Finding An Old Bulletin…

(hint:  the “bulletin blooper” is in this article, but it will be VERY hard to find!  You might have to talk with someone from the older generations to figure it out)

As I will share in the service this morning, during the recent transformation of the library into the new nursery, Doug Jacobsma, Property Chair, pulled an old bulletin out of the ceiling.  The bulletin was folded into the shape of an airplane, so we are assuming that it belonged to Harold Ver Steeg who was 13 at that time.  We have enjoyed reading the bulletin, and our worship order this morning will be mostly based on what they did back then.  Our theme for today is the fifth commandment, “Honor Yer’ Ma & Pa” (cowboy version), and we can do that by experiencing worship how it was when our parents and grandparents were younger in their faith.

The following information will give you a snapshot of what was going on when this bulletin was printed.  First of all, the service took place on March 28, 1971. According to weatherunderground.com, the high that day was 44 and the low was 27, and there was no precipitation.  What was happening in the world?  The night before, UCLA won its 5th consecutive NCAA basketball championship.  The Benny Hill Show was tops on television, and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” won a Grammy.  There were countless headlines related to Vietnam, and the USSR was testing nuclear weapons.

What was going on in ARC during that time?  Enjoy a few announcements and lists of those serving:

  • This Sunday has been set by Minnesota Classis as a Day of Prayer for our prisoners of war.
  • Those whose last name begins with “D” are reminded to write a letter to our 6 members in the service.
  • Alvin Veldkamp (Shirley) has been received into membership…from Carmel Reformed.
  • Mrs. Dale Bosch (Karen) has asked for the transfer of her membership to Valley Springs.
  • The Steen RCYF invites everyone to hear THE SPURLOWS, a singing group from Grand Rapids.
  • Young people will be interested in knowing that the Bible Quiz has been rescheduled for Saturday, April 24 at 7:30 in Edgerton.

 

CONSISTORY – The Rev. Paul B. Caley, President

ELDERS                                                           DEACONS

John Oolbekkink, Clerk    1971           John Klay, General Fund Treasurer    1971

Cornelius Tilstra    1971                       Gradus Bouman, Building Fund Treasurer    1971

Louis Cleveringa    1972                      Ralph Petersen, Chairman of Deacons    1972

Norman Ver Steeg, VP    1972            James Vink, Financial Secretary    1972

Sam Renes    1973                               Morris Van Peursem, Benevolence Treas.    1973

Melvin Wynia    1973                            Harold Vande Berg    1973

 

          CHURCH STAFF

Organists  –  Mrs. H. Franken, Mrs. R. Petersen, Mrs. H. Jacobsma

Sunday School Superintendent  –  Melvin Wynia

Sunday School Superintendent  –  Mrs. Andrew Fikse

Custodian  –  Charles De Jongh

Head Usher  –  James Veldkamp

Church Secretary  –  Mrs. James Veldkamp

 


How’s Your Hearing?

Selective hearing. Is this a common disorder in your home and family? I had a good chuckle about it just last weekend at Austin’s baseball game. My mother-in-law said something to my father-in-law and Josh, but they were both completely oblivious to anything she was saying. They kept watching and cheering not hearing a word she said. With a smirk and a slight eye roll, she turned to me and said “Selective hearing, it must run in the family!” We had a good laugh and continued watching the players take home a victory.

I would like to believe I hear well, but the truth be told, I know I don’t hear everything I should. My kids call for me and when I don’t answer their plea becomes louder – but I would never pretend not to hear them! J When I reflect on my day, I all too often see where God asked me to do something, but I didn’t hear Him. Even worse, I sometimes choose not to hear Him. Often times the small, gentle voice of God is simply drowned out by the noise this world has to offer. How my soul wrestles to tone out the racket and simply be still and listen.

Last week the staff had the opportunity to take a retreat to Inspiration Hills for a day of quiet, reflection, and listening. Among the busyness of spring activities and preparing for a week of VBS, I wasn’t sure how I would have the time. Yet, my soul longed for a day to focus only on my Heavenly Father and be refreshed. Now before you think we all played hooky for the day, this was part of the study we are working through together called “A Way of Life.” Every one of us has been invited into a friendship with God and this study explores a way of life that is faithful to God’s good work. A portion of the study included a retreat to spend two hours alone in solitude and prayer.

