A few years ago, I worked at an office with about 50 employees. They were good people, mostly Christians, but not that many churchgoers among them.
I remember a sales associate named Michelle. She was a young mom with two kids. It was about a week before Easter, and she was discussing her children’s holiday plans.
“They have the entire week off, and then they go back to school the following Monday,” I recall her saying. “So I guess that means Easter falls on a Sunday this year.”
I thought she was joking, but she wasn’t.
Michelle was a good mother, and a good person, but religion was not on her radar. She was not anti-Christian or anti-anything for that matter… just a single mom focused on her kids and making ends meet. She talked about Easter egg hunts, Easter baskets and the parties she was invited to on Easter Sunday.
Michelle is someone you would want to visit your church, but how would she be treated if she did? Would she be loved, served and blessed? Or would she be judged, preached at and evangelized?
A few days later I was at a coffee shop with a few friends, and members of my church. We too, were talking about our plans for Easter.
A retired pastor that some in the group knew walked past. One of us said “hello” to him. He kind of frowned but said hello back. Then he opened the door about halfway and in a stoic tone said this:
“It’s not about chickens and it’s not about bunny rabbits, it’s about the Lord Jesus Christ sacrificing his life for us.”
Then he went inside and ordered a mocha latte.
My first thought was to repeat Michelle’s infamous question to the pastor… “Does Easter fall on a Sunday this year?”
Instead, I pondered the contrasting comments of Michelle and Pastor Latte, and then I wondered how welcome she would feel if the first contact with a Jesus follower was to say those preachy words? Would she nod in stunned agreement and look for the nearest exit? Would her children be uncomfortable after being told their Easter basket full of candy and chocolate eggs was disrespectful to Jesus?
Sometimes Christians believe that if they don’t stand strong for Jesus, He will be forgotten… and that we must take on the secular forces at work that want to marginalize our religion.
I say we go out into the world and take care of those already marginalized, needy and in pain. Allow God to work through us, and leave it to God to continue speaking to the world.
And believe me, He will never be forgotten.
Jesus spent a little over 30 years on earth about 2,000 years ago, yet he is still the most talked about person in history. Even nature itself remembers His sacrifice. Every spring and Easter, it honors His resurrection with rebirth and renewal of its own.
Lilies appear from the ground as if by magic. One day it’s an underground and forgotten bulb, the next day, it’s the featured flower in the garden. In New Smyrna Beach, and other areas along the Atlantic coast, white butterflies suddenly appear by the thousands on or around Easter every year. The entire town is transformed into a natural show of rebirth.
Spring is a time of renewal. Flowers bloom. Snow melts. The earth is reborn. And Jesus is remembered. Every Easter God rewrites Genesis 1.
Easter is a celebration of the greatest event in human history. There should be Easter baskets, Easter eggs, Easter bunnies, fireworks, parties; games and anything else people want to celebrate with.
If the gospels are a true account of the manner in which Jesus walked the earth, then my guess is he would enjoy his time with Michelle and her children more than he would the reverent Pastor Latte. He would want to attend the parties, eat, drink and spend time with friends no matter where they are in their spiritual journey.
In honor of Jesus and the sacrifice that we celebrate today, let’s open our hearts and love, serve and bless the marginalized, needy and underserved residents in our community.
Happy Easter, Alachua County!