The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 24, 2013

'Tremendous hope' | Clergy will deliver messages of joy, victory on Easter

BY TOM LAVIS
TLAVIS@TRIBDEM.COM

— Area ministers will deliver messages of hope and victory in their Easter Sunday sermons.

For Christians, Easter is the most important festival and the one celebrated with the greatest joy because it marks the Resurrection of Christ.

Orthodox Christians who follow the Gregorian calendar will celebrate the holiday on May 5.

Area clergy are inspired to bring the good news of the Resurrection to their flocks.

The Most Rev. Mark L. Bartchak, bishop of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, calls on the Roman Catholic faithful to be vigilant during the Easter season.

In a recent conversation about Easter, Bartchak was asked by a fourth-grader, “Why didn’t Mary Magdalene recognize Jesus after he rose from the dead?”

While the question was posed with the curiosity of a child, he recognized that she also was seeking to deepen her faith in the fundamental Easter message: Christ is risen.

The Resurrection

During his conversation with the grade-school children, Bartchak was convinced they believe and understand the effects of the Resurrection.

“They did not hesitate to tell me that because of his death and Resurrection, Jesus Christ has overcome sin and death and opened the gates of heaven for us who believe in him,” Bartchak said.

But he felt obliged to answer the young girl’s question about Mary Magdalene.

“In the Gospel (John 20:11-18), we learn that Mary Magdalene was the first disciple to see and speak with the risen Christ,” Bartchak said.

The encounter took place in the garden outside the empty tomb. Mary began weeping when she saw the empty tomb. She was afraid someone took the Lord’s body. And to make her more upset, she saw two angels who spoke to her.

As Mary Magdalene turned to leave, she saw a man and thought he was the gardener. Mary asked if he had taken the body of Jesus. The man was Jesus, but she did not recognize him; at least not at first.

Moment of reflection

“The question made me reflect on the mystery of the Resurrection in a way that we might not think of at Easter or other times,” Bartchak said.

“Mary Magdalene did not recognize Jesus because of her sadness over his death on the cross. In her grief, she was not able to recall that Jesus had warned his disciples that they would not understand why he would suffer and die until after he was raised from the dead.”

Bartchak recognizes that even now, the minds and hearts of people can be filled with sadness, confusion or even disbelief because of burdens or unanswered questions.

Why didn’t Mary Magdalene recognize Jesus after he rose from the dead?

“Jesus knew that Mary needed to be recognized at that moment and so he simply called out her name,” Bartchak said.”

Heavy hearts

We want and we need to be recognized when our hearts are burdened or when we have unanswered questions like a fourth-grader.

“Christ Jesus recognizes every one of us whenever we call his name,” Bartchak said.

“He recognizes every one of us as we pray, as we read the word of God, as we receive the sacraments.

“Christ has died. Suffering and death brings sadness. Christ is risen. In his risen glory, Christ recognizes each one of us, even before we recognize him.”

The Rev. Kevin McNamara of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 3328 William Penn Ave., Mundys Corner, will deliver a message titled “Let’s Meet at the Empty Tomb.”

‘Christ cares’

“We can meet at the empty tomb with all our cares, concerns and our deepest prayers, knowing that Christ cares for us and loves us so much that he gave up his life for us,” McNamara said.

“We are comforted in all our struggles knowing that as Christ was resurrected from the dead, one day we too will share in his Resurrection, our sins forgiven and be with Christ for eternity. So, let’s meet at the empty tomb and bring all our struggles in this life to Christ.”

‘A Go Ahead God’

The Rev. Larry Rowe, pastor of First United Methodist Church at 436 Vine St. in downtown Johnstown, will tell his congregation about “A Go Ahead God.”

Following the Resurrection, the disciples were waiting in fear that Jesus would confront them about their desertion and denial.

Rowe said Luke gives three Resurrection accounts in which Jesus greets them with “peace be with you.”

“Jesus is not discovered in these accounts by his followers, but he reveals himself at the garden tomb, on the road to Emmaus and in the room where the disciples have gathered,” Rowe said.

“God has always been ahead of us every step along our way. Easter is the greatest ‘go-ahead’ ever taken by Jesus Christ who goes ahead of us into the future. He promised, ‘I go to prepare a place for you.’ ”

Calling Easter the holiest time of the year, Rowe said the greatest fear of humanity is death because people are unable to bridge the gap between life and death.

