An introduction to an introduction to Easter
As many of you are aware from common conversation and recent studies a large number of people in this country claim they are Christian and affiliated with a particular church. You may also be aware that very few attend or are part of a Christian community on a regular basis. When the over 22 million Canadians do attend church, in Roman Catholic, Orthodox, United, Lutheran, and a variety of other denominations, they follow a regular set of Bible readings and what is referred to as “liturgical church year”. This begins 4 Sundays before Christmas in Advent preparing for the birth of Jesus. While it includes many other highlights the 1 celebration or season of the church year that is critically important is the preparation for Easter known as Lent.
Why is this important?
It is important for evangelicals who don’t celebrate Lent to get around to preparing for Easter. Because many of us are not conscious of either the lectionary or the church year our hymnody, worship, and teaching tend to alight on the Resurrection without fully embracing the whole Easter narrative found in the gospels and especially in the gospel of John. To phrase it another way, from a conversation Jill Schuler and I had, we find ourselves rushing after Good Friday to put up the Easter decorations without ever truly embracing the fuller experience of Christ, his Passion, or indeed the historic and present Christian church.
The other advantage is that it is essentially the message of Easter that is the most appropriate and wonderful expression of the faith and opportunity to talk to others. This is especially true for that very large group of people who profess a nominal or disengaged faith but may be open at Easter. Christmas has become too sentimental for many; never mind too materialistic. Easter has some of the common narratives of the culture: new birth, renewal, resurrection; all of which are the most powerful gift the Christian faith can offer. So for many in our family of churches this is an outstanding opportunity to share and talk with others. Those opportunities present themselves as gifts from the Holy Spirit when we ask the Lord 2 questions:
1. Lord, would you make yourself known to me?
2. If it be your will would you make yourself known to others through me?
Next week we will reflect together on who those people might be so that this Lent and this Easter might truly bring new birth and new faith not only to those we know but maybe to the perfect stranger that is known only to God but not yet to us.
Quote of the Week: To paraphrase Chesterton: When people start believing everything there comes a point when they no longer believe in anything.
News from the Family: I know of a pastor with young children who for 10 minutes immediately after the service the whole family gathers in this pastor’s office to celebrate the joys of the day together as a family before the pastor goes out to those who have attended the service. I’m deeply moved by this pastor.