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Easter sermons

April 01, 2002|BY ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

As he rode around town a few weeks ago, the Rev. Jay Zimmerman's eye fell on a peculiar sight inside a garbage truck.

Zimmerman, the pastor of Christ United Methodist Church in Waynesboro, Pa., said he saw a potted plant on the seat in the cab.

The plant seemed out of place, but it struck him as gorgeous.

That seedling of an idea led to today's Easter sermon: "Amid the Trash."

The beauty of the plant was a strong contrast to the ugliness of the refuse.

In the same way, light and hope emerged from shattered hearts when Jesus Christ was resurrected after his death, Zimmerman said.

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Having now written 25 Easter sermons, "I'm always looking for new ways to walk around the diamond and look at new facets of it," Zimmerman said.

The Rev. David Schlicher found inspiration in plate tectonics.

The Gospel of Matthew talks about an earthquake in its description of the Resurrection.

"Resurrection is acting as an earthquake within our lives and within the world," said Schlicher, the pastor at Church of the Holy Trinity United Church of Christ in Halfway.

Schlicher planned to mention last week's earthquake in Afghanistan in his sermon "Earthshaking!" and how "the power of evil has been torn down."

The biblical earthquake, however, is probably metaphorical, "more of a sign of God's way," Schlicher said.

In a sunrise service today at Antietam National Battlefield, the Rev. Thomas Hartshorn planned to keep Jesus in the present in his sermon, "Where Did He Go?"

"I talk about the Christ Event, as opposed to Jesus' Resurrection," said Hartshorn, pastor of Christ Reform United Church of Christ in Sharpsburg and Martinsburg, W.Va. "The Resurrection is a historical event. The Christ Event is something that lives on today."

Hartshorn said the Christ Event manifests itself in big ways, such as Martin Luther King Jr.'s civil rights success, or in ordinary ways, such as parents' daily care for their children.

"It's also in the lives of our enemies," Hartshorn said. "Jesus commands us to love our enemies. That's a tough commandment to do when they blow up your buildings and threaten you with anthrax. But people of faith have to believe it's in the battlefields and in the caves of Afghanistan.

"Just how that happens is a mystery."

The Rev. Devin B. Ward, senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Inwood, W.Va., wanted a simple, straightforward message. He chose 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, which explains that Jesus died, was buried and rose again.

The reason for the holiday should be emphasized, said Ward, whose sermon is called "The Gospel."

Today's sermon at St. Ann's Episcopal Church in Smithsburg - "Would You Believe That Woman?" - is the first in The Rev. Elaine Prince's Resurrection series.

"That woman" is Mary Magdalene.

"She was the first to see the risen Lord," Prince said.

At that time, women were not credible witnesses, but, eventually, people believed her.

"This is Jesus' way of lifting the role of women," Prince said.

The following two Sundays, Prince will talk about doubting Thomas and Peter.

The Rev. John Hoffman of Maugansville Bible Brethren Church in Maugansville also focused on Mary Magdalene in his sermon, "From Darkness to Light."

In John 20, Mary Magdalene came to Jesus' tomb in the darkness.

When she saw Jesus alive, he was bathed in light.

"When we accept Jesus in our lives as our savior," Hoffman said, "there will be great light."

At St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Smithsburg, the Rev. Mark Mooney hopes to share his enthusiasm for spring. His sermon is titled "Get All Excited - Go Tell Everybody!!!"

Spring brings college basketball's Final Four and Major League Baseball's Opening Day, which are important for sports fans, said Mooney, who is one of them.

It also brings new faces. Mooney said seven members will be received in the church today.

"But the most exciting thing about Easter," Mooney wrote in an e-mail summarizing his sermon, "is that the Resurrection story didn't end with Jesus - it began - and continues with us, as we live Resurrection lives today," he said.

"God loves us. We are not alone. Now isn't that something worth getting excited about?"

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