Easter is church's 'most important day'
"Easter is the most important day in the Christian calendar," said Mike Roeder, pastor of Christ Center Assembly of God, 810 Northview Drive. "The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central fact that sustains Christianity - Easter is huge."
The fact that God sent his Son to die for the sins of mankind is a source of hope for all.
"It means our past can be forgiven," Roeder said. "We all have regrets, guilt and shame - the resurrection means that our past can be wiped clean. Jesus took our place and died on the cross for our sins."
The resurrection, of course, is what makes this all possible.
"The resurrection is one of the most historically reliable facts we have, and from many sources," Roeder said. "After his death and resurrection, Jesus met with his disciples and many, many people, including 500 at one time in Jerusalem.
"If the resurrection had not happened, it would have been easy to disprove the event."
Roeder said he read somewhere that close to 90 percent of people believe that Jesus rose from the dead, but many question the significance of the event.
"Basically it means that Jesus is who he said he is," Roeder said.
There are many prophetic verses in both the Old and New Testament of the Bible predicting Jesus' death and resurrection. Jesus himself told of his own fate in the New Testament.
"Many other religions have great creeds, etc., but Christianity is the only religion that believes God became man," Roeder said. "This gives me - and everyone - great hope. It is a hope that extends beyond the grave."
Roeder said the resurrection, God and Jesus mean we humans also have God available to manage the present.
"Jesus said, 'I am with you always,'" Roeder said. "I don't know how some people manage without God and Jesus in their lives. It is also reassuring because Jesus went to Heaven to prepare a place for us - God has conquered the ultimate enemy, death and the grave."
Roeder said Easter brings reality to that hope - now and always.
"We will still have trouble in this life, but we can rise above the fray with an eternal perspective," Roeder said.
Jesus said in John 16:33: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
Roeder said it is easy to feel hopeless at times in this world, but "our eternal outlook offers hope."
He said Christmas is, of course, widely observed by Christians, but that Easter is the cornerstone of the faith and the "ultimate love story."
"Aside from that, I like Easter because it is not as commercialized as Christmas," Roeder said. "People can keep their 'eye on the ball' more, and not be distracted by secular things."
As far as the "love story" part of Easter: "It says in the Bible that God gave his 'only begotten Son,'" Roeder said. "God put his Son through earthly death and resurrection to provide us with an opportunity to have a friendship with him (God).
"The message rings true, God chose to send his Son for us - not to condemn us, but to offer hope and eternal life - the ultimate love story."
Roeder came to Hudson in 1998. He grew up in the Oshkosh area and attended North Central University in Minneapolis.
He returned to Oshkosh as a youth pastor for seven years and then moved to Hutchinson, Minn., as an associate pastor. Roeder came to Hudson in 1998 to serve at Christ Center Assembly of God.
He and his wife, Vicki, have two children, Nate, 18, and Alli, 15.
The church has an Easter Sunday service at 10 a.m.