There’s a reason why most holidays last only 24 hours.
It’s because when you’re finished celebrating, there’s still work to be done. The Rev. David Young reminded everyone who attended Sunday’s community Easter morning service at Lawrence Village Plaza of that.
An estimated 250 people attended the multi-church, interdenominational worship event. At least half of them bundled up to stand or sit in lawn chairs in front of the flatbed truck trailer used as a stage, while others remained in their cars — parked at least eight rows deep — to listen on their radios.
No matter what their vantage point, though, they listened as Young, pastor of Prevailing Word World Outreach Center, identified Easter as a day of celebration, identification and activation.
“We celebrate today because we’ve been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb for our sins,” Young said, referring to the fundamental tenet of Christianity that Jesus’ resurrection provides the only way mankind can be reconciled with God and spend eternity with him.
“Jesus has given us victory over sin, death, hell and the grave. We celebrate today because ... we can live victoriously and we can live abundantly in this life, and in the life to come.”
But, Young cautioned, when Easter has passed and the celebration wanes, those who have accepted Jesus’ sacrfice as payment for their sin have a to-do list to tackle.
“Resurrection cannot happen without death,” Young went on. “In order for us to live a life that is honorable to God, we must die to our old, carnal life daily and let Christ’s light shine through us. We must die to our own feelings, die to our own emotion, die to our own dreams and goals.
“You say, ‘I have goals and I have dreams, and I want to accomplish this or that.’ But everything that we say and every intent of our heart must be subject to the lordship of Jesus Christ ... We must die to our own self, we must identify with the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus in his resurrection light can shine in and through us.”
In Luke 18:6, Jesus teaches that no one with such a light hides it; rather, he puts it on a stand so that those who enter can see the light. Similarly, Young told his listeners, celebration and identification must come with activation.
“There is a reason why our Savior lives again,” he said. “It was to redeem us, but it was also to activate us into the service of the Lord. So often today, our churches get to the point where they’re run like Romper Room or kindergarten. It is time for us to raise up and be the army of the Lord in these last days, and allow God to activate us in the kingdom service.
“After Jesus rose from the dead, he met with his disciples and he said ‘all power ... has been given unto me in heaven and the earth.’ He then commissioned us with that power and said, ‘you go and preach the gospel to every creature.’ ”
Following Young’s message, worshippers were given a chance to shine the light of Christ into their community. That came through an offering that would benefit a New Castle Area School District program that provides weekend food for 200 students who might otherwise have none.
“These students rely on school for their meals,” district Superintendent John Sarandrea said. “Some eat lunch on Friday, and that is their last meal until they arrive back at school on Monday morning.”
Sarandrea challenged the crowd to do likewise: to abstain from eating, from lunch Friday until breakfast Monday, “and see how far you can get.”
“See what kind of mood you are in,” he went on. “See how important your boss’ balance sheet that you need to do becomes to you when you haven’t eaten all weekend.”
Qualifying students have food slipped discreetly into their backpacks each Friday, so that they may eat Saturday and Sunday. According to the website of the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank, the average weekly cost to provide this food to a child is $5.
The food bank and the Shenango Valley Foundation sponsor New Castle’s program.