Resurrection Monday… Easter Afterthoughts.

So, maybe it’s because it’s my first Easter as a “real” pastor, or maybe it’s because I woke up this morning in a weird, sorta off, mood, or maybe it’s because I just feel like writing about something more significant than the marriage thing, but there’s something that has got me brewing today. It may have been amplified when I saw this tweet this morning that my good friend Mike La Farge wrote:

“Live every day like it’s Easter! #heisstillrisen

     It got my mind turning and thinking, and there may have been some pondering involved, and when that happens there are always questions, thoughts, and deep condsiderings (not really a word, but we’re moving on). I heard lots of good feedback on my sermon yesterday, mostly from people who’ve heard it all before, and that still left me wondering if it mattered. I don’t doubt the content of it, I mean I got the amazing opportunity to co-preach with the pastor of the church where we rent space on Saturday nights, and we hit the Easter story cleanly. The life, death, and ultimately the resurrection of Jesus were the end point of the sermon. I just wondered; were there non-believers there? Did they hear? Are they thinking about it today in the aftermath of all the family, food, and colored eggs? The always encouraging and poignant words of my wife met those concerns this morning as she reminded me that the outcome is not up to me, but that it’s a work of the Holy Spirit.

      She’s right (as most married men know… wife = usually right), but that still doesn’t satisfy my mind and my heart. Partly because there’s a flip side to that coin, and that’s the people that have heard the Easter story year in and year out. There is the thing that has my heart heavy/burdened today, and that’s why Mike’s tweet, those short and simple words, has my mind turning. That, my friends, is what brought me to the main question: What are we moving people toward? The aim here is not to berate or diminish what churches are doing program-wise, but to ask a question to myself and maybe out into the ministry realm. There is little satisfaction at this point in preaching a good rendition of the Easter story, there is little peace in seeing people hear the message of our greatest hope; a risen and victorious Savior who has both taken and taken away the punishment for our sins, and see them carry on as usual. The burden seems to be to get people to live in light of the resurrection all year. To see that the greatest news humanity has ever received, should continually transform our hearts and minds. That’s what I’m feeling today, wondering if we are doing a good job of connecting people to the life-giving truth of the gospel and connecting them to the idea of growing as followers of Jesus. Are we drawing them in to deep connection with authentic community by cultivating an invitational environment or a sea of opportunity by creating more stuff for them to choose.

  I know that the answer again is that many of these things are not my work, but the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. However, that doesn’t stop the wrestling, it doesn’t stop the burden. I want to know that I’m doing my part, that I’m doing all I can to point, connect, show, teach, live, and lead people toward Jesus. Not because it’s attached to a worth or value in God’s eyes, but because every time I preach, and I hear the gospel again, all I can do is walk away astounded at the gain I have received from a work I did not do, and that I could not accomplish in any way shape or form, and I want people to see that beauty, that glaring, awesome, amazing, incomprehensible beauty, and be moved to follow the one authored it. All in all, it’s just not moving people toward another good rendition of the Easter story, not moving people into a love of the coolness of production or program,  and not moving people into mere church attendance, but desiring, by the grace of God, to see people moved into a deeper relationship, understanding, and love of Jesus. The kind that transforms lives, the kind that breeds disciples, and the kind that declares the power, freedom, and love of the gospel through word and deed. And to do all of this weekly… not just once a year. Again, these are just thoughts, questions I have for myself, stuff I’m wrestling. Maybe they have significance for others, or maybe they don’t, but I have to wonder… does anyone else feel this way today?

Indebted to Grace

j-