During Lent, we have been on a journey with Jesus and Peter. As we have seen, Peter was impetuous and impulsive. Jesus called him to follow, and he left his net and boat to follow. On the Mount of Transfiguration, he wanted to build three booths, for Jesus, Moses, and for Elijah! Peter tried to walk on the water and would have sunk were it not for Jesus.
Well, we continue with our study of Peter in April and I hope you will join us throughout the month. In particular, I invite you to our Palm Sunday worship on April 14th, as we relive the triumphant entry of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem and consider Peter’s denial of our Lord. And then during Holy Week, we will be gathering in Bethany Hall for Maundy Thursday and sharing the Lord’s Supper together. On Good Friday, we will listen as our Sanctuary Choir presents the cantata, “Upon This Rock,” based on, you guessed it; the life of Peter.
Beyond that, lies the celebration of Resurrection! New life! The empty tomb reminds us that Jesus is alive, and on Easter morning we will sing with great conviction and renewed certainty that Christ is risen! In Mark’s Gospel, an angel appears to the women who had come to anoint Jesus’ body. The angel said, “Go tell the disciples, and Peter.” Why did Mark write it that way? Why not just, “Go tell the disciples.” Peter is one of the disciples; why single him out? I invite you to come and discover the reason on Easter Sunday.
Anyone interested in Baptism on Easter should come and speak with me as soon as possible. For any children or youth interested in being baptized, I am leading a discipleship class for them on March 31, and April 7, during the Sunday School hour in my office. Our Easter offering will be dedicated once again to Overland Gardens in Landover, MD. This apartment complex is where a team from our church has been engaged in ministry for several years. This year, the Easter offering will be used to provide transportation for the children of Overland to participate in various Field Trips led by a team from MHBC.
May this Easter season be a time of spiritual renewal and refreshment for us all. May God bless us as we worship together and proclaim the Good News that Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! And may that message propel us to new heights of ministry and mission during the remainder of 2019!
I pray for all of you a hope-filled and joy-filled Easter season. Said the poet:
Now let the heavens be joyful,
Let earth her song begin,
Let all the world keep triumph,
And all that is therein.
In Grateful exaltation,
Their notes let all things blend,
For Christ the Lord is risen,
Our joy that has no end.
Easter blessings, Pastor Joel
Though I am writing these words well before Easter, experience has taught me that our Easter celebration will be glorious, full of joy and meaning. Once more, we will be born again to a new and living hope in a future where life will never end and love cannot be defeated. In a world that so often trumpets bad news, the glorious good news of Easter will fill our lives with new hope and power once again.
I recall a story about a man who was standing in line at a bank, when there was a commotion at the front of the line. A woman was clearly upset, yelling out, “Where will I put my money? What will happen to my mortgage? All my money and my mortgage are right here in this bank.” It seems that she had misunderstood a small sign on the counter which read, “We will be closed for Good Friday.” Evidently, Holy Week and Easter were not uppermost in her thoughts, because she reasoned that the bank was going to close “for good” that coming Friday.
I suspect that Easter is not uppermost in our thoughts right now. For one thing, Easter is very early this year and we have not had much time to focus. And, a national election, terror, and the stock market are more likely occupying our thinking. So, I encourage us to make our Easter celebration more meaningful by availing ourselves of the many opportunities for worship during March.
For example, we will gather with our brothers and sisters in Christ from First Baptist Silver Spring for a pair of Prayer Breakfasts on February 27 and March 12 at 9:00 a.m. I want to encourage you to be present as we gather around the tables to enjoy food, fellowship, and a brief time of worship together.
Then during Holy Week, the two congregations will gather together again for Maundy Thursday Worship, always a deeply moving service as we recall how our Lord shared a last meal with his disciples. On Good Friday, a service of Tenebrae will be observed as the choirs of First Baptist and Montgomery Hills present the Cantata, “We Remember Calvary” by Joel Raney. It is my conviction that it is only as we journey with Jesus to Jerusalem, to Gethsemane, and to the cross that we can truly know the joy of Easter’s dawn.
Beyond these special services lies the celebration of Resurrection as we raise our hallelujahs of praise, our joy that knows no end. Come and receive the gift of life! Come and receive the gift of the power and presence of our risen Lord as we proclaim, “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!” I invite us to make this prayer of Henri Nouwen our own this Easter:
Almighty, Everlasting God, on this day you conquered death through your Son and opened for us the path to eternal life. And so we celebrate in joy the feast of his resurrection. Make us new through your Spirit, that we too may rise and walk in the light of life. We ask this through Jesus Christ.
On behalf of the staff and leadership of Montgomery Hills, I extend to one and all our prayers for a happy and blessed Easter day and season.
May the peace of Christ rest in all our hearts, Pastor Joel
Pastor Joel Hawthorne