“We are part of the Easter people, our new life has begun!… Ev’ry morning is Easter morning from now on…”
This song is foundational to my faith; it was written in the 1960’s by Richard Avery and Donald Marsh, a pastor and church musician team from Port Jervis, NY. We use their Doxology regularly in worship, as well as their “Glory be to the Father” from time to time. Every morning gives the opportunity to live into the new life given to us by the grace of Jesus Christ. We are saved by grace through faith, now we are called to live that way- every day.
We are nearing the end of Eastertide, the season of Easter, the 50 days we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and the time he spent with his disciples clarifying the mission, that is, what it means to live as Easter people from now on. At the end of 40 days, church tradition follows the gospel of Luke and Acts and remembers Jesus’ Ascension to the Father. The angels’ word to the disciples is key to me.
“Why are you standing there looking up. This same Jesus will return.” In the meantime, don’t look up, look out and get busy with the work of the kingdom. God has promised the Holy Spirit to equip you for ministry, get ready for that! Then do it!
And on the 50th day, on Pentecost, when they were together in one place, the Spirit came in a dramatic and special way and gave these followers of Jesus, men and women, gifts and power, hope and freedom which drove them to share the good news of God’s grace, forgiveness and peace with all around them. Acts 2 tells us about 3000 were saved. The movement was set to spread beyond Jerusalem and into the known world.
One preacher reminds us that the 3000 saved that day did not stay in Jerusalem to form a megachurch. They had come to Jerusalem from all over the Empire to observe Pentecost, the Jewish harvest festival of Shavuot, celebrating the end of the wheat harvest, the offering of first fruits to God. When they heard the good news of Jesus, they took it back home; this is how the good news spread as people met in homes, small groups and established small churches to live out the ministry of love. They became laborers of a spiritual harvest, using the spiritual gifts given to them, offering them to God and to others as they shared the news of Jesus’ love.
It is no accident that the Season of (or after) Pentecost is called “Ordinary Time”- and its liturgical color is green- for the greening, the growing of the church – in numbers- and in faith.
All these years later, the Holy Spirit still calls us to offer our gifts, talents and time to God’s purpose and to share the good news of Jesus’ love around us, to grow, yes in numbers, but much more, in faith.
Our Presbyterian Book of Order reminds us that God has given us everything we need to be the church- already, right now. A big part of that gift is the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the promise of new life, abundant life, eternal life, which begins here and now. Even as you search for a new pastor, waiting and wondering who that will be, you are not to stand around, but look outside yourselves for the work God is calling you to do right here and right now in the name of the risen Christ.
We have spent the last 15 months doing just that, and there is much to celebrate in terms of accomplishments, and much to continue to do. More of you are actively involved in sharing ideas and making things happen, let’s keep that momentum! All of our ministry teams will welcome your input, your energy and your ideas! Happy Easter, everyone, and Shavuot Tov ( good harvest) to you all!