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Ministers' messages

April 22, 2000|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Tri-State area ministers and priests took pages from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in preparing Easter Messages for today saying the resurrection of Jesus is a call for Christians to think about a renewal of their own lives.

"Easter is God's triumph over all of the things we humans believe are final, things we have no escape from, like death," said the Rev. Stan Jones, a priest at Trinity Episcopal Church in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

Trinity Episcopal brought back an old tradition this year with Baptism following the Holy Saturday Easter Vigil, Jones said. Saturday night three babies were baptized by the Rev. John Henry Smith, retired Episcopal bishop of West Virginia.

"Trinity hasn't done this in decades," Jones said.

Father Chris Moore at St. Joseph Catholic Church at 17628 Virginia Ave., Hagerstown, said the focus of his sermon today will be that Easter means not only Jesus has risen, but his followers also share a new life.

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"The Scriptures speak for themselves. We all get to rise with Him," Moore said.

Members of Bunker Hill Presbyterian Church in Bunker Hill, W.Va., will hear a sermon entitled "At the Tomb" by Pastor John Harris. He takes his theme from a 10-day pilgrimage he and his wife, Vicki Moss, made in March to the Holy Land.

They visited both places where Jesus was believed to have been laid in the tomb - in the garden tomb and in the Church of the Sepulcher.

"We went to both and Jesus wasn't there," Harris said. "Just like the Angel at the tomb told the women that Jesus wasn't there. He said he was in Galilee, but they didn't find Him there either.

"If we find Him anywhere, it will be in the sacraments, in the Baptism, in the Lord's supper, in the New Testament, in the Christian community and, most importantly, in our hearts," Harris said.

Pastor Henry Lewitz of the Battlefield Bible Church on the Sharpsburg Pike in Fairplay said Easter is "always a glad day for those who believe in the resurrection of the Lord." He said he, too, would share the gospel story of Mary Magdalene who was the last to leave the cross on Good Friday and the first to go to Jesus' tomb on Easter morning.

The Rev. Richard McGough, pastor of the Hagerstown Church of Christ on Leitersburg Pike, calls his sermon "How Much Does God Care for Me?"

"The resurrection and Easter shows that God cared enough to reveal himself to me, to rescue me and to relate to me. He wants to have a relationship with all of us," McGough said.

Dean M. Miller, pastor at the Hagerstown Church of the Brethren at 15 S. Mulberry St., takes his message from Mark. He calls it "Now You See Him, Now You Don't." It's about the women's visit to the tomb where they heard the angel say that Jesus was not there, but in Galilee.

"I relate Galilee to the arenas of where we now live, at the mall, in school, at work, at the kitchen table," Miller said.

Neville West is pastor at the Glen Furney Assembly of God Church on Old Forge Road in Waynesboro, Pa. His sermon follows Christ's journey from the cross to the tomb.

"For the disciples, Jesus' death meant gloom. For us it is glory because He returned," West said. "We always have to remember that we live on the resurrected side of Calvary."

West has been ordained for 39 years. He's written too many Easter sermons to count, but says he always manages to come up with something.

"I love the tradition and beauty of it," he said.

The members of Grace Baptist Church on N. Grant St., Waynesboro, will hear a message based on the Colissians and the Corinthians delivered by Pastor John F. Huff. Huff said if a man lives in Christ he becomes a new creation with a new way of thinking. If he rises with Christ he is raised to a new standard and a new way of living.

"Why Are You Weeping" is the theme for the Rev. Stacy Crawford's sermon at the First United Methodist Church in Greencastle, Pa.

"The Christian faith is about joy, optimism and hope," Crawford said. "We often go around with a long face, depressed, dissatisfied and disenchanted, and yet we have everything we need in Christ. He's there.

"We're just not looking up because we're too caught up in unimportant things," he said. "We have no reason to weep because we have the resurrection."

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