I grew up Catholic but when I went to college I stopped going to mass. The only time I remember going was during Holy Week (Holy Week leads up to Easter). I attended a Maundy/Holy Thursday service. I went because I thought I might witness the Stations of the Cross. They did not give the Stations that evening. I missed it and it is one of the traditions that I miss from my Catholic days. I did not go the next day of any other day afterward. I thought, “this may be last time I go to church.” Little did I know, God had different plans.
This Easter your church may have a college student, a young family, a middle-aged person who may have a distant memory of church that will attend your worship services. I think this is a great opportunity to welcome them with the hospitality of Christ.
Lay out the welcome mat. Go out of your way to receive them. Say, “We are so glad you are here.” Park in the space far from the building, smile and wave, shake hands, move to the center of the isle, help people who look lost to find their way to a seat or to the kid’s ministry or the nursery. Invite someone to lunch. Invite them back next week.
Don’t complain if your seat is taken or the place is packed.
I have heard stories of church leadership getting up and scolding people who came to Easter service for only coming once a year. Sadly, what they thought was their opportunity to convict became an opportunity to condemn. They missed the mark. They missed an opportunity to bless.
You want your seat to be taken and you want the place to be packed. Do you know why? Because someone you invited may actually come. Welcoming people started days before Easter because you began seeing people throughout your day as someone who would be blessed by attending Easter service with you.
Easter is great time for people who have been away from their faith to attend but it is also an opportunity for someone who has never followed Jesus to experience him with His gathered people, the church. The person who has a semblance of faith from years before may have married someone who has no faith history, and they will be at your church. They may be at church because their out of town relatives are in town. They may be from your community.
They have different motives and different histories. But they will all be gathered under one roof. It’s going to be a big, awkward, beautiful mess. That’s were God gets focused. The cross is a beautiful mess. It’s also what brings Easter into focus for us.
Easter is for people! All people! That’s what Jesus was focused on when he was on the cross. His love for the world is why he did not remain in the earth. That is why the grave is empty. Easter is THE person, THE God who went through THE event, that is THE hope of the world.
Someone may come to your church and think, “This is the only time I am coming,” but God may have different plans for them. Their decision may change depending on how your church receives them. They just might begin or begin anew a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. This is my Easter hope.
What is your Easter hope?
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