Pause for a moment, and consider the phrase, “new beginnings.” What images come to mind? A beautiful sunrise? A new baby opening his eyes to the world for the first time? Spring? Easter Sunday morning? A chance to start again, when life has become dark and difficult? Beautiful images, full of hope and promise.
This Sunday was our 10th year of Easter for Missiongathering, and the beginning of a new church year. For Missiongathering, the new day does not begin with the rising of the sun, as we have come to conceptualize it. A new day begins with the setting of the sun, on the day before. The new day ripens and readies itself through the dark of the night, in the silence. It is already here. After a period of darkness, it breaks full and perfect into the light. A new life doesn’t begin with birth, but months before in the quiet darkness of a mother’s womb. Months of preparation and perfecting the body for the life on earth that it will live. It is already here. The new calendar year begins in the cold and dark of the year, when seeds lie beneath the earth, already filled with life and preparing for their bursting forth in spring. New animals are already being formed, anticipating their birth in spring. No, spring isn’t really a beginning either, but a coalescence of life begun much earlier. We may not be aware of it. We may not even be thinking about it. But, it is already here. And even Easter morning, the epitome of a new beginning. The miracle has already happened, in the darkness of the night. Christ had already risen when the women arrived at His tomb with the rising of the sun.
New beginnings aren’t filled with light, and brilliance and fanfare. New beginnings are quiet; often dark and sometimes cold. New beginnings aren’t always seen or felt. But they are there, already brimming with hope and promise. Already carrying the seeds of a better day, a richer season, a sweeter life. In the children’s movie “The Neverending Story”, in which an entire magical world is destroyed, all that is left is the child-like empress of that world, and the little boy who carries the hope of its rebirth. No land, no light, no things. “Why is it so dark?” he whispers, and the empress answers: “In the beginning it is always dark.”
Missiongathering had a total of 22o members attend our services on Easter Sunday, filling seats on our ground floor and in our upper balcony section. Newly anointed Lead Pastor Eric Lovett led with a passionate sermon carrying on the torch from our Founding Pastor Richard McCullen. Sister Pastor Erika led an Easter Egg Hunt for our Little Villagers on campus, which was a rousing success, and held a pleasant surprise in one of our oldest Little Villagers, Seth, who suggested, “Hey, some of us got 12 eggs, and some of us only got a few. We should go back upstairs and count all our eggs and divide them up between us all!” Volunteer Emme led volunteers Ivonne Mouet of Ranchos Cocina Mexicana, Patrick Szoke, Jeri Edwards, Jovy Quevedo, and Teresa Patchill in setting up the beautiful spread on our Sacred Grounds table. Our Worship Leader Kyle McMillan led the Worship band on stage in a rousing and spirited event playing such songs as “Our God”, “This is Amazing Grace”, “Hosanna”, and “Holy Is The Lord”.
On Good Friday, resident MG’er Donna Grover continued her passionate tradition of carrying a wooden cross on a 2 mile walk in what she calls “Cross Walk”, to spread the word and message of Jesus Christ for onlookers in our community. Donna started the 2 mile walk from Ace Hardware in Hillcrest. At one point on her walk, she says a man named Benito came up behind her and struck up a conversation. “Is it heavy?” he asked her. “No, not really,” she replied. She remembers at this point calling Benito by the name of the apostle Simon, as he asked to help her carry the cross the rest of the way, adding “I believe that is the way it was written.”
What a gift nature has given us, that we can witness in myriad ways, the fact that new beginnings are dark, and cold. That in the cold of December, a Child is born who will change the world forever. That in the dark of winter, a new year will begin, filled with seasons, and growth, celebrations and living. That in the dead, still soil, roots are sprouting, seeds are swelling, and life is preparing to burst forth once again.
In a T.S. Eliot poem, the poet states: “I said to my soul, Be still, and let the darkness come upon you which will be the darkness of God.” This is a difficult image to struggle with, as “God is light, in Him is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5. But God is a God of new beginnings. In the darkness of our lives, in the cold and seemingly barren seasons, He is working His new beginnings. Seeds are sprouting, the Child is growing, the day is forming… It is already here.