Last week here at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church, through a series of hymns, readings and meditations, we followed the journey of Jesus from His entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to the Cross of Calvary. Some of our thoughts can be found here.
This week we have a Maundy Thursday communion at 7:00 pm in the Sanctuary, then on Easter Sunday, a sunrise celebration at our wonderful amphitheater at 6:30 a.m. At 10:00 a.m. we have planned a worship service filled with great music and positive vibes. If you are in the area you would be very welcome to join us for any of these occasions.
Easter Sunday is of such tremendous significance to the Christian Church. St Paul writes to the Corinthians; “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:17-19)
Do you hear what he is saying to Christian people? If Christ has not been raised, then the grace of God is null and void. Your forgiveness depends on Christ's victory over sin and death. If Christ has not been raised then you should forget any heavenly thoughts. If Christ has not been raised then you are living a delusion. You might as well just grit your teeth and struggle through another day, because tomorrow you die. If Christ has not been raised you are, of all people, most to be pitied.
The Easter hope hangs on 1 Corinthians 15:20 “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead.” I was struck by a quote by church historian Jaroslav Pelikan (1923-2006). Among the last words he spoke were these: “If Christ is risen, nothing else matters. And if Christ is not risen – nothing else matters.”
The resurrection is a complete game changer. The resurrection bathes every day we live in the light of God's love. The PC(USA) brief statement of faith begins with the words; “In life and death we belong to God, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit”. The resurrection seals our identity as children of God.
Ever heard the comment that church people can be “So heavenly minded as to be of no earthly use?” Consider this. Some of the Christian folk who have wrought the greatest changes in society were those who believed, wholeheartedly, in resurrection.
Martin Luther and John Calvin re-formed a church that had lost her way. William Wilberforce and John Newton started a movement that dismantled the slave trade. Martin Luther King Jr. tried to teach us to be color blind. Mother Teresa, through her work in the slums of Calcutta, reminded us that all people, regardless of race, color or creed, deserve to live and die with dignity.
What do these folk, along with Christian reformers, saints, martyrs and ordinary every day believers, all have in a common? A belief that Christ is Risen :- “HE IS RISEN INDEED!” Such is the faith that the church will declare to all creation this Easter Sunday.
May you discover that God's grace, hope, love and blessing are with you during these days of Easter.
For some music, a classic Easter Hymn... “Thine Be the Glory!”
Rev. Adrian J. Pratt B.D.