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Pastors share the message of Easter Sunday

Heather McGregor
Post Independent Editor
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent
ALL |

Today is Easter Sunday, the high holy day of the Christian faith. In recognition that Christianity is the dominant faith of the area, we asked pastors of several churches to share excerpts of their Easter Sunday messages with readers of the Post Independent.

Today, these five spiritual leaders in our community share their thoughts in celebration of Easter, of spring and of the blessing of life.

The Rev. J. Harrison L. Heidel



St. Barnabas Episcopal Church

546 Hyland Park Dr., Glenwood Springs



Holy Eucharist Rite One at 8 a.m. today, Rite Two at 10 a.m. today

Potluck and Easter egg hunt after the 10 a.m. service

When invited by the Post Independent to write a short essay for Easter Sunday’s publication, I accepted the invitation and asked, “What would you like me to keep in mind as I write?”

“Don’t retell the resurrection story. There are about 10,000 readers of the paper of many faiths and beliefs, and keep to it about 350 to 400 words,” said the voice of the Independent.

“Got it,” I said.

The truth is, I’ll approach my sermon for Easter Sunday in the same manner. I won’t retell the story, I’ll keep it short, I’ll remember there are many thoughts, beliefs and ranges of faith in the resurrection story among the folks sitting in the church. But I’m guessing there will probably be a bit less than 10,000 in attendance.

Aside from some of the details theologians and biblical scholars relish arguing, few Christians are not familiar with the story. There is a fairly short telling of the story we all can remember: “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.”

What we believe about Jesus Christ is summed up in Holy Scripture, the various creeds of the Church, loads of doctrine and storytelling, all of which is up to interpretation by each one of us. Millions of Christian pilgrims will make their way to houses of worship to celebrate one of the longest sustained stories in history. Little else needs to be said.

Although the story of and belief in the bodily resurrection of Christ is central to the faith of Christians, what is most important to know as we go about our daily lives is that Jesus lived in the hope of establishing a new relationship between God and God’s people.

He lived that we would know God’s love is unconditional, that grace is an unearned gift, that God forgives our failures, enlightens our minds, stirs our hearts and strengthens our indwelling spirit.

Jesus didn’t want us to simply retell his story either. He desired we live it as he did.

The Rev. Charis Caldwell, pastor

First Presbyterian Church

1016 Cooper Ave., Glenwood Springs

Easter Sunday services at 10 a.m. today

Taylor Swift’s recently released song, “Eyes Open,” features two lines that, for me at least, sum up life as it is ordinarily experienced. Her lyrics go something like this:

“But now we’ve stepped into a cruel world where everybody stands to keep score.”

Keeping score…

In subtle and overt ways, most of our time spent on Earth is about keeping score.

“How’s business?”

“How far did you run today?”

“Oh, the snow is much better at Sunlight than…”

“Which school did you get into?”

We count calories. We log miles. We bill hours. We pay back for wrongs wronged.

Or at least some of us do.

Twenty centuries ago, horrible wrongs were committed in the name of keeping score.

A man was betrayed by one of his friends. Then that same man was abandoned by all of his followers when the powers that be arrested him in the dark of night.

A mock trial ensued, baseless accusations were hurled, a weak leader succumbed to the will of a crowd, and an innocent man was condemned to death by way of crucifixion. As the story goes, this man was humiliated, beaten, spit upon and left to die between two criminals.

Because of the timing of his death, he did not even receive a proper burial. Rather, a full day went by – a day of silence, a day of assured fear for those who had been among his “team,” when, in the darkness of the morning of the first day, the rules and regulations of keeping score were found to be undone.

The dead man, the loser by all accounts of those who keep score, was experienced to be alive. God, the story goes, had raised this Jesus from the dead.

But rather than following the pattern “where everybody stands to keep score,” Jesus tells one of the women to share the news that he is alive. And that rather than returning with a vengeance, he will meet them along the streets where they live and at the beach where they fry fish to bear witness to how God does not keep score.

Friends, Jesus’ resurrection is not about keeping score. You and I are invited into a clean slate life where keeping score no longer makes sense because God fixed the game.

Ours no longer needs to be a cruel world. Ours is a wide-eyed world full of new beginnings.

Pastor Dave Pearson

Mountain View Church

2195 County Road 154, Glenwood Springs

Fellowship and children’s egg hunt at 9:30 a.m.

Easter Sunday services at 10:15 a.m. today

When was the last time you sat in a hospital waiting room … waiting? Waiting for news of a loved one’s prospects of recovery? It’s a familiar scene: single chairs and side tables piled high with weathered magazines, the product of preoccupied minds thumbing nervously through pictures but not concentrating on any of them … pleasant nurses and receptionists, all weary of answering questions … a coffee pot still warm since early in the day … strange smells and people everywhere. People looking into space, wandering hallways and looking lost in a world of anguish. Waiting. And waiting.