“As early as childhood, we want someone else to be the first to experience the unknown adventure,” Rowe said.

“We can be confident and assured that death has no sting when passing through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23). The ‘Go Ahead God’ evidences that those who follow Christ can live victorious lives and that death cannot keep its grip.”

The Rev. David Streets, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, 425 Luther Road in Richland Township, will delve into the subject of how the Resurrection changes everything in the world.

Power of God

“It gives us hope to face all that life throws at us because it shows us the power of God in life and death,” Streets said.

Streets will speak at Emmanuel’s traditional 9:30 a.m. service as well as at the branch church, Emmanuel West, which meets at 11 a.m. at the Westwood Plaza Theatre in Lower Yoder Township.

Streets will talk about how the Resurrection of Jesus changed Mary Magdalene from a mourner to a missionary.

The text is from John 20.

“The fact that Jesus is alive makes a huge difference in how the Christian views death,” Streets said.

“We no longer need to fear death or weep inconsolably. Easter is a message of tremendous hope.”

At Greater Johnstown Christian Fellowship, 3429 Elton Road in Richland Township, Pastor Gary Tustin will share a message of “What Made the Cross of Christ Different?”

Tustin said while three men were crucified on a cross the Friday before the first Easter, two robbers were executed but Jesus was offered as a sacrifice.

Tustin said it’s important to know that only Pilate, the Roman governor, could sentence a person to death.

But when it came to Jesus, he said, “I find no fault in him.”

Lamb of God

In making that decree, Tustin said Pilate cleared himself of Jesus’ death and unknowingly declared Jesus to be the sinless Lamb of God.

But it was Caiaphas, who after the resurrection of Lazarus, when many Jews were becoming believers, called a council to discuss the matter.

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The council agreed that Jesus must be stopped for fear that Rome would take over the nation of Israel.

Because of Caiaphas, Jesus was turned over to Pilate.

“It was Pilate who had Jesus tied to the whipping post in his judgment hall,” Tustin said.

“Jesus bore 39 stripes on his back, a beating that no man should survive, yet he did so that he could carry his cross and fulfill what he said in John 3:14-15: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. We can look to the cross because Jesus became sin, who knew no sin, paying the penalty for all mankind, that we might become the righteousness of God.”



The following churches will hold services: 

Holy Thursday

Baptist

Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, 205 Peelor St., Johnstown, 7 p.m.

Brethren

Maple Spring Church of the Brethern, 106 Spring Road, Hollsopple, 7 p.m.

Moxham Church of the Brethren, 536 Grove Ave., Johnstown, 7 p.m.

Walnut Grove Church of the Brethren, 1068 Bedford St., Johnstown, 6 p.m.

Independent

Community Open Door Church, Menoher Boulevard and Luzerne Street, Johnstown, 7 p.m.

Lutheran

Dunmyer Lutheran Church, 547 Schoolhouse Road, Elton, 7 p.m.

First Lutheran Church, 415 Vine St., Johnstown, 12:30 and 7 p.m.

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 514 Shady Lane, Windber, 7 p.m.

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 525 Main St., Berlin, 7 p.m.

Laurel Trinity Lutheran Church, 7520 Somerset Pike, Jennerstown, 7 p.m.

Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, 1000 Scalp Ave., Johnstown, 7 p.m.

Moxham Lutheran Church, 500 Park Ave., Johnstown, 5:45 p.m.

St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1348 Virginia Ave., Johnstown, 7 p.m.

Trinity Lutheran Church, 600 Ash St., Johnstown, 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Zion Lutheran Church, 613 Locust St., Johnstown, 2 and 7:30 p.m.

Presbyterian

First Presbyterian Church, 309 Lincoln St., Johnstown, 7:30 p.m.

First Presbyterian Church, 1101 Somerset Ave., Windber, 6:30 p.m.

Second Presbyterian Church, 565 Park Ave.,  Johnstown, 6:30 p.m.

Roman Catholic

Holy Name Roman Catholic Church, 500 N. Julian St., Ebensburg, 7 p.m.

St. Clement Roman Catholic Church, 114 Lindberg Ave., Upper Yoder Township, 7 p.m.

St. John Gualbert Cathedral, 117 Clinton St., Johnstown, 6 p.m.

