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Easter Reflections 2017

I began Easter by posting the following message to FaithInspires’ Facebook page, and to my Facebook and Twitter accounts.

” Today we celebrate the fact that Christ went to Calvary, also known as Golgotha (Hill of Skulls.) He went there to be executed in the most demeaning, inhumane way the Romans had at their disposal, crucifixion ! As the Son of God he could have avoided it all without an once of effort. Yet he willingly submitted to what was about to happen.

He did so for a very good reason. He did so so that EACH one of us could be freed from death, and from our sins. For only the Son of God could die for each person who lived, or would ever live.He was born, lived a sinless life only to spill his own blood for each person. To claim his victory and eternal life we need only to claim his sacrifice and believe in it.

What would seem like a sad tragic day is actually a happy one of great victory ! The cost of Easter has nothing to do with the price of candy. The price of Easter is beyond calculation and was paid for each of us on that far away hill, long ago. Happy Easter !”

 

After what seemed like a very successful Easter Sunday service I returned and posted this, about what I am sure will become a treasured Easter memory.

” I just got back from preaching Easter service at the nursing home. One of my regulars from among the residents got a rare treat, which played out in a way which blessed me mightily.

His daughter who lives out of town came to get him because the family had gathered locally for Easter. She actually apologized to me because with the preparations involved in getting him ready to go out etc. he was going to miss my service. She made a point of telling me how much she enjoyed my service and sermons when she was in town.

I actually got to speak for a moment with the resident as they were leaving. The man was practically in tears at missing my service and literally kissed my hand. I told him that he should go and enjoy his family because they are precious gifts from God.

I know many appreciate my ministry and preaching. But I was touched by the appreciation this man and his family made a point of showing me today. I wish more people understood how much a word or small gesture of appreciation means to those of us in pastoral ministry. Especially those of us who are bi-vocational. Sometimes a simple act such as this one is all that keeps us going when we want to just give up.

This frail, old nursing home resident, and his family gave me a gift of kindness today that will endure as one of my favorite Easter memories.”

 

It has for me been a mostly quiet Easter. I have had the opportunity to get some much needed rest and relaxation. However Christ and his sacrifice have been very much in my thoughts as they are most days. Having the opportunity to  contemplate what our savior did for us on Calvary is a blessing in itself.

Good Friday Day of Prayer

DANBURY, Conn., March 16, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ — May We Pray for You? The Guideposts OurPrayer Ministry, announces its 45th annual Good Friday Day of Prayer event, scheduled for 7-5pm, Friday, April 3 at Mizzentop Day School (formerly Peale Center) 66 East Main Street in Pawling, NY. As in years past, OurPrayer invites the public to attend or submit prayer requests online at www.ourprayergoodfriday.org where each prayer request will be prayed for by OurPrayer staff and volunteers.

This Good Friday Day of Prayer, we welcome you to join the hundreds of people near and far as we gather for a day of reflection and prayer. This occasion benefits so many who attend, as a day of personal contemplation and renewal, as well as a time for unity and fellowship, joining together to intercede for individuals, friends, family and the world. “We are not short on problems in our homes, schools, on our streets, or in our world. What better time than Good Friday, to make a sacrifice and intercede on behalf of others just as Christ did for us,” commented Ty’Ann Brown, Manager of OurPrayer. Join us as we make this day a time of prayer and community, lifting up thousands of prayer requests by name and need. This event is free and refreshments will be provided.

Those who are unable to attend the event can still participate by submitting prayer requests as well as praying for others at www.ourprayergoodfriday.org. Our Prayer Line will be open for personal prayer from 7am-10pm EDT at 203-778-8063. Caring people volunteer their time to support those in need, offering prayers of hope and inspiration in response to the millions of requests received annually. Please additionally visit OurPrayer on Facebook, and Twitter.

OurPrayer is a service of Guideposts–a non-profit organization that touches millions of lives every day through products and services that inspire, encourage, and uplift. Through magazines, books, prayer network and outreach programs, Guideposts helps people connect their faith-filled values to their daily lives. For more information on Guideposts, please visit www.guideposts.org and follow Guideposts on Facebook and Twitter.

