Today has been a beautiful day here in Hopkinton, New Hampshire. It is just after four-thirty, and the sun is slowly moving westward. The light shines brighter on the tops of the tall pine trees on the hill behind our home, and the shadows are lengthening at the bottom of the hillside. My granite bench sits shadow covered as the ground levels, and if I were sitting there with you, the sharp breeze would make us shiver.
I knew you had much to do today, and I knew we would both be with our families so our walk today is just going to be some random thoughts.
Easter was amazing in the church where I grew up, so different from ordinary Sundays. Dr. Forgey, our pastor, would speak on the resurrection of Jesus Christ to a full and overflowing congregation. The sanctuary would be made ever more beautiful by the dozens of Easter lilies in remembrance of loved ones. The choir was in a balcony above the chancel, and on Easter, there would be two beautiful golden harps that would move backward and forward as they were made to sing Easter songs by their talented musicians. It was as if angels were present on that Sunday, and we were hearing music as it might be heard in heaven. I even remember one of Dr. Forgey’s sermons about the stone being rolled away to prove that our Lord was not there and had risen from the dead. My memory also reminds me that at age nine when my mother’s mother passed away, my mother had a difficult time not crying during the Easter service. My mother so missed my grandmother that it was a long time before my mother placed her mom’s picture on her bureau. I have that oval picture on a shelf in my study.
After I was ordained, I experienced my first Easter Sunday as a pastor in West Boxford, Massachusetts. When I entered the sanctuary, I was overwhelmed by how many people were in attendance.
In West Boxford, we had a sunrise service on a hill behind Henry Nason’s house. He was a caterer, and when the service was over that very cold morning, we came down the hill to the field beside his house and had an English muffin with egg, cheese and Canadian bacon. It was what we call today an Egg Mcmuffin. I have seldom had one as delicious as that one on Easter morning in 1960.
This afternoon as I write my thoughts, I can go back to every church I served and have a picture in my mind of what the Easter service was like at each one. Every church or chapel I served holds Easter memories for me that unfold as the sun sets this Easter afternoon.
My mother and father were married on an Easter afternoon back in the year 1927. They were married on April 17th at the pastor’s home, for they had little money to spend on their wedding. Their wedding was nothing like the elaborate weddings of today – Oh, that the weddings of today could produce such a devoted husband and wife, as were my parents. Every one of my brothers and sisters and myself as well wished for a marriage like our parents. We had an example growing up of a real love between a husband and wife.
When Dale and I knew we wished to get married, I asked her if we could be married on April 17th. I wished our marriage to be as strong and wonderful as my parent’s marriage. It has been nearly thirty years that our marriage took place, and God has blessed me (us) with a happy, strong, committed marriage. Our marriage did not take place on Easter afternoon, but it is a marriage I believe every bit as wonderful and giving as the marriage of my mother and father.
This morning Dale and I went to The First Church of Hopkinton around the corner of our home. It was a beautiful service in word and in music. The pastor is a wise and learned pastor. Every sermon I hear him preach teaches me something I should know. This morning, he again had a fun and meaningful story for the children, and his sermon was one that brought you to a stronger belief and faith in the Master. His sermon was taken from the story of the resurrection of Christ in the Gospel of John and how we need to find our own significant relationship and belief of that cataclysmic happening two thousand years ago.
The music throughout the service was worthy of being heard in the largest cathedrals of our country. All who participated in that music offered to God should be proud of their devotion to the gift of song God has given them.
I had many different feelings as I sat and participated as part of the congregation. It is so different for me to sit in a congregation and not be the preacher of the Word on the most beautiful and meaningful Sunday of the year. It was for me, as well as worship, a time of reflection and prayer. I know that I can no longer be a full time active pastor for I am definitely limited by my physical condition.
On Good Friday, First Church was open for devotion all day. Always, I have tried to be quiet and thoughtful for the time Jesus was suffering on the cross. At about one o’clock, I went up to the church, and there was not another person there. How many times as a pastor I have been in a church or chapel all by myself. Finding a place under one of the few lights that were shining, I read the whole Gospel of John from an old Bible volume I had been given. So grateful for the privilege to be in God’s house, I asked Him to please tell me how I may best serve Him now. I asked the same thing this morning.
No matter how old we are, or what our life has been like, we all need to confront the question: How may we best serve our Lord Jesus Christ?
Ken Boyle has so many blessings in his life, God has so enriched my life that I still need to still tell His story. Thank you for walking with me this Easter Sunday afternoon. Please offer a prayer for me to know what God calls me to do in the present, and I will pray the same for you. With prayer, God shows us our pathway in life. God be with you and with me especially on this day of celebration. May Easter live forever in our hearts.
“And now may the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other. Amen”