“To do them justice, the people who crucified Jesus did not do so because he was a bore. Quite the contrary; he was too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround him with an atmosphere of tedium.” – Dorothy Sayer
Ouch! Growing up in church I can remember year in and year out the high and holy day of Easter would come… and then it would go. After the eggs had been found, the candy eaten, the bunny ears and basekts put on the clearance shelves in stores it was back to business as usual. I had been a part of many Easter cantadas in my early years at the Nazarene church. I was usually in the choir singing “Hosanna, the King is Risen”, but occasionaly I’d get to dress up too. It was strange seeing the various people I went to church with every week now with fake facial hair, fake dirt on their cheeks and potato sack costumes. It was really strange and rather uncomfortable seeing someone that sang from the hymnal in the pew next to me now walking up to the stage in a loin cloth carrying a fake cross. I thought to myself, “I’d never do that”. I was, however, happy to put on one of those “authentic” Jerusalem robes and some sandals in order to murmer and shout in the crowd as the fake Pontius Pilate stood in feigned bewilderment at the condemnation of the fake Jesus. I don’t despise those times by any means nor do I look down on those who participate in such elaborate plays. Personally speaking though, it didn’t do much to make me aware of the suffering Christ went through, the reality of the Resurrection or what all of that had to do with the here and now world of jeans and shoes and the nagging feeling that I would never fit in at school.
Fast forward many years and I find myself working on an Easter message and praying with all of my heart that I’m not perpetuating more of the same from those early days at the Nazarene church. New Hope doesn’t plan on having anyone in robes or loin clothes (thank goodness). I can’t help but conclude, though, that if people actually met the Person of Jesus Christ and experienced the power of His Spirit and were washed in His full forgiveness at an Easter service there wouldn’t be any way you could keep that person from knocking down the door of the church the following week just to know Him more!
I’ve just read recently that a church in Toledo, Ohio is giving away a house on Easter Sunday. The requirement for being considered for the big giveaway is to attend one of the worship services. With a fresh desperation and clarity I just want to be sure that this Easter I’m giving people Jesus. Yes, we will have an Easter egg hunt for the kids, a brunch, great music and powerful stories, but apart from Jesus no one is going to be changed. Isn’t that what Easter is about anyhow? After studying the book of Luke for the past couple of months I feel like I am meeting Him all over again. He is much more radical, beautiful, scandalous, powerful, strong, and dangerous to the religious traditions of men then I have ever realized. He is shaking me up, removing the veil, and lifting the religious fog. I can’t stomach the thought that anyone would come to New Hope this Easter and find something that is simply safe and comfortable. I’m praying for a dangerous Easter! That this Sunday would be a line in the sand, a point of demarcation in the lives of the over-churched, the unchurched, and everyone in between. That we wouldn’t be simply inviting people to a nice church service, but rather an encounter with the Resurrection Lord! I want to invite you to join me in a prayer that has been rocking my world since I read it in a book on the life of Jesus by John Eldredge, Beautiful Outlaw:
Jesus, show me who you really are. I pray for the true you. I want the real you. I ask you for you. Spirit of God, free me in every way to know Jesus as he really is. Open my eyes to see him. Deliver me from everything false about Jesus and bring me what is true.