A Message from the Pastor

Pastor

Greg Kintzi

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THE PROMISE OF EASTER
An Upending of Normal

“Easter is not a return to normal, it is an upending of normal. Easter is not a return to life as we knew it,
it is an invitation to a life beyond anything we have yet experienced. Even if there is a normal to go back to the
promise of Easter is that we don’t have to settle for normal, because God has so much more in store for us.”
-Martin Copenhaver

 

                Brian J. Waldrop, in his book titled Ocean Breeze: Inspirational Moments with God at the Beach, tells of flipping through the channels of his TV one morning when he stopped to watch a painter skillfully painter skillfully painting a desert landscape. As the man proceeded to color the canvas in deep browns, reds, and yellows, the picture really started to look good. He felt that the painter ought to stop. The picture looked complete.

                Then, as he was thinking those very words, he cringed to see the artist add a dark blackish color of paint to the canvas. As Waldrop had feared, the dark blob looked awkward and out of place. Bur as the man continued to add texture and other colors to the blob it began to take shape. When the painter was finished, the part of the picture that Brian Waldrop thought was ruined looked great! It was exactly what the painting needed to make it beautiful and complete.

                Waldrop writes, “As I sat there watching the program that day, I was really surprised to find myself cringing at many of the moves the artist made with his brush. I got to thinking how typical this is of my Christian life. Many times in my life, after much struggling and hardship, I have come to a place where I am comfortable. As I am basking in the goodness of the Lord, God has chosen to institute a change I neither expected nor wanted. During this time I cry out, ‘No Lord, You are ruining the picture!’ But often, as I allowed God to continue His work on the canvas of my life, to my surprise the picture would begin to look pretty good. Finally, I would thank Him for the addition or subtraction to my life.”

                Then he adds these profound words, “There have been times, however, that the change never looked good to me and perhaps never will. During these times I must remember that God is still painting. The picture has not been completed yet. I must travel on in faith knowing that when I see Him face to face, my painting will be beautiful.

                “In the meantime, I can take comfort knowing that every situation, though it may be ugly and uncomfortable, is paint that the that Master Craftsman can use for good.”

                This last year has been challenging on so many levels – the sheer loss of life; social isolation; economic uncertainty and loss of businesses and jobs; as well as the division and mistrust that exists at every level of social interaction. For many, the last year is one that they would just as soon forget. Now with the introduction of numerous vaccines; the worst of surges in COVID-19 hopefully behind us; and spring arriving, there is a feeling of optimism in the air, that perhaps the worst of what we have been through is behind us and that now we can get back to normal again.

                Yet is that even possible given all that we have lived through this last year and half? As the testimonies made during our midweek services in Lent made clear, this pandemic has effected each and every one of us in profound ways – ways which will not easily be forgotten or pushed back to the recesses of our consciousness when it ends. Some of us have lost loved ones; others have been hitched, some have suffered with getting Covid-19 or some other serious sickness; and all of us have learned new ways to stay safe as well as new technologies to keep us connected when we couldn’t physically meet together. This has been a year like no other in the past 100 years and its impact on us will be felt for decades to come.

                This sense of living of the cusp of a major transition in history, I believe would have been a familiar perspective to those who were witnesses to Jesus resurrection. Like ourselves they had experienced so much trauma and loss – their leader had been arrested and killed; his followers were hiding behind closed doors in fear; and it looked like the movement they had worked so hard to build was falling apart at the seams. No one knew what the future would bring, so they hunkered down in fear, grief, and isolation.

                Then came the miracle of Easter. Mark tells us that some women went to the grave early Easter morning to anoint Jesus’ body with spices. When they arrived at the grave site, they found that the large stone which covered its entrance had been removed. When they went inside the tomb they discovered a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side of the slab where Jesus’ body had been placed. The young man had mind blowing news he wanted to share with them. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, the one they nailed to the cross. He’s been raised up, he’s here no longer. You can see for yourselves that the place is empty. Now – on your way. Tell his disciples and Peter that he is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You’ll see him there, exactly as he said.”

                This announcement was not what the women expected to hear. It turned the world they lived in completely upside down. If God had raised their friend and Teacher from the dead, what did that mean both for them and for all creation. Certainly, they couldn’t go back to living life like they had in the past. A new era of history was beginning where even the worst that the world might throw at you didn’t mean your dreams were ended and hope was extinguished. God would find a way even when it looked like there was no way, and the future now looked more open then it ever had before.

                This did not negate all the horror they had witnessed the previous week. The suffering that was happening to them and to their friends was real, but now they had a new frame through which to view the events unfolding around them. God had entered the tomb of their friend and teacher and cried Yes. God cried YES to Jesus’ way of living and dying. God cried YES to Jesus’ life of mercy and grace for all regardless of who they were or what they had done. God called “Get Up, Emmanuel! Come Forth, O Jesus!” Like Jonah getting spit up on the beach by a fish after three days in its belly, Jesus rose out of the darkest depth to the light of the first Easter morning. He broke the bonds of death and now Jesus and his trouble-making go merrily on.

                Pastor Jerry Jones tells about a Christian man and his wife who lost their young son in a tragic accident on Good Friday in 1996. The boys’ funeral was on Easter Sunday. During the memorial service the father got up and shared with his family and friends that Easter had taken on new importance, “Until you stare death eye-to-eye,” he began sobbing, “Easter is just a word. It’s a nice day with bunny rabbits and eggs…but when someone so precious to you dies, Easter becomes everything…an anchor in a fierce storm…a rock on which to  stand…a hope that raises you above despair and keeps you going.”

                To quote Martin Copenhaver – “This past year, we have been forced into a time of isolation, uncertainty, fear, and death. We have not been able to get our Good Friday ticket punched easily so that we can move quickly on to Easter. This year, Good Friday, has been more like a season in which we have had to linger. And yet within this season, the promise abides. Even in this time, perhaps especially in this time, we have been invited to imagine, with poet. E.E. Cummings, ‘that yes is the only living thing.’”


He Is Risen!
Pastor Greg

 
 
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