Marc and Denise Atchley - May 2019
With Marc & Denise Atchley
CHRIST IS RISEN INDEED
"if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep."1 Corinthians 15:17-20 (NIV)
For the second consecutive year we've had the joy of participating in Easter and Holy Week observances two separate times. First, with our fellow Christians in the western church, and again with our Eastern Orthodox friends ... more on why they are separate below. While Christmas is arguably the most popular observance in the Christian calendar (it's certainly the most merchandised), there is no more important celebration for true believers than Easter. Though Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried on Friday, he was raised to life on Sunday. All our hope hangs on the reality of Christ's bodily resurrection.
Jesus' resurrection proves that he is indeed the Son of God (Ro 1:4) and could not be held by death (Acts 2:24), happening as he had claimed (Jn 2:18-22; Mt 12:40; Mt 16:16-17,20-21; Jn 10:17-18) and as the prophets had foretold (Ps 16:10; Isa 53:10-12).Jesus' resurrection proves that by his death he has satisfied the payment due for our sins (Ro 4:25; 1 Co 15:17), as he had claimed (Mt 20:28; Jn 10:11; Mt 26:28) and as the prophets had foretold (Gen 3:15; Isa 52:13 - 53:12; Jn 1:29).
Jesus' resurrection proves that if we are truly united to him, we have died to sin and have been raised to newness of life (Ro 6:1-11; Col 3:1-3), as he claimed (Lk 4:18-19; Jn 8:31-32,34-36) and as the prophets had foretold (Isa 43:18-19; 53:5; 61:1-11).
Jesus' resurrection proves that all who die will experience a bodily resurrection (Acts 24:15) -- those in Christ will be raised to glory (Ro 8:11; 1Co 15:42-44,49,52; Phil 3:20-21) and unbelievers to condemnation (Rev 20:11-15), as he claimed (Jn 5:28-29; Lk 20:34-36; Jn 14:1-3) and as the prophets foretold (Ps 71:20; Isa 26:19; Da 12:2-3).
Let us rejoice for Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!
Below is a short piece we shared in last April's (2018) "Coffee Talk" on why there are two celebrations of Easter (and Holy Week) each year. We've revised the dates to correspond with observances in 2019.
One Formula, Two Calendars, the Sun and Moon
As we prepare ourselves for life and ministry in Greece, we're learning that there are a number of differences in the way that we as typical American Protestant Christians celebrate Easter in comparison to those in the Greek Orthodox Church. The date is a good example! Our church, like other Western churches (Roman Catholic and Protestant) celebrated Easter on April 21. But for the Eastern Orthodox Church, April 21 marked Palm Sunday, with Pascha following on April 28. Why the difference?
Interestingly, both churches - East and West - use the same formulation set out by the First Council of Nicea in 325 AD: "The first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal (Spring) equinox." But they use different calendars. For purposes of establishing the date for Pascha, the Eastern churches continue to use the Julian calendar first introduced in 46 BC by Julius Caesar. Churches in the West, however, use the Gregorian calendar, introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 (and now in general use around the world). Additionally, Eastern churches use the fixed date of March 21 on the Julian calendar (currently April 3 on the Gregorian calendar) for the vernal equinox, whereas churches in the West use a more astronomically accurate time for vernal equinox which may be March 20 or 21 on the Gregorian calendar (nearly two weeks earlier than the Julian calendar).
This difference in dates is just one of many things that divide Eastern and Western churches. Yet when we consider the nominalism of "Christians" all over, as well as the growing number of un-churched, it's evident that churches East and West desperately need revival. Not a revival meeting ... but a Spirit-borne awakening, a reformation, that produces repentance and living faith in individuals and in families, churches, communities and nations. For years, our church (Christ Covenant) has encouraged the formation of "revival prayer" groups to pray specifically for revival. And we want to see this happening in Greece as well! If you are interested in joining a revival prayer group or would like to learn more about starting your own, we would love to share about our experience!
Victory Baptist Church: In early April Marc had the privilege to meet with a few members of the ministry team at Victory Baptist Church (Maryville, TN) to discuss our vision for disciple-making in Greece. Pastor Craft and the others are supportive of our plans and have invited us to be present at the church's missions conference in September. What awesome partners!
First Presbyterian Church: The last Sunday in April we had the opportunity to worship with First Presbyterian Church (Weaverville, NC) and to meet with the missions committee. This historic church supports numerous missionaries around the world and is deeply committed to praying for them. We look forward to a long-term relationship with this congregation!
The Lord continues to provide. We need to raise just $1,900/month more in pledges by early May in order to attend Pre-Departure Orientation this coming June. Actual giving can wait until we are closer to leaving, but the pledge of support today will help us to meet our target. Gifts given now are set aside for us. Thank you for your generosity!
Marc and Denise Atchley
TEAM - Greece