Last Sunday we reached the end of this year’s Lenten journey and found ourselves proclaiming the glad Easter news, “Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!” I love Easter. And, as I said to one member, “I especially love Easter at this church.”
What an incredible day it was. Over 900 worshiped in our three services. There were children everywhere, and it was exciting to see them continuing our church’s tradition as they decorated the barren cross on the front yard to become a thing of beauty. As always, music was great in all services, and exchanges of “Happy Easter” were frequently heard. I love it!
And it’s not over. Since ancient times, Easter has actually been a whole season. The Great Fifty Days, it’s sometimes called, extending from Easter Day to the Day of Pentecost 7 weeks later. (June 4 this year.) During this season we continue to celebrate Resurrection and Christ’s presence with us.
As we do, we have a beautiful world around us displaying new life and beautiful color. This Sunday we’ll celebrate the Festival of God’s Creation, traditionally celebrated the Sunday closest to Earth Day. We’ll celebrate the beauty and goodness of creation and think about our responsibility to these gifts God has entrusted to us.
Last Sunday I pointed out that, in Matthew’s story of the resurrection (Chapter 28), twice the women who visited the tomb were told, “Do not be afraid.” The second time, it was the Risen Christ himself speaking those words to them. These, according to Matthew, were the first words spoken by the Risen Christ.
“Do not be afraid.” I pointed out that the number of things we are afraid of is limited only by our imaginations. And much of what we fear is only in our imagination. But much is real…the threat of war, of terrorism, for example. Also a fear of what is becoming of our planet, for which we have been entrusted to care. We’ll share some of these thoughts on Sunday.
Many people have commented on the number of deaths we have experienced in recent months, both of church members and of their close family members. Indeed, two memorial services are scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday), both church members, both with deep ties at First Church. In our sorrow and loss, we do well to call again on those words, “Do not be afraid….” Death is not the end. Death does not have the final word. Why? Because, “Christ is risen!”
“Do not be afraid.” Truly, for we are not alone…the Risen Christ is with us…the victory has been won over sin and death. This is our Easter faith. We are Easter people!
See you Sunday at the Easter Place!