Dear Churches, Don’t Do This

photoThis was an Easter flyer that a church left on our door (on both doors — front door and the door to the family room) during Holy Week to announce their Easter Worship.

There is no way that was an accident. I’ve tried to see how it may have “accidentally” flew from the screen door handle to where you see it now. You can’t. And it was highly annoying to try to fish it out. Then to turn around and see that there’s another one of the same flyer on the other door.

Why the church would do that is beyond me. And they expect me to come to the church after that?

No Worries

Sunrise 3

Sunrise 3 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Without Easter, our faith-our lives- would be a bit pointless.

Easter- Christ’s resurrection- is the engine that drives Christianity, our faith and our lives. Because of Easter, we have hope. As the song says, “Because he lives, I can face tomorrow. “

Tony Campolo famously preaches about his pastor’s Easter sermon: It’s Friday, but Sunday’s a-comin’. It’s such a great sermon, if you get a chance, here’s an excerpt from the sermon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCQSsUKDYCU.

It often feels like we’re always in the midst of Friday – when Jesus is hanging dead on a cross; when everything that can go wrong, does go wrong and then some…

If we let it, we can let our lives drown in Fridays. We can let our lives be swallowed by the darkness of worries that Friday brings.

Worries of…
…financial security and stability
…job security
…the future
…family life

… and much, much more. Some more serious, some a bit more trivial. But worries, nevertheless.
But here’s the good news of the Gospel: we don’t have to be stuck in Fridays, because Sunday’s a comin’!

Even in the darkest hours of our lives; even in the stormiest of weather, murkiest of waters, and even if we’re lost in the middle of nowhere, Sunday’s a coming.
And with Sunday, with Easter, with the resurrection, Christ brings hope. He brings light to guide us out of the darkness; shelter to protect us from the storms; a raft to help us navigate out of the waters; he gives us the Holy Spirit to guide us back home.

With Easter, comes hope.
With Sunday, we have a risen Savior.
With Sunday, we have a love that conquered death.
With Sunday, we have a love never ending and a hope everlasting.

That is why we can say to one another, “Hey, no worries.” Because for those of us who are lost in Fridays, no worries— Sunday’s a comin’.

THEN…

It’s Good Friday.
A church is holding their Easter Service today. And tomorrow and Sunday. It’s a big church.
I don’t like criticizing other churches, because I don’t know how they came to that decision. It is a big church, so they may have needed all three days for their worshippers.
BUT.
You can’t have Easter without Good Friday. And I’m coming from pure speculation. Who knows what is going to take place in their Easter Service today. But the thought of Easter service on Good Friday just doesn’t sit right with me.

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for the fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. (John 20:19-20)

As Kenda Kreasy Dean writes, the key word is in the middle of verse 20. “Then”– a delayed reaction — “the space between hearing the good news and responding to it.”

Jesus shows up (mysteriously through locked doors) says, “Peace be with you.” Then shows the disciples his scars. Then the disciples recognized who was standing before them (even though he walked through locked doors).

Jesus says “peace be with you” and no one recognizes him. He doesn’t raise his voice, stomp his feet, play loud music, turn on the TV to show a funny video, doesn’t tell a joke or act out a funny skit… no, Jesus shows them God’s wounds. He shows them a suffering God.

“Revelation begins not with lofty assertions of God’s power but with the fact of God’s suffering in the world.”
Not everyone can relate to honor.
Not everyone knows glory or power.
Not everyone relates to reverence or even holiness.

But everyone knows pain. Everyone can relate to suffering. Because, pain, like love, is universal.

Easter is a result of Good Friday.
Easter is the hope that we receive in the midst of Fridays.
As Tony Campolo famously preached, “It’s friday! But Sunday’s a-coming!”

There’s power in Good Friday, because Jesus hanging on the cross, as Rob Bell says, is God saying “me too” – that we are not alone in our suffering. That Christ suffered through what we are suffering through. That Christ is ultimately saying to us, “I know how you feel” because he’s been there; done that.

And Easter is a reminder that there is more to what we are facing today. That pain is not the be all and end alls of our lives. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. There is hope. There is redemption. There is life.
Yes. It’s dark. Yes. It’s stormy. Yes, the future is uncertain. Yes, life sucks. But. God is with us in the midst of our darkness; God is with us in our stormy seas; God is the never-changing and ever-lasting in a world that constantly changes; this God is truly Emmanuel.

Good Friday is just as important as Easter, because without Good Friday, we wouldn’t have Easter.
And Easter is very important because without Easter, we are forever trapped in the pain and confusion and suffering of Fridays.

Many people seem to live their lives more in the Fridays than in the Sundays. For all of us living in Fridays,

“It’s Friday. But SUNAY’S COMIN’!”

What Does Easter Mean? (Fail)

Have you ever asked that to kids?
I love asking those kind of questions to kids because I get the greatest and funniest answers.

Well, one year, I asked a bunch of elementary kids on what Easter meant to them.
I was expecting the usual answers, eggs, bunnies, chocolate and prayed that one kid would say something about Jesus.
But this time, their answer was unanimous: MONEY!!

And, that was my fault.
We had our Easter Egg Hunts like many churches. Some of the plastic eggs had candy, others chocolate, some were empty, but the ones that they all aimed for, the most prized of the eggs were the ones that contained money.
Some of them had pennies, a few of them a couple of nickels and dimes. A handful had quarters. A couple had a dollar bill. And one (the golden egg) had a 5 dollar bill.

As you can imagine, every year that 5 dollar egg was the most sought after thing on Sunday. Not Jesus, the 5 dollar egg. Of course it was the hardest to find, but when one of those kids found it, it was as if s/he won the lottery.

So, that was an epic fail for me, that for my kids, the meaning of Easter was to find the 5 dollar egg.

In case you’re wondering, since that church, I’ve no longer put money in the Easter eggs.