Monday, April 4, 2016

Eastertide



            It could very well be that you have never heard of the word “Eastertide,” and maybe not even in your church.  In my judgment, that is quite unfortunate because Eastertide is a significant season in the Christian Year.  It spans fifty days until Pentecost.  Yep, that is seven weeks of bringing the new life we enjoy to the forefront.  Eastertide’s intentional focus is to recognize and celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and, thus, exulting in our own new life in him.

            Now, you might be saying to yourself something like this: “Why do we need to have some liturgical season about Christ’s resurrection?  Shouldn’t we be living like we recognize this every day?”  Yes, of course we should.  But consider this:  If you only sing songs of resurrection on Easter Sunday in your church; only occasionally, at best, think of Christ’s resurrection outside of Easter Sunday; then, perhaps it is wise to bring a highlighted focus to the resurrection in a special season.  Just as we would likely not think of taking only one vacation day in the year for renewal, so it is necessary to take more than one day to enjoy Easter.  If nothing else, Eastertide gives believers an opportunity to let Christ’s resurrection percolate in our hearts so that we end up becoming people in real life who exhibit an alive-spirit.  And God knows we could use much more of that in our congregations!

            If life, eternal life, and the necessity of being alive are all needs we have within particular congregations, then it only makes sense that we would want to take advantage of what Eastertide has to offer us:  a deliberate look at Christ’s resurrection, exploring its implications and impact for us and our churches.  Simply assuming that we all know about the resurrection will not do, any more than my wife simply assuming I love her without looking her straight in the eye and telling her so.  

            If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile (1 Corinthians 15:17) and we can only expect a sin-as-usual kind of approach to life with a sort of shoulder shrug that says, “Meh, what’s a guy to do?”  But, instead, we have the hope of life everlasting because Christ has risen from death.  We have the hope of individual renewal and corporate revitalization since we serve a risen Savior.

            Therefore this is the perfect time of year to engage in some renewal practices or even make a few simple changes that show signs of life within the congregation.  Here are just a few ideas for lifting Christ’s resurrection into the next few months:

Pray for revival.  Wherever there is deadness there is no Jesus.  Christ brings life, so praying to God for revival is a deliberate way of connecting with the Lord.

Squarely address things in the church which are death-dealing.  Gossip, back-biting, slander, and an entire host of sins of the tongue kill and murder people.  It brings death.  Simply sluffing-off someone’s acerbic speech as “that’s just the way they are” will not do in the church, unless you want Jesus at arms-length.

Promote things which are life-giving.  If sins of the tongue bring death, using our speech for encouragement, love, mercy, forgiveness, and building up one another in the church promotes growth, health, and life.

Preach a sermon series on new life.  The church is the hope of the world because Christ is the risen Lord.  Boldly proclaim the truth of the resurrected Christ and how it works in reaching the world.

Start that new ministry that you always believed would make a difference.  It is the season to take a risk.  After all, if you have eternal life can you really fail?  Host a new small group in your home.  Transform that unused space in the church building.  If you are a layperson, blow away your pastor by asking him/her in what ways you can bring life to your church (believe me, your pastor will have ideas for you!).

Focus on daily habits of spiritual health and life.  If you would not think of skipping meals for days at a time, then think about the erosion to your church that occurs when many individual parishioners do not read their Bibles on a regular basis or pray with any kind of consistency.  Make a plan and stick to it.  It will not only bring growth to your own life, but will impact those around you.


            Just keeping the word “Eastertide” in front of you for the next few months can be a simple yet powerful way of reminding us that God has called us to new life.  Let the reality of Christ’s resurrection take root in your heart to such an extent that Jesus becomes the greatest influence to all your thinking, speaking, and acting.

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