Easter Sunday is over – Now What?

Sunday was Resurrection Day – Easter Sunday!  Full church houses, busy restaurants, family gatherings, bright new clothes, and lots of picture-taking.  The weather in Tennessee was picture perfect.  At the Clark house in Franklin we had all of our “kids” and their kids together spending the day going to church, eating, laughing, and sitting on the back porch watching the little ones play in the yard.  It was a memorable day of worship, family, love, and remembrance.  Norman Rockwell would have plenty to draw if he would have spent the day with us.  It was also a day of marveling anew at the hope that transforms lives and can change the world!  I do hope you had a glorious Easter Sunday as well.  Easter 2010 is history.  So….now what?

Did you know that many Christian churches throughout the world celebrate Easter over seven Sundays, rather than just one?  The Season of Easter includes recognition of the Day of Ascension when Christ was taken up to be with the Father, which has much to do with His Lordship, His dominion and trajectory to the future Return of our Lord!  Though some of the same “mainline” churches who observe a liturgical calendar become perfunctory about these celebrations, there is something full of potential if we continue to move toward the coming Pentecost Sunday, a day that is, sadly, ignored by many if not most evangelical churches. 

I realize that I am “preaching to the choir” (literally as well as figuratively) because even though many pastoral musicians would pay more attention to the Christian calendar given the opportunity, most all of us are also submissive to senior pastoral leadership and/or to other church leaders who may not choose to observe those days.  Those of you who at least take note, as worship leaders (or even as personal worshipers), of a Christian calendar, know what it is like to be somewhat conflicted when Pentecost Sunday falls on Mother’s Day, which happens often, or Graduation Sunday (Senior Recognition Day), which will be the case for most of us this year as Pentecost Sunday is May 23.  God forbid, I am not calling for a moratorium on Mother’s Day or graduation Sunday.  I like my job, and want you to keep yours as well!  Let’s be clear on that.  I do observe, however, a serious lack of comprehension by church members concerning the significance of these Christ events by comparison to Christmas and Easter, and wonder if a primary reason is that we simply do not call the events and their significance to their attention.  I am convicted deeply that the entire Christian Gospel should be central to our worldview, and must be taught and celebrated repeatedly in our worship to be certain Christians’ lives are actually affected by their understanding of Who Christ is, what He has done, and what He is doing, and what He will do.  We could all give regrettable testimony to living that takes place by brothers and sisters all around us that does not indicate an understanding of the Lordship of Christ, the absolute need of humanity for His salvation, and/or the certainty of His impending return.  Were the true views of our own church members different than this would we really have problems such as “inactive members?”  I cannot help but believe that poor attendance patterns stem from weak belief.  Perhaps we have “majored on minors” over the years.  Rather than holding a high standard for our members to pick up their cross, I fear we have too often offered “easy worship,” “simple service” and “have-it-your-way” faith.  Rather than trusting in Holy Spirit power to convict, change, and speak through the simplicity of the Gospel truth, I am afraid we have too often sought to orchestrate dramatic crescendos of emotional exploitation as if getting them down the aisle can ever masquerade for genuine life transformation.   

So, what can you do?  Many of you are having special Spring music presentations between now and the end of the school year.  As you are working on the final rehearsals and preparations for those events, how about looking closely to see ways the message of Christ events can be included through spoken or sung word, calling attention to their significance.  If you are doing a Pentecost music presentation, or an Ascension music message, please let me know and I’ll broadcast such to others!  A great thing about the Gospel message of Christ events is that they always fit!  If you are having a Spring “evening of praise,” or similar celebration, ask the congregation to pray before the music begins, that the Lord would fall upon hearts among you, even as He did on that Sunday when the Holy Spirit fell upon the believers on that 50th day after Easter, ten days after Jesus’ ascension to the right hand of the Father.  Upper Room.  If you recognize seniors on May 23, why not include a recognition that this day was a day of new beginning in the life of the Church as well when the Holy Spirit came down.  Perhaps a guided prayer for renewal would be appropriate.

Christ’s resurrection is the power of the Gospel!  So is His ascension to the right hand of the Father, the coming of the Holy Spirit, who lives in me and in  you and is the powersource for every gathering of the church in every location for all time.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon stated in a sermon delivered May 8, 1859, “The miracles of Jesus are remarkable for one fact, namely that they are none of them unnecessary.” (text for this message was Ezekiel 36:27 – “And I will put my Spirit within you.”)

Music Leaders, as a bearer of the good news, proclaim the whole Gospel, and let us look to the day when our Lord shall return!

Even so, Lord, quickly come!

Paul

Explore posts in the same categories: Leading Worship, Singing Worship, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts

2 Comments on “Easter Sunday is over – Now What?”

  1. Mark Edwards Says:

    Good article, Paul. I, too, grew up in a Baptist environment where the Christian Year was totally dismissed, probably because it was too “Catholic” – which meant cold, formal, and pre-scripted. Fortunately, education opened my eyes to the depth and beauty of the Christian Year, and I was privileged to serve a church that followed it to some extent – especially Advent/Christmas, Holy Week/Easter. I do wish we could have done more with it.

    I am happy to report that the creators of the new Celebrating Grace Hymnal (www.celebrating-grace.com) is organized by the Christian Year, which, of course, is based on the life of Jesus. 146 hymns and readings from Advent through Eastertide are included, followed by another 10 on Pentecost and actions of the Holy Spirit.

    Also in the back of the hymnal, they have included a single-page Outline of the Christian Year that lists the Time/Day within a Season, the Theme, and Colors.
    The outline is followed by a well-written essay about Worship and The Christian Year. Both the outline and essay are very instructive and would be a good place for a worship leader to learn more about it.

    • pclarkjr Says:

      Thank you, Mark. The Celebrating Grace Hymnal is a great starting point for worship leaders who do not regularly practice worship planning with the Christian Calendar in mind. Obviously, by extension the hymnal would serve a congregation well as a hymnal that includes informative tools, such as the outline and essay you mentioned. There are many tools to strengthen worship in this hymnal itself, not to mention the “Worship Matrix” and other online helps being developed. I am a strong proponent of church members purchasing a hymnal (or more than one as needed) for their own home. If music leaders and pastors would publish the Sunday worship plan in time, as some already do, it would give people an opportunity to better prepare for worship by reviewing the text, and praying the hymns personally before gathering with others of the church body.

      You have made significant contribution to hymnody and congregational singing through many means over the years, and this new hymnal project clearly reflects your influence. Thank you for contributions to the Kingdom!


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