I hope you enjoyed Easter Sunday worship and fellowship as much as I did, this year. We at Bethel were blessed with the most splendid Spring weather, beautiful flowers, dramatic music, and a happy crowd of family and neighbors and visitors from far away.
Any time we have a meal at church is a good time, in my opinion ! And this one was super ! And what a milestone, when Haley stepped out in faith and courage to take responsibility for organizing breakfast ! Praise God !
Thank you, all of our willing workers who made music, cooked breakfast, decorated, and brought people to church.
Easter is one of a few Sundays when folks who don’t usually go to church every Sunday come in and experience what we have to offer. This means that the ‘regulars’ need to provide our most loving hospitality, in the servant spirit of Jesus Christ himself, to woo them to make worshiping a regular habit in their lives, too.
As you may know, Easter is not only one day, but an entire season of the church year. The first Easter came on the Sunday following the Jewish feast of the Passover. While the Jews have stuck to the ancient lunar (cycles of the moon) calendar for thousands of years, Christians have adapted the Roman months and modern astronomy into a mishmash calendar mostly based on the Earth’s 365-day circuit around the Sun. For this reason, the Jewish Passover date is often not the same week as Christian Easter. This year, though, it happened to be the same Holy Week for both Christians (Eastern and Western) and Jews. This year’s season of Easter continues until the Day of Pentecost, Sunday, May 20th.
You will remember the classic Pentecost story from Acts 2: the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus’ disciples fifty days after the Passover (when Jesus was crucified). The scene in Acts 2 portrays the disciples overflowing with preaching in foreign languages, as the Holy Spirit made them able.
But this Sunday in worship, another story of the Holy Spirit’s advent among Jesus’ disciples will be shared: instead of loud wind-noise and visible flames, the Holy Spirit emerged from the mouth of the risen Lord Jesus. (John 20:19-22)
It takes place on the first Easter Sunday: When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Judeans, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”...
Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit....”
What the Day of Pentecost event (Acts 2) has in common with this Easter Sunday miracle is the Greek word, pneuma (think of pneumatic, pneumonia, and so forth). Pneuma refers to breath and wind and also “spirit”— all three.
So, the breath of the risen Jesus was the Holy Spirit, to the fearful disciples gathered on that first Easter Sunday.
Think about that scene: one man... breathing... on a small crowd of others.... It would have to have been a small room, an intimate setting. Jesus’ followers must have been in very close quarters, a close group, to have all shared in one Breath as they did.
In the first centuries of the Jesus Movement, Christians met in small, intimate groups to fellowship around the Lord’s table, sharing one breath, one Spirit. Acts 4 describes the Christians’ behavior this way: “Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all....” (Acts 4:32-35)
May our crowds never be too big to share in that one Spirit.
Behold how pleasant and how good it is
for brothers and sisters to live in unity...
for there the LORD commands the blessing:
‘Life forevermore !”
Psalm 133:1, 3