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April Pastor’s Column

After Easter, many pastors and church musicians breathe a great sigh of relief and offer up prayers of gratitude. Obviously,IMG_1624 we are grateful for what Easter means – God’s gift of wondrous love made known through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And we are grateful as well for the many people whose energy and creativity and commitment came together to make worship come alive in the season of Lent and especially during Holy Week and on Easter Day. Our worship is truly the work of many hands and hearts: singers, instrumentalists, ushers, communion preparers and servers, readers, service planners, banner makers and carriers, those who prepare and print bulletins – the list goes on! But, truth be told, we are also grateful that we made through and arrived joyfully at the end of the journey to Easter!

 

Gratitude is at the heart of this season because it is at the heart of Christian faith. During Lent and Easter, we reflect on the most amazing gift of all: Jesus lays down his life for us, and we see into the heart of God. This is how God loves us: as Jesus IMG_4142pours out his life for us and for all people. Last fall, we had as one of our lectionary readings the story of the “widow’s mite.” In the story, Jesus and his disciples are in the Temple in Jerusalem   during Holy Week. Many people are coming to worship God with their offerings which they deposit in large collection boxes.

 

Jesus calls attention to a poor widow who comes up and puts in two tiny coins. Others have given larger amounts, Jesus says, but their gifts are only part of their abundance. But this woman has put in all she had to live on. One of my lectionary group remarked that having two coins (and only two coins!) presents an interestiIMG_0690ng choice: do you give half of what you have or are you “all in”? This woman was “all in” as she made her gift. This year I came to see that what this woman did prefigures what Jesus is about to do, namely to give up his life for his friends, offer up his life for the salvation of the world. Jesus was “all in.” And because of that you and I have life and hope that will sustain us throughout this life and beyond.

 

Over the next month, all of us are encouraged to think about how we will participate in the “Sharing Hope – Building Hope” capital campaign. The projects are important. The goal is a challenge. But as you consider what part God is calling you to play, I hope that what you will reflect on first of all is your gratitude to God for God’s amazing goodness in your life and God’s willingness to be “all in” for us. This is more than a capital campaign; it is a way to say “thank you.”

Cynthia M. Campbell

 

April Column

“Sharing Hope from the Heart of the Highlands” – more than a tagline!

This is what I love most about our Mission Statement – that we strive as a congregation to be people who share hope! Hope is at the heart of Christian faith, but it seems to me that this is a word that people need today more than ever. On the whole, we live comfortable and reasonably secure lives, but I think all of us struggle at times to feel hopeful. And for many people, here in Louisville and around the world, hope is in desperately short supply.

 

There is a difference between hope and optimism. Optimism may be defined as a positive outlook or a general disposition. Hope is something different: it involves trusting where we do not see. Hope is a conviction about the long-term outcome rather than the short-term prospects. Hope is being able to say that “in life and in death, we belong to God.”

 

For Christians, hope is rooted and grounded in the story of God and God’s relationship with God’s people. That story, which culminates in the death and resurrection of Jesus, is about how God persists in loving us and calling us into relationship no matter how often we turn our backs on God, no matter how far or frequently we wander off the path.

 

The Easter Season is the time when the church rehearses again this great story. It is a drama that takes days to experience because it takes time to understand. The mystery of God’s love in Jesus Christ is celebrated in what the church has for centuries called “The Great Three Days.”

 

On Maundy Thursday, we remember Jesus’ “mandate” to us, his followers – that we love one another as he has loved us.

 

On Good Friday, we follow Jesus to the cross and remember once again that no one has greater love than this – to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

 

Then on Holy Saturday, we celebrate the Easter Vigil in which we hear and proclaim the whole story of salvation – from Creation to Resurrection. This service is literally a journey – from out in the playground into the fellowship hall and finally to the sanctuary – because the story is a journey that traces the milestones of God’s creating and re-creating love.

 

This is the true ground of hope and this is the hope that we have to share with one another, with neighbors and with the world. In life and in death, we belong to God, and therefore nothing in life or in death can ever separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus. This hope makes us bold and generous, courageous in the face of injustice and quick to respond to those in need. May this Easter Season become for you and for all of us a rebirth of hope.

 

Cynthia M. Campbell, Pastor

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