Today is Good Friday on the church calendar–which means, of course, that Sunday is Easter (or Resurrection Day, if you prefer). This is the time of year when we observe and celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ.
I’ve been thinking about this lately (and you know what THAT means)…mainly because I’ve been helping out a congregation with worship, which means it’s the first time in a number of years that I’ve been in an environment where Easter preparation is important. After all, lots of people attend church meetings on Easter that never do so any other time of year. It’s natural for us to want to put our best foot forward.
With that in mind, though, Easter is a great opportunity to miss the whole point, on several fronts. That is, it’s very easy to get more caught up in the what of Easter than the why. Don’t worry–this isn’t a Jesus-is-the-reason-for-the-season kind of post. 🙂 But I think when we lose perspective on things, it can become damaging rather than helpful. So just to help balance the perspectives a bit, here are some points to ponder:
- Jesus never mandated that we set up special holidays to observe His death and resurrection–although there’s nothing particularly wrong with doing so. This is something the church established many years after Christ’s resurrection, and there is even some confusion and controversy about whether the holiday actually has pagan roots.
- The only remembrance Jesus established for His disciples was actually what we now call “communion”, where during His last Passover he identified the bread and wine as His body and blood, to be observed and celebrated regularly, and which the early church probably did every week. The point? We celebrate His death and resurrection always–not merely once a year.
- However we observe Easter (Resurrection Day), the focus should be on Jesus, not church growth. When we simply turn it into a selling point for all the visitors who come to our meetings, we hijack its meaning. Easter, such as it is, should not be a marketing ploy to try and grow our churches. It is, however, both good and right that we should lift up Jesus and recount His story, in the genuine hope that nonbelieving visitors might encounter Him.
The combined point I’m trying to make with all three of these observations is that Easter in itself is not the most important time of year for the church–at least not in the sense of the Body of Christ–and what importance it holds for us, it should be for the right reasons. It’s far too easy to make Easter itself the important thing rather than Jesus. It’s far too easy to get so anal about all the preparations that we forget it’s supposed to be a celebration–that we’re supposed to be happy, not stressed over whether everything goes right. It’s far too easy to be focused on how many visitors will return the next week than on whether we actually honored Christ’s great sacrifice. This is what I mean by Easter containing so many opportunities to miss the point.
These days, I guess I’m more concerned with the stuff Jesus thought was important. And the fact that He established a frequent feast of celebration rather than an annual observance ought to remind us of something. His death and resurrection aren’t reserved for one big day a year–they should be lived out and celebrated in our lives all year, every year. So however you plan to observe Easter this year, let me encourage you to celebrate. Revel in the life He has given you. And when Easter is over, don’t forget to keep on celebrating and living…and remembering.
In my humble opinion, anyhow…this daily remembrance we carry in our lives is going to make a far greater impression on our neighbors than giving them a slam-bang show one Sunday a year. Just sayin’. 🙂