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The Friday before Easter sometimes has a dual response for Christians, expressing joy for what the Savior accomplished on the cross---the redemption of mankind, but also somber reflection of the horrendous agony he bore. And though days have passed since this celebration and the resurrection that followed, the memorial is (should be) daily for every Christian believer.
Pastor Eric Zeidler is the shepherd, of the congregation that worships in the converted municipal library. He was joined by three other churches in South Jersey to lift up the cross of Jesus.
“So many times on Good Friday, says Pastor Eric, We get together from 1-3 pm and minister to one another, the gospel we already know.”
The event a cross carrying. The congregation joining with others believers, literally and figuratively, carried a 6 foot wooden cross from the church grounds, through the city and back again. Volunteers alternated baring the Lord’s burden on their backs.
They started this a few years back to show the community the significance of the cross. The demonstration concludes with a time of preaching, worshipping, and sharing outside under the tent.
Three churches were represented Pastor Eric’s---The River Church, Pastor Joe Panzino – God is the Answer Ministries—Vineland (about 30 miles away) and neighboring Church God of Christ pastored by Ivan Rodriguez
The celebration was not an outreach explained Pastor Eric, noting that when Jesus carried the cross he or his disciples were passing out flyer ir tracts—but he was doing what he came to do. The goal of this walk was also to highlight the cross.” It’s all about the cross, said Pastor Eric.
The community was in expectations cars stopping by the church inquiring of the walk, saying last year was awesome. The kids turned out. River Church kid’s ministry Jump and Jam draws kids from the neighborhood to experience salvation in a fun and interactive way. They weren’t out on Good Friday for the party. They too joined in carrying the cross—walking and actually hoisting the wooden beams.
Jamie & Larry both around 9 knew the significance of the cross. Stating emphatically the reason and results of Christ cross in their life, they encouraged other kids to believe on Jesus. Mia & Tyair both also 9 joined in. Mia restated the truth of the cross and made it personal. She said that carrying the cross was special, because she was celebrating Jesus’ death, burial & resurrect. The tweenager said for her, the cross meant Jesus died on it for our sins – and she believes it. She tells other kids to go to church and spend time praying to God. Tyair thought the taking part in the reenactment was fun although he knew it wasn’t fun for Jesus. He too said, Jesus did it for our sins
Another Jamie, Jamie Zeidler ---the pastor wife—thanks God for the opportunity to lift up the name of Jesus in the community. She didn’t physically carry the cross, but was honored none the less. She noted the actual day of course was so much more powerful, but the demonstration as a memorial made it yet still a glorious day.
Sherri Kontos is long time resident of city. By her own acknowledgment, in her past, she walked the same streets for the wrong reasons---for sin, drugs and alcohol. Her life changed because of the cross and if it weren’t for her transformation by it, she wouldn’t be walking for the Lord on this day.
Donald Jaddy’s last 50 years came from the bottom up on the streets. He clichés with conviction, saying Jesus is the reason for the season and the answer to the reason that he exist. He reassures, “I know that without God in my life, I am totally nothing.”
Pastor Joe Panzino who also carried the cross, leaned back in his self. You could hear it in his voice. “I feel good, he said. Although partly, I didn’t feel worthy to carry it, at the same time, it was a privilege, because it represented Jesus.”
Pastor Joe said it was important to team up with Pastor Eric because individual churches are all part of the body of Christ. Although we live miles away, we are one in the Spirit.
His voice sounding like a emotional George W. Bush transitioning to tent meeting preacher. “It’s amazing what 24 hours can do, then coming into Sunday, there was a resurrection. Awl, I got to be careful brother, I feel a sermon coming on. Praise the Lord. Thank you Jesus, so that whosoever comes to the Lord will be saved.”
His word to other pastors, “I encourage every man of God, especially pastors---they have special calling. We are living in these last and evil days. Don’t get weary in well doing. If you keep your relationship with God fresh and sharp, then you’re going to keep your ministry & church fresh and sharp. If you don’t do that then you are just taking up room without the anointing, because it is the anointing that destroys the yokes.
Every day is a holy day to the people of God. The people of God need a vision. Without a vision the people perish. So I encourage pastors to keep their vision. Get on their face that’s where it comes from.
I’m not talking about heartburn. I’m talking about vision—amen. They could eat a Big Mac before bed at night and think it was God, but it was heart burn. But I’m talking about getting on you face and calling upon the Lord, seeking him, while he can be found.
We are about the Fathers business. The Father’s business is souls. So when we are about the Father business. We are going to do the same thing ---its sheep that begat sheep. Preachers just hold on, be strong, and love the Lord. Jesus is coming.
Pastor Eric church is not only crossing the community by reenacting biblical scenes. He and his congregation are actively engaging in its rebirth. They are helping to restore Penns Grove. The town which has a rich history has been challenged socially & economically over the years. The pastor and crew can be seen on the streets power washing and restoring old buildings without compensation. They are taking the power of the cross and its cleansing to the community level.
The walks also kindled spiritual relationship. An assisted living facility just down the street from the church responded. The residents gathered on the sidewalk as the cross-walk came through. The pastor and congregation were asked to be part of the visitation schedule, with opportunity to share the very power of the cross to the hearts of the older community.
Down the street Pastor Joe and some of other cross-walkers had opportunity to minister to a group of young men who looked on.