So Easter Happened…

You ate a good breakfast and got dressed nice. You made sure your hair was just right and that your kids knew that they were to behave in the pew. You hadn’t been in a while, so you weren’t sure where to go. Everyone seemed friendly, almost too friendly. Can people really be that nice? Wow, the sermon was very thought-provoking and energizing. That didn’t seem to last as long as you remember. Before you know it, you are out to lunch and back home hiding eggs for the kids to hunt. Did Easter really just come and go so quickly?
For many, Easter is one of the few times they come to church. The kids don’t have ball games. Your parents have been begging you to bring their grandbabies to church. Others have no one to come with and are nervous about what the people at the church might think. Some people only come on Christmas and Easter, and hate being labeled for it. Now comes the dilemma–do you come back next week or act like it never happened?
There are a few ways to respond to Easter. First, you could respond like the chief priests and religious leaders of Israel. Matthew 28.11-15 tells us that their position was cover up and deny, deny, deny. This could be your standard position. The service was nice and all, but it doesn’t really have to affect your life. Or you could be like the soldiers that were guarding the tomb. It is frightening to have their experience, but if you listen to the world and culture around you, ignoring the situation until Christmas is probably the best course of action. Maybe you are like the Apostle John. John 20:4-5 tells us that when John got to the tomb that he froze. Maybe Easter brings a certain excitement, but you are timid and unsure what to really do next. You freeze.
Finally, we see in John 20:17-18 that Mary Magdalene provides the best framework for responding to Resurrection Day. She clings to Jesus and obeys His instruction. This seems so unnatural. You have been a casual follower of Jesus at best. You feel like you will either come across as fake to those at work or unnatural and just caught up in the excitement to those at the church. How do you make this transition into following Jesus more closely?
Below is a list of 4 things that will help you on this journey:
1. Pray a simple prayer each morning when you first wake up
Thomas is what most people would call a good-bad example. In John 20:25 he seems a bit bratty about not seeing Jesus. That is one way to look at his statement, but it could also be taken with the perspective that he did actually want to see Jesus himself. Maybe his words can be a simple prayer that you pray each day. It might go something like this, “Jesus, show me the work you did on the cross. Help me believe. I want to believe. Teach me how to live as one of your followers.”
2. Read the Bible every day
Luke 24:45-46 and Acts 1:3 tells us that Jesus instructed the disciples in the Scriptures over the 40 days after His Resurrection. You have heard it before and know that you should be reading your Bible. It is just like going to the gym though. If you start with lifting too much, you will probably hurt or exhaust yourself and not come back. Ease into this process. Nobody with a New Year’s Resolution to get back to the gym becomes a body builder by February. I always ask my kids when a task seems too big for them, “How do you eat an elephant?” Surprisingly, they never respond, “Gross! Nobody eats elephants!” Instead, the solution is “one bite at a time.” Our pastor is preaching through the book of John, so over the next 50 days until Pentecost (June 4), read half of a chapter of John each day. On the weekends, go back and review the reading and look for answers to questions you may have.
3. Make a plan to attend Sunday gatherings at church
One of the most important things to the early church was gathering with other believers of Jesus. Acts 1:14 and 2:42,46 show that it was important for those early believers to gather to devote themselves to God. It surely took planning and preparation to get ready yesterday. It didn’t just happen on its own. Two great habits for Saturday night are: 1. Set out your clothes so that you have a head start on the morning. 2. If your church puts out their bulletin on Saturday, get the song list and listen to them online.
4. Talk to someone about what to do if you are unsure
In Acts 2:37 the crowds respond to Peter sharing the story of Jesus with “What must we do?” Maybe for you, you have never followed Jesus and don’t even know what that means. Asking someone, particularly a pastor, is not going to cause us to look down on you. On the contrary, it is exactly what we are here to do. It is what everyone in our church is here to do. We want to help and guide people toward Jesus. If we don’t know the answer, we will help you find someone that does. One thing I hear about our church from first time visitors is that the church building seems large and that they are unsure where to go or what to do during worship. Don’t be nervous about asking. We all were new here once.
Okay. So Easter Happened…what now? Four things. Write it somewhere. Maybe your fridge or your bathroom mirror. Talk to your family about it. Make a plan. Stick to it. Don’t be discouraged if things don’t go perfectly. Just get back to it the next day if you miss a day. Remember the example of Mary Magdalene–cling to Jesus and tell others about His Resurrection!
-Associate Pastor Daustin