… according to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt. My spirit abides among you; do not fear.Haggai 2:5
In 2007 the Trinity Church Council had a great plan. To be a more hospitable congregation, to share more information with newcomers, to greet people and connect more fully we needed a Welcome Center. There was much enthusiasm for the idea. There were discussions with architects, church-wide meetings, congregational reflection input and prayer. It appeared that all systems were go and construction would begin. However, then it happened, economists saw the event as much like the Great Depression. The stock market fell dramatically. Many in the church were thinking we can’t do this now! Where will the 3-million-dollar cost come from plus the tithe for missions. The air quickly deflated from our balloon and we were left shaking our heads. Yet, the lay leadership team kept at it, the building committee continued meeting, and the stewardship team did not flag in zeal. Remarkably, gifts came in unexpected sums from unexpected places. What seemed like the worst of times became the best of times. In an era of economic depression God showered us with astounding grace and provision.
The prophet Haggai speaks of such a time after Babylonian captivity. The leaders and so many of the people had been carried off into exile. The temple was destroyed, the city in ruins. When older residents remembered the former glory they were despondent, depressed, discouraged. Matters seemed so bleak. Then the Lord spoke through Haggai, “Take courage for I am with you, my spirit abides with you.” That’s Easter talk isn’t it? The cross, the symbol of redemption is the most recognizable symbol of our faith. The people Haggai was addressing didn’t know the cross, but they heard the prophet speak of the spirit abiding with them.
When the cross that stood atop of the steeple at Trinity was removed for repairs my wife Julie and I were flabbergasted and humbled when it was placed in our honor in the Welcome Center. You notice there is no bodily image on most of our crosses. That is a reminder that Christ is now present through the Holy Spirit. Just when we think we are defeated and there is no way, the Christ of faith comes among us. Just as we witnessed with the Welcome Center and the people addressed by Haggai after exile the spirit comes among us empowering and providing. I suspect the work of the Holy Spirit may be the greatest proof of resurrection for us Easter people!
Rev. John Peters