United Methodist

Belmont United Methodist Church, 107 Coldren St., Johnstown, 7 p.m.

Calvary United Methodist Church, 159 Chandler Ave., Johnstown, 7 p.m.

First United Methodist Church, 500 Maple St., South Fork, 7 p.m.

Grove Avenue United Methodist Church, 501 Grove Ave., Johnstown, noon to 1 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.

Hopewell United Methodist Church, 151 Hopewell Road, Hollsopple, 7 p.m.

Mount Hope United Methodist Church, 258 Mount Hope Road, South Fork, 7 p.m.

Oakland United Methodist Church, 1504 Bedford St., Johnstown, 7 p.m.

Park Avenue United Methodist Church, 700 Park Ave., Johnstown, 7 p.m.

Roxbury St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 160 Derby St., Johnstown, 7 p.m.

Summit Chapel United Methodist Church, 2142 William Penn Ave., Johnstown, 7 p.m.

Good Friday

Baptist

Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, 205 Peelor St., Johnstown, noon.

Brethren

Pike Grace Brethren Church, 541 Pike Road, Johnstown, 6 p.m.

Walnut Grove Church of the Brethren, 1068 Bedford St., Johns-town, 6:30 p.m.

Episcopal

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 335 Locust St., Johnstown, 7 p.m.

Independent

Cornerstone Worship Center, 500 Lenz Road, Indiana, 7 p.m.

Greater Johnstown Christian Fellowship, 3429 Elton Road, Johnstown, 3 p.m.

St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, 145 Ohio St., Johnstown, noon.

Lutheran

Dunmyer Lutheran Church, 547 Schoolhouse Road, Elton, 7 p.m.

First Lutheran Church, 415 Vine St., Johnstown, 2 and 7:30 p.m.

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 514 Shady Lane, Windber, 7 p.m.

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 525 Main St., Berlin, 7 p.m.

Laurel Trinity Lutheran Church, 7520 Somerset Pike, Jennerstown, 7 p.m.

Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, 1000 Scalp Ave., Johnstown, 7 p.m.

Moxham Lutheran Church, 500 Park Ave., Johnstown, 7:15 p.m.

St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1348 Virginia Ave., Johnstown, 7 p.m.

Trinity Lutheran Church, 600 Ash St., Johnstown, 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Zion Lutheran Church, 613 Locust St., Johnstown, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m.

Mennonite

Stahl Mennonite Church, 1201 Soap Hollow Road, Johnstown, 7 p.m.

Presbyterian

First Presbyterian Church, 309 Lincoln St., Johnstown, noon.

Westmont Presbyterian Church, 601 Luzerne St., Johnstown, 7:30 p.m.

Roman Catholic

Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, One Cathedral Square, Altoona, 9 a.m., noon and 7:30 p.m.

Holy Name Roman Catholic Church, 500 N. Julian St., Ebensburg, 1 p.m.

St. Benedict Roman Catholic Church, 2310 Bedford St., Johnstown, 1 and 8 p.m.

St. Clement Roman Catholic Church, 114 Lindberg Ave., Upper Yoder Township, 1 and 7 p.m.

St. John Gualbert Cathedral, 117 Clinton St., Johnstown, noon and 6 p.m.

United Methodist

First United Methodist Church, 500 Maple St., South Fork, noon.

Grove Avenue United Methodist Church, 501 Grove Ave., Johnstown, 8 p.m.

Oakland United Methodist Church, 1504 Bedford St., Johnstown, 7 p.m.

Roxbury St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 160 Derby St., Johnstown, noon to 3 p.m.

Sidman United Methodist Church, South Fork, 9 a.m.

Summit Chapel United Methodist Church, 2142 William Penn Ave., Johnstown, 7 p.m.

Trinity United Methodist Church, 111 Willow St., Johnstown, 7 p.m.

Easter

Baptist

Emmanuel Baptist Church, 425 Luther Road, Johnstown, 6 p.m. Saturday and 6:30, 8, 9:30 and 11:15 a.m. March 31.

Emmanuel Baptist Church, West Branch, Westwood Plaza Theater, 11 a.m. March 31.

Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, 205 Peelor St., Johnstown, 11a.m.

Brethren

Johnstown Grace Brethren Church, 535 Napoleon St., 9:30 a.m. March 31.

