Easter 2019 Part 3
Often, when I’m talking to my brother, he’ll say to me, “Joe, just get to the point!” He likes to use the phrase “net it out.“ This is similar in communication to where we sit and “chitchat,” or make “small talk” because we’re trying to get around to asking the “big question” or talk about the big issue we sometimes call the “elephant in the room.“ For many pastors around this time of year, the elephant in the room is “Will we have our largest attendance ever on Easter Sunday?” (I hope, as you read this, you see that I’m smiling!) This is my fifth Easter here at Hawthorne Assembly. Our very first year we had about 75 on Easter Sunday; the next year we had 100+, two years ago we had almost 100, last year we had 136; and my prayer is today we have 140+ worshipping with us this Resurrection Sunday! Clearly, the most important number is not how many are in the sanctuary, but how many are names are recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life. This weekend is about celebrating life, conquering death, and I am believing that all 140 of us are “amen”ing the main message of Easter, and that it’s not just a ritual that we participate in. We need to cherish sacred days, sacred activities, sacred gatherings; whether it is a baby dedication, water baptism, or having a celebration of life for someone who has gone on to glory. These are all special events which should be part of our normal Christian life. They’re not more or less important than prayer, fasting, tithing, worship, or church fellowship; rather, they are part of the normal Christian life. Recently I have sensed the Spirit of God reminding me to be very thankful even for earthly things such as my vehicle, our home, our clothes, the food we eat every day, running water (more specifically, indoor plumbing). Often when I arrive at 6366 South County Rd. E, I just thank God for the beautiful worship facility we have, which will one day no longer exist, and a more glorious venue will take its place. Most of us are aware of the tragedy that took place in Paris, France. The Notre Dame cathedral was severely damaged on April 15, shortly after the last visitor left for the day. Years ago, this towering cathedral was the tallest building in all of Paris, only to be surpassed by another historic landmark, the Eiffel Tower. If you’ve been listening to the news, you’ve noticed there’s been a lot said about this world-renowned historic church. The 800-year-old landmark is actually located on an island on the Seine River and the video showing the collapse of the awesome spire collapsing into the building gave us all a picture of the frailty of man’s great achievements. There is no doubt that this church was dedicated to the kingdom of God, and great effort and hundreds of years of labor and lives were given toward the construction of this still-active worship facility. Individuals, such as Joan of Arc, and their faith in God, are well recorded here, and after her death she was memorialized with a statue above the east door into the cathedral. The pain and sorrow of this recent event can be seen on the faces of French men and women, and faithful followers of the Catholic faith worldwide. With great respect for a congregation’s worship facility, we realize this is very difficult to process, especially in the midst of Holy week and one of the greatest sacred events of the church. Yet I cautiously suggest that we remember the priority of human individuals, and where they will spend eternity, over the loss of any man-made structure. I remember just a few years ago when the Baptist Church in Ashland lost their facility to a fire, and the sorrow it brought. Yet, hopefully there is a greater sorrow as we think about those who have never turned their life over to the Savior. This is really the more important issue as we consider Resurrection Sunday, and WHY we gather together, especially to celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection.