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Saturday, April 11, 2009

An Easter Feast

Has it ever struck you as odd that, even though the entire Christian faith is based not only on the death of Jesus on the cross but also His resurrection on the third day, we seem to put a lot of time and effort into the season of Lent but spend only one morning at Easter? Think about it. Lent starts with Ash Wednesday and lasts for forty days. Some of us exercise a Lenten fast where we sacrifice something in order to remember that Jesus gave up his very life on the cross for us. We focus on the suffering and the pain and our repentance, and this is very good. But then we hit Easter Sunday and we go back to life as normal in the church. No special services (even though the Easter Season is seven weeks long according to the church calendar), no special fasts, no real focus on the resurrection. Frankly, we are just ready to be done with Lent. We just celebrate the resurrection on Easter Sunday and move on.

This is really odd considering that the Bible spends an incredible amount of time discussing the resurrection of Jesus Christ and its implications on how we are to live as Christians. Paul says that if Jesus was just killed and never raised from the dead then this whole faith of ours is a wash, a waste of time. "If Christ had not been raised, you faith is futile; you are still in your sins." (1 Corinthians 15:17). The whole foundation of our faith, the whole hope of the Christian life, everything we know and believe as Christians goes back, not only to the cross, but to the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ!

See, in the resurrection, Jesus is not simply walking out of the tomb so we can go to heaven one day, though his death and resurrection do promise us that when we die we will be in heaven, but there is more. He is rising again as the firstfruits, Paul says, of the resurrection of all humanity (1 Corinthians 15:20,23). He is rising again to being God's work of restoring this broken creation to be the way God intended it to be. Jesus, who is first to rise from the dead, is the first in this creation to overcome our greatest enemy brought about by our sin, death. And, through this resurrection, He promises that we too will rise in a new heavens and new earth that has been restored to the way God originally designed it (without, of course, the potential for sin as Christ defeated that on the cross).

This work of Christ demonstrates the goodness of God's creation and His intentions to make it "good" (as in Genesis 1) once again. He's begun with Jesus and will bring this work to completion on the last day (which, in a sense, will be the first day). God has already begun this work of re-creation in those of us who have been raised to live in Christ in our Baptisms (Romans 6:4, Colossians 2:12), though we do not yet fully live in that resurrection reality (Philippians 3:12).

So, as those who are already members of this new Kingdom, of this Easter reality, we should celebrate! During the forty days of Lent we fast to remember Christ's sufferings. Perhaps, during the forty-nine days of Easter we could have an Easter Feast celebrating the resurrection. Instead of giving something up, why not try something new? Take up a new sport, plan special times with your families, start family devotions, try eating sushi (and take me with you), read some new novels, begin volunteering in the community. Do something, anything, in celebration of the fact that Jesus has risen and begun the work of resurrection in this world to celebrte! why not feast on the glories of God's good creation? Happy Easter! He is risen indeed!

Pastor Bob

Centro Cristiano Moorpark

The Hispanic Outreach Ministry at Faith continues to move forward and is now officially known as Centro Cristiano Moorpark. Pastor Dennis Bradshaw now has his office at Faith Lutheran Church and is in the community at least 2 days a week. His office used to be at Centro Cristiano Santa Paula. They have been growing and really need more room. This move to Faith will free up another room at Santa Paula and help with their need for more space. And it will put Pastor Dennis and Tara closer to the neighborhood where we hope to start a new Hispanic mission.

Pastor Dennis, Tara, and Leo Garcia from Centro Cristiano Santa Paula have made contact with a number of individuals and families in the neighborhood of the church.

On March 1, Centro Cristiano Santa Paula held a Prayer Concert at Faith as the kickoff to the mission effort in Moorpark. With prayer and music, a group of enthusiastic and dedicated brothers and sisters asked God to bless the efforts to start an Hispanic Church in Moorpark.

In the near future, Pastor Dennis will be teaching an ESL class at Faith for Hispanic members of the neighborhood. This is an opportunity to meet a real need of people in the community, develop personal relationships, and bring the neighborhood to the church.

For those interested, Pastor Dennis is also willing to teach an SSL class affectionately known as Spanish for Gringos. Being able to speak even a little Spanish is greatly appreciated by Hispanic brothers and sisters. They are having the same problems learning and speaking English as we have learning and speaking Spanish. If you are interested, contact Pastor Bob or Dave Bovey and they will make arrangements.

As the ministry begins to grow, more people will be using the church facilities. If you are planning an activity, be sure to check with Tina in the Church Office so she can schedule your activity.

We sometimes think that missionaries work in strange far away lands. But Centro Cristiano Hispano is a mission effort right here in Moorpark, in our own backyard. And they can use our support. Please continue to keep this important ministry in your prayers.

For more information on the Hispanic Mission Society and their work in our area, go to the following websites:
http://www.faithmoorpark.com/
http://www.centrocristianohispano.com/
http://www.centrocristianohispano.com/centrocristianomoorpark/centrocristianomoorpark.html

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