By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer
Freedom New Mexico spoke to some area clergy about their thoughts on this Easter Sunday.
What is the importance of Easter and its message in everyday life?
Gary Piepkorn, pastor of Faith in Christ Lutheran Church in Portales: There are three major points.
One would be that Jesus’ resurrection proves that he is someone who can be believed. He predicted it, and it took place.
Second and probably most important, the resurrection showed that God had accepted Jesus’ payment for our sin. Third, with the payment for our sin accepted, we are now reconciled to God.
With being accepted by God, it absolutely changes our view of life, because knowing that we are accepted by God and will be accepted by God forever, our whole life is conducted in a different way. We can live to God’s glory and in service to others.
Father Jim McGowan, priest at St. Helen Catholic Church in Portales: The importance is that it gives us hope in daily living. It assures us that there’s life beyond this, that the drudgery of this life is not all that there is.
Gary Simpson, Dora Church of Christ preacher: I think without the resurrection of Jesus, Christianity really falls apart.
Without Jesus’ resurrection, Christians don’t have resurrection.
David Dawson, pastor of Pure Heart Word Center in Clovis: The big thing is Jesus rose with all power in his hand, and God distributes that power to people who believe in him so they can defeat anything.
Jesus went through everything for us, and there’s nothing more traumatic than what Jesus did for us on the cross.
What are you planning to preach about on Easter, and what do you want people to take from the sermon?
Piepkorn: I’ll obviously preach on the resurrection, and I want them to go away with absolute confidence that they have been restored to God.
McGowan: God keeps his promises. He sent his Son to be our salvation, and he allowed him to be offered up for our sins that we might have new life.
What Jesus predicted and what the prophets spoke of has come to pass. He suffered and died, and he rose and opened the gates of paradise to us once more, that we might again have access to the Father. No longer are we slaves, but we are sons and daughters of the Father, and brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.
Simpson: The first point would be that the resurrection and Easter really confirm who Christ is, the Son of God.
Also, the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ cancels our sin.
Easter is a time to celebrate our life in Christ now and the life we have to look forward to after physical death.
Dawson: Hang in there because Jesus did on the cross. Also, if you really, really trust God, you’ll see Jesus in the midst of your storm.
As an illustration from a movie, treasure hunters on the ocean needed a storm to uncover the gold.
You can’t stop a storm, but you can survive it.
How do you feel about things like Easter egg hunts and the Easter bunny?
Piepkorn: I think they’re fine as long as there’s nothing more added to it than just fun.
The important thing is Jesus’ resurrection because it has eternal significance.
McGowan: I don’t necessarily think that they’re a bad thing.
But I think we need to impress upon our children that Easter isn’t simply about candy, Easter egg hunts and the Easter bunny. We have to show them it’s really about Jesus Christ and what he’s done for us.
Simpson: I’m not sure how much of that is overtly Christian as such, but I don’t object to it.
Dawson: People say they’re pagan and ritualistic, but I turned out OK, I think, and in the Gospel, and I hunted Easter eggs for years.
The bunny and Easter eggs aren’t in your heart. Jesus is in your heart.
Ask God about it and do what he says. It’s personal relationship and personal conviction.
I try not to get caught up in it. I’m concerned about souls.