Easter music will be celebrative

Just finished vocal ensemble practice a bit ago for Easter service next Sunday.  One song is a very upbeat black gospel number with the theme “Hosanna”.   The other is also energetic and I have been singing it for days already.  It’s called, “We are celebrating Resurrection Day.”  I always say that one of the great benefits of being in church choirs or vocal groups is that the music also fills your week.  You wake up singing it in your mind.    The words sail through your thoughts in the middle of the day.  It is uplifting.   

Our children will be literally setting our Easter celebration in motion with a choreographed number under Eva’s direction, with the assistance of her niece, Alli.   It will be cool.   We’re keeping the whole platform clear to make room for them. 

I’m also looking forward to playing a brass duet with Nick Hanggi in the Sonshine service.   We will be accompanying some of the hymns in both services too.   Richard Filmer is planning to accompany one hymn in Celebration Service with the bell tree.   Musical highlights add so much to our Easter Day.

Seder, what is it?

On the Thursday of Holy week, April 1, this year, at 7 p.m., we at Community Wesleyan will be sharing in a Christian version of the Jewish Seder.   Several have asked me what it is. 

Q.  What is a Seder?

A.  Seder means order.   The order being referred to is the order of the events at the Passover meal in Jewish households.   The meal was not simply a big family dinner.  Rather it was a highly symbolic meal completely structured for the purpose of teaching about and at the same time commemorating the Exodus.  

Q.  Why are we as Christians interested in a traditional Jewish dinner? 

A.  The reason is quite simple.    This Jewish celebration is millennia old.  God gave them instructions to begin celebrating it when they left Egypt (Ex. 12:14).    The reason we are so interested in it is that this was the commemorative meal that Jesus was leading when he instituted what we call communion or the Lord’s Supper.

Q.  What happens at a Christian Seder? 

A.   Our overall object will be to enrich our understanding of what Jesus was teaching at the Last Supper by understanding better how the sacrament of Communion is connected with the important parts of the Jewish meal during which Jesus instituted it.  For example, the Jewish Seder involves four cups of wine (we will use grape juice) at different times in the meal.  Each one symbolized a verb in God’s promise of redemption to the Jewish people (Ex. 6:6,7).   In between, are ceremonial foods also associated with the Jewish Exodus from Egypt.   The whole experience recalled that formative event in Jewish history.   However, it also very much symbolized the change that had taken place on that night, a change from slavery to freedom.    It also included elements that looked forward.   I’m sure you can see already several potential connections with what Jesus has done for us.

Q.  Will we be taking communion as a part of this service?

A.  Yes, we will.   It is a unique experience to celebrate the Lord’s Supper in the Seder setting in which it was originally instituted.  That is also why it is held on Thursday of Holy Week, traditionally the day on which we believe Jesus held the Last Supper.

 Q.  Will this be good for children to attend?

A.  Yes, I believe it will, especially children in grades 3-6 who I think will benefit greatly.  In fact, children will be asked to participate in some special ways.   Children may also taste the various ceremonial foods if their parents approve.   If they have accepted Christ for themselves, have a basic understanding of the sacrament, and if their parents approve they may partake of communion as well.

50th Anniversary Committee filling subcommittees

At their meeting Tuesday evening, the 50th Anniversary committee continued to lay the groundwork for our church’s 50th anniversary celebration.   They also celebrated completion of recent   50 4 50 ministries; such as Eric’s and Magda’s missions trip and the Children’s Great Adventure weekend.   

One of the key things currently happening is filling sub-committees.  All committees are looking for interested volunteers who have the 50th on their hearts and would like to work to help our church’s celebration be meaningful.   The six sub committees are

50th Anniversary Teams
Team Area Team Leader(s)
Promotional JoAnne Jones
History Lori Hodge
50  4  50 Ministries Pastor Eric Paashaus
Prayer Larry Nemitz
Celebration Events Mike and Pat Lamb
Funds Planning (not yet named)

 If you would like to volunteer for any of these teams, please contact the team leader or Pastor Kelvin Jones.   The more folks who are involved, the greater the celebration!

The 50th committee also is working on ideas to increase calendar coordination in our church, something we feel will be needed for a successful celebration.  If you have ideas for this or would be interested in helping with it, please talk to Pastor Kelvin.

The Forward Look

 I’m starting a new category today called ‘The Forward Look,’ a subcategory of Church Notes.  Often people ask me what kinds of things are happening in various committees at church.   Sometimes I am looking for additional ways to get info on advance plans out.   I find at times people tell me they would like to feel they are on the inside track.   In fact, I considered calling this category ‘inside track’ but felt it sounded too elitist.   I want it to be informative, not exclusive.   People who sign up for this feed can get the advance news about plans in progress without being distracted by other posts.   This new title also reminds us that as we celebrate all that God has done in the last 50 years, it is crucial that we look ahead and plan for the future under the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  I hope readers find this category helpful.

