Tag Archives: Easter

They Came to Bury Hope

God’s greatest redemptive work is often being done right under our noses, just outside of our awareness.  Therefore, there is always a reason to live into hope, especially during days that seem hopeless.

This was the insight that jumped off the page as I prepared to preach on Mark’s account of the resurrection of Jesus (Mark 16:1-8).

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. (Mark 16:1)

On that Sunday morning none of the women got up anticipating or sensing that Jesus had been raised from the dead.  Their subjective lived experience was one rooted in mourning and disillusionment.  They had witnessed Jesus being tortured, crucified, killed, and then buried.  As a final act of devotion they approached his tomb in order to anoint his dead and lifeless body.

The women came to bury hope, not ignite it.  From their vantage point death had won.  Life as they knew it was going to carry on much as it always had, with death getting the final word.

But their intense mourning, acute despair, and profound hopelessness was misplaced.  By the crack of dawn Jesus had already been resurrected and had gotten on with his day! And even though New Creation had erupted within reality, had you asked any of these women a few minutes before arriving at the tomb, they would have resolutely affirmed that they were living in the age of death and hopelessness.

What they felt and experienced was entirely disconnected from the truth of what God was up to.  Everything their feelings and senses communicated to them seemed irrefutable, and yet minutes later they discovered that their perspective was mistaken and misaligned to reality. Their worldview was wrong because the world itself had changed.  Just as they would have to catch up with Jesus who had gone ahead of them, their hearts and minds would have to catch up with the truth of the resurrection that so starkly confronted their current understanding of the nature of things.

There’s a critical lesson here.  It is possible to believe you are walking in hopelessness and be completely mistaken.  It is possible to feel utterly lost and without hope, and be thoroughly wrong about that evaluation.

As the women made their way to Jesus’s tomb, they would have felt utterly lost and without hope.  But their perspective was woefully incomplete.  The tomb had already been emptied and a new and living hope had already been established.

4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. 6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. (Mark 16:4–6)

We live much of our lives “in the dark” as it relates to sensing or feeling God’s power at work in our lives.  That is why it’s so important to live by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).  Our perspective is limited and this limitation can tempt us into interpreting God’s silence for absence and/or powerlessness.  When that happens, if we do not feel, sense, or perceive God at work, we can all too easily bury hope.

But the resurrection account challenges us to understand that God does some of His most powerful work outside of our direct knowledge.  This may be a discouraging realization at first.  After all, who doesn’t want to sense God powerfully at work in their lives?  And yet this realization is also profoundly encouraging in its insistence that we can by faith trust that extraordinary things are in play—veiled as they may be to us—and  therefore there is always a reason for hope. A particularly important truth to remember during days when our world threatens to collapse under the weight of calamity.

And trust me when I say, one day calamity will come.  And your world will buckle.  And on that day you may not feel, sense, or perceive God’s redeeming power at work.  And as a result, on that day you may find yourself tempted to bury hope.

But when that day comes remember the women who rose to face the end of their world, only to be invited into a new one through a risen Saviour.

Remember that the tomb is empty.  Remember that Jesus has risen.  Remember that he’s gone ahead of you.  Remember that he’s powerfully at work though you may not perceive it.

And instead of burying your hope, let the Spirit of God ignite it.

Share

How To Invite Someone To Church

Even as our culture moves a  post-Christian direction, it’s not uncommon for Christmas and Easter church services to be the largest of the year.  These services continue to draw seekers and skeptics who are haunted by the suspicion that modern secularism is not the end-all and be-all; that there must be a deeper reality and truer story that holds the promise to change our lives and world for the better.

That deeper reality and story, of course, is the gospel of Jesus.

However, for many people (myself included), helping people connect to that message is no easy task.  Where do we start?

With Easter Sunday around the corner, may I make a humble suggestion?  Invite them to church this Sunday.

Granted, this idea is neither flashy nor innovative, but this Sunday may be the best and easiest Sunday to invite friends, family, and neighbours to.  Many people are still open to attending a church service, especially around the Christmas and Easter holidays.  And unless your church really pulls an epic Easter fail, the truth and power of Jesus’ resurrection will take centre stage!

Some people hesitate when it comes to inviting their friends to church.  Me too.  I find that questions and doubts can shut  down the invite before it has a chance to even be considered.

  • How will they react to the invitation?  Will they be weirded out? Will it affect our relationship going forward?
  • What will they think of our church?   Will they “get it”?
  • Will the service fall flat?  Will the music and/or message sucks? (and I ask this as the message-giver!)

While well-intended in their sensitivity, these questions often plant doubts that keep us from ever extending an invite.  By focusing on the what if’s, we actually remove faith in God’s leading and power. Instead, we localize our faith and trust in our ability to “deliver the goods.”  Our confidence gets rooted in whether we can extend the perfect invite to the perfect service with the perfect music and perfect message at the perfect church.

I hope the issue with this line of thinking is obvious: there are no perfect any of those things. And that’s OK.  Our imperfect invites, imperfect services, imperfect music, imperfect messages–our imperfect churches–are not an obstacle for God.  The hope we offer people is not our perfection, but Jesus‘!  Not only that, but God delights in using our weakness as a conduit of His power and glory (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:9).

So this year I’m challenging myself (and you!) to invite one friend, family member, or neighbour to church this Sunday.  Your invite will be an act of faith (who knows how they will respond?…), but when it’s done relying on God’s resources and not our own, great things can happen.

How To Invite Your Friend To Church

Ready to take the plunge and invite someone?  Here are a few simple ways to invite them to church:

1. Email or Text.  Today I invited two people to our Sunday service via a short text message:

Hi _________, I’m not sure if you’d be interested, but I wanted to extend an invite to our church’s Easter morning service this Sunday. It starts at 10am at Nelson Covenant Church.  No pressure, just wanted you to know that there was an open invite.  If you have any questions about the service or our church, let me know. 🙂

2. Phone call.  This is more personal than an email or text, but may put people on the spot depending on what they are doing at the time of the call.  You’ll have to judge based on the nature of the relationship.

3. Face-to-Face.  This is the most personal approach, but like a phone call, picking a context that doesn’t feel like you’re cornering someone is probably important.  If an opportunity arises, however, this is ideal.  It allows you to fully express yourself (i.e. tone, body language, etc.) to the person which helps people feel your care and warmth.

You’ve got four days until Easter Sunday.  Take the initiative and invite someone to join you at church this Sunday.  Worst case scenario: they say “no thanks.”  Best case scenario: they say “Yes!”, not just to joining you on Sunday, but ultimately to Jesus and his gospel.

Share