Picking up some threads and recent travels… I received from The Forge (a church on Vancouver Island) their own version of a Congregational Covenant. An excellent piece which includes sections (under the general title of Membership Covenant) on the Apostles teaching, fellowship, communion. In addition, they have a separate document for a Leadership Team covenant. This is their contact information should you wish to know more: Lorri Berkley, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Secondly, I preached at First Baptist Church Calgary this last Palm Sundayand was deeply touched by the warm welcome and by the music and choir, directed by Bruce Clark. In addition, there is a bell ringing group, directed by Anne Hergott, whose participation throughout the service was excellent.
Thirdly, High River Baptist Church opened its new building this last Sunday afternoon. It seats over 500 folk. It was an especially encouraging beginning for Jason Johnson, the lead pastor. I was present as Dennis Stone brought greetings from the extended family.
Last but not least in the geography and breadth of this great country I bring you a story from one of our Canadian Baptist Military Chaplains, Major Richard Larsen (who was a pastor in Moose Jaw and whose parents attend First Baptist Church Calgary). Richard is based in New Brunswick. He commented with enthusiasm that his church was celebrating an EasterSunday early morning service. I cheerfully added my observation that my own church was doing the same on Easter Sunday morning. There was a long pause at the end of the phone until Richard said, “Jeremy, early Easter morning in Vancouver is different than early Easter morning in New Brunswick”… Enough said. Bless you Richard.
This Easter season began for me on Ash Wednesday with reflection on my own wayward sinfulness and the need for the mark of repentance with ashes on my forehead. It took a variety of twists and turns in the lead up to Palm Sunday when I wrestled with the text of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. I realized that the momentum of this momentous event we call Easter began with the death and resurrection of Christ’s friend Lazarus. That bodily resurrection that N T Wright declares was foreign to every religion and philosophy in the ancient world to the point. Lazarus’ resurrection changed it all and threatened the high priests who plotted with even more vehemence to destroy Lazarus for he was evidence of Christ’s power, and also Christ himself for he was for them the thin edge of the wedge to revolution. I learned a great deal pondering the Palm Sundaytext. I learned that I have, and long to have more of, the evidence of Christ’s resurrection in my life… An evidence that can never be destroyed. I learned that I tend to be part of the crowd in the Palm Sunday story that can default into tourist and sightseer rather than someone who seeks to jump into and join the Palm Sunday procession. Let each of us give ourselves to the compaction of this week. Let us remember each part that Jesus lived so that we might join Him in full appreciation of not only his passion and death but in the Easter vigil prepare fully for Easter resurrection. I ask that you would experience the Last Supper, Gethsemene, betrayal, arrest, Peter’s denial, the trials, the scourging, the crucifixion, the death, and the long vigil before the resurrection as Nikos Kazantzakis described it in the Last Temptation of Christ: “when Christ breathed his last saying “it is finished” it is as if everything had just begun.”
Please find personally in the pain and passion and betrayal of Easter week a full and complete experience of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.