Word of the Week: EASTER!
I am writing this on Easter Monday. All the events of Holy Week have concluded, and the observance of Easter Sunday is now a part of Bethel’s history once again. Compared with last year’s empty sanctuary and the world in a state of the unknown related to an unfolding pandemic, Easter 2021 is to be cherished. It wasn’t “the same” as any Easter prior when we had a sanctuary filled to capacity for our “prime time” worship services, but we did have limited capacity that allowed for worshippers in the pews again. Masks, social distancing, pre-registration, and modified singing were observed, but we were able to be together. And, we had a parking lot filled with cars for the Drive-In Worship service that was accompanied by a seasonably warm Spring temperature that lent itself to rolled-down windows and basking in the sunlight as many worshipped from vehicles. We communed nearly 230 people, and there were children (and puppies!) who joined in the service as well. Our ushers/parking attendants said they parked more than 90 cars for the service.
As with any big occasion that involves hours of planning and preparation, multiple volunteers, and publicity, the day following can be a letdown. In fact, the Sunday after Easter can sometimes be called “Down Sunday.” In the Easter story we read from Mark’s Gospel, chapter 16:1-8, the ending is a bit of a downer. In it, the women flee the tomb, “for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” (vs 8). [Note that in some bibles, Mark’s Gospel is provided an extra and more satisfying conclusion that is called the “shorter ending of Mark.” Added in the fourth century to give a big picture perspective, it says that although Mark implies the women are silent with this news, they did eventually tell the disciples and met Jesus as he had promised] When the Easter story concludes with Mark 16:8, it leaves us hanging, but the fact that we are reading it today is a clear indication that the resurrection was not kept secret!
We, like the women, may be fearful to say anything now that Easter is past, tempted to move on today and consider Easter over and done. That would certainly be a downer. Rather, in this week as we recall Easter morning there is an opportunity to continue to share how this good news is our daily sustenance. Bethel will continue to offer multiple ways to engage in worship services. (First and Third) Wednesday Drive-In Worship with Holy Communion will continue, in-person opportunities for worship will continue each Saturday night and Sunday, and a Drive-in Worship with Holy Communion will continue to be offered weekly. Livestream worship at 9 am will resume each week and worship services will be available 24/7 at our website. There is no “letdown” at Bethel when it comes to worshipping together.
Thanks be to God for the Easter promise. Freedom in Christ is ours. God’s grace is for you. You are daily resurrected to new life and you have a hope for an eternal life with your Heavenly Father. Keep boldly proclaiming this gift you have in the resurrected Lord. God’s promises will never let you down.
Graced by the Gospel,