How was Easter for you this year? Personally I had a deep and very meaningful Holy Week again this year. Some of you were able to attend the Seder meal on Maundy Thursday led by Jewish professor Rachel Bendor. That helped me feel the setting of that last supper Jesus had with his disciples before we went into our Maundy Thursday worship. Along with many others, I was very moved by our Good Friday evening worship, with the music, the singing, the story, and holding a nail, and then being able to drop it in a metal bucket right at the front of the church. Easter sunrise worship was awe inspiring, seeing the sun rising, and also being able to see the moon in the other direction, and to get our Easter lantern lit from the fire there in Serenity Park, and then a few hours later seeing a lot of children hunting for eggs in that same park. It was wonderful to see our sanctuary so beautiful with flowers and candles and banners and people, and to sing those Easter hymns and songs, and hear again the Easter Gospel. Thanks to all who made this year’s Holy Week at Ascension so memorable.
On On the Saturday evening (The Eve of Easter) I talked on the phone with my father in Australia, just after he had returned from an Easter sunrise service at the town cemetery. Some of the same Easter hymns had been sung there, and quite close to my mother’s grave. That got me thinking of so many Christians worshipping on Easter around the world, as their time zone saw the morning sun, as they gave witness to Jesus being raised from the dead. How is Easter for you? Notice that I changed the preposition from my opening question. I did this because Easter is more than an annual one day celebration. The church year helps us by giving us a 40 day Easter party up to Ascension Day, or it could be 50 days counting to Pentecost. I have a supply of little chocolate Easter eggs to get us through some of these days.
In the early days of Christianity the resurrection day – Sunday – quickly became the focal day for worship in each week. So really the Sundays of Easter will continue right through until next Easter. Some more questions: What does Easter mean for you? What difference does it make that the tomb where Jesus’ body was laid is empty? I believe it makes a big difference for my mother, and all who have passed to eternal glory ahead of us. And I also believe it makes a difference for our lives now, and how we live them. The risen Jesus meets us in our present time, and also is in the future.
For me that means I do not have to be as fearful about the future, and what it might hold. It means I can live more courageously. Hopefully I can let go of what needs to be let go of. There is a newness and a freshness that comes with Easter. (In the northern hemisphere, especially here in the American Midwest, springtime is full of new leaves and flowers.) I’m reflecting on where I most need that newness and freshness in my life right now, and also for us as a congregation. How can the risen Christ shine even more in our lives so that more people can know and experience the Good News of God?
Christ is risen.
- Pastor Tim