Several years ago, on Easter, I taught about Jesus’ resurrection – shocking, I know. Then the next week, from the same text, I taught essentially the same lesson. I monitored the feedback I was getting as I went. Soon looks of curiosity (“Boy, this seems familiar…) turned to looks of frustration (“Did he not think up a new sermon for this week???)
Approaching the breaking point of everyone’s patience with me, I stopped and explained that the repetition was intentional. I said that in modern society, we’re all info-holics – people who want to be the first to know what’s new and what’s next. More books, articles, and sites are made each day than we could absorb in a year, so we skim, click, and jump, faster and faster and faster.
You could say we’re not very good at lingering.
But Easter is one place – perhaps the most important place – that’s worth lingering.
He is not here. He is risen.
Don’t move on just yet. Don’t tell me you’ve already heard that. Don’t go looking for the next big thing.
Don’t walk away from the empty tomb too fast. Linger. What does it mean–for me, today, this moment–that he is risen?
It’s been a week since Easter. Technically, it’s been 2,000 years and a week.
But it’s still Easter.
Jesus is still risen, still present, still active, still victorious over sin and death and anything else you’re facing.
If you’ll indulge me, a quick recap of ClearView’s first Easter illustrates exactly this point. Last Sunday was our six-month mark as a church, and it was an amazing milestone indeed.
In partnership with the YMCA of Northwest Louisiana we hosted a sunrise service in the amphitheater around the pond immediately behind the lodge where we usually gather for worship. A confession: I was not optimistic about the attendance. I thought we’d be fortunate if 20 or 30 showed up. To my amazement, 64 folks gathered together at that early, early hour and it was an awesome celebration. Gary Lash, president of the Y, told me just beforehand that the last person to give an Easter message in that spot was the famous evangelist Billy Sunday–no pressure, right?
Later, at our 10 a.m. gathering, we hosted an even larger group. As a surprise to everyone, our time of communion was led by Hannah Beatty. Hannah is part of our church family–but at a distance. Several months ago she quit her job as a civil engineer to go serve with Engineering Ministries International in Uganda. Obviously, she had to record her comments on video ahead of time, and the benefit of that is that you can be blessed by them as well (see below).
After that, during my teaching, I talked about Jesus’ victory over sin and death and the assurance that gives us regardless of the challenge or obstacle that confronts us. To paraphrase Matthew 28:20, he is with us always. Many of those who gathered recommitted their life to Christ, acknowledging their need to trust Christ in the face of challenges like debt, anxiety, family tensions, complacency, and questions of self-worth.
Still others said they were interested in making a first-time commitment to Christ. This led to yesterday, when ClearView celebrated it’s first baptism. The young adult who has now committed himself to Christ, considered himself a religious skeptic and was an outsider to church just a month ago.
Which seems to me to prove one thing – It’s still Easter.