Monday, April 21, 2014

"For He has risen…"

Yesterday was Easter Sunday.  It was my first Easter as a pastor and it was a wonderfully memorable one.

It began with heading over to the church to get coffee started an hour before the community sunrise service.  Then we had worship on the hill behind our church, with folks gathered from the other churches in town.  There were about 40 of us on the hill and people said it was the largest turnout they could remember.  My only responsibility was to offer the closing prayer, a responsibility I learned of when I was invited forward to give it!

Then we all walked down the hill to the gym attached to our church, where the men got to work in the kitchen.  This is a bit of tradition…the men always cook breakfast on Easter.  About 50 people were present for breakfast and there were too many men in the kitchen cooking for me to be much direct help, so I helped with miscellaneous tasks…and offered the prayer before we ate.

Everyone was fed and the clean-up was finished at about the time I am usually heading over to church on a Sunday morning.  This was good news, because I had been concerned ahead of time about the timing of everything that needed to get done on Easter.

Our Sunday worship service went pretty well.  There were more people in church than I've ever seen since we've been here, including a number of people I never met before.  I heard that the sermon was good and I wish that I had taped it, because my wife had an adverse response to lilies in church and had to leave during the service.

We baptized three girls and that was exciting, as they were the first baptisms I had done and two of the girls, sisters, were excited to be baptized.  One the way out of church the parents of the sisters invited us over for lunch.  One thing we have learned about meal invitations on the reservation is that there is always plenty of food!  It was a nice time for us to get to know this one family a bit better.

We went home and rested a bit and then I went for a short run.  After the run I made a phone call and then decided to go make a hospital visit.  The hospital I went to is 90 miles away, so that was a significant activity to tack onto the day, but having a really good lunch changed our dinner plans and we weren't having Bible study on Easter, so there was some flexibility in my schedule that wouldn't be present most Sundays.

It was a good visit, and I had the opportunity to share with the family the same scripture that I preached on in the morning, Matthew28:1-10.  It is Matthew's account of the resurrection of Jesus and in my preparation, and preaching a portion of verse 6 was continually calling to me.  It says:

"He is not here, for he has risen, as he said."

For He has risen.  Matthew doesn't give us any details about Jesus' resurrection except this one.  The fact that it has already happened.  His report is not like the prophecy of Ezekiel in the Valley of Dry Bones, where he gives the various of facts of the scattered bones coming together and being restored to life. 

For Matthew it is simpler than that.  We may want to know the "how" but all he gives us is the "what."  But what a glorious "what"! 

In the Resurrection we know that God's promises to His people are all true.  In the Resurrection there is no reason to doubt that God's promise to hold a people as His own, and to hold them forever, will be fulfilled.  

As a pastor it was my joy to remind the congregation I serve of that promise during worship (in the sermon, the baptism, the music and every other chance I had!), and it was a privilege to bring that same promise to a family gathered in a hospital room.

"He is not here, for he has risen, as he said."

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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