Monday, April 30, 2007

The Nugget, May 2007

God’s mercy is as welcome
in time of distress
as clouds of rain
in time of drought.
Sirach 35.26

Did you know that Easter is a season not just a day? It is a 50 day period of time from Easter Sunday until the day of Pentecost, this year on May 27. This 7 week season is a time to rebound from the joy and excitement and fury of activity in Lent and Easter and respond to the challenge to make resurrection something we live.

Part of us would like to hold on to the large worship attendance, to bask in the delight of seeing extra visitors in church, to drink in the excitement of the Easter Sunday events, to dream of what it would be like if we had that many people and that much offering and that much enthusiasm every Sunday.

But there comes a time when we must let go of that dream and get on with the task of being Easter people. We are like Mary who, in John's story of the resurrection, tried to embrace the risen Jesus. But he would have none of it. "Do not hold on to me" he said to her. "I have not yet ascended to God."

The joy of Easter Sunday is not something to cling to, to hold on to, as if we could freeze it in time. It is not something to be framed and hung on a wall like a trophy. Instead we let it go so that it can be the seed that springs forth from our lives in acts of peace and love and justice and holiness.

This Easter season is a very special time for First Congregational Church as we anticipate what the future will bring. The Search Committee continues their work diligently and needs our continuing support and prayers, our ministries move forward with faith and spirit, and the promise of spring gives us strength for the journey.

Here is a story that helps to get at the heart of what I am trying to say:

The fields were parched and brown from lack of rain, and the crops lay wilting from thirst. People were anxious and irritable as they searched the sky for any sign of relief. Days turned into arid weeks. No rain came.

The ministers of the local churches called for an hour of prayer on the town square the following Saturday. They requested that everyone bring an object of faith for inspiration.

At high noon on the appointed Saturday the townspeople turned out en masse, filling the square with anxious faces and hopeful hearts. The ministers were touched to see the variety of objects clutched in prayerful hands ... holy books, crosses, rosaries.

When the hour ended, as if on magical command, a soft rain began to fall. Cheers swept the crowd as they held their treasured objects high in gratitude and praise. From the middle of the crowd one faith symbol seemed to overshadow all the others.

A small nine-year old child had brought an umbrella.

Let the spirit of Easter in you lead to acts of great expectation, lives of living faith and being ready for the refreshing rains of God’s spirit.

Steve Shepard
Interim Pastor