By the time you read this we’ll likely be right in the middle of Easter. It is a busy time for us, but more than that it is a rich and full time. The events of Holy Week, from the parade of palm branches, to the bread broken and cup shared at the Last Supper, to the pain and grief of Good Friday, are moments of grace, each with its own part to play in the story of salvation. My favorite New Testament professor, Krister Stendahl, observed that no one should be a Christian who could not be one on Good Friday, but that no one could be a Christian without the hope of Easter.
So we give thanks and celebrate the love of God, with us through our deepest struggles, with us through utter defeat and loss, leading us still into the light of joy and peace. As we move through these coming days, may we learn to trust, as the disciples did, the renewing power of the resurrection. May God’s grace lead us into new relationships of hope, new mission, new opportunities to love and serve as Christ did.
There is much to be grateful for already this year. A capable team of eager volunteers took part in our Habitat for Humanity “build day” in Long Beach on the last weekend of March. There were painters, caulkers, fitters and finishers. There were lunch makers and ladder climbers. It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. The weather was lovely, and the spirit of encouragement all around. That followed one of the most hopeful Youth Sundays of recent years. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to be part of the growth of these younger members of our family, and we were blessed by their words and their spirits.
Speaking of encouragement, our first two months of the year were strong ones financially as well. Giving in churches goes up and down over the year. We know this, and plan for it. Spring is typically a generous time, as we head to Easter. Summer is a little lighter, as people travel to see family and friends. Fall is stronger, and Christmas is glorious. But at the end of February we were ahead of our expectations by almost $40,000! Some of that is thanks to families who made their 2018 contributions last year. But all of it is a result of the generous spirit of our congregation. As we move through the year before us, your gifts strengthen our witness and enable our mission in the world. Well done, and thank you!
It’s true. None of us could be a Christian without the hope of Easter. But none of us could be a Christian without each other, either. Together, as the body of Christ, we get to continue the ministry he began some 2,000 years ago. Christ is alive. Christ is risen!
Grace and peace,