Hello Bloomington Gospel Church Family!
Today’s email is part information and part inspiration.
The Informational Part
I’m sure you are wondering what we are going to do to celebrate Easter this year. Easter is the centrepiece holiday of our faith. Easter is the celebration of God’s love and provision for our salvation and eternal life through the self-sacrificing death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ. Salvation through Christ is THE MOST significant thing we could possibly celebrate… so yes, I’m sure you are wondering what we are going to do to celebrate Easter this year.
With our social distancing limitations during this health crisis, we won’t be able to meet together as is our custom. While these directives are in place we will need to continue to be together in spirit, and fellowship together through other means such as phone, email, social-media, pre-recorded messages, etc.
For our Easter celebrations, Rev. Rodger McCready – who was to join us in person – has prepared and recorded his messages for Good Friday and Easter Sunday for us to enjoy. They will be part of the “recorded services” that we can enjoy online, and we will need to provide them in some other format for those who cannot get online to enjoy them [have you got ideas for this? I’d love to hear them]. Another component – which I’m excited about – is the opportunity for more people to participate with scripture reading. We have some scripture readings picked out for Good Friday celebration and I’m looking for people who can pre-read and record (maybe on their mobile phone to send to me). I’ve got two people lined up to do this already… if you would like to be a part of this – please let me know ASAP. I would like recordings by this Sunday Evening so I get all the editing and arranging done in good time. And, I’m entertaining ideas for getting together online or over the phone to have communion together and sing a song together. Do you have suggestions for this? (Suggestions are appreciated).
I’m looking forward to Easter and enjoying a number of devotionals leading up to the ‘time’. No, it won’t be the Easter-time we are familiar with – but maybe we can translate some of our ‘Easter-time’ traditions throughout the year! Who says we can’t have a breakfast together in the summer? Who says we can’t sing anthems of resurrection in the fall? Who says we can’t make Christ, His death for us and His resurrection the celebration of our WHOLE year? Let’s rise to the challenges to our celebrations and choose to expand and extend them rather than grieve them!
Ok… that was information – now for the
This is a post from our Associated Gospel Churches President, Bill Allan. The original post can be found on the AGC website here. Enjoy!
The great hope of the Gospel is not just that I get to go to heaven when I die, but that I am restored to a right relationship with God in the here and now. Like Abraham, I am declared righteous before God, freed from penalty, because of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus on the cross that forever satisfied the wrath of God against my sin.
After I get through all the commercialism, chocolate bunnies, chickens, assorted other barnyard animals, superheroes, and other confectionary figures, I begin to see Easter in a new light. As I reflect on this Easter season, I see A NEW HOPE. The cross was the destiny for Jesus, and it was necessary. The grave was temporary, and it was necessary. But in the resurrection, I see a new hope in my restored relationship to my Heavenly Father, my Creator, the one who formed me and knew me before I breathed my first breath.
I now live a new life, a new freedom, a new identity in the here and now, just as Paul described in Galatians 2:20; “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” As I reflect on Easter, I know that heaven may be my destiny, but my life in faith, in Christ, in this present moment takes on a new perspective.
In a world filled with fear, tribalism, exclusiveness, rich vs poor, impending financial crisis, pandemic viruses and general hopelessness in the future, the Gospel, and only the Gospel, gives a new hope. This new hope that we live is not just for ourselves. If we truly live as Paul describes in Galatians 2:20, the life of living in the flesh by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us, then we will shine as lights of this new hope to those around us. Our light will shine on those who lack hope and are seeking for hope in some way. The Gospel is much more lived out than talked about.
Easter often focuses on the two bookends of the passion, suffering and crucifixion of Jesus on the one side, and that glorious resurrection morning as the end of the story. As others have often noted; It’s Friday, but Sundays a coming! However, we must also look at the new hope that Easter brings that allows each of us to live in this world, yet so changed, so transformed by the power of the Gospel, that we do not assimilate into the world. We have been marked; we are different. We are in it, NOT of it.
Jesus shared this new hope with a woman desperately seeking hope as He used a simple illustration of water and thirst. The Samaritan woman didn’t understand at first and failed to see the hope Jesus was offering her. Philip shared this same hope with an Ethiopian dignitary who saw the hope, responded and was baptized as an outward expression of his receiving this new hope. Peter preached this new hope and over 3,000 responded in a single day.
What about you and me? How are we living this new hope that we have in a way that draws others to Jesus? This Easter we may, and we should focus on the bookends of Easter, the suffering and crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus. We should also focus on the new hope that we have in the here and now through these momentous events that have changed us, transformed us and given us a message of new hope for those who have no hope.
Living in the victory of the resurrection, a new hope today and forever!
Rev. Bill Allan