4/15 - Pastor's Post
On April 16 we celebrate Easter; certainly the most joyous day in the church year. I'm sure that most everyone can remember one or more Easters that were especially meaningful and which they look back on as defining their faith in the risen Christ in a way that is still with them today.
 
For me that special Easter was back in the 60s. I was in 9th grade and active in the youth group in our congregation, Zion Lutheran Church in Leola, PA. The church traditionally conducted an Easter sunrise service outside, across the street in the Trumbauer Memorial Cemetery, named for Zion's founder and first Pastor.
 
In that particular year it was decided to have the youth conduct the sunrise service. We did everything in it but the Meditation. And here's where I could have come in. Our Pastor, the Rev. Ralph R. Gresh, D.D., who was a great preacher and who always was present at our youth group meetings, had encouraged us in our planning and said, "I would be very glad if one of you would do the Meditation."
 
really wanted to volunteer for that job! But then I asked myself, "who am I to stand up in front of all those people and pretend to preach?" In addition, we had two announced candidates for the ministry in our midst: a senior, who indeed went on to attend Gettysburg Seminary, and an eighth grader, who later attended Southern Seminary. I was the maverick: unbeknownst to all, including Dr. Gresh, I considered from time to time the possibility that God might be calling me into the ministry.          
 
Be that as it may, I did not volunteer to do the Meditation, but neither did anyone else. I did the Prayer of the Church. Dr. Gresh did the Meditation. I can still hear the scripture text on which it was based today, as it rang through the cemetery that early April morning: "Because I live, you shall live also." Three months later, he went to be with his Lord, felled in his mid-sixties by a massive heart attack. And those words, spoken with such conviction, carried me through the sorrow connected with the loss of such a great friend and mentor, and I often find comfort in them today.
            
However, one member of our youth group unwittingly did do a Meditation of sorts. She said the invocation, which went something like this: "Christ is risen. Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Christ is risen. Alleluia!"
            
Those words, too, have remained with me through the many intervening years since that memorable service in Trumbauer Cemetery. I guess that's why the recent fuss over discoveries in the alleged tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher has not interested me that much. I don't base my faith on relics or monuments or tombs, but in a living Lord. Because there really is no tomb of Jesus: he is alive today. The experience of countless Christians attests to this fact. "Because I live, you shall live also. Why look for the living among the dead?" That's one of the basics of our Christian faith. End of discussion.
            
I hope Easter this every year will be memorable for us, and serve to strengthen our faith in the Risen One. As the great Easter chorale by Martin Luther proclaims: "Christ Jesus lay in death's strong bands, for our offenses given; but now at Gods right hand he stands, and brings us life from heaven. Therefore let us joyful be, and sing to God right thankfully, loud songs of hallelujah! Hallelujah!
 
Pastor John Schweitzer
Last Published: April 15, 2017 8:59 PM
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