(Written from my deck, the week after Easter...)
Our instinct after a busy time like Holy Week is to enjoy a nice Spring day when it comes and get outside, put our feet up, catch our breath and relax. It’s been a long Winter and it has been a long Lent. We made it. We’ve earned a day off. God is good. Christ is risen!
Let’s indulge ourselves by taking a brief victory lap. God has defeated sin and death! But what did we accomplish? Loads! Just think of your list. Was Jesus proclaimed crucified and risen? – check! Did the music fill us for each mood and occasion to support and nurture faith? – check! Were guests welcomed among us? – check! Are all those extra worship services done? – check! Were leaders recruited to help put it all together and pull it off? – check and check! Did all the set-up / take down / set-up transitions happen? – check, check, and check!!! Phew. Good job. Thanks. Well done everybody! Pat each other on the back. We did it. Well, God did it, but God used us – alleluia!!!
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to breathe deeply – not just as a sigh of relief, but to breathe deep in the Spirit, whose sigh is deeper than words (Romans 8:26). Sometimes after the busy times like Christmas and Easter, the best reward is to take a step back and take a day off.
I hope we all do.
Yet Easter (like Christmas) is not the end of the story but only its beginning. We forget that Christmas is twelve days starting on December 25 (not ending then) and Easter, after a long forty day Lent and Holy Week starts a fifty day season until Pentecost (this year June 8, and a season of growth that lasts until November 30 when Advent rolls around again). The school year might be starting to wind down, Spring will soon yield to Summer, but our lives in the Risen Christ are just beginning. Our lives in Christ start with, “He is risen,” and “Go make disciples” (Matthew 28:6, 19). So we better keep at it. In this life we never quite get there, do we?
If there is one thing I have learned as a pastor for the past (almost) twelve years – it is that as soon as we think we’ve got it all figured out, believe the checklist is accomplished, and think we know what we are doing and what to expect, God shows up to put an end to our assumptions and create all things new. The good news is, God is still calling us to be a part of it. Who knows what God will accomplish in and through us next?
Take a deep breath in the Spirit. Let your lungs be filled with fresh air. Get the rest you need to recover the spring back in your step. But don’t get too comfortable. As my father-in-law is fond of saying,
“God isn’t done with us yet.”
For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:24-27)