Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Fragrance of Easter

Yesterday, as I walked into a supermarket with its floral department near the front door, I encountered a fragrance that I immediately recognized.  It was the lilies—a.k.a. the “Easter lilies.”  With their strong and almost pungent odor, they are hard to miss.  To me, their fragrance is both pleasing and irritating at the same time. 

As a pastor, I’ve preached Easter services for about 25 years with a platform filled with lilies.   Sometimes their fragrance is so strong that I have practically choked in the middle of a sermon. Before heading off for our Easter services, I now normally take some Claritin (or another anti-allergy medication) and make sure I have plenty of water on hand. By the end of the second service, I am more than happy to get away from the lilies. 

On the other hand, I love their fragrance. After all, in my mind they are associated with the greatest holiday in the Christian calendar. They are a reminder of that which we celebrate this time of year: the resurrection of Jesus Christ!  The Easter lilies send forth a fragrance that time and again, speaks to many of us of the fact that death has been overcome by life; that Jesus has conquered the grave; that we who have put our faith in Christ will one day live with him!  Thus, I gladly put up with the lilies for there is the fragrance of Easter!

I pray that our lives would do the same!  That is, I hope and pray that, just as the lilies send out their fragrant reminder that Jesus is alive, your life and mine would speak that very same message to the people around us.  I am praying that, somehow, in someway, the resurrection of Jesus would become a reality to someone this Easter because of what they have caught from the way we live—what they have sensed coming out of our lives. 

But thank God…he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God.” (2 Corinthians 2:14, 15 – NLT) 

May the fragrance of our lives be strong as we declare, Jesus is alive! May our lives be the real fragrance of Easter!

Have a wonderful Resurrection Sunday! 

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, March 18, 2016

Preparing for Easter!

As some of you might imagine, much of my time has recently been spent preparing for the church’s Easter season services. As a pastor, my mind is on Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and especially Resurrection Sunday for weeks on end.  After all, Easter is one of the biggest and most important Sundays of the year for the church. Thus again, much of my time for the last six to eight weeks has been spent preparing for Easter.

For those who come from a liturgical church background, the whole season of Lent is meant to be a time of preparation; a time to help Christians prepare for the celebration of Easter.  Through personal sacrifice, times of reflection, prayer, and special services, Christians from variety of churches have been preparing themselves for Easter by trying to catch a better glimpse of the sufferings of Jesus, repenting of sin, and focusing more intently on their relationship with God.  

Of course, our preparations include not only our religious activities but as well activities that are a bit more cultural: decorating eggs, putting together Easter baskets for the children, and dressing up our homes with spring-like items. We will plan Easter dinners and possibly buy a new set of clothing. Even non-religious people will often prepare for Easter Sunday—and maybe even consider attending a church service somewhere!

Well, preparing for Easter Sunday (I prefer to say, “Resurrection Sunday”) is really nothing new.  In fact, Jesus spent much time before his death and resurrection preparing his followers for that day.  Jesus said to his disciples, “But after I have risen I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” (Matthew 26:32).  When Jesus was buried, the religious leaders said to Pilate, “We remember that while he was still alive (Jesus) said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’” (Matthew 27:63)  And, to the women who came to the tomb on Easter morning, the angel said, “He is not here. He is risen, just as he said. (Matthew 28:6 – emphasis mine) All along the way, Jesus had been preparing the people for his resurrection. Jesus had been preparing them for Easter!

We now have about one more week before Resurrection Sunday. I want to encourage you to take a bit of extra time this week to prepare yourself for that great day of celebration.  Spend some extra time in Bible reading and prayer. Make sure you attend services for Palm Sunday and Good Friday—maybe any other special services your church may host. And through it all, ask God to fill you with a renewed sense of the risen Christ at work within your life.  Let’s be prepared for Easter!

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, March 4, 2016

Do You Know Where Your Children Are?

Throughout the years we’ve all heard the question asked just before the 10 o’clock news: “Do you know where your children are?”   Well, these days I usually answer the question with a resounding, yet somewhat saddened, “NO!”  I do not know where my children are!  That’s not because I’m a bad dad (at least I like to think not). But, it’s because my children are somewhat grown and carrying on their lives outside of my home.  Currently, Jonathan is married and has his own household, Nathaniel is away at college, and Joanna is studying in Vienna, Austria. The result is, most nights a 10 o’clock, I do not know where my children are! 

Of course, this has taken some getting used to, both on my part as well as on Kim’s.  When the children were younger, we pretty much always knew where they were, especially 10 o’clock at night.  In fact, we prided ourselves on knowing where they were. However, as time has gone by and our children have become increasingly independent, the amount of time we do not know where they are has as well increased.  It’s just the way life goes as our children grow. 

On the other hand, should God be asked the question, “Do you know where your children are?” he would always answer, “Of course!”  Our heavenly Father always knows where his children are. He sees all things and he knows all things. He sees and knows the joys of our lives, the struggles we are facing, the temptations we are battling, the good that we are doing, and the sins we are committing.  He always knows where his children are! 

The Psalmist wrote, “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways…Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalm 119:1-3, 7-10 – NIV)

Remember today:  Your heavenly Father always knows where you are! May you find comfort and strength in that thought. 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris