This is usually a busy time for pastors, and I find myself getting energized a little more than usual in preparation for this Sunday. I’m usually pretty deliberate as much as possible in regard to how I spend my time each week, and gearing up to preach involves a lot of preparation–at least for me. To be honest, though, the idea of being in church with a full house for the most part is pretty exciting. Sure, there will be the post-Easter drop off. Some folks punch their attendance card twice a year and this Sunday is 50% of their annual attendance. It is disappointing. Nevertheless, it is an opportunity to preach the gospel to some who might not usually hear it.
You would think that Easter is welcomed by Christians everywhere. I found out differently the other night while channel surfing. I was listening to a man who pretty much slams Easter as a pagan holiday and accuses Baptists, Presbyterians, and other denominational types for propogating this pagan celebration. I’ve heard this argument before and concede the point. There is a pagan origin to Easter, and for this reason there are some persons who avoid the holiday altogether. The idea of hunting Easter eggs and eating chocolate candy is sinful activity for these individuals, and I respect this position. However, it is not the only position and those who believe otherwise are not necessarily heathens. I doubt if my children will be thinking about pagan goddesses or ancient fertility rites when they look for those eggs after church on Sunday afternoon. They will, however, be having a good time with their mom and dad. This is great time for family, and many Christians will be enjoying it.
For centuries, Christians have used this holiday to remember the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the holiest of occasions and a time for personal growth and reflection on both the depth of our sinfulness and God’s love for us. Easter should be redeemed for its spiritual emphasis on what Christ has done for all persons who believe in him. This is an emphasis that helps us “be in the world but not of the world.” An example of this is found in the book of Acts. While in Athens, the Apostle Paul used an altar with the inscription “to an unknown god” to communicate the truths of of the one true God. The people were very religious, and Paul utilized the cultural and philosophical ideas of the time to put forward a case for Christ. His was a missionary purpose, and Christians today share this responsibility to proclaim the Good News.
We will attend church this Sunday with glad and thankful hearts, happy to be alive to celebrate another Easter Sunday. I won’t get keyed up about the Easter Bunny, hunting eggs, or little chicks symbolizing the arrival of Spring. We will, however, be revisiting the empty tomb and hearing the glorious words of the angel, “he is not here, he is risen!” We “come and see” and then “go and tell” others about our resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. THIS is the message of Easter that we’ll be sharing and living out this weekend. . . and until our Lord returns.