Easter sermons in Butler County offer messages of hope, love

| Saturday, April 19, 2014, 5:15 p.m.

On Easter Sunday, the Rev. James F. Murphy will tell parishioners of St. Fidelis Parish in Connoquenessing the story of how a woman tells her husband that she wants to be buried with a dessert fork.

“The meal is fine,” the woman tells the husband, “but the best is yet to come.”

“Death does not have the final word,” Murphy said.

Across Butler County, thousands of Christians will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday and listen to messages of hope and renewal.

Murphy said he will speak about reaching out to others.

“We have to think that we will live forever,” Murphy said, “that we are being called to take on the challenges of life, by bringing light into the darkness of others' lives.” Some ways to do that, Murphy said, are to visit the sick, and to offer comfort to those who are troubled.

“We have to be patient with others,” Murphy said. “And not so aggressive in our own needs. We should not focus on holding onto this life, and use it as a gift for creating joy and hope in other people's lives.”

Easter “is such a great feast. It challenges us to trust Easter, trust that God has our back,” said the Rev. John P. Gallagher, pastor of St. Ferdinand Catholic Church in Cranberry.

Pointing to incidents such as the April 9 mass stabbing at Franklin Regional High School, Gallagher said some think “evil seems to be getting stronger and stronger, and we seem to be getting weaker and weaker. We just have to trust that God is there in the parent absence, and he does have our back, and Easter will be the victory, not Good Friday.”

Worshippers at NorthBridge Community Church in Cranberry, which partnered with North Point Ministries in Alpharetta, Ga., will listen to a video sermon of teaching pastor Andy Stanley, lead pastor Jame A. Price said.

Stanley's message says that Christians don't believe that Jesus rose from the dead because the Bible says so, Price said.

“They believe it because people who knew Jesus said they saw him alive after his crucifixion, men like Matthew, John, Peter and James. These men gave their lives and their livelihoods for what they said they saw,” Stanley said in an Easter message on his church's website.

Stanley will also draw a distinction between “believe that,” and “trust in,” Price said, asking whether someone believes that the teachings of Jesus are wise and good or whether someone has crossed the line and placed their trust in his resurrection.

“If you respect Jesus and his teachings, but have never crossed the line and put your trust in him as a risen personal Savior, there will never be a better day than today,” Stanley added.

“You were brought into this world because of love,” said the Rev. Douglas Lorance, pastor of St. Michael Parish in Lyndora. “It is the love of Jesus Christ that sustains you, and you should return that love to him and him alone.”

Rachel Farkas and Bill Vidonic are staff writers for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or rfarkas@tribweb.com. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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