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