Preparing for Easter
February 18, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Easter is about five weeks away. As a pastor, there are a lot of things on my mind in order to prepare for Easter. I’m mapping out my sermons for the month of March to deepen our understanding of Christ’s sacrifice and our enjoyment of all God has done for us through Christ. I’m working with a team to develop the best “advertising” strategy for our community. I’m discussing with our deacons and elders a list of projects we’d like to complete to “beautify” our building before Easter. I’m also thinking about our special worship gatherings, especially Good Friday service and Easter morning worship, prayerfully considering what would be both edifying and uplifting for our congregation.
It’s probably no surprise that a pastor would have a lot on his plate leading up to Easter. Next to Christmas, it’s the biggest Christian holiday on the calendar. What about you? Do you think about Easter and make preparations for Easter? Some say that we should focus on and celebrate the resurrection every Sunday of the year, not just one Sunday; and we do as we gather weekly to worship our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But I believe there is a place in our faith journey to have a unique emphasis on the resurrection each year, which allows for renewed understanding and celebration of God’s saving power through the death and resurrection of Jesus. How should we prepare, as Christians, for Easter?
1. Practice Spiritual Disciplines of Abstinence, like fasting, solitude, and silence. Abstaining from regular, habitual practices can provide a “jarring” experience in order to lead us to humble self-reflection and even repentance. We fill our lives with so much activity and noise that we often don’t have time to stop and reflect on the condition of our souls, our relationship with God, or our steadfastness in clinging to Christ. Intentionally remove something from your daily habit, a meal, use of media, presence of people around you, or music in the background constantly, and prayerfully invite God to draw you closer to him.
2. Practice Spiritual Disciplines of Engagement, like Scripture reading, study, memorization, meditation, prayer, and private and public worship. Read through a gospel and refresh your delight in Christ. Dig out a hymnal (or search on the internet) and read and/or sing through some of the hymns celebrating the resurrection. My sermon series for March will be on Isaiah 53: Why did Jesus have to die? Read this chapter weekly. Memorize key verses like verses 4-6. Take time to work through the study questions from the bulletin.
3. Read about the significance of the death and resurrection of Christ. There are so many good books that will enrich your understanding of and delight in Christ’s sacrifice for you. John Piper’s 50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die is both brief and devotional in its approach. John Murray’s Redemption Accomplished and Applied is the classic theological examination of the work of Christ. It’s brief, but very rich in unpacking the greatness of Christ’s work. Our former pastor, Russ Ramsey, wrote Behold the King of Glory, a narrative retelling of the story of Christ. The point here is to deepen your knowledge and understanding of what God has done for you through Christ. And pray that God would work that knowledge into your heart.
4. Prayerfully invite folks to church. Easter is a natural time period for people to visit church. Some may have grown up in the church but no longer attend. They may feel drawn or obligated to attend church for Easter. Invite someone. Pray that you would have opportunities to invite someone. Pray that those you invite would respond favorably. We all want to see God use our church to draw people unto Christ. We all want to see our church faithfully proclaim the hope of the gospel to our neighbors and community. We all have the responsibility of joining God in that work and extending an invitation and praying for God’s will to be done.