05 Apr More than Lilies and Alleliuas
He is risen! He is risen indeed!
These are the first words spoken every year at our Easter Sunday worship—and at countless other churches across the country and around the world. That is, after all, the reason for Easter. Without Christ’s resurrection, there would be no reason to gather and nothing to celebrate. Instead, Christians around the globe proclaim that this is the seminal event of our faith, that the resurrection changed—and still changes—everything.
This coming Sunday we will live out our Easter faith by worshiping through serving our community. Twice a year, Calvary gathers at our normal time and place, Sunday, 10:00 a.m., for “Be the Kingdom Sunday.” We show up in jeans and tennis shoes, wearing Presbyterian-blue Calvary t-shirts. After singing a hymn, we disperse to a variety of projects that serve neighbors both near and far. We make sandwiches which are distributed to those who are homeless. We assist Good Shepherd affordable housing with whatever needs doing—sometimes painting or cleaning an apartment, sometimes working outside. One crew will go to a local nursing home to sing and visit with residents. Another group will pack hygiene kits which will then be distributed by our national church whenever and wherever a hurricane, tornado or other natural disaster strikes. Some folks will stuff and stitch “Mended Hearts”—pillows that are given to heart patients following surgery. And one crew will perform trash removal and clean-up along the Route 1 corridor. There is something for everyone of every age. After cleaning ourselves up as best we can, we share lunch together, then end the morning with Communion.
As all such initiatives do, Be the Kingdom requires a lot of planning and coordinating as well as significant financial resources. Why do it? Why spend our time and money this way? A big part of the answer comes from the Easter message. Through his life, death and resurrection Jesus was announcing a new way to live—the way of self-sacrificing love. He showed us the ultimate example of this kind of love, and we are to follow in his footsteps by giving of ourselves to serve others. To love as Jesus loved is to serve and expect nothing in return, to serve without regard to “merit,” to serve with compassion and joy, imagination and energy.
Service takes so many forms. Some of them allow us to build personal relationships, as when we tutor children from the elementary school next door, visit nursing home residents, or act as “mentor chefs” to 6th graders in the after-school cooking program. Some of them show our concern for the physical creation over which God has made us stewards. Some of them seek to provide for physical needs, others for emotional or spiritual well-being. Still others are educational in nature, like when we mentor adults who want help creating a family budget. Whether we sit with someone face-to-face or pack a hygiene kit that gets sent to a water-logged stranger in Texas, Florida or New York, we serve because we love God. We understand that Easter faith is about more than lilies and “alleluias” and dyed eggs representing new life. It’s about loving those whom God loves, whether we know their names or not. It’s about giving of ourselves to make someone else’s life better. It’s about loving as, and because, we have been loved.
If you live locally, we’d be delighted to meet you and have you participate in our day of “being the kingdom.” I invite you to join us this Sunday at 10:00, because He is risen! He is risen indeed!
Yours for the Kingdom,