Saturday, April 10, 2010
Easter and More
So much going on. Working full-time again and pastoring and home life all add up to stretched time frames of life. But, and still, life is good.
First, Easter Sunday is always a thrill. It's not the dressing up, the wonderful meal or the phone calls. Yes, all those things are very nice and enjoyable. But, the emotion of Easter gets to me each time I preach on that very special day. What an awesome God I serve who loved me more than I love myself! The fact that Jesus would endure the cruel punishment and go to the cross for me is almost unthinkable. And, sadly, so many around us don't believe he died for them.
I preached on the resurrection using the letters of the word "EASTER." The first letter "E" stands for the Empty Tomb, that which provides hope because of a testimony of victory over death and hell. "A" stands for the Angel who had the message and invitation to investigate the evidence of the risen Savior. "S" stands for the Surprise that the women and disciples experienced, doubting and not sharing in the expectation of the presence of a living Lord initially. "T" stand for the call to Tell others about the Good News, sharing it with one person at a time. The second "E" stands for the Excitement by Jesus' followers on that momentous Sunday morning, seeing and talking to a Jesus who conquers sin and death and the grave. Finally, "R" stands for the Resurrected Lord who paid the price for every single person to find salvation and peace and comfort for all eternity.
At the end of the sermon, I invited anyone and everyone to take a piece of paper and bring it to the front at the altar. This piece of paper was printed and placed inside the bulletin, as it contained words of sin and pain and hurt in detailed words (such as selfishness, hate, addiction, pride, anger, lying, stealing, etc.). During the week, I asked a man in the church to make a wooden cross. So, during the invitation Sunday, I asked those who would, to come to the front with that piece of paper (torn to show their particular sin) folded up and ready to nail to the cross on the altar. The pounding of the nails into that cross was powerful imagery of what happened to our Savior. It was a very moving moment for me, especially, as I nailed mine as well.
On Easter Sunday afternoon, we had a wonderful time of eating. Friends and family were here to celebrate the great day. Right after our late lunch, God shook up the world around here to remind us of what happened on that first Easter weekend when a great earthquake shook the world to signify an amazing transformation that would happen to all who believe. Sunday, just as a sidelight, was also our grand-daughter Bailey's very first birthday...on the very day of Easter this year.
This week has brought some special things to note.
Interestingly, I wrote a blistering letter to my congressman (Joe Baca) about receiving very little help from his office in my dealings with the prison system and legal system for my brother David. I got an immediate response and a meeting with an aide to the congressman. By the end of the meeting on Tuesday, I was given a promise that they will do all they can to assist in the process of helping David with parole issues once he is released.
Sadly, I received a note that I may receive a subpoena to testify on behalf of Coronado Stone as a former Human Resources manager. Apparently, someone has filed a sexual harrassment suit, and I may be needed to testify because my name appears on the hiring papers of this individual.
Happily, a couple of days ago I received a phone call from someone I have never met. This man called and introduced himself as a Christian lawyer in the area. He had read the article in the newspaper about our church receiving some mild harrassment at Fairmount Park where we preach and serve a meal to the homeless every Thursday afternoon. This lawyer said he is available to help us in any way, if necessary. Wow, was that a shot in the arm for us. God never lets us fight alone!
Joyfully, some members of the church heard about our need for a refigerator, and offered a fridge which was sitting in their garage. Since Sondra and I just bought a new one, we asked them if they would be willing to donate it to the church. One of our fridges at the church just quit! What timing. They said yes, and it was to be delivered already. This is not coincidence, this is providence. God's amazing providence.
I hope you are enjoying life and "living large" in God's amazing providence!