Our Easter Welcome

     Easter is drawing ever nearer.  As it does, my mind drifts to the reality that each Easter churches through out the world see their attendance rise.  Christmas and Easter are two Christian holidays that are wonderful draws for both believers and non-believers.  I am encouraged each year to see many faces that for one reason or another are often missing.  I used to think negative thoughts about those whom we would often term “Christmas and Easter Christians.”  For many, life is such that regular attendance in worship is a challenge.  It is easy for those who are able to attend regularly to sit in judgment. 

     This year I wanted to shed a different light on the subject.  Continuing the idea from my sermon this past week, I believe that it is high time for our “Christian” communities to start acting Christ like.  Christ looked at the world with a very different eye.  When he saw those who were outside the community, he sought to figure out what was separating them and alleviate that burden.  Each week in the declaration of pardon we hear this echoed, “Who is in a position to condemn, Christ, and Christ came into the world to forgive sinners.”  How often have we scoffed at those who don’t make it to church often?  Do we find ourselves forgiving or condemning? 

    Easter is the time when we most clearly see the grace of God enter the world.  Why then do we express only condemnation?  This isn’t just true for those who are less active Christians.  Many non-believers are confronted with a negative reception when entering churches, especially on Easter.  After all, those people might be sitting in your seat.  Easter gives people a great opportunity to explore the Chris

tian reality and expresses the  richest “Good News.”  Nevertheless, more than a few who visit churches across the globe this year will find people who say welcome but act otherwise. 

    The congregation of Christ Presbyterian has done a great deal of Spirit-filled work towards becoming  a community that expresses true joy in their reception of others.  I believe that we have expanded our ability to care for the stranger in our midst.  Even with that said, I also know that it is easy to get threatened when we experience new people.  In recent months we have seen a large influx of new people being led to our fellowship.  While for the most we have expressed radical hospitality towards them, I believe it’s fair to say that at times our insecurity and fear have come out. 

     We are extremely blessed to be in a location and community that has provided us with a large number of hospitality moments.  God has given us opportunity after opportunity to express the love of God to those who we interact with.  This year I want to encourage you to think about what God is doing during Easter.  Yes, it is a great time of celebration.  Yes, it is a time when we have wonderful music.  Yes, it is a time when we experience a warm spiritual feeling.  If we tune our hearts to what God is doing it can be so much more.  It can be a time when we become co-workers in what God is doing, in the lives of seekers.  Those who are seeking to return to faith and those who are seeking meaning that come in and through our faith.

    Remember to also encourage your friends and neighbors to experience the joy of Easter with us.  Our Lent and Easter events are all intended to be moments of invitation to discipleship.  What better time to invite someone than on the day when we proclaim God’s glory in the resurrection of Jesus?