(Originally published on seven years ago today on March 24, 2010 to the dearly-loved congregation of the Fort Mill Church of God while I was privilege to serve as their pastor.)
Every year churches around the world ask this question. I recently heard of a minister of music at a church who was celebrating the fact that his church was not going to do anything “special” for Easter. I can understand why he would be tempted to feel that. Those of us that are a part of the FMCOG family have already spent over two thousand man-hours in preparation for our program this year; and we still have work to do and one more dress rehearsal to go, and we haven’t even presented our program yet!
By the last service on Easter, the many volunteers of our church and their supportive families will have contributed directly and indirectly thousands of hours of their lives. We will have spent thousands of dollars, dedicated seven services specifically to the theme of Easter, and then will come the clean up!
So why do it? Why go to all the trouble?
- First, the Great Commission encourages it (Matthew 28:19-20). Every church should live with a “war time” mentality. We do not exist for our own pleasure and comfort; we exist to “Go!” We are to exert ourselves to the extreme to recue as many people as we can from the judgment to come. Why go to the trouble? The need is great and the hour is late; it is our turn to make the charge… “Oh God! Please help us to be found faithful!”
- Another reason that going to the effort and expense of producing an Easter program is worth it is that you will be greatly blessed by your efforts. “You” being those that are involved. Trust me, when the day comes that your life is over and you look back on how you spent the life God gave you, you are not going to regret anything you have done for the cause of Christ; and in the meantime you will live with the satisfaction that you truly made a difference.
- And speaking of the cause of Christ, the greatest reason to go to all the effort, expense and sacrifice to produce an Easter program is that it honors the great sacrifice of Jesus during his passion and the glorious demonstration of God’s power to raise Him from the dead! Our Easter production and services celebrate the High Holy Days of our Christian Faith! How could we not “go over the top” in celebrating the incredible good news of Easter?
There is always a danger for a church to become “event-driven”. Event driven churches are into events and “highs” that titillate and thrill them and make them feel good. They are not that interested in taking up their cross and following Jesus as a disciple. I’m very much aware of this and it is my job as a pastor to keep the congregation that I serve in the “deepening” mode; growing in the faith and knowledge of our Lord and Savior.
However, I remind all that what happened in the garden of Gethsemane and on Calvary’s hill and inside a borrowed tomb were events. They were special one-of-kind events orchestrated by God for the salvation of the world. Events matter. The journey matters as well; but we must never forget to commemorate those special events in life and I can’t think of no other event that is more important than pouring our love and efforts into remembering and reminding others of the great events that Easter points back to.
Right now, if the cost has gotten too high and the joy is gone in your efforts and anticipation of Easter, it is almost certainly one of two things; you’re either doing what you’re doing for the wrong reasons or you’ve forgotten the right reasons. I encourage you to take the time to refocus and get your heart and mind focused back on that sad solemn day when the sun hid its face and the earth convulsed in grief as the one and only Son of God, our dear Savior and Friend bowed his head and paid the ultimate price to purchase our salvation.
I remember thinking, “How sad”, when I heard about the Minister of Music who was relieved that his church was doing nothing special for Easter. How sad for all those that so desperately need to hear the message of Easter, how sad for all the dear people of that church that will not have an opportunity to be a part of something that really matters and how sad that a pastor and his team have lost their drive and zeal to lead their people to give their B-E-S-T.
I think of the words of the Apostle Paul, “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” (I Corinthians 9:16). How could we do less with the gifts and talents that God has given us?
Fort Mill Church of God, I am proud of you. Only time will reveal the good that you will do over the next few days; but on that day when all is revealed, I can assure you that hearing our Risen Lord say, “Well done!” will be worth it all.
Thanks to you all for giving your B-E-S-T and may God’s richest blessings be with you and feel you with joy and give you strength over the days ahead.
david l. kemp
P.S. This is a picture of David Lee having fallen asleep exhausted while playing in his playpen. This is how a lot of our volunteers are feeling right now!