Easter Sunday is one of those holidays that we celebrate on the actual day. What I mean is that if the events of Holy Week were to occur in 2022, then Jesus would have gone into Jerusalem to eat the Passover meal with his disciples on Thursday, April 14. He would have been arrested in the wee hours of Friday, April 15. Then as the sun rose that Friday he would have been convicted and sentenced to death by crucifixion. He would have been hung on the cross that day, died and laid hastily in the tomb before sundown Friday. Then Sunday morning, April 17, the women would have come to the tomb to find the stone rolled away and the angel messengers telling them – “He is risen!”

Christians gather on Sunday to worship together because that is the day that Jesus rose from the dead. Easter Sunday or Resurrection Sunday is THE Sunday of Sundays!
This will be my 25th Easter celebrated with the Mount Carmel Christian Church. While every Easter has been special, I have to confess this one has been particularly special. After the last two years, where so much has changed in our world, it was good to be present with a crowd in the new ways that we gather. Easter 2020 we gathered online. Easter 2021 we gathered online and onsite, with most gathering online. This Easter we gathered online and onsite, with most gathering in person onsite. According to my count we had 1345 men, women, and children gather to celebrate Jesus alive onsite and 445 (we use a formula to translate “views” into participants) online. That makes a total of 1790! We also had 238 come to remember Good Friday onsite with 117 online! It was so very good to see so many faces! Faces that were new, faces that had not been seen recently and faces that we see every week. It was so good to witness the Mount Carmel family share their God gifts in service from our greeters and First Touch team, children’s ministry teams, worship tech teams, and musicians to security. And to top it all we had three baptisms!
This Easter has reminded me that the work of Jesus is not over. He is still calling us to do our part in the Father’s family business. Jesus’ mission to make disciples continues today.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)

This Easter reminded me that the church is God’s idea. The church is a work of the Holy Spirit. It is not for us to create or re-create or come up with a winning strategy. It is for us to follow His lead and be faithful to His directives. To be the church as Jesus intended.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common.  They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,  praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47 (NIV)

This Easter reinvigorated me in my commitment to do my part in this work of God called the ministry at Mount Carmel. It has reaffirmed the simple measures that we have set for evaluating the work: Baptisms, Participation in Bible-based groups and Generous living.

Jesus told his followers to go into the world and baptize. That means share the good news message with those who will listen so that they might say “yes” to accepting Jesus as Savior (Forgiver) and Lord (Leader). Baptism is the occasion by which that faith response is finalized. Did I mention we had three baptisms on Easter Sunday!

Participation in Bible-based groups is our commitment to the second part of the great commission. The part that says ‘and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…’ We learn to follow Jesus by walking with others who are following Jesus. We learn to live God’s Word in life, by walking with others who teach and encourage us how to live by God’s Word. We have a saying, “Live and Learn scripture”. That is the purpose of our small groups, bible studies and seminars. It is the reason why we do our 1W3 discipleship groups. It is the reason why we believe Children’s and Student Ministry is family ministry where the discipleship of children is led by parents. It has been so good to be doing our all-church study these past months in small group. It has been so good to see life change happening in our 1W3 groups. Easter was a testimony to the investment in the small. The small groups meeting to participate in learning scripture. Small groups going strong in the Word of God going slow at the pace of relationship.

Generous living is more than giving money, although giving money is an expression of it. Generous living is the inevitable result of God at work in the lives of people. In Jesus we have value and we have value to give. That value to give is the many God gifts he entrusts to us to bless others. Easter week was a showcase of generous living. Members of the Mount Carmel family serving to bless others, carrying others’ burdens, encouraging the downcast, counseling the bewildered, laughing with joy with those low in spirit.

It was good to celebrate Jesus alive with my Mount Carmel Christian Church family. Number 25 was a special one for me. I am grateful to God for His kindness. I am humbled to be able to serve with you. He is Alive!