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home : religion : inspirational reflections May 26, 2020

4/4/2020 12:10:00 AM
The Easter Feeling!

Dr. Vince Hefner, Pastor
First Baptist Church, Cherryville, NC

Matthew 28:5-7 says, “The angel said to the woman, Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here: He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples.” Easter will be celebrated all around the world this week. This year is different because of the Coronavirus has us staying home, but we can still celebrate the victory Christ has won over death and the grave. It is wonderful to know that Christ gives everyone who asks the same power to overcome the pain of separation and death so that we may live each day with Him.

The ultimate purpose of Easter centers upon forgiveness: God’s desire to forgive us, our desire to accept it, our ability for us to forgive others, and the ability to forgive ourselves. Easter is a time of conquest over what scares us the most, and a time to trust in the only One who can deliver us from our trepidations.

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I want to share a story with you that doesn’t directly deal with the Easter season, but it has been on my mind recently and I hope that it brings you a blessing this holiday.

When Sherry and I were in seminary we both had to work several low paying jobs to survive. We were new parents, living in a new place, and it seemed that every day brought an unexpected challenge.

After my first year of school I was called to pastor a small church in Leggett, North Carolina. We would drive up to our church from Wake Forest every Sunday morning and return home when the service was over. It was exciting at first, but between two jobs, school, and parenting, I was beginning to wear thin, so to speak.

I had pastored in college and had some sermons stored up from that time. The bad part was I was working during college and these sermons were not as prepared as they should have been. I figured that what I lacked in lighting (substance); I would make up in thunder (being loud!). Anyway, I kept my sermons in a file, worked on them during the week and preached them on Sunday’s. However, I did not mark on them the dates that I preached them. Do you see where this story is heading? As I was preaching one Sunday morning, I had the strangest feeling that I had recently heard this same sermon. As I looked at the expressions of my congregation, they had the same look on their faces as well. Then it hit me, I had preached this same sermon a few months earlier!

After morning worship, the tradition of this church was to have Sunday School. The worst part for me was knowing I had to wait another hour before I could leave. It was such a small church that we only had one class, so I was in everybody’s class! I remember sitting on a hard-wooden pew with my head hung down while the teacher taught the class. I was too embarrassed to look up, and I wanted to quit. I was working seven days a week, going to school, and a twice warmed-over sermon was the best I could give my church. It was one of the lowest points of my young ministry.

While I was dreading for the class to be over, knowing that I would have to face my members, one of them placed his hand on my shoulder, and whispered in my ear, “Preacher, I liked it better the second time around!” No one ever mentioned it to me. They were a very loving and forgiving group of people. They were Christians.

Easter is a time to experience God’s love and forgiveness. This time in our world is the perfect time to share it. Remember, don’t give in to sin. Think about it!

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