04/21/19 I type a few days before Easter – I cannot conjure what Wisconsin weather will bring to share our joy on Sunday morning. I know lilies will scent the altar, adorn our worship as did the palms and palm crosses a week ago. Friday we will know the grieving, bear the cross on its dusty difficult path, feel the pounding of nails, hear 7 final words, experience darkness, and fear the rending of the temple curtain. And Sunday, an empty tomb, wonder, and reunion. Ken Pilcher, Jr., at www.faithclub.org, perhaps reflects far better than I:
Remember That Easter Morning
Jesus bore the stripes of pain and suffering.
He bowed under the weight of the cross.
He shed His blood.
He said, “It is finished!”
He entered the tomb.
He broke the bonds of death.
He rose to live forever.
His sacrifice, His pain, and His joy!
For by the power given to Jesus
To overcome death,
He has proven
There is no death
When we put our trust in Him!
I think our gathering sessions with the MET process fit very well into this Easter celebration of new life in the hope and promise of Jesus’ resurrection and the grace assured us by this fulfillment of God’s promise. Our faith home has “had its moments” of cross bearing and sadness. But we have also had far greater joys, far greater moments when this congregational community touched lives. Carol Mainwaring spoke to that in her reflections. Raised a Catholic, she fell out of the church when she was about 18. Moving to this area in 2000, she joined our church and liked how she could blend in and was asked to become more involved. She became more engaged with the church when she experienced a woman-to-woman connection with Pastor Molly and felt more comfortable becoming more involved.
A caring ministry, a good shepherd can renew a light in a seeker, in a soul lost on a confusing journey, in a shy heart that sits in the corner of a back pew. In her survey responses, Carol noted, “When I moved to the area, I was looking for a Lutheran Church other than Missouri or Wisconsin Synods. [VELC] provides spiritual uplifting Sunday service/events and an avenue to volunteer in the community.” Reflecting on a good memory, Carol lifted up:
I remember the first few months that I attended and was leery of what to expect due to the fact that I was not a regular church attending person at the time. Every pew in the church was full. This offered me a comfort level that I could be absorbed without being singled out. Then one Sunday a woman who was used to sitting next to me asked me if I wanted to join the bell choir. I said ‘sure.’ Little did I know that I had no talent for this, but just being part of a group drew me in closer. It did take a few more years and a few outstanding pastors to draw me in again. Then it seemed you couldn’t stop me!
Like Christ’s followers grew in numbers post-Easter morning, so our church will be blessed if we continue to be the voice of the empty tomb, the voice of saving faith, and the hug for that stranger who enters our midst in his or her journey of life.