Beloved Church-in-the-Garden Family & Friends,
I write to you in the empowering spirit of our risen Savior Jesus Christ. In this month of Resurrection remembrance and celebration which leads us into Pentecost, I trust that all are in reflection and rejoicing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ’s sin conquering atonement. What Christ did for humanity should embolden all who believe in Jesus Christ into a greater sense of community and love for all humankind.
In this Resurrection season, I want to challenge us to deal with what a resurrected Savior means for us as Christ followers. This month we will be exploring the implications of the Resurrection and “After the Resurrection” as we navigate our lives and dare to be witnessing Christians in the world. To be sure, we must come to terms with what it means to serve a risen Savior and to have an experience with Christ in a world that knows not Christ and wrestles against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12).
Will we be the followers of a risen Christ who are working on our own spirituality and personal devotion to our Lord? Will we be the followers of a risen Christ who work to establish peace, to hold our civic leaders and representatives to the cause of peace? Will we be the followers of a risen Christ who stand up, speak out, and act to ensure that we have police reform so that unarmed Black men are not shot down by those who are paid to serve and protect? Will we be the followers of a risen Christ who register to vote to take agency in the change they want to see in our neighborhoods, cities, states, and country? Will we be the followers of a risen Christ who fight for justice and the right of all of humankind to have liberty, quality healthcare and education, clean water and environments? Will we be the followers of a risen Christ who work for the poor, the oppressed, the lonely, left out, and least of society? Will we be the followers of a risen Christ who now are given the authority and the great commission by Jesus Christ to empower the world through love and making Christ known? I submit that we as believers of Christ can do nothing less than these because this is what Christ taught, lived, and commanded us to do.
This month, I hope all of us will take some time to read from the canon of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr (particularly his later writings). As we remember his assassination 50 years ago earlier this month, and reflect on the truth that he preached and his precise and prescient analysis and critique of the strange and absurd situation of America, we can still glean insight, truth, and solutions to the lingering problems that affect America today.
A great legal mind and friend of mine reminded me how young Dr. King and many of the leaders and participants in the Civil Rights movement were when they took up the mantle of change. As we look now at our country, the activism of the youth in Parkland, the Black Lives Matter movement, DREAMers, #TimesUp, and other movements are chiefly birthed by the younger generations. These movements, just like the Civil Rights movement, are the bellwethers of our day. Those who want to practice their faith should examine these movements or whatever cause or issue that you feel strongly about and live out your faith through active engagement in these communities of change.
These past couple of weeks, I have been blown away with what God is doing in the midst of our congregation. We have had people accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior and join our church as candidates for Baptism. I cannot fully express my sincere joy and gratitude to God for the abundant blessings and moves that are occurring in our church. As pastor, when people decide to give their life to Christ and become part of this fellowship of kindred hearts and mind, it is a humbling experience and one that challenges me to continually improve as a pastor. More importantly, it serves as a boost for our congregation and encourages us to spread the message of Jesus Christ more and more. Congratulations to our newest members! Heaven is celebrating that more have come back to the fold of God.
Lastly, I want to encourage all that are able to come to church on Sunday mornings at 10am. At the Church-in-the-Garden you will find spirit-filled singing and worship. We are blessed Sunday after Sunday to have people who feel called to minister through song. Our congregation is on fire for the Lord and the atmosphere for worship is generated by the Holy Spirit operating in the lives of eager believers in Christ. So come and worship with us! I will be glad to welcome you personally. Remember: The Garden is Open to All!
Rev. Earl Y. Thorpe Jr.