In my 35 plus years of being a pastor, by far my favorite time of the church year is Easter. It’s when we get to gather as a body and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Living Lord.
Last year, however, we were challenged. Churches and businesses were shutting down. I remember wondering to myself how I was going to organize my Good Friday and Easter weekend services in the midst of what was rapidly becoming a global pandemic.
For many of us, in fact, Sunday, April 12th 2020 was the first Easter we were not in a physical church celebrating as a body. It felt abnormal, disappointing, and sad. And as the virus only spread and lockdowns became more prevalent, we began to wonder if Easter 2021 would also be spent at home, watching a livestream.
This year, thankfully, things are beginning to be a bit different from last Easter. Slowly — but surely — we are gathering again as a body to celebrate. You as a pastor are trying to get this right and depending on where you live, you may or may not wear masks. You might still be socially distanced. And all of you will probably still see the ever present hand-sanitizer stations!
I was reading Tim Keller recently. His words touched my heart with a timely reminder that, as believers, we don’t serve a dead teacher. Rather, we serve a Living Lord. Not a “theoretical” lord who is part of an impersonal “universe” — but one who is actually ever present with us, one who will never leave or forsake us, and one whose spirit binds us together with other believers around the globe.
So, while I am very excited for many of our churches that most, in some way are able to physically gather again, I think one of the key reflections for me this year is that we don’t let the event of Easter in our church get in the way of the Event of the Resurrection that actually took place in time and place. We serve a resurrected, risen Lord whose Spirit binds us together across time, distance, pandemics or any other challenge that we may face while we are on this earth. Our hope, after all, is in the Kingdom to come.
Church leader, we at Venture Church Network want to wish you and your loved ones a Happy Easter this year, however you may be celebrating. We hope this will be a time of reflection, of thankfulness and of joy, as we consider what actually matters when celebrating the Lord’s resurrection and defeat of death. May this Easter be an incredible reminder of the Hope you have because Jesus is alive!
Dr. David Whitaker