“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life.” - John 3:16 CEB
In this year, 2018, April 1st marks the end of Lent and the start of the Easter season. The older I get, and the more years I spend experiencing and studying the presence of God in this world and in my life, the more and more meaning Easter has for me. The late Rev. Reuben Job, a past Bishop in the United Methodist Church, captured these words with respect to Easter:
As I reread these words heading into this year’s Easter season, I am even more struck by their relevance given the journey we have been on, and the place we stand today. Certainly, we can see the connection from the perspective of worldly events and national turmoil. From such perspective, these words remind us that we have every good reason to hope for a future that may turn cries of grief to songs of joy … a hope that perseveres “to every Christian in every age and circumstance.”
But even more, I find these words incredibly hope inspiring given our communal journey as a local church congregation of the Body of Christ. For, we have been journeying into a deeper understanding of what it means to be Christ’s Church, we have been both looking back at our history and forward at the changing world, and we have been really trying to hear God’s voice in the mix, even the parts that challenge us. Obtaining a deep and true understanding of the road that got us to where we are today is hard enough, but getting our arms, and heads, around an uncertain future world and what our presence as a local church should look like can be downright daunting. The Bible says that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrew 11:1, NRSV), and this journey we have been on is definitely calling us to lean on our faith.
But again, Easter “is the truth that gives courage and hope.” Easter “is the new world in which the Christian now lives.” Easter is the time when we celebrate the completion of God’s salvation story, as manifested in the extravagant mercy and love God has shown for us thru the offering of Christ for our souls.
I am excited to the point of giddiness for what this all means for the future that is before each and every one of us, and for the faith community that calls itself Marble. Hope! Faith! Assurance of things hoped for! The conviction of things not yet seen! And all because “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life.” Oh my … do you feel it too? As I share these thoughts at the start of this month of April 2018, I am again reminded that my time with you here in Milan is rapidly coming to an end, as I prepare for my next church assignment. But I am equally reminded that God’s time with you in this place is far from over. In fact, in many ways, it feels like it is just beginning. How exciting! How inspiring! What a great reason to hope in faith!
May this Easter be such a source of inspiring faith and hope in the future that is before you, and may it bring you comfort, joy, and peace for all time.
Blessings Always… Pastor Bob