Sunday morning, Thomas Strong, pastor of Metairie Baptist Church, was preaching on Mark 12 in a message he called “Preparing for Easter.” He told this story from a writer named Joyce Halliday.
An elementary schoolteacher was asked to go by the burn unit of the local hospital. A child had come through a tragic house fire, and was in critical condition. The instructions were rather odd. “Go by and talk to him about nouns and adverbs.” She thought that was bizarre, but someone had decided it would help the child, and anything that would do that, she was in favor of.
A nurse showed her into the PICU. The child was wrapped in bandages with only portions of his face visible. The nurse said he had been unresponsive up to that point. The teacher pulled up a chair and introduced herself, then said, “They asked me to come by and talk with you about nouns and adverbs.” So she did, feeling more and more foolish the whole time. After a bit, she wished the child well and left.
The next day, she decided to check on the child. As she approached the intensive care unit, a nurse met her in the hall. “What did you do yesterday?” The teacher stammered and began apologizing. “I know it was silly to talk with him about nouns and adverbs, but those were my instructions. I’m sorry.” The nurse said, “No–whatever you did worked wonders. Come and see.”
The child was still in bandages, but his face was animated and he was speaking. Why had a little lesson like this changed him so much? The boy said, “I knew they wouldn’t ask a teacher to talk to me about nouns and adverbs if they thought there was no hope.”
Thomas Strong said, “God would not have sent His Son for a people for whom there was no hope.”
Somewhere I read that people can live 6 weeks without food, 2 weeks without water, but not a day without hope.
Some texts that come to my preacher-mind are these….
“(We are) born again to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead….” I Peter 1:3
“This hope we have as an anchor for our souls.” Hebrews 6:19.
“For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees?” Romans 8:24
Easter is the earliest this year you will ever experience it: March 23.
My longtime buddy Chet Griffin sent us the following which was sent to him in the time-honored way of internet stuff. All of which is to say that while I believe it’s true, I did not do the research and cannot vouch for it.
“Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox (which comes on March 20). This dating of Easter is based on the lunar calendar that the Hebrews used to locate Passover, and that’s why it moves around on our Roman calendar.”
“Based on this system, Easter can actually be one day earlier than this year, March 22, but that is extremely rare. This year is the earliest any of us will ever see Easter for the rest of our lives. In fact, only the most elderly among us have ever seen it this early before. And none of us have ever or will ever see it a day earlier.”
“Here are the facts:
1) The next time Easter will be this early (March 23) will be the year 2228, which is 220 years from now.
2) The last time it was this early was 1913. So if you are 95 or older, you are the only ones still around who experienced that.
3) The next time it will be a day earlier, March 22, will be in the year 2285, which is 277 years from now.
4) The last time it was on March 22 was 1818.
“Therefore, no one alive today has or will ever see it any earlier than this year’s date.”
I shared this with some pastors today and we all agreed that each congregation probably has about two or three people who eat this information up; the others are bored silly by it. Me, I love it.
We can all agree that, just as with Christmas, the importance of the event is the main thing, not when it appears on the calendar.
Mike Holloway, president of our state Baptist convention, called me today. He’s writing a column urging churches in Louisiana to send volunteers this way to continue the work of rebuilding our churches. Since he is new in the position as our elected leader, I thanked him and said, “I have a story for you.”
This woman goes into a pet store to buy a parrot. She picks out one and asks the price. The clerk says, “That one is $2,000.” “Oh my,” she said. “Why so much?”
The clerk said, “He speaks 6 languages and understands the European Common Market.”
The woman looked around, found another parrot and said, “How about that one?” The clerk said, “This one costs $3,000.”
“Goodness,” she said. “Why so much?” The clerk said, “He speaks 7 languages and understands the workings of Congress.”
“Well,” the woman said, “how much for the one at the end?” The clerk said, “That one costs $4,000.”
“Well, what does he do?” said the woman.
“He doesn’t actually do anything, but the other birds all call him ‘Mister President.'”
There has to be a sermon illustration in that, but I haven’t been able to find it yet.