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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Thoughts from the Past: What Is Easter to them? Is It About the Resurrection or A Carnival?





I first wrote and published this in April 2011.  The thought is still pertinent today. [Edited]

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Easter and Christmas are said to be the two biggest church going events of the year. Consequently a lot of churches will put forth extra effort to get people to come to them on these “holidays”. We received an invitation to a church in our area this week in the mail. They sent out a colorful flier that looks a lot like a business advertisement but is supposed to help us “find reasons” to go to their church this next Lord’s Day. Their very “Christian” slogan is “Hop Over This Easter”. (I hope you realize I’m being a bit sarcastic there.)

Among the enticements they are offering to get the crowds in are:

Live music --- Hello? Don’t church services usually have some form of “live music”?

Coffee bar --- Hm. That’s a nice enticement. Hopefully it will keep the people awake through the following:

A “relative and inspiring message” --- Um… Yes, you read that correctly. :-) I’m not exactly sure if that “relative” was a mistake or not, but it sure gave my husband a laugh.

Easter Egg Hunt --- Of course. This ancient, non-Christian symbol is an old standby for pleasing the crowds on “Easter” day.

A space just for the kids filled with interactive games and videos --- You see where I get the carnival idea.

Family Portraits --- Really?? How thoughtful of them. Now the once and twice a year church goers can have some concrete evidence to show whoever they think they are going to impress that they were actually at church on Easter 2011. Somehow I don’t quite think those pictures are going to make it to heaven with them. They certainly would not impress God, especially considering the probable lack of reverence at this particular event! (I’m sure the idea is also to show off those lovely new clothes that are another man-made tradition and vain show of the flesh that is common for “Easter Sunday”.)

In the paragraph on the left of the card we read that people are finding reasons to go to “_________ Community Church”. The reasons given are:

Real relationships --- To whom?

Relevant teaching --- About what?

A meaningful spiritual experience --- What kind of spirituality are we talking about here?

This very personal invitation addressed “To Our Neighbor”, lacks some very important things.

There is not one reference to God anywhere on it. Not one. This is supposed to be a church, and yet nothing is mentioned about why they meet, who they worship or what kind of “spiritual experience” they are imparting to those who come.

John 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

There is not one reference to the Bible. What foundation do they have for their church? What do they refer to for their authority in communicating a “relevant teaching”? They claim to offer us next Sunday a “relative and inspiring message”. Relative to what? Inspiring in what way? If they have no final authority or inspiration higher than themselves why should we want it?

Psalm 138:2 I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.
John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Finally, there is no reference whatsoever to Jesus Christ or His resurrection. None.

Now, I realize that Easter, as many people know it, is all about bunnies, eggs, flowers, candy, etc. It is not a holy day to remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. There is good cause for that relating to the history of Easter and the date as the Catholic church chose it. (That is a topic for another time and article.) This is why my family have distinguished the first Sunday after Passover by calling it Resurrection Sunday. We feel this name clarifies whom we are honoring on that day.

This mass mailing invitation shows, I think, why this is necessary. These people, though they claim to celebrate “Easter” as a “church” in a “Christian” context, put the whole emphasis entirely upon self-fulfillment of the attendee. The Lord Jesus Christ, who rose from the dead so that He could conquer the last enemy for us eternally (1 Corinthians 15:26), is excluded, set aside, and unmentioned.

Romans 10:8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ we have no salvation.

Romans 4:23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ we have no justification.

1Corinthians 15:14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ Christianity is a farce and we have no hope of the future. Without it there is no point whatsoever in having “church.” We might as well stay home and eat chocolate and play golf.

1Corinthians 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. [Emphasis added.]

I’d like to ask the people seeking a “spiritual experience” in a place that does not mention God, the Bible or the Lord Jesus Christ on their invitation:

“Why seek ye the living among the dead?”
Luke 24:5

What about you this coming Resurrection Day? Is Jesus Christ the center of your thoughts and preparations?  It is something well worth considering.

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Footnote:
This post by my sister-in-law, Clara, goes very well here:
Are We Consumers or Followers?

3 comments:

  1. This is a very appropriate and true blog post, Mary. Sometimes I look at the vain traditions of men and wonder how they ever find fulfilment or satisfaction... or whether they go through life feeling as empty as their traditions appear.
    I actually wrote about this subject recently on my blog (except I didn't write it about "Easter" specifically, but rather about the consistent church experience year-round). It's a topic well worth considering, and it is definitely worth our while to really think about why we go to church meetings and what we get out of them, what they mean to us and what we are hearing...
    Considering that a lot of people of the world still think of "Easter" as being a time to go to church, I think it is a good idea for churches to USE the opportunity... however their methods for using it often make me cringe because of the sad mixture of paganism, worldliness and 'Christianity' that is preached/projected as a result. :(

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Clara. I agree with you too.

      "Church going", as well as various "holy days", are often a mere ritual and necessary tradition to too many people.

      Another thing that disturbs me is the attitude some people have that they "go to church" to be taught and strengthened themselves without making any contribution themselves. The principle of edifying one another (1 Thess. 5:11) is too often missing. We need to meet with a desire not only to be edified and encouraged ourselves, but to edify and encourage others as we have the opportunity.

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