April 9, 2021

Dear Prairie Avenue Family,

Another first Sunday of Easter has passed, and it was blessed with the confession of faith of Patrick Wayne Butterick at the 9:30 am service. His baptism service will be held this coming Sunday at 9:30 am (we won't baptize him at each of our now three services!). We rejoice in one who has expressed his intention and belief in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as Lord and God in human flesh.

While the chocolate bunnies, Cadbury (TM) peeps and eggs are all at a discount clearance price, it is still Easter for another six weeks in the church! I am sure Mother's Day marketing is already dominant in retail, but resurrection is what we are still discussing, sharing and celebrating in worship! I hope you will join us in-person or online (more about improvements on broadcast later in this note!) on Saturdays at 5 pm, Sundays at 8 am or 9:30 am. We begin our new worship series this weekend Witness: Living in a Postresurrection World.

Worship This Weekend:
Witness: Living in a Postresurrection World
Seeing Is Not Believing

One of the central message of the Christian faith that is most often overlooked is that Christ is present in and through all things, which means that everything is sacred and every moment is holy. From Easter (April 4) to Pentecost (May 23), we will explore the good news that Christ is risen--not just physically from the grave some two thousand years ago but in every aspect of our lives and world--and how to live in awe of the mundane moments of our ordinary lives.

This weekend we once again encounter a disciple experience with the resurrection story. Unfortunately, his desire to have irrefutable physical proof has given him the moniker "Doubting Thomas." And let us be honest, our world is still a world when death occurs, we do not have any expectations of receiving the news of resurrection a few days later. Experience reminds us to be safe, and Thomas simply was being cautious, his rhetoric rising to exact conditions he would come to believe this whimsical story his other disciples in a locked room shared with him. I need to see the injuries, I need to stick my hand in the side. I need to encounter this risen Jesus you have claimed to have a rendezvous through this locked door.

We are given a chance to see and encounter, too. And Jesus does visit the disciples again in the locked room, passing effortlessly through the door with all of the scars of crucifixion fully visible on the divine human and resurrected body. Thomas' desire is met at point of need, and then a special blessing is given to those who have never seen Jesus as these disciples has, yet have come to believe. It is as if John is letting us into the room, to remind us that even without such an encounter, we are still part of the group, every bit as blessed and qualified to receive the risen Lord now encountered through the Holy Spirit rather than the resurrected Jesus.

This encounter is less about "doubt" and more about the blessing of faith. The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty rarely requires more than consent. Faith expects allegiance and loyalty.

To paraphrase a traditional aphorism, if you do not have faith, then there will never be evidence enough to convince you, and if you do have faith, no evidence is needed. And although most of us probably agree with that in principle, we can perhaps admit that sometimes we are still hungry for a little evidence, or a little more evidence than we usually have.

If you were able to encounter Jesus physically, would your faith be changed in any significant way? Sure, our story shows a disciple who gets the rational proof he desires, but the real question is, after the encounter, does it transform his commitment to follow in the way of Jesus?

Whether or not we believe in a physical or literal resurrection ultimately seems quite trivial when we reflect on the true call of the gospel to live a life modeling Jesus' posture in the world. Our faith is greater and deeper than a singular resurrection story, and calls us to allow Christ to rise within our hearts and lives as we seek to embody his path of self-sacrificial love in the world.

A physical encounter with the risen Jesus is unnecessary if your life already reveals him through word and deed and living the way of Jesus on earth as it is in heaven. I have not had the blessing of encountering Jesus as Thomas did, but I have been blessed by many believers and followers of Christ revealing Jesus in their lives.

Worship Leaders Needed
As we resume our in person services, we need worship leaders to assist in speaking the call to worship, invocation prayer, and the call to worship for each of our services: Saturday at 5 pm, or Sundays at 8 am or 9:30 am. You can sign up a particular Sunday of the month, a particular time, or which service you already (or will eventually) attend in-person. Contact Barb Hodges at 217-620-3268 if you would like to sign up or have questions.

Parking Lot Attendants / Greeters Needed
We need smiling faces and joyful hearts in greeting and security. I need two parking lot attendants to greet our guests and assist them with their entrance. Once service begins, these parking lot attendants will secure all entrances to the building, locking the doors, closing the garage about 15 minutes into the worship services. I would like to have attendants for each service -Saturdays at 5 pm and Sundays at 8 am & 9:30 am. Contact the church office (217-428-3327) if you are interested in helping assist in guest/welcome services.

Music Ensembles To Resume
As we look towards in-person hospitality and activity, we need additional assistants at each of our worship services. I would like to have a music ensemble for each worship service: Saturdays at 5 pm and Sunday mornings at 8 am and 9:30 am. These groups are tentatively called Meadowlands 1, 2, & 3. You will lead the congregation in singing the hymns and leading our expanding list of familiar praise songs and choruses. While the ability to read music is helpful, and holding a musical pitch (no matter what size bucket) is expected, all those willing and able are welcome to join these small ensembles.

Adopt-A-Street Clean Up next Saturday, April 17, 10 am
Prairie Avenue is responsible for regular pick ups of the boulevards and parkways of East Main & East Prairie (about three blocks) as part of the city's Adopt-A-Street program. While some yard maintenance has happened in the last couple of weeks, some raking and debris removal is needed around the landscape of our yard. If you can assist in the clean up of our yards, please come and help next Saturday. The Clokey Park Neighborhood Association will be cleaning East Main & East Prairie next Saturday as well.

See you this weekend online or in person,

Blessings to you all,
As a church family, we care for and pray for one another.

As a matter of online privacy, we will only disclose public sympathy to a church friend or family member whose passing has also been publicly disclosed.

If you would like prayer, please submit your prayer request online, and Pastor Jason and prayer team members will pray for you.
Prairie Avenue Christian Church | Website