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Archive | Church Connection

Hold on gently

Pastor Inge Whittemore | East Nelson Church | 9024 18 Mile Rd | Cedar Springs MI. 49319

Raising canaries is an interesting hobby. I read that one of the most difficult parts of taking care of canaries is trimming the bird’s nails. You have to catch the bird and gently cradle it in your palm and your last three fingers (while holding each ankle one at a time between your forefinger and thumb). 

You then carefully cut each toenail but just don’t cut it too short or leave it too long. It is a carefully executed process. You can’t grab at the bird because that will scare it. You can’t squeeze the bird because that will hurt it. But you also can’t hold it so loosely that it tries to get away and hurts its fragile self in the process.

It is a bit like the scene of Mary Magdalene on the morning of the first Easter. Meeting the risen Jesus was, for Mary Magdalene, sort of like holding a canary. When she saw the risen Lord, her first thought was to run to him and grab hold of him and hold on to him tight and never let him get away. 

But in her heart she knew that he could not stay. He told her he was going to the Father. She had followed Jesus for some time now. She had heard Jesus’ invitation, “Repent and believe in the Gospel, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” She’d followed and heard and had repented and believed and she was a changed person for it.

This invitation to “Repent and believe in the Gospel, for the Kingdom of God is at hand“ continues to echo today to all who wish to experience true transformation of the deepest kind. It is the good news that brings hope to all. 

In that one incredible encounter at the garden tomb, God created space around Jesus and Mary, enough for Mary to be able to know that the Lord had risen just as he had promised. She stayed with him as long as he was there. And then, when he was gone, she went and told the others what she had seen and what Jesus had said to her. She was privileged to be the first to announce the Good News that Jesus had not died, but truly lived.  

Every year, this piece of history (his story) moves us along from searching in sadness, to incredible disbelief, and finally to immense joy. And that’s another reason I love canaries. Canaries’ songs are joyful. Canaries remind me that even while they are fragile and delicate their song is strong. Let us hold on to the joy throughout Eastertide—the 50 days from Easter until Pentecost and even longer. Let’s not hold on too tight that we keep it only to ourselves. Let us not hold so loosely that we casually let the meaning of Easter fly away. How about we continue to rejoice in the resurrection by holding the story up for all to see.  

Let us be like Mary and rejoice and sing out, “I have seen the Lord! (John 20:18 NIV)

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Richard C. Mockerman, age 64, of Morley passed away peacefully at home on Wednesday, May 8, 2019 surrounded by his wife and many family and friends. Rick is survived by his wife, Shirley; children, Bella Mockerman, Bridgett (Jimmy) Holmes, Rob Mockerman, Rick (Amy) Mockerman, Amanda Hunt; stepchildren, Melissa Stout (Pat Keating), Alex Phipps; mother, Bernadine Poling; siblings, Teckla (Mike) Lane, Wahneta (Chuck) Cornell, Sandy Finney, Lisa Russell, Fred Mockerman; many grandchildren and great-grandchildren; brothers and sisters-in-law. Rick was a great man and was loved by so many, he enjoyed laughing, being a mechanic and fixing most anything. He loved his family, most of all his wife and children. The family will greet friends Saturday, May 18 from 1:00 p.m. until time of service at 2:30 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, 248 N. Cass St., Morley. Pastor Steve Finn officiating. A luncheon will be held at the Deerfield Hall, 369 Jefferson, Morley following the service. Memorial contributions may be made to the Funeral Home to help with funeral expenses. 

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs.

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Denise L. Fisk, age 59, of Trufant, died Wednesday, May 8, 2019 at her home. Denise was born August 24, 1959 in Grand Rapids, MI the daughter of Ross and Laura “Kathy” (Hamilton) Fisk. She has been paramedic for Montcalm County EMS and a paramedic instructor. She enjoyed sports, her dogs and rock collecting. She loved the outdoors, wildlife and watching the deer and birds. Surviving are her parents; Ross and Kathy Fisk; sisters, Shellie Chilcote, Jill (Dan) Singleton; brothers, Brent (Kate) Fisk, Jack (Kacie) Fisk; special friend, Terri Duzenbury; many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by a sister, Nadine and brother-in-law, Timothy Chilcote. The family will greet friends Friday, May 17 from 6-8 p.m. at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs where the service will be held Saturday, May 18 at 11:00 a.m. Pastor Rick Malone officiating. Private interment in Solon Township Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to Spectrum Health Hospice or Huggard Bible Church.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs

