The problem with having friends that are pastors is that they are all over the country. They are called to unique places and are doing awesome ministry among the people. I am so grateful for their ministry and their hearts. Being a pastor is sometimes unique in the fact that people have a hard time recognizing you are normal. And if they recognize it, it still has its boundaries, especially since we often bond with people whose jobs are similar to ours. This is probably what I miss most about a large church, living life with people who have similar passions and are faced with similar challenges. In seminary, I built some life long relationships that will never go away. I may have been poor and single, but I was blessed to be in friendships with people who had similar passions, and therefore we had many things in common. Occasionally I get the opportunity to see them again. When that happens, I treasure it and try to soak it all in. One such opportunity came almost four years ago after I got the call to Mt. Calvary. We celebrated what a new call meant for my life, and we dreamed of some of the ministry that might happen in this new church.
I am sure I could think of a million examples of moments in my life that I am sad are gone. You know, the days you wish you could return to again. Mom and Rod were here this weekend, and Rod was reflecting back to when he was Jacob’s age (a first grader) and how he used to walk a couple blocks down the street to a park, by himself! Those days are long gone, and who knows if they will ever return again. What makes my relationship with my pastor friends unique is, while I won’t ever have that time like seminary again, occasionally I get a glimpse of it and treasure it. Those are the moments I want you to think about. They exist in your life too. It may be with friends you used to live by, or a city that you loved to live in and occasionally visit. It may be when your kids come home from college, or even the place where they live now. It is whatever gives you a glimpse of a moment that once was, and you want to soak it in, knowing full well you can never go back. It’s unfortunate that most of the time we never treasured it as much as we should have when we had it.
Easter weekend is the glimpse of the past for the church. Years ago people walked into church compelled by the teaching of their parents or grandparents. If they had stopped going to church, they eventually felt guilty. And when they had a child, they knew their family would freak out if they didn’t return to church and get him or her baptized. But sadly, those days are long gone too. People rarely come to church because someone told them they should be there. More often people come because they moved into the area, their conscience won’t leave them alone about a sin, or someone took the time to lovingly share why Jesus is just what they need. In this respect, Easter stands out even more than Christmas. Christmas is still muddled with our false cultural norm of going to church. Many will still attend church on Christmas as a family tradition, but not so on Easter. Easter is our time, as a church, to soak in the past that is long gone. If people come to church on Easter it is because they are compelled to be there because of Jesus. Easter is undeniably a holiday about Jesus. Trust me, no big bunny with eggs can cover up what Easter really is. I can’t say to my kids, “Today we are just thankful for family and so we hide eggs and eat candy.” Our world has commercialized Christmas, but they can’t touch Easter no matter how hard they try.
My point is, it is our time to treasure the days of the past, the times when the church took for granted that a visitor would walk in our doors just because they felt like they needed to. The times when we didn’t have to focus on how to lovingly care for visitors because it happened every week based upon a family norm. Now days we pray for every visitor to hear Jesus loud and clear. We pray that someone forms a relationship with them to let them know why we would love to see them here every week. We pray that God opens the door for those we can talk to who are thinking about coming on Easter. And finally, we pray that we soak in every moment we bump into a visitor and lovingly care for them. Jesus’ resurrection was the open door. He wanted a relationship with all people for eternity. This weekend we get a glimpse of the past when people came to church because they knew something was missing in their life. You and I know that something is Jesus. My prayer this Easter is for us to treasure the past and love the people who walk in our door on Easter.