April 10th, 2015 by Christopher Caudle
Last week was a very full one. We entered into the worship service on Easter Sunday having taken a long route through Lent and Palm Sunday to the services of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
The church welcomed the day with the Altar ensconced with Easter lilies, windows of colorful artistry and a cross that bloomed through the morning as people brought in fresh flowers to mark the day. The sanctuary was filled with long-held and enthusiastic Alleluias (3x over) and bustling rows. Sunday school classes filled to overflowing. We reveled in the chance to have neighbors, relatives and friends join us as we celebrate the centerpiece of the Christian faith.
What a beautiful day! The ushers, responsible for tabulating and recording these things, told us that over 300 people gathered on Easter Sunday here at New Covenant.
And the message of Easter didn’t stop there. We had the opportunity to share the good news of Christ’s resurrection outside the church as well.
Our guests at the Early Easter Egg Hunt on Palm Saturday included members of the parish, preschool families and neighbors on a picture perfect day. The children laughed as they cleaned the church’s front lawn of all the Easter eggs hidden there and heard the story of Easter as they enjoyed the picnic weather.
Good Friday was a gifted telling of the death of Jesus, weaving together drama and music to bring the message and true humanity of Christ before our eyes and hearts. We invited our neighbors and friends and together we saw clearly that there is no Easter celebration with the passion of that dark Friday.
We met new friends through the collaborative partnership of one of our small groups with the Action Church. They coordinated an outreach at Torcaso Park in Winter Springs on Holy Saturday. Older children helped us set the park’s soccer field for an Easter Egg Hunt and then the kids heard the good news of Jesus’ accomplishment and the promise of new life before plundering the field for eggs. This outreach effort is an ongoing work of the Action Church, a new church plant in our community. More opportunities for outreach and shared ministry are opening up.
The City of Winter Springs served as hosts once again as we gathered with other local churches in Central Winds Park for the Community Sunrise Service. 7 am is early, so it was wonderful to see the headlights and then see lawn-chairs and blankets under the arms of our neighbors as they assembled on the hillside to hear Father Carl proclaim the Easter message. Our volunteers came even earlier to prepare the park to proclaim the Resurrection. Many thanks to the worship team, parking team and hospitality team who made the community feel welcome.
All together, as a parish, we had the opportunity to share the message and joy of Easter with twice as many folks outside Sunday morning than within.
This is how the logic and power of Easter works. The singular accomplishment of Jesus in his sacrificial death and obvious vindication is meant both for the joy of those who follow him and for the joy of those who are yet to follow him. The book of Acts, which we read in the place of the OT each week of Easter, points us in the same direction.
Following this Easter trajectory helps us both engage our neighbors and community with the confidence we receive from the victory of Jesus, but it also allows us to look back with greater clarity at the essential core of Jesus’ own intentional words and deeds.
We have, as a parish, several upcoming opportunities to pursue this Easter path.
One- we have been invited to lead ALPHA at the Oviedo YMCA, and we need a small team of friendly, open people who will commit to creating a safe place to ask questions about faith. Some of those who participate will be long familiar with the claims of Jesus, and some may have long ago left the claims of Christ behind. Easter and its message is designed for both. To participate, please email me at Christopher@new-covenant-church.com. We will begin at the end of this month, so discern your calling after you email me!
Two- we have an opportunity to support this summer’s Guatemala Mission Team by attending and participating in the Talent Show next Sunday evening on April 19th. If you have a talent smoldering under a bushel, take it out and sign up with Glenn. If you usually keep a custom of eating dinner on Sunday evenings, buy a ticket to attend the dinner and show. Help support the ministry to women, men and young people in Guatemala and our members as they take the message of the risen Jesus to them this summer.
Three- we have an opportunity to commit to prayer for Fathers Carl and Gerry as their Consecration to be Bishops approaches on May 2nd. You may RSVP on Sunday if you haven’t yet, and please continue to pray using the prayer guide that Dcn. Ruan and Fr. Clint worked so diligently to share with us and the other churches of our Mission Society. You may sign up for the Prayer Vigil in the Narthex (front lobby) and pray in your small groups or on your own. Please pray that the apostolic ministry commissioned by Jesus would extend through the future ministry of these two men and that we will have a commitment o support it and them with our prayers and ministry as well.
More opportunities are ahead, and our embrace of the message and direction of Easter can fuel us as we continue sharing this great news with our neighbors and friends.
Blessings to you all as we each enter more fully into this Easter season.
See you Sunday.