Lenten/Easter Sermon Series started

Those who study words tell us that the word Lent derives from an Old English word for spring.  But when we hear the word today, our first thought is about the season of spiritual preparation that precedes Easter in the Christian calendar.   It is a time to help us remember the events of the last weeks of Jesus’ life leading up to and including his crucifixion and resurrection.  

Traditionally, the season begins on Ash Wednesday which was Feb. 17.   However, being in a somewhat freer church tradition, I sometimes wait a week or so to get started with the corresponding sermon series as it allows a little more time for a longer sermon series in February.   This year’s Lenten/Easter sermon series will help us dig into the meanng of those events of Jesus’ last days.  It is called, “Finding Strength and Hope in Jesus’ Story” began March 7.   All messages are for both the 9 and 10:30M a.m. services except for Easter.    On that day, Apr. 4, note the special times and two different messages. 

Date Message Text
7 Mar An Unnerving Perspective From Jesus Mark 8:31-38
14 Mar An Unexpected Parable John 13:1-17
21 Mar An Unselfish Prayer John 17
28 Mar Unbelieving Betrayals  
4 Apr.  8 am Unparalleled News John 20:1-8
4 Apr.  10 am Unleashed Celebration Matt. 28:1-15

Fiftieth theme chosen

As you may know, Easter 2012 will be the 50th anniversary of the first service at Community Wesleyan Church, Kirkville.  At its planning meeting last night, the fiftieth anniversary committee chose a theme for our celebration that will become a defining theme for the next two years.   It was an energizing meeting.  Pastor Eric’s insightful and inspiring devotional from Joshua 4 started us all thinking about about how the theme could help us reflect credit back to God.  JoAnne had already suggested that the theme point to the future as well as the past.    So we put it all together in the theme, Celebrating God’s Faithfulness–Yesterday,Today and Forever.   The idea is that some events over the next two years will help us remember –Celebrating God’s Faithfulness–yesterday.  Others will be current ministries especially the 50  4  50 outreach and service ministries –Celebrating God’s Faithfulness–today.    And some elements will be preparation and planning for coming years–Celebrating God’s Faithfulness–forever.  The forever emphasis also helps us remember that what we are doing for God has eternal results.  Three key verses were identified to go with the theme; Hebrews 13:8; Joshua 4:24 and Psalm 143:5.    I believe using these themes will add direction and energy to our planning over the next two years.

Easter music preparations

It was a joy to be in Easter vocal ensemble practice Sunday afternoon as we began working toward Easter.   The high seasons of the church year are such wonderful times to sing and play instruments.   As an amateur singer, former hand-bell player and occasional trombone player, I know I feel blessed to be able to offer whatever measure of musical talent that God has given me back to him in worship.  I know others who are involved feel the same way.   Dick Filmer, who directs our bell choir and whose musicianship we all enjoy so much,  was telling me Sunday evening how he feels similarly, that what we do for services is to honor Jesus; so we should think of it not primarily as performance but primarily as worship.  I know my wife, JoAnne, who leads our vocal ensemble feels the same way.  

This year JoAnne has chosen a select group to work on a couple more difficult arrangements for Easter.   The music will take concentrated work by some of our best readers and singers.  But after our first practice, I think the results will be worth the effort.   Both pieces have a quick tempo and one has a gospel sound too.

I also had the privilege of listening in on one of the numbers the hand-bell choir is preparing for Palm
Sunday.   It uses a bell sound we have not heard yet that is fantastic; and it keeps the ringers busy too as it includes some two-in-hand in the top octave and some chime parts as well.   The overall sound is a great offering to God of a familiar hymn tune.

Preschool Sunday 2010

On February 28, 2010, we are looking forward to celebrating preschool Sunday during our 10:30 a.m. service.    Many of the boys and girls who attend Noah’s Ark Christian Preschool, both in the three yr. old and 4 yr. old classes will be there to put on a program for us and tell us about some of the things they have been learning.  I encourage lots of picture-taking too.   This year I will be sharing about the Five Love Languages for Children.   Last year it was about the third best-attended Sunday of the year.   Families usually arrive early to let the children get acclimated in their classroom and so the parents and friends can enjoy the hospitality in the Upper Room classroom upstairs in the Southwest corner of our building.

Children’s Weekend and Family Sunday

Plans are coming together for a very special weekend for our children March 5-7.   Kidz Church Director, Kim Ouderkirk is arranging for a children’s ministry couple to participate in the special events.   More details will be coming out soon.  I am excited about it.   On Sunday, March 7, Pastor Eric and I have scheduled our first Family Sunday since our new time schedule began.   We will not have children’s Sunday school that morning so children can worship with their families.  In church time we will include a children’s time especially for them,  shortening other elements to make time.  During second service we will either not have Kidz church downstairs, or only have it during the pastor’s sermon, depending on which is needed.    We want this to be a great weekend for children and for families worshiping together.