Tuesday, April 14, 2009

easter and beyond

Easter was an incredible day for our congregation and community. It began with a sunrise service adjacent to the intersection of two main roads in our city, Providence and Sharon. On Shrove Tuesday a group of men and women had planted a giant cross there, and draped it in purpose. This morning, it was draped in white. About 125 folks gathered in the cold to worship the risen Lord; Greg Cagle, a very gifted musician led us musically, and later in the service Dave Sanderson, another PUMC member and a passenger on the US Air Flight that landed in the Hudson, spoke. I asked those gathered to reflect on two questions: "what keeps you awake at night?", and "what brings you joy?". These questions had been used in a devotional led by Bishop Grant Hagiya at the Ministry Study meeting in the winter. He connected them to Psalm 30. 5 ("Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes in the morning"), and I connected this exercise with Easter.

We then moved inside for the two sanctuary services (all combined, our attendance for the morning was 1,600...amazing). Each service began with a reading of John 20. 1-18, and then moved into Charles Wesley's Christ The Lord Is Risen Today. The worship was amazing, and each service concluded with Handel's Hallelujah Chorus. I preached from Psalm 30, going more deeply into the two above questions. I will post that sermon in a day or two. Each year I pass this sermon by two or three friends a day or two prior to Easter. It is such an important day, and it is the primary worship experience for a number of people in a given year; I am blessed to have the opportunity to speak on behalf of the gospel to them, and I am genuinely glad that they are present!

As participants left, they were given a card with five simple suggestions related to Bishop Schnase's Five Practices. This will help our congregation to see Easter as a beginning in the process of discipleship, over the next 50 days.

After the services had taken place, my wife and I had a quiet lunch at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. I did not check e-mail or surf the internet for a couple of days. We drove into the mountains and spent the next 48 hours. A change of scenery was good! We rested, and I read a little, especially Wendell Berry's "The Body and The Earth" and Peter Leithart's Solomon Among The Postmoderns.

Now I am back into things, happy to be serving at Providence and to be living through the great 50 days!


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