Easter Newsletter 2018
“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!’”
-- Luke 24:1-5
The women were looking for one who was dead, expecting to see the body of our Lord Jesus Christ in the tomb—the place of the dead. But when they arrived at the tomb, they were told by the men in gleaming clothes that their search for Him was in the wrong place. The messengers of God must have been dead serious in their question, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” Though in another sense, their query could be taken with facetious irony of looking in the wrong place for what obviously would not be there, but also centrally points to their lack of faith in and grasping of what Jesus said and meant during his discourses before the cross about his rising again.
Often, we find ourselves looking for a living Jesus Christ in the wrong places if we only get focused on the places themselves without looking beyond them to what is unseen. In actuality, we, just as the women who went to the tomb, find ourselves in places where Christ would be assumed dead such as where sadness looms over joy, darkness prevails over light and death reigns over life. I found myself in such a place of doom and gloom recently. But I found that even there, God is alive and victorious!
My wife, Pastor Spring, was hospitalized in mid-December for pneumonia. We, including my son and daughter, thought that after a week or two at a local rehabilitation center that she would be up on her feet back to the life at home that she had before her sickness. Little did we realize the toll that the last five years of taking immunosuppressant medication and the neuropathy from a neck surgery had upon her resilience to bounce back. Infections and edema (water retention) brought her down and all of the medical measures in which we felt hopeful at first were of little avail to arrest and reverse the week-to-week decline in her condition. After a month at the rehabilitation center, she was readmitted to the hospital, and then after having her condition was stabilized, spend five days at home with our hope of her getting her spirits up and seeing her improve. Instead, she declined further and was hospitalized, and diagnosed with a relapse of pneumonia.
After her being a week on life-support in intensive care, church members and dear friends were gathered around at her bedside. Everyone was there including myself and my son, except for my daughter, Jena, who stepped out for lunch. I noticed that my wife’s heart rate became erratic and began to decline rapidly. Sensing that her time was near, I called my daughter. It seemed as though Spring, unconscious, was holding on and amazingly, when Jena entered the room and touched her mother’s hand, just moments later, her heart stopped. As Ecclesiastes 3:2 and 3:11 state, “There is a time to be born and a time to die,” and that “God has made everything beautiful in its own time.”
For all of those present, there was an awesome sense of divine timing. In just few hours later, I would have had to execute our decision to remove life-support, but I am grateful to God that my wife went on her own. Again, the Lord’s timing. The miraculous timing of her last breath reassured me of God being in control of everything and that my wife of forty-two years together was now free from pain and with the Lord whom she loved and served.
The pastors and members of Sunrise Church pray for the experienced presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in your life during this Easter Season. --- Pastor Paul Iwata
On behalf of the pastors and members of Sunrise Church, we pray that you have a blessed Easter! --Pastor Paul Iwata