Alright y’all. There is funky news EVERYWHERE. I can handle it every once in a while, but it seems like that’s all I am seeing. And I get it. It’s frightening. This is a crazy time. People are locked up in their homes and are full of fear. It makes sense that the collective anxiety level all over would be so high. It makes sense. But this is what the church is for. This is what the good news is for. So let’s talk about what’s NEXT. Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are coming and the latter of the two is particularly tough for those of us already knee deep in death. BUT this is EASTER week and we are an EASTER people! LOTS of folks saying worst week ever for Easter. Like, Pastor, why don’t we just postpone it until we can get together again? It’s all so dreary right now! BUT, CHURCH. There is no better time to celebrate being an Easter people then when it feels like we’re in a never-ending Good Friday. We need it right now, maybe more than ever. The thing is, EVERY Sunday for us is Easter, this one just happens to be celebrated a little more. Palm Sunday just happened and we celebrated Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Jesus came to us in a very unexpected way, on a donkey as a humble servant. NOW, right now, Jesus is coming to us in unexpected ways again. Like the nurse friend down the street from me that just jumped in her car and headed to New York to serve patients there. JESUS COMES. Like the neighbor who dropped off a meal for the poor and elderly. JESUS COMES. Like YOU staying home to flatten the curve of the virus spreading. JESUS COMES. And then we’ll read about JESUS, on Sunday, who rose from the dead. The tomb is STILL EMPTY church and that promise goes for us too. Isaiah 43:19 I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. God is always up to beauty in the midst of chaos and resurrection in the midst of death. SO, let’s talk about what’s next. How do we live beyond this craziness? How do we adapt to the new normal now and what will the new(er) normal look like after? 1. Let’s be looking for Jesus everywhere (see above about Palm Sunday) 2. Let’s rethink church a bit. We can stop calling what we’re doing virtual or alternative church, and call it what it is… it’s CHURCH. 3. Start being an Easter people at home. Church was never intended to JUST be in the gathering. Church is as much about the GOing as it is the GATHERing. So, just like John Krasinski and his new show Some Good News (which if you haven’t seen it, you should watch it IMMEDIATELY following reading this article) let’s share some good news: 1. Christ Lutheran is still serving and reaching others! + Online worship has had a farther reach than any of our services.. ever. + McPIE was highlighted for changing their ministry and caring for the world around us. + Buckets overflowed with can donations at all campuses as we feed the needy amongst us! + People were able to safely serve at the Food Bank to keep families fed around us. + The quilters are making masks to help with those who need but can’t find one! + Small group Zoom calls are taking the place of in person prayer gatherings. (and this list just barely scratches the surface!) 2. CLC has always been forward thinking, risk taking and we will continue to be. We are right now working as hard as we can to continue to vision the church of the future. This staff is hard at work - relearning our jobs and re-envisioning our future. One “risk” we took this week was to be amongst the first congregations to offer virtual communion. It was well received across the board and those families that opted not to shared a beautiful blessing in its place! Be blessed church and enjoy this beautiful Holy Week. Easter, for an Easter people. Here are a few of the messages and pics we received: “When you mentioned having communion at home and what it would be like, I decided that I needed to have an altar. I made one on my dining room table… You leading us in communion and blessing the bread and wine was very emotional for me! I always see the presence of God in your face but more so today! As Ed and I served each other communion, it was what I had hoped it would be. We felt the power and comfort of God, knowing God is with us! What a beautiful feeling!” “We worshiped as a family and did the blessing bowl offering forgiveness to each other. It was actually really overwhelming and beautiful!” “Jamie and I administered communion to each other today and it brought me to tears...very powerful. Thank you for your guidance in this unusual time.” “Virtual communion was more moving that I anticipated - even for just one. It seemed to make me concentrate more on the service. Online worship has been a challenge in the past for me. It was remarkable today. Thank you.” “For those of us raised in the tradition of the sacrament, thanks be to God to share this together even if we are not in the same physical place.” Brothers and Sisters, what’s next? Well, Jesus is still showing up. The promise of resurrection isn’t changed. Hope still is stronger than fear. And GOD WINS. So what’s next? I can’t wait to see! God of life, grace, mercy, providence, and love, heal us, Hosanna! Inspire your church as we go forward to be your church, to be the gospel. We are an Easter people in an Easter deficit world. Use us in the name of Jesus. Amen!!