When I found out I’d be the lead pastor at a church last fall, I was simultaneously ecstatic and sick to my stomach. On one hand, I’d felt the call to pastor for over 10 years and sometimes it felt like I had been pushing it off, over and over. On the other hand, I knew I had little experience in the finances of the church, administrative responsibilities, funerals, and pastoring the sick. But not only that... there was a daunting responsibility that seemed to be the true test of a pastor:
That’s right, Easter, AKA… the Super Bowl of the church calendar. Was I ready for that responsibility? Well, rather than just cross my fingers and hope, for the past few months, our worship staff spent hours and hours planning and dreaming up a way to celebrate Christ with all the energy and creativity we could muster! If I'm honest, I was terrified that I'd somehow "drop the ball" on the most important Sunday of the year.
And then everything changed: Coronavirus. COVID-19. "The Rona."
Whatever your preferred lingo, it turns out my first real pastoral Easter test isn’t about whether or not we could pull of an amazing Easter service, but about what it means to celebrate the Resurrection… when we’re surrounded with change and isolation like we’ve rarely experienced.
So I've had to do what a lot of us have done: I’ve been praying and reflecting and asking God a lot of questions (and retired pastor Steve Cox, too.) One of those many question is what it means for us to still have Easter as a community when we're not physically together. And here’s what I’ve walked away with:
Easter isn’t about candy.
Easter isn’t about a church service.
Easter isn’t about the family potluck.
Easter isn’t about dressing up nice.
Easter, friends, is about having HOPE.
Hope that God is with us, and that chaos doesn’t win. Hope that the worst thing is never the last thing. Hope that good can come from bad. Hope that we’re never truly alone. Hope that our mistakes don’t define us. Hope that we’re worthy of love. Hope that our lives matter. Hope that the impossible can be possible. Hope that Jesus brings us a life fuller and better than we could ever imagine, no matter what is happening in the world.
And that makes the service seem a lot less daunting. Now, we’ve still planned an amazing Easter service for this weekend. But whether or not you watch online with us at 10am this Sunday, or dress up in your Easter best, or eat some of those amazing Reese’s eggs (where my dog got his namesake)… the truth of Easter is that Christ rose. And rises. And lived. And lives. And that it wasn’t just a stunt, but an invitation for us to be part of a kingdom of people who life our of that hope.
And so while it might be my first Easter as a lead Pastor, I’m just grateful I get to be part of this beautiful movement of hope side-by-side with YOU.
So my prayer for you is that this Easter isn't just a service or potluck or a day of candy-induced stomach ache (maybe that's just me), but a day that truly reminds you of the Hope we have in Christ.
P.S. If you have kiddos in the house, not only are we live-streaming Easter this Sunday, but we’ve got a special 20-minute EASTER JAM we’ve made just for families! You can tune in for games, stories, and family discussion questions as soon as Easter goes live! (Check out the details below in this newsletter to get your supply list ready for the games!)
P.P.S. And for everyone, I hope you’ll join us tonight for our Maundy Thursday service at 7pm. This is a church service that remembers the last moments leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion. It’ll be powerful… and we’ve included a lot of faces from our church! You can watch at Bluespringsumc.org or tune into Facebook :)