In the scriptures we often see Jesus “retreating.” He would often withdraw from the crowds and things He was doing to spend time with His Father in prayer. Jesus knew the importance of having quiet time alone with the Father, in order to draw closer and be restored. Our “A Way of Life” study book puts it this way, “We must build into our lives what Jesus did – a deserted place to pray – if we hope to engage the world compassionately like Jesus. We need extended times and quiet places to stop, to reflect, to pray. For there we encounter more deeply our dignity, mystery, and uniqueness as persons in God’s image.”

Our lives are jam-packed full of responsibilities and distractions, and when you think about it, Jesus’ life was somewhat similar. He was always with his disciples teaching them; he was often interrupted by someone who desired His healing touch or others who wanted to challenge His teaching; and then there were the crowds who followed Him. Can you imagine being followed by thousands? How quickly one could grow weary from that!

What about you? How’s your hearing? Do you hear all that your Heavenly Father has to say to you? Do you yearn for a retreat to drink in the goodness of your Lord and Savior? May it not be so with us that we were so deafened by this chaotic world’s noise and busyness we could not hear the sweet, gentle voice of our great Master.

“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31b

Becky Ossefoort

 


Where’s Your Focus?

Last weekend I had the opportunity to give my time and attention to caring for two young dogs while their owners were away for the weekend.  These four-legged boys, affectionately known as Bill and Blue, belong to my son and daughter in law.  They have been raised in the same home since they were puppies and seem to enjoy each other’s company, but they are very different.

Bill is a Goldendoodle, a cross between a golden retriever and a poodle, and is usually running around the yard with his tongue hanging out and a smile on his face.  He appears to not have a care in the world and just wants to enjoy the moment.  Blue is a German Wirehaired Pointer.  He is a hunting dog and constantly has his nose to the ground and always seems to have something on his mind.  Both are a bundle of energy and one of my favorite things to do with them is to release some of that intensity with a game of fetch.  They have quickly learned that I will not throw the ball until they are in a sitting position.  When their posture is correct and I fling the ball, they bolt like lightening in the same direction, but as I observed them over and over again, I noticed a distinct difference in their approach.

Blue is a little older and I would say is the more dominant of the two, and he clearly displays that he wants to be the winner, but Bill is completely focused on the ball.  Many times over, Blue would be the first one to get to the area where the ball landed, but Bill would secure the ball because he hadn’t taken his eyes off it.  Even if Bill doesn’t win the toss-up, his eyes are on the ball until it is dropped back at my feet and the process begins all over again.

Apparently, God is trying to tell me something about the idea of being focused.  The topic has come up over and over again in my devotional readings, at the eye doctor, at our staff retreat, and even while observing a couple of hounds.  The focus of my physical eyes got distorted at the ophthalmologist when numbing drops were placed in my eyes and my pupils were dilated.  But my spiritual eyes get out of whack when I give my attention to lesser things.  When I focus on my to-do list, vacation plans, events on the calendar, and worries of my heart, it is easy to get distracted and forget where my focal point should be.  My problems become my focus, rather than my Provider.  Our attention has a way of magnifying things and no matter how much I want to keep my eyes on Jesus, distractions are always right beside me.  The struggle is real.

At a staff retreat earlier this week, part of our schedule was to just be with Jesus… to hang out, to listen, to enjoy being in his presence.  Through God’s presence in his Word, and his presence in Creation, I became aware of some problems with my focus.  I needed to step back and see the bigger picture.  I needed to look at things from a different angle.  I was reminded that he has the whole world in the palm of his hand, including me and all my concerns.

The writer of Hebrews encourages us to throw off everything that hinders and entangles us and to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.  That’s where I want my focus to be.  I want to be fixated on my Savior and Friend, to not only have the desire to play the game and run the race, but to be so utterly captivated by Jesus that everything else is put into perspective.

So how about you?  Do you need to adjust your focus?  Have you been giving your attention to everything but Jesus?  Ask Jesus to help you fix your eyes on Him and everything else will fall into place.  Starve your distractions; feed your Focus.

Erin Jacobsma

 


How Did This Happen?

A few weeks ago I traveled to Prior Lake to discuss the future of Harbor Community Church with members from their Oversight Team. After about an hour of deliberation, and with everyone feeling deeply saddened and frustrated, we voted 5-1 to close the ministry with Sunday, June 25 being its last gathering.

After sitting in silence for a few minutes, some from the group asked, “How did this happen, a year and half ago we were a thriving vibrant ministry? No one answered, and it appeared to me, at least during our meeting that none of them were really interested in doing an autopsy. The feelings of shock, pain, and anger were just too fresh. We were content to ponder the question—how did this happen?

Having been a part of, or connected with, Harbor Church through the Church Multiplication Team over the past ten years, I spent my ride home reflecting on the life and death of Harbor. After getting New Life Celebration in Luverne off to a good start, our Classis Church Planter, JR Henderson, restarted Harbor Community Church with the support of Peace Church from Eagan back in 2007. He had assembled a core group of people who were passionate about proclaiming and demonstrating the good news of the message of God’s kingdom in the Prior Lake community.

The ministry quickly grew. Soon after, we hired Josh Johnson, a young passionate “fisher of men” from Peace Reformed Church in Eagan to lead the ministry while he was finishing up seminary. Josh and his wife Nicki connected with many wandering sojourners from the area. The excitement was contagious and the church grew to about 130 regular attendees.

In January of 2015 Josh initiated conversations with his leadership team about organizing as a church in the RCA. Although a bit prematurely, and without careful guidance from the Church Multiplication Team or Peace Church, elders and deacons were elected. This wouldn’t have been a serious issue, however two of the elders determined that women wouldn’t be able be elected to serve as elders. In addition they began to question Josh’s ability to lead. To make a long story short, those two elders were eventually asked to leave. And they did leave—with about 50 other members.

While this conflict was going on, Josh felt called to begin a ministry in Rochester Minnesota. Many in the congregation who had a deep connection to Josh and Nicki were deeply disappointed, a few left. The search for a new Pastor began. The Oversight Team chose to call Pastor Bev Modlin, and because Bev is a woman, a few more members left.

In June of last year, a member of Harbor Church had an affair with a young woman who was temporarily living with he and his wife. Of course, many were outraged. Pastor Bev and the leadership team felt they handled the situation in a biblical manner. Eventually the man and his wife and about 25 of their friends left. With the group rapidly shrinking, a few other families left because the children and youth programs had little to offer. Finally, a highly respected leader and his wife announced they were moving to Iowa, leaving Pastor Bev and approximately 20 disheartened people.

As I was reflecting on all of the unique circumstances that caused the death of Harbor Community Church, I wonder if the spiritual battle was ultimately lost because the gap between expectations and experience was never filled with sufficient love and grace.

May it never be so with you and me at ARC!! As Paul would write, “When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end.” (Romans 5:20) The Message

And now you know why, Mike Altena

 


Sight Unseen

I still listen to a fair amount of radio, especially if I am driving somewhere.  My go-to station is ESPN radio which mainly features talk shows but also broadcasts games.  I also listen to NPR from time to time, especially if they are sharing news about international humanitarian issues.  As a kid I religiously listened to the “Hot 5 at 9” on a local top-40 station to know which songs were climbing the charts, and I still get a nostalgic feeling from radio.

Of course TV is a big upgrade from radio in many ways.  You not only hear what is going on but can see the corresponding images.  In this day and age there are probably over 1,000 channels you could access in one way or another depending on what service you utilize.

These days there is something even better.  A couple of months ago my wife and I upgraded our cell phones.  Our new phones work much more efficiently.  The camera is better, the audio quality is a huge upgrade, and most importantly, we are able to quickly access virtually any data we want from internet to maps to countless apps.  Plus you can access any radio or television programs you want as well.

What do these three mediums for disseminating information have in common?  They all rely on invisible technologies.  Can anyone at ARC (besides Arlin) adequately explain the science behind radio signals, cable television, and cell service?  And yet we have unwavering faith in these unseen forces.  If anyone makes the comment “I only believe in what I can see”, I give you permission to grab their cell phone, smash it on the ground, and say, “then I guess you won’t be needing that anymore!”

