Most of us just got done with this 40-day season called Lent. It concluded gloriously with Easter - Resurrection Day - itself. Big church services with big attendance and - typically - shorter, to-the-point sermons. Many of us had big meals with families, enjoyed some spring sunshine, and perhaps even spent some extra time thanking God today for Jesus, His sacrifice, and His resurrection.
But now what? Now that the big lead-up to Easter is over, what are we supposed to do as a church and as Christians? Certainly the truths that we heard about resurrection and new life should have some continuing resonance. And certainly the fasting we did over Lent doesn't suddenly lose all its significance until next February or something. Right?
Right. But how do we keep these concepts going? Well, here are 4 ideas on how to keep the concepts of Easter alive as we move forward into the year.
ONE: Add a spiritual discipline.
Lent was an opportunity to recognize our sin and depravity, and to - in small ways - join Jesus in His 40-day fast in the wilderness. People give up all sorts of things - sweets, social media, negative comments, you name it.
Now that Lent has come and gone, this season of Eastertide (that it's official name) can be a great opportunity to add a discipline. Now for many of us, that "adding" should be something like silence, solitude, meditation, a continued fast...something that actually helps de-clutter your life. For others, it could be more action-oriented, such as prayer, hospitality, or giving.
If you need a list of possible spiritual disciplines, head here. You could also...
The literal, historical resurrection of Jesus makes the most sense out of what happened afterward: the birth and unprecedented expansion of the early church. People tend not to give up their lives for made-up stories about the dead coming back to life or failed messiahs being crucified. It makes the most sense that Jesus really, truly came back to life and empowered His disciples to make disciples of the world.
For a glimpse of just how convinced, dedicated and empowered the early church was by Jesus' resurrection and His call to make disciples, read the book of Acts. You will be amazed by the faith, courage, and audacity that these early church-planters had. Look specifically for the word "resurrection" and the effect it had on people (hint: it's used 11 times).
THREE: Bring something to life.
Easter has to do with new life and new creation. Jesus, as the "firstfruits of the resurrection" (1 Cor. 15:20), is the start of the world being re-made and re-created, without the fall, reconciled with God. And, nearly just as excitingly, God has made us agents of that reconciliation! We get to help put the world back to order; we get to be agents of God's resurrection power!
There are all sorts of simple ways to do that. But one of the most simple is by getting our hands dirty and planting some flowers, a tree, even some vegetables and herbs (which Emily and I hope to do this spring...we love basil!). When we help something grow and live, we are joining with God in His sustaining of creation, obeying our original commandment to "work the the ground, and take care of it" (Genesis 2:15).
FOUR: Remember that every Sunday is a mini-Easter.
Christian worship moved from Saturday to Sunday because it was "the Lord's Day" (Revelation 1:10); that is, it was the day when Jesus was resurrected from the dead. This was the pivotal point on which Christianity stood. Without Christ's resurrection, Christianity was worthless (1 Cor. 15:17). Because of the magnitude of this event, we see evidence from the earliest records of the first-century church that they worshiped on "the first day of the week," i.e. Sunday (1 Cor 16:2; Acts 20:7; Didache 14:1 [mid-late 1st cent.]).
So, when the church gathers together each Sunday, think of not just as a nice way to end the weekend; think of it as a weekly celebration that Christ is alive and is making us alive in Him! Every Sunday is Resurrection Sunday, a day to remember this glorious truth:
Romans 6:4-11. We were...buried with [Christ] through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.