When I was growing up, my brother and I had a bad habit of leaving lights turned on whenever we left our bedrooms, hallways, bathrooms, and so forth. Our parents had to remind us over and over again, for the sake of stewardship of electricity (not to mention the monthly electric bill), to remember to turn off the light switch when we left a room. Sometimes I would get all the way to the other side of the house before remembering (or being called back) to turn off a switch in another room.
We have just experienced the highest holiday of the church year: our annual remembrance of the resurrection of our Lord from the dead. What a tremendous high point to celebrate! For many churches, including Mt. Haley, Easter Sunday marks the highest Sunday morning attendance of the year. So not only do we have reason to celebrate in Jesus’s victory over sin and death, but we also might feel grateful and energized because the pews are slightly more crowded than usual.
I know that I am new to this role of “pastor,” and in fact this is my first Easter as a full-time minister, but I have a hunch that our attendance will be back to “normal” next week. Some folks choose to come to church once or twice a year, and they may have already reached their quota for the year. I observed something interesting on Easter Sunday this past week: it seemed that each visitor knew at least one of our regular members. The visitors were family, friends, coworkers, people who had grown up in the church as children, and so forth.
In last week’s article, I wrote that the darkness of Christ’s death must come before the light of his resurrection. Now that the light has arrived, we would be foolish simply to assume that the work of sharing the message of Christ has been completed. It’s like when I was a child: I left light switches turned on in rooms I wasn’t going to visit again. We have shared the light with our once-a-year visitors; we shouldn’t assume that the rest will take care of itself! And since we collectively have personal contact with most of the people who have passed through the church doors, we should find creative ways to carry the light of Christ into the places where our neighbors have gone.
On another level, I believe the same analogy can apply to our spiritual lives, both as a congregation and as individuals. We have experienced “Focus 40” – forty days of prayer and fasting – and now the joy of Christ’s resurrection has illuminated our hearts. Should we simply walk away from that light, leaving the switch turned on in the room we only visit on high holy days? I believe it is much healthier for us to carry the joy of the Easter season in our hearts throughout all seasons of the year.
With these two applications in mind, I invite you to read and meditate on the following passage of scripture:
Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:1-6 NIV)