Let your mind flash back to a scene in Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago. It’s the day Jesus died, nailed to a Roman cross with criminals on both sides, though he himself had done nothing wrong. He was beaten, paraded, executed and displayed to the world.

In the days that followed, his followers found themselves hurt, confused, worried and fearful. Their leader and shepherd was gone.

They hid from authorities and waited. Most of them were confined to a private room, saying little to each other, marked by distrustful looks on their faces. Waiting.

Suddenly, the wait was over. News of Jesus’ miraculous resurrection circulated quickly and then he appeared before them, confirming and bringing relief that all would be well.

That news is still changing lives today. Christ is not dead. He is risen as he said.

How do I know? He lives within my heart. I serve a living savior.

Easter Sunday will again proclaim the life-changing message in churches throughout this valley. Don’t miss it!

For one moment in time, the whole universe waited to see if holiness could conquer death. God offered a sinless sacrifice on our behalf and Jesus rose from the grave. That good news of Jesus Christ, the son of God, will be announced again on Sunday.

It’s a Sunday morning miracle that changed my life and millions of others. Who knows? It could change yours. The waiting is over. See you Sunday!

The Rev. Gretchen Haley

Two Rivers Unitarian Universalist Congregation

Third Street Center, Carbondale

Easter Sunday services at 10 a.m. today

We all fall for the romance of safety, the promise of salvation.

The accessories of security surround us. Car alarms, locked doors, high gates, health insurance, education, wealth. We buy external hard drives, exercise, wear seat belts, and we build large buildings to keep those who have shown themselves dangerous away from those of us who seem safe, for now.

We live in a world enamored with the feel of security. Notice I say “feel.” Security specialists readily admit that the feeling and the reality of security don’t necessarily mean the same thing.

Humans have the amazing capacity to feel secure in situations that in reality are the least so; and equally, can find themselves terrorized by things that pose no real danger.

The story of Jesus on Easter has often been told as a story of salvation, the story of one person’s act translating to security for all. But like other things in our life, this is an instance where we’ve confused a feeling of safety with something that is actually pretty dangerous, pretty risky.

One of my colleagues, the Rev. Marlin Lavanhar, tells the story of one of his friends who, rather than passing the “Peace of Christ” at the designated time in his church service, was know to say, “May the unrest of Christ be with you,” for so much of what Jesus taught was not comforting, and did not give a sense of security or peace.

Jesus loved courageously, and invited others to do the same. He abandoned the pursuit of the feeling of security, and opened his heart to the real dangers of loving those the world deemed unworthy.

This Easter, my hope is that we will turn less to Jesus as savior, and more to Jesus as a model of risky, courageous love.

Pursuing safety keeps our bodies and our hearts hidden in gated communities, keeps ourselves believing that if we can just put enough measures in place, we will finally be secure.

Jesus – and Rosa Parks, and Susan B. Anthony, and the Hebrew Prophets, and women and men of many ages who have stood up for justice and truth – remind us that feeling secure does not necessarily mean we are secure. In fact, by risking our hearts, stepping boldly into the call of beloved community, we might create the reality of salvation – salvation in this life, for all.

Pastor Charlie Hornick

Grace Bible Church

755 Spencer Parkway, Parachute

Easter Brunch at 9:15 a.m.

Easter Sunday service at 10:30 a.m.

German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, at a meeting with evangelist Billy Graham, asked, “Mr. Graham, do you believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ?”

Adenauer had witnessed suffering by the Germans and to the Germans during World War II and its aftermath. During Hitler’s regime, Adenauer was imprisoned for his opposition to Nazism. After the war, he assisted in the rebuilding of the depressed people of West Germany, serving as their leader from 1949 to 1963.

Graham confidently answered this pointed question, “Of course I do.”

The chancellor answered his reply with, “Mr. Graham, outside of the resurrection of Jesus, I do not know of any other hope for the world.”

Nothing compares to the resurrection of Christ in giving hope to the world and meaning to the present. Along with the cross, it is God’s answer to the problems of sin and suffering. God’s son took the worst that evil could throw at him and won.

Christ dealt with the issue of man’s sin on the cross in what the Apostle Peter described as “the just one dying for the unjust.”

The Old Testament had foretold that he would be wounded for our transgressions, have the iniquity of us all laid upon him, and heal us through his stripes. Three days later the resurrection was God’s “amen” to what Jesus had done.

The cross and resurrection also provide hope for everyone who will trust him. The perfect, innocent one was nailed to a cross, suffering the most savage form of death and humiliation known to mankind.

On that day, we see God in the hands of angry sinners. That blackest of Fridays, however, was transformed into Good Friday because of the resurrection. Therefore, God is more than able to transform our sufferings into glory.

The cross, interpreted in light of the resurrection, means that no darkness is too great for God, that no sinner is too far gone for grace, and that nothing is impossible with him. Not even the grave can have victory over Christ and his followers.

It means that Christians have hope that the blackest of nights can be overcome by the one who said, “Take courage, I have overcome the world.” And who said, “Because I live, you shall live also.”


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