All you have to do is look on social media to see that Easter was a success….family and friends gathered together in their new outfits and hats. Tables decorated a week in advance. Church parking lots were overflowing!! It was a wonderful day and for some a wonderful weekend! Here at PVUMC, we had a wonderful week with the Maundy Thursday service, to the Good Friday service, the Easter egg hunt, and four powerful services on Sunday. The congregation brought beautiful flowers to decorate the crosses. There were so many volunteers helping to make four services possible. We had record attendance! It was all very special and I felt an overwhelming power of the Holy Spirit! All of those things are great but the greatest is the hands that were lifted during our closing prayer. Our hearts should still be rejoicing over the hands lifted to Jesus -for the first time - ready to make Him their Lord and Savior! The beautiful flowers may be gone from the cross but Easter has just begun!
Plants and trees that have been dormant for winter are coming back to life. Even some animals are coming back to life. Of course, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus at this time of new life and rebirth! We have gone through our 40 days of Lent, studied the mountaintops and valleys of Holy Week and Easter morning! Now what?
John 20:19-22, “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’.” I cannot imagine the lack of hope and fear that the disciples felt after the crucifixion and experiencing the empty tomb. Then Jesus comes to be with them to give them peace in place of their fear. He even showed them His scars on His hands and side. Then Jesus breathed His breath on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” and go out into the world where I send you.
In the next chapter, like us, the disciples were back to business. John 21:3-6, “So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’ ‘No,’ they answered. He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.”
John 21:15-17, “When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’ Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’” I think Jesus was telling them things are not over - they are just getting started! If you love me then go find my people and teach them what I have taught you.
As you go back to your “before Easter” schedule (work, school, meetings, taking care of the kids, ball practice, extracurricular activities, etc.), think about what Jesus said. Easter is not over. It is not a holiday that goes up on the shelf with the wreath for next year! It is time to follow Jesus! It is about the fact that He is victorious and triumphant! As many of you said at church, “He is risen! He is risen indeed!” The story of Jesus with us is eternal! When He breathed His Holy Spirit upon us He empowered us to follow Him.
What difference has this Lenten season made in your relationship with Christ? Did you experience, or are you experiencing, a renovation? (It is never too late to renovate!) Easter morning is the beginning of the story. Are we going to become one of Jesus’ disciples? Or are we going back to our daily life which takes away from our relationship with Jesus?
For Christians Easter is a 50-day period. It is called the season of Easter or Eastertide, which begins at sunset on the eve of Easter and ends on Pentecost, the day we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church. Let us use this time to experience what it really means when we say, “Christ is risen!”
Are you lying dormant, or are you ready to spring forth with new growth and be an Easter people?