Surprise! Just when we thought winter was over and spring was here, April fooled us with some more snow on April 2. Surprise! Just when we thought Jesus was dead in the tomb, God raised him to new life! This is the surprising good news we celebrate, not just on Easter Sunday, but every Sunday. God’s amazing love triumphs over sin and death and offers us new and abundant life here and now. And we know that spring will break through just as God’s new life breaks into this world with the good news of Easter.

The Easter story we focused on this year was in the Gospel of Mark. The women found a young man where Jesus’ body was expected to be. Not only did the young man tell them that Jesus was risen, he also told them that Jesus would meet them and the disciples in Galilee. He was going to appear to them again, just as he promised he would. The story in Mark ends with one further surprise – the women fled from the tomb and said nothing to anyone because they were afraid. Jesus’ promise remains only a promise. The story doesn’t go on to tell us the rest of the story, and for good reason. Mark wants not only the women on that first Easter but also anyone who reads his gospel – that means you and me – to leave the story and to go and meet Jesus in Galilee. We too may flee at first, because we are afraid or maybe we don’t believe or the news is too overwhelming. But our response doesn’t change Jesus’ promise to meet us in our lives and show us his new life and what it means for our own lives, our church and our ministry.

The opportunity of this Easter story is the same opportunity our Ministry Development Team presented to us in February at our Annual meeting. The MDT didn’t tell us every little thing that we must do next. They gave us a colorful map, a blueprint for ministry, which reflected what they heard from us in our many conversations about our vision and future as a church. Or, as the Easter story would say it, they gave us a promise that we will meet Jesus in the ministry ahead of us. The question that the story and the map asks us is this, “How will we prepare ourselves to meet God in our life and ministry together and to share God’s life-giving, transforming presence with others and this world God loves?” We are not simply asking what we want to do 10 years from now. We are asking, “What do we need to do – how do we need to grow our faith and involvement, possibly restructure our ministry, repair and upgrade our facility to be ready to meet Jesus during the next 10 years of ministry?”

At its March meeting, the Session took action to live into that question by hiring Tom Norwood of Horizons Stewardship to help us discern how best to act on the MDT’s report and to live into the map and God’s future for us. One of the first steps is to do a feasibility study in which Tom will help us assess the levels of commitment to our ministry goals and what we can do as a church to repair, upgrade and remodel in our facility. Tom’s feasibility study is the next step from the listening work of the MDT. For example, the MDT’s work showed us that Radical Hospitality is a core value in who we are and how we live our mission through our ministry together. But we cannot do that without a healthy building and an active membership.

Stay tuned for more information on this exciting time in the life of our church. We look forward to your prayerful participation as we live into God’s surprising good news of new life for all.

See you in church,