Joy for Easter
Dear Friends in Christ,
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Well… it’s Easter! We’ve entered the season of rejoicing in the resurrection of God’s Son from the dead!! (As a time frame, the season of Easter will last for just over 7 weeks!) What a lengthy time for joy and rejoicing!?!
So…. Do we feel happy during these challenging days? Perhaps some of us do. Many do not. Many are struggling with isolation, an absence of health, a presence of depression, and/or other economic and spiritual difficulties of life.
These weekly messages sent out to you by mail (and email) are meant to give you words of inspiration and hope. (We know that many of you don’t get emails and don’t watch our messages/services on your computers/phones/TV).
Today’s message is about joy. It’s well timed - since we rejoice that Jesus has risen from the dead!! That’s what Easter is all about - even if we did not physically gather in a sanctuary to celebrate his rising. We’re still full of joy!
I’m starting a sermon series on love. Each Wednesday for the next 8 weeks, starting in this week after Easter, I’ll be preaching on a different way that God’s love shows up in our lives - in a different way we get to share God’s love.
This week we focus on the joy present with us, showing up as rejoicing love. Joy-love isn’t just happy-love. Joy love is a rejoicing that is present in our lives and in God’s world because God gives the strength to us - and the resources to share - to help people through the difficult circumstances that they and perhaps we are going through right now.
Pastors Linda and Joyce continue to join me in making phone calls to you. Emails are “flying” back and forth, as well in this Prairie Spirit Parish - in its remaining days as a parish - as we seek to be in touch with each other as leaders.
The new pastor for Owatonna UMC - Rev. Lisa Vick - is excited to start her tenure in a few weeks, as summer comes upon us. The leaders of Dodge Center UMC are working with Trinity Lutheran church of West Concord to plan for the new parish alignment for them. (They’ll need a bit more patience, for now.) It’s an exciting, joyful, time for us all.
I’m not sure what my future holds once I finish my time as your interim pastor. I’m working with a couple of different UMC District Superintendents in the Minnesota Annual Conference and I’m in touch with leadership in the Lutheran synods (“districts”) nearby Hastings, as well. I’ll have to (try to) be patient as I see where God is taking me next, too!
Blessings be upon you! May God’s Holy Spirit fill you with Easter joy - an expression of rejoicing love - so that you are so full of joy that you can share it with others. Please be in prayer for the future of both the UMCs of Owatonna and of Dodge Center in these crucial, joyful days of transition. It’s exciting! I can hardly wait to see what’s in store!
I know that it’s hard to be patient as we wait for the chance to be together again. I get quite stir-crazy here in Hastings in my home, too! For now, we’ll continue to stay home, stay healthy and safe and watch carefully to see God’s presence in the times spent in prayer and scripture and private times of worship, until we can be together again.
Rejoicing in service to Jesus!
Pr. Scott Jakel *Please read the letter following this page below! Thank you.
Message from Rev. Cindy Gregorson, director of ministries of the MN Annual Conference
Stay! That is the message we received again last week when Gov. Tim Walz extended his “stay at home” order. We are so ready to go! It is spring. It is Easter. It is resurrection. It is go time. But no, the call is to stay! The disciples got that message too. Do you remember? After the resurrection, when they thought it was go time, they got surprised. Jesus, who had returned, who had told them about a mission to go, said first, I am leaving, and you need to wait. You must wait for the Holy Spirit before you go or you will not be ready. So they did. They huddled in an upper room and they prayed. We don’t know how long they were there, but it probably felt like a long time to them! However, it was not wasted time. They were being prepared for what was next. They were attuning their heart to one another and to the movement of God. And when they were released from their waiting, they were indeed an unstoppable force. Our theme for Annual Conference 2020 is “Be the Light: Live Hope!” What a fitting theme for this year! This is our charge in this season of waiting and staying steady. How can we show the world what watchful, hope-filled—because we have seen and known resurrection—waiting looks like?
· It looks like giving our best to our family and tending to our own soul. We listen deeply.
· It looks like being kind to ourselves and to others because we are all just a bit irritable right now. We say thank you to all who help us stay at home, like grocery store workers and health care providers!
· It looks like leading on this mission of saving lives by staying home. We don’t make non-essential trips. We don’t cheat the system by doing just this one small gathering with others. We wear our masks in public. We use our ability to influence all of Minnesota to stay the course.
· It looks like continuing to creatively adapt to be light and hope to each other in your congregations through online prayer groups, worship, and outreach. So many more people are listening online than may have been willing to show up at our door. What an opportunity and platform we have to reach them.
· It looks like many United Methodists making many masks so that all who need one may have one.
· It looks like those who have the resources sharing with those who do not. Donate blood. Give financially to the food shelf. Keep funding the ministry of your local church in these days.
· It looks like living one day at a time, simply open, breathing deeply, and looking for the signs of the Spirit breaking in.
We can do this, Minnesota. Even more, this is our time to shine. We can let people see the power and promise of resurrection because of the way we live hope in these days. So let’s do this! We will continue to provide frequent email updates to keep you in the loop and equip you as best we can to respond to COVID-19 within your congregation and community. If you have coronavirus-related questions for us, or things you'd like us to address in future updates, please email them to email@example.com.