Potholes and Creep: Why Easter is so important for the Church
The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is celebrated in earnest this week. The Christian tradition hinges on this very event. If Christ was not raised from the dead then any faith that we have is pointless. In other words, if Christians remove the Resurrection from the center of their faith they will become nothing more than a social book club that yearns to make you feel better about yourself by propping you up with cute maxims. Not that this is ever done on purpose...
Easter is one of two global celebration for the church. Every church of every denomination in every country on earth will come together in the celebration of Easter. This is a grand thought! When you make your way to a church on this Easter Sunday, do yourself a favor: during a lull in the action (most likely during the sermon, right?) let your mind attempt to fathom the vastness of human connection that is going on precisely at that moment. Hundreds of thousands of people are gathering together in different locations for precisely the same reason. And you are a part of that! It is very awe-mazing to consider!
While this connectedness points out the importance of Easter it doesn't actually answer the question as to why Easter is so important. So why is Easter so important to the Church? Perhaps a short story:
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Potholes break things
I had recently purchased a new car and was taking my family on a trip for late-night milkshakes. While returning home my front-left tire forcefully entered a pothole that was concealed by the darkness of night. Warning lights illuminated my dash and the uneven ride indicated that a tire had blown.
The inspection that quickly followed the exit of the motorway revealed damage, not only to the tire but the pothole had actually caused a crack in the rim. I had no other choice than to call the towing company to take my car to be repaired. The damage cost more than $1000. The lesson? Potholes break things.
Traveling this sod, we are apt to run across a pothole from time to time. The worst potholes are not the ones that sprain our ankles, though. The worst potholes are the one that fracture our souls. The emotional trauma that accompanies painful experiences can leave us feeling like something has died inside of us. We feel that any death deserves a burial so we bury the agony under the layers of whatever we can find to numb the pain. The self-constructed tomb remains closed-off and is rarely visited nor commemorated with flowers. But the death still remains deep inside and because we are not master tomb builders the emotional agony seeps into all the other areas of life. If only there was a life for that which had died...
Creep creeps in
We remember that Easter is a global celebration. The message is the same from every Pastor or Priest. Jesus is alive! He has conquered death and the grave! Without this, as the Apostle reminds us, our faith means nothing and is illusory. Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection is the center of Christian faith. But its not always the central truth of every sermon, song, and service.
Like a car with misaligned wheels the message of a misaligned church can drift away from the central message of Easter. Sermon creep is what happens when the central point of the sermon drifts away from the central point of the gospel. 51 weeks of sermons will range in topics from living a financially stable life to rescuing failing relationships. Often times the pastor's words can creep away from the cross and venture into the lanes of self-help and personal validation. Not essentially heresy, but not centered on the gospel either.
Sermons are not the only worship function that experience this creep. The songs sung in church may regularly experience a vast separation from the actual gospel message. Even acts of service can morph from "doing all unto the glory of God" to serving others for the natural emotional boost that helping out provides. Sermon, song, and service creep are not (always) an all-out rebellion against God. Its what happens when we let our lives become misaligned from the saving Gospel of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. Finally, we can arrive at the real reason why Easter is so important to the Church.
The Grand Re-alignment! Why Easter is important to the church
I can't overstate the importance of Easter as a global event. Once per year every limb of the Christian church gathers to become realigned with the true message of the Gospel: Jesus died for your sins and was resurrected from the dead so that the curse of sin is broken for those who believe! It is the tune up that every church, pastor, and parishioner must have in their life. It retunes the heart to the Spirit's frequency and resets the feet on the path toward heaven. 51 weeks of universal church creep gets corrected on a Spring Sunday.
The realignment is crucial for the survival of your faith. Misaligned tires can lead to fatal accidents. The same is true with your life and faith. Creep leads to a doctrine of self-sufficiency which ultimately concludes in destruction (a theme explored in the book of Proverbs). The message of Easter focuses again on the sufficiency of Christ that concludes with worshipping Him for all eternity.
Easter reminds of us all of the resurrection of the Jesus. It gives hope to that part of your soul that has been buried away can receive healing and a new life. Hitting a pothole can completely derail you but the promise of Easter is that is don't have keep living life with the check engine light on. Both sins committed and committed against you have no power if you confess and embrace the real message of Easter. It is a proper time to align yourself with Jesus and move forward in healing.
For these reasons, and many more, Easter is crucial to the church. It is crucial for you.