Friday, April 6, 2012 | 2 a.m.
For millions of Christians around the world, this is the most holy week of the year, with the observation today of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and culminating Easter Sunday with the celebration of his resurrection.
For some churches, Easter brings overflow crowds, so preachers give extra attention to their messages.
With that in mind, we asked four clergy members to share what they are preparing to tell their congregations this weekend.
At New Song Church in Henderson's Anthem community, the Rev. David Poling-Goldenne plans an Easter message inspired in part by a billboard he saw advertising homes in Lake Las Vegas: "A Life Well Lived."
"I thought that's a perfect way to describe the effect of Easter," he said. "We want our lives to matter. We want and need to be people of purpose and passion. Sometimes people will toss around a phrase when they don't appreciate the way a person is behaving. They'll say, 'Get a life!' Well, this is exactly what we get when we embrace the gift of Easter. We get a life that matters."
Poling-Goldenne, who leads the Lutheran congregation with his wife, the Rev. Marta Poling-Goldenne, said that on Sunday, he will remind the congregation that we are used to being Friday people, especially in light of the years of recession in the Las Vegas Valley. Today, Good Friday, is about "death, fizzled dreams, loss of hope and the crucifixion of Jesus," the pastor said.
On Sunday, however, the focus dramatically changes.
"The good news is that Sunday has come," he said. "The resurrection changes everything. When the angel proclaimed Jesus was alive, it's as if he had two words on his lips: 'Game On.' Let's play, and have I got an adventure for you!"
Good Friday worship at New Song Church is at 7 p.m. Easter Sunday services begin with a 6:30 a.m. sunrise service; others are planned at 8, 9:15, 10:15 and 11:15 a.m.
The church is at 1291 Cornet Drive, Henderson. Its website is www.newsonganthem.org.
For the Rev. David Shearin at Word of Life Christian Center, the message of Easter this year is hope.
For Jesus' mother, his disciples and his followers, Jesus' death was a tragedy.
"You can imagine that all hope was naturally gone," Shearin said.
People today can face the same feeling, he said.
"Many times in life and in the present economy and what is going on in the world — people have lost homes and jobs and sometimes businesses — there is a loss of hope," he said. "Yet the resurrection gives us hope that no matter what has died in our lives, we can experience hope, we can overcome and regain whatever we have lost in our lives."
The nondenominational church will hold a community egg hunt at Dorothy Eisenberg Elementary, 7770 Delhi Ave., at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Easter services will be at the church, at 3520 N. Buffalo Drive, at 8 and 10:30 a.m. Sunday, and a musical production will be at 6:30 p.m. The church's website is www.wordoflifelasvegas.com.
At Victory Missionary Baptist Church in West Las Vegas, worshipers will be focusing on one of the downbeat aspects of the Easter season, but in an effort to learn from Christ's experience to benefit their own lives, according to the Rev. Robert Fowler Sr.
Fowler said he is focusing on the betrayal of Christ and how people today can learn from Jesus' example.
"Even though the betrayal ultimately led to his death, through his attachment to God, he was able to overcome and he has left a legacy that impacts us even in 2012," Fowler said.
The pastor said he is concerned that the rise of domestic violence and the current political and economic climate are making it hard for people to trust other individuals and institutions.
"But pain has a good purpose," Fowler said. "If we can march through it like good soldiers, when we get to the other side like Christ ultimately did, our lives will impact more people in positive ways than we have ever dreamed of."
The church has been holding special spring break activities this week for school-aged children. It will hold worship services Sunday at 8, 9:45 and 11:15 a.m.
The church is at 500 W. Monroe Ave. Its website is www.victorymbc.org.
For the Rev. Augie Ristow at Lamb of God Lutheran Church, this Easter's message will be in line with his goal every Sunday for his congregants: "I try to help them see God," he said.
"People are searching for answers. More than anything, people are searching for a relationship with God," he said. "There is some confusion about who God is. Christianity helps point us to God."
The theme for this weekend's services at the northwest valley church is "I see him," Ristow said.
"When we are out in the world, we get pretty beat up, and because we get beat up, sometimes we have to drag ourselves to church on Sunday because our spiritual energy is beat out of us. But God is our source of strength," he said.
Lamb of God will have services at noon and 7 p.m. Friday, 5 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Sunday, plus an Easter Brunch from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
The church is at 6220 N. Jones Blvd. Its website is www.lambofgodlv.com.