Practice Resurrection – April 2014

Winter’s finally on the run. (Keep praying…) Spring is asserting itself day by day… Lent is  nearing completion. Soon we’ll be into Holy Week, starting with Palm Sunday, then Holy Thursday, Good Friday, finally Easter. I’ll be preparing for worship much of the time between now and then, and trying to spend more time in prayer… Praying everyone who can will be with us, and that we’ll be blessed with deep and meaningful worship.

And I’m thinking at the same time about the faith-work of being Christians every day… living in the light and presence of Jesus, knowing him, crucified and risen from the dead, every day of the year.

There are days on which it’s usually easier to see, feel, and understand God at work… Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter, especially…

Yet every day, whether we know it or not – we’re living in the presence of God, all the time. Everything we do, every word we speak, every thought we think, every breath we breathe – all happens in the presence of God. The purpose of special days is probably mostly to remind us of everyday realities we have a hard time being continuously fully aware of….

It’s easy to overlook the presence of God as a daily reality. The world in which we live is ever-changing. On one level, the world is re-made every day, with every rising and falling tide, every change of season. It’s easier to notice the obvious seasonal changes (Spring birds returning, trees and flowers budding, the Red Sox back in Fenway) then it is to notice the seasons of the Spirit. Yet – all creation is transformed much more profoundly than any kind of seasonal change – through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Second Corinthians (5:17-20) and Galatians (6:14-15) actually speak of Christ’s death and resurrection making us a new creation, reconciled to God…

New creation as a concept is so huge it’s hard to keep in view all the time… It’s usually a lot easier to think about our daily to-do lists and any new birds that show up at the feeder and whatever’s on the news… That’s one reason why we, with many other Christians, continue to observe special days in the church year. We know the apostle says “Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike” (Romans 14:5), leaving it to us, within certain parameters, to decide for ourselves on the relative importance of calendar days. Yet St. Paul also tells us in the same chapter, “We do not live to ourselves… Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual up-building…” (Romans 14:7, 19…) Reminding us our faith is never just about us. We’re always called to live for God and for others.

Special days can have special power to teach and reinforce the basics of our faith. Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, and Good Friday all especially teach us to be mindful of Christ’s sacrifice, to remember God’s call to love and serve God by following Jesus all the more in difficult times. Together these days draw us close to the heart of the mystery of Christian faith, as we spend time with Jesus at the last supper and near the cross in our readings, prayers, and hymns. Our worship on all these days powerfully embodies our call to be disciples of Jesus.

Easter of course is also a time of discipleship, a time to love and serve. We nearly always have more people with us for worship, including many we don’t see often during the year. This makes Easter a special opportunity to practice hospitality, welcoming everyone into the life of our church community.

I still remember people making a point of including me in conversations  over coffee after church when I first began to attend what was to become my home church, back in Vermont, some 25 years ago, when I was single and had been away from church for some time. Some even invited me to lunch and dinner. Acts of hospitality such as these changed my thinking about church at a time when my thoughts were running in many directions. Our worship and our welcome can make the message of new life in Christ come truly alive for others. Please pray always that all who worship with us will also find fellowship with us and feel the presence of God in life-changing ways.

Please join me in praying all the more that we and all who worship with us will look ever to Jesus, not just on special days, important as they are – but every day of the year – seeking his presence, his guidance, his counsel, every day. May the quality of our life together make Jesus truly visible for those around us. May every day of the year be flavored for us with the taste of resurrection life, as we practice resurrection together.

Grace and peace be ever with you…

Pastor Tim