Pastor’s Letter, April 10, 2024

Dear Friends in Christ,
Robert Cottrel, a writer and inspirational speaker with 35 years’ experience in nonprofit management, is a former evangelical Christian church member who’s spent decades helping bring hope into the lives of children with life-threatening illnesses. He’s just written an article posted on Patheos, a non-denominational, non-partisan online media company providing information and commentary from various religious and nonreligious perspectives ( It has this provocative title: Has the Church Resealed the Tomb? In this season of Eastertide, a time for embracing the fullness of Easter, I think it’s an article worth giving a thoughtful hearing.

Cottrell writes,

I often ponder the path the church has taken. How its steps, meant to follow the footprints of Jesus, have veered so far away from the open tomb and Jesus’ message of lavish, unconditional love and inclusion. It’s a path that places us back under the shadows of law and stones of conditional love and exclusion, and puts Jesus back in the tomb and reseals it with power and fear!

Jesus was all about the outlier. He shared a message of an all-encompassing love—a love that knew no boundaries, that extended beyond the margins of society, that embraced the outcast, the marginalized, the misunderstood. Jesus’ ministry was one of radical inclusion, where the least likely were the most welcome. This was a love that broke the chains of legalism, that challenged the rules, religious leaders and institutions. He put the entirety of the law into two commands: Love God and love others…

Yet, as I look around today, I see so many churches that are the exact opposite. They have nothing to do with the teachings and message of Jesus. He is just a mascot. They prioritize rules over relationships, dogma over empathy, and orthodoxy over understanding. They have rolled those stones back across the entrance of the tomb, trapping, with fear and false teachings, themselves and their followers inside.

The exclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals is a prime example of this regression…

Cottrell is obviously speaking to a particular group of churches with which he has experience, but we all practice a degree of intolerance and indifference that can result in exclusion of others. So, it is we ought consider what kind of welcome we offer newcomers to church as well as to strangers in the community outside our walls and in our lives. For, as Cottrel concludes: If you want to be a people of the resurrection, and not a people of a re-sealed tomb; the best way to celebrate Easter and move forward is by loving yourself and loving others the same way the one you claim to follow did.

Blessings of Eastertide, Pastor Ed

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