EASTER MESSAGE April 12, 2020 “God Bless the Amateurs”

Notes from the pastor ~

Have you ever found something amongst all your “stuff” and was thoroughly frustrated because you had no idea where it came from? Like so many of us, I have collected a lot of music in my day. I have boxes of vinyl, tons of tapes, and enough CD’s to repave Main Street. They all have a story – there is a reason why I have these in my possession, even if it’s because the kids left them behind. But a few years ago, I ran across a CD that still has me baffled. It was a home-made affair; nothing special. Written on the front is “John Prine + Mac Wiseman ~ Standard Songs for Average People.” I must have packed it around for a year before I took the time to listen to this little treasure…and it still brings a smile to my face years later. Now, I have always liked the music of John Prine but wasn’t familiar with Mac Wiseman. It took some research to discover that Wiseman was a bluegrass singer whose career started in the 40’s and continued for 50 plus years. He was known as “The Voice With a Heart.” But back to this little treasure of a CD…

I like to call it a treasure because it is full of gems. Wiseman was 82 years old when this was recorded, and even though his voice was showing its age, he still had the touch. The songs on this mystery CD were delightful as well; songs like “Pistol Packin’ Momma” and “Don’t Be Ashamed of Your Age” to name a few. But what really turned my head was when I first heard the opening verse to “The Old Rugged Cross.” My first reaction was that maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. I mean really – the idea of placing a hymn on the same album as “Pistol Packin’ Momma” was just… well, it caught me off guard. It didn’t take long, however, before I got over it and soon I had no problem at all listening to “Blue Eyed Elaine” followed by “In The Garden.” I fell in love with this collection. It is relaxed, it is comfortable and it is real. Bottom line is that this album wasn’t created to set the world on fire. It was simply the effort of two old guys that decided to do some great music they had always wanted to do.

Mac Wiseman died in 2019 at the age of 94. John Prine passed away last week from complications of the Covid 19 virus. He was only 73. I salute you gentlemen – for your heart, for your music, and, in your own way, for your love of the Lord our God. I only wish I could find out who it was that gave me that CD so that I could properly thank them for it.

“The weight of this sad time we must obey. Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.” It is believed that William Shakespeare wrote the play King Lear while in quarantine similar to what we are experiencing now. I can’t help but think that living in the midst of sickness and death inspired him to pen the words, “The weight of this sad time we must obey.” Speaking for myself, the weight of this sad time has caused me to acknowledge once again that we rarely feel the gravity of death until it hits home; until it becomes personal. Let our prayer for the weeks ahead be that we can truly grieve for those who lose ones they love. Let us do our best to rise above our fears; let us seek the compassion of Christ. We can rejoice that we serve a risen Lord. Now more than ever – in this “sad time” – let us rejoice that we are an Easter people.                                                                                                                       Pastor Ken

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“God Bless the Amateurs”

Can we ever get tired of the Resurrection story? Will it ever grow old?  I hardly think so. I don’t think so because there is something about the Resurrection story that touches us on a level that is deep, that is emotional, and that triggers feelings that never fail to bring us closer to our God. When I read John’s account of that morning, I can still feel the crisp morning air; that certain stillness that seems to hang like a cloud in the moment right before daylight. I can feel the heavy heart that Mary Magdalene was carrying on her way to the tomb. After the hectic last few days, she welcomed the quiet – the stillness – but yet, it somehow made things worse. A thousand questions went through her mind: “Why did it have to end this way? What could we have done? What do we do now?” Darkness, the dampness of the dew on her feet, the smell of the air that has been washed clean by the coolness of the night – I can sense all these things when I read this wonderful telling of Christ revealed in all his glory.

The story is told in all four of the Gospels. Luke tells his readers again in the Acts of the Apostles and Paul was never shy about reminding us of the fact that it was Christ who showed us once and for all that death does not have the final word. Each telling is, of course, different. But this year as we find our world turned upside-down from sickness of pandemic proportions, I find myself turning to the one constant in all of the stories: the women who for the love of Christ, found themselves at the tomb. The Gospels of Mark and Luke tell us that the women went carrying spices to tend to the body of Christ. Matthew and John remark only that, “They went.” And that is my point. If they feared the presence of the soldiers who were guarding the tomb, they put that fear aside. If they feared they might be accused of being disciples of this condemned man, it didn’t matter. There was no logic in what they did; they stood nothing to gain. Yet they went. Against the better judgement of those who knew better, they went. While the disciples were holed up in a room behind locked doors, they went. It was a silly notion, really. What did these women expect to find besides armed guards and a huge stone they couldn’t move aside? Truth be told, these women were amateurs.

But God bless the amateurs. While the professionals of this world profess and the experts of this world expound, the amateurs have one agenda only: love. It was the love of Christ and their love for Christ that moved them to stumble in the dark just to be….just to be near the greatest example of unconditional love the world would ever know. This is the Easter story that calls to us still. How is it that God loves the world? How can we be made to understand the enormity of a love so big and so deep that it is beyond our understanding? Through the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – that’s how. Many have spent a lifetime trying to master this glorious love, but when it’s all said and done, we are amateurs. And that is OK.

That’s OK, because now more than ever this world needs a people who, when given the choice, will choose love every time. God’s Kingdom needs a single minded people that have the love Jesus in their hearts. God’s Kingdom needs an Easter people – a people of hope, a people of vision; a people of love. Easter blessings and may your rejoicings be heard in this season of new life and new beginnings. Hallelujah – He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Amen & Shalom

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