Dear friends in Christ:

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia. Did you know that Easter is a season and not just a day? This year our Easter celebration continues through the whole month of April and doesn’t conclude until May 8, the 7th Sunday of Easter.  Why is Easter a seven week season? Good question.

The Season of Easter represents for us on the church calendar the time when our risen Lord appeared to His disciples up until his Ascension to the heavenly Father to be enthroned at the right hand of God the Father until He comes again in glory on the last day. In worship this is symbolized by the lit Paschal candle.

Before we look ahead to the coming weeks, I want to thank all those who helped to make Lent, Holy Week and Easter a time of spiritual significance for us all. I especially want to thank by colleagues Deacon Larry Oliver and Pastor Jeremy Lucke for sharing the Lenten reaching exchange for our series on the Book of Job.  It’s often the little things that can make a big difference in life. So thank you for all you did during these busy weeks of Lent Holy Week and Easter.

I hope you have had time to explore our new website at https://svlc-corvallis.org.  This website is a great step forward in digital evangelism for Shepherd of the Valley. While nothing can replace a face to face invitation to attend worship, the website can go a long way to help potential visitors know who we are, where we stand, and what make our church unique in the Christian community.  Is there someone you could invite to Shepherd of the Valley and perhaps direct to the website so they could learn more about our congregation?

Our 50th anniversary celebration begins April 17. Remember that the time to respond to your invitation to attend the 50th anniversary catered brunch following the 9:00 AM service that Sunday is right around the corner. The cut-off date for the caterer is April 6.  Anyone who plans to attend the brunch needs to RSVP by calling or email the church office by that date whether they are members, former members or guests.

This Sunday the Easter Celebration continues. Our Gospel focus is on Jesus’ twin appearances to His disciples in the upper room on both the evening of the first Easter and then again a week later as recorded in John 20:19-31.  Why the two successive visits? It turns out that one important person wasn’t there the first time. At least he certainly was important to Jesus.

That was Thomas, also called “the twin” or Didymus.  When the ten disciples told Thomas about the first appearance of the risen Lord, he made it clear that he would not believe a word of what they told him. His exact words were, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger into the nail marks, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

These are pretty tough words for a man who had been in Jesus’ inner circle of twelve. Why the attitude? One suggestion is that Thomas doubted to protect himself from being hurt. His hopes had already been dashed at the cross. He wasn’t going to let that happen again by believing what he hadn’t seen for himself.  So Jesus came back a second time and gave Thomas the proof he needed.  And Thomas sank to his knees, acclaiming “My Lord and my God.”

Jesus came back the next week because He loved Thomas.  Jesus loves you too, as He loved Thomas.  It might surprise you to think that like Thomas some people are afraid to believe and afraid to be hurt by the church. Sometimes our words and behaviors can be ways we try to protect ourselves from getting our feelings hurt.  But with honest prayer and by staying in community with believers, the Spirit of Jesus can break through those walls we sometimes build up around our hearts just as easily as Jesus came through the locked doors of the upper room that first Easter.