From Our Pastor

Easter Week Events

Posted 23 March, 2017 by Pastor Keith Ritchie

As we worship this Sunday, scripture from John chapter 9 is before us. In this scripture, Jesus heals a man who has been blind all his life. While we believe this is reason to celebrate, we find this healing miracle brings only trouble to the one who is healed. Many thanks to Doris Falls for her wonderful artwork capturing this story as found in our Lenten Devotional.

As the Worship Committee of the church meets this afternoon, we will speak to the services yet before us in this season of Lent. These are powerful and inspiring services; I pray you plan to take part in them. Palm Sunday is April 9th and both Children's Choirs will sing at 11am. That afternoon, the Chancel Choir, accompanied by a chamber ensemble from the Roanoke Symphony, will present John Rutter's Requiem. April 13th is Maundy Thursday, so we will remember Jesus' Last Supper as we worship. On April 14th, Good Friday, we will share in the Good Friday "Crosswalk" with Wesley Memorial UMC at noon. We will also host a service in our sanctuary at 7pm that evening. On Easter morning, we will hold a sunrise service in the front of the church at 7am, then worship the risen Christ in the sanctuary at 11am.

Again, I pray you take part in these services of worship in the upcoming weeks. God meets us in gracious and memorable ways as we do so. I also encourage you to participate in the "Closer" service on Thursday nights, in a time of prayer as the sanctuary is open from noon until 1pm each Wednesday, and the study of "Creed" each Tuesday.

Regardless of the season of the church year, the church at one time or another touches practically every area of our lives. I am reminded of that again today.

Last Sunday, we had the great joy of receiving new members into this community of faith as Paul and Margie Eason came forward and pledged themselves to the support of God and this church. As we shared in this joyous occasion, we experienced again how God gives life to his church. Earlier this week, I received the sad news of the death of Gene Knight. Gene, along with her late husband Tom, had supported First UMC faithfully for many years. Tomorrow, we will claim the promise of resurrection as we remember Gene in a service of worship. This coming Sunday, following the 11am service, we are invited to celebrate the 90th birthday of the wonderful and faithful Betsy Gravely!

Again, I see in this week how God touches us through the life of his church, as we all affirm our faith and welcome new life into this community; as we know the loss of a loved one and gather to worship and remember; as we celebrate special occasions with great friends. In all of this, we know the grace and presence of God in all this.

Is there any place else like the church? I have said before, and I will say again: the church is life-saving. As we find our place within this body of Christ, we find ourselves in the presence of the God whose promise is to be with us always - in life, in death, and on every day in between. I look forward to worshipping this God with you soon.