Sunday worship services included great music and an inspirational message from Pastor Donna which called on us all to personally experience the risen Christ. Crowds of enthusiastic worshippers, the alter rail full of Easter lilies, the glow of confirmation candles, and a beautiful baptism rounded out the day’s events. Pictures of the children’s time with the pastor at the 11:00 o’clock service and the baptism are shown below.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
A brunch was held between worship services on April 17th, Palm Sunday. A beautiful and delicious feast was enjoyed by members, friends and family. Then the best fun of all was prepared as eggs were hidden in a variety of places around the church grounds. Divided by age groups, the enthusiastic children swarmed their areas and scooped up their colorful eggs. The pictures below are representative of the events of the day.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
I was looking through some old photographs the other day and ran across some taken of my sisters and me on Easter day years ago. I knew they were Easter pictures not because there were Easter baskets or Easter bunnies in the shot but because we all had on hats. Yes, a child of six or so I was wearing my Easter bonnet. Each of us also had on a new outfit (usually homemade), new shoes and even gloves! We would go to church, but to tell you the truth I don’t remember much about those worship experiences or sermons. Nowadays I don’t wear hats or gloves very often, and I don’t get new shoes for Easter day, although I sometimes still buy a new outfit. Just today I heard one lady talking about going to buy new Easter dresses for her granddaughters – and they are in their twenties. One fifty-something woman also mentioned getting a new outfit for Easter. Times have changed, I guess, but not totally – we still like to get new outfits for Easter.
But, really, what do new outfits have to do with Easter? Surprisingly, quite a bit. In the early days of the church, new converts went to classes to learn more about Jesus and what it meant to follow Jesus. On Easter day all of these new converts would be baptized – they would take off their old clothes, don a robe in which to be baptized and then clothe themselves in brand new clothes, provided by the church, afterward.
Shedding the old clothes and donning the new clothes was symbolic of dying to our old selves and being resurrected to new life in and through Jesus the Christ. Taking off the old clothes was a way of letting go of your sin; putting on new clothes meant you accepted Jesus’ gifts of forgiveness, grace and new life.
I know this meaning of putting on new clothes is pretty much lost in our time; maybe we should revive it—not just so we can all go out and buy new outfits, but so that we can remind ourselves that we are new creations in Christ – the old is put away and we are living as new people. A new outfit – or perhaps a tie for the men—could symbolize our commitment to follow Christ more nearly and live as his people in the world today.
So I hope I see a few new outfits on Sunday; I’ll take it to mean you are more ready than ever to follow our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ, who was resurrected for our sakes.
Have a blessed Easter,
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
The 2011 Spring Salad luncheon, held on Thursday, April 7th, in the Family Life Center was the successful end result of several weeks planning. We had more than 80 different salads and served more than 300 guests. There were salads of every kind, size and hue, and the dessert bar featured white chocolate dipped strawberries and, for the young at heart, white chocolate dipped Peeps!
We received many compliments from attendees on the luncheon—the loveliness of the salads in particular, and the thanks of the crowd for continuing with this luncheon. It appears to be one of the most anticipated social events for our community.
Thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s luncheon—those who loaned us birdhouses for the tables, those who helped organize and plan the event, those who contributed the ever important (and very wonderful) salads, those who sold tickets, and everyone who helped in any way. Every contribution was important, every salad delicious, and everyone’s attendance was greatly appreciated. Our apologies for not being able to list everyone by name…There were so many wonderful volunteers helping with the luncheon.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
The crucifixion shows the worst of humanity and the best of God. It is a study of contrasts. That while Jesus would come to save humanity, humanity’s response is to “destroy” him. Tertullian said, “The first reaction to truth is hatred.” Think of a mirror held to the face of humanity, showing its worst traits. Jesus as truth and pure love cast a shadow that, perhaps, people found unbearable. They saw love but could not fully comprehend it.
For many Christians today, the crucifixion is summarized in nice, clean language: God sent Jesus to die for our sins that we could have everlasting life. While this is true, we must plumb the depths of that statement to comprehend the transformation it signifies. Think of it: God becoming human, living and loving, persevering beyond humanity’s angriest flaw; God allowing humanity to hurt God – as Jesus was berated and tortured, mocked and made fun of; Jesus dying an excruciating death – the Breath that first breathed life into humanity stopped.
This is not a story for the faint. Consider the stories today that most capture your heart and compassion. Do any of them hold a candle to the story of Jesus’ death? Yet all too often, we move unthinking and unemotionally through the sharing of the bread and the cup – the telling of Christ’s self-giving for us. This is not to say that God requires us to conjure up guilt and tears to show that this matters to us. It is to say that we should receive the retelling in all reverence and honor.
God’s love could not be overcome by humanity’s rejection, nor will it ever be.
How could we exemplify God’s love for those who have rejected us and whom we have rejected? If Jesus could welcome into his kingdom even those who hammered nails in his hands, perhaps we could show grace to those most unloved in society and those who have hurt us.
Friday, April 1, 2011
If you will recall, the second simple rule Wesley gave us to help us live good, holy lives was,
In Wesley’s words: “By doing good; by being in every kind merciful after their power; as they have opportunity, doing good of every possible sort, and, as far as possible, to all.
Here are some of his suggestions for things we should be doing for all people if we want to do good:
To their bodies by giving food to the hungry, by clothing the naked, by visiting or helping them that are sick or in prison.
To their souls, by instructing, reproving, or exhorting all we have any intercourse with’ trampling underfoot that enthusiastic doctrine that “we are not to do good unless our hearts be free to it.”
By doing good, especially to them that are of the household of faith or groaning so to be; employing them preferably to others; buying one of another, helping each other in business, and so much the more because the world will love its own and them only.
By running with patience the race which is set before them, denying themselves and taking up their cross daily.
What other acts would you add to Wesley’s list? How are you doing good in your life today?
Rueben Job writes, “It is true that these rules are simple and easy to understand. We almost always know when our words or action do harm and when they do good. Yes, the rules are simple and easily understood. But that does not make them easy to practice. Wesley frequently examined his own life to see if he was living in harmony with these three simple rules.
Are we examining our lives to see if we are living in harmony not only with Wesley’s rules but with God’s word and vision? Are we doing all the good we can, even if we are not asked to do so? Are we doing good to everyone or just to those who are like us or even like us? Job says, “I can decide that my way of living will come down on the side of doing good to all in every circumstance and in every way I can.”
Next week we will look at the third simple rule: Stay in Love with God.