Wow, April was a busy month!
Get a taste of the events below,
then see even more pictures here.
It was a jubilant morning of palm raising and hosannas!
The church was packed on Easter, reminding many of pre-pandemic times. Pew pads were signed by 362 people, plus 157 devices accessed our online worship on Sunday.
The traditional Silver Grill cinnamon rolls were featured at coffee hour...
... and we had at least 40 kids show up for this year’s Egg Hunt! A dozen youth hid eggs all over the lawn and the playground.
Earth Day Sunday
Between services there were earth-friendly stations for all ages:
Wisdom Jesus Book Study
The April meeting of the Fort Collins Interfaith Council focused on Environmental and Climate issues. The meeting began with a wonderful Native blessing and dancing/drumming and then moved to a movie showing how Native people in Canada are working to take care of Mother Earth. The Fort Collins Climate Action Plan (www.fcgov.com/sustainability) was presented and discussed. Learn about the many activities of the FCIC here.
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The liturgical Season of Easter almost always gets overlooked. And that is crazy because it’s the liturgical season when the work of the people is being called to serious action.
To be an Easter People means that our faith in the resurrection must transform the very meaning of our lives, the church we belong to, and the many deaths woven throughout and among us.
So, let’s start this 50 days of the season of Easter with candle lighting. It’s a simple and accessible way to begin this journey of transformation. I love candles. I love the slow burn of light that glows. I love scented and unscented candles. I love the metaphor of a guiding light in uncertain terrain. I love the practice and intention of striking a match against the hard cardboard box and the first smell of burnt offering when the wick gets lit. I love that the candle almost always decides how long it burns and that the control is out of my hands. I love that this practice is a prayer for this or that–for me, for you, and for the world. Nevertheless, it’s a great way to begin the journey through the Season of Easter.
Mostly, I think that this week is a candle-lighting week for our nation, so I invite you to a ritual in your home.
Gather three or four candles (tea candles or taper candles or a Yankee candle) in a central location: dining room table or coffee table.
Say these words and light a candle for each:
My Easter People, intention comes first, then action. May your prayers be lifted to God in the Spirit of transformation and deep and abiding love. More than anything, may they guide your intention to DO the work of Easter People. Amen.
P.S. If you engage in this practice, I’d love to see the pictures of your lit candles to share in community. You can share them with me using this form.
Perhaps no other time in the liturgical year demonstrates the truly sacred dimensions of music in worship as in the sequence of services from Holy Week through Easter Sunday. The meditative spirit of Lent reaches its conclusion in the drama, even pathos, of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday in remembrance of Jesus' last tragic days of his world-changing ministry. And then Easter Sunday— a burst of joy (boisterous and quiet expressions alike!) celebrating the assured victory of life over death. Green blade rising.
Music for every occasion. A spiritual tool to bring us closer to the divine. Truly a remarkable gift to the world this "ordered sound."
I offer these inspired words from the closing paragraph of the wonderful book "A Song to Sing, A Life to Live" by Don and Emily Saliers:
Listen, and sing...
Begin with the music you already cherish
but live with openness to the possibility
that in the coming years
music you have not yet heard
will lead you more deeply
into the mystery at the heart of all that is...
May music be a wellspring
from which you will drink courage and joy.
Mark Heiskanen, Dir. of Music/Organist
There is no other week in the Christian calendar that brings us from the highs of Palm Sunday to the darkness of Maundy Thursday to the depths of Good Friday and back to the pinnacle of Easter Sunday. It’s a bit of a roller coaster ride! And as a congregation, we embody and relive some of that raucous and then solemn and then joyful journey.
Palm Sunday was jubilant at Plymouth, including the most vigorous palm-frond waving I’ve ever seen! But it doesn’t really work in a narrative sense to skip right from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. This isn’t a week without deep intimacy and tragedy, and to miss that is to diminish the capital-M Mystery of Easter. As is often said, we cannot have Easter’s resurrection without Good Friday’s crucifixion.
My son Chris’s favorite service of the year is the Maundy Thursday Tenebrae service, which demonstrates the shadowy nature of the Last Supper and crucifixion. Many young people “get” the drama of this service, and this year Brooklyn McBride will gather our youngest worshippers and supply them with glowsticks! Our hard-working deacons arrange a simple soup supper at 6:15 in advance of the 7:00 service. (So sorry that snow and frigid temperatures caused us to cancel the Ash Wednesday soup supper!) Join us for this service that will help all of us understand, in both a cerebral and an affective way, the final steps in Jesus’ ministry.
Good Friday is the day of tragedy for Christians. (Even the New York Stock Exchange stops trading for the day!) And we are providing a midday opportunity for you to join us at Plymouth at 12:15 for a program of organ music, spoken word, and quiet meditation. It is a service that helps us as worshipers to feel and acknowledge a small part of the depths of human tragedy.
Easter Sunday at Plymouth reflects the triumph of God’s YES to life, of God’s realm over empire, of love over violence. Our worship embodies this with glorious hymns and alleluias, brass and timpani, abundant flowers, and a celebration of the resurrection. Easter Sunday at Plymouth also means cinnamon rolls from the Silver Grill at 10:00 and an Easter Egg Hunt at the same time. (Did you know that blown Easter eggs reflect the empty tomb and that an Easter egg roll is emblematic of rolling the stone away from the tomb?) I would strongly recommend arriving early for either the 9:00 or 11:00 service. It’s also a great Sunday to invite a friend to church, someone who might need the gift of Plymouth in their lives.
For me, Easter has a special meaning this year. We all have lived through the shadows and depths of the pandemic, and it seems that as a world and as a congregation, we finally are experiencing resurrection. As Paul intimates, it is with a somewhat different body. The world is not exactly the same as it was three years ago, nor is Plymouth the same as it was before Covid. But we are here to testify to its resurrection.
P.S We are “mask-friendly” at Plymouth, so you are welcome to wear a mask but are not required to do so.
P.P.S. You can find the livestreams (and recordings) of the midweek services on our Holy Week & Easter page.