Sunday Services at 10 a.m.
Welcome to Rye Congregational Church
Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. (I Corinthians 14:20)
At the near end of an exceptionally mild New England winter (the winter of our content, shall we say?), with the morning sun pouring down on the Rye Congregational Church, I wish you joy this day in happy anticipation of an early springtime and the miracle of Easter. (Pay no mind to this morning’s weather forecast for up to a foot of snow by Sunday evening).
Christ has risen! That reality has cast its light across the shadows of death and has forever altered the way we see death and experience it. My first encounter with death was the passing of my paternal grandmother, Alice. I viewed a dead body in the casket for the first time and saw people mourning in a group for the first time. It made an enormous impression on me. I was also very attuned to the words of Scripture as they were read at the funeral service and graveside. They made an indelible mark upon my mind and soul. I am grateful, because though it was the first, it would not be the last I would see of death. These Words, conveying that Hope casts a light into the darkest corners of this world.
Easter lilies, the scent of flowers in general, evoke these memories in me to this day and cause me to overflow with gratitude to God for the faith He has given me which is a light for me in this world, giving me confidence and meaning with every forward step I take. At this time of year especially, Linda and I are reminded of our dear mothers and the recent loss of her father, filling Easter with new meaning and new hopes.
What God has given us in Christ is everything beautiful that we have ever known but failed to understand. With the loss of everything, each in its turn (for God alone is eternal) — with the loss comes a fuller understanding of what we had and, strangely, only with the loss can we fully appreciate what was ours for a time. In Christ all beautiful things are given to us again, re-deemed, as they say. Our loved ones, our very lives, and the world itself will be re-made in the image of God with no trace of sin or decay or death. I will see my grandmother again, my own mother, and my many friends with whom I have traveled along life’s path — some of whom are very dear to me — I will see them again.
And I will see His face, as soon as I can wipe the tears of joy from my eyes and summon the strength to rise from his feet where I will, no doubt, lay prostrate in humble adoration for many lifetimes reckoned by the span of my time on this earth. No matter — His feet, with those scars — it will be a very long time before I will want to look at anything else. Then I want to sing — as soon as the huge lump is gone from my throat — I want to sing of the marvels of His love, the wonders of His love.
In His Love,
The Preacher in the Rye