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That you may believe…

Happy Easter!  The Lord is Risen!  He is Risen indeed!
What a joyful celebration of Easter we shared at Lenape Valley!  The day began with a chilly gathering to welcome the dawn… the sun rising… the full moon fading… the gathering of God’s people declaring the Son has risen!  Then, before we knew it, the crowd was gathering for two lively worship experiences that raised the vaulted roof of Lenape Valley with praise.  We are blessed with a dedicated and gifted worship team, tech team, choir, bells, brass and staff who went above and beyond to create worship throughout Lent that drew us into the presence of the Savior.  Please join me in a prayer of thanks for such sacrificial servants of God!

I am writing this letter on the day after Easter.  The church office is closed.  The staff is home, hopefully catching their breath after the marathon of the Lenten season.  Next Sunday will be the celebration of our 60th Anniversary as a church.  At first glance, it looks like Easter is over and the time has come to move on to the next…  For our society, Easter is over and done.  Easter candy will be on sale this week to clear the shelves for Mother’s Day displays.  The Easter decorations will be stored away until next year.  One season will make room for the next.  But, for Christians, the sweet aroma of Easter lingers.  The promise of resurrection defines all that we are, so the church calls this new season- Eastertide.  This season teaches us what it means to live into the hope of the resurrection… how to be God’s resurrected people in this world… how to be about God’s resurrecting work in this world.

The Gospel writers risked their lives, some of them gave their lives, so that we would have the blessing of resurrection stories to inspire ours.  John writes at the end of his gospel:
Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples,  which are not recorded in this book.  But these are written  that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,  and that by believing you may have life in his name.  John 20:30-31
I am so grateful for the stories that have been written, but I am also grateful for the resurrection stories that never made the pages of the bible.  Those stories are being lived out every day in our midst.  Some of the stories are spectacular, like the story of a little one born months too early, so tiny he could not be held even by his mother.  Many of you have been on your knees for this precious little one, celebrating each milestone gained by little AJ.  Miracle upon miracle.  The journey to new life is not always easy, and it has not been easy for this little one and his family, but each day AJ’s life is a testament to God’s grace.   Our little Selene is another spectacular story.  She was born with a genetic mutation that threatened her life.  Statistically, she should no longer be with us, but on Easter she sang with the Kid’s Choir with a big smile on her face.  Her life, like AJ’s, testifies to how God brings life through the gifted hands of our medical professionals.  We love when the resurrection stories bring such beautiful outcomes…

But sometimes the resurrection stories are a bit messier.  One of our worship team members has an aggressive cancer.  The treatments are harsh, the outcome uncertain.  Yet, every Sunday he grabs his guitar and joins the team to praise the Lord.  On Easter, I could see in Joe’s face the struggle to offer the gift, yet he continued to sing: “Rise Up, up from the grave like Lazarus.”  I have learned so much watching Joe claim God’s resurrection gift one day at a time.  One of our members lost two daughters and a grandson in a matter of months.  No mother should ever bury her own child.  The grief of those loses is devastating.  Yet, now she serves as a Deacon at LVC, allowing her grief to be transformed into compassion for others who are hurting. One of our members lost the love of her life.  She wondered what to do with the lonely days ahead, but God had a plan.  Each Sunday, she notes the people in our faith community who are hurting, and she crafts a special card for them.  Each card is a resurrection step for her, offering a resurrection gift to another.

I have seen marriages on the brink.  Our society would tell them to give up, but I have seen couples choose to seek God’s resurrection path for their relationship.  During this pandemic, I have seen people struggle with depression and anxiety, who have claimed God’s gift of resurrection, step by step walking out of that dark tomb.  At Lenape Valley, we partner with WorthWhileWear in claiming the resurrection for women caught in the web of human trafficking.  Our Anniversary Mission Project will help WWW build a House of Refuge for these women, where resurrection can happen!  What a joy to be part of God’s resurrection work in the world!

As we celebrate our Anniversary, I look forward to the next chapter in our life and ministry together.  May we claim God’s resurrection in our lives so that we can be part of God’s resurrection work in the world.

With you basking in Easter’s joy!  
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