Dear Friend in the Faith,
I send greetings in the name of our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I want to wish a blessed and joyous Easter to you and yours.
I typically approach Resurrection Sunday with a sense of anticipation each year. Yet, when it comes to Easter Sunday over the years, I have had a difficult time remembering a sermon I heard on Easter Sunday. It is other things that I remember more. Throughout my childhood, I recall other memories at the periphery of Easter worship. I recall choirs singing “the Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s famous oratorio, “Messiah”. I recall large, floral crosses where my family would take pictures after Easter Sunday services in front of the church. I remember taking home Easter lilies to my grandmother.
Concerning my memories of hearing the Gospel during Holy Week, the messages that do come to mind for me around Easter time, actually occurred on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday, transporting me to the Upper Room, the Garden of Gethsemane, or to Calvary. I believe this means my soul, through faith, understood what my eyes would often fail to see. The most important part of Easter is not necessarily Easter itself, but what comes before and what comes after. The rich context of Christ’s Passion before and his resurrection appearances following give the empty tomb of Easter meaning.
The cross of Christ marks a moment of transition in our lives from darkness into light; from despair into hope; and even from past into the future. What comes during the transition is sacrifice. The cross of Christ represents the ultimate act of sacrifice based upon the selfless, redeeming love of Christ. When I think about us, First United Methodist Church, as a community of faith, I give thanks for the countless hours offered sacrificially in mission and service in the name of Jesus. I feel that God is bearing fruit through these efforts.
I see fruit in many endeavors. Enclosed in this letter is a document called “Vision and Impact 2022” that shares the fruit we already harvested in 2021 as well as the fruit we anticipate harvesting in 2022.
All of this fruit is born from the toil and sacrifice on the part of servants like yourself, following in the cross-bearing footsteps of Christ. I hope you might consider honoring the sacrifice of our Lord that leads to new life and resurrection by offering yourself in one or more of four ways as the Lord leads you:
1.) Sacrifice your pride, and invite a friend to church, even if they might say no. Invite them to one of four services on Easter Sunday, April 1st: 6:30 am (Sunrise), 8:00 am (Traditional), 9:30 am (Contemporary) and 11:00 am (Traditional with Choir) so they might encounter the living Christ through worship. Use one of the two invite cards for Easter Sunday that are in this mailing.
2.) Consider a sacrificial gift to the church, above and beyond your regular tithes and offerings. The Easter Offering will be used toward an $8,000 goal of building three ramps and a new basketball court to make our campus more accessible. You can use the attached envelope to make a sacrificial gift. Write “Easter Offering” in the memo line of a check made out to First UMC or give online through the “Giving” tab of our website, www.mtdorafumc.org .
Consider these words of Jesus as you contemplate making such a gift:
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:6-7
3.) Contemplate in prayer making a lasting gift to God by leaving a lasting legacy to His church. Consider remembering First UMC in your estate plans. Many already have, and they have taken care of their church in perpetuity through our Capital Endowments.
4.) Most importantly, offer yourself “in prayer and thanksgiving as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.” (Romans 12:1)
Thank you so much for your support of the soul-saving and life-changing work of God through the missions and ministries of First United Methodist Church by your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.
As a token of my appreciation, please see the booklet in this letter called “The Character of a Methodist”. It is a modernization of John Wesley’s classic sermon.
In “The Character of a Methodist”, John Wesley identifies five marks of the Christian life. These are adapted from Jesus’ summary of the Law and the Gospels (Loving God, Loving Others) and the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (rejoice, pray without ceasing, and give thanks).
As Easter people, let us continue to be the church in Mt. Dora: Loving God! Loving Others!
With the Love of Christ,