POPE FRANCIS: GOD’S MERCY CAN MAKE EVEN THE DRIEST LAND FLOWER

emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys Fr...

emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys Français : emblème pontifical Italiano: emblema del Papato Português: Emblema papal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vatican City, 31 March 2013 (VIS) – At 10:15 this morning, Easter Sunday, the Holy Father Francis celebrated the Mass of the Lord’s Resurrection in St. Peter’s Square. Faithful from Rome and pilgrims from around the world participated in the celebration, which began with the “Resurrexit” rite—in which an icon of the Risen Lord, placed next to the papal altar, is opened and venerated to recall St. Peter’s witness of the resurrection. The Pope did not give a homily since immediately after the Mass he gave his Easter message and “Urbi et Orbi” blessing (to the city and to the world).
In honour of the feast, St. Peter’s Square was decorated with splendid floral arrangements. More than 40,000 flowers, donated by Dutch horticulturists, transformed the area around the altar into a magnificent garden. Yellow daffodils and white lilies highlighted, the colours of Easter and the papal flag that represent the purity of Jesus’ sacrifice and the glory of his resurrection. The pink flowers—delphinium and cherry blossoms—symbolized the light of the risen Christ who destroys darkness.
At noon, from the central loggia of the Vatican Basilica, the Holy Father Francis addressed the over 250,000 people overflowing St. Peter’s Square and those who were following the celebration by radio or television. He delivered his Easter proclamation—“God’s mercy can make even the driest land become a garden!”—and made a strong appeal for peace throughout the world. He then imparted the “Urbi et Orbi” blessing. Following is the full text of the Pope’s message:
“Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, Happy Easter! Happy Easter!”
“What a joy it is to announce this message: Christ is risen! I would like it to go out to every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons… Most of all, I would like it to enter every heart, for it is there that God wants to sow this Good News: Jesus is risen, there is hope for you, you are no longer in the power of sin or of evil! Love has triumphed! Mercy has been victorious! God’s mercy always triumphs!”
“We too, like the women who were Jesus’ disciples, who went to the tomb and found it empty, may wonder what this event means (cf. Lk 24:4). What does it mean that Jesus is risen? It means that the love of God is stronger than evil and death itself; it means that the love of God can transform our lives and let those desert places in our hearts bloom. God’s love can do this.”
“This same love out of which the Son of God became man and followed the way of humility and self-giving to the very end, down to hell—to the abyss of separation from God—this same merciful love has flooded Jesus’ dead body with light and transfigured it; has made it pass into eternal life. Jesus did not return to his former life, to an earthly life, but entered into the glorious life of God and He entered there with our humanity, opening us to a future of hope.”
“This is what Easter is: it is the exodus, the passage of human beings from the slavery to sin and evil to the freedom of love and goodness. Because God is life, life alone, and we are his glory, the living person.”
“Dear brothers and sisters, Christ died and rose once for all time and for everyone, but the power of the Resurrection, this passing from the slavery to evil to the freedom of goodness, must be accomplished in every age, in our concrete existence, in our everyday lives. How many deserts, even today, do human beings need to cross! Above all, the desert within, when are lacking love for God and neighbour, when we fail to realize that we are guardians of all that the Creator has given us and continues to give us. God’s mercy can make even the driest land become a garden, can restore life to dry bones (cf. Ez 37:1-14).”
“So this is the invitation that I address to everyone: Let us accept the grace of Christ’s Resurrection! Let us be renewed by God’s mercy! Let us be loved by Jesus! Let us enable the power of his love to transform our lives too and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish.”
“And so we ask the risen Jesus, who turns death into life, to change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace. Yes, Christ is our peace, and through him we implore peace for all the world.”
“Peace for the Middle East, in particular between Israelis and Palestinians who struggle to find the road of agreement: that they may willingly and courageously resume negotiations to end a conflict that has lasted all too long. Peace in Iraq: that every act of violence may end. And above all for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict and for the many refugees who await help and comfort. How much blood has been shed! And how much suffering must there still be before a political solution to the crisis will be found?”
“Peace for Africa, still the scene of bloody conflicts. In Mali: may unity and stability be restored. In Nigeria, where attacks sadly continue, gravely threatening the lives of many innocent people, and where great numbers of persons, including children, are held hostage by terrorist groups. Peace in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo and in the Central African Republic where many have been forced to leave their homes and continue to live in fear.”
“Peace in Asia, above all on the Korean peninsula: may disagreements be overcome and a renewed spirit of reconciliation grow.”
“Peace in the whole world, still divided by greed looking for easy gain, wounded by the selfishness which threatens human life and the family, selfishness that continues in human trafficking, the most extensive form of slavery in this twenty-first century. Human trafficking is precisely the most extensive form of slavery in this twenty-first century! Peace to the whole world, torn apart by violence linked to drug trafficking and by the iniquitous exploitation of natural resources! Peace to this our Earth! Made the risen Jesus bring comfort to the victims of natural disasters and make us responsible guardians of creation.”
“Dear brothers and sisters, to all of you who are listening to me, from Rome and from all over of the world, I address the invitation of the Psalm: ‘Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; for his mercy endures for ever. Let Israel say: “His mercy endures forever”.’ (Ps 118:1-2).”
“Dear brothers and sisters who have come from all over the world to this Square, the heart of Christianity and to all of you joining us via the media, I repeat my wishes for a happy Easter! Bring to your families and your nations the message of joy, of hope, and of peace that every year, on this day, is powerfully renewed. May the Risen Lord, who defeated sin and death, sustain us all especially the weakest and those most in need. Thank you for your presence and the witness of your faith. A thought and special thanks for the gift of these beautiful flowers that come from the Netherlands. I affectionately repeat to all of you: May the Risen Christ guide all of you and all of humanity on the paths of justice, love, and peace!”
Then, in Latin, Pope Francis imparted the “Urbi et Orbi” blessing.

