After Easter, Now What?

04/29/2011

The season of Lent of 2011 is over. We remembered all the suffering of Jesus for six long weeks by looking at the various items that popped up in the Passion arrative of the gospels. We had a very good season, don‘t you  think? Our children seemed to be excited about the celebration of Lent as they collected their ―Resurrection Eggs!‖ It is the hope and prayer of the Worship Planning Team that these past Sundays were meaningful opportunities for each of you to experience the depth of Jesus‘ suffering which was for you. The ―Resurrection Eggs‖ have now been safely stored someplace in your homes so they can be taken out again next year. The Easter hams have been eaten and the family celebrations are over. We have taken down the paintings from the front of church and have re—hung them in a less conspicuous place. The decorations of Easter in our homes have been packed away. Our Easter bonnets have been put away and we have put our Easter outfits away for
another year. I don‘t know about you, but aren‘t you experiencing just a little bit of a post—Easter let down? It seems that most exciting events have a
downside to them, like the after Christmas blues. For me, I get the post—Easter blues! That‘s why I have titled this article ―After Easter, Now What?
I‘m thinking that a season as serious as Easter ought to somehow have a lasting influence upon our lives. You just can‘t experience Lent and Easter to go on with life as it has always been. Somehow and in some way Easter should leave an indelible impression of life and the impression should never fade away. I was reading a little pamphlet the other day that was sent to me by Zondervan Publishing. The pamphlet was a sampler from a larger book
written by Kyle Idleman entitled, “Not a Fan.” As I was reading the author‘s introduction to the book it was like he was writing my words because so much of what he was experiencing as a pastor were things that I too had experienced.  One of the things that he talked about was that as a pastor who preached sermons every Sunday, he would see people coming to visit his
church as they were looking for a place to call 'my church‘ and then seeing the reality that these people never came back again. When I read that, the bells rang so loudly in my head that my brains kind of rattled around. This has been our experience here at BCRC hasn‘t it? We are blessed almost on a weekly basis by having someone in our midst that is looking for a church. This is an awesome thing! But these folks so often are never seen again. Since pastors are basically people who like to 'fix‘ things they are quick to take the blame for
such a situation. They are quick to think that somehow they have personally offended this church shopper with his sermon for the day. Therefore he often asks the question, ―How can I make the sermon more attractive? How can I
make Jesus more attractive? How can I convince people that following Jesus is comfortable and easy?‖ This is the problem isn‘t it? Following Jesus isn‘t comfortable, easy, or attractive. Following Jesus is hard, it‘s uncomfortable, and sometimes downright painful. Kyle Idleman makes the observation, and rightly I think, that Jesus‘ message was really one that drove people away. Oh, Jesus taught thousands upon the mount of the sermon and he fed the five thousand and the four thousand but if you think about it, how many of those people actually became disciples…followers of Jesus? Not very many! The majority of them were 'fans‘ (enthusiastic admirers), not disciples. They were coming to
Jesus only for what they could comfortably handle but when Jesus spoke the hard teachings… ―many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.‖ (John 6:66) After Easter, Now What? The message of the cross is not an easy message. The message of 2 suffering is not very attractive. Yet this is the
message God gives to us as the message we must proclaim. During our worship on Good Friday, Stan Veltkamp sang the song ―Embrace the Cross.‖ If we take Easter seriously, then this is what we need to do. But this is like hugging a scorpion because it will bring us pain. It will bring us suffering. It will bring us humiliation. But embracing the cross is what Jesus calls us to
do. He says…―If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)  After Easter, Now What? The
answer…We embrace the cross because this is what separates fans from disciples.
--Pastor Jerry

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