My point in this article isn’t to extoll the benefits and downfalls of various technologies but to suggest that if we believe in the forces behind radio, television, and cell service as being real and dependable, how much more real is the spiritual realm all around us and in us and through us?  We tend to think of the physical world as true reality and the spiritual realm as some wispy, thin layer of existence behind the scenes.  In chemistry terms we might say that what we see and touch in this world is like a solid, and the spiritual world is like a gas.  But I’m here to tell you that what is unseen is even more real and concrete than what is seen!  God, as well as His angels and children, are eternal spiritual beings.  On the contrary, what we see in this life is like “a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4)

Here’s the clincher.  As powerful as current technologies are, the Holy Spirit is infinitely more potent…and what is the device through which God speaks to the world?  What is the spiritual radio, tv, or cell phone?  The Church!  You and Me!  We who are children of God are the platform through which God chooses to reveal His multifaceted love to the world as we proclaim His Word to all the nations.  So just as people trust the science behind technology, may they look at our lives and stand in awe of the Holy Spirit’s technology powering, informing, and daily updating our witness!

Cory Grimm

 


Marinating in God’s Love

A good, juicy steak is a culinary favorite at our house.  T-bone, sirloin, ribeye… it doesn’t matter.  Toss it on the grill, sprinkle with a little seasoning, and let it sizzle to perfection.  Mmmm… my mouth is watering just thinking about it.  We seldom buy steaks from a grocery store, but prefer purchasing a quarter of beef from local farmers and having it processed to our own specifications.  The convenience of having meat in the freezer, knowing where it came from, and saving some money, all add to the pleasure of a delicious meal.  However, this has not always been true.  Several years ago we were enticed to purchase a quarter of beef from an acquaintance that turned out to be anything but pleasant.  We were able to use the other cuts of meat from this animal, but the steaks were nasty; tough and chewy and full of gristle.  When we did try and grill the steaks, half of it would end up in the garbage.

A friend suggested marinating the meat and gave me a recipe to try.  The instructions called for a little of this and a little of that, stir it all together, pour it over the meat and let sit for 4-24 hours.  That’s it.  Let. It. Sit.  I wasn’t expecting this simple process to change my gnarly beef, but the next day the meat on my plate was as tender and flavorful as any I have ever had.  It was transformed from barely edible to amazing all because I let it sit and soak in the goodness I had prepared for it.  Apparently my friend was right!

God also knows a thing or two about marinating.  The goodness he has prepared for us is overwhelming and he tells us over and over again to rest and sit still in His goodness.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him… Psalm 37:7

Be still, and know that I am God… Psalm 46:10

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.  Isaiah 30:15

Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.  Mark 6:31

According to the dictionary, marinate means to soak, souse, immerse, to let sit, for the purpose of tenderizing and flavoring.  Just as I was skeptical about the change that would take place when I marinated my steaks, I have also been doubtful of the benefit of marinating my soul.  It sounds like a good idea but who has the time, right?  Well, I have found that without marinating in God’s word and soaking in his love, I too can get a little tough and gnarly.

This year I have been trying to focus on God’s Presence; learning about it, asking for it, being aware of it.  In a devotional I am reading, author Chris Tiegreen advised that “if we want to have any awareness of God’s closeness, any sense of His Presence, any hint of His voice, we have to clear the clutter out of our minds, sit with Him, and be still.  There’s no other way.”

With so many distractions that draw our attention away from God and a host of things we “should” be doing it’s hard to just sit with him and enjoy his company.  But there really is no other way.  I challenge you to join me in sitting with Jesus.  No demands, no prayer list, no agenda.  Just sit.  And listen.  Instead of trying to chew threw another day, start your morning with a good soaking.  If this is something new for you, start slowly.  Try 10 or 20 minutes, but do it every day.

My prayer for myself and each one of you is that we would marinate in God’s love each and every day and that our hearts would grow tender toward Him and to everyone around us!

Erin Jacobsma

 


Labels

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

These are a few words from the story of creation. More specifically, the part of creation God said was “very good.” We have all probably heard and read this verse countless times in our lives. Even the youngest among us hear these words at a very early age in Sunday School. Yet, even with its familiarity, it took a while for a portion of this verse to really grab my attention and pause for deep thought and consideration. You and I were created “in the image of God”. It is pretty incredible to sit and think about how the creator of all things has created you in His image.

Not only were you and I made in God’s image, everyone we encounter has been made in His image and is loved by Him. Each of us is created to reflect the character of our Creator and we are all valued by Him. No one should ever be degraded, belittled, or cursed. James 3 says “9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” People are precious to God, and at times our words are right and pleasing to God, glorifying His image. At other times, because of our sin nature, our words are destructive and hurtful to God’s very own masterpiece.

