Pastor’s Page April

There’s an old joke from Punxsutawney, PA about a Sun- day School teacher who thought she wasn’t reaching the children. The kids could name every secular holiday, but knew nothing about the church and its faith. She asked them about Easter. After comments about eggs and bunnies and chocolate, she asked if anyone knew what Easter had to do with their Christian faith. Finally, one little boy raised his hand and said, “Teacher, I know what Easter is about. It’s about Jesus rising real early in the morning.” “Yes,” the teacher thought to herself.

Lil’ Johnny continued, “And then Jesus peaks His head out of the tomb. If He sees His shadow, we have six more weeks of Lent.” With the biggest smile on his face, the little cherub concluded: “And that’s what Easter is all about.” Immediately after that, the teacher resigned from her position and currently serves on the Stewardship Committee.

It will be interesting to see what Easter will look like as we slowly emerge from our quarantines and social distancing. Will we dare to jubilantly and boisterously proclaim: “Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed!”? Or will we soften our proclamation lest we spray our neighbor with some airborne contagion? Will we embrace in joy, or will we awkwardly wave peace signs at one another?

In the northern hemisphere, the celebration of the Easter resurrection coincides with new life budding and flowering all around. New life abounds as flora and fauna emerge from their wintry quarantine. It’s unmistakable; it’s undeniable as sings of new life surrounds us—the smells, the sights, the sounds…

Now, does the same hold true for the Church? Do people see new life abounding in her citizens? Do they hear the Good News proclaimed from the depths of our being so the rapturous song echoes from early morning until well past twilight? Do people smell new life clinging to us or the stale mustiness of being confined to our couches for too long? Do they witness us bearing witness to them or have the vibrant colors of new life been muted in us?

With help from another duck, let me introduce you to Ephesians 5:14: Paul is reminding the church in Ephesus that if they are truly saved their lives will look, feel, sound, and even smell differently than it had prior to knowing Christ. In his letter, Paul was referring to immorality that had crept into the lives of believers and how they needed to leave sin in the past as they grew in faith and sanctification.

He could have very easily been discussing evangelism as well. If we have been touched by the Resurrection power of Christ, we will be transformed. Such a transformation is unmistakable, and it is undeniable if it has truly taken hold. Think back to that first Resurrection Sun- day. The change wasn’t something to shrug back, shrink from, or to quietly whisper to one’s self. No!

The message was meant to be shared for the Resurrection had changed everything, and it would change everyone who would receive it, and the same holds true to this day!

First and foremost, the women were to bear witness to the empty tomb as evidence of Christ’s Resurrection. After that, God’s messenger commanded them to go: “But go, tell His disciples and Peter that He is going before you to Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you” (Mark 16:7).

There was no room for doubt or fear. The time was for bold proclamation. The same holds true after all these years. Even in a time when many want to huddle away from others, this is a season to boldly proclaim the Good News. It is a time to be seen as we glow with the presence of Christ, the presence of New Life at work in us. It is a time for us to draw near to people so they can smell the new life that clings to us.

Throughout our series on Micah, I have referred to this slide on building the ministry. It’s nothing radical, pro- found or new. However, it is life-changing. Like the spring season and Eastertide, it is all about new life coming into the world through the process that God has ordained. It is as simple as bearing witness to the work that God has done through His Son, and the Holy Spirit will cause new growth to come about.

Like a garden, it takes a plan, and it takes cultivation. There are steps that need to be followed. There has to be a commitment to do the work. The reward comes for those who are willing to do the work and remain committed to it.

This is our faith. We take an old story, an old plan, and an old process, and we employ them in our lives and dare to share them with those who do not know. This is the gift that is ours in Christ Jesus. We simply have to bear witness to the work that He has done. We leave behind the old ways and labor for the new. We do so without reservation or excuse.

This year, we do it especially because of the situation we are in. People need now more than ever to hear that there is hope, and there is a power that enables us to overcome. This year, we need to proclaim the truth of Easter in all its glory to a world that desperately needs to hear of it and experience it for themselves, and they will never hear it if we do not boldly proclaim it.

Make your Easter proclamation heard: CHRIST IS RIS- EN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!

With love and faith and service,

Pastor Randall