Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.John 20:21-22
First, I love, love, love Easter Sunday. I love the spirit of celebration, the buzz of excitement around the church, the raw energy of a room full of people, the sense that this is what church is supposed to be (and always has been in our experience over the years).
At the same time, this was the first Easter since Rebekah’s retirement, and she felt that hole in her heart deeply. She missed “her people” profoundly. The moment took her by surprise, and hit harder than it has before.
Maybe it was because the level of excitement that is resurrection Sunday reminded us so clearly of what we experienced every week at the church communities we were privileged to serve?
Story about real life:
I am reminded of a story I first experienced when we were at First Brandon in Florida, but witnessed many times and various ways when Rebekah and I came to WFPC:
It was an Easter Sunday, and of course church was amazing. The sanctuary was full with life and belief, the choir sang their hearts out, Rebekah knocked the message out of the park, there were children everywhere, and the place fairly rocked with light and love and purpose and dynamic faith.
After worship I was talking with a young family who were visiting.
- “Great to have you!” I said. “I’d love to see you again next week and tell you some more about what’s going on around here.”
- “Today was wonderful,” they responded. “We love Easter. We’d be here every Sunday if church was like this every week.”
- Then, before I had a chance to open my mouth, one of the young couples in our church jumped in. “We couldn’t help but overhear your conversation. But church absolutely is like this every week!”
Bingo! They were spot on. Easter is exactly what we are up to every week, and why we are up to anything at all. Simply put, if you liked Easter then you would like any Sunday.
We don’t make something up, or put on anything unusual, or try to add something we don’t normally believe in, or try a little harder because this is a special occasion!
The fact of the good news of the gospel is reason enough to get together and worship and encourage one another in faith. It is the best of possible news every Sunday of the year, and every day of the week too!
If attending church is unusual for you, and you are one of the millions of Americans who show up once or twice a year for Christmas Eve and for Easter, I have to ask you the following question. “Would you like to experience that level of engagement with God, that level of joy and deep fellowship, that level of inspiration that you could feel from the top of your head to the tips of your toes, as a regular part of your life?”
The alternatives to Sunday worship just do not hold up! There is nothing anyone could be doing that is more life-charged, life-giving, and life-sustaining than participating in public worship with a local faith community.
We say we want the word to heal, to be a better place, to know more peace, to share love, and to study war no more? Well for all its challenges, the Christian church remains the key to meaningful change.
Easter is a small example of what is possible if we make the commitment to follow Jesus. If not now, when? if not you, then who?
Easter! Live it out loud! – DEREK
enjoy a few photos from the day:
Hello Dear Rebekah and Derek! This is Diana Craig from NJ writing! I just saw your beautiful smiling faces on Facebook and read the Blog! I am delighted to see you both, your Mom and Dad, too. I trust your father is doing OK. Your Mom looks wonderful, Derek. I am doing Ok, adjusting daily to life without my Roger…nighttime is the worst, takes me hours to fall asleep at times. My family here are well and my stepchildren and I are planning a Celebration of Life to be held in Rogers honor August 6th. We attend the Parsippany Presbyterian Church either in person or on YouTube, depending on the weather. I want to wish you both God’s blessings and good health! Miss you both very much, and I miss WFPC greatly. Loretta Highfield and I are going on vacation together the end of June our west to tour Americas Great Parks! We are very excited. I miss Loretta very much. Well, you both take care, Easter Blessings be with all of you, and I hope to continue reading your Blog, Derek. Hugs and lots of smooches, Diana Craig
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It was also my first Easter Sunday not in the pulpit after retiring and there was definitely a hole in my heart for “my” people. I love being retired, but there are certainly moments when it is a bit hard. Blessings to you both as you continue navigating the many changes in your lives this year.
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Prayers heading your way too. I hope you have found a good home for worship
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