For 2000 years the standard greeting for Christians on Easter is the one we have already offered one another – “Christ is risen” and “He is risen indeed!”
So we have covered our liturgical bases. But something happens today [Easter] that has not happened in my lifetime and will not happen again till I am well into pastoral retirement. So please indulge me for this once in a career moment.
Easter and April 1st are the same day.
Despite the articles I read that begged pastors to not mix the two out of reverence for Easter – I missed anyway. So please join in my litany – You’ll know what to say when I point to you. (April Fools)
- When Jesus died the Jewish authorities thought they had heard the last of him.
- When Jesus died Satan thought he had won the great cosmic battle between good and evil.
- When Jesus died his followers thought they would live out their lives with broken hearts and hopelessness.
- When Jesus died some thought his promises and prophecies became empty words.
- When Jesus died it meant death does have the final word over us all and the possibility of life after death is a lie.
- When they rolled that stone in front of Jesus’ tomb and posted the guards they were sure no one would open it.
Ah, but Jesus did rise from the dead –No foolin’ – He walked out of his tomb, he lives forever, his promises are sure, he’s preparing a place for you in heaven, and we are here to celebrate the Good News of Easter because to do anything less would make us feel like –an April Fool.
Let me share an amazing number with you. On any given Sunday there are between 12 and 20 visitors worshiping with us. I’ve heard pastors lament that some congregations don’t see 20 visitors in a year. All those people God is leading our way each week! What a blessing! Just now, about 15 of those recent visitors are in our New Member class and have decided to cross the line of commitment and make St Andrews their spiritual home. Again, what wonderful things God is doing here.
If the church growth gurus are correct, most of these people are with us because of the invitation of a family member or friend. As I have gotten to know this new member class, the gurus are right! You have been inviting. Another thing the gurus tell us is that most of these folks decided within 8 minutes of their first visit whether or not they would be making a second visit here (that’s before they ever hear the choir, the preacher, or join in a single hymn). AND, the gurus were right again! These new members tell me that it was your smiles, your words of welcome, friendliness, and your love for Christ and one another that made coming here very special for them. Well done, St Andrews family! Please plan to be with us on May 20th to celebrate these new additions that your love has brought to this family and to recognize those who have been a part of St. Andrews for fifty years as well.
PS- An interesting observation, and request, that has come out of interviewing some of our new folks. I think it is good information to pass along to all of you:
“St. Andrews ‘old-timers’, please share your names with us ‘newbies’ as we meet and greet. I gave my name to a dozen friendly people, but had no idea who these wonderful folks were that were sitting all around me.”
That’s an easy fix! Offer the gift of your name along with your warm welcome and handshake. Again- Well done, St. Andrews family!
Love and Peace,