How Much Easter?

Worship Leaders, as you plan worship for Easter this year, how much are you preparing for?  Will it be one big day – Easter Sunday?  Maybe two Sundays – Palm Sunday and Easter?  A whole week – Holy Week, Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday?  As the music leader, is your primary Easter focus reduced to preparation of an Easter Cantata or Musical?  Surely you wouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket would you? (sorry, I just couldn’t resist the egg pun since I want to encourage thinking that reflects on seasonal distractions).  Anyway, how about considering celebration of “The Great Fifty Days?”  The opening day would be Easter Day (Resurrection Sunday) which would be followed by weeks of Resurrection Emphasis culminating in Pentecost Sunday remembering the coming of the Holy Spirit!  In case you don’t know, I didn’t come up with this fifty days idea myself, it is the historic Easter celebrated by Christians around the world for centuries.

My good friend and colleague, David Manner, has written a challenging article for us in his blog, Worship Evaluation, in which he addresses ways our church and worship services have adapted more to cultural festivities and celebrations and fallen away from embracing a vigorous observance of this highest season of the Christian year.  (see http://kncsb.org/blogs/dmanner/is-your-easter-celebration-a-waste-of-time/ David’s title for the blog article has a bite to it in itself when he asks “Is Your Easter Celebration a Waste of Time?”

Many of us lament how our modern culture has placed baseball and soccer above previously revered “church days.”  Remember when Wednesday and all day Sunday were off limits to conflicting meetings or sports?  Many of you have shared regretful situations with me whereby you can no longer depend on choir members to gather on Wednesdays due to so many other activities especially in certain seasons of the year.  It ain’t like it use to be “back in the day” when you could challenge people to faithful attendance at choir rehearsal and/or hold them accountable to prepare for Sunday worship presentation and seasonal music presentations.  Not to harken back to some imaginary time when it all came easy (never was the case), but can we ask..”What has happened?”

Lest you think this is just a rant on the way things use to be and conclude that I am just old fashioned and that’s what this is about, please hear me out.  My thoughts are intended to beg the larger question of how we admonish our people toward worship that does not ask Jesus to take a back seat to March Madness, Opening Day of baseball, or golf fever.

Me thinks it is time to “man up.” (inclusive language inferred)  It is time to call the people of God to be the royal priesthood, the holy nation Jesus claimed us to be.  We have been sending messages of cultural adaptations for so long that we have forgotten the significance of the season.  Even as pastors and worship leaders, we have spent many a Maundy Thursday carting our own children to soccer league to be sure they make the Spring roster.  We have crowded the stores on Good Friday to get in on the last day of pre-Easter clothes sales.  To seem relevant we have organized Easter egg hunts and disappointed children and their parents by stuffing scripture verses into plastic eggs, which proves to be a strange substitute to a five year old expecting to find a chocolate inside instead.

Some believers are incensed to discover that the word “Easter” comes from “Estre” or “Eastre, ” a Teutonic goddess of springtime and hence of fertility.  Perhaps their outrage is well deserved, but no less should be our concern that we have taken strides for decades toward baptizing the practice of recognizing the so-called Hallmark holiday called Mother’s Day while ignoring those years when the same Sunday is Pentecost Sunday, a high holy day remembering the coming of the Holy Spirit upon His people.  (this year’s Pentecost date is a month later, June 12, which is as late as it falls)

I challenge you to consider future observances of the Great Fifty Days.  During such observance your church could:

· Observe Lord’s Supper weekly through the seven weeks

· Pay attention to the Liturgical Calendar that includes the powerful Ascension Sunday, recalling Christ’s ascension to be at the right hand of the Father

· Prepare for Pentecost Sunday through special prayer gatherings

· Host church and community fellowships to retell stories of deliverance through the power of the Gospel message

The crux of my message is a reminder that the power of the resurrection of our Lord is too forceful and pervasive to be contained in a one day celebration.  If the Gospel does not change the way we live out our days, how do we expect to be effective in sharing the truth of its power with others?

Respectfully,

Paul

 

Explore posts in the same categories: Choir Ministry, Church Music, Leading Worship, Singing Worship, Spiritual formation through singing, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts, Youth Worship

One Comment on “How Much Easter?”

  1. BEN STAPLETON Says:

    Paul,
    Awesome post this week. Thank you for the exortation to center our worship around Christ and the church calender rather than on sports and other things. I also appreciate the practical ideas offered at the end of your article for worship during the Great Fifty Days. Being Methodist we always observe Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, (oddly not really Good Friday), Easter, and Pentecost but we don’t really do a lot with the emphasis on the time in between Easter and Pentecost other than to note that it is a Sunday “in Easter” on the bulletin. Usually I emphasize resurrection/ Easter music for the next few Sundays but that’s about it. Some years we do observe Ascension Sunday, others not so much. It really depends on what passage the pastor decides to preach on that Sunday.

    I especially like the idea of observing Communion each Sunday between Easter and Pentecost. I’m going to run that idea by our pastor. Another thing our worship book calls for but we seldom do, is to light the Christ candle each Sunday during this time. That wouldn’t necessarily mean much without explanation but with proper instruction from the pulpit and bulletin it might help to remind people that we are in a special time. I realize that most Baptist churches don’t have Christ candle except perhaps for the Advent wreath so that idea probably isn’t relevant but it did run through my mind.

    Blessings to you and your wonderful ministry. Your writings are truly some of the most valuable tools in my ministry as I measure our worship against God’s expectations, Biblical standards, etc.

    Ben Stapleton
    First United Methodist Church
    Somerset, KY


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