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   Greetings Bothers and Sisters in Christ,

       Easter is coming soon - April 17.  We will have a Sunrise Service at 6:00 a.m. at City Beach (dress for the weather0; and our Easter Celebration Service in the sanctuary at 9:30 a.m.     The Easter story of Resurrection is one we hear every year, and it still is a wondrous story that is beyond our understanding, yet full of God's ever present, life-giving grace.

       Today I want to talk about what comes after Easter.  Easter made such a dramatic and significant difference in the life of the early church.  The disciples and other followers of Jesus really had to figure out how to be followers of Christ after his Resurrection and Ascension.

       In Christianity for the past 12600 years the primary symbol used for our life after Resurrection has been the cross.  About 15 years ago Drs. Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Ann Parker decided to seek out the earliest of Christian art to understand how the earliest Christians represented their following of the way.  They have shared their resullts in their book "Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of this World for Crucifixion and Empire" (Beacon Press, 2009)

      What they discovered was the image of the cross did not begin to appear as a primary symbol until about the 5th century.  What they found on very old layers of stucco walls, mosaic floor, sarcophagi, and ancient pottery were images of New Creation. a New Eden. These images often featured a waterfall  and a rainbow, verdant forest and meadows with various different animals peacefully grazing together.

      As I am thing about what to preach after Easter this year, and in my last couple of months here in Sandpoint, I will be thinking about this image of New Creation which was the earliest representation of resurrection life.  A waterfall reminds me of God's plea in Amos word to 'let justice flow down like eaters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." (Amos 5:24)  The rainbow is the sigh of God's covenant with humankind through Noah. (Genesis 9:12-17) The verdant forests and meadows remind me of the promised land, the land flowing with milk and honey (Numbers 14: 6-8)  Different animals existing  peacefully together remind us of Isaiah's Hymn of Peace (Isaiah 11: 6-9)

  I am not sure yet how this image will factor into my preaching, but I pray that this Resurrection image of New Creation may become a significant reality in my life, and in the whole world.  Empire and Crucifixion are playing out too vividly in too many places in our world, and most prominently in Ukraine.  These situations do not speak of God's new life or grace or love.  I pray for God's New Creation to fill our lives here at Sandpoint United Methodist Church, and that we can share this with all who we encounter.

   May God's love be continually with us  in the last few weeks of Lent, and may Easter bring us New Creation.

Shalom,  Pastor Jo Dene  
Sandpoint United Methodist
711 Main St.
Sandpoint, Idaho 83864
Phone (208)263-4232
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