From the Pastor’s Desk April 2014

“From dust you have come, and to dust you must return”…those are the words spoken to each person who received ashes on Ash Wednesday a few weeks ago. As a kid I remember thinking “Wow, that’s depressing!” But it’s kind of miraculous too. I remember the day Vanessa was born, I understood all of the biological stuff involved, how this little person was growing inside of me. But to hold that tiny being in your arms for the first time…it is nothing short of a miracle that such a person was created and formed inside your own body. Each of us was born just like that, and one day, whether cremated or buried, our bodies will indeed be returned to the earth. Disney refers to it as the great circle of life.
There are some who intentionally avoid Ash Wednesday services for just this reason: death is not something they want to be reminded of, perhaps it reminds them of someone dear to them who has died, or of an impending death they wish would not come so soon. It’s understandable, it truly is, but then I think these “difficult” services of Lent (Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday) and the reminders they bring: of the inevitability of death, of the pain of betrayal, of the emptiness and loss of purpose at losing a loved one. Such challenging reminders of the trials we face set the scene for the triumph of Easter. Talk to a parent who nearly lost a child to illness of accident, or a person who’s found a job and a new home after years of homelessness and hopelessness, or someone who for years felt trapped by addiction but now has stayed alcohol or drug free; each one of them will tell you how much more precious life has become precisely because they have been through the valley and made it to the other side. Easter is a happy day filled with hope and joy, but Easter, after we have traveled through the valleys of doubt, fear, and desperation becomes a life-changing celebration of resurrection.
Through the journey of Lent we discover what it means to have doubts, to have fears, to harbor regrets and resistance, but that joy we experience on Easter morning when we can proclaim those words from 2 Corinthians 4:
“But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh.” The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is more than just a story; it is OUR story. It is the story of a people who will not take no for an answer, who will not accept the pain, suffering, injustice, and violence in the world around us as “just the way it is” and who will proclaim that death CAN be and HAS BEEN defeated. We live because Christ lives, or in the words of one of the hymns of my childhood “Because He lives I can face tomorrow, Because He lives all fear is gone, Because I know He holds the future. And life is worth the living just because he lives.”
We can face tomorrow with confidence knowing that indeed our Savior lives. I invite all of you, if you haven’t had the opportunity to join us for our Lenten services on Wednesday evenings, to consider doing so. Our Maundy Thursday service will be held at 7pm on April 17th at Our Saviour’s UCC. The Good Friday Service will be at 7pm on April 18th at St. John. And of course, we hope everyone will join together in celebrating Easter with us on April 20th: First Service at 7am and second service at 10:30am with breakfast served in between the services.
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Tara