• April 15, 2021

Easter 2021: perfect timing - Odessa American: Religion

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Easter 2021: perfect timing

Ministers say Sunday is emblematic of the country’s escape from the pandemic

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  • 'The Morning of the Resurrection'

    In this painting, “The Morning of the Resurrection,” by English artist Edward Burne-Jones (1833-98) Mary Magdalene, center, meets Jesus Christ in his tomb as two angels, seated, look on.

Posted: Saturday, April 3, 2021 3:30 am

In a time when national church attendance is dropping, Easter Sunday is the exception as many people who are usually disinterested dress up and show up.

The Rev. Windsor Archie, missionary Alma Castillo and the Rev. Roy Smith say the day’s special quality awakens even the normally somnambulant.

“It causes everyone to reflect on the sacrifice that Jesus made for them,” the Rev. Archie said. “It causes them to feel convicted in so many ways and causes them to deepen their relationship with Jesus.”

The Rose of Sharon Missionary Baptist Church pastor said there is little comparison between Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and the sacrifices of bulls, goats and lambs in the Old Testament. “Even shedding the blood of animals wasn’t good enough to make amends for the sins of the people,” the Rev. Archie said.

“It had to be a greater sacrifice and the perfect Lamb of God was the only sacrifice that could be made to save men’s souls. What he did on Calvary was part one of a two-part series that concluded when he was raised from the dead.”

When the pastor was young in Marlin, southeast of Waco, he said, Easter was simply a time for new clothes for church, the Easter Bunny, candy and Easter egg hunts. But as he got older, he came to know that it “wasn’t about Easter eggs but was about the one who came out of the Easter tomb,” he said.

“I hope and pray that people will realize Easter is all about the sacrifice Jesus made for the world,” Archie said.

Castillo, a member of Templo Peniel Church in Midland, said Easter didn’t seem very significant when she was growing up and attending church in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico, across the border from Eagle Pass, but she understood its importance by the time she was 18.

“It’s with the resurrection that we have life through Jesus,” she said, just having returned from a missionary trip to Mexico March 15. “The blood of his crucifixion washed our sins away and he is alive so that we may be with him.”

Castillo has made four or five annual trips to Mexico for 20 years and has helped establish 13 soup kitchens in Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras, Chile, Argentina and Mexico, where her travels to donate food, clothing, toys, mattresses, furniture and other things to the poor have taken her to Durango, Camargo, Rio Bravo, Acuna, Monterrey, Mexico City and the Tarahumara Indians in the mountains of Chihuahua.

“Easter is a fellowship and a celebration of who Jesus is,” she said. “I kept going to church and reading and I learned what the resurrection really meant. We have a sunrise service at Templo Peniel. People dress up and we have a nice sermon about the resurrection from Pastor Toni de Luna to remind people that there is a savior who can cleanse all their sins.

“If we live for him, one day we will resurrect. The dead in Christ will arise first and receive him.”

When she was a child, Castillo said, church members weaved palm tree leaves in commemoration of Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when people laid small tree branches in his path as he rode a donkey.

“I need a good van,” she said, adding that she may be reached at almacastillo61@gmail.com.

The Rev. Smith, pastor of True Lite Christian Fellowship in Midland, said his church won’t have a sunrise service but will have drive-through services from 9-9:30 a.m. at 3001 N. A St.

“It’s a strength-builder for the church, getting to know one another for those who are not comfortable with going through the entire service at 11 a.m.,” he said. “Easter is about the living hope of Jesus because without the resurrection, there would be no Christianity and no hope. All that we believe rests on that one thing.”

Smith said Easter falls at a remarkably auspicious time this year with the waning of the pandemic and the return of people to church and other social settings after a year of uncertainty and dread. “God created us a social people and covid shut that down,” he said.

“Easter is a day that’s specially oriented for the living God and if there ever was a Sunday for Christian celebration, this is it. It involves a thanksgiving by Christians for what Christ has done for us.”

Odessa, TX

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