Alton Webteam: March 2016
Revd Steve Wild — The President of Conference — Easter Message:
After the Lenten fast, which with study and prayer has brought us closer to our Lord, we experience Holy Week with all the riches of the story so well known yet always fresh. As I've travelled, I'm thrilled that so many churches now make a Lenten cross out of the main trunk of the Christmas tree and decorate it with all the different symbols. There are so many resources to help us these days in our journey of discipleship.
But the glory of Easter is unsurpassed. The cry of all Christians to shout 'Hallelujah' is our birthright. We want and need more of the resurrection power and joy in the Church. Luke recording the early days of Christianity says of the first believers 'With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God's grace was so powerfully at work in them all' — Acts 4:33.
This time last year I had the great privilege of going to Portugal and being on a Holy Week mission with Bishop Sifredo and meeting our Methodist sisters and brothers in that beautiful country. We did many exciting outreach initiatives. On Easter Day I was at Aveiro Methodist Church, a thrilling place to be. We passed by a large Roman Catholic procession, children in white and the bright sun gleaming on the banners.
We Methodists are small in comparison, but each church member was invited to bring a person to Easter breakfast and the hall was full when I arrived and shared in a very hearty breakfast. The worship band and singers enabled us to worship in the glory of the risen Christ and I preached on Mary's encounter with the risen Lord — challenging the congregation to meet with him too. The silver chalices and beautiful loaf were uncovered on the table.
I had an interpreter and so my words could have been misunderstood, but I held half the bead and said: "If you want a living relationship with the risen Christ take and eat". At which point a blonde young woman got up in her pew walked down the aisle and dug into the bread weeping. She pushed the bread down her throat.
It's the strongest reaction I've ever known to someone wanting to encounter the triumphant Jesus.
A Methodist President and brilliant speaker of years past, the Revd Dr William Sangster, was found by his wife one Easter morning weeping. He had muscular atrophy and could not speak. She said: "Why are you crying Will?" He wrote on a piece of paper: 'It is Easter Day and I cannot say: "Hallelujah"'.
This Easter, with joy and love, may we all cry Hallelujah and encounter the risen Lord.
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