Dreary skies and wet grass caused the Easter sunrise service scheduled for Coleman Hill in Macon to be moved into Mulberry Street United Methodist Church on Sunday. But nothing dampened Easter services held around the midstate as a variety of religions celebrated the holy day.
A pre-K group sang a unique version of the Lords Prayer at Forest Hills United Methodist Church. Two church groups came together at the Douglass Theatre with singing, dancing and a dramatic performance. Some churches decorated large outdoor crosses with flowers to mark the occasion. A sampling of some services:
First Baptist Church of Christ
At Macons First Baptist Church of Christ, the Rev. Stanley Roberts opened the service with an a cappella adaptation of Were You There, singing to a hushed congregation.
The service featured repeated references to rebirth, several in the form of gardens and planting.
During the childrens sermon, the Rev. Julie Long told children gathered at the front of the church that seeds remind her of the Easter story.
God can take something that was dead and give it new life, she told them. Thats what Easter is all about.
The children were given small, plastic bags of wildflower seeds to plant.
Before his sermon, the Rev. Scott Dickison read from John 20: 1-18, which tells of Mary Magdalenes visit to the tomb where Jesus was buried. At one point Jesus speaks to her, but she does not recognize him and presumes that he is the gardener.
In his sermon Instructions for Living a Life, Dickison mentioned three particulars for doing so: pay attention, be astonished and tell about it.
Mary did just that, he said. It took Mary to complete the resurrection story.
It was fitting that she thought Jesus was a gardener at first. Gardens are a place of healing, communion and new life, Dickison told worshippers. Where is the cycle of life more evident than a garden?
If a garden teaches trust, how much more a garden tomb? he asked later in the sermon.
The keeper of the garden -- the keeper of our garden, this is who Mary met in the garden, he said.
Dickison said it was his hope that all Christians will recognize the risen Christ when we encounter Him in our lives.
High Point Church
High Point Church on Hollis Road in Macon celebrated a new beginning by welcoming new pastor Trey Dickerson, who preached on the power of the resurrection in the past, present and future.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important event in Christian history, Dickerson said. People are looking for the power of his resurrection today.
That power brings new life to the sinner and eternal life to those who know Jesus, he said.
He will transform our lowly body to be transformed to his glory, Dickerson said.
Central Baptist Church
Delivering a message on The Life for Which Christ Arose, Owen Bozeman, lead pastor at Central Baptist Church in Warner Robins, noted that God has painted a beautiful portrait of eternity in Scripture.
After this life, the believers body will be changed and made spiritually fit for a new heaven and a new Earth, said Bozeman during the first of two morning worship services.
Bozeman noted that the word raised is found 19 times in 1 Corinthians 15.
He then read aloud 1 Corinthians 15:42-44; 50-53 on the resurrection of the believers body after death.
All of this is because of Jesus, the Son of God, Bozeman said. In His glorious radiance, death is but a passing shadow, but a passing blimp against the canvass of eternity.
This is what enables us to live on in spite of the death of our loved ones. This is what enables us to live on despite the uncertainties in our world. This is what fuels our desire for our loved ones to know Jesus Christ. This is what causes men and women to leave everything and go and serve and try to take the gospel to unreached people groups because they have this certainty of eternity, he said.
Forest Hills United Methodist Church
Easter Sunday -- this is what its all about, The Rev. Baxter Hurley at Forest Hills United Methodist Church said at the beginning of his message Sunday. Easter Sunday is not just something that happened to the Son of God some 2,000 years ago ... when He stepped out of the tomb alive ... that is a historic fact, but there is so much more to it than that.
Hurley read the traditional Easter service passages in Mark 16 of the Bible about Mary and others finding the tomb empty where Jesus had been placed after being crucified on the cross, but Hurleys message focused mostly on Colossians 3:1-4.
Hurley said Apostle Paul wrote later in life in Colossians and in Romans about what Easter means to us today.
The verse Since, then, you have been raised with Christ in Colossians 3:1 doesnt mean that it is something we did for ourselves, Hurley said.
I did not raise myself to new life, he said. This is something that God gave for me. God raises me. ... It is something that happened in the past whose benefit continues into the present.
Hurley later asked the congregation to ponder what they think about during quiet times, when the radio is off in the car or the TV is dark.
When your mind wanders, what does it wander to? Hurley said. Paul says we should put our mind on heavenly things.
Paul also reminds us that it is our faith in Christ that allows us to walk out of the tomb, Hurley said. We died with Christ and now we live with Christ.
Oby Brown, Liz Fabian, Linda S. Morris, Becky Purser contributed to this story.