"Thank You for Jesus" from Iowa Annual Conference on Vimeo.
Listen to Caring Connections Podcast for April 15, 2020
“He is risen!” “He is risen indeed.” This traditional Easter greeting is one that many of our churches use on Easter morning as we greet one another in the name of the risen Christ. This past Sunday, however, we were not able to gather in person. I believe this was the first Easter Sunday of my life that I did not physically worship in a local church.
There were no processions of choir and clergy. There was no full house. There were no children in their bright new Easter clothes. There were no Easter egg hunts. And the rain seemed to encourage the gloom as hoped-for Easter plans went awry.
Yet, the power of the Holy Spirit moved across the state of Iowa, our country, and our world on Easter Sunday. Moving from the depths of despair on Good Friday to celebrating the joy of new life in Christ that Jesus offers to each one of us, we renew our commitment to be the voice, hands, feet, and heart of our risen Lord in this coronavirus world.
On Easter Sunday District Superintendent Paul Wilcox joined Pastor Jerry Avise-Rouse
from Parkersburg United Methodist Church
in the Northeast District as the entire congregation drove through the town of Parkersburg in an Easter parade. Paul decorated his car with ribbons and a soap window message of hope, “Christ is risen indeed!” Of course, the constant rain soon washed away the words and matted the ribbons, but it didn’t stop the tooting of horns to the glory of God.
At Anamosa UMC
in the East Central District, Pastor Melody Williams
is regularly sending out emails to the church family to stay connected. They’re doing Facebook Live and have added a YouTube channel to go to for worship. Members are calling shut-ins and did a car parade past their homes on Palm Sunday. Melody has also sent video messages to a few residents in assisted living through their activity coordinator.
At Rock Branch UMC in Correctionville
on the Northwest District, the church bell rings every Sunday at 8:55 a.m., right before worship begins. Pastor Barb Johnson
said that on the first Sunday they started at-home worship, their closest members, Wayne and Debi Sadler, went to church and rang the bell. They recorded it, and it’s now a part of the online service each week!
Palo UMC (East Central)
is a small congregation led by John Howerton (a local pastor). Like most people, they’re staying in touch by email, text, social media, and phone calls. At the same time, the church, Palo Fire Department, and other partners are providing free sack lunches to kids 18 and younger. The program started with 40 lunches delivered on day one and grew to over a hundred in one week
In the midst of so much that we have had to let go of over these past several months because of COVID-19, one thing remains: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
And, finally, one the most beautiful moments of Easter came when I was livestreaming the early worship service at Broadway United Methodist Church in Council Bluffs. At the end of the children’s time, the one child who was present because of social distancing, gave this prayer, “Dear God, thank you for this church. Thank you for this special day. Thank you for Jesus. Amen.”
Each one of you is making a huge difference in Iowa, in our country, and around the world by your commitment to experiment and innovate in worship, teach our children about Jesus, and reach out to all people with the love of our resurrected Lord. I invite you to keep on sending me your stories of hope to firstname.lastname@example.org
. God bless you all.