New Survey Shows 7 Out of 10 Americans Celebrate Easter as a Religious Holiday

Looking northwest across Broadway and 61st Str...

Looking northwest across Broadway and 61st Street at American Bible Society on a cloudy afternoon. ZIP 10022. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

April 17: Full Survey Findings on The State of the Bible to be released

NEW YORK, April 3, 2012—Amid headlines of adults ruining a children’s annual Easter egg hunt in Colorado Springs, Colo., American Bible Society is releasing survey findings that paint a much brighter picture of the holiday.

A recent survey by American Bible Society and Barna Group reveals 69 percent of U.S. adults celebrate Easter as a religious holiday and not just an occasion for egg hunts, stuffed bunnies and candy. The survey also found:

  • 31% of Americans age 18 to 27 celebrate Easter as a non-religious holiday
  • 14% of Americans do not celebrate Easter
  • 78% of Americans age 66 and older celebrate Easter as a religious holiday versus 56% of Americans age 18 to 27

“The survey demonstrates that most Americans remember why Easter is deemed a holiday,” said American Bible Society President Lamar Vest. “At American Bible Society, we’re excited to provide Americans – and parents in particular – with quick and easy access to the Biblical resources they need to celebrate the real reason for Easter, Jesus’ resurrection.”

American Bible Society and Barna Group will release full results from The State of the Bible 2012 survey on Tuesday, April 17. This data was collected as a part of an annual survey designed to gauge how the Bible impacts Americans today. (View The State of the Bible 2011 results here.)

“The results of this survey should be encouraging for Christians,” said David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group. “Most Americans still observe Easter as a religious holiday even as candy consumption and egg hunts have often overshadowed its spiritual significance.”

Poll Your Audience:

  • How does your family celebrate Easter?
  • What traditions, religious or otherwise, have you created?
  • Do you attend Easter egg hunts with your children? Have you observed parents behaving badly in this setting?

About American Bible Society:
Headquartered in Manhattan, the 196-year-old American Bible Society exists to make the Bible available to every person in a language and format each can understand and afford, so all people may experience its life-changing message. One of the nation’s oldest nonprofit organizations, today’s American Bible Society provides interactive, high- and low-tech resources enabling first-time readers and seasoned theologians alike to engage with the best-selling book of all time. For more information, visit AmericanBible.org.

Survey Methodology:
The State of the Bible 2012 report contains the findings from a nationwide study commissioned by American Bible Society and conducted by Barna Research (a division of the Barna Group). Two research methodologies were used for the study; one included 1,016 telephone interviews with adults in the continental U.S. while the second study consisted of 1,005 online surveys using a nationally representative panel.

The use of two methodologies provided a larger sample size for key questions and ensured even greater representation among all age groups. The telephone interviews were conducted February 24 through March 5, 2012 and included U.S. adults 18 years of age or older. The online surveys were conducted between March 14 and March 21, 2012.

