Easter. We’ll have an overflow crowd on Easter. So will a lot of churches. Old and new members of the Birth and Resurrection Society will fill the pews. There’s lots of reasons people come who usually don’t.
For some, there’s a family expectation. Children come home from college. Older children plan a migration back home that coincides with a spring break. Even though they don’t normally go to church or practice a faith lifestyle they will buy into the familial pattern of going to church on Easter.
Others have a vague sense that going to church on both Christmas and Easter anchors them firmly to a faith they have really long abandoned. It doesn’t make sense and has the feel of superstition and magic but it's a very real thing in the lives of many.
Then there’s those who are indeed looking for what they sense is missing in their life. They are folks who are looking in all kinds of directions to heal and/or fill some deep longing in their heart. Somehow they turn to that building with a big steeple or towards a group with a ‘religious’ reputation.
All of them are part of the overflow crowd on Easter. Of course our prayer is that those who walk in out of expectation, or obligation or on wings of whimsy meet the great God of the bible and His people. That isn’t always the case. Let’s face it. Even with overflow crowds, our best foot forward and the best of hopes and prayer most of the overflow ends up not coming back …until Christmas.
It doesn’t matter. This is it. The whole world is at our doorstep. We’ll get the jaded, the skeptic, the true seeker, the don’t rock the boat family people, and folks who can’t even explain why they’re there. In the house on Sunday will be those who see our claims as being exclusive and narrow and even judgmental.
And we get the opportunity to let people know that even if they are ‘far from God’ He is ‘near to them’. We get to show people that the God they label as exclusive is, in truth, magnanimously inclusive.
So Easter will be packed but not the week after. That bothers me but it doesn’t really rock my world or what I do. Actually it's pretty exciting to think that pretty jaded people who live in a jaded world will be with us. And God has called me (and you) to be witnesses to those jaded people who live in a that jaded world. Wow.
It may sound trite but it’s a privilege just to be ‘present’ to all and any who walk through the doors this Sunday. Some are accompanied by the prayers of family and friends. Others not. Some will look saintly and others less so. A few will have a glazed expression of disdain on their face as if this hour on Sunday is their personal purgatory. Even some of them will taste a bit of heaven on Easter morning and walk away wondering what happened.
I don’t know about you but I’m looking forward to Easter this year. I know it’s going to be a strange crowd but I’m a little strange myself. But I get to be there. So do many of you. I get to preach. How fun is that? Some of you get to extend hands of friendship or a smile of welcome or a rescue from the more crotchety members of the church community. Whatever it is …God can use it. He will use it. He has a history of working with very little raw material and doing something quite dramatic with it. There’s no reason to believe He’ll stop now.
It’s the first meeting of 2010 for the Birth and Resurrection Society. It just could be a life changer.