Morrellville Church of the Brethren, 408 Chandler Ave., Johnstown, 7:30 and 10:30 a.m. March 31.

Moxham Church of the Brethren, 536 Grove Ave., Johnstown, 7 and 10:10 a.m. March 31.

Pike Grace Brethren Church, The Good Place Campground, Route 22, 6 a.m. March 31.

Pike Grace Brethren Church, 541 Pike Road, Johnstown, 10:30 a.m. March 31.

Roxbury Church of the Brethren, 112 Sell St., Johnstown, 7:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. March 31.

Rummell Church of the Brethren, 3432 Graham Ave., Windber, 7 a.m. March 31.

Scalp Level Church of the Brethren, 270 Hoffman Ave., Windber, 10:30 a.m. March 31.

Tire Hill Church the Brethren, 665 Tire Hill Road, 7:30 and 9:30 a.m. March 31.

Walnut Grove Church of the Brethren, 1068 Bedford St., Johnstown, 7 a.m. at Arbutus Church of the Brethren and 10 a.m. at Walnut Grove church.

Independent

Community Open Door Church, Menoher Boulevard and Luzerne Street, Johnstown, 10:30 a.m.     March 31.

Richland Cemetery, 6:30 a.m. March 31.

Lutheran

First Lutheran Church, 415 Vine St., Johnstown, 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 7:30 and 10:45 a.m. March 31.

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 514 Shady Lane, Windber, 7 and 10 a.m. March 31.

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 525 Main St., Berlin, 6:30 and 10:40 a.m. March 31.

Laurel Trinity Lutheran Church, 7520 Somerset Pike, Jennerstown, 7 p.m. Saturday and 6:30 and 10 a.m. March 31.

Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, 1000 Scalp Ave., Johnstown, 8 and 10:30 a.m. March 31.

Moxham Lutheran Church, 500 Park Ave., Johnstown, 7:15 p.m. Saturday.

St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1348 Virginia Ave., Johnstown, 10 a.m. March 31.

Trinity Lutheran Church, 600 Ash St., Johnstown, 6:30 and 10:30 a.m. March 31.

Zion Lutheran Church, 613 Locust St., Johnstown, 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 7:30 and 10:15 a.m. March 31.

Mennonite

Stahl Mennonite Church, 1201 Soap Hollow Road, Johnstown, 7 and 10:30 a.m. March 31.

Roman Catholic

Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, One Cathedral Square, Altoona, 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday.

Holy Name Roman Catholic Church, 500 N. Julian St., Ebensburg, 8 p.m. Saturday and 8, 10 and 11:30 a.m. March 31.

St. Benedict Roman Catholic Church, 2310 Bedford St., Johnstown, 8:30 p.m. Saturday and 6, 7:30, 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. March 31.

St. Clement Roman Catholic Church, 114 Lindberg Ave., Upper Yoder Township, 8 p.m. Saturday and 8:15 and 10:30 a.m. March 31.

St. John Gualbert Cathedral, 117 Clinton St., Johnstown, 8 p.m. Saturday and 8 and 11 a.m. March 31.

United Methodist

Christ United Methodist Church, 200 Ohio St., Johnstown, 7 a.m. March 31.

First United Methodist Church, 436 Vine St., Johnstown, 7 and 9:45 a.m. March 31.

First United Methodist Church, 500 Maple St., South Fork, 7 and 9:30 a.m. March 31.

Grove Avenue United Methodist Church, 501 Grove Ave., Johnstown, 10:45 a.m. March 31.

Hopewell United Methodist Church, 151 Hopewell Road, Hollsopple, 8 a.m. March 31.

Mount Hope United Methodist Church, 258 Mount Hope Road, South Fork, 7 a.m. March 31.

Park Avenue United Methodist Church, 700 Park Avenue, Johnstown, 10:30 a.m. March 31.

Roxbury St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 160 Derby St., Johnstown, 8 and 10:30 a.m. March 31.

Scalp Level Trinity United Methodist Church, 751 Horn Road, Windber, 7 and 9:30 a.m. March 31.

Trinity United Methodist Church, 111 Willow St., Johnstown, 10:45 a.m. March 31.

Wesley United Methodist Church, Main and Church streets, South Fork, 6 and 9:30 a.m. March 31.

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