April—noticing new life
This April is a great month to reflect deeply on what it means to be followers of Jesus. In this month, we live the in-between life. It is still Lent for the first half of the month. And then, halfway through, we celebrate and rejoice with resurrection hope in our celebrations of Easter new life. In short, in April of 2019, together we journey through the most transformative moments imaginable…from life, to death, then to new life.
These transitions are some of the most painful, and regenerative, ones imaginable. Most of you have experience grieving the death of loved ones. Communally, as a congregation, we have done our share of grief as well. In the midst of these heart-breaking moments, as the church, we have glimpses of hope. Each year as we walk through Lent and Holy Week, journeying through the dark days of Jesus’ betrayal and crucifixion, we know the rest of the story. We know that we will get to celebrate later that, in the end, life wins the day. Sometimes we sing it this way, “Goodness is stronger than evil, love is stronger than hate.”
I hope this glimpse of Easter hope will help lead you through the remainder of Lent. I hope this glimpse of hope will sustain you as we finish the cold days of late winter. After all, the green shoots of early spring flowers are beginning to push through the ground. And I hope that this glimpse of new life can be our way to see ourselves as a congregation, too.
In some ways, Crossroads has been in a Lenten season. We’ve said farewell to many people and things that have been part of Crossroads’ identity for the past decade (and much longer as St. James and Cleveland Hill and Ascension). At the same time, we have said yes to new life through partnership with St. Paul’s and renewed engagement with the community around us. My hope and prayer for this congregation is that the 2019 Lent to Holy Week to Easter transition can be a time for us to make a parallel transition in this community’s view of itself.
We need to shift our focus to the new life about to spring up. In the midst of this season of farewell and grieving, I invite you, together and individually to open your hearts and eyes and minds to awareness of the glimpses of Easter new life around our congregation. I’d like to point out a few of them to you:
—The upstairs of the building—while it looks empty now, soon it will be updated, refurnished and ready for the congregation’s and community’s use in new ways
—Each month 25-30 middle school youth meet here for confirmation instruction where they discover and awaken to the enormity of God’s love for them and the world around them
—The call committee has been established and is working towards calling Crossroads’ next pastor AND the first pastor into the Crossroads/St. Paul’s partnership
—Crossroads and St Paul’s have hired Adam Weber as our next youth worker to walk alongside the young people of our congregations and community, even as we prepare to say farewell and a fond thank you to Kristen Arends
—The joint executive team of Crossroads and St. Paul’s is imagining how to best share the story of the new life we are experiencing and expecting together both inside the congregations and out in the community
—and there are so many other things that we and St. Paul’s and our neighbors are on the cusp of, that I’m going to end the list here.
I want to help Crossroads look at its life as a congregation, and its new life of partnership, as signs of the resurrected life that are central to what it means to be Christians. At our core, even in our seasons of grief and sadness and Lent, we are Easter people…people who believe in God’s love and new life, for us and for the world.
Will you join me in pivoting into living our life together in this way? God is alive. And we are alive because of Christ. Let’s celebrate and live like this is true!!
Desiring hope and joy for you and for all,