Emergent Brethren » Easter

Archive for the 'Easter' Category

Easter

The Third Day

Christ has Risen!

What does that mean for us?

As I write these words down, all the world seems to be as caught up in its own business as usual. People are going to the beach, others are walking out of church for the first time since Christmas and others are justifying today as another reason to spend or drink.

In my case, there doesn’t seem to be as much peace as I would like…

What does Jesus’ resurrection actually mean, though?

My wife made a constructive addendum to my “Holy Saturday” entry, suggesting that some kind of comment referring to Jesus’ harrowing of hell is certainly worth mentioning. I agree.

Some scholars have argued that Jesus’ descent into hell is to be taken figuratively, not literally. Others have claimed that the descent was into death itself. Still others believe that it was Jesus’ taking on of flesh that establishes Jesus’ time in hell.

What is true is that regardless of what the actual place or condition may have been of Jesus’ descent into hell, the absence of Jesus’ presence in the lives of so many – including those who claim to have him present (but He actually isn’t), leaves an emptiness within and around the human being which is equitable to living in hell.

The fire and brimstone aspect of living there is possibly comparable to the cold & hellish life of loneliness, addiction, self-hatred, lust, self-deception, superficiality of life, loose living, selfishness, ignorance of God (willful and/or unwilling), living without purpose, living without any authentic source of substance to one’s life and/or choices, worldliness, sexualized existence and lack of existential meaning to why we do what we do & think the way we do.

Like Christmas, Easter is commercialized and often we desire to have a perfect day. Life has a way of ensuring a measure of reality for most of us, notwithstanding.

Unlike Christmas, Easter is a time when we need to face the often avoided subject of crucifixion and death. During this time of the rolling year, the empty tomb is sometimes overwhelmed by a bunny and egg hunts – this is included at church, too.

What resurrection means is that we can die in Christ’s service and actually awaken to life itself. That the step into death assures us of an abundant life which is inconceivable for all of us – no matter how close we are to God on this side of the Jordan. What resurrection means is that we do not have to fear the conditions and constraints of this world and its “expectations”. We can live free and radical lives for Jesus. We can surrender things to God and we can turn over our most precious selves to God so that He can do what we cannot and will not ever be able to do, live a life worth living to the honor and glory of God. Anything short of this is to be seen as what it is – counterfeit and idolatrous. We invest and invent an alternative to living in, through and because of Christ. We make the profoundly sinful decision of passing this lie to our children and in doing so, we worship ourselves, i.e., our achievements, bodies, people, material things, expectations and our independence.

Resurrection unveils the lie of death and uncovers for us the condemned state of our existence without Him. The empty tomb comes at an unimaginable price. The price we can never repay. The price which we are not supposed to pay, but woe to any of us who disregard the gift and set ourselves off to exile from God (and His priceless gift).

Easter is about claiming the resurrection as a daily reality for our lives and a constant reminder that we must die to self – everyday. That the empty tomb comes only when we are obedient to God and live obediently within God’s economy – church, marriage, family, home, life, friends, work, etc. All must be under the Christ and all must be subject to His standard for living. A standard that defeated death once and for all and in doing so affords us life beyond our wildest imagination – forever.

He has Risen indeed!

Blessings,

Daniel+

Easter, Missional, Worship

Easter is coming!

Before we know it, Holy Week, with all its activities will be upon us. It feels strange to me that it’s occurring so late this year. How are you preparing for it? Are you planning something traditional or non-traditional to celebrate our Lord’s resurrection? Last year, I went to a sunrise service in Kona, Hawaii. At one point, as a part of the service, we were all surprised as a helicopter flew over and dropped thousands of plumeria blossoms upon the worshipers. Not only was it a beautiful sight, but it also engaged the sense of touch and smell. Plumeria have a wonderful fragrance!

Last year, George Barna wrote an article about people’s understanding of Easter. His main point is that people understand Easter more as a religious holiday, but don’t know about its Christian meaning. You might find it to be helpful reading in your preparation.

How many of your members/participants are active in inviting others to your Easter service? 75%? 64%? 50%? According to Barna’s report, only 31% are active in inviting a non-church going person to Easter worship.

To read the article, click here.

Decline/Growth, Easter

Why Visitors Don’t Return to Your Church

I read a post today at evangelismcoach.org on why visitors may not come back. Here are the reasons:

1. Live out of town.
2. Theological differences.
3. Weekend off from their regular church.
4. Comparison shopping while making a decision.
5. Bad experience: lost in the building, embarrassed, not welcomed, childcare problems.
6. Didn’t like the worship experience (too long, too short, too weird).
7. Nothing sacred – no experience with God.
8. No one welcomed them – hospitality.

The first three reasons are really beyond your control. It’s good to welcome those church visitors and send them on their way with blessing.

For more information as to how they suggest you work at developing the other 5 within your control click here.

What other reasons, in addition to those listed above have you faced? What did you do about them? Or, should I ask, how do you need help in addressing them? With Easter coming in 3 months, it’s not too early to be thinking of these things.

I’d love to hear from you!

Jeff

Easter

Lent Devotions

The church I attend has a blog set-up with different people writing daily devotions for Lent. I was asked to write the devotions for this week. For your enjoyment, I’ll post them here as well.
Palm Sunday Devotion
Monday Lent Devotion
Tuesday Lent Devotions
Wednesday Lent Devotions
Thursday Lent Devotions
Good Friday Lent Devotions
Saturday Lent Devotions

Easter, Spiritual Formation

Thinking about the Resurrection

First, I hope that your journey through holy week is bringing you more fully into the Jesus story and deepening your hunger and thirst to pursue God’s justice and righteousness in the world. Blessings as you walk through these final days and the celebration of Easter.

Ah, Easter morning. How to help a congregation engage the story of the resurrection. Diana Butler Bass in her blog for Sojourners when she overheard someone ask the Rev. Daniel Corrigan if “he beleived in the resurrection?” He looked at the questioner and said firmly, without pause, “Yes. I believe in the resurrection. I’ve seen it too many times not to.”

I think that his answer requires us all to stop and think about what we believe, know, have experienced. It is easy to say Christ is Risen! but to have experienced or seen the fruits of resurrection in the world today is a different thing. If we cannot give testimony to the power of God, the presence of Jesus, by talking about where we continue to see and experience the newness of life that the resurrection story bears evidence to, we are telling a dead story that has no power to transform, make whole, and save God’s world. I think that people are waiting to be invited into their role and experience in that kind of living, ongoing story. May our Easter messages and worship services be ones that celebrate the power of God’s spirit to change and transform, to resurrect and make new, still today!