Like Jesus Christ moved a boulder blocking his tomb, pastor Kelvin Morgan told his Fresno congregation Sunday that Christ can “roll away the stones” of discouragement, fear, defeat, doubt and death.
His sermon at Harvest of Harmony International Church west of Highway 99 was one of many throughout the Fresno area to celebrate Easter, marking the day Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead three days after his crucifixion.
“Our stones, they don’t cover the entrance to the tomb in Jerusalem, but they do cover our paths,” Morgan said. “They cover our direction. They cover our purpose. One of the things we’ve got to understand is that God can help us move away the stones.”
Morgan encouraged churchgoers to “keep your hope alive” and live with faith, not fear.
“Just as Jesus empowers you with faith, Satan empowers you with fear, and anytime you allow fear to dwell and reside in your life, you are literally giving the enemy an inroad into your life.”
When you fall down, you get back up. When you mess up, climb up. Don’t allow the enemy to overtake you with the spirit of defeat.
Pastor Kelvin Morgan
In downtown Fresno, St. John’s Cathedral was overflowing with people gathered to listen to Bishop Armando Ochoa’s 9 a.m. Mass.
“My friends, what we need to know is we won’t lose what God has promised us, provided that we live according to our own faith,” Ochoa said. “With God, life is not a gamble. God has given us the gift of faith. … We believe most extraordinary things, my friends, and we have come to know and believe that with our God, nothing is too good to be true.”
Steven and Janelle Erickson left the Mass with their young sons headed for two Easter egg hunts with each of their families. Steven and Janelle say they hope Ethan, 5, and Gavin, 3, grow up to be helpful, kind and generous with their time, like Jesus was.
At Harvest of Harmony, actors, dancers and musicians told the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection during breaks throughout Morgan’s sermon. After the service, dozens of children hunted for more than 1,500 candy-filled plastic eggs. Janet Spray beamed as her 10 young grandchildren filled buckets with treats.
“They are all happy and smiling,” she said. “We need that in the world.”
If they’ve got God in their life, they’ll go a long ways.
The church also gave away 42 new bicycles and 15 Easter baskets in a drawing.
Arianna Sanchez, 9, won one of the bicycles.
While she loves candy and her new bike, she was quick to say that Easter is about Jesus. She wants to be more like him.
“He’s very nice,” Arianna says. “He’s important because he was never mean or anything.”
Earlier Sunday morning, Savion Simms, 19, a football player at Eastern Washington University, was baptized at Harvest of Harmony like many people at churches throughout the central San Joaquin Valley.
“It’s going to help me and my family in every way possible. … Without God, I wouldn’t even be at Eastern Washington,” he said. “I wouldn’t even be a football player. I probably would have been somewhere doing something I had no business doing, honestly. But I found God, and I decided I wanted to play football. I decided I didn’t want to be a statistic. I wanted to be something better than average.”
He walks with me, no matter what I do in life, and it builds me up and gives me strength and faith. He makes things for me better and easier because I know it’s not my battle, it’s his, and he’ll take care of everything.
Outside Cornerstone Church in downtown Fresno, Senora Bell also talked about her Christian faith after taking her three young children to a street fair the church hosted that included carnival games, a candy drop, live music, face painting and food vendors.
“It’s wonderful, it’s immaculate, to know that someone walked this Earth, this world, that had that kindness in his heart to give himself for other people that he really didn’t even too much know,” Bell said. “That right there is wonderful.”