Easter letter from pastor jay 3/30/21

Dear Friends:

Happy Holy Week to one and all. I look forward to seeing many of you (and being seen by many of you via live-stream) in worship at our 7:00 Good Friday service and at one of our Easter Sunday services (6:30, 9:00 & 11:00). At the conclusion of this report, I will offer once again my “A Visit from the Spirit of Easter Present” poem for your enjoyment.

At our March Session meeting this last week, we began with a follow-up discussion after our retreat weekend. We have long been a church committed to what we have called the “Six Great Ends of the Church:” 1) Proclaiming the Gospel for the Salvation of Mankind, 2) Nurturing the Saints, 3) Providing for Christian Worship, 4) Preserving the Truth, 5) Promoting Social Righteousness & 6) Exhibiting the Kingdom of God. These intentional activities we understand to be essential for any authentic church. According Biblical example and instruction every church must be working at these things. They are truly neither optional nor debatable.

Building upon this God-given foundation, individual churches will also demonstrate some unique characteristics and affirm some values that are different from other churches. As part of our discussion at our retreat and at our meeting this week, our Elders affirmed a set of core values that we see here at Covenant and believe are important to share widely and continue to sharpen in our ministries. These three core values are: 1) Every Person Matters, 2) Community (Outward) Focus & 3) Teaching the Word of God. These values accord well with our newly-adopted Theme Verse for 2021, Hebrews 10:23-24: Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works… You may have heard elders Dan Carne and Ian Bullard speak about these things in church for our annual “State of the Church” message. In the year ahead, our church leadership will be praying and looking for ways we can put this scriptural admonition and these core values into action in clearer and more effective ways. We invite your questions, insights and prayers in this process. You matter!

During our business meeting, we approved a special prayer service in May and a Summer Evangelistic Devotional project which will feature personal stories from our people (maybe you?) about how we came to know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We also approved a new two-service summer worship schedule with a 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning service and a 7:00 p.m. outside evening service (like last year’s Covid-19-response evening service that was enjoyed and celebrated by so many of us). This summer schedule will begin on June 13th and continue through August 8th.

A Visit from the Spirit of Easter Present (Past & Future)

‘Twas the month before Easter, and all through the land

Not a creature was stirring. It all seemed quite bland.

The neighborhoods featured no lights on the street,

And the only thing going in stockings was feet.

The children’s excitement was lukewarm at best,

With Christmas toys scattered about with the rest.

The Moms and Dads working, their ladders to climb,

And they’d all settle down, but there just wasn’t time.

When out in the churches there arose such a shout,

That nobody heard or asked “What’s that about?”

Who’d listen to them anyway? Who would trust ‘em?

So the Good News stayed quiet according to custom.

But the tune they’d been singing said “Bow down before Him!”

So they wondered again if His world should ignore Him.

When what to their eyes once again did appear,

But an old Bible verse speaking ever so clear,          

From a passionate writer so compelling and all

That they knew right away that it must be St. Paul.

And the words that he’d written, this God-inspired sage,

Sizzled and shouted and leapt off the page.

Now dash out with dancing and prance out and blitz ‘em,

Oh come, it’s your cue kids, go down there, let’s fix ‘em!

Be the talk of downtown, every street, every hall!

Share Good News! Share Good News! Share it with all!

As toothpaste comes out on the brush when its squeezed,

So the church began moving, by God they’d been seized.

And out to the houses of neighbors they flew,

With their stories of faith—and The Holy Spirit, too.

And slowly but surely all over the place.

The people were praying and coming to face

The fact of their sin and the truth of God’s grace

And Jesus, as their Lord and Savior, embraced.

Then he dressed them in His righteousness, head to foot,

And he wiped away all of their sin’s ash and soot.

A bundle of gifts for His glory He gave them,

A sign of abundance found in Him who’d saved them…

            His birth, how surprising! His life, how amazing!

            His words were like comets through our dark skies blazing.

            His death on the cross was a terrible blow,

            But this was God’s plan for us. How could we know?

            The stump of the tree held Him tight in its teeth,

            And the crown of thorns circled his head, evil’s wreath.

            But his face, though disfigured, kept its look of love,

            “Forgive them,” He said as his eyes gazed above.

            And the torture continued, and the light was diminished,

            And the Son of God stayed there until it was finished.

            A last gasping prayer and a twist of His head.

            And everyone knew that this Jesus was dead.

            But when three days passed, laid aside His grave clothes,

            Death died as up from the tomb He arose!

And this was the news the church now sprang to tell,

Joyfully, prayerfully, carefully, well.

And what verse had started this love-fest a-plenty?

First Corinthians Chapter 15 and verse 20.

For those who could hear it, here’s what that verse said:

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead!

© March 2005 Jay Hull

            Happy Easter! He is risen!! (He is risen indeed!!!)

            Pastor Jay