Dear family and friends of First Baptist Arlington,
As I look out my office window this morning, there are still mounds of snow in the church yard. I pause long enough to plug in a small space heater to make my office a little warmer. I can,t even take comfort by thinking of Louisiana. My family there was busy covering up the azalea bushes to protect the almost bursting buds from the “cold snap” headed their way. Where are the beautiful yellow forsythia bushes that tell us that spring is near? Even the small purple crocuses that peek their heads out to see if it is spring have a covering of snow in my front yard. It is almost Easter, and where is spring? It doesn’t look like Easter. It doesn’t feel like Easter. How can Easter come when the world is not ready for it?
When I think back to that first Easter morning, I don’t think the world was ready either. All was gray and dismal as Jesus lay in a borrowed tomb. The disciples were terrified and in hiding because of all that had Happened in Jerusalem that Passover so long ago. They were pained as they remembered Jesus’ sorrow in Gethsemane. They were guilt-ridden over betraying their master. Then there was the phony trial. They had watched from a distance as the very Son of God suffered and died upon the cross. Where was the joy for them? They had none. But when the world least expected it, Easter came! Everything changed at that pivotal moment in history. Jesus was alive! He came forth from the tomb having conquered death and providing the way of salvation for all who believe in him.
Easter is coming again - ready or not! Hallelujah! He is risen!
Join us Thursday evening at 7pm in the sanctuary as we come together in a quiet, reflective moment of focus on Jesus’ final presence with his disciples before facing the cross. Maundy Thursday provides a quiet, reflective opportunity for us to sense the crucial importance of Jesus’ sacrifice and love.
The Lord shared a last supper with with his disciples, and he will do the same with us as we come together in the communion service. Everyone who is a Christian is invited to share the bread and the cup. We do not believe people who love and follow the Lord should be denied Jesus’ invitation because they hold a different church membership or any other reason. Communion is a time for forgiveness and healing. Candles, music, scripture, and stories told will help us begin to appreciate the scope of God’s gift of salvation. At the end,we leave the time of worship in silence.
If you are exploring the possibility of faith for yourself, come and see what the heart of Christianity is all about. If you are already a Christian, come have your faith renewed. Everyone is invited and wanted at First Baptist Arlington.
As I write this article for the newsletter today, the weatherman has predicted that the temperature will reach 60 degrees. If that is not a record for this date, it comes near. My family in Louisiana confessed to have actually turned on their air conditioner this month when the temperature reached the mid seventies and there was heavy humidity. When I grew up in Louisiana, we didn’t have air conditioning. When it was hot, we were just hot. I have taught school in New Orleans when it was over 100 degrees in my classroom. Well, maybe it is a stretch to say I taught when in fact, we all just sat and waited for a cool breeze. People are thankful now to have air conditioning even if they have to turn it on in January.
We have had some bitterly cold days this month. During a recent week of bitterly cold days, a reporter interviewed some residents of the Pine Street Inn, a homeless shelter in Boston. Three different residents proclaimed loudly about how thankful they are to have a warm place to stay. It struck me as strange that these people who have very little testify to being thankful. I don’t know that I would feel thankful if I were in their place. We recently spent three days without heat in our upstairs. The heat went out on the Friday evening before a holiday, and we didn’t get help until the next Tuesday. It’s funny, because we could have gotten help earlier but didn’t want to pay the weekend and holiday rates to have a plumber come. So we choose to wait. And it was cold upstairs, but our downstairs was warm and we have an electric blanket so we made it fine. It did make me thankful that we usually have heat in the whole house.
My almost-three-year old grandson Eben told me that they had heat in their house but he couldn’t bring it over. He wanted to share his heat but couldn’t figure out how. Maybe that’s how we are sometimes. We want to share what we have but are not sure how. We collect hats and gloves for the homeless. We bring food for the food pantry on the first Sunday of the month. We seek God’s direction on what and how we are to share what He has given us.
Perhaps we should try to follow Jesus’ admonition in Matt. 25 when he said we are to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, provide clothing to those who need it, and visit the sick and those in prison. And, of course, share that most valuable thing that we have, our knowledge of Jesus who died that we might be free of our sin, Then we and many others can celebrate Thanksgiving in January and every other month.