Easter—A Fresh Start

            I’ll begin by expressing my gratitude for the vote of support and confidence from you, the congregation, on March 20 when you elected me to be your called and installed pastor. Both Pat and I are feeling very much “at home” in Bergenfield and are thankful for the warm embrace we’ve received. In my 10+ months as your pastor, I’ve sensed a growing level of both commitment and hope in among the members and I’m eager to journey together into the future God has prepared for us.

            On Easter Sunday we read the story of Jesus’ resurrection from Mark’s gospel. The women came to the tomb with spices expecting to find a dead body—a corpse. Instead, their expectations are shattered. The tomb is empty and the story is not over—Jesus has been raised! The resurrected Jesus is on the loose, going ahead of us into our ordinary and everyday lives.

            Just as Easter is a fresh start for Jesus’ disciples, it’s also a fresh start for you and me in our journey of faith. We don’t leave Jesus on the cross. We don’t hang around the empty tomb, wondering where he’s gone. He isn’t there. He’s in Galilee where he will meet us. Jesus is out where you live, at home. So, in the upcoming weeks, we in the church are challenged to take notice of how the Risen Christ is present among us.

            One place that we can be aware of God’s presence is in the beauty and wonder of Creation. All around us is a world that we often take for granted—fresh, easily available water, clean air to breathe, abundant sunshine and gentle rains, and plants and trees and animals. All of these are a gift from God’s gracious hand that makes human life possible.

            One way to honor this gift is for the church to actively care for the environment in which we all live. Recently the Mission Committee has created a Creation Care subcommittee, which will be responsible for coordinating activities that support the good stewardship of our resources. They will oversee programs like increased paper and plastic recycling, the PAR garden on the manse property, energy efficiency in our building, promoting and protecting wildlife habitat on church property (the Manse yard is already a Certified Wildlife Habitat), encouraging creation themes in worship, and more.

            A concrete action you can take is to participate in the clean of Cooper’s Pond on Saturday morning, April 9. Together with the Bergenfield Environmental Committee, Boy Scout Troop 180, the Bergenfield Garden Club, and the Borough DPW, we will help to clean up the park that originally belonged to South Church. There is a sign up sheet in the church house if you’re interested.

            As we move into Spring and the world blossoms around us, I’m reminded of a quote form the great Reformer John Calvin, who once wrote: “The creation is quite like a spacious and splendid house, provided and filled with the most exquisite and at the same time the most abundant furnishings. Everything in it tells us of God.”