Dear Church, Happy Easter season to you!
At our Easter Garden Service this past Sunday, I shared the following reflection (slightly edited for length) from late Presbyterian pastor and writer Frederick Buechner:
We can say the story of the Resurrection means simply that the teachings of Jesus are immortal like the plays of Shakespeare or the music of Beethoven and that their wisdom and truth will live on forever.
Or we can say that the Resurrection means that the spirit of Jesus is undying, that he himself lives on among us, the way that Socrates does, for instance, in the good that he left behind him, in the lives of all who follow his great example.
Or we can say that the language in which the Gospels describe the Resurrection of Jesus is the language of poetry and that, as such, it is not to be taken literally but as pointing to a truth more profound than the literal. Very often, I think, this is the way that the Bible is written…
But in the case of the Resurrection, this simply does not apply because there really is no story about the Resurrection in the New Testament. Except in the most fragmentary way, it is not described at all. There is no poetry about it. Instead, it is simply proclaimed as a fact.
Christ is risen! In fact, the very existence of the New Testament itself proclaims it. Unless something very real indeed took place on that strange, confused morning, there would be no New Testament, no Church, no Christianity.
(Full reflection can be found at https://www.frederickbuechner.com/quote-of-the-day/2019/4/20/the-resurrection?rq=resurrection)
I said in the garden that Buechner’s words prompt us to adopt a role not of explainer or defender of the resurrection but as a witness to it. That is, we are asked to simply announce in word and deed that this good news is true.
What does that look like though? In response to this question, something a mentor of mine often asked in bible study comes to mind. When reading and reflecting on a passage of scripture, he would ask “If this passage is true, how does that affect the way we should live and behave?”
How we implement the answer to that question is what it means to bear witness, and treat the resurrection as true, meaningful, and life-changing.
In many ways, our worship series that begins Sunday—“Terms of Resurrection”—is an opportunity to think about that witness and how we can continue sharing it together, by exploring such ideas as:
• “If resurrection doesn’t take away Jesus’s scars, how should we understand and treat wounds and hurts?”
• “If resurrection is for all of creation, how do we show our gratitude and love for the whole world?
• “If resurrection offers us salvation, where do we experience it not just in the future but here and now?”
As we gather over these next several weeks, may we ask these and all other sorts of good, faithful questions, and may God grant us the strength and courage to live the answers for the healing of our lives and the world.
The Lord Bless and Keep You as We Do So,
*In-Person/Livestream Worship: Join us each Sunday at 11:00am in person or online (via Facebook live) for worship!
Online participation via Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/firstpresbyterianchurchofgarner
See our service from April 9, Easter Sunday, “Again and Again…God Is With Us.”
Special thanks to the Presbyterian Women and the congregation for the lovely flowers that adorned the sanctuary.
Join us next week for the beginning of our Easter Series “Terms of Resurrection” as we focus on Jesus showing the disciples his scars and wounds in John 20:19-29.
*Masks are welcome but optional during in-person worship as we continue to contend with COVID and an emerging flu season. We also ask everyone to be still mindful of social distancing and respectful of the personal space of others even as we give thanks for being together.*
*Thank You for Supporting Family Promise! During our week we supported 3 families with a total of 14 children. We provided materials for 30 easter baskets for these friends as well as for others. We also filled up 4 shopping carts full of urgently needed items. Well done good and faithful servants of FPCoG!
*Walking Group: Join the Walking Group each Tuesday at 6pm. We currently meet at Cadence Senior Living Center (200 Minglewood Dr.). Dress warmly! If you have any questions, contact the church office at 919-772-0727. In the event there is inclement weather, we’ll just gather the following week.
*Upcoming Mission Opportunities: Our next service to HOPE will be Saturday, April 29--save the date!
Also, check out the sign-up sheet for Habitat for Humanity in the narthex. Put your name down if you would be interested in helping in any way with the Spring Faith Build. We will pick a day and project that suits the skills, abilities, and time of those who would like to be involved.
*May Spire articles are due on April 20th!
*2023 Vision Update: In January’s edition of the Spire, Rev. Acton wrote about church leaders (session, deacons, and staff) exploring an emerging vision for FPCoG, rooted in the idea of serving our “neighbors.” The Session continued this conversation at its February meeting and approved the following recommendations:
1. Appoint a group that can help develop a consensus among the congregation for a vision of FPCoG rooted in the image of being neighborly towards our local, regional, and global communities.
2. Complete a demographic study of our region to better know who our neighbors are and what their needs might be.
The next step will be identifying people to serve on the “Vision Team” described above and identifying resources to help us complete a demographic study in a helpful way. The Team will be composed of active members of the Session, the Deacons, as well as the congregation. If you might be interested in serving and helping clarify the call God is issuing to FPCoG for its ministry now and into the future, please contact Rev. Acton or Mike Koenig, the Clerk of Session.
*Share FPCoG with Each Other and Our Neighbors! FPCoG is an active church! To help others know this (and to stay up to date yourself), please consider following and asking others to follow us on Facebook or Instagram!