After Easter, many pastors and church musicians breathe a great sigh of relief and offer up prayers of gratitude. Obviously, 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 pours 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 interesting 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