Dear Church Family,
Easter is here. There is something so exciting about Easter Sunday in the church. From memories as a child of egg hunts and skits, to sunrise services and the amazing music and energy of worship, even nature proclaims, “He is Risen.” Easter is the moment in time everything changes. Death is overcome, by resurrection. Some call it a comeback story for Jesus and his disciples. For many it is the hope that God has a way out or through the barriers of this world. This year our world is celebrating, and new life is happening all around us. I pray you will feel comfortable joining us for worship in person or if not, that you can still share worship on the Facebook live feed for the 10:17 and 11 worship services.
Easter is about new life and a new way of living, as we put aside or overcome the old life that bound us in our metaphorical graves with the stone rolled in front to seal us in. As we experience the bursting forth in the new life offered by Christ, we are to become new people who are saved by his grace to lead a new way of life. In our Wesleyan tradition this is the process we call, sanctification. The early church, and later Wesley, saw us as a new creation in Christ and in the process of accepting God’s justifying grace in Jesus and in the sacrament of Baptism or in the process of confirmation of your baptism for those of us baptized as babies, we would begin the lifelong journey of becoming more and more Christ like as the Holy Spirit did the work of sanctification or perfecting us in love.
The issue for many in the church today is that Easters come and go, however we are the same person before and after Easter. One writer put it this way, “We have accepted the new life Jesus is offering us, but we have brought the same person we were before into this new life. We never grow out of the old person or deal with the issues that brought us to our hopeless place in life, our grave, our being trapped in the darkness.” For each of us it is a different darkness. Like many of Jesus’ disciples it was grief and loss. For others it can be family trauma, abuse, financial challenges, drugs, mental illness, health issues and many other things can leave us lost, hopeless and in a grave, in the darkness. We give our lives to Christ, we experience resurrection, hope and the new life, but we never grow and mature. Soon we are right back in the old patterns of living.
The early church and Wesley’s revival moment were all about creating a new family and a new way of life that could keep us connected to that source of new life and allow the Holy Spirit to do the work of sanctification, redeeming and reordering our whole life. On the Sunday’s following Easter this year we are going to preach a series of sermons based on the book “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.” In the book Peter and Geri Scazzero share their story of being in the Ministry and realizing they were on a treadmill of repeating all the issues of their past life. They had given their lives to Christ and kept rededicating their lives to this new life and trying hard to become the people they thought they should be, but they had never allowed Christ and the Holy Spirit time and space to do the work of sanctification. Put another way they had spent a lifetime serving Jesus but were still immature, baby Christians and had never developed a mature faith. They had accepted Jesus in their life but never allowed Jesus to change their lives. They had the form of religion on the outside but not the fruits of a deep spiritual life.
If you want to get the most out of the sermon series, I would highly recommend getting the book, “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” by Peter Scazzero and “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day” a 40-day devotional journey along with the book. We would also like to form a small group. If you would like to be part of the small group or need us to order the books for you, please contact the church office or sign up in worship on Sunday.
I am excited to also introduce a new ministry within our southeast district called, “Breaking Bonds.” I was part of the team working to explore and bring this ministry to our area. It started in Jonesboro Arkansas at First United Methodist Church and is a ministry for men to recover and learn new life skills after drug and/or alcohol abuse. Our Church Council decided that after looking into the ministry being based at our church, that with Rescue Mission, Crossroads and John 3:16, it would be better located in the Cape/Jackson area. New McKendree in Jackson is the host church. Part of the success of the Breaking Bonds ministry is that the seven-month residential stay is connected directly to a local church where the men don’t just learn about Jesus, but learn how to live the new life as part of a faith community. The Pastor in Jackson has shared that the ministry has already changed their church as they surround and support the ministry. This is our ministry as well and we already have a person in Breaking Bonds. You are invited on Saturday the 10th of April to tour the campus and hear the story of Breaking Bonds. It is a great example of the church helping people to live into the new life offered by Christ and to break the bonds of the old life.
Sunday will be exciting, but it is only the beginning of the new life in Christ offered to each one of us.
Waiting with eager anticipation for Easter,