March 26, 2016
Dear Eastridge Family,
Yesterday was Good Friday, the day when Christ suffered and died. Today is Holy Saturday and Sunday is Easter! These three days represent the apex of Christianity’s defining story – that God came to us in Jesus, he suffered and died, descended to the dead and rose from the grave, defeating hell and sin and death.
A question that is often asked is this: “What did Jesus do after his death and before his resurrection. Where did he go?”
The most common first century Jewish understanding of what happened at death was that the soul of the deceased went to the underworld – to Sheol – the place of the dead (in Greek this place was called Hades). All the dead went there, but within Sheol there were thought to be two regions – Paradise where the righteous dead dwell awaiting the Final Judgment and Gehenna, a place of punishment where the unrighteous dead await the same final judgment. There are a host of different ideas and theories that swirled around these concepts. But you can see them in Jesus’ parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus where the rich man dies and is in a place of suffering, but he can see across a chasm to where Lazarus, the poor man, is being comforted in the bosom of Abraham. We see it too when Jesus says to the thief on the cross, “today you will be with me in Paradise.”
The Church has historically taught that Jesus died and descended to the realm of the dead just like anyone else does and that during that time he preached the good news to those who were in the realm of the dead. This is called the “harrowing of hell” (hell being the name often used in the past for the realm of the dead, encompassing both Paradise and Gehenna). I Peter 3:19-20 is often seen as referring to Christ’s proclaiming the good news to those in the realm of the dead.
We cannot know for sure what Christ was doing during those hours between his death and resurrection, but this is the traditional answer to the question.
· Easter Offering
The Easter Offering is for the World Evangelism Fund (WEF). Traditionally, WEF is collected through two large offerings each year “the Thanksgiving and Easter offerings.” The Nazarene Church has always had a strong history of supporting missions through their generous giving through these offerings.
The law of harvest states that you may not reap when and where you sow—but you will always reap what you sow. As we prepare to give to this offering, remember it will come back to you (Luke 6:38) and the Lord…will bless you in everything Deuteronomy 15:10.
· Easter Sunday March 27th
We will start our day with a Continental Breakfast at 9:00 AM – 9:45AM. Followed by our Easter Service at 10:00 AM. We will have Children’s Church as normal followed by our EASTER EGG HUNT.
The reason we have scheduled these special activities like Easter Egg hunt and Breakfast is to create an opportunity for us to invite unchurch friends and family to expose them to God’s people or to give them a “nudge” towards Jesus. These activities are not designed to give us something to do. So even if you do not have children who will be participating in the Easter Egg Hunt you may consider staying around to meet new people and show the love of Jesus to them. Your first choice may not include having breakfast at the church but if we look at it from the perspective as an opportunity; an opportunity to visit with guest visitors why not come?
· Favorite Quotes of the Week
“Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, we have to see it as something done by us." - John R.W. Stott
[The resurrection] remains the center around which all else is moving, from which all comes, and to which all is leading. - Karl Barth
“When Jesus rose from the grave He created a whole new race of people, not defined by color but defined by His blood” – Derwin Gray
Eternity is already in session. - Dallas Willard
“Children learn to smile from their parents." - Shinichi Suzuki
I am so looking forward to celebrating together on Easter,