Emmanuel Greets the Easter Sonrise

As we have done for decades, rain or shine or snow, Emmanuel Community Church gathered at 8am on Sunday 31 March to praise God with songs, prayers, and scripture. Although recent snowfall made the hillside behind the church unsafe, we gathered in the parking lot with a glorious view of the rising sun. Dean Elhard, our worship leader, led the congregation in Stuart Townend’s and Keith Getty’s “Resurrection Hymn” and finished up after the brief service with Robin Mark’s “The Wonder of Your Cross”, prior to heading inside for a hearty Easter breakfast courtesy of Bob Schimpf.

Pamela Mclean’s remarks at the service, which follow, addressed the contrast between the great joy of Easter and the harsh realities of day-to-day life in 2024, which are brought into unity by acknowledging God’s overriding power while also choose to labour as God’s co-worker in the world.

It’s cold. It’s hard to be out here on a snowy hillside at an unreasonably early hour for a Sunday morning; harder still for the guy who has to go without mittens so he can play the guitar. But it is worth the jangling alarm clock and snowy discomfort to experience this glorious joy: the knowledge, the buoyant delight, that Christ Is Risen! It’s worth it, to Glorify Christ’s death-conquering resurrection. But the difficulties and horrors of 2024 don’t vanish in the light of Easter morning, and I am sure many of us are holding Gaza and Ukraine in prayer, worrying a little or a lot about nuclear weapons in the hands of a despot, and trying to suppress the fear that another year of inflation will make it that much harder to pay the rent and still buy groceries. I want to assure you that those concerns remain valid, even in the light of this beautiful morning. And I want to assure you also that God *is* powerful in the world, and that God *is* acting, even now in 2024 to transform the world, and that God is *also* with you, with each one of you, in every moment of your lives, sharing with you all the good that flows from Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection.

Sometimes you may not feel the joy of the resurrection. Mary didn’t, even when angels told her that Jesus was risen. She had seen Him die horribly, and her greatest hope was just to be able to give His body the dignity that it had been denied. Most of us have felt that numbness, that cannot even be called “despair”, that washes over us in the face of the unthinkable. But Jesus met here there, in the moment of her numb hopelessness, and transformed her reality into unrestrainable joy. Instantly she received, not a future “happily ever after” waiting for her in heaven after she died, but a right-now immediate relationship one-on-one with the God Creator of the Universe.

We are called into the same relationship. It is easy, in the glory of Easter Morning, to hear that call and believe that God can do all things. It’s a lot harder at the grocery store trying to plan out enough meals to get through the week after the next round of price-hikes, or after hearing the news with each new litanies of horror. It was hard to write these remarks about God’s Glory and our delight in it during the past week, with past Easter miracles faded memories with little power to inspire. But now, this moment, I remember what I otherdays I often hold to by faith alone: that the God of the Universe not only has the power to create miracles of life, but also the will to act and consecrate our daily lives. God is here in the midst of us right now. Christ Is Risen! The gospel is not just that the Kingdom of God exists, but that the Kingdom of God has drawn near, for OUR Sake, and our own desire to repent and believe is a reflection of God’s own desire for us. All our hopes that have seemed battered down by the trauma rampant through the world can now be resurrected: God has the power. God is enough! Christ IS risen!

Therein lies the consecrated duality of our call to follow Christ: We trust that God IS enough. Yet we also know that God calls us to work as God’s agents – as God’s ANGELS – in this world. The polymath Piet Hein wrote

I am an humble artist
Moulding my earthly clod,
Lending my effor to nature,
Simply assisting God

Not that my effort is needed,
But somehow I understand,
My Maker has willed it that I too should have
Unmoulded clay in my hand.

God doesn’t need us. God doesn’t make us earn our place in the kingdom. But God WANTS us to be walking with God, wants to have our companionship as co-workers, however small, and God doesn’t make us wait until someday when we go to heaven, to enjoy God’s loving presence. God gives us this glorious relationship by which we participate in Christ’s resurrection, because of Christ’s resurrection. Christ is Risen!

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