wife, Kathy, once told me, much earlier in our marriage, that I don’t get to experience Lent, Holy Week, and Easter from the family side of Church celebrations. Hmmm! In addition, Confirmation Day and all its preparation also falls near Easter, at least at St. John, adding to everything else. It can seem a relief for congregations and church workers to make it through the busy-ness of this season to continue practicing our faith in a less busy and stressful way.
However, over the years I have learned not to “wish away” the important celebrations of our Christian faith, but to instead work to appreciate even more deeply the love and grace of God which is the reason for our celebrations. I have learned that it is important for my faith, and the faith of God’s people, to be in the moment during Advent and Christmas, and during Lent and Easter. God has broken into history with His love and saving acts in Jesus. We Christians do not want to miss what God has done for us by rushing through the observance and celebration of His grace.
Therefore, I am looking forward to Easter in late April this year. Spring Break is over. We are through the daylight savings change and days are full of much more sunlight. Flu season is mostly done. Yet, we still have many opportunities for Lenten observance to prepare our hearts for a meaningful celebration of Easter. Unfortunately, sometimes people miss the meaning of observing Lent, and can then also miss the reason for celebrating Easter. This year, because of a late Easter, we can really catch all that Jesus’ death on Good Friday and His Easter rising means to us!
Think about it. Why remember Jesus’ dying and celebrate His rising if we are not in bondage to sin? Why celebrate Jesus’ Easter victory if we have not been overcome by our enemy, the Devil? Why celebrate eternal life which Jesus won when He rose again on Easter, unless we face death and even hell because of our sin?
When I talk to confirmation students, and when other Christians who come to me about priorities, I will ask them these questions, “What will last longer, the trials and accomplishments of this world, or eternity? Which are MOST important, the big issues of this life, or our eternal life?”
Since eternal life with God is THE most important possession we have, since it is a gift of God, since we receive this most important, joyful gift because of Easter, it is good and it is important to celebrate Jesus’ victory. It is also good to know our enemies which Jesus defeated, the enemies of sin, death, and Satan. It is important to know why Easter is so joyful and important, why it is the most important day in history!
God inspired Paul to give a summary of the Christian life, and why we live this life in 2 Corinthians. “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Corinthians 5:15) Do you hear how Jesus death AND His rising call us and empower God’s people for victorious, joyful, Easter living?
PRAISE THE LORD that Jesus loved us so that He suffered and died to take away the power of sin and death and Satan. PRAISE THE LORD that, for all caught in the bondage from which we cannot free ourselves, Jesus rose from the dead and offers forgiveness, eternal life, and life with a Christian purpose, through faith in Him.
Because Easter is late this year, I feel a special opportunity to really remember and receive the blessings of Jesus’ suffering, His Death, and His rising. Please join me in taking the month of April this year to continue your Lenten walk and observance with Jesus’ family at your church. Please take the month of April this year to really celebrate Jesus’ Easter victory, which is also our victory through faith!
A Child of God, Intentionally Remembering and Celebrating God’s Saving Love in Jesus,
P.S. Here are some pictures from the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast. Nineteen people affiliated with St. John attended.
P.P.S. I went fishing on Monday, March 25, at Seventeen Mile Lake with Kym Miller to check the Lake out for the annual Shane Woods Ice Fishing Outing. The fishing was a little slow, but the ice was 30” thick and solid. We WILL gather for this memorial fishing outing this Sunday, March 31, after late worship. Here are some pictures.
P.P.P.S. Here are some pictures from our third Lenten Meal, last Wednesday, March 20.
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am regularly adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you do not want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message.