It’s purely about Easter and the resurrection
The Gary O’Flannagan, pastor, Cornerstone Southern Baptist Church, 802 W. 22nd St.:
As an evangelical and a Baptist Christian, I don’t celebrate the Holy Week in the same ways my liturgical Christian friends do. I don’t celebrate Lent or Ash Wednesday or the Maundy Thursday. However, what I do celebrate with great joy and gratitude is Easter morning. I celebrate this day with a great deal of passion for two reasons, and they are very personal to me, both as a Christian and as a minister.
First is the most obvious: Easter morning is the day all Christians celebrate the historical reality of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. The implications of this are obvious: Without the resurrection, Christianity would be meaningless. Because the resurrection is a true historical event, all mankind can be restored to a right relationship with God through faith and trust in Jesus’ atoning sacrifice and death on the cross.
I know God personally and enjoy his presence and power in my life because of Jesus’ resurrection.
The Apostle Paul writing to the church in Corinth said, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” 1Corinthians 15:20 NIV.
The second reason why I celebrate Easter morning is also personal. Because of my own experience with Christ, 20 years ago on Easter Sunday I committed my life to Jesus Christ, I accepted his work on the cross as payment for my sin debt. I asked Jesus Christ to forgive me of my sins and gave him my life for his purposes and glory.
Again the Apostle Paul’s words speak volumes, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” 2Corinthians 5:14-15 NIV.
Happy Easter, he is risen, he is risen indeed!
— Send e-mail to Gary O’Flannagan at firstname.lastname@example.org
A journey through Good Friday
The Rev. Maria Campbell, pastor, Central United Methodist Church, 1501 Mass.:
As a young girl, I would walk to church at 2 p.m. on Good Friday. Our church was a good distance from the house, so I had time to think about what would happen. I would remember the aroma of the incense that I was about to encounter. Its fragrance would permeate the room until it almost took my breath away. I was caught in the moment … hearing the story … feeling the weight of the smoke-filled air upon me … and then, the darkness. The truth that Jesus had been tortured and made to carry his own cross to Golgotha was spoken. We were reminded that Jesus chose this path for us. The words were hard to hear, even, and it was even harder to comprehend why people stood by and watched. I sat without moving a muscle. Each moment of his last hours on Earth was graphically described, with each stop along the Via Dolorosa named. As I listened to the story of Christ’s suffering, his life became real … not just a story … but the true-life experience of a person whose mission was to bring healing and wholeness to a broken world. At 3 p.m., Christ gave up his last breath. The sanctuary would become dark. The sadness would silence the congregation as we would depart.
It is hard to imagine a young girl choosing to go to a Good Friday service. But I did because each year I grew in my understanding of Christ’s sacrifice. Each year, I grew in my understanding of the fullness of God’s extravagant grace. I came to understand that Jesus chose to offer his life so that we might learn how to truly live as God desires for us to live. Each year, I walked further along in my journey to embrace the fullness of God’s love for creation. Each year, I still take my own journey to the cross during Lent so that I might experience the joy of Christ’s resurrection on Easter morning.
— Send e-mail to Maria Campbell at email@example.com.