My farmer’s blood boils at this time of the year. I grew up on a wheat-farm in southwestern SK, and we usually started seeding the last week of April. Of course, classes were still in session, so I missed out on a lot of the action. But happily, I was able to experience more seeding later, as a Bible college and seminary student. For three consecutive springs I worked for a farmer near Mortlach, SK. I miss those days! The sounds and smells of spring. The long hours in the tractor. The sense of accomplishment when a field was seeded. And the satisfaction when the plants started to grow. For a short time I considered farming. But in the end I felt called to plant different seeds. I didn’t realize at the time that my dad was praying that some of his boys would become pastors or missionaries, not farmers. And two of us are pastors today. There are a lot of similarities between farming and pastoring. A farmer plants seeds like wheat or canola. I plant the seed of God’s Word. A farmer works with various soils. I work with various types of people. A farmer nurtures the growing plants. I nurture people’s souls. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Jesus’ teachings about soil and plants (for example, Luke 8 and John 15) resonate with my heart. My calling as pastor is to plant the seeds of the gospel and nurture the gospel plant that is growing in people. In other words, to make disciples of Christ. Please continue to pray for me and all pastors as we fulfill our calling, perhaps especially during the season of Easter, when we are planting many gospel “seeds.” And while you’re at it, please pray for farmers, as they plant many physical seeds in the soil of their fields and gardens.
We just started another Alpha course at Wolf Creek Community Church, which makes me glad. As you may or may not know, Alpha focuses on the person and work of Jesus. In fact, during the first session that occurred last night, we talked about the evidence for the resurrection. During the season of Lent, we sometimes deny ourselves something as we seek to suffer with our Lord during the final weeks of his life on earth. Through an act of self-denial, we try to take up our cross and follow Jesus. But during the season of Easter, we add meaningful things to our lives, as we celebrate the new life we have in Christ because of his resurrection. Adding Alpha has been a good move for our church. Yes, it has increased the workload of some leaders, including myself, but it’s a joyful burden to bear, as we extend hospitality to each other and community residents, and as we focus on Jesus. How are you celebrating the resurrection of our Lord as an individual, and also as a church?
I’m currently reading The Story of Christianity (Revised and Updated Edition), by Justo L. Gonzalez (HarperOne, 2010). I forgot how much I enjoy church history! As I read about the Early Church, I’m reminded of the importance they placed on Easter. The Jews gathered for worship on the Sabbath Day (Saturday), in honor of the day God rested after creation. But after Jesus’ resurrection, the Christians gathered for worship on the first day of the week (Sunday), in honor of Christ’s resurrection. And the tradition has continued for most Followers of Christ. Gonzalez observes the main purpose of this Sunday gathering was to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. And the primary way they did that was through the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. And because these early Communion services focused on the resurrection of Jesus, they were joyful occasions, not the somber Lord’s Supper services that many have grown up with. Actually, it was only after the Protestant Reformation of the Sixteenth Century that many churches began to focus their worship service on the preaching of the Word over Communion. I wanted to share this with you as we begin our Easter celebration. Easter is the moment we’ve been waiting for, the climax of the Christian year. So, how can we make it the grand celebration it’s supposed to be? N. T. Wright, in his book, Surprised by Hope (HarperOne, 2008), suggests that during the season of Easter, we pull out all the stops. Really celebrate. Also add new things to our lives as we celebrate new life in Christ. Practice the spiritual discipline of celebration. Jesus has risen! New life has begun. For this reason, I rejoice that we are conducting Alpha this Easter season. A great way to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord as we break bread together and become more devoted students of Christ. He has risen! . . .