Sunday, April 5, 2015

Resurrection Sunday

Each year the highlight of Resurrection Sunday for me is our sunrise service. Our church is highly favored in that we have a beautiful campus that borders the Harpeth River and the sunrise service is held in field just a few feet from the river. I like to wake up very early to get there as the band sets up. This year was no exception except that I woke up very, very early… 4am… for  a service that doesn’t start until 6:30!! So I did what any man does when he has unplanned time on his hands, I turned on the television! I was just in time to catch the Easter Mass from St. Peter’s  Square. As I listened to the Pope recite the Mass with tens of thousands there, it occurred to me that the basic form of the Mass was described by Justin nearly 2000 years ago.  The majesty of that  ancient service in that ancient place with thousands of people, my brothers and sisters, overwhelmed me and brought tears to my eyes.

But then it was time for me to go “down by the riverside” to worship. As I backed out of the driveway, I marveled at the beautiful full moon lighting the country landscape behind our home. It took me back to a time several years ago when I was in a Ugandan village that was literally at the end of a cow path. There were no lights, no tv’s, no radios, just the sound of a thousand East African Christians who for two days, night and day, sang songs worshipping the same God that was praised in St. Peter’s. These Africans, most first generation Christians, praised with a fervor and a passion that was overwhelming. The memory of that night and the next morning still moves me years later.

So after a moonlit drive I finally got “down by the riverside” where I watched the mist rising on the Harpeth River and the sun coming over the horizon. Slowly around 800 or 900 of my closest friends came down and waited with me for it all to begin. I would think that the tradition of a service like we experienced is only a couple of hundred years old. The “liturgy of the service was to sing good  old Southern songs like “When the roll is called up Yonder”, “I’ll Fly Away” and other songs best sung to the accompaniment of banjo’s and guitars. All this was followed by a fine sermon culminating in an altar call to which about 10 or 15 people responded and changed their eternal destiny. It was  a great start to the Sunday celebrating Christ’s resurrection.

So what’s the point here. These separate experiences are a reminder that today 2 billion people celebrated the resurrection of the same Jesus in a variety of equally valid ways and despite their differences they are all our brothers and sisters. In a time when Christians are under attack all,over the planet it is even more important to celebrate our unity in Christ!

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