The Pastor’s Page April 2022

Amidst rising inflation, war in Ukraine, potential conflicts around the globe, COVID fatigue, and a myriad of social issues within our borders, a group of US senators took action on March 15th of this year. The Senate unanimously agreed to keep America on Daylight Saving Time permanently. (At the time of this writing, there was no action taken by the House of Representatives.) Of all the things besetting our world, it seems like a trivial thing, but at least it brought our senators together, which is a rare occurrence.

With all the things going on in the world, it may seem like a trivial thing to talk about time. After all, future generations may read this newsletter as some ancient artifact of our times and think I ignored all the greater social issues to fixate on pie-in-the-sky spiritual ones.

When it comes to time, I have often believed that a perfect calendar would be much like this year’s. Ash Wednesday would fall late in February or early March. It seems that people are more attuned to going on a spiritual journey after the holiday fatigue sets in from hopping from one special day to the next from late November into March.

Again, in years like this one, it seems people are more pre- pared spiritually to celebrate Easter then in years where it feels as though it is found on the heels of St. Patrick’s Day.

On another note, when Easter falls much earlier, it feels rushed with holidays compressed and falling on top of one another. Ash Wednesday can occur before Valentine’s Day. St. Patrick’s Day can be on Palm Sunday or during Holy Week, and it doesn’t seem right—even to the least observant Christians—to indulge so much the week leading up to the commemoration of Christ’s Crucifixion.

Not so this year! We have had a bit of time to prepare for this Easter. We won’t have to worry about pulling down the shamrocks to put up the Easter decorations. Even though we are pulling out of our COVID fog, our Palm

Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter celebrations may seem a bit more subdued when compared with other years.

Like our Christmas Eve service this past December, we want people to focus less on the pageantry and production of the worship service and to focus more on worship and service.

The sermons in our Sunday worship of 2022 has consisted of contemplating spiritual gifts in January and February to journeying through the Parables in Lent. The Parables have helped to teach us some biblical principles and doctrines while pushing us to think about how we apply our faith in Christian service.

Hopefully, our Easter worship services will find them- selves nestled into a beautiful Spring day. The likelihood of such a good day increases the later the date. March teased us with days in the 70s followed by temperatures falling below freezing. I went from sunshine greeting me in the morning to what felt like interminable dark- ness when I left my home after Daylight Saving Time asked me to spring forward once again.

Such swings in weather conditions and time changes create confusion for the body. The many issues referenced at the beginning of this article likewise create confusion for the mind, the emotions, and the soul. We need to find clarity of heart and mind and spirit in these days. We need to do more than walk toward the solution—we need to run.

Running will be the theme of our Easter worship services. Don’t worry, you will not need to bring your track shoes. To get to Easter worship, we will travel through Jesus’ last moments with a Maundy Thursday Tenebrae service. After a brief opening of scripture, short sermon, and Communion, we will hear of the

events that led Jesus’ to the Cross. On Good Friday, you will be able to meditate on Jesus’ Last Words on your own (those scriptures are printed in this newsletter), or you may watch the Passion Play from a previous year through the churches website and social media.

While those events will harken back to earlier times (some farther back in our history than others), they are meant not as laments for what we have lost but as touchstones that will help propel us forward to future service in the light of God’s love, which brings us back to the theme of running on Easter.

This year, when you think of running, due to this (in my opinion) near perfect calendar, I hope you are not running a mad dash to find the perfect ingredients for the dishes on the dinner table. I hope you are not running from one holiday to the next or running to decorate the perfect way.

Rather, I hope you are running to see what the Lord has done. Whether you meet us at Boy Scout Lake at 6:45AM for the sunrise at the Sonrise service or gather at 10AM for Easter worship, I hope you are running to find the tomb empty and the promise of Christ’s Resurrection fulfilled. When worship is done, I hope you find your- self running. Instead of running to get a good seat at the local Easter brunch or meet family, I hope you run as the first disciples did: to share the Good News with those whose faith was shaken, to proclaim release to those still captive in their sins, and to bring mercy and grace to people who live in a world devoid of both.

In some ways, having Easter fall this late in the year, makes me feel as though I have missed out in the sense that I should have already arrived at Easter and forgot to stop at my destination. In other words, the weight of Lent and Easter has not fallen on me in the way that I think it should. Still, in the middle of Easter, I know I will feel the deep darkness of Maundy Thursday fall on my soul as the shadows and darkness of the Tenebrae service will encroach onto the corners of our sanctuary. If I keep moving on with the times, I will stumble into the light of Easter until I can gather myself, regain my composure, dis- cover my form, and run for my Lord.

I hope to see you as you do the same. There is a weight to these days that can seem like a burden to our souls, but

that same weight, if we allow the Holy Spirit to direct it, can slingshot us forward into the Light. In that Light, the weight falls away, In that Light, we cannot help but to sing our Alle- luias as we joyfully proclaim,

“Christ is risen! He is risen in- deed!” In that Light, we are not confused or fixated with unnec- essary or trivial things.

Instead, in that Light—the Light of the World—we find that by loving our God and our neighbor brings peace and prosperity that reaches beyond our locale and our current time. If we want to impact the world, we have to begin hear in our church. If we want peace in Europe, Asia, and Africa, we have to work for it here in the US of A. If we want it in our country, we start in our town. Before that, we start in our homes. Before that, we begin in our church. Be- fore that, we work on our own hearts. Before all that, we fix our minds on Christ and what He has done for us on the Cross and through the Empty Tomb.

I look forward to going on that journey with you in these strange and wonderful and weighty times for God’s glory.

With Christ’s eternal love,

Pastor Randall