Every year, at about this time, I am totally amazed, totally in awe of the power of spring. It almost seems that one day I am just noticing a slight haze of green across the hillsides, then suddenly I am looking out and seeing leaves. The landscape changes so dramatically . . . the woods fill in, the trees appear to almost expand; the neighbors’ houses vanish, blocked by the new leaves. And the color is always the most intense bright fresh green one could possibly imagine.
Friday, I had to leave the house at 6:30 AM to meet a client by noon down in Mohegan Lake, down almost to Westchester County NY, a good five hour drive. I left the house and started down the hill towards Saranac Lake and was immediately struck by the greenness that surrounded me. The lushness of new growth in the valley, with Two Bridge Brook meandering through it was simply astounding. It reminded me that I forgot my camera, which I take nearly everywhere with me. I did go back and get my camera but never took any pictures, because I KNEW there was no way to capture the way the beauty of this new green spring. So I continued on, and when I got to Old Military Turnpike, just outside of Lake Placid, a large Department of Transporation sign informed me that Route 73 was closed, and I was detoured out up through Wilmington to Jay and back down to Keene Valley. Now, typically I might have fretted about the lost time and being late. But it had been a long time since I had driven out that way, and instead I was just nearly overcome with the beauty of spring bursting force along the rivers and upon the hills and mountains. THAT is the power of spring.
In this part of the world, we are fortunate that Easter, the season of promise, coincides with the bursting forth of Spring. Today’s readings are about the POWER and PROMISE of Christ Jesus.
Our reading in Acts 16 tells the story of Paul and Silas, locked in prison together for their discipleship. One night around midnight, the two are praying and singing, while the other prisoners gathered ‘round to listen. Suddenly a violent earthquake shakes the very foundation of the prison, and the doors to the prison cells are cast open. The jailer awakes in alarm and takes up his sword to contain the outbreak. But Paul says to the guard, “Don’t harm yourself. We are all here,” for the prisoners had not fled but stayed to listen to the gospel in sing and prayer. Seeing this, the guard throws himself at Paul’s feet, asking what he should do to be saved. And Paul replies “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.”
THAT is the power of Christ Jesus.
We also have a reading today from the very end of the bible, Revelation 22. I will read to you from my bible, the New International Version, Revelation 22:12-14 & 16 - 17.
THAT is the promise of Christ Jesus.
Lastly, let me read to you from John 17, verses 20 – 26, entitled “Jesus Prays for All Believers.” I invite you to close your eyes and listen while I read Jesus’ words. This prayer, given by Jesus, takes place shortly before Judas leads the soldiers to the olive grove, shortly before Jesus is arrested. Speaking of His disciples, whom Jesus has sent into the world, Jesus says . . .
And THAT, is the power AND the promise of Christ Jesus. If you truly believe, you are one with the great community of believers, one in the Father, as Jesus is one in the Father and the Father one in Jesus. If you truly believe, you are given the glory that the Father gave Jesus. Remember the POWER and the PROMISE of Spring – God loves YOU as much as he loved his only Son, Christ Jesus. Believe – so that the world see in you the love God has for them.
Message by Michael R. Martin, Certified Lay Speaker – May 23, 2004
First UMC of Saranac Lake, 8:30 AM Service of Praise & Worship