Tag Archives: lent

Easter Sunrise Service Caps 2016 Holy Week and Lenten Observance

The Easter Sunrise Service at the Church Without Walls in Atlanta’s Candler Park at 7:31am on Sunday, March 27th caps the 2016 Holy Week and Lenten observance for Gentle Spirit Christian Church, which includes:

Why Easter is Actually the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

This photo, from a throwback gallery the AJC posted this week, is so great on so many levels. It’s from an age before social media, before everyday internet access — a time when the means for communicating were much simpler, and sometimes bolder. And seeing this image during Eastertide makes even more sense to me.

Yup, it’s still Easter(tide). As in literally, on the liturgical calendar. And even though that season does have a beginning and an end, we should carry a shard of it with us all year long, because the point of Easter should be the point of our daily lives all year: Without forgiveness, there is no resurrection.

Looking at this image, I’m reminded of MLK’s unswerving commitment to nonviolence, which was rooted in his faith. I’m reminded of Mandela’s refusal to rip apart South Africa’s white-dominated rugby culture in the days after apartheid. I’m reminded of all the gay people who attend the legally sanctioned weddings of friends and family knowing they don’t have the same standing in the eyes of their government.

These things happen because people are able to see beyond themselves. They do it because they love and forgive. The photo above is a bittersweet symbol of a time when a despised minority would extend a hand outward and, more often than now, wouldn’t find a hand reaching back.

Love and forgive. It doesn’t get any simpler — or any better — than that.

Rev. Paul M. Turner

About Rev. Paul M. Turner

Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Rev. Paul M. Turner grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994. He is the editor of the Seeds of Hope blog whose posts from 1999-2005 are at http://whosoever.org/seeds/ -- and which now resides at http://gentlespirit.org/topics/blog/seeds-of-hope/.

A Lenten Execution Flies in the Face of Everything Calvary Was About

With the scheduled — and now postponed — executions of Kelly Gissendaner and Brian Keith Terrell in the headlines this Lenten season, I can’t help but wonder how many of the people who support state-sponsored killing are participating in the ages-old Christian ritual of “giving up something for Lent” that amounts to forgoing sweets, or fast food, or caramel-flavored lattes.

I wonder this because that Lenten practice, while well-intentioned, is supposed to feel like a sacrifice. It’s supposed to be part of a time when we renew our focus on God. So the irony of the state executing people during Lent doesn’t escape me; in fact, it haunts me. It haunts me because the end of Lent is Easter, which includes Good Friday, a solemn observance of the day Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice — indeed, at the hands of the state — in order to wash away our sins.

One way of looking at Calvary is that in its own way, it should have been the last state-sponsored execution. Ever. So every time we allow the state to execute someone in our names, we make a mockery of that. We set aside the Good News for the Old Testament of laws that Jesus told us he came to fulfill. And then he gave us a new command: Love one another.

But that new command doesn’t mean much if we can’t apply it in the most trying circumstances. Not executing a convicted killer is just such a circumstance. We should try it sometime, and there’s no better time than Lent.

Rev. Paul M. Turner

About Rev. Paul M. Turner

Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Rev. Paul M. Turner grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994. He is the editor of the Seeds of Hope blog whose posts from 1999-2005 are at http://whosoever.org/seeds/ -- and which now resides at http://gentlespirit.org/topics/blog/seeds-of-hope/.

Easter Sunrise Service Caps 2015 Holy Week and Lenten Observance

The Easter Sunrise Service at the Church Without Walls in Atlanta’s Candler Park at 6:34am on April 5th caps the 2015 Holy Week and Lenten observance for Gentle Spirit Christian Church, which includes: