At CrossHope Chapel we are all about doing things simply. We are different that way, but only because we want to be a church community that stays closely to the principles, practices, and patterns of the New Testament, as much as possible and as much as applicable to our modern times.
Easter is a traditional church celebration of our resurrected Savior. I like that it turns our thoughts toward one of the greatest verses in the Bible, John 11:25 where Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (ESV). I also like that during this season we are often reminded of the Passover and how God filled that festival with so many implications pointing us to our Lord Jesus Christ and His plan of redemption.
I want us to recognize the season because our world is focused on the same, but I want us to know why we may not give it the same emphasis in our church life as other churches do.
The celebration of the resurrection is one that I hope we embrace each week in our worship gathering on Sunday morning, in our periodical practice of baptism, and in our monthly communion service. There is no biblical command to observe an Easter celebration outside of these three things, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I think a church ought to ignore this season, either.
Instead, I have always favored a “soft” recognition of Easter or you could say, I favor recognizing it, not ignoring or shunning it, but just not making it a huge deal. When I hear ministers talk of having a religious or church calendar and Easter being a huge deal on that calendar, I chuckle (that is my inside voice chuckles). It humors me because when I think of my “church” calendar the next big thing on it, is the rapture!
Many of you know that I grew up Roman Catholic and attended Catholic elementary school, and even felt a calling to the vocational priesthood when I was a child.
As a child there was a great sense of spiritual awe and reverence in the religious activities of the Roman Catholic mass, including it’s Holy Week Easter services, but as an adult I have become a bit dismayed in seeing the same religious activities find their way into Protestant churches.
When I became a follower of the Risen Lord in 1980, I immediately sensed a responsibility to chose my allegiance to a standard of truth: was I to set traditions of the church or the teachings of the Bible as the only true standard of obediance for my life?
I choose to stand on the Word of God as the only source of authority and standard of truth due my obedient allegiance. My understanding as a new follower of Jesus Christ was that Protestants were people who likewise held the Scripture at a higher regard than cultural festivals, church traditions, and religious holidays.
I realize most Protestant churches have a history of recognizing some sort of Easter emphasis, but recently the addition of Holy Week services has reminded me of the Catholic tradition of giving people religious obligations to build their faith on. I know that my Protestant ministerial friends would scoff at me for even suggesting they were performing more like a Catholic priest than a Protestant minister, but show me the biblical text.
We need no religious obligation to build our faith on. Perhaps religious obligations are ways to build one’s faith in the church, but faith in the church is not saving faith in Jesus Christ.
My Facebook feed has been full of Protestant preachers “selling” their Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter services as must attend because of importance and performance that one would not want to miss.
I find myself humored by this emergence of an Easter season that is marked by opportunity for outreach marketing campaigns to attract the high percentage of one-time Easter church-goers. I’m not saying inviting people to attend a local church is wrong, but it has seemed that the emphasis of Easter this year has become a season of religious recruiting.
If you could see my email inbox I could show you the many newsletters for church pastors and leaders, sent by organizations and church growth gurus, promoting their articles and programs on how to grab your share of visitors on Easter morning. From where I sit, Easter has become the Black Friday for Churches.
This Easter, while the sheep of other pens gather in search of a religious experience and while their pastors stress over potential visitors, we will devote ourselves “to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42; ESV).
Tomorrow we will be away from the Chapel and meet at J.P.’s home at 11:00 AM for a potluck picnic and fellowship. We have purchased a Honeybaked Ham, and I’ve asked J.P. if she wouldn’t mind sharing with us some of the insights she has gathered on the Passover, too.
If you are looking for an Easter church experience that is a bit more New Testament-like, simple and laid-back, please contact me and I’ll be happy to fill you in with the details.