Easter: Worship Mingles Joy with Sorrow for Those Changing Churches

LOVELAND, Ohio, March 28, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ — In less than two weeks, the Christian faithful all over the world will gather in local churches in joyous commemoration of the most important date on the Christian calendar — the celebration of the resurrection of Christ, Easter Sunday. Despite many other differences, Christians on all continents and in all time zones share the unity of their faith on this day.

For most believers, it’s a time of sweet, joyous fellowship with their local church family, when worshipping together feels like a family reunion.

But for others, Easter Sunday morning is more likely to be a time of longing and pain, as their fellowship feels broken and they are somewhere in the heart-rending and unwanted process of changing churches.

Author Dottie Parish, a long-time counselor, understands this common, yet commonly misunderstood, aspect of Christian living.

“The pain of leaving a church is excruciating,” says Parish. “Church ties are not easily severed. Leaving a church cuts ‘leavers’ off — separates them from the local body of believers.”

Parish knows this from painful personal knowledge. She brings not only her counselor’s mindset but also her own experiences of changing churches to her forthcoming book, CHANGING CHURCHES: A VIEW FROM THE PEW [Winepress, $16.95].

In the book, Parish offers reflections and analysis to help the church changer. She outlines valid reasons for leaving a church, steps to take when considering leaving, and suggestions for ways to handle the search process for the new church.

Easter, she said recently, is actually a great time to visit another church because it allows a visitor to see a church at its best, as well as be able to slip in without being noticed on the high traffic Sunday.

She likens the process to any other loss, with the attendant stages of grief. The process takes time and varies with each leaver.

She also suggests steps to help leavers navigate the grieving process, recommending increased amounts of time spent in Bible study and prayer, journaling, looking for other Christian groups for support, and if necessary, seek Christian counseling.

“I hope readers facing painful church issues will realize they are not alone, or crazy, or wrong in their tears, frustrations, ambivalence, depression and anger,” Parish says. “We need to pay attention to reason and facts, of course, but our feelings inform our reason and vice versa. Awareness of our feelings enables us to grieve losses and be authentic. To heal and grow we need to express our feelings, learn from them and then let go of them.

“All of us — pastors, elders and church members — need to understand church hoppers,” she continues, admitting she too had judged people who switched from one church to another — until she became one. “Most leavers are hurt, angry or disappointed by a church they loved and supported for years.”

Parish sites a study that shows the majority (76%) of church leavers are mature Christians who leave for valid, biblical reasons and do so prayerfully. Once resettled, they become “very solid, healthy and active members” of another congregation.

CHANGING CHURCHES: A VIEW FROM THE PEW will release April 16, and will be available from Amazon and WinePress Publishing [ISBN: 978-1-4141-2152-9].

Parish holds a Master of Social Work degree from Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bucknell University. A resident of the Cincinnati area, her counseling career included work with individuals, couples and families at two family service agencies and in private practice. Parish also wrote a weekly advice column, “Family Counselor,” for more than a decade for the Hamilton Journal News, Hamilton, Ohio.

Currently she blogs at faithnotes-dottie.blogspot.com and publishes a monthly email newsletter called Changing Churches: News and Views. For more information, contact her at dparish@cinci.rr.com.

WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID ABOUT THE BOOK:
“Pastors and church members will be touched, surprised and informed by one couple’s journey in three very different churches as described in Changing Churches. Their story includes inspiring discovery, challenging lessons, struggling and grieving with pastors leaving, new pastors coming, false teaching, ‘worship wars’ and more.” — Dr. James Bjornstad, Professor of Philosophy, Cedarville University, Cedarville, Ohio

Give Hope, Food and Happiness this Easter

Easter egg

Easter egg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

March 21, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ — Easter eggs are an ancient symbol of new life, representing nature’s decision that winter will end and spring will bring sunshine, green grass and blossoming flowers. But for those who live in developing countries around the world, eggs symbolize more than just the Easter holiday and springtime — they represent hope, food and happiness for families and children in need.

As children dye eggs this Easter, their peers in poverty-stricken communities will be cherishing gifts from the World Vision Gift Catalog. The catalog offers more than 250 life-changing gifts ranging in price from $16 to $39,000 that can be purchased in the name of a friend or family member. To celebrate Easter blessings, gift-givers can choose from a variety of springtime items including:

  • Two chickens offer a daily supply of eggs with plenty of protein. – $25
  • A sheep gives plenty of milk, cheese, and wool for children. – $ 105
  • A goat and two chickens provide a steady supply of eggs, milk and meat to feed children and help families. – $100
  • Ten ducks produce protein-rich eggs to feed a family year round and both eggs and ducklings can be sold for extra income. – $60
  • Traditional water wells provide safe water for up to 150 people.

