Easter message

Dear Easter People

I write this to you right in the middle of Holy Week, just before this sacred time crescendos into the two days that changed everything. Those two days – the day Jesus died and the day he was raised from the dead are the hinges upon which all life and history swing. Those two days have secured the implementation of God’s kingdom and the salvation of all who believe.

We have heard the story of Good Friday – how Jesus was crucified on an old rugged cross, dying for the sins of humans. Unfortunately, many of us have heard the story over and over again until it has lost its wallop. It is crucial for us of faith to hear it clearly – this is God who died, this is God who died so we might live. There is no other news that is as startling as the straightforward announcement of the death of God. There is no other news that is as personally jarring as the matter of fact statement that God’s death was for my redemption. Think about it. Do you believe this? Do you really believe this?

We have heard the story of Easter – how Jesus the Son was raised from the dead to life by God the Father. Again, most of us have heard this since our childhood, and have accordingly learned to categorize it neatly into our lives. We try many approaches to make this blend into our lives.

Resurrection? “Why yes, I believe, but I haven’t thought about it much lately.”

Resurrection? “Of course, but don’t bother me with it right now, since I have family coming and Easter dinner to fix.”

Resurrection? I sure hope so, but you can’t actually expect me to buy it hook, line and sinker, can you? After all, we’re educated adults.”

The basic problem is resurrection can not be accommodated into the natural flow of our lives. There is no “blending in” with resurrection. If it’s true, it changes everything. If it’s false, it changes everything. We do not have the option of taking God risen from the dead for granted. The risen God is to be worshipped. The risen God is to be enjoyed. The risen God is to be obeyed. The risen God is to be proclaimed. The risen God is to be our heart and soul and life.

I invite you to First Baptist Arlington this Easter Sunday to hear afresh the startling good news of the Savior risen and alive.

Easter Blessings, Pastor Jon

The Cross

We seem to have limped our way through Lent with snowstorm pummeling us every Wednesday. We have had to cancel three of our services because of the weather. But still we march on toward Good Friday with the focus on the cross of Jesus. The whole concept of the cross as an instrument of torture and crucifixion is just awful. We don’t like to think about it, much less view it. I have avoided watching movies that portray Christ’s death because I can’t bear to see them. Even hymns about the blood seem strange. “There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins” makes me shutter. “Power in the Blood” seems a bit better, but even so it’s hard to fathom.

We would rather see the cross as a bright, shiny thing. Maybe like a lovely gold necklace. I have a number of beautiful crosses that I have collected over the years. I enjoy wearing them and rarely think of them as a negative thing. I remember that in the Alpha class Nicky Gumble discussed the wearing of crosses. He said it was like having a charm of an electric chair hanging around your neck. I had never thought of it that way and quickly dismissed it because of the beautiful crosses I have. Yet it did make me think of the real purpose of the cross.

I recently took a special cross out of my jewelry box to wear. It is a silver cross that my husband once gave me as a gift. I noticed that there was some dirt on it. Perhaps I had spilled food on the it the last time I wore it, but it was covered in with some dark. ugly, sticky something. As I started to clean it, I realized that it probably represented the true cross of Christ which was covered with our sins. I was able to easily clean my silver cross, but it took the death of my savior to clean the sin from my heart and life. At that point another hymn came to mind: “In the cross of Christ I Glory.”

Thank you, Jesus, for going to the cross for me. Thank you for loving me enough to die in my place.

Nell Hevelone, Director of Christian Education