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September 4, 1953 – April 24, 2019

Ralph Dietrich, of Cedar Springs Michigan, born on September 4, 1953 in Mercy Hospital Manistee, Michigan, to Sally (Jim) Wiley and the late Paul Dietrich, passed away peacefully at the age of 65 on April 24, 2019 at Spectrum Grand Rapids, Michigan, after a long battle with Parkinson’s. Ralph served in the Air Force and he also worked at K&M Dodge as a mechanic. Ralph was the beloved husband of Denise. He was preceded in death by his son Matthew. Ralph is survived by his son, Paul (Trisha); daughter, Heather Kaver; stepson, Michael; stepdaughters, Sara and Christina; brothers, David (Gretchen), Tom (Kelly), Daniel (Sharon); sisters, Paula (Schultheis) and Karen Rice; 8 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. We will always carry your memories in our heart. Friends and family members attended a memorial service on Monday, April 29th at 1 p.m. at Resurrection Church, 3233 10 Mile Rd., Rockford, Michigan.

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Joan C. Reed

August 7, 1931—May 13, 2004

If roses grow in heaven

If roses grow in heaven, Lord

Please pick a bunch for me.

Place them in my Mother’s arms

and tell her they’re from me.

Tell her I love her and miss her,

and when she turns to smile,

place a kiss upon her cheek

and hold her for a while.

Because remembering her is easy,

I do it everyday,

But there is an ache within my heart

That will never go away.

With love from your family

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We can live in hope

“They found the stone rolled away from the tomb.” (Lk 24:2) 

Father Lam T. Le, Pastor |St. John Paul II Parish |3110 17 Mile Rd, Cedar Springs

“What you are now, we once were. What we are now, you will become.” Those are the chilling words  inscribed on a plaque inside Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini in Rome, Italy. It is an ancient church that displays the bones of over four thousand Capuchin friars who passed away. The sole purpose of this grisly display is to remind visitors of the inevitability of death and to invite them to visually reflect on the eventual human condition. 

This thought-provoking display not only reminds us of our death; but it also inspires us to live faithfully to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When our earthly pilgrimage is over, we will be united with the Lord for all of eternity. 

This is what the women, the first witnesses to the resurrection of the Lord in the Gospel of Luke, show us. After a full day had passed since the burial of Jesus, “at daybreak on the first day of the week the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.” (Lk 24:1). Two things are significant in this passage—the spices they prepared and that they arrived at sunrise on the first day of the week. 

The spices that these women brought to the tomb indicate their devotion to the Lord. These women had watched the crucifixion from a distance (Mk 15:40-41). They witnessed the humiliating death that Jesus had endured and then, like a criminal, he had been buried hastily before sundown. Out of love for Jesus, they came to the tomb with spices, to perform an important ritual that had not been properly completed. This last act of kindness and compassion leads them to encounter the Almighty Act of God, namely, to witness the resurrection. 

“At daybreak on the first day of the week” they went to the tomb. The fact that the evangelist mentioned at dawn is the first hint that the darkness of the death of Jesus had been overcome. Malachi alluded to the prophecy at the very end of the Old Testament: “for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays” (Mal 3:20). At the empty tomb, the pious women are witnesses to the beginning of the new creation: Christ resurrected from the dead renews all things. 

It was love that led these women to the tomb. Their grief was quickly transformed into joy by the risen Lord, who transformed the darkness of death into new life! The fear of being persecuted was transformed into boldly proclaiming the joy of a new creation. It is all because of the friendship/relationship that they had with Jesus. 

So, for those who cling to the Lord Jesus, we do not need to fear the meaning of the words: “What you are now, we once were. What we are now, you will become.” Christians live in hope because of this assurance: “Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried into his death through the waters of baptism and just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life” (Rm 6:3-4). 

We cling to Jesus so we might be delivered from the darkness of the night to the tomb at sunrise! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Christ the Lord is risen! 