New this year, World Vision has launched www.MyGiftCatalog.org. This site allows fundraisers to start a gift catalog giving page to celebrate birthdays, weddings or to honor a loved one. Each fundraiser has a personalized page with photos, selected gifts and information about why they would like gifts from the World Vision Gift Catalog.

After purchasing an item, the person whose name the gift was given in receives a special card describing the gift and its impact. Donors can also receive free handmade gifts such as hand-carved serving spoons from Kenya and jewelry from Thailand with a cash contribution to the Maximum Impact Fund.

About World Vision
World Vision is a Christian relief and development organization dedicated to helping children and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty. We serve the world’s poor, regardless of a person’s religion, race, ethnicity or gender. For more information, visit
www.worldvision.org.

For more information about the World Vision Gift Catalog or to receive a copy of the catalog, please contact Bozena Luczak at bozena@wilkspr.com or 708-434-5006.

Sharefaith Helping 19,000 Churches Prepare for Easter Services

ASHLAND, Ore., March 13, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ — How do you help 19,000 churches get ready for Easter? For the church media company Sharefaith, the answer is easy — give them complete ministry solutions including the best media available. For the past eight years, Sharefaith has been a frontrunner in helping churches steward technology to spread the gospel. This year, their impact continues with the world’s largest collection of Easter media for churches, and a price-slashing deal that unleashes the power of Sharefaith to more churches than ever before. This Easter, thousands of churches around the globe can thank Sharefaith for ministry solutions that will maximize their impact.

Easter: The Most Important Worship Service of the Year
Easter is the single most important worship service of the year. Not only is Easter Sunday a celebration of the pivotal event of the Christian calendar, but it is also the day on which more people attend church services. Many people will only attend a church service on one occasion each year — Easter Sunday. It is extremely important that churches prepare to make a maximum impact on this significant day. Lack of planning, shoddy preparation, and cheap shortcuts are easily spotted. Of all the days of the year, Easter is definitely worth spending more time, money, and effort.

How to Prepare the Best Easter Service
But what goes into creating a top-notch Easter service? What elements should be present in order to effectively communicate the truth to many visitors?

  1. Announce the Easter service. The most important part of preparing for an Easter service is making sure people know about it. Update the church website to spread the news. Print out flyers and invitations. This is an event churches want to broadcast as widely as possible.
  2. Get members involved. Worship is not a spectator sport. Make it a point to involve people in the service itself. One great way to help get people involved is to encourage them to invite others.
  3. Make the theme obvious. Easter is about one main thing:  the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Make this theme an explicit part of the Easter service. Just as important as the overarching theme is the visual theme. Make sure that all media and graphics are tied together. For example, the welcome video should match the worship slides, which should match the worship bulletin cover.
  4. Media is crucial. Media is the communication language of our age. Without great media, churches neglect a crucial component of communicating to this generation. Churches should do what it takes to obtain high-quality church media as they proclaim the good news of the resurrection. Sermon videos, worship loops, and welcome videos are just some of the ways in which churches can use electronic media in their Easter services.
  5. Visual sermons. It’s easy for a listener to lose attention or interest in a spoken sermon. In addition to the preaching, use PowerPoint slides and other visuals to communicate the truth.

Sharefaith:  A Single Solution
Sharefaith is designed to help churches accomplish each one of these important objectives. The entire organization is built around helping the church to better proclaim her message. All of Sharefaith’s products, offered at one low membership cost, give churches a money-saving, time-saving, message-enhancing power.

  • Church websites (hosting only $14.99/m)
  • PowerPoints
  • Sermon Videos
  • Worship loops
  • Countdown timers
  • Worship backgrounds
  • Church bulletins
  • Flyers
  • Newsletters
  • Clipart
  • Worship software

This Easter, a Sharefaith membership is a better deal than ever before. The growing Easter collection provides a vast library of powerful media. The company now offers websites and worship software. A free trial is available. And most importantly, the membership cost is a massive 20% off until Easter (only $119.20).

There is no better time to purchase or renew a Sharefaith membership. For the best Easter service possible, it’s worth it!
Join Sharefaith now!

Try Sharefaith for free!