On Saturday, April 3, 2021, the Hip Hop members of the Christian Education Ministry sponsored an Easter Candy Give-Away. The activities included an Easter egg hunt, egg toss game, pictures with our energetic Easter Bunny (Aaron T.), and of course candy. The kids had a blast. Rev. Downing hopped by with his daughter. The adult church membersenjoyed catching up with each other after the long COVID-19 lock down.
Click on a photo to see larger versions in a slide show.
Double Dare You to Hope! (The Remix)
I share this reprinted article with you because it means a lot to me. I wrote it in 2010, not really thinking about the fact that in many ways, much of it has become a litany of hope for me. I do not share this article with you again because I think that it is good, I share it because I think that it is real – and in these tense days, I need Easter’s consolation and promise that new life, new time, and new hopes are on the horizon. I pray that you indulge me in sharing this reprinted and “remixed” article with you, for I need the “gumption,” and “guts” to face the cross.
The Empty Tomb, can you imagine the awe and blessed surprise that the disciples experienced when on the third day, they discovered that Jesus was not there? Can you also imagine the sense of confusion and fear experienced by the disciples, who were there and witnessed the grisly and sordid turn of events that ultimately resulted in the crucifixion of Christ, only to find that his physical death was not the last story? Easter amazes me. I say this because it is a profound statement of who God is and what God can do in the most grievous of circumstances. I am also amazed by the dynamic power of the story of Easter, because Easter is daring! I say this because the resurrection let’s us know several things about God. First, it lets us know that there is an existence with the living God beyond this life. Second, the power of the resurrection and the image of the empty tomb lets us know that God dares us to live in, and be practitioners of hope in this life. It is the audacity, the gumption, the guts, and the courage to be hopeful and faithful in the face of trouble.
On Golgotha (Place of the Skull), where Jesus was crucified, many, including his followers thought that this was indeed the final chapter in the life of Jesus (and maybe even the final chapter of their lives also!). For many, the crucifixion was a definitive death blow — it meant that all was lost, it meant that the violence and brutality of the powers and principalities of the day wins — it was the ultimate death penalty. At the same time, in the cross we see audacity in action. The cross shows us a God whose power is not found in the violence of sword wielding, defamation, and political corruption. In the cross, we see a public statement, a protest against violence. Simply, the cross has a fascinating audacity to show us that violence and violation of people and persons is wrong. It also has a sobering quality of being a mirror that bears a disturbing image as to who humanity is when we distance ourselves from God.
Easter shows us that God in Christ has a way of life that is larger, more fulfilling, healing and hopeful than what we see on Golgotha. The empty tomb not only shows us that this life is not our final destination, it also beautifully communicates to us that, despite negativity and skepticism (alive in our churches also), we are called to be audacious in bearing hope right now. Easter calls us to be resurrection and reconciliation people. It means that even in the presence of an uncertain and unstable world, hope is still alive. It shows us that even after the conflicts and devastations in the Middle East, Ukraine, Washington State (recent mudslides), and Malaysia, hope is still alive in how we respond and continue to care with our hearts, prayers and resources. Better yet, it shows us that the gift of hope is alive in us, and we are, in this case double dared to do God’s will.
So as we emerge from the icy tomblike winter that we just experienced, let Spring be a time for renewal. As the flowers bloom and things begin to get green and lush around us, let these wonders inspire us to take heart, not give up, and be audacious with our faith and the hope that lies within it. Let Spring remind us of renewal and the hope it brings so that our lives can attest to the words of that wonderful hymn Every Morning is Easter Morning!
Christ is Risen, so shall we rise!
Rev. Alonzo T. Johnson was Pastor of Oak Lane Presbyterian Church from 2003 to 2014.