Thoughts of Easter reinvigorate the heart of the Rev. Jane Youtz Riecke.
The senior pastor at University United Methodist Church is encouraging her congregation to “rethink” with her as she prepares for her first Easter service in Baton Rouge.
“We rethink Easter by looking at the new life that’s provided,” she said. “We rethink Easter by making it more about our faith and less about baby chicks and bunny rabbits and Easter eggs. We rethink Easter by considering our joyful response to Christ’s resurrection. We rethink Easter by considering how we go and tell the message of God’s tremendous love to give up eternal life as this gift of grace.”
“Rethink Church” has a been a theme of United Methodist churches.
“It’s to rethink the church, to rethink what it’s about, to rethink how to look at the church and how we go about being the church,” said Riecke, a Pennsylvania native who came to Baton Rouge in July after 27 years at several UMC churches in Colorado.
The Easter season provides the chance to put the “rethink” concept in action, Riecke said.
“It offers a time of reflection where we can really consider who we are as Christians, what we represent, what we say, what we do,” she said. “It’s a tremendous time of joy in recognizing the great gift of eternal life and really celebrating that ... If we really consider what Easter means to us, it’s a challenge to change our lives and live differently.”
Baton Rouge’s University United Methodist Church, 3350 Dalrymple Drive, celebrates Holy Communion during its special services at 6:30 a.m. (youth), 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. March 27.
Riecke, 58, said she will share with parishioners the concept of change.
“What I’m going to charge is that Easter is an opportunity for new beginnings. … Everything can change for us any one day, but on Easter, it’s even more of an opportunity to change our lives in a new way,” she said.
The 6:30 a.m. sunrise service will be led by the youth, from the music to speaking.
“It’ll be a wonderful celebration of the youth of the church,” Riecke said. “I can’t wait to see what they’re going to present. I’m sure they’re going to give their witness in some way. One or two of them will probably speak, and that will be a great opportunity for celebration.”
It’s important for the young people to be part of the Easter festivities, Riecke said.
“It’s a way for them to make their faith real,” she said. “I think it’s a significant piece of their faith development, to know that their faith is not just something private but something that is shared within community and allows them to make the witness toward others. And if they never have an opportunity to do that at an early age, they’ll never understand how meaningful it could be or fulfilling.”
The later services will feature special music from the “amazing” chamber choir and brass section. The service will end with the “Hallelujah Chorus.”
“It’s going to be just one of those high moments of the church where you’ll really feel the triumph of God in the world,” Riecke said.
For more information, go to universitymethodist.org.
Kingdoms on parade
Palm Sunday presents the clash of two kingdoms. That’s what the Rev. Joe Reggin will share as part of his message at 10:45 a.m. Sunday at Broadmoor Presbyterian Church, 9340 Florida Blvd., Baton Rouge.
“In the Christian liturgical tradition, Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week, which is the remembrance of the final week in the life of Jesus of Nazareth,” Reggin said.
Reggin, the interim pastor at the church for eight months, will speak on “The Parades of the Kingdoms.” The message will be taken from Luke 19:28-40.
“As the story is presented in the Gospels, Jesus and his disciples are coming into Jerusalem at the beginning of the Passover, and he is making a counterpoint demonstration to the entry of Pilate coming in on the other side,” Reggin said. “There are two kingdoms entering the city. One is represented by Pilate, the kingdom of the Roman Empire. And the other is the kingdom of God, represented by Jesus.”
A choir will feature “The Palms” by Jean-Baptiste Fanure.
‘Don’t Leave Earth Without It’
Romans 10:9 is “one of the most important revelations in the Bible,” and a Baton Rouge pastor strongly recommends it for any hope of salvation.
God’s gift of salvation is “divinely conditional,” Pastor Ronnie L. Williams writes in his newest book, “R10:09 The Message of Romans 10:9: ‘Don’t Leave Earth Without It!’ ” (PowerHouse Publishers).
Williams said Romans 10:9 — “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” — makes it clear that “forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life are only assured for those who repent, confess and place their saving faith in Jesus Christ as their risen savior,” Williams writes.
“The Message of Romans 10:9” is the third book for Williams, the pastor of Power in the Word Ministries and founder of Camelot College. Williams will hold a book signing from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. March 26 at the East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, 7711 Goodwood Blvd.
In the 107-page book, Williams takes details of Romans 10:9 to readers, providing related Scriptures and some personal revelation.
“The Message of Romans 10:9 starts with a conscious choice that we must make to receive the promised saving grace of God,” he writes. “The word ‘if’ is only a two-letter word, but in this context, it holds the key to a powerful decision that leads to eternal life or eternal death. … L ife is full of choices; however, I believe that the choice to receive or reject Jesus Christ, the savior of the world, is the most important choice you can make in this life here on Earth.”
Chapters in the book are “The Choice,” “Saving Faith” and “The Deliverance.” And no mention of Romans 10:9 would be complete without a prayer of salvation.
Williams’ other books are “When God Gives You Vision, He Will Also Give You Provision” and “Seven Divine Keys to a Healthier You Now!”
Faith Matters runs every other Saturday in The Advocate. Terry Robinson can be reached at (225) 388-0238 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.