What a wonderful Holy Week at HFM Church! Palm Sunday's service opened with the children waving palm branches, saying "Hosanna!" as they joined the adult choir in a joint choir number we had all worked on for several weeks. Contemporary and traditional music recalled Christ's entry into Jerusalem as King of the Jews.
On Good Friday, in our 4th annual Tenebrae Service, we were led by scripture and song and our pastor's remarks to reflect on the Last Supper and The Crucifixion. Courtney Simmons and Bill Dusseau read the scriptures most eloquently.
During the service, Patty Bersinger sang her moving rendition of, Watch the Lamb! Inga Wood moved us also with her dramatic reading ofThe Rag Man by Walter Wangerin, Jr. about a rag man (a literary Christ figure) who takes on the rags of others and replaces them with NEW rags --restoring sight, limbs, healing for all. Andrea Conklin, Chrissy Rohrs and Stephanie Rohrs Hulbert sang Calvary Covers It All. Rhoda Roloff soloed about His Kind of Love--and the choir sang a piece, starting with a solo by Andrea, and did a round In the Cross of Christ I Glory, featuring Chrissy as soloist. The choir sang a capella throughout the Communion service, something we had never done before. Congregational songs and responsive readings were included.
I had the honor of playing the chimes --7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, as each of 7 candles was extinguished by Kayla Perez after 7 scripture readings about Christ's final hours --and finally one last chime --as the Christ candle is carried out to signify His death on the cross --and I made the thunder roll on the Korg Keyboard (placed in the balcony for the first time.) And darkness reigned --and then the Christ Candle was brought back in--because Christ's Spirit was not extinguished. We would celebrate His resurrection on the 3rd day after His crucifixion (which was the first of the 3 days.) Then Pastor read Isaiah 53, the pre-Christian, Jewish prophecy which was fulfilled on Good Friday. He dismissed us to go in reflective silence, grateful for the Sacrifice of the Lamb.
Then came Easter joy--Resurrection Sunday! There was a little nip in the air, but the sun was shining, the grass bright green; the birds were making a heavenly chorus --nature's spring-time resurrection --as if they all knew it was a special day! An Easter Sunrise Service was conducted in the yard at the side of the church, followed by a brunch.
After getting Mother ready, I had gone to my car at 8:20 as I had to practice trumpet and keyboard with the worship team. I get the horn out twice a year, Christmas and Easter --and God gives me just enough lip endurance and intonation for the morning's music --no more and no less. It even amazes me that I still have "lip" and decent range and tone quality without any practice! High A! It must be that He likes to hear trumpets! I don't play perfectly --I had one high measure I couldn't master --but if I DID practice, I run the risk of ruining my lip. It's very tricky for me--playing brass. I just can't guarantee my sounds! But I'm always asked to try and it went well this morning.
At the 10:40 service, we were overflowing into our balcony with people! The worship team included Stephanie Hulbert singing at the piano, Andrea Conklin, Courtney Simmons, Joe Conklin, Ashley Perez and Chrissy Rohrs. The new projector brightly showing song lyrics on our screen with Easter backgrounds, the corsaged ladies, the Easter lilies and tulips at the foot of a cross decorated by Conklin with a golden crown and white drape upon it --were all delightful features of a joyous celebration. (I sort of see Sue as like those ladies who took the spices to the tomb --to prepare Jesus' body. She, like those ladies, religiously cares for His house and the decor --preparing for these special high holidays.)
We opened with Up from the Grave He Arose with 6 harmony singers leading, trumpet, simulated pipe organ and piano --and The Easter Song ("Hear those bells ringing..." --with bells on our Keyboard played by Pastor Keith) Christ the Lord is Risen Today with trumpet descant and pipe organ --and then the choir sang a contemporary resurrection song (4 Rohrs, 3 Conklins, Rhoda, Courtney, Patty, Camille, and Paula.) This was followed by 3 contemporary Easter pieces led by singers, with drums, sax, keyboard strings, and piano. The last of the contemporary, celebratory songs was the beautiful, worshipful Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) by Michael W. Smith.
The pre-schoolers were then brought in to see an Easter-themed children's sermon as a puppet show featuring "Jack the Rabbit" with the Whartons and Hulberts behind the curtain.
Before the sermon, John Heisinger sang beautifully the exciting solo, He's Alive!..."and I'm forgiven --Heaven's Gates are opened wide!"
Pastor Keith gave a stirring Easter message on the power that is ours because of the Resurrection --from Ephesians. We concluded singing the traditional gospel song, He Lives! ...Christ Jesus Lives Today ...You ask me how I Know He Lives --He LIVES within MY HEART!"
An Easter to remember --much thanks to the musical planning and labors of Stephanie Hulbert and the prepared, scholarly, eloquent, inspired preaching of Pastor Keith Simpson. Bob Sutton hooked up our new screen projector the day before Easter; Alex Rodewald, Bob Sutton, and Bob Perez gave us good sound and Deanne Simpson and Patty Bersinger ran the lights and song lyrics after Stephanie programmed them.
After music practice, I had picked up a family of 4, a single mom and her 3 children who don't have a car (the daughter had been my CLC student last year.) I had also picked up a different car-less family for the Tenebrae. Today's family had dinner plans already or I would've had them come to our home for dinner, since our married children were with their in-laws today, leaving only 6 of our family for dinner.
So, we invited a couple with an exchange student from So. Korea and a friend of my son's to join us for Easter dinner at our home --for a total of 10 for dinner. Both Grandmothers were with us, age 87 and 90.
Thanks go to my family for their helps with the dinner. Rob is the masher --potato masher, that is. Chrissy did the table setting, many errands and clean-up. Jon provides more desserts than we need and handled the ham. I plan, give orders, direct traffic, keep the dishes and pans clean as we go, peel potatoes (the night before) and prepare the relish tray and sweet potatoes. Before that, our friend Courtney came Friday to put on table cloths and clean the house --while I dealt with laundry, dishes, mail, paper, mail, magazines, and more paper--and, oh yes, blogging!
I'm tired --but happy. Because He IS Risen! INDEED! And I'm glad that I had signs that I needed a surgery before cancer took my mortal life. Nevertheless, the greatest comfort is the promise of life after death, come what may. Pastor talked about that today--suffering with Christ. If He had to suffer before resurrecting, why should I expect not to? I'm also grateful for the love and support of a dear family --AND church family. God is good and His ways are blessings for our good--in a world where we will have trials and tribulations but grace to bear them. I hope I never fail to look UP, out of the muck and into the light --to receive the crown!
"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible