I was once told in a workshop by a communications “expert” that a church newsletter is not supposed to report what has already happened, but instead promote what is coming up. That makes sense. If someone reads about an event that has previously taken place, there’s no chance to participate in that event. However, if a church works hard at communicating opportunities for worship, fellowship, study and service – then people will know what is coming and can make plans to be a part of it.
I’m going to break that unofficial rule today by saying, “What a wonderful Easter Sunday we had!” With beautiful music by our Chancel choir, Laudate Ringers, and the beautiful acapella ensemble (not to mention the hymns of Easter), our worship was filled with joyous sounds. Thank you to all of our musicians who invest their time and talent so we might enjoy the quality of music we experienced on Easter morning.
Another joy for me came when the curtain opened in the baptistery at the beginning of the service and I looked out over a near capacity crowd. There were many visitors and “out-of-town” family and friends with us – but Easter also tends to be a time when all our regular attendees happen to be in church on the same Sunday. How wonderful it was to
see all your faces!
Years ago, at the close of an Easter Sunrise service, I invited those attending to come up to the chancel as I looked up at them from the floor beneath. It was intended to be a symbol of how we are all called to be witnesses of the resurrection – messengers of new life. As I prepared to offer a closing benediction, I looked from face to face – individuals and families I knew and loved – and suddenly I could barely speak. I knew how many of them had suffered and grieved and struggled in the past year. But, on that Easter morning, with the sun streaming through the stain glass window behind them, there was reason to hope and reason to live.
Last Sunday, five young people from our congregation made their confessions of faith and were baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection. In a time of shrinking membership and other struggles in so many churches, it was a sign of hope for the future. As the large group of children gathered around the baptistery to watch, it was another sign of the life and joy God is bringing to Central.
Easter was indeed a beautiful day – with flowers, music, children, love and laughter. But the real joy comes in living in that joy throughout the year – through any and all the circumstances of everyday life. The real Easter joy is one that, despite all of the evidence to the contrary, insists that light is stronger than darkness, love is stronger than hate and life overcomes death once and for all.
Even as the first disciples discovered the Risen Christ walking with them in the days after Easter, I invite you to join us as we also seek him in our journey together. Easter was just the beginning. I can’t wait to see what God has planned for us next.