FENELON FALLS UNITED CHURCH
Easter Sunday Greetings
Let us worship together on Sunday, April 12th as we celebrate Easter Sunday. As we gather together in our minds, our thoughts and our prayers may we remember that each new day is a gift from God. Even though we are right now living in social isolation and living in fear, may we take time each morning to thank God for another day of life and thank God in the evening for getting us through another day.
So began the most extraordinary event in history, Easter Sunday! It is this day, this celebration, this story that forms our church year and is the bedrock of our faith. From despair to bewilderment, from fear to faith, from sadness to joy; what an Easter journey! There is indeed much to fear in our mortal lives and yet the resurrection of Christ creates the possibility for joy and hope and courage. We have heard the resurrection promise that joy, hope and faith will ultimately prevail. Let us remember that our God is a God of new life and never-ending possibility.
In Matthew 28: 1-10 the angel says to the women at the tomb: “Do not be afraid.” If I was that angel today I would shout out to everyone: “Don’t be afraid because the Holy Spirit has our backs. Don’t be afraid because we are here for one another. Don’t be afraid, be strong, because things will get better. It might be stormy now, but it can’t rain forever. There is always hope, never give up!”
Resurrection is not a one-off historical event: it occurs everyday. Christ is born in us, rises in us, if we are prepared to be God-bearers. The more we allow ourselves to be filled by the Spirit of the Risen Christ, the more we will see new birth, new life everywhere. As the days linger on in our world during this pandemic, I believe now more than ever that it is crucial that we remain positive, have faith that everything will work out, even if we don’t know how. We just need to trust God and believe that it will. The angels in Matthew’s gospel are focused on their job; to deliver the Good News. They are not there to sell it to us, to be our buddy or to empathize with us. They are there to deliver their message, and it is up to us to hear it and use it. Jesus repeatedly taught His followers to see the Kingdom of heaven within themselves. A quote from Dallas Willard, “The gospel is less about how to get into the Kingdom of Heaven after you die, and more about how to live in the Kingdom of Heaven before you die.” Did my friend see the Kingdom of heaven in herself when she sent cards and tubs of candy to the hospital workers? I hope so! Does another friend of mine see the Kingdom of heaven in herself as she has her grandson do a joke a day to be hung up on a wall in a nursing home? I hope so! Does Sheila (and others) see the Kingdom of heaven in herself as she phones people and offers to help out where needed? I hope so! Seeing, reading and hearing these types of stories is the hope I long to embrace, a hope that encourages me to live everyday as if this is the day that the Lord has made, to be glad and rejoice in it. Are the doctors, nurses and other emergency workers seeing the Kingdom of heaven in themselves as they work on the frontline battling this virus in the interest of us all? I hope so! Many of us cannot save lives but we all have the ability to be on the look out for how God provides new life all the time: nature, a phone call, groceries delivered to a porch. Christianity is not Christianity unless we reach out like God reaches out to us. Christian faith is about little actions. Albert Schweitzer says, “There can be no Kingdom of God in the world without the Kingdom of God in our hearts.”
Easter is about how much Jesus loves you and me and the whole world. Easter faith is about reaching out. Every dollar, each kind word, every deed and act of Christian love is inspired by God’s reaching out to us when Jesus rose from the grave. I believe in the resurrection because I see Christ alive and at work in each of us. The story of the resurrection of Jesus reminds us, that in this world, God is about the work of grace, love, mercy, hope, justice and new life. When we stop and pay attention, we can see the ways that these things are happening in our lives and in the lives around us. Today, as we all struggle with what is happening to us and around us, I encourage you to take a few minutes to sit quietly and be thankful for all that you have. Take time to appreciate the day for what it is, not resenting it for what it isn’t.
The resurrection doesn’t take away all fear but enables us to keep faith amid our fears. If I had the chance to speak to Jesus I might ask if this is His hope for His resurrection…”Jesus, maybe this is the hope your resurrection gives me that you care enough to say my name, like Mary’s, and you teach me to pray ‘on earth as it is in heaven’. When I see peace, healing, love, compassion that I see hope. When I am reminded that each day that unfolds is another gift created by God, that I see hope. Are these the signs of the hope of your resurrection?”
Resurrection gives us a future and a hope. We are called to be God’s companions, to say “yes” to life in all its complexity, contrast, and beauty. We are called to rejoice in birth and rebirth. Christ is risen, today, and everyday. Hallelujah!
I’m hoping we can all find that place in our heart where joy, love, peace and hope can sway over the troubles of the world. It is love that nourishes our soul.
I just want to share a few positive quotes, not mine but ones I read and re-read that I have collected over time:
Even though church is cancelled for the time being let us remember all things that are not cancelled: beauty, hope, being grateful, sunshine, nature, positive thinking, phone calls, texts and a heartful of love.
Acts 10: 34-43, Peter’s account of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Jeremiah 31: 1-6, God’s everlasting love.
Psalm 118: 1-2, 14-24, God is my strength and my song.
Colossians 3: 1-4, Set your mind on things above.
John 20: 1-18 or Mathew 28: 1-10: Mary and the empty tomb.
“If today gets difficult, remember the smell of coffee, the way sunlight bounces off a window, the sound of your favourite person’s laugh, the feeling when a song you love comes on, the colour of the sky at dusk, and that we are here to take care of each other.” ~N. Hoffman~
From my house to yours, may we share our faith, our love and our hope until we meet again.
“Go now in peace. Never be afraid. God will go with you each hour of ev’ry day. Go now in faith, steadfast strong and true. Know God will guide you in all you do. Go now in love and show you believe. Reach out to others, so all the world can see. God will be there, watching from above. Go now in peace, in faith, and in love. Amen/Amen/Amen
Don Besig and Nancy Price