Easter Conference Report
Grace opened our Easter Conference of 2019 on Friday night,with some great old hymns which really set the tone for the weekend. Alison preached a sermon titled “Lead Me Lord Once More to Calvary”. She spoke about the importance of repentance and the necessary of continually returning to Calvary to repent of our sins. At one point she spoke specifically to the young people in the congregation, saying that the commitments to God we make when we are young set the foundation of our spiritual lives and referenced 2 Samuel 24:24, “I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” (NIV). She closed her sermon with a powerful image of Jesus’ suffering urging us to look at Him in his anguish at Calvary and see that we are required to respond by giving Him our own lives.
On Saturday afternoon, after the singing, Stephen and Rebecca Jewell sang Rebel Heart by Lauren Daigle. The song speaks of God’s abundant grace and forgiving power. After them Andrew spoke. He titled his sermon “The Plaintive Bleating of a Lamb” and spoke of the symbolism of the story of the deliverance of God’s people out of Egypt and the Passover – which celebrates this event – which was celebrated at the time leading up to the crucifixion. He talked about how the lamb chosen by each household to sacrificed, which had to be without blemish, symbolises Jesus to us. As it was separated and sacrificed as a substitute for a life, so Jesus was separated from His father and gave his life in order that we don’t have to give our own. He also pointed out that the blood was out on the doorposts and lintel but not on the doorstep so that you entered underneath the blood and never stepped on it, showing us that we should treat the blood of Christ with reverence.
In the Saturday night meeting the United Choir sang Is He Worthy? by Andrew Paterson. It’s always really special when the United Choir sing and this was no exception. After this Diana preached. She spoke of the intimate relationship God wants us to have with Him. She centred much of her sermon around Song of Solomon 3:6-11 which speaks of Solomon’s chariot. She spoke of Solomon as representing Christ, inviting us to sit with him in his chariot away from the “wielders of the sword” who protect it. Diana also spoke of the peace we should have in the knowledge that God is completely in control. There is no need for us to stress or strain, we need only sit in Christ’s chariot.
The next morning, Grace spoke a sermon around the theme “we would see Jesus”. She spoke of the meetings between individuals and Christ after His resurrection. She spoke of the contrast between Mary’s suffering and joy in the garden where she meets Jesus. After this she spoke of Peter’s denial, saying that the problem with being a strong person, like Peter, is that you depend on yourself until God brings you to the end of yourself. She spoke of the fact that resurrection and suffering go hand in hand, and it is through experiencing something of both that we come to know Christ more.
That afternoon there was a tarry meeting in which God’s presence was very strongly with us. The children also had an Easter egg hunt, as they do each year.
The evening meeting was our baptismal service which is always incredibly moving and is consistently my favourite part of our annual Easter Conference. Jennifer spoke about the significance of water baptism, both in the Bible and for the individuals who choose to be baptised. She also spoke specifically of Jesus’ own baptism which we read of in the gospels. After this, one at a time, those being baptised gave testimony, were given a baptismal promise (read by Grace)and were baptised. The testimonies of those being baptised spoke so clearly of the relentless persuit of God’s love and brought an incredible atmosphere. God’s blessing was so clearly over the whole service. Personally, I found the testimonies very uplifting and I’m sure I speak for many others in saying so.
God’s presence covered the whole weekend, and I’m sure there was no one who left without having felt the power and blessing of it. Now we are looking forward to the summer camps with much expectation!