In this Easter worship gathering, we hear a message that starts a new series on the Song of Songs (Song of Solomon), in which we learn about the delights of romantic love and how that ties into the resurrection of Jesus. You can watch the message below, or the entire worship gathering (including the Lord’s Supper) below that.
Action, in the afterglow of Easter
We have been through Holy Week, witnessing Jesus sharing the last supper with his disciples, humbly washing their feet, subtly being betrayed, helplessly hanging on the cross. We have waited through those long hours in anticipation of finding the tomb empty. And it was empty! Jesus was raised from the dead!
In the afterglow of Easter, though, the party might be over, but the work is not done.
Churches that follow lectionaries for their preaching often spend time in the season of Easter – the Great Fifty Days between the resurrection and Pentecost – studying the book of Acts. Theologian J.B. Phillips, when translating the New Testament for ease of reading in the 1960s, called it “The Young Church in Action”.
It’s an accurate title for the book of Acts, because that was the early church’s response to the resurrection of Jesus: action.
And it should be the response of the church of today, too.
If we remain content to give mere mental assent to the resurrection of Jesus, but then do nothing with it, our faith doesn’t mean much, does it? Just ‘pie in the sky when you die’.
But Jesus’ victory over death calls us to action, and specifically to grow the church.
Granted, that’s a tough task these days, with secularization on the rise, and sundry scandals among church leaders dotting the news. In the midst of all that, though, Jesus is alive, and he longs to build his church.
Despite society’s best efforts, the church of Jesus will never die. If you read statistics, you might not believe that, but maybe you’ll believe Jesus when he said to his disciples that on the bedrock of their faith, “I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it” (Matthew 16.18b, NLT).
The church is, literally, unstoppable.
If you’re in leadership, you’re probably tired right now. (Join the club!)
If you’re not in leadership, pray for your leaders. They’ve been praying for you!
Pray that all of us, together, will be the church in action, responding to the grace of God at work in the resurrection of Jesus in this season of such growth potential.
The risen Lord Jesus has not given up on the church, so why should we?
Two thousand years on, we are still called to be the young church in action.
Symbols of hope
Perhaps you’ve been walking in your neighbourhood more often lately. I know I have. And if so, you’ve probably seen various neighbours’ windows decorated with rainbows.
I went to the all-knowing Google the other day and typed in, “Why are people putting rainbows in their windows”, only to discover mid-search that I’m not the first person to ‘Google’ that question.
It turns out that this trend started in Italy, accompanied by the phrase, andra tutto benne – everything will be alright – when the Coronavirus problem got serious in that country. And it spread across many countries in the western world, including here in Canada.
Some Christians may be uncomfortable placing rainbows in their windows these days, because of the fear of misunderstanding: a certain demographic some time ago decided to appropriate a variant of the rainbow as its primary symbol, and not everybody understands the difference.
For followers of Jesus, of course, the rainbow is a sign of God’s promise never to destroy the earth again by flood. It’s a sign of hope. Indeed, ultimately, everything will be alright.
But if you want to try something different, why not do so? Some of my social media friends decided to create stained glass Christian images in their windows using masking tape and paint that can later be removed.
With today being Good Friday, and Easter being around the corner, we could use images like the empty cross, or the heart, or even the anchor. We can even use words, provided they are painted (or printed out) large enough for passersby to see.
Many of our neighbours are hurting and lonely. A lot of people are looking for hope, looking for something stable to which they may cling in this season of uncertainty. Consider using your front window as a witness. When this is all over, who knows what seeds God may have planted in people, through our silent witness, to draw them to him who is unchanging?
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13.8, NLT).
By the way, if you don’t have an online church ‘home’, feel free to watch our live-streaming of worship on Good Friday, and on Easter Sunday, at 10:00 a.m. You don’t need an account to watch at http://www.facebook.com/stpaulsnobleton. You can watch later at http://www.stpaulsnobleton.ca/sermons.
An Easter Invitation
You are invited to worship online with the St. Paul’s Church Family on Easter Sunday!
Join us on Facebook Live! If you can’t make it for 10:00 a.m., you can view it later on YouTube via the church website.
If you have questions or comments afterward, you can leave them below, and I’ll try to answer them as quickly as possible.
So how was your Easter? Was it a great celebration with church family and loved ones? To be sure, it’s a highlight of the year. Congregations everywhere are encouraged by the attendance, which usually rivals Christmas eve for the biggest numbers of the year.
But then there’s the next Sunday. Normality returns with a thud. But should it?
I’ve quoted Kennon Callahan before, who says that Christmas and Easter are God’s way of showing you your future. That is, the people who attend irregularly, but come to you at Christmas and Easter, may have great potential to attend your church more regularly. How are you reaching out to them?
To be sure, it’s a challenging time to grow the church. There are many other tantalizing things to do rather than worship God, so how can the church grow in that context?
There are many things that can be done, but a simple one is this: continue to invite your friends to worship. Some who came with you at Easter will accept another invitation. Why not make it a social engagement? Offer to take your guests out for coffee or lunch after worship. Cultivate the relationships.
Maybe the shoe is on the other foot: perhaps you are the guest who came with a friend last Sunday, or who has been encouraged to come to worship with a friend. Why not come this Sunday? Bamboozle your friends by asking to come to worship with them! You’ve experienced something that you’d like to experience again, so go for it!
Easter is something Christians celebrate all year. Each Sunday is a little celebration of the resurrection in community, and each day is a further celebration of Jesus being alive in us. Let it make a difference in your life today, and in your church this weekend.
“The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord” (John 20.20b, NIV).