Easter weekend is officially upon us and all across the nation churches big and small will be celebrating the most incredible event ever recorded in human history: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In all fairness, though, I guess referring to the Savior’s triumphant awakening from the clutches of death merely as an “event” is a bit of an understated misnomer — sort of like seeing Niagara Falls for the first time, shrugging your shoulders and remarking, “Eh, it’s just water.” After all, if it weren’t for Jesus’s victory over sin and the grave, the entire Christian belief system wouldn’t matter one iota. In fact, it all would’ve crumbled centuries ago and western civilization as we know it today would undoubtedly look a heck of a lot different.
Anyway, it goes without saying that the vast majority of sanctuaries will be standing room only this Sunday. Churches that tend to run 100 or so congregants will likely see double or even triple that amount. That’s because Easter, as so many of us know, is a time when countless Americans — many of who call themselves Christians and even some who don't — will show up to clock in for their once-a-year church attendance shift (especially if they missed Christmas Eve.) They’ll saunter through the doors, avoiding eye contact and handshakes, and do their best to find a seat somewhere near the back or off to the side. Maybe it’s because they’re uneasy around large crowds of people. Maybe it’s because they’ve been out of church for so long that the whole experience makes them uncomfortable. Maybe it’s because the Holy Spirit is tugging on their conscience. Regardless of the reason, there are some eternal truths about Easter that make church attendance during this time of the year a special thing and these folks ultimately realize that. It was at least enough to get them in the door, whether they’re happy about it or not.
Still, even with all the historical grandeur, tradition and majesty surrounding Easter, there will always be a few so-called “American Christians" — a handful, admittedly — who refuse to attend their local church’s Easter service or even accept an invite from a friend or family member. Of course, their reasons will vary across a wide spectrum, ranging from fairly legitimate things like “I have to work that morning.” or “I’m sick and contagious.” to less convincing things like “I’m too tired so I’m going to sleep in.” or “Church is just weird, awkward and uncomfortable.”
It’s the folks who make the latter statements that I’d like to focus on, particularly since, as a pastor’s son and someone who spends a lot of time serving in music and media ministry venues at my church, I hear these sort of excuses all the time. In fact, between my dad and myself, we’ve probably heard almost every excuse in the book. So, whether or you’re a believer or not, here’s why those sort of excuses really just don’t hold water:
"I'm Too Tired To Go To Church On Easter Sunday."
Fatigue isn’t something unique to just you. It’s a shared human condition. In fact — and this may be breaking news — even your pastor gets “tired.” Your worship leaders, assistant pastors, Sunday school teachers and other various volunteers and attendees all get “tired.” Sure, we might be tired on different levels. You might be pulling a 16 hour shift the Saturday before Easter. Your student pastor might be coming in on two wheels from a crazy family situation like an expected death in the family or an unforeseeable business trip. Your senior pastor might be making two hospital visits, cutting a widow’s grass, unclogging a church toilet and putting the final touches on his sermon. Your media guy might be up all night taking care of the graphics and sermon presentation designs after clocking out at his regular job. You might be physically tired. Someone else might be mentally tired. Or emotionally tired. Maybe you’re feeling all three of those.
Everyone has crazy schedules and circumstances happening outside of church. That’s just called life.
But, even more than that, Jesus Himself got tired. (One time He was so exhausted that He fell asleep on a boat in the middle of a storm.) During His time on Earth, He was 100 percent God, but also 100 percent man, and therefore needed rest and recuperation just like we do. And if the God of the Universe knows what it’s like to feel tired and utterly drained, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that we pull ourselves out of bed on the Day of His Resurrection to give him an hour or two of our worship, time and attention. That’s not a guilt trip, it’s just an issue of basic respect, decency and, most importantly, gratitude.
"Church is Just Weird, Awkward and/Or Uncomfortable."
Of course it is! People are weird! People are awkward! People are uncomfortable! You’re weird. You’re awkward. You’re uncomfortable. So am I. And — newsflash — the church is not the building, it’s the people who show up every week. So, when you put a lot of weird, awkward human beings together in one room, there’s bound to be at least some level of “uncomfortableness.”
I know that some introverts in particular struggle with today’s “modernized, contemporary church culture.” They don’t know what to do when everyone around them has their hands lifted in worship when they’d much rather just sit and mouth the words to the song. Or when it’s time to “meet and greet” and mingle with fellow churchgoers and they would much rather say a fast “Hi” to someone and return to their seat until the next song. And it doesn’t help that the worship leader is prompting folks to do things like smile and shake someone’s hand and snap a selfie with someone you don’t know and all of that uncomfortable, awkward, weird stuff. Trust me, I get it.
Obviously not every church has these elements and, whether yours does or doesn’t, Easter Sunday is still one time of the year for Christians to push all the weirdness and awkwardness aside and at least make an attempt to show our Savior that we recognize what He did for us and for humanity.
A couple of closing thoughts:
Easter literally rests at the very heart of Christianity. Even if you don’t like or particularly enjoy going to church, it’s hard to call yourself a Christ-follower and not be in His house on the day we celebrate His resurrection, our salvation and the promise of eternity. Also, Easter services make for great family traditions and an opportunity to instill those values in your children.
Ultimately, the real question for many professing Christians is: Do you take your faith and your relationship with Jesus seriously enough to be in a church on the day when we celebrate the most important event in the world and the most important part of our belief system?
NOTE: If you're reading this post in your e-mail inbox and would like to comment, please feel free to reply via e-mail or click on the post title above and leave a comment on my site.