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Pastor’s letter for April 2012

April 8 is the Feast of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ!

Alleluia!

Christ is Risen!
He is Risen indeed!

Alleluia!
Χριστός ἀνέστη!
Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη!

Christus resurrexit!
Resurrexit vere!
Хрїстóсъ воскрéсе! Воистину воскресе!

Christ est ressuscité!
Il est vraiment ressuscité!
Христос воскресе! Воистину воскресе!

Hristos a înviat!
Adevărat a înviat!

Throughout the world, beginning on April 8 (in Western Christian Churches—Catholic and Protestant) and April 15 (in Eastern Christian Churches—Orthodox, Coptic, and Oriental Apostolic), Christians will share with one another the central claim of our faith—Christ the Lord is Risen! In much of the Christian world, the greetings used on that day extend out from worship, into the streets, and replace “Good Morning,” or “Hello,” for the fifty days of Easter from the first Sunday to Pentecost. In a very real way, it means Christians share their faith with one another, and affirm who they are in the midst of the everyday world.
We often say Pentecost is the birthday of the Church (and rightly so), but Easter is really the beginning and the central event of Christianity. Without the Three Days starting in the upper room on Thursday and ending in the darkness late Saturday into Sunday (the First Day of the Jewish week), the power of the Gospels is missing. In these three days we are given our central act of worship (communion), our central example of living (serving others, even washing feet—and being willing to give ourselves completely, even accepting crucifixion), and our central reason for hope and faith (that Jesus overcame both sin and death, promising us victory over both ourselves). All of that is ours—if we are Christians.
What does it mean to be Christian? We can (and should) spend a lifetime working out this question. To be a Christian is to be someone becoming like Jesus. Yes, becoming like Jesus. I don’t think we often experience instantaneous transformation from broken sinners into full-fledged saints, perfect in love—but that’s who we are supposed to be becoming (instantly or not)… For most of us, then, becoming fully Christian is a life-long task.
What does it mean to be Christian? We can (and should) have ready an answer to what a Christian is, and where a Christian puts ultimate faith. We should know that a Christian is someone who has put his or her trust in Jesus Christ for salvation and new life, who died for our sins and was raised on the third day. We should know that not only do we believe in the resurrection, but that we put our ultimate faith (and hope) in Christ’s death and resurrection to defeat sin and death once and for all (enough for us and for the whole world).
What does it mean to be a Christian? We can (and should) admit that becoming like Jesus and understanding what God has done in Jesus Christ is a great mystery that we only begin to understand through ongoing relationship with Jesus Christ and study of Whom others have said Jesus is. Have you seen the Risen Christ? Are you looking to live for him and with him today? Brothers and Sisters, Hear again the Good News: Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia!

The Rev. David Nicol, Pastor of Hampden Highlands UMC
Pastor-of-Record to Ellingwood’s Corner UMC

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