When did Easter become so comfortable? When did we come to expect so much? When did we start focusing on the trappings rather than solely on the things Jesus accomplished?
I’ll admit, I’m having a hard time this early Easter morning. It’s 3am and I’m sleepless. Not only is this a different Easter morning than I’ve ever experienced, not only is this the first time I’ve been a part of an online Easter service…
Every seemingly small obstacle to delivering that online Easter service has been thrown at us this week. Our gracious production team — comprised largely of young adults who are self-teaching themselves professional-level editing and filmmaking each week to create our online videos — is exiting this week exhausted and frazzled.
So I can’t have my in-person Easter service. I can’t even have a breezy video production. I can’t have my comfortable little Easter, online or offline.
Did that hurt your head a bit? It hurt me to type it. Even writing out my attitude response to this morning feels… wrong. Because it is. Easter has NEVER been about comfort. NEVER been about a pretty, precious service with all the bells and whistles. NEVER been about me, or you, or us at all.
This morning — this blessed… truly blessed Easter morning — is about so much more than my Christian entitlement. It is about, and only about, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who came, bled, died and was resurrected so that I would no longer be separated from God. He reunited me with my Heavenly Father, eternally, and continues to work in my life.
Nothing about “Good” Friday seemed very good. Nothing about Easter morning was rosy or pretty. The glory of the risen Lord was present, and was more beautiful than anything you or I could imagine, but it wasn’t visible with human eyes. Jesus was walking. Talking. Greeting friends and family. He was alive. He defeated — literally defeated — Death, Hell and the Grave. And with what? A wooden cross. Iron nails. A rolling stone. And the full force of Heaven’s might, power and authority. No sanctuary. No praise band. No piano. No microphones. No pews. No ushers, or Sunday School, or choir presentations.
Just Jesus. Risen. Alive. And ready to soon impart to his disciples the only remaining lesson that mattered. Go ye therefore…
Easter services are wonderful. Gathering together is a blessing. Please don’t misunderstand. But when we focus on these things, when we allow our attitudes to be altered by whether we have or don’t have the things we want… the creature comforts of traditional Easter week services… we carve a series of idols. And these idols look like a church building, like a congregation, like a service, like a string of traditions we’ve grown up adoring.
None of these things are bad… until we make them idols. And like the children of Israel at the foot of Mt. Sinai, we sometimes craft idols without realizing what we’re actually doing.
This morning, join me in casting aside expectations. Entitlements. Desires. Comfort. The call of the things that satisfy our flesh. Grab a hold of Jesus Christ. Remember the Cross, the nails, the tomb, the stone. Use this Easter morning to get closer to Jesus than you ever have.
We don’t have to have distractions this morning! We can celebrate the resurrection more clearly and purely than we ever have… if we take the opportunity before us. I want more than anything to resume services and to see all of you again. But until that happens, I will strive to take advantage of the quieter days, the increase in stillness, the lack of things to do, the dwindling of distractions. I will turn my eyes to Jesus and use this Easter morning to get closer to my Savior than I ever have.
I pray the things your heart aches for are just that to you: things. There is nothing wrong with missing things, or longing for a time when we can worship together once again. But Jesus is greater. Jesus is more essential. Jesus is beyond expectation. Join me in an Easter beyond expectation.
I love and miss you all dearly. Have a wonderful Easter with your Lord, with your family, with your hopes, and with His promises.