In youth group we recently talked about how we label people in a variety of ways. Everyone shared positive and negative labels we have given or received on little pieces of paper and placed them on a board. As a group, we reflected on these labels and how they make us feel, and even how easy it can be to place labels on people we encounter. One individual shared of how she caught herself labeling a lady in a store as she judged her because of the things she was saying to the clerk. Another recalled, on our mission trip to Benton Harbor, how they had labeled a group of residents “lazy” as they watched us clean up their neighborhood. When we sorted all of our little papers into categories of “Negative” and “Positive” we were surprised to learn how much easier it seemed to be to come up with negative rather than positive labels for others. Much like it seemed easier to place a negative label on the board, we are also quick to believe the negative labels others put on us.

As we continued to discuss our topic, the verse above from Genesis 1 popped into my head. I shared the verse with the group and reminded them we are all made in God’s image. Which left us to consider, if we wouldn’t label God with these negative labels, why would we do it to others? And as children of God, why would we believe the hurtful labels others place on us?

Have you ever stopped to consider we are all made in his image? As you encounter others, I challenge you to look at them through the eyes of our Heavenly Father – Holy and dearly loved by the Creator of all things.

Becky Ossefoort

 


Sitting With Papa

A couple of weeks ago Vicki and I had the pleasure of driving down to Sioux Center to watch our granddaughter’s soccer game. After 15 minutes of practicing dribbling, passing, and taking shots on goal, Rilyn’s Gold Team was ready to take the field. The kindergartners play on a much smaller field, maybe 25 yards by 40 yards or so and with six players from each team on the field at a time.

I’m not sure if you’ve ever watched kindergarten soccer, but basically it’s a herd of 12 little boys and girls all chasing the ball at the same time in hopes of getting an opportunity to kick the ball towards the opponents goal. They run and kick and run until someone gets kicked or knocked over at which time the whistle is blown signaling a break in the action to rub the owie or to wipe the tears.

After about 20 minutes of some pretty intense pursuit of kicking that little white and black ball, it was time for substitutions, and so Rilyn got a chance to rest. Then, after about 10 minutes of sitting on the sidelines, I began to sense that Rilyn wanted to get back into the game, so I got up from my comfy lawn chair next to Vicki and I walked over to where she was sitting and I sat down beside her. Apparently feeling a little embarrassed that I would come sit by her and her other teammate, she said, “Grandpa, you can’t come and sit by me.” Although, after I affirmed her efforts on the field, I think she was glad I came.

I had only sat with her for a minute or so when it was time to substitute again, and so fully rested and hydrated; off she went to engage the little traveling herd with renewed passion. Again she played her little heart out, once nearly scoring a goal, only this time after about 15 minutes she was ready for more rest and water. And much to my surprise, rather than going to sit by her other teammate, she came over to the side line and crawled onto my lap. My heart was filled with happiness as I thought about how her reasoning had gone from, you can’t sit by me to I want to come sit on your lap.

As I reflected on our experience of watching Rilyn’s game as well as attending the Hiller Lectureship event that Cory referred to in last week’s Not So With You article, I was reminded again of the importance of rest. And not only rest because I’m physically unable to keep going at a frantic pace, but unhurried rest because I just love sitting with Papa.

Jesus knew the importance of rest.  Mark records Jesus saying to his disciples, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place and rest a while” Mark 6:31 KJV.  Dallas Willard would make a play on those words by saying, “If you don’t come apart and rest for a while, without rest, after a while you will come apart.”

When thinking about the rhythms of work and rest, I also love the words of Jesus found in Matthew 11:28-30, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

May it not be so with you and me that we would resist our need for rest, but rather that we would find great joy in “getting away” with Jesus.

Grace to you, and shalom, Mike Altena

 


How Is Your Soul?

How is your soul?

That question has a special place in my heart, because Grandma Grimm used to ask people this on a regular basis, and not just people at church.  She would use this question as a sort of spiritual pick-up line while at the grocery store or waiting for a bus ride.  As I have mentioned before, Grandma Grimm was a great influence on my faith and she was a legendary evangelist, not only through words but also deeds.  I believe she had a healthy soul and desired the same for others.

