Celebrating a Great Holy Week and Easter

Celebrating a Great Holy Week and Easter

Reflecting on Lent/Holy Week/Easter:

We have come through our first Great Season together. I think, overall, we had some real successes in our worship, our attendance, and in our services which I believe were successful in focusing our hearts and minds on God. There are things which we have learned from and some tweeks which we can make for next year, but these are minor adjustments. I truly believe that we had a season that worked to help us walk toward the cross, reflect on the sacrifice of our Lord, and to celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord.

I was very pleased that our Lenten Midweek worship services were well attended and the attendance stayed steady even up until the sixth week. We were even able to celebrate one Wednesday when we ran out of bulletins. What a problem to have? We were able to have people share bulletins and continue our worship. I was very pleased with our turnout because I believe that it is especially important during the Lenten Season that we are refreshed with word and sacrament in the middle of the week. This pattern helps us to focus our hearts and reminds us of the great work of God in Christ Jesus.

We also raised through the free will offering at our Midweek services $657 to support Lutheran World Relief’s work in Haiti .

We began Holy Week with the procession of the palms on what were rather chilly mornings. We learned at Newry to bring our coats. At Geeseytown we learned two things. First we need to start further down in the parking lot because as loud as the pastor can be, he can’t out shout the 18-wheelers screaming by on 22. Also we learned that next year we will pass out bulletins with the palms . We managed and got through, for what was a meaningful worship service.

As we got to the great Three Days (the Triduum) I believe we entered into these days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter with reverence.

Our Maundy Thursday Service was at Newry and was well attended. I appreciate all who came forward to have their feet washed. It is a strange thing about this ancient practice of the church. It is humbling for all of us. Because whether we are having our feet washed or are washing feet we remember that Jesus did this. That Christ the one who was God from God and Light from Light – lowered himself in love to serve. A preview of the great lowering of himself that he accomplished on the cross.

Our Good Friday Service is the one for which I have heard the most feedback and all of it positive. That is the mysterious and wonderful thing about the Tenebrae Service, it works in its simplicity. All the service is, is prayer, hymns, and the story of the Passion of Our Lord. Yes we lower the lights and wear black and it is a solemn but at the heart we hear the story of Jesus, and that is what is so powerful.

Easter was a great celebration for our congregations. We proclaimed the Resurrected and Living Jesus Christ beginning at 6:30 in the morning at Geeseytown followed by our Easter morning breakfast. Your pastor grabbed a plate of food that he ate while driving over the mountain to Newry where we had a large turnout for our 8:30 service, and then got over the mountain again for our 10:15 Festival service at Geeseytown. It was a memorable morning for me, and probably for anyone who saw a fully vested pastor driving back and forth through Hollidaysburg trying to drink coffee and finish his breakfast casserole without spilling anything on himself. It was a hoot.

Most importantly we got to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, we got to wallow in the promise that God gives to us that Christ is alive and because he lives we will live also. As part of living in that promise of new life we celebrated two First communions and one Baptism on Easter Sunday, and then were able to celebrate two additional baptisms the following Sunday.

So looking back at our first walk through this season, I would call it a success. Jesus was worshipped, thanks be to God. We came together and hopefully we were able to both individually and communally to experience the great difference that Jesus Christ makes. Because that is what it is all about. That we have been sought out and claimed by Christ who will not ever let us go. God is that Good, Jesus is that Good, and the Holy Spirit is that Good. We are given the great gift of life in Christ Jesus who continues to reach, call and make us his own.

May God Bless You and Keep You
As we Continue in this Journey of Following Christ

In the Peace of the Risen Christ
Pastor Mike

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