It feels a little strange to be writing about Easter in the midst of the worst snow storm we’ve had all winter. When I look outside, I want to write a Christmas sermon but when I look at the calendar, I realize I better get to work on Easter…it’s a little more than a week away!!
But I’m not the only one who needs to get to work on Easter; we all do. I’m not just talking about planning the weekend, the outfit, the meals, and the relaxation but also planning how to use the incredible opportunity of Easter to deepen a relationship with someone who doesn’t attend a local church or know Jesus. Easter Sunday is the single greatest opportunity we have all year to invite people to church. I say that for two reasons. One, there are a lot of people who don’t normally go to church who still see church as part of their Easter ritual. And, two, people in D.C. don’t travel at Easter the way they do at Christmas. This city is a ghost town on Christmas Eve but people love to stay here or come here for Easter (as long as the snow melts by then!!). This means many of your co-workers, friends, and neighbors are likely to be around and thinking about going to a church.
The real question is how we’re going to respond to that opportunity, which really is a question of how much we’ve been changed by our 15 month study of the Book of Acts. I’ve tried to bring a different aspect of the story of the early church to life every Sunday we’ve been in Acts but those aspects are all in service of the overall story: God intends to accomplish His mission through His people by His power. God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.“(1 Timothy 2:4) That desire is so strong that Jesus gave His life on a cross to make it possible. God’s heart beats with compassion for the lost, the lonely, the hurting, and the broken of our city. If the Spirit of that God lives in us, then our hearts should beat for the same things. We should be bothered by people going to hell and by people living without the hope that comes from knowing Jesus. And we should do whatever we can to join God in His mission of reconciling the world to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19).
Can you imagine Paul’s reaction if he saw Christians approaching the opportunity of Easter with casual indifference? It’s tempting to think of the fiery evangelist ripping into an audience of lazy, indifferent, self-centered Christians. And maybe there would be a little of that – he didn’t hold back when he needed to confront Peter about his hypocrisy. But I’m also sure his rebuke would be tempered by grace and the invitation to remember was God has done for us. He writes something along those lines to the church in Ephesus, “Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.“(Ephesians 2:11-12) Remember what it was like to have no hope, to be alienated from God, to be judged by people. Remember what someone did for you so that you could come to a knowledge of the truth.
That’s my challenge and invitation to us as a church – be willing to do for someone else what someone did for you in light of everything Jesus has done for us. Pray that God will give you opportunities between now and Easter to talk to people about Jesus, to invite them to church and to start a spiritual conversation with them. I honestly believe this is going to be the best Easter yet at Restoration City and I want you to be a part of it. Not simply by being there but by being there with someone who needs to find a church or needs to find Jesus.
Don’t waste your opportunity!