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Pastor's Monthly Newsletter Message

April 2011

Dear Friends,

            This is a day for new life.  It’s a season for morning birdsong, the sun’s life-giving rays, an occasional rain shower.  The world is waking up from its long sleep.  It’s a fun time to be a new homeowner, especially in a house that’s seen 145 years of residents before us.  In our yard, in places where we never planted, there are snowdrops and daffodils sending their shoots through a matted layer of last year’s oak leaves.  The green looks feeble amid winter’s debris.  The slender young stalks seem vulnerable. But don’t underestimate their strength!  Theirs is the power of new life.  They’ve been coming back each spring for more decades than most of us.  Though they look fragile, these delicate flowers will outlive us, as long as there’s water and light. 

            Up in the Allegheny National Forest, the abandoned village of McKinley can only be found in the spring, when rows of ancient daffodils and jonquils—antique hybrids—rise to mark the places where houses once stood.  But in summer, McKinley is just a broad clearing.

I don’t know who planted the early bloomers that grace our old farmyard.  Some long ago farmer’s wife, perhaps.  She raised her children, baked her bread, sewed her family’s clothes, and washed and mended them.  She did her planting, and her hoeing, and her canning.  And in her spare time, she put in a few spring bulbs, so that even amid a life of toil, she too might have something beautiful.  I wonder if she ever stopped to think that the things she planted would outlive her and continue to bloom for decades to come.  Did she ever stop to think that one day in the distant future, when the suburbs had engulfed her farm and strangers occupied her home, her bulbs would still be blooming?

Each season has its purpose and every holiday has its meaning, but Easter is the finest.  Easter’s message is that life will always win…in the end.  This world may wear us down with its crushing duties, and empty demands, and mind-numbing routines.  This world’s endless bad news may strip us of our humanity, a little bit each day, eroding our compassion.  This world may overwhelm us and make us feel helpless or anonymous.  This world may steal our identity and teach us to live for the lies of selfish attainment and acquisition.  But life wins in the end.  And we have a choice to make: We can choose to walk in life-affirming ways, or we can choose the dark parade of fears and lies.

I’m glad we’re doing “Faith in Action Sunday” this year on the Second Sunday of Eastertide (April 30 & May 1).  You and I can’t bloom like daffodils, but our witness to new life can be just as visible and hopeful.  We’ll have an opportunity to restore a ruined playground in an impoverished neighborhood, build a garden path for urban gardeners, cook a meal or make a blanket for the disadvantaged.  Ours is the power of new life.  The work of our hands will outlive us, too.  If we sow things of beauty and acts of hope into the soil of our living, then we too will plant a better world.  Like that long-ago farmer’s wife, we can touch the future.  Life wins in the end.  This Easter season is about life, so live joyfully.  Live intentionally and attentively.  Live fully, for “Christ is risen.”

Happy Easter,

~Brian