28 March 2012

Give Me Resurrection Day, not Easter

What we commonly refer to as Easter is less than two weeks away.  How do I know this?  Because the pallets at Wal-Mart are loaded down with candy, plastic eggs and grass, and an assortment of stuffed bunnies.  Moms are purchasing that new Easter outfit for their little girls and boys.  And they will be adorable!  I can hear church choirs polishing up every note on this years cantata.  Our small town is planning our Holy Week luncheons. The red buds and the dogwoods are blooming, and I even saw some plastic eggs hanging from one.  Everywhere I look I know that Easter is just around the corner.

Our culture's preoccupation once a year with Easter is a paradox for me.  On the one hand it's nauseating.  Easter is too often a shell of a Christian holy day prettied up with pastel-colored, pagan wrapping. It often has about as much substance as that chocolate bunny you bit into when you were a kid and discovered to great consternation it was hollow (not to mention is was pretty nasty, cheap chocolate anyway).  Easter is a bizarre part Christian, part pagan, and part commercialized day.  Easter makes me sick.

Resurrection Day, on the other hand, is a wonderful opportunity. Resurrection Day is about an event that changed everything.  Many people will choose, for reasons they find hard to explain, to go to a worship service on Resurrection Sunday.  Many are not coming truly to worship.  Many are not coming because they are genuinely seeking God.  But the fact is, they are coming.  As a pastor I have a splendid opportunity to boldly proclaim the mystery of the Gospel to those who need to respond to it.  I suspect most of them won't have ears to hear, but a few may.  Right now, I know is a wonderful time to invite people to worship on this day.  I will have the privilege to present the significance of the resurrection from God's revealed Word.  I will be tempted to scold many present for their incredible hypocrisy evidenced by their attendance on the special day, but I must resist this temptation. (by the way, I have done that before and it is a mistake).  My job is to draw them to the empty tomb, put it in context, and apply it to their lives as clearly and forcefully as I can as God gives me strength.  Resurrection Day is a great opportunity for the church (and not for having an easter egg hunt for the kids).

So, over the next few days I will be inviting people to worship on Resurrection Day while trying not to lose my lunch every time I encounter Easter.  Then, on Resurrection Sunday I'll do my best to communicate that every Sunday is Resurrection Sunday and the Gospel is for all year long.

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