On Tuesday of this week the ARC staff had the privilege of attending a seminar in Sioux Falls which began by asking, “How is your soul?”  Before we could answer that question, we had to first define what the soul is exactly.  Of course we know Scripture and even Jesus himself mentions the soul on several occasions:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”  (Deut. 6:5)

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” (Ps. 42:1)

“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”  (Mark 8:36)

The speaker also gave this helpful definition: “The soul is the place inside us where God is most present.”  Then we spent the day assessing the health of our souls and discovering how to incorporate practices that help to connect us more deeply with God and be led by Him as we follow Jesus and lead the church.  People may not realize it, but ironically sometimes Pastors and other church staff members are as much or even more neglectful of their souls than other people.

Probably what stood out to me most from the seminar was the example of Moses, who might be the leader in the Bible we know the most about.  As the speaker pointed out, we know his entire life story, from birth to death, and God transformed this humble man over time in profound ways.  How did God do that?  Through intimate times of silence, solitude, and reflection… normally in a desert setting.  Okay so you’re wondering if this is going to be some strange article about being more like monks and other ascetic-types who shun the world and spend their time in meditation, emptying of self, and yoga.

No that wasn’t the direction this seminar took.  The speaker was very practical and realistic about the unique time period and culture in which we live and the many demands for our attention and time.  And yet she insisted that the more time we are in leadership, whether at church or work or family obligations, the more time we need in silence with God to prepare our souls.  Specifically she helped us learn the value of daily silence/solitude, weekly Sabbath/rest, and occasional retreats where we unplug completely.

How does that sound to you?  Refreshing?  Intimidating?  Exciting?  Scary?  Just one more thing to add to the already busy calendar?  The truth is God misses being with us, and our souls miss God, too.  The speaker said, “You might be surprised what your soul would say to God if given the chance.”  Are you giving your soul a chance to speak to God and hear from His voice?  How is YOUR soul?

Cory Grimm

 


Symbols

Without any further description or information, most people could identify what each of these symbols represents.  These signs are part of our everyday lives.  Our brains have been programmed to recognize them.  Some symbols provide us with instructions or warnings, while others elicit feelings of loyalty or dependability or maybe the lack of.

Another highly recognized symbol is the model of the cross.  There are many variations with the design, but it’s form is universal.  The cross is an image of brutality, severe torture, and pain, but also of great love and sacrifice.  We tattoo crosses on our body, wear them on chains around our neck, and affix them to the bumpers of our vehicles.  We talk about the power of the cross, the words of the cross, the stations of the cross, and taking up our own cross, but the cross is incomplete on its own.

The cross is a necessary part of the plan, but it is not the end of the story.  Yes, it is through Jesus’ death on the cross that our debt has been paid and we can experience the forgiveness of our sins.  It is through the brutality of the cross that we get a glimpse of the height and depth of our Savior’s love for us, but without Christ’s resurrection, the cross is meaningless.  It is through the resurrection that we are given new life.  Jesus conquered the grave, conquered death, conquered the enemy, conquered the past.  The resurrection changes everything.

I wonder if part of the reason that we don’t experience the abundant life is because we are stuck in the shadow of the cross and have not moved on to live in the glory of the resurrection.  Oh, we sing about it on Easter Sunday and proclaim that He’s Alive and Our God Reigns, but on Easter Monday we retreat to the shadow of our sinful desires, mundane activities, and worldly ways.  We go back to what our heads know instead of what our hearts long for.  A popular song for the season states that “Every morning is Easter morning from now on!  Every day’s Resurrection Day, the past is over and gone!”  What an amazing transformation this world would see if we all lived with the awe, excitement, and new life that we sing about on Easter.

If the cross is a symbol of our forgiveness, then Christ’s resurrection and the empty tomb symbolizes our victory.  But when was the last time you saw someone wearing an empty tomb necklace?  I love the depiction of the cross in our Worship Center.  I don’t know the thought process behind the architect’s design, but when I look at the cross, I also see the empty tomb behind it and the light of new life radiating outward for all to see.

As you celebrate Easter this year, I pray that you think beyond the popular symbols of eggs and bunny rabbits, and will walk today and everyday in the power of the resurrection.  Romans 8:11 “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you.  And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same spirit living within you.  (NLT)

Erin Jacobsma