A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Monday, April 17, 2017

Pastoral Prayer (April 16/Easter Sunday) - Athens First UMC

[The sanctuary was filled, the Easter lilies were beautiful, the choir was superb as usual, the new sanctuary air conditioning worked to perfection, and even the sermon was "above average." We were also blessed to have former member, Joyce Lambert provide us with a video recording of the Easter scripture reading from John's Gospel. (See video recording below.) Joyce was a member of our Leadership Board and was on the committee that helped design our remodeled sanctuary. She moved to a new community before our church renovations were completed. It was great to hear her voice!]

O Risen Christ, we have come to the garden, not alone, but with each other on this glorious Easter Sunday morning. We came expecting to pay you our last respects, but we were startled to find your tomb empty and lilies decorating what was supposed to be your grave.

You have proven yet again that there are no thorns or thistles that are too great for your love to overcome, not even the thorns and thistles of when we have denied and betrayed you. There really isn’t anything that you can’t overcome, is there? Not even death itself!

Like Mary, we don’t want to leave the Garden Tomb. We want to savor this joyous moment. We want to take in the fresh scent of the flowers and cling to you. But you have something even better in mind for us, yes even better than lingering here at the Garden Tomb. You are calling each one of us to be your gardeners and sow seeds of resurrection and new life wherever we go.

To the college students walking by our church on their way to class. To the new neighbors who just moved in down the street. To the people who come here for Monday Lunch. To the friend who is anxious about an upcoming surgery. To the family grieving the loss of a loved one. 

Risen Christ, you are calling each of us by name to be your gardeners in sowing seeds of love, hope, and new life. Thank you for the good news of our faith that just doesn’t point back to the Garden of Eden and the Garden Tomb, but also looks forward to that day when all of your creation will be renewed and made whole again, that day when we will find ourselves in the beautiful New Jerusalem Garden, where all the nations of this world will know of your healing love.

We long for that day when there will no longer be chemical or nuclear weapons. We long for that day when there will no longer be wars or rumors of war. We long for that day when there will be peace on earth.

Until that third and final garden blossoms, we continue to pray the words that Jesus taught his disciples and now invites us to say together,

“Our Father, who art in heaven…”

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