Christ is risen, and spring has sprung! Thanks be to God!
By Rev. Dr. Daniel Cochran
As we journey through the joyful season of Eastertide, we pause to reflect on the season of Lent, now behind us. While those 40 days recall the time that Jesus spent alone in the desert, we walked through that season together, balancing self-reflection and repentance with communal worship, mission, fellowship, and formation.
Grace Church marked the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday with ashes for commuters at the Naperville train station, ashes and prayer stations all day at Grace, and two full evening worship services. Our Lenten journey was enriched with book studies, a new sermon series that explored the theme of water in our Baptismal Covenant, an exciting Youth Musical, and the Confirmation of 17 of our eighth-graders in a youth-led worship service on Sunday, April 7.
We walked together through the highs and lows of Holy Week: on Palm Sunday we shook palm fronds and shouted “Hosannas!” but recognized that the hardest part of the journey was yet to come. We launched a new Holy Wednesday service designed to share the story of Christ’s Passion with children and their families; we worshiped with the Children's Choir, created Resurrection Gardens in Fellowship Hall, and ate dinner together. On Maundy Thursday we washed each other’s hands to demonstrate our commitment to Christ’s mandatum or commandment to love one another. On Good Friday we heard the story of Christ’s Passion read and sung alongside images from the Canadian artist William Kurelek.
And then, after the shadows, came the light.
Grace was illuminated and bursting with the scent of lilies to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter morning! Four beautiful services on Saturday and Sunday, each with vibrant music from New Life Singers, Chancel Choir, and Grace Praise Team, saw over 1200 Christians express their joy in what God has done.
And now, we walk on in the hope of the resurrection. The Spring Choral Concert propelled us into this new season with a magnificent performance of Jubilate Deo while the Children’s Musical performance of “The Three Trees” reminded us to look for God’s blessings in unexpected places. The much-anticipated Holy Smokes BBQ was a smashing success, raising significant funds for our Summer Youth Mission trips, and we look forward to the widely popular “Touch a Truck” on Saturday, June 1.
All the while, we eagerly anticipate the completion of the New Welcoming Space that promises a beautifully-lit and open environment that expresses our commitment to fellowship and community. And then, on July 21, we will launch a New Sunday Morning Program that furthers this commitment. The 8:15 service will move up to 8 and the 9:30 service will move back to 10:30, opening up an hour from 9:15-10:15 for fellowship and faith formation. We believe this time together is so important for our development as disciples and for our life together as Grace Church. Stay after the 8:00 service or come early before 10:30 to enjoy coffee and donuts in the new gathering space, join any of our existing Adult Formation small-groups, or create a new group.
Pastors Cindy and Daniel will kick-off this new Faith Formation Hour on Sundays, July 21 and 28, with a two-part discussion: Exploring the Four Gospels. Everyone is invited to Fellowship Hall at 9:15 on those two Sundays for a casual and fun look at these most important books of the Bible.
There is no summer vacation at Grace! Through this wonderful season, we continue to worship, serve, and grow together as Disciples of Christ. Come and grow with us.