Easter Letter 2018

 
 
Let the church with gladness hymns of triumph sing, for our Lord now liveth; death has lost its sting.”
–Edmond L. Budry, in Thine Be the Glory
 

Greetings,

The tomb was empty; the body was gone. In the wonderful book The Undoing of Death author Fleming Rutledge announces, “all four Gospels report this [faith claim.]” There are many discrepancies between the gospels; Luke tells of Jesus’ birth in the small town of Bethlehem, Mark offers no birth narrative. In the gospel of Matthew Jesus helplessly laments on the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me” (Matthew 27:46)  but in the gospel of John Jesus fully in control offers stage directions to his mother and the disciple whom he loved from the cross saying, “Dear woman, here is your son, here is your mother” (John 19:27). Nonetheless, among the beautiful and rich variety contained among the gospel all state emphatically, the tomb was empty; the body was gone.

In December as a high school sophomore, I stumbled upon a strange scene in the gospel of Luke. It was early in the morning, near a tomb when two mysterious men clothed in dazzling white frightened a handful of women followers of Jesus. The mysterious figures ask the women, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5b).  Then the two beings proclaim the Easter message, “He is not here; he has risen!” (Luke 24:6).

For me, the empty tomb,[Jesus’] body being gone only puts the world on notice that there is something deeper than a used tomb for sale or another report filed on a missing person. Surprisingly, the Church creeds are not nearly as interested in the empty tomb as we might think. Instead, the creeds summarize the end of Jesus’ life claiming: “For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again…” In other words, the Church is on record proclaiming that the empty tomb and the disappearance of Jesus’ body point to nothing less than the resurrection. The resurrection holds the promise of forgiveness, the hope of wholeness, and the assurance of our lives intermingled with abundant life.

It is my deepest prayer that you will go further than entrance of the empty tomb on April 1st but dare to seek the Resurrected One. Please, keep your eyes open because the One whose body was missing has been found wrapped up in the power and the newness of Easter. You will find many opportunities offered by the church in the coming days, to ready your heart and mind to celebrate that: “Christ has died, Christ is risen; Christ will come again.”

Blessings,

 

Nicholas Perry, Pastor
 
 

Saturday, March 24 from 1-3 [ages 2—10]

“Egg”cellent Easter Celebration for children

Pre-register:

http://www.westfieldumc.org/eggcellent-easter-celebration-registration/

 

 

 

 

Sunday, March 25 – Palm Sunday

Combined 10am service —Cantata
 
 

Holy Thursday, March 29 7:00 PM

Joint service with Hurlbut Church at Hurlbut (Chautauqua)
 
 

Good Friday—March 30 —Way of the Cross

Noon— Moore Park
 

 

 

Easter Sunday, April 1
 
 
Sunrise Service—7am—Miller Bell Tower—Chautauqua

Combined 10 am—Communion