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Messages of hope, love and renewal will prevail

Religious leaders from across the county plan to spread the message of hope, love and renewal today as they celebrate Easter with members of their congregations.

Some said they also planned to use specific events to remind their members that hope still exists nearly 2,000 years after the resurrection of Jesus.

The Rev. John "Jack" Marshall of Christ Episcopal Church in Lockport said he plans to use the message of Jesus' rebirth to remind many of his mourning parishioners that things will get better in their lives.

"I think last year we've had 14 funerals," Marshall said. "We've had a couple of kids that we buried."

Marshall said he will share the message of everlasting life during his sermon in the hope that it will powerfully connect with the members of his church.

He also said that it is important for people to remember to live the good life while they are on Earth and not to worry so much about the afterlife.

"It's not a point of just trying to beat yourself up to make it into heaven, it's living the Christian life because we're grateful for the gift of salvation," Marshall said.

The Rev. Wayne F. Jagow, pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church in Newfane, said he plans to keep his sermon on the simple side, as he does most Sundays.

"It's not complicated," he said. "It's the same message that's been there for thousands of years. It's a wonderful opportunity not to complicate a message that's thousands of years old, and that's, 'He's risen.' "

Easter is "a time for new birth and a time for renewal," Jagow said. "It's just a wonderful opportunity" to move closer to God.

In Niagara Falls, the Rev. James A. Burling of Calvary Baptist Church said his members have planned a cantata, or a choral composition, for today's services.

"It's all about love," he said.

For anyone hoping to catch a creation/evolution video, members of Calvary Baptist Church at Pine Avenue and Hyde Park Boulevard are offering one at 6 p.m., Burling said.

At Forestview Church of God in Niagara Falls, the Rev. Ronald E. Maines said he will speak about the general message of the resurrection.

"Basically, I'm just going to be sharing about the importance of the bodily resurrection of Christ . . . and the power of the risen Christ for our lives today."

Deacon Don Watkins of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Lockport said today's homily will connect the resurrection to his parishioners in a personal way.

At St. Mark's Episcopal Church in North Tonawanda, the rector there shared a little bit of his sermon.

"One of the statements that I'm making is that Easter is outrageous because Easter turns upside down our conception of what is and is not possible . . .," said Jerre W. Feagin Jr. "It's not logical. People don't come back to life again. People don't see that every day."

e-mail: pkowalik@buffnews.com

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