In addition to being the priest at St. John Paul II Parish, Cedar Springs, Father Lam also proudly serves as pastor of Mary Queen of Apostles Parish, 1 W Maple Street, Sand Lake, MI.49343. Phone 616 -636-5671. 


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Kurt A. Probst

Kurt A. Probst age 57 of Newaygo, died Monday, May 6, 2019 at his home. Kurt was born February 20, 1962 in Grand Rapids, MI the son of Arthur and Carolyn (Brooks) Probst. Kurt was a friend to everyone, hard working, very loyal, giving and honest. Surviving are his wife, Helen; step son, Thomas VanderHyde; step grandchildren, Tianna, Franklin, and Talia VanderHyde; parents, Arthur and Carolyn Probst; brother, Alan (Mercedes) Probst; niece and nephew, Mikayla and Austin; in-laws, Sharon Smith, Ellen Stoner, Leonard (Kay) Stoner. The family will greet friends Friday from 2-4 and 6-8 pm at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs where the service will be held Saturday 11:00 am. Interment Idlewild Cemetery, Kent City. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs

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Nancy Carol Kiste, age 77, of Cedar Springs went to be with our Lord and Savior on Monday, May 6, 2019. Nancy was born on March 1, 1942 in St. Joseph, MI to Jake and Velma Lawton. Nancy is survived by her five children, Tim (Penny) Mongar, Tina (Dennis) Merryman, James Lawton, April Canfield, Amainda Graham; 15 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by 2 sons, Mark and Jerry Mongar. A celebration of life will be held at the Algoma Estates Clubhouse on Sunday, May 12th from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., 4456 – 13 Mile Rd., NE Rockford MI 49341.

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Daniel Elve of Sand Lake, Michigan, age 81, went to his eternal home on May 3, 2019. He was born on December 17, 1937, to Nicholas and Grace Elve. Daniel was preceded in death by both parents; sister, Beth Lindhout; and brothers, Kenneth (Marie), Phillip (Lois), and David (Kim). He will be missed by nephews, nieces, cousins, friends, and special nephew Tom (Karen) Elve. The family would like to thank the staff at Laurels of Hudsonville and Faith Hospice for their care and compassion. The funeral service for Daniel was celebrated on Monday, May 6, 2019, at Pederson Funeral Home, 127 N. Monroe Street, Rockford, MI 49341. Pastor James Durr officiated. Those wishing to offer expressions of sympathy may make a memorial contribution to Samaritan’s Purse Samaritan’s Purse, PO Box 3000, Boone, NC 28607.

Arrangements by Pederson 

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LaVern Edward Blocher, age 99 minus 10 days, went to be with his Lord and Savior May 8, 2019 at 5:00 am in Gowen, MI. He was born May 18, 1920 in Kensal, North Dakota. Vern was a farmer when he married Doris Depew of Alto, MI in 1943. After 10 years he became a Driver Salesman for Herrud Meat Company. He loved to garden both flowers and vegetables. He raised his family in Grandville, MI. where he was very active in Grace Bible Church. Retired to White Cloud then Cedar Springs attended Pierson Bible Church. Preceded in death by his wife of 54 years Doris Irene Depew Blocher, twin daughters Lois and Lucille Blocher, grandson Jordon Gitchel, 5 brothers, and one sister, second wife Georgianna Mattson of 5 years. Survived by his children Katherine (John) Plume of Coral, MI., Elizabeth Gitchel of Howard City, MI., LaVern C. (Shelley) Blocher of Pentwater, MI; 13 grandchildren, 48 great-grand children, and 3 great-great-grandchildren. Also survived by his sister, Betty Craig of Clarksville, MI.; and 2 sister-in-laws, Rhetha Blocher of Marietta, Georgia, and Donna Blocher of Lowell, MI; and numerous nieces and nephews. Service: Saturday, May 11, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. at Heckman Funeral Home 225 E. Edgerton St., Howard City, MI. with Pastor Cris Hammer officiating. Interment will be at Reynolds Township Cemetery, Howard City, MI. Visitations: Saturday prior to funeral 9:00-11:00 a.m. at Heckman Funeral Home. Memorials can be given to Gideon’s International (Bibles), or Pierson Bible Church, Pierson, MI.

Arrangements by Heckman Funeral 

Home, Howard City

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