Better than Easter Candy

I am SO glad that there’s more to Easter than a bunny, eggs, lots of candy, and pretty flowers!  While I love decorating Easter Eggs (and HIDING them!), I’m not that fond of eating countless eggs after Easter, and I’m OVERLY fond of candy, which can bring its own problems!  There’s not only the challenge of the sugar crash after eating too much candy, but the post-holiday let down, if that’s all it was about.  But though Jesus’ resurrection is at the end of all the Gospels, it is the BEGINNING of the rest of the New Testament, and the beginning of this movement we now call the Church, still going after 2000 years!

We commonly call the first book of the New Testament after the Gospels simply “Acts.”  But such a shortened name dilutes what it is about.  The book is properly called “The Acts of the Apostles,” and traces the beginnings of the Church of which we are now still a part millennia later.  This Sunday we will be looking at the beginnings of this Church movement, which starts with Peter proclaiming the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection, with a brief summary at Acts 2: 24—“But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power.” 

Easter is not just an annual landmark for the beginning of Spring (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), but marks and celebrates our beginnings of being incorporated into the living Body of Christ IN the world!  As we go through the beginnings of the Church in the coming weeks, we’ll see that the Early Church dealt with an even more extended and deadly “quarantine” at the hands of those who persecuted followers of Jesus, putting many to death, torture and imprisonment. 

Yet that time of “quarantine” did not weaken, but STRENGTHENED the budding new movement of the Church, demonstrating that it was not only impossible for death to hold Jesus in its power, but impossible for even death to hold the people of God in its power either!

Jesus and countless Church leaders over the centuries often emphasize the essential importance of prayer both in personal spiritual growth, and in the life of the Church.  Whether by more time or desperation, people are often driven to a stronger reliance on prayer in times of quarantine and difficulty.  While our current limitations get in the way of many ordinary facets of life, they certainly don’t get in the way of prayer, and in some ways, makes more of a focus on prayer even easier!  Perhaps that is a hidden blessing God is working to coax out of this time of difficulty.

So while it is easy to get too much of a good thing with our Easter candy, prayer is so much better, because we can never get too much of the good thing of prayer!  Keep on praying!

Pastor Jim

Lilies

Easter and lilies seem to go hand in hand, so as we’re heading on our final approach to Easter, we might want see some lilies in our live streaming service, I just can’t get that old Gospel chorus line out of my head that goes: “He’s the lily of the valley, the bright and morning star.”  Some of you may also know and appreciate that old Gospel favorite, and be surprised to realize it’s not really any kind of Bible verse.  Lilies and other flowers are prominent biblical themes, but the idea of Jesus as “the lily of the valley,” as a direct connection with Easter comes from somewhere else.

“I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valley, a lily among the brambles” is certainly a Biblical text, but it comes from The Song of Solomon, with much more of a romantic than a spiritual tone.  Some Bible commentators over the millennia have seen the love described in the Song of Solomon as an illustration of the love of Christ for the Church—“the Bride of Christ,” which is probably where the connection has come from. 

Connections have been drawn between Jesus and lilies as well—the fruitfulness of lilies, which, like Jesus’ illustration of the vine and branches shows how we grow and reproduce while we stay in the vine, and the sweet savour of the lily fragrance, reflecting the sweetness of Jesus’ sacrifice for us.  So I’m sorry I don’t have a more solid lily scripture connection to share, but that doesn’t reduce the power Easter Lilies bring as an icon of the new life Easter brings.

Please visit our site daily for and CLICK HERE for our Holy Week Bible Study.  Look for SAFE ways to share and be a blessing this Holy Week so you can keep being a blessing! Reverend Jim