Christian parishioners throughout McHenry County will flock today to Easter Sunday services and hear the most important story of their faith – how Jesus Christ died for the world, was resurrected and ascended into heaven.
But many area clergy members have the challenging task of taking that monumental story and tying it to a message profound enough to resonate with believers far after they have finished that Easter ham later tonight.
For the Rev. Stephen St. Jules, Jesus’ resurrection serves as a reminder that God’s ubiquitous presence can give people fulfillment during empty times.
He plans to tell churchgoers at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Cary that the angel’s message to the women who discovered Jesus’ empty tomb on Easter is about Christ’s ability to guide people even after his death.
“We find empty tombs in our lives where God has entered, whether through illness, healing, relationships and times where we feel a dead end,” St. Jules said. “That tomb is empty, and through help, we have new life.”
The angel’s message to some of Jesus’ most ardent followers simply detailed how Jesus had risen into heaven and that the women and his disciples could meet him there.
The message and story of Jesus’ resurrection is a culminating point in the week for Christian followers. Holy Week, which includes observances on Good Friday, the day Jesus was crucified, and Easter, the day he rose from the dead, fulfills a promise made by God.
It guarantees an afterlife for Christian believers and immortalizes Jesus’ message beyond his time on Earth. That everlasting presence can help people withstand the many challenges and tribulations they face, St. Jules said.
Likewise, the Rev. Charles Kittel will focus his Easter sermon on how the women who discovered Christ’s empty tomb realized that they needed to move past Jesus’ death and face the future.
“We have the bleakness of Good Friday and not understanding it, but then we see the new hope of the resurrection,” said Kittel, who is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Huntley. “The Easter event itself is a spring forward to live Christ’s life and know that we have new life in Christ.”
He has found that many people in and outside of his Huntley church often operate in tunnel vision, losing sight of a future resolution in the face of present challenges. Faith in Jesus and his lasting presence can help people see past those difficulties, he said.
The Rev. Jeff Borgerson sees his followers at the First Presbyterian Church of Harvard also having difficulty moving past material distractions in life. People rather should be focusing on living out Jesus’ resurrection and his commitment to welfare, he said.
“We get so focused on the signs of wealth, success or accomplishment, and we don’t focus on the relationships that God wanted us to glory in,” Borgerson said.