Four cars, driven by me, my husband, Rob and Chrissy, headed out to Spencer Twp into the Habitat for Humanity housing neighborhood --lovely homes on a cul de sac and neighboring street --to pick up 14 children and youth, ranging in age from 8 to 17. They all happened to be African-American plus one little blonde whose mother brought her to the church. We had Kayla, Earlkayla, Earlkia, D'Earl, Bobby, Kyle, Davon, Javon, Brittany, Ariss, Amon, Austen, Anthony, a "godsister" whose name had an apostrophe in it (a visitor to one of the families), and Breanna. Through this I had good conversations with several different parents who do not attend our church. My invitations had gone out to all my Trailblazers and their siblings, by phone.
Rob drove his grandmother and three girls. I drove 4 boys who acted as good as gold. Jon had 4 boys. Chrissy had 4 girls.
We went to Fremont Alliance Church to see The Cross of Love, their annual Easter musical. We were not late, but the place was packed, and the boys were split up and we girls had corner seats --where they were able to stand to see better. The good part about our place was that our restless children didn't bother everybody --just those in close proximity. The two youngest were a little too immature for the event and occasionally made inappropriate noises and were quite the little busy bodies --though I had one on my lap half the time. (Yes, I have a lap!) When Jesus was crucified, I was asked, "IS THAT REAL BLOOD, MISS BARB!" And my little busybodies were into the faces of their friends to report back who was crying. "SHE's CRYING!" Most of us WERE moved --so effective was the portrayal.
The best thing about our seats was its location by an entrance for the actors. When Jesus entered for the first time he entered between our two rows and the girls literally squealed in delight, "IT'S JESUS! IT'S JESUS!" and to me, "Is it REALLY JESUS!???" They were so excited and became part of the drama --as he touched each one's hand or shoulder or head as if to bless them. I was almost convinced myself for just an electric moment!
The gentleman who plays the role these recent years was unchurched until he saw this production. It touched him profoundly to see the story of Jesus enacted, the healings, the crucifixion, the resurrection. He committed his life to Christ and started to attend the Alliance church and has been portraying Jesus beautifully, ever since. He gives his testimony after the program.
When a leprous girl passed by with bandaged face, our girls giggled and jeered, "O LOOK, LOOK AT HER!" And I was embarrassed --until it occured to me, that they had once again given a realistic portrayal of Bible-days children --this time being impolite to a leper --whom Jesus healed and the bandages came off as our son John sang the song, "Healing Rain." (It's his in-laws' church.)
This church goes all out, serving home-baked cookies and punch to nearly 500 people at each of 3 performances. One of the boys stacked up 7 cookies on his napkin and was admonished by the others," Put those back!"
Our Tenebrae was not nearly so well attended, just less than one hundred, but it, too, was a beautiful service causing solemn reflection on Christ's sacrifice for our souls' sake. We were pleased to be visited by several people we didn't know, probably due to newspaper publicity, and by some visitors we did know, like the administrator of The Toledo Clinic and his wife, and Pastor and Mrs. Merrin of Monclova Baptist.
Highlights of OUR service were Holy Communion (The Last Supper observance) the readings of the Holy Week events from scripture, by leader, narrators, and congregation, interspersed by the beautiful ensemble, "Remember Me," sung by Rob Rohrs, Andrea Conklin, Ashley Perez and Christine Rohrs; "How Beautiful is the Body of Christ" by Patty Bersinger (both songs during the Communion); and from the David Clydesdale Easter musical, How Great Thou Art: "What will you do with Jesus" by Christine Rohrs --a challenge to us, referring to Pilate's dilemma, and then a medley of the beautiful "When They Pierced Your Side --How could they Open up your Heart Anymore?" by Stephanie Hulbert and the choir, including "How Great Thou Art," "And Can it Be?", and concluding with "God so Loved the World."
Congregational songs included "The Old Rugged Cross" and "O Sacred Head, Now Wounded," and a contemporary arrangment of "Amazing Grace." Readers were Bob and MaryBeth DeMatteo and Courtney Lucas. Our sound tech who did a good job was Bob Perez. Kayla Perez extinguished the candles, accompanied by the tolling of a bell, as the sanctuary darkened more and more until there was just one chime and the last candle was carried out, and the thunderous earthquake sounded --signifying Christ's death. Then the candle was brought back and placed before the cross to signify the triumph of good over evil, and life over death. And Pastor Keith Simpson dismissed us to leave in reverent silence.
We hear that Lebanese celebrities participated in a SAT-7 Easter broadcast into the Middle-east. http://campaign.constantcontact.com/render?v=001ugKI9_rGp4XOiXjGmnt1RV3CHIOHrGWHGhze70owu_MbIjKBQVNd3Qj0T7qlF21dyUNWYigch-xnEWyDGxYrfXawfj7S6ATpjU1FW-bBQnSlw-_deF2LgXLi-H7G3dLfdpLnfcP1QUStNoUdUZMvDkY8kG8d_wgJAQ_a5m6HIQQ%3D
I told you all before how the Free Methodist Church was given land by the Kurdish gov't to build a church in Iraq --last year. And there are some 50 pastors seeking ordination in the Free Methodist Church in Viet Nam organizing their congregations as Free Methodist Churches. We have children's hostels in India and schools and hospitals in Africa and many FM churches there.
Mega-churches in the USA are challenging those who have fallen away from their churches to rediscover the excitement of the Gospel message --and the reality of it.
The Holy Spirit is still among us --as we tell the old, old story --still! passing it on....
And why will evangelicalism survive and thrive? Because we are still and again,
ever renewing our call to the poor, to children, to the unity and equality of
all races, Jew and Gentile, male and female, slave and free -- proclaiming
liberty to the captives and deliverance to the oppressed --and helping to make
it happen, so help us, Lord!
When we get more busy about the basic Good
News, and the basic commands of Christ, living the righteousness asked of us,
straining for the holiness commanded of us --ever discipling
(teaching/preaching) in the church to those we bring from outside the church
--as Jesus said,
"This is my Church and the Gates of Hell shall not prevail
"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible