Tag: CCCC

“You Cannot Ruin Easter”

God is still God, Christ has Still Risen, You are Still not Alone. 

Jonathan David Faulkner

Well, it is safe to say that my second Easter as a Pastor is not exactly how I pictured it would be. As I take a break from studying for Sunday’s Sermon “Resurrection Reality” to write a short Holy Week Piece that has, until today, eluded me. I was reminded this morning, by our conference minister Rev. Ron Hamilton of a truth that I have proclaimed but had not really thought about. As we do things a little differently this Easter, some online, some doing small drive-up services coupled with a pre-recorded online service for our members who cannot go out or who do not feel safe going out, or of course, it North Iowa weather decides to rain on our parade. Our conference minister entitled his email: “The Best Easter ever.” Of course, one wonders how this could be the case without us shouting to one another in joy “He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed.” However, Ron has a point here, one cannot ruin Easter, the Spirit of the Day cannot be dulled even by government ordinances, we will not have our usual traditions and meals together, but we will have the full day to reflect on what happened 2,000 years ago to make this day what it is.

The Resurrection of Christ

This morning I have been reading and studying the Greek of this week’s text, John 20:1-18, as usual I get to meditate on the text all week, by the time we get to Sunday I have been marinated and cooked by it, searched by it thoroughly and been interrogated by it and still will have not gained the fullness or completeness of the text itself. On top of trying to work through other Holy Week texts, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday all those events, the Triumphal Entry of Palm Sunday kicked off not look forward to their culmination in the resurrection. Jesus would cleanse the temple, curse a fig tree, teach in the temple one final time, be betrayed by Judas who would then be present at the Passover meal where Jesus washes the Disciples feet, including his, and institute the Eucharist, again with Judas present. He would pray in the Garden, be betrayed by a kiss, arrested, falsely accused, by denied by one of his closest followers and be handed over to the Romans to be crucified. He would die on that cross, have His side pierced and be buried in a tomb with a stone sealed with the governors sealed. Yet, even the legal seal of Pilate would prove to be futile, there was no way that on that first Easter the Lord, YHWH incarnate, would be held within the tomb or be hindered by death. The ultimate humility would become the greatest victory, as Jesus said many times, the last would be first. In the words of Ron Hamilton…”You cannot ruin Easter.”

Yes, we go through the emotions of the season, we experience the high of Palm Sunday, the somberness of the Last Supper, the fear, grief and pain mixed with a strange Joy of Good Friday. We feel the anticipation of Holy Saturday and the Great Easter Vigil. Friday comes, but we know Sunday is coming, we know what the Disciples did not, and which they did not understand as they were living it. That Sunday is coming and with it, Resurrection.

Yes, resurrection is coming, the resurrection of Christ has already come, but our resurrection, not metaphorical, but literal, is coming. We are taught this in scripture, we are shown it through John’s revelation. You cannot ruin Easter and you cannot ruin God’s plan. Yes, resurrection is hard to believe in, that is true, it seems impossible to us. But that is not different than it was 2000 years ago when nobody could even conceive of resurrection except for the Pharisees who believed in the resurrection of the last days. Even so, they understood as it as a purely eschatological event, resurrection was going to happen in the end times, not right before their eyes, in the very place they lived. Yet they could not deny it, notice in Acts they do not even try. Yes, they try to destroy the movement, but they do not try to deny the resurrection, that comes much later.

Friends, it is true that Easter looks very different this year, we are in a time which we could not have imagined or foreseen. However, God did, and He is still sovereign over it. He has foreseen and planned for all those who believe in Him who lose their life during this time. That answer is Resurrection, both of Christ and in the last days those who have believed.

So stay home or stay in your cars (if you are attending a drive-in service) remember that God is not distant but is near. He loves you and cares for you, you are not alone. No matter what happens, Christ has Risen, you cannot change that historical fact. Easter cannot be ruined, the truth is still true.

 

12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oJonathan David Faulkner is a Graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary holding Masters in Divinity and Church History, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry. He lives with his wife Rachel and daughter Erin in Buffalo Center Iowa and seeks to be a part of the project of reconciliation in the local and international church. He is currently serving as the Pastor of First Congregational Church of Buffalo Center.

LIFE UPDATE: Website Changes, Beginning Job Searches, Health and Wellness, life after February 20th.

The following is an brief, personal update from me about life in general, changes to the website and future changes in life.

 

HAMILTON MA. God has never ceased to amaze me, yesterday I was riding alongside Gordon College’s Chebacco (spelling) Lake watching the sun rise before returning to my bike and completing the 7 mile bike ride that has become a regular part of my morning. As I sit a few days away from my first Annual Gathering of the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference (CCCC) and my final summer class (both occurring in the same week AHH!!!) and how this year has gone so far, from academic success to the loss of Shalom to being added to the CCCC pulpit supply list and getting a call for supply within five minutes of being on the list. God has cared so much for us this year as our hearts have healed from the miscarriage we suffered in February. He has surrounded us with so many amazing people, some of them we have never met in person but who have reached out to us through GodsHeart and the GoFundMe we ran to help cover the counseling bills. You and so many others have loved us with the complete love of God and we cannot thank you enough for your love and support.

You will notice, and may already have noticed, that God’s Heart is going through a number of changes in the previous week. That is because this site, while continuing to function as a resource and commentary on the intersection of Theology and Cultural Issues will also serve as a portfolio for me as we enter our final year of seminary and begin the search for a post-seminary call. God has seen fit to plant us in a denomination that is in need of pastors and who supports its pastors while maintaining congregational government in its member churches. Next week I will be fully affirmed as a conference member and then the trickle of resumes that have gone out already will become a flood as we seek God’s call. We know where we would like to go, the great state of New Hampshire, but ultimately where God has called us to minister to and alongside His people while we raise a family. This change in the website will mean more activity, more posts, more sermon uploads as I re-record the sermons I lost when my computer crashed last summer. This means you, the reader, will have a greater chance to get to know me and interact with me as we will also use this medium to share updates about our family, time in Seminary and the search. We hope this will mean we can get to know you better as you get to know us better. This means you will get more content, more recommendations and regular life-updates as well as new sections for churches looking for information that you too can peruse at your leisure.

Rachel always tells me that she wants me to be around as long as I can, there has even been something about her having to go first when we are 90 so that she does not have to live without her. I kind of hope we go together in our sleep so neither of us has to live without the other, kind of like The Notebook only, we can remember who we are. For this reason I have begun a more stringent exercise plan to go along with the many dietary changes that have come with marriage. There is a stigma about Pastors that we tend to not take good care of ourselves, and that can be true, though sometimes we are trained to burn-out cycles (as I was in my first church) and not to a healthy work-life balance. Seminary has been partially about establishing a healthy balance to avoid the disastrous and nearly deadly consequences that came with my last burn-out. That means exercising and putting away the work to spend time with Rachel and our friends. All while making my relationship with God a priority through prayer and scripture reading and investing in my hobbies (I have taken up the Banjo) to make sure that I am not just physically healthy, but emotionally and spiritually healthy. I want to get to spend life with my wife for a long time, I like her, and love her, and so I am going to make exercising a part of my daily routine beyond the weekly game of ultimate frisbee.

As I said, God has been good to us in-spite of the pain we have felt this past year. He has surrounded us with beautiful people and showered us with love and grace and beauty. As we look to the future, which includes a weekend in New Hampshire with some close friends and a Christmas trip to my parents in Ohio, the writing of my thesis and untold other adventures. We renew our invitation to come after the beautiful, wild, loving heart of God with us as we seek to do His work both online and off.

Jonathan David Faulkner