And now we rest.
Pastors, church musicians, and other congregational leaders find themselves with that shot-out-of-a-cannon feeling this morning – Easter Monday. While regular people are overcoming a Peeps hangover or planting pansies, church people are discerning “what worked?” and “what didn’t work?”
- Were questions asked that real people are asking? I know a pastor whose Easter message – several years ago – asked the question: “Did Jesus really rise from the dead on a Wednesday instead of a Sunday?” Honestly, who cares about that? What about questions like: “How do I find resurrection if my life feels inconsolably broken?”
- Did you address the world beyond your congregation? 250 souls are still missing from the April 16 of a ferry accident in South Korean, most of whom were high school students. On April 15, about 100 Nigerian girls were kidnapped from their school, and although most of them were freed on Wednesday, the experience has left them traumatized.
- Did you address where resurrection is needed in your own neighborhood? Are your police officers tracking down heroin traffickers in your town? Are your school teachers working with students who experience tenuous home situations? What are the unemployment figures for your suburb?
- Was the church real? Were life problems glossed over in favor of a “Happy Easter”? Was everybody about smiles and candy without noticing the people for whom Easter is a difficult holiday?
- Was the church more than merely friendly? Did guests experience authentic hospitality during which they felt genuinely welcomed, and not just become they could add to the offering plate? Were announcements, liturgy, and Easter activities shared with an eye on those who have never been in church before?
Many of our congregations do not debrief at all. Many others debrief on topics such as this: “Did we have enough Easter Eggs for the hunt?” “Was the sermon too long?” “Were the lilies arranged well?” While these questions might be helpful in terms of cursory issues, the bigger issues involve whether or not the broken were invited to find wholeness and the dead-inside glimpsed resurrection. The bigger questions for the debrief involve whether or not our efforts revealed something transformational and holy, as opposed to something entertaining and self-serving.
Perhaps the biggest question: Did we help people see Jesus?
Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord.’ John 20:18
Image from our United Methodist sisters and brothers in Boston.