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April 9, 2012

Photo Gallery, Story: Pastor urges Easter morning worshippers to celebrate — and share — good news of Christ

NEW CASTLE — Get the gospel message out.

That was the challenge the Rev. Joseph Lahr issued yesterday to worshippers at the third annual community Easter service at Lawrence Village Plaza.

For Bob Peters, though, the task actually began a few days earlier.

Each Easter, those who attend the 7 a.m. outdoor event have the option of sitting in lawn chairs or — when temperatures are in the mid-30s, as they were yesterday — to stay inside their cars and listen through their radios.

As of Thursday, though, Peters — a Shenango Township supervisor and one of the Third Presbyterian Church members who organize the service — had yet to locate a low-power FM transmitter that makes the system work. The one used the last two years was no longer available, and “the only one I could find was in Yankee Lake (in Brookfield, Ohio), and they were using it until midnight,” Peters said. “I wasn’t going to be driving up to Yankee Lake at midnight.”

Peters’ next move was to try local funeral homes, and he started with the Noga’s on South Mill Street. There, he said, Russell S. Noga got on the Internet and located a transmitter — in Michigan.

“Oh, that’s a good place for it,” Peters recalled saying, “but Rusty said, ‘Don’t worry, it’ll be here tomorrow.’ I asked him how much it cost, and he said, ‘If you’re doing a sunrise service, I’ll donate it to you.’ So the Noga Funeral home bought the transmitter, and now we have one that’s ours.”

Thus, whether in folding chairs or cars, everyone got to hear Lahr preach from Luke 22:66-71, in which Jesus declares to his accusers that he is the son of God, and is condemned for it.

“They convicted the Lord on what he said,” the pastor of Cornerstone Community Church said. “By his very own words, they convicted him. So I’m going to ask you this morning: By his very own words, are you laying hands on the sick? He said you could. Are you seeing Jesus for who he is?

“If they convicted him and put him to death for who he was, how much greater shall we live for who he is?”

Lahr reminded listeners repeatedly that Jesus is risen and alive, and that although that is cause for rejoicing, the celebration of Easter shouldn’t stop there.

“He lives in me, he lives in you, but he’s also doing a work across the world,” Lahr preached. “We get so focused on what God did, but I want to know what you’re doing. I want to see lives changed, I want to see things happening. I want to see people’s families transformed.

“When was the last time that you declared that ‘Jesus is alive’ to somebody standing alongside you pumping gas? When was the last time you were in Walmart and you shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with somebody? You have no problem sharing that something’s on sale and grabbing them and bringing them there.”

But while Lahr urged Christians to proclaim the Lord, he also invited non-Christians to turn to him.

“Salvation has already been purchased, there is no sale, it is free,” he said, continuing his Walmart analogy. “It’s ready for you, and all you’ve got to do is go up to counter, give them the ticket and say ‘Jesus is alive, and I declare it.’”

(Email: d_irwin